Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to Us!

Two Sundays ago, I shared my 23rd birthday with my twin sister Lauren. To celebrate the occasion, on Saturday I ventured to a new mall in Arlington, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, to do a little shopping for myself and for Lauren (her present didn't actually make it to her on time--oopsies). I can't believe I had not discovered this mall until just this past weekend--it was fabulous! The Nordstrom, alone, was probably the biggest--with the best shoe department--I have ever been to! It is also the home to such stores as French Connection, Kenneth Cole, Coach, Apple, Sony, MAC Cosmetics, Sephora, Williams Sonoma, MOVADO, Tourneau, A/X Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, BCBG, Ann Taylor, BeBe and Arden B. Wow, overload!

Of course I didn't have enough time to do the type of damage I easily could've, but I did make a few laps around Nordstrom to try to find the perfect gift for Lauren. And, as it was also my birthday, I thought I might get myself a little treat too!

It has been my quest to find the perfect mascara, practically since I started wearing my research, I've read countless reviews, asked trusted makeup artists and salespeople, and tried many different brands...and I think I may have actually found the perfect mascara! Christian Dior's "Diorshow" tops the charts! I even managed to get a set of two mascaras...the big one to do the thickening and the skinny one to do the lengthening! (It's my birthday, right? gotta splurge!) It works like a dream!

As some of you may know, I had a little incident with the eyelash extensions that I got for Lauren's wedding. They lasted about a month and still looked surprisingly good; but I was ready to give my eyes a good rub, so I had a friend help me take them off. I got some special lash-remover stuff to dissolve the glue, and we were pretty careful...but not careful enough and unfortunately, my once full set of lashes is now quite sparse. I freaked out and bought some product that is supposed to make your eye lashes grow fuller and faster, and since I'm an optimist, I'm going to say that it's working. But, this mascara is so good (and with a few coats, a la Lauren), and makes your lashes look so full, you would never know that I am actually missing a few!

I am in love! Do yourself a favor and check this won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I Feel Bad About My Neck

Over Thanksgiving (and, I swear, this will be my last post about Thanksgiving!), I went to Montana with nothing to, wait, I finished my book on the plane by the time we landed in Salt Lake...but, I didn't bring a back-up because I knew my mom would have something to keep me busy (and I secretly hoped we would take a family outing to Borders to restock my library!).

My mom was two chapters into this book, but let me take over while I was in town and I am SO glad she did. I really enjoyed this book! The author, Nora Ephron, is also the writer of the screenplays "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "You've Got Mail"--a Stimpson family favorite! I Feel Bad About My Neck...and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is a series of very clever essays through which the author chronicles her life as an ardent New Yorker, an obsessed cook, and an intern at the White House during the JFK years, among other things. She speaks about hating her purse, redecorating her aparment, hosting dinner parties, getting married, getting divorced, and, one of my favorites: buying an amazing apartment that she can't really afford (to justify this purchase, she takes the cost of the apartment and amortizes it over the time she could live there, until the cost of the apartment per day was less than a Frappuccino from Starbucks--this same process can be used the same way to justify ANY purchase!). But mostly she speaks honestly and candidly about life as a woman of a certain age, as she faces the reality that she’s sixty-five, dyes her hair, and is not happy about her neck, her failed attempts at ambitious exercise programs, and other personal failures shared by many. I admit, I did feel a bit too young to be reading this, and I couldn't relate to many of her insights; but, I found myself laughing out loud in almost every chapter! Nora Ephron writes in an intimate style that makes her seem like a close friend sharing details about her life. I think by reading the wisdom and advice she offers, I will try harder not to take certain things about being a 20-something for the tight, youthful skin on my neck! (Enjoy it while it lasts, girls!)

Here is an excerpt from her chapter of one-liners, What I Wish I'd Known:

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced

Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or
less beige.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if it
seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when
you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and
a half years.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age
of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-

At the age of fifty-five you will get a saggy roll just
above your waist even if you are painfully thin.

This saggy roll just above your waist will be especially
visible from the back and will force you to reevaluate
half the clothes in your closet, especially the white

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Take more pictures.

The empty nest is underrated.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters.

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going
to fit.

When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have
a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship is
more important than this,” watch out, because it almost
never is.

There’s no point in making piecrust from scratch.


If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re ahead of the game.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Toasted Ravioli

Over the Thanksgiving break, not only was I allowed to run away with the menu for our Thanksgiving Feast, but my mom also let me plan the menu for Lauren and Ben's Open House in Monty. I guess my mom considers these good exercises for me, as I hope to one day open my own catering business. To minimize the need for forks and knives, we thought it would be best to plan a menu of mostly finger-friendly food. The final menu consisted of the following:

Lox and Cream Cheese stuffed Cucumbers
Pizzettes with Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto
Chicken Meatballs with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil
Toasted Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Mushroom Lover's French Bread Pizza
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
Pumpking Cake with Whipped Cream and Pecan Praline (yes, leftover from Thanksgiving...10 of us, and we could hardly make a dent in that thing!)

I had a little trouble trying to keep the hot things hot, so that is something I will have to work on for the next time, but I would say for the most part, it was a success!

My dear, sweet husband couldn't get enough of the toasted ravioli, and especially the sauce that went with it--and was kind enough to tell me how much he loved it with each bite!--, so I thought I would share that recipe with you all. I know if it were up to Mike, we would eat that every other night!

Here's what you'll need:

2 eggs
Splash of milk or half-and-half
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
12 large fresh spinach and cheese ravioli, about 3/4 pound (or whatever kind you like)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 roasted red peppers, drained
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Beat eggs and a splash of milk in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine bread crumbs with cheese and parsley in a second dish. Coat the fresh pasta in egg then bread crumbs. Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a skillet then toast the ravioli until deep golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

In a small sauce pot heat the remaining extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium low heat. Grind the roasted peppers in the food processor and add to garlic after it sautes for a couple of minutes. Stir in tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, transfer sauce to a small bowl. Surround the sauce with toasted ravioli for dipping and serve.