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Monday, November 24, 2014

binge listening

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even though we just finished an 8-hour to ohio and back, gosh am i excited for the holidays this year! seeing family and friends (even in the saddest of times) never gets old, even if it means driving 11 hours to get there.

last week we had the unfortunate news that one of our good friends lost a parent.  unexpectedly, we dropped our weekend plans to drive to ohio for the funeral.  the road ahead for their family will be emotionally rough, but we were fortunate enough to bring some love and smiles to them in such a rough time.  that's what friends are for, right? 

on our drive, we started listening to this podcast that i actually wasn't very excited about.  our friends came over for dinner last week and told us about this podcast called 'cereal'.  they were so into it they couldn't help but talk over top of each other in excitement and couldn't get their words out fast enough (i later realized it was 'serial,' not 'cereal' haha).  murder mysteries are just not my thing (and i certainly didn't think that 'binge listening' would be either), but after listening for, oh, about 5 minutes i was already hooked.  so much that we are 100% caught up already.  yep, we listened to all 9 episodes.  if it wasn't for starting it late into the drive TO ohio, we would have listened to it all in 1 sitting.  fortunately for us, we got to listen to the last 6 episodes in 1 shot on the way home.  the most enticing thing about the podcasts is that they are nearly live.  the investigation is happening NOW. 

serial is brought to us from the producers of This American Life, for FREE.  there's really no reason to NOT try it right? i mean, there's only so much music i can listen to before i just tune it out.  this was the perfect roadtrip time-passer! now, if only we could find something similar for our next upcoming roadtrip!! (this american life, maybe? has anyone listened to it before?)

any suggestions for podcasts (or any other roadtrip time-passers) are definitely welcomed ;)

cheers!
jenn

p.s. for kicks, a photo of where we were LAST year at thanksgiving.  no turkey in sight, but it was worth the trade for 1 year to have crystal clear blue waters and white sand in our toes!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

chef after dark

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"taking a cooking class with your husband."  it sounds like a fun date night, right?  while it was a blast to go to, it was hardly a date night.  i guess the point of "date night" though, is to force ourselves out of the house and do something fun together.  so last night "technically" still fit our requirements.  it just happened to be with people we "know" (more on that later) and ended in a hangover the next morning.

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jersey city is a funny place.  people are so welcoming and interested in meeting new people that we all start following each other on instagram and social media before we meet in person.  before you know it, 6 months (or more) go by, and you still haven't met each other in person.  when you finally do it's like
"hey i'm jenn" 
"yes i know, nice to finally meet you in person, i'm renee"
"yes i know, nice to meet you too"
"i love your blue sofa!"
in a round about way, that's pretty much the conversation we had last night.  maybe we never met in person yet, and maybe we've been stalking following each other on instagram for quite some time, but we felt like we already knew each other!  it's sort of weird, right? when i talk about it, it's weird.  but it doesn't feel weird. that's the cool part about it.  social media is a wonderful thing.

anyways, about this cooking class we took! it was hosted by bambino chef and lourdes of the vine.  lou lou from lourdes of the vine provided the wine (and the awesome wine tasting lessons!), while renee of bambino chef provided the rest with the help of chef joyce.  the night started off with some sparkling wine to help us through getting to know one another.  once everyone arrived and suited up, we were split into 2 groups.  hung's group made cheesy savory cookies, and my group made garlic sausage with puff pastry (i forget what each item was called, i'm terrible with my french food!!) once everything went into the oven, both groups started assembling the figs with blue cheese! since it's not fig season, chef joyce rehydrated dried figs with port wine, red wine, and water so we could stuff them with blue cheese, bake, and drizzle with a port wine reduction.

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guys.  it.  was.  so.  good.

the cheesy cookies were amazing (how could you not enjoy it when 2 of the 3 main ingredients were butter and parmesan!?)  the garlic sausage with puff pastry tasted like "pigs in a blanket" to me, but with the nicer meat (i.e. NOT hotdogs) and puff pastry instead of croissants. served sliced with mustard, they were the perfect little one-bite snack.  lastly the figs.  omg the figs.  not a new flavor to us, we've been making pizzas with dried fruit and blue cheese for a while, but when it was in one-bite form with the sticky delicious port wine reduction, i could have eaten the entire plate.

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each dish we made was paired with a french wine.  i've always read about how to pair wine with food, and i've read about how to properly do a wine tasting, but i've never actually done it.  i had never been taught to do it.  last night i learned that swirling the wine in the glass, indeed, does make the smell come out better, and slurping the wine, indeed, does bring out the flavors.  (i felt so fancy doing all those fancy wine things and actually understanding why instead of doing it because that's what i see people do when they get a bottle of wine in a restaurant).

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what a great group of chefs after dark last night!! we were all basically best friends by the end of the night.  maybe the wine helped.  but this is why i love doing things like this.  lou lou and renee weren't exactly strangers to us, but the rest of the group definitely were strangers to us when they walked in the door at the beginning of the night.  by the end of the night we hugged goodbye like best friends.

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while bambino chef focuses on children's cooking classes, kids birthday parties, and occasionally a private party for adults and families, i have to say the first adult class open to the public was quite the success!! 

just wait.... you're gonna see those savory cookies again soon.  like, maybe, on that holiday coming up, that one where it's ok to indulge in butter and cheese.... and nearly everything else.

cheers.
jenn

p.s. can you tell we had a great time? i'm posting this literally hours after the event when i haven't posted in, well, almost 2 weeks! i'm a terrible blogger....

Sunday, November 9, 2014

happy birthday to the mind behind e.tittlemouse

saturday we were happy to be invited to a small dinner at e.tittlemouse and co. to celebrate napoleon's birthday.  napoleon and his wife, belinda, run the small resale store on bay street in downtown jersey city.  besides having a great store filled with designer clothes, vintage housewares, and the works of local artists, they've become great mentors to several local creatives and entrepreneurs and have become our friends in the meantime.  although the celebration was in honor of the birthday boy, it was really just a fun dinner with great people.  we saw familiar faces, met new faces, indulged in new wines, and ate new food (well, new to us, apparently we're the only two at the event who didn't know what any of the filipino foods were).

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napoleon, thanks for including us at your birthday dinner, we look forward to our next dinner! (because we apparently planned many more that night, i see a pho night in the near future :P)

cheers.
jenn

Saturday, November 8, 2014

my (his) best friend's (indian) wedding

although i quite enjoyed saying these words, i think i said "bedazzled" and "bedazzles" more times last weekend than the rest of my life combined.  obviously i'm talking about an indian wedding! hung's best friend, to be exact.  nope, he's not indian, but his wife is, and they had the most beautiful wedding (with lots of bedazzles) 

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 i was told that indian weddings are long, which i assumed in my head to mean boring.  no so, my friend!  when you're given food (GOOD food), you can smear turmeric on the groom's face (and hands and feet and back), you get to watch a group of white guys try to learn bollywood dance moves, you get to spend time with familiar faces, you get to dress up in bedazzles, and you get to see two amazing people on the happiest days of their lives... you're pretty entertained (and exhausted, but that's ok).

i'll let the photos to the talking but we're so happy we could be a part of such a fun, exciting time in their lives :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

happy friday

city hall wedding, jersey city by cheynne mojica
(flashback friday... back to OUR wedding day.  this is right after we got married at city hall in jersey city.  gosh that was a great day!!) image c/o cheyenne mojica

hey friends! it's friday! we'v e got some pretty awesome things to be thankful for this week, despite the fact that i got in a 6-car accident on one of the busiest highways in the NYC metro area (causing probably hundreds of thousands of people to miss their flight, be late for work, miss an appointment, etc. etc. etc.) and i sliced my finger cutting a bagel this morning (in my defense, the knife was dull and it was difficult to cut the bagel, sharp knives are safe knives people!!)

  1. hung gets to be the best man in his best friends wedding, a 3-day indian wedding bash that we're SO excited for....  mostly for two great people in love and getting married, but also the food.  yeah, definitely the food.
  2. we got OUR wedding photos from our photographer, cheyenne mojica, this week! i'm beside-myself-excited about them (if you couldn't tell already from my instagram feed)
  3. we got to host friends for dinner on wednesday, teaching a non-fish eater that fish can be good! (remember the claypot salmon recipe i posted a while back? if you haven't tried it yet, you need to)  being around THOSE friends always makes us feel so inspired to take a leap and follow our dreams.  so thanks, john trigonis, eightymag, and milk sugar love!
  4. i got to try filipino food for the first time kamayan style at a potluck dinner for an eightymag photoshoot! photographer greg pallante did an awesome job catching everyone mid-huge-bite, including me with a whole rambutan stuffed into one side of my cheeks like a hamster. look for his work in the next issue of eightymag!
  5. on the bright side of the car accident, i get to "test drive" a mini cooper countryman until my peanut is fixed (aka i get to try out a nice 4-door, small, baby-friendly, fits-in-our-tiny-driveway car for when we will actually need to get a new car in a few years when we start making baby phans :P)
ok now, let's get this party started! i've got two bright-and-bedazzled sarees ready to go and i'm crossing my fingers i'm there in time tonight to get my hands all hennaed up... indian weddings are the best, and we can't wait to celebrate with these two awesome people!

cheers.
jenn

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

masquerade soiree with e.tittlemouse and co.

the idea of a masquerade party seemed so distant to me.  my only two visions of it were scenes from breakfast at tiffany's and from gossip girl (who DOESN'T remember that episode where lil J gets smooched by nate for looking like serena?!).  i was so excited to go to this party with e.tittlemouse, because it was going to be my first one!

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it's rare for us to show up to an event like this empty-handed, so we (ahem, hung) decided to make meatballs! nowadays we can't make hardly anything without making a vegetarian version (if the dish isn't vegetarian already).  he's been using this recipe from smitten kitchen (modified with beef and baked on 450F for 20 minutes) for the real meatballs, and this recipe from serious eats for the vegetarian ones.  the recipe for the vegetarian ones is supposed to be for veggie burgers, but this is practically the same thing, right? since the veggie ones don't really have to be cooked (well, sort of, the egg I suppose has to be cooked through), he just tossed them in the oven with the real meatballs, just on a different pan. the cook time and temperature isn't SO important for the veggie ones. 

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i couldn't let hung get ALL of the attention though.  after a failed attempt at creating a "super simple nutella stuffed baked wontons" i decided to go with a tried and true recipe for chocolate banana bread (i'm ACTUALLY starting to use the recipes on my pinterest!!).  but for this event, we needed bite-sized everything, so i turned them into chocolate banana mini muffins!  i suppose all 3 dishes were a hit, considering everything was gone exept for one last mini muffin that got splashed in vodka (oops! party foul).

see more party photos after the jump!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

thankful

we didn't do anything over the top.  we didn't need to "live it up".  we didn't even feel like we needed to "entertain".  the girls went to the city for wedding dress shopping. the boys stayed home and did boy things (and by that i mean they didn't shower, they played video games, and they consumed pizza, korean fried chicken, AND beer).  hung gave the boys a haircut.  we attended a charity event.  we ate at a dimly lit west village restaurant for a birthday.

...and it was just nice.  we're so thankful to have friends like this who love us for who we are, enjoy doing the simple things that we like to do, visit often, and most of all, have been there for over 20 years.  the friends that visited last weekend are hung's childhood friends who have all been close since grade school.  i'm lucky enough to say that they have become good friends of mine as well, and i'm happy they eagerly welcomed me into their lives even from the very beginning :)

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.....have any of you been inside B&H before? it's that gigantic camera store in midtown, and it's seriously the best place ever.  even if it wasn't for those candy dishes all around the store (that i ate at least 10 of before we walked out) i could go back everyday just testing out different lenses and gadgets for our camera... like that $1,100 Zeiss lens that we fell in love with... one day i'll have that perfect lens that i'll never need to change out....

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we kept talking all weekend how cool it would be if we all lived in the same city (instead of FOUR different cities).  considering hung and i are the only ones who invested in a home where we live, i think it's up to everyone else to move to US, right? right... ok guys, let's start working on that "moving to the NYC area" thing.  future baby phans need pseudo aunties and uncles ;)

cheers.
jenn
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