Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Life, new blog

Hi everyone,

Due to the fact that I've moved back to Michigan, it didn't make sense to continue with this blog. This particular blog was very Connecticut/New London-centric - I didn't think I could smoothly transition from East Coast to Midwest on the same page. I have started a new blog - same name (for now - it may change), different look and different platform. I will leave this blog accessible for the time being, but please update your links and follow my new posts at


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Indiana bargains

One would not necessarily think of Indiana as a shopping mecca. However, whenever I visit Noblesville/Indianapolis, I leave with WAY more stuff than I came with. Sometimes it's clothes; sometimes it's housewares; more often than not, it comes from the antique mall.

This year's trip was no exception. When I wasn't busy running 13.1 miles - and injuring myself - I managed to pick up some adorable clothes and accessories. 

The yellow polka dot top and the vintage pearl drop earrings in this pic are both courtesy of Retro 101, a vendor in the Logan Village Mall in Noblesville.  The blouse was $5.00 and the earrings were $4.00. (The pencil skirt was actually a $12.95 buy from Forever 21 a couple seasons ago.)

This great red and cream striped cotton top (it has adorable ruched sleeves) came courtesy of Francesca's Collections in Clay Terrace. The silver "ball and chain" earrings were also a vintage score from Retro 101.

The killer score didn't end there - I also got a beautiful vintage clutch and some great costume jewelry. I spent way less than I would have spent in antique or vintage stores out here. Indiana may not be the hippest place in the world, but for what it's worth, I always come back a little more hip.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New posts are on the way

There are new posts coming - check back on Monday! There will be a new post every day next week. Sorry for the delay!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BAR none

The other night, we decided to do something a little different for happy hour. As much as we love our usual haunts - Hanafin's, Dev's, Hot Rod's, our houses - sometimes you need to change things up a little. Since Dr. Scott had rounds in New Haven, Rob, Caitlin, Noe and I decided to meet him at BAR, a bewpub/restaurant/nightclub on Crown Street.

 Outside BAR

Scott and Caitlin had been trying to sell us on BAR for several months, but it never seemed to work out for everyone to get to New Haven (about 45-50 minutes from New London) at the time Scott was finishing up rounds. They were very persistent, however, telling us the microbrewed beers and pizzas - in particular the mashed potato pizza - were well worth the drive.

We hitched a ride to Hew Haven with Rob. After a rather adventurous stop at IKEA (it involved setting off an alarm and impulse-buying a wok), taking the "scenic route" past several very interesting barber shops ("E&J's Barber Shop & Sporting Goods"; "My Favorite Barber Shop - specialized in fadez"); and an extremely frustrating parking experience (downtown Ann Arbor parking - New Haven parking makes you look GOOD), we finally arrived at BAR.

 Excited to stop at IKEA

We were seated in the Bru Room, which had sort of an upscale pub-type feel. After perusing the microbrew selection, Scott ordered the "Damn  Good Stout" while Noe, Caitlin, and I all went with the "AmBAR Ale." (I was hoping to order the Blonde, but alas, they were out.) Both beers were decent, with the AmBAR having a malty but refreshing flavor and the stout tasting, well, like a stout (milk-shakey).

 AmBAR Ale and Damn Good Stout

The true standouts at BAR were the brick oven pizzas. BAR's menu starts with red (tomato sauce) or white (parmesan and garlic) pies; you build your toppings from that point. We decided to one of each. For our white, we chose the famous mashed potatoes, accompanied with onions and bacon; for the red we went veggie with mushrooms, green pepper, and black olives.

I was skeptical of mashed potato pizza. It sounded weird. But on BAR's brick oven-fired thin crust, accented with garlic and just the right amount of parmesan, it was delicious. The salty, crispy bacon and the slightly carmelized onions called to mind a baked potato - but BETTER. It had just the right potato-to-crust ratio - too much potato and it would have been heavy and goopy and bland. This had just enough to still taste the crisp crust through the mash.

 SO much more glorious than this picture makes it look

We had devoured half the mashed potato pizza before guiltily remembering our neglected red pie. I think we were all expecting to be disappointed by what seemed to be a very average veggie pizza. However, the same crust that held up so well to creamy mashed potato turned out to be the perfect vehicle for delivering veggies - crisp enough to provide some crunch, doughy enough to hold its shape without being chewy. The red sauce tasted very tomato-ey - not sugary like some sauces - and was spread thin enough (without being stingy) that it didn't overpower the salty olives, crisp green pepper, and mild, earthy mushrooms.

 Caitlin actually didn't want olives on her half - 
what's wrong with her?

Both pizzas were so good that the five of us managed to completely devour two larges before we realized how much we'd eaten. We were uncomfortably full on the drive home, but otherwise completely satisfied.

If you're in New Haven and you want to try some really fantastic brick oven pizza, I would highly suggest BAR. I can't speak for the nightclub atmosphere or anything else on the menu, but the beer is decent and the pizzas are amazing - what more do you really need?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken...

I forgot my lunch last Thursday. I also walked to work that day, meaning that my usual options (Thames River Greenery, Muddy Waters, a sushi roll from Singapore Grill) were out of the question (even though I could technically walk to several of these places, I could not walk there, order lunch, and walk back in the time allotted to my lunch period). This left me with one option: the Chinese restaurant across from the Shell Station.

I ordered wanton soup. That's all. But as I sat at my desk eating it, I kind of started craving the sticky, fried, MSG-laden gloriousness of the typical Chinese restaurant lunch special. However, I didn't want to go out for dinner or get take-out that night. I had plenty of food at home. So instead, I did some googling and by the end of the day had decided to make sesame chicken for dinner.

Noe was skeptical, to say the least. He was pretty sure the dish would have good flavor, but was not convinced it would have the right texture or stickiness quotient.

Our worries were completely misplaced. The dish tasted EXACTLY like sesame chicken from a take-out Chinese restaurant - so much so, in fact, that I was almost disappointed (shouldn't there be some kind of discernible difference?) The texture - achieved by battering and deep-frying the cubed pieces of chicken and draining them before tossing them in a thick, sticky sauce - was spot-on as well.

 The finished product, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds
and served with white rice (courtesy of Noe)

Seeing how much sugar/cornstarch/etc went into the homemade version of this dish kind of made me cringe - and made me keenly aware of how much must be in the real take-out version. The unexpected bonus of this awareness is that I ate a much smaller portion than I probably would have out of a take-out container because I DID see exactly how much crap was in it.

One minor caveat - although the flavor was still fantastic the next day, the homemade version of sesame chicken was a little soggy after spending the night in the fridge. Not terribly so, but more so than typical take-out.

You can find the basic recipe I used at (as usual, I made some minor tweaks). If I make this again, I will add extra vinegar and chili paste (I had added extra chili paste and garlic but it still came out just a touch too sweet, in my book - Noe thought it was fine) and  cut a little's a work in progress.

One other note - I do not have a deep fryer. I fried this in a deep saucepan and it worked fine. Just make sure you test the oil with one piece of chicken to make sure it as at a good temperature, don't crowd the chicken in the pan, and watch it carefully to see when it turns the appropriate golden color. I would test a few pieces and cut into them so you get an idea of how long, time-wise, you want to leave them in the pan.

Do you ever make your own take-out?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Premium vintage

I've written about my love of vintage dresses, vintage salt and pepper shakers, and even mentioned my new-ish obsession with vintage aprons. A recent search through my closet brought back an older interest: vintage pocketbooks.

When I still lived in Michigan, I discovered a great block of antique stores that were then all located in Depot Town. This was when I was just starting to collect salt and pepper shakers. Every once in awhile, I would go in to Salt City, Silver Spoon, or occasionally Apple Annie's and look for new additions for my collections. Eventually I noticed that all three stores had a vast array of other items besides salt and pepper shakers, including some vintage clothing. With vintage clothing came vintage accessories - hats, jewelry, and pocketbooks. Thus a new collection was born.

 First vintage pocketbook - 
my crappy photos don't show the beautiful, shiny bronze-y color

I call them pocketbooks rather than purses because a "purse" to me is a different kind of bag entirely - one of the larger, slouchy shoulder bags I tend to carry on a regular basis (although I tend to just call those "bags," quite honestly). These structured little handbags (none have shoulder straps) look like they came straight out of the Mad Men costuming department.

My second - and favorite - pocketbook
I only purchased three of these gems before moving to Connecticut, and somehow they were relegated to the back of my closet. However, when I was looking for the perfect accessory for my Shabby Apple dresses last weekend, I unearthed this:

 So sixties! So patriotic! So perfect!

It was the perfect whimsical touch to my vintage-inspired weekend looks (I didn't take any pictures, but I'll post some if anyone gives me any). I may have to start scouring the CT-area stores for more pocketbooks to add to my collection (Noe will LOVE that).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Opening Day (of grill season)

Today the temperature hit the high 70s. Not only did this mean an extremely pleasant walk to work (yes, I am back on that kick again) but also meant that Noe was just itching to get the grill going. While I was at work, he went out and bought some country-style pork ribs. By the time I got home, the grill was going and the ribs were sizzling.

Noe gets the grill going

Meaty goodness

We could have been stuck for side dishes, however, the night before I had attempted to make bean soup in the crock pot (trying to find a use for the ham bone from Easter, despite the fact that bean soup is horrendously unseasonal at this point). Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - I either didn't add enough water or let the soup simmer too long (or both). By the time I got home, the soup had thickened into the most glorious baked beans imaginable. I stirred in about two tablespoons of barbecue sauce for some sweetness and it was all mmm, mmm, good.


We hung out outside while Noe cooked the ribs, he minding the grill and me sitting on my ass in a lawn chair, dragging it around trying to maximize the last of the sun's rays, drinking rose and reading Vanity Fair. It was AMAZING.

  Being lazy while Noe does the work

 Country-style ribs, baked beans, 
and some leftover Zinfandel from work

 How do you enjoy the warm weather?