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How could I forget?! My sister made this amazing salad for my birthday BBQ. Citrusy and crunchy – it was a great departure from a typical green salad. And the next morning, I loved it still! Hooray for leftovers! (Sorry sister, I ate the last 2 servings myself!) Not only was this salad the perfect addition to our BBQ classics, I can imagine as a great option for brunch too.

Parmesan Celery Salad
via 101 cookbooks

8 large celery stalks, stripped of strings (update: according to sister, stripping is optional)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
3 tablespoons currants (or golden raisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, deeply toasted
sea salt
freshly chopped herbs (or herb flowers), or reserved celery leaves

Slice the celery stalks quite thinly – 1/8-inch or so. Then, in a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside. In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, currants, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with herb flowers and/or celery leaves.

So… I turned thirty this week. What a week it was! Another friend of mine turned thirty this week also, so there were many festivities to be had. We had a lake float and pool party BBQ, dinner with 15 of our closest friends at the fantastic new neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and drinks & fun at my favorite local bar. They just built out a huge lower level filled with games – feels like a carnival just landed! Now I’m looking forward to resting up a bit this weekend after all this fun…

Phew! Well, my sister’s engagement party went off yesterday without a hitch. We went for a swanky americana theme – a summer barbecue with a bit of class. I think the bloody mary bar was the biggest hit! You can’t see them all in the picture below, but we had about 10 different kinds of pickled vegetables to add, and they were all so delicious.

It was so much fun, and everyone pitched in. Husband and I made kabobs with steak, chicken and a variety of veggies – and my now famous potato salad. It’s a pretty simple salad, but with a great balance of flavors and what I call the ‘secret ingredient,’ white wine vinegar! It adds just the right amount of tang and gives the creaminess just a bit of a bite. And I add a little more celery, because I love the extra crunch.

Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon
via real simple food

3 pounds small red new potatoes (about 24)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Cut into quarters.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, the 2nd teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and celery and toss to coat. Fold in the parsley, tarragon, and bacon before serving.

We did a lovely brunch at my mother-in-law’s this weekend, and I wanted to bring something easy but a little different. My sister-in-law makes an amazing souffle, but I’m no good at baking. My first thought was a side of roasted potatoes and some greens, but we were crunched for time and I had this lovely savory french toast recipe saved. So perfect! We whipped it up with a fresh arugula salad in mere minutes. Actually, my dear husband ended up doing all the work since I made myself carsick reading on the way over (I was finishing Tina Fey’s Bossypants and couldn’t put it down).
Food someone else makes always tastes a little better any way!

Savory French Toast
via food52

5 eggs
3 tablespoons half & half
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons butter
8 slices of bread (preferably day old – it holds up a little better)

In a bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with half & half, salt, pepper, green onions, and cilantro. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and add a tablespoon or two of butter for taste.
Dip the bread triangles into the egg batter, drain off any excess, and place straight into the hot pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side – you want to develop a golden-brown color and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast. Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain. Serve hot!

I realized the other day that six months have already passed since our wedding. Oh how time flies!
And it’s starting to feel like forever since our honeymoon… I wish we could go back to Europe. Now.
It was such a magical two weeks. Italy. Paris. We could have spent forever there.








So many favorites. Florence was amazing, filled with art and fantastic sculptures on every corner, but my favorite was Pandemonio – the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. The sweetest little hole in the wall, where we were served by Mama herself, and drank way too much limoncello on the house.
Venice was lovely, with the waterways and lack of streets, it felt a bit like Disneyland. I literally teared up the second we walked off the train and into Rome. It was like stepping into a history book. The Colosseum was breathtaking, and we really enjoyed wine with every meal, but the best was discovering our favorite new dessert – panna cotta. One of these days I’ll try my hand at it.

And Paris, oh Paris. We could have stayed forever. Just the streets, every building was beautiful. The gardens and parks dotting the city. So many sweet cafes for sipping cappuccinos and people watching. Endless museums with hours of beauty – the Louvre’s line was endless, Musée d’Orsay was closed due to a strike, and the Musee de l’Orangerie ended up being the perfect museum for our half day. It looked tiny from the outside, but seemed to go on and on downstairs, and the main rooms were filled with Monet paintings spanning the length of the walls. Surreal. And Ladurée. Those famous macarons. It’s no joke folks, those cookies are a tasty little dream. And while the historic restaurant Polidor was incredibly delicious and where we had the most quintessential european dinner experience – with shared bread, tables, and conversations all night, it wasn’t quite my favorite meal in the city. It was just barely beat out by our incredible experience at L’Entrecôte.
The best steak-frites you’ll ever have. Sensing a trend? I think next time we’ll eat our way through Eastern Europe.

My mother has been raving about these new hair products for months, and then over our Portland weekend she showed me all her new ‘little baby hairs’ (as she likes to call them). While I’m generally a pretty serious skeptic about hair product, she did have quite a bit of new growth.
And then she pulls out a bag full of product – for me! What a sweet mommy! She definitely knows how much I despise my thin, flat, lifeless hair – we lament over our sad hair genes all the time.
All I dream of is volume! I even tried the Rogaine shampoo once, but didn’t really notice a difference. But after seeing the thrill on my mother’s face, I’m ready to give it a shot.

It’s only been a few days, but I’m already a bit in love. The tingle! The Kleen shampoo and Mint conditioner are such a magic combo, my scalp feels amazing. But it’s the thickening serum that’s really got me. Starts tingling right away, which practically has me convinced it’s working already.
I’ll let you know when I start seeing my own new little baby hairs sprouting up!

Confession time: It may have been this photo of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Miki’s facebook that convinced me this stuff must be awesome.