Ampersands in the Emerald City: First Edition

Hello, blogland! Let me update you on the last month of my life:

– Opened my Etsy shop! Please come visit, browse through my items, follow my shop, take a gander at my treasuries!
– Created both bridal shower and bachelorette extravaganzas
– Finished my first ever bridal gown and saw it worn to perfection
– Netflixed binged “Say Yes to the Dress” so hard that I had to take the lateral move over to “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta”
– Watched my Seattle Sounders go into the playoffs and proceed to the Western Conference Semi-Finals! (We see you Portland, and we are coming to take you down)
– Became the proud owner of a lovely new case of bronchitis. It’s reallllllly cute.

All that happened. It was a lot. I didn’t cook very much, and when I did, it just wasn’t pretty.

However, C and I recently brainstormed ideas for the ol ‘E&A blog, and I think we came up with a winner.

Here’s the premise – once weekly, alongside my regularly scheduled lifestyle content, I present a “quickfix”-style article. These posts will outline an “Emerald” – a Seattle jewel, a place I love, something fun and local – and an “Ampersand” – a fun and frivolous activity that a person could do anywhere. I will pair them together like a sommelier pairs a fine wine with a meal. It’s gonna be classy, guys.

It may be worth mentioning that I do not run a sponsored blog. None of my recommendations are coming from the  brand, organization, or businesses (at least not yet, and I will tell you if they do).

So here it comes:

Read “Nylon” Magazine…

Okay, it’s only the quintessential fashion and style mag for the hipster elite. If you could overdose on quirky chic, Nylon would be the catalyst.

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If anybody could pull off orange bangs, everyone would have them

Hayley Williams is God’s gift to the urban street fashion movement, and Good Lord, does her interview make for an entertaining read. 

I read quite a few of my roommate’s Nylon mags back in college. Every page was an adventure in fashion, art, design, and culture told in a quirky, youthful way. Perfect for reading closely or flipping through casually.

Which leads me to my next point:

… In Rudy’s Barbershop.

Rudy’s is the King of the hipster hair world. Located in ultra-trendy cities like Seattle, Portland, and New York, Rudy’s has created a culture of no nonsense walk-in appointments. You walk in and get your hair cut by a guy with tattoos that uses the F-Word a lot. It’s pretty great.

They cut heads

They cut heads

Rudy’s specializes in men’s cuts, though they are happy to do kids and ladies as well.. This is not a frilly salon with paraffin wax dips and two-week deep appointment books. It’s an anything goes environment, and it’s pretty darn liberating.

It surprises a lot of people that I go to Rudys to have my own hair done. I LOVE my colorist, which is pretty important when you’re in for the three-hour bleach and tone long haul (platinum is pain, friends).  She is a chatty paleo enthusiast with a septum piercing who was tired of the  upscale princesses she encountered at typical hair salons. It’s reasonably priced and a damn good finished product.

So sit back with a Nylon mag under the hairdryer, and  read why grunge is the new look for fall.

It’s gonna look great on you.

Once Upon a Book

Optional Soundtrack to this post:

This is a story about a girl. And a book.

Once upon a time was a little girl who read a lot of books. She read a lot about scientists and villains, heroes, pirates, princesses. She read about adventure and friendship. She learned to like books very much.

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I’m waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter annnnnny day now

As she grew up, she began to like books even more, reading everything she could get her hands on. She read about love, beauty, sadness, and war. She learned about hope and betrayal and racism and hate and violence. She learned that books can illuminate our flaws to show us how to be better. She learned to love books very much indeed.

As a young lady, she found out that sometimes there is hate and violence and sadness wrapped up in a package that looks a lot like love. When she opened the package, she found out that the world is sometimes very ugly.  She became very sad, but she hid it behind a smile and a laugh.

When she went off to school, she found a book that really made her laugh, full of silly slang and dirty innuendos. She laughed and he saw her. She showed him the book and he laughed too. They met because she had a book.

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Puppy Love

They spent all their time together, years together. He showed her a package all wrapped up that looked like love, but on the inside, it was just as beautiful as the outside. They talked about war and hate and violence and shared the sadness together, because the smile didn’t need to hide the pain anymore.

And once, he gave her a gift. Her favorite book. He gave it to her and as she leafed through, she saw that he had taken her favorite book and turned it into a beautiful love letter. “Marry me. I love you.” She looked up with tears in her eyes and saw him on one knee with a ring in his hand. And she was his.

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Best moment of my life

He wore a flower made of books when she walked down the aisle to him.

She turned the whole world into a book for the two of them to share.

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And the world was dark and cold, but it was warm when they cuddled under the blankets.

And read a book.

It’s been two years since we’ve said our vows, but 6 years since I showed you that book. I can’t wait to keep writing this storybook with you. Happy Anniversary, C. 

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Let’s never stop being awesome, okay?

Thai Basil Chicken – Why Order Takeout?

Note: So, sometimes, when you work a ton and then get the HEADCOLD THAT WOULD END YOU, it’s really hard to write witty and illuminating blog posts. Sorry for the lapse, but I’m back on the wagon. Or off the wagon. Whichever one is the good one, I’m that.

To write this post, I’m going to have to admit a couple of things.

Number one: I love the internet like a fat kid loves cake (read: fat kid = me).

I love the internet. It’s one of the most entertaining things I can do relatively cheaply in my own time. I have an addiction to StumbleUpon, which is similar to Pinterest, I guess, but without all the broken links. When I am in need of a good ol’ fashioned time-waster, I click through StumbleUpon, liking things to save them for later perusal. This is where I get a lot of my best ideas, recipes, tutorials, and such.

I have close to 1200 likes. That is too many for a reasonable person to have. Witness my time-wasted shame.

Number two: I love Thai food beyond any reasonable normal human amount.

I think my love of Thai food came about in college from a very strange rule – the SPU cafeteria didn’t serve any sort of meal in the evenings on Sundays. It was sort of a nice way to give the food workers the night off. It seemed pretty inconvenient at the time, but as I look back on it now I think of all the wonderful times I had eating out with then-boyfriend C and our best friend Cynthia. I think of how much of the city we saw riding around on buses and eating in little hole-in-the-wall Mom and Pops  and fancy-ish downtown haunts (we definitely had ourselves some Cheesecake Factory on occasion). I know that some of the best college memories I have come from Sunday night dinners.

Anyway, once upon a time we walked from campus to Thai food in Fremont, and my world was opened. One Massaman curry later, Thai food became king in my heart.

So (here comes the tie-in. I know you were waiting for it), I was clicking around on StumbleUpon, and I found this post: Basically, this article explains that Thai Basil Stir fry, pad kra pao gai in Thai, is the Thai equivalent of a cheeseburger and fries. It’s the homegrown comfort food that any restaurant in Thailand should be able to make passably.

Now, the article had some guidelines for how the dish should be put together, but no real recipe. Pretty disappointing, right? Never fear,dear reader, Bonnie comes to the rescue! Combining what I learned about the dish and a couple similar recipes, I have created a great, simple, quick weeknight meal that is literally ready in ten minutes or less (plus however long it takes for your rice to cook).

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Oh Basil. Get in my mouth.

The only trick here is to add the signature basil after removing the pan from the heat. The residual heat from the pan should be enough to release the flavor without wilting the leaves and losing the basil deliciousness. It will look like a ton of leaves, but use a free hand – girl can never have too much basil in her life.

Thai basil can be a little hard to find but here is my Seattle shopping guide: Safeway is a no-go, Fred Meyer sometimes does. QFC always stocks it, but if they run out you can run over to Ballard Market on 15th and just north of Market. I would be downright shocked if you couldn’t  buy Thai basil at Met Market or Whole foods, but I haven’t looked yet. It’s worth the run around, because in the end you will have this:

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This is what is for dinner. Right now.

THAI BASIL CHICKEN (serves 2)

2 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 onion, diced
a few Thai ghost peppers, or a pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium if available)
1 or 2 packages of thai basil, or reg basil if need be, trimmed from stems
1 egg per serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, sauté until tender, about three min. Add chicken and heat until cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, and Thai peppers or red pepper flakes.
Add garlic, sugar, fish sauce, and soy. Allow to boil and reduce until thickened and sauce-like. Remove pan from heat. Add basil leaves.
Meanwhile, add 1 tsp oil to a small fry pan over medium heat. Fry egg until white is set and yolk is runny.
Serve over rice (jasmine tastes best, I think), topped with egg.