Friday, August 29, 2014

August Sweater: Ballerina Wrap Sweater

Can you believe that we are already preparing ourselves for the autumn months?  This year has simply flown by, and with the sweater I'll be sharing with you today, I will have officially crossed the halfway point in my goal of making one sweater for every month of the year.  I think every month I talk about how that month's sweater was my favorite to make,  which is true of this one, as well, but it's most definitely my favorite to wear!

This is the Ballerina Wrap Sweater, from Vogue Knitting, just like all the sweaters I've done this year.  It features a lovely peplum-style bottom, with a ruffle edge detailing that hides the snap-button closures.  It's just a lovely, intricate piece.  It's certainly not a beginner project, though.  There were several times that I had to stop while knitting this piece and scratch my head a while, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do - particularly when it came to the ruffle over the closures.

As for my outfit, I decided to pair this sweater with some jeans from American Eagle.  I love American Eagle jeans.  They just fit me better than any other jeans I've worn, and they're incredibly comfortable.

As for my shoes, I wore a pair of simple, matte black Tieks that I wear All.  The.  Time.  Honestly, I probably don't actually need another pair of shoes, I wear them that much.

For my accessories, I decided to keep it simple with some nice silver bangles from White House | Black Market that were a gift, and some small pearl stud earrings.  I forgot to actually take a picture of my earrings, but you all know how much I love my pearls, and stud earrings are always a classic piece.

The lipstick I chose today has been my favorite of the moment, and it's this Tara Tarantino lipstick in Penny Arcade.  It's a fun, bright pink that is just dark enough to not qualify as hot pink, and I absolutely love it.

Also, for those of you wondering how I was able to find such an amazing place to take pictures, I would like to introduce you to the gorgeous building in which I work.  If you watched my vlog channel, you may know that I work in a museum, and if you know which museum I work in, you should definitely come check it out!

My Outfit
Sweater: Vogue Knitting | Jeans: American Eagle | Bangles: White House Black Market (gift) | Flats: Tieks | Lipstick: Tara Tarantino Penny Arcade

 Past Sweaters

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cooking Sous Vide Steak

Joe recently got it into his head that he wanted to try Sous Vide or Precision Cooking, which I have to admit, I was a little leery about at first.  In the most basic sense, you cook your food in a vacuum sealed bag submerged in water.  But, it requires you to first have a sous vide immersion circulator, so that you are able to cook it evenly, and to a precise degree (DIY versions are not able to do this - unless you're a genius, I suppose). This immersion circulator is not a cheap purchase.  We got ours from Anova, and it ended up being about $200 (but you can get $50 off if you use the code TAKE50).  But, after having tried the food that comes out of this circulator, I think it's completely worth it!  We cooked up a couple ribeye steaks recently with it, and they tasted better than any I've ever had at a restaurant!  So, I thought I'd walk you through the process!

First, grab some steak, preferably about 1" thick.  Here, we used a couple ribeye steaks, and it's definitely been my favorite kind so far, but even a roast cut into steaks tastes incredible.  Then, you can season it however you desire.

To season our steaks, we like to first sprinkle Mrs. Dash's Garlic and Herb seasoning all over the meat.  Mrs. Dash seasoning is amazing because it doesn't contain sodium, so it's a bit healthier of an option.  We like to follow it up with some Cayenne Pepper, and then top everything off with a couple sprigs of fresh Basil from my herb garden, because everything tastes better with a bit of Basil!

Then, vacuum seal each of the steaks individually.  Our vacuum sealer is a Seal-A-Meal, which is basically the exact same thing as the FoodSaver, but a little cheaper if you're in the market!  Oh yes, and if you get the food saver bags in a roll rather than as a set of bags, you can make more bags and cater them to your specific needs for the exact same price!

Fill a tub with water, and set the steaks and immersion circulator in the tub.  Our tub wasn't quite tall enough for the circulator, so we stacked a couple saucepans on top of each other until it could stand upright.

Now, it's finally time to start cooking.  We cook our steaks at 134 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour and a half, but you could really leave it in for a few hours without doing any damage to the meat - that's another of the benefits to sous vide cooking.  The food isn't going to go over a certain temperature.

At this point, you can do one of two things.  You can either freeze the steaks and heat them up when you're ready, or you can finish and eat them right away.  Since it's the tail end of summer, we're using our grill as much as possible, but you can easily pan fry the steaks as well.  You just want to cook the outside of the steak at this point, since the inside is already perfectly done thanks to the sous vide cooking, so make sure not to leave them on too long!

You should end up with something that looks like this:

Yes, it is just as mouthwatering as it looks, and writing this post has made me so incredibly hungry!  I may have to make another...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's on Our Wedding Registry?

To be perfectly honest, I didn't think putting a wedding registry together was going to be particularly difficult. In fact, places like Target and Amazon (where we're registered) make it very easy to start a registry.  But, adding items to it was what was difficult.  Joe and I both lived on our own for quite a while before we really even started seeing each other, and were both fairly comfortable.

Amazon Wedding Registry
The links to all items mentioned in our Amazon registry can be found here
So, it was difficult to come up with items that we could use a lot, but for some reason or another hadn't purchased.  I'm quite happy with what we've come up with, though, and thought I'd share some of the items we're most excited about, just in case you are in a similar situation.

Target Registry
The links to all items mentioned in our Target registry can be found here 

As I said, we are registered at Target and Amazon, though we are both fonder of our Amazon list, so I'll talk about that one, first.  The item(s) I think we're both most excited about may seem very boring, but it's a Shredded Memory Foam Pillow with a Bamboo Cover.  We've been living off pillows from Walmart that cost between $1-$2 that are comfy at first, but go flat very quickly, so some pillows that are actually nice are high up on the list.


This next item is basically just for my benefit.  It's a Haier 6-bottle Wine Cellar, and I say that it's more for me, since Joe doesn't actually like wine.  My best friend, Emily, and I certainly do, though, so it would still get quite a bit of love if it ends up in our home! Haier 6-Bottle Wine Cellar with Electronic Controls: Appliances

This is another item that may seem boring to essentially anyone that doesn't live in our house.  We are big coffee drinkers, and have an espresso machine from Breville that we absolutely adore.  However, when we are emptying the filter, we often end up with a little trail of coffee drips from the espresso machine to the trash can.  So, a coffee knock box has been added to our registry in an attempt to avoid the coffee trail! Breville BCB100 Barista-Style Coffee Knock Box: Espresso Machine Accessories: Kitchen & Dining

Speaking of how much we love coffee, we also added a set of four Cappuccino cups to our registry.  Really, if we're going to be coffee snobs, we might as well do it right, right?

Bormioli Rocco Verdi Cappuccino Cup With Stainless Steel Handle, Set Of 4, Gift Boxed

To finish out our favorite Amazon registry items, we have an electric fondue maker from Cuisinart.  We had a fondue maker for a while, but then my mom remembered she'd lent it to us, so now we need one for ourselves.  Plus, this little fondue maker has eight forks, which would be perfect for when we have company (wine and cheese party, anyone?)

Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker

Moving on to the Target registry, I'd say that the item Joe and I are most excited about is this Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker.  Joe really likes the Sausage McMuffins from McDonald's (as do I...), but we all know that McDonald's is not the healthiest option available.  So, it would be really nice to make a healthier version of it in our own home!

HAMILTON BEACH Dark Gray Breakfast Sandwich Maker

We also added a Smith & Hawken Wall Organizer, to help us keep track of our keys, mail, etc.  Neither of us are particularly good at knowing where our keys are at any given moment, which makes for a rather frantic morning.  Hopefully a little organizer like this would help alleviate some of that morning stress!

Smith & Hawken Wall Organizer with Chalkboard Label

Ah, a flatware set that actually matches!  Wouldn't that be a dream?  To be honest, we have plenty of flatware - spoons, in particular - but nothing actually matches.  So, we added a set that includes service for eight.  This should also be nice when we're entertaining, or when we simply don't feel like doing the dishes right away.

Room Essentials 45 Piece Satin Flatware Set

Finally, I added a toilet brush, and I'm excited enough about a toilet brush to actually talk about it in a blog post.  Please let that sink in a moment before I explain my reasoning.  This is another of those items where we already have a cheap version of it, so it's hard to really upgrade to a nicer version.  But, our current brush is so wobbly and the stand is really not sturdy at all, so I would really, really like a new toilet brush.  Plus, I like to try and make our bathroom feel clean.

Neo Bronze Bowl Brush

So, those are some of our favorite items on our registry!  It took a long time to really decide what we wanted to put on there, and I'm quite pleased with the results.  If you have any ideas for anything else a couple that already has everything they need could put on their registry, please comment below!  I would love more ideas, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that had a hard time with this!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Toad Hollow Chardonnay

You lovelies know I love wine, but we're going to get nice and personal with this post, because I'm going to tell you what one of my absolute favorite wines is.  That particular wine is the Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay.  It tastes incredible, though I'm not much of a wine connoisseur, so I can't go through all the notes, and what makes it so amazing.  I just really like it, I guess.

It's a fairly sweet wine, but I will warn you that it has quite a bit more alcohol in it that typical wines. Therefore, in addition to being of age before looking for this wine, and drinking responsibly, please realize that this hits you fast.  In fact, this is really where the personal bit comes in, because I do have to admit that the first time I had this, I didn't pay attention to the alcoholic content, and actually ended up getting sick off it.  Now, I would not recommend getting sick off it, but I know that I love this particular wine, because even after that negative experience, I still enjoyed it!

Before I end this post, I do have to mention quickly that I absolutely adore the name and label on this bottle.  The label is so cute, and the fact that this is essentially named after The Wind in the Willows is simply incredible.  I love The Wind in the Willows, and when Emily and I had this on one of our Wednesday Wine Nights, we even had to watch the Disney version, The Adventures of Mr. Toad!  If you happen to spot this particular bottle of wine, I would certainly recommend trying it out!  I certainly love it, but I don't get it very often, as it's not readily available in my town.  Oh well.

Friday, August 8, 2014

February Sweater: Pleated Blouse

To those of you just stumbling upon this blog, I would like to first and foremost welcome you!  You may be a bit confused by this post, as it is not February, nor is it sweater weather at all.  Allow me to explain.  In April of this year, I decided that I wanted to set a goal for myself to knit a sweater for every month of the year.  I've done quite well, but since I started in April, I've had to play a little bit of catch-up.  After this sweater, I just have to complete January's sweater, and I'm back on track!

For those of you that have read these posts before, you may also be confused, since every other time I've done a monthly sweater post, I've done two separate posts: one where I talk about the sweater, and one where I put an outfit together with it.  Well, with my wedding coming up so quickly, (56 days!) I really haven't been a very good blogger/vlogger.  I've had fewer posts going up, which is good for my time, but I figured that if I were to continue doing fewer posts, I should probably put a little more effort into them.  Thus, I'm combining the two posts.

Having said that, this was another fun sweater to make.  It's a lovely, drop waist sweater made from a pale pink baby yarn that has bell sleeves (which always seem to add a touch of elegance), some drop stitch detailing, and a beautiful keyhole collar that is kept closed by a little hook and eye clasp.  This was the first time that I've ever used a clasp like this for anything, but I absolutely love it, and will have to try it again sometime.  It just looks so much more polished and professional, rather than that, "Why, yes, I did make it myself".  The other skill I learned in knitting this sweater was how to knit pleats.  I'd never done that before, and I really don't know that I would have been able to figure it out on my own!

As for my outfit, I wanted to point out just a few of my favorite pieces.  First, there's this lipstick from Appeal Cosmetics called Kitten that I received in a recent Boxycharm box.  It's a really pretty, frosty baby pink that I doubt I would have picked out for myself, but I've found that I quite like it on my fair skin, and adore it with this sweater.  That's one nice thing about subscription boxes: they have you try out products you wouldn't otherwise think you'd like!

Then, there's this nail polish from OPI.  I've actually been trying to let my nails go naked a little more to try and get them a little healthier, but then I rediscovered this lovely, super pale, lilac-pink shade, Don't Bossa Nova Me Around.  It's a lovely, almost natural color, with just that little hint of color that makes your nails look polished and sophisticated.

Finally, my booties.  To my knowledge, I have never owned a pair of booties, but I'm making up for lost time, now!  I found them at Target for less that $30, and have essentially been living in them.  They have about a 2 1/2" chunky heel, so they're easy to walk in, and I am in love with the buckle detailing they have on the sides.  The buckles and zipper are purely cosmetic elements - you can see the real zipper on the bootie in the back - which is absolutely fine with me, since it's easier to get them on and off.

Although I wouldn't recommend wearing a sweater in the middle of August, I do really like this particular one, and it's just one more reason I'm beginning to look forward to fall.  I already have six new sweaters I can wear as soon as it gets a little colder!  As I've said before, if you make any of the sweaters I've shown on this blog, or if you just want to show off sweaters you've made, make sure to tweet or Instagram me @meganandpearls with the hashtag, #makingsweaters!

My Outfit
Sweater: Vogue Knitting | Jeans: JCPenney | Bangles: White House Black Market (gift) | Booties: Target (similar) | Nail Polish: OPI Don't Bossa Nova Me Around | Lipstick: Appeal Cosmetics Kitten

Past Sweaters