Friday, November 19, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

With Thanksgiving so close the season of 'Giving' has begun and although it shouldn't necessarily be tied to the holidays in this household we finally try to slow down to be thankful and to think about possible charities and people in need. We give to the local shelter here in San Diego every year and pay for a couple of Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless as well as some support for Christmas. One of the things that I always wanted to do is deliver 'meals on wheels' or something as a volunteer around the holidays and maybe this is something we can actually do this year since we'll stay home in Cali. One of the charity pages that caught my attention a while back is Kiva. The site enables people to give free loans to people in third-world countries or in need in order to establish a business or take care of things when they otherwise wouldn't get a loan or had to pay interest. This is such a beautiful idea. Owning a small business we know exactly how hard it is to make money and especially to get started. Lending money for outrageous interest rates isn't something that I believe in and it seems like a great idea to help people with free loans. It's really hard to go through the 'applications' and pick a candidate when I'd like to help everybody, but for now I decided to help Marcelino and his family.

I have no experience with this yet and can't tell you whether the money actually comes back or not, but I'll be glad to keep you posted. :)

There are a lot of moving little stories of people trying to improve their homes for their families or trying to sell livestock. If our small loan amount can help them that would be so wonderful. There is so much that we are thankful for! Aaahhh - Thanksgiving is so close - I can smell the turkey. Haha.

Are you making any donations this season? What are you preferred charities? Have you tried Kiva before? I wanna hear all about it!


Fun with Chickpeas - Homemade Hummus

Saturday, November 13, 2010 Anya 3 Comments

Chickpeas are something that came into my life here in the US. Known in Germany as 'Kichererbse' they haven't really shown up in my families food life before and if I remember it correctly the only time I held one in my hand was when we went fishing. :)) I am not sure whether Germans are not to fond of the chickpea or whether it's considered fish food more than anything..maybe it's just my family. I am very thankful that I have chickpeas in my life now, nevertheless. I really embrace the new culinary possibilities that opened up for me here and I try to embrace them.

I think I probably tried Hummus for the first time a year or so ago. It's a very healthy spread for fresh bread or pita chips for example. The store bought kind is pretty good, especially from the San Diego Farmer's Markets here in town, but nothing is better than home-made, when you know what's in there.

It's great with flat-bread too or fresh whole-wheat toast. I know, I know - it looks funny - but trust me, it's a great addition to your pita chips or bread if you feel snacky and it's healthy too! It's the first time that I used Sesame Tahini, which is great! The smell of it - oh baby. You can find it in health or international stores, usually in the same aisle that has peanut butter or bread spreads of all sorts.

This is the very basic recipe and it can be spiced up or changed with extra ingredients like black beans or red peppers for example. The recipe that I used can be found here.

Have you tried Hummus yet? Any other good recipes that you have tried? 


What's cooking today? Channa Masala!

Sunday, November 07, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

I was ready to try something new today - I already knew this yesterday night and went ahead and bought the necessary missing ingredients at one of my favorite grocery stores: Henrys.

This is a follow-up recipe to my first Indian dish a little while ago and it turned out really great tasting while being vegetarian. 

I started to try out chickpeas in my recipes more since I made home-made hummus the other day. (More about this later...) So I felt really inspired by this recipe by Meg Kat that I found on her blog a little while ago. I only changed minor things:

Recipe Ingredients:
2-3 TBS vegetable oil
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp onion seeds
2 16oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
3-5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced garlic
1″ piece of ginger, minced or grated
1/2-1 jalapeno, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp turmeric
3 C water
some milk for tastinghandful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion seeds and cumin seeds. Saute for around 20 seconds then add the chopped onions and cook until they are lightly browned.
(Didn't have the onion seeds, but it still turned out great)
Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno and stir fry for a minute or two.
Now add the can of diced tomatoes and stir fry for another 5 minutes, then add the spices and stir thoroughly.
Add the diced potatoes and stir well to coat in spices
Add 3 cups of water and put the lid on. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat a bit and let simmer for around 20 minutes to soften the potato.
Check to see that the potato chunks are soft then add the chickpeas. Stir it all up and add some milk to the pot. 
(In her original recipe it asked for a whole new cup of water, but it was fairly liquid already and so I just added a little bit of milk instead as I didn't want to water the spices down any further. I also feel like there could be a little less chickpeas, but it tasted good this way too. Next time I might try it with just one can)
Bring to a boil again and then turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid partially on.
Stir in some freshly chopped cilantro then turn off the heat, put the lid on tight, and let it it stand for around 15 minutes while you make some rice or warm up some bread. It’s then ready to serve!


October Wedding in Clovis, California

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Yeah, it was time for a wedding again. I love weddings - oh how I love weddings. I appreciate the festivities so much more after planning my own wedding for over a year. Before I was there for the party, the food, the music and to party with the couple but now I soak everything in and enjoy every minute of it. I look for the details now and appreciate all the hard work (and money!) that was put into such a big party.

Anyway - we started our weekend trip to Fresno California with the weather for the town of Clovis saying it's 'dusty' - literally. I have never seen that before and me and the hubby had a good laugh about it. Sunglasses for sure if not a full mask or something...I have to say - I really don't like these tiny little machines with 10-20 people on it that take you to Fresno. Everything rattles and the noise changes constantly - it just makes me soo nervous. If I can't stand up straight on the plane - I'm already nervous.

The location was really stunning - right at the lake.

The couple looked so stunning and happy. The family and friends were so happy and the weather couldn't have been better in early October.

I was able to catch this pretty flower and the flag around the estate.

The picture of those fabulous 'wedding cake' cupcakes might be my favorite of the day. Is that wrong? :))

The cake topper is really cute, I remember looking at this one when we were looking for one.

The happy and very good-looking Newlyweds

The table names were countries or places that the couple has visited. We were seated at the Germany table - it could not have been better. :D

She looked really pretty in the dress - a great fit for her.

Very pretty view once the sun went down

The 'First Dance' moment is always so cute. Great picture - so emotional.

Total happiness....

After nightfall there was no holding us back. The costume box came out - what a surprise and everybody had a blast. Am I wearing 'mickey mouse ears'? I might be...

We feel partly responsible for this as the engagement happened in Switzerland in 2009 right after our wedding in Germany. Must have put them in the mood. :)


Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Happy Halloween everybody! I had so much fun yesterday at our friend's house carving my first pumpkin EVER!

Hubby wanted me to do the Ohio State Logo and I planned on it, but once I got an idea of how much work this is and how difficult this could become I decided to go with a good ol' pumpkin face instead. I have never seen the inside of a pumpkin before and when I carried this heavy fella up the stairs I figured I'll take the filling out and it will be MUCH much lighter. You should have seen my face when I finally got a hole in there and looked into the pumpkin...just a couple of strings and seeds dangling in there. Very strange. So opposite to my belief, I carried my heavy buddy down the stairs empty with about the same weight. I know the seeds are healthy and all, but I had my hands full the first time so I decided not to keep anything. I cut a hole in the bottom as opposed to the top because I really wanted to keep that pretty stem. After all this is how I chose my pumpkin mate. :))
So I find myself with my whole arm inside a pumpkin trying to get everything out, no clue on how much to carve and where to go with the mess. For a second I thought I have a pumpkin allergy when my whole arm started itching.

I have a confession to make, I broke my brand new carving knife half-way through my pumpkin-buddies teeth-carving.... Oh well... he's got thick skin you know.

Needless to say, people were making fun of me yesterday - me and my first pumpkin experience. I was asked why I'm reading the instructions.... ("appart from being german, it's also my first time carving a pumpkin, so excuse me...") I already have some great ideas for next year - hope my arm heals until then - 'cause my bowling arm is seriously sore today.

So much fun! Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Show me your pictures!!!


Bargain Hunting / LOFT

Monday, October 25, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

When it rains in San Diego, it's time to go to the mall! Am I right? Just kiddin' - it's always mall time, especially on Sundays when football is on. (I could do without the crowds though) It seems like either the recession is over at the mall or all the wife's and girlfriends are bored at home by their football-watching spouses and head to the mall. 

While I'm a big fan of bargain prices and making a good deal - I absolutely dislike the hassle of going through messy piles of clothes. It just doesn't attract me and most of the time the display of just messy piles drives me away more than the good prices could attract me. I am picky like that. I like clothes neatly stacked even if they are on sale....I like stores trying to sell them to me. Anyway - I found my way into LOFT yesterday, one of my new loves when it comes to clothes shopping. A lot of their line is exactly my style and I don't know whether this is because I just turned 29 for the second time. :)) I might have been pushed into a different target group now, huh? Naaah, I still like to shop around at 'Forever 21' although their messy piles and displays can turn me away soon sometimes.

I was delighted to see the 'take another 50% off' sale at LOFT. All nicely stacked and organized. Enough space available and you don't feel like you are garbage hunting. The experience turned even better when I found these two tops seriously reduced in my size.......that's what I call sale-heaven.


I found this pretty shirt reduced from originally $44.50 for $17.50!!!!

And this one from originally $36.50 for $15.00

Yeah, that pretty much made my day. There was talk that the Chargers missed the field goal or whatever..but no, seriously - I'm in love with LOFT.

It looks like they sold out of a lot of stuff on their homepage, so if you have a store nearby - go check it out. Great prices in the sales area and maybe you can still find something real cute in your size. Retail Therapy!!!


29 for the 2nd time!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Where have I been? You might have thought you lost me or maybe you thought I was at the beach all day. I really should be at the beach all day! Funny how that is that when you can be at the beach you aren't really at the beach. Don't get me wrong...I'll take every opportunity to take a deep breath of that wonderful ocean air that makes the cost of living skyrocket here every day. I just don't get around to it much lately, which brings me back to the original question: Am I hiding with Waldo?

No, the truth is somebody just turned '30' recently and it wasn't Waldo!!! I'd like to say it was my 2nd 29th birthday and where else to party but in Las Vegas, am I right? Yeah I pretty much traveled from Dallas, TX to Las Vegas and then to Fresno, CA but more about that later.

Being sick in Vegas during my 30th (cough!) birthday party did to me what a missed episode of 'The Office' does. It bums me out. It's like being in Disneyland but not able to see Mickey.... I made it through and had fun. It was great to celebrate with the family and a couple of friends. I received this absolutely gorgeous mini birthday/wedding cake from Jean Philippe Patissserie in Las Vegas.

How pretty is this? Yeah, you want my friends? I don't blame you.. :)) So the question is, what to do now? Some people might say: "Oh don't eat it, too good to be eaten, too pretty to be eaten, bad Feng Shui to eat it"
Other's might say: "Don't save the great stuff for too long, make every day count, don't let the chocolate go bad, how can you not eat this?"

I'd love to hear whether you want me to eat it and let you know how it was or whether you want me to keep it as a keepsake and memory. Feel free to add a comment with your thoughts.....


Homemade Sweet Potato Ravioli

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 Anya 1 Comments

After I had cleaned my kitchen spotless on Friday I came up with the great idea of making home-made ravioli on Saturday. I knew it would mess with my kitchen, but I had no idea. I am still trying to get rid of flour all over the place. :)) It's a shame that my love for cooking comes with piles and piles of dishes that I have to fight for days, especially when I'm cooking back to back twice a day. It can be overwhelming at times, especially with a dishwasher that is barely functioning. I saw this tasty looking recipe for Sweet Potato Ravioli the other day and was really eager to try it.

I have made raviolis from scratch only once before and so it's still quiet a task for me and I'm sure it's taking me much longer still than it should. The dough consists only of flour and hot water and next time I'll try it with a different ravioli dough recipe in order to enhance the dough itself a little bit. I had a hard time to use this kind of dough with my KitchenAid Pasta Attachment and it might just have been something I have done wrong, but I want to confirm this.

The filling and sauce is really easy to make. If you didn't have too much practice with making your own ravioli it might take you a while. For me it took really long but it turns out very 'gourmet!'

I will use a little less of the herbs next time and change up the dough but it's a real treat. The sweet potato taste combined with the nutty butter flavor works very well and cheese makes everything better, especially Parmesan. :)

Have you made your own raviolis from scratch yet? Any good recipes to share with me? Now let me go back to my kitchen and dust off all the flour.....


Military Style Fashion

Saturday, September 18, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

I haven't set foot into Armani Exchange until very recently and I have to say, it was a nice surprise. They have nice pieces for women and men and my lovely husband even picked out a couple things for himself. We are talking about somebody who literally 'hates' shopping - if there is any way out - he'll come up with it. So seeing him going through the shelves instead of following me through the hangers like a bored puppy was very surprising to say the least. :) I like what he found too and ran into this wonderful military inspired jacket with criss-cross zippers. Tried it on, put it down, tried it on again and...fell in love. It's very black/gold - so very me. :)) I decided to build an outfit around the sweater.

Military Look
Forever 21, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Aldo, Marc by Marc Jacobs
Look built around this exceptional Armani Exchange Military Sweater.

I don't like everything with the current military style in fashion but I certainly like some of the green colored jackets and definitely the belts.

Did you buy something military inspired yet?


Sandcastle Competition

Friday, September 10, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

San Diego hosts the annual sandcastle competition which as far as I know is the biggest in the country. The event is held in Imperial Beach / Chula Vista - close to the Mexican border and in my fourth year here in San Diego I finally managed to go see it. There were a lot of visitors this year and traffic and parking was kind of a headache - no doubt.

It's really impressive what people can do with sand in very little time and while most of the castles weren't as big as I had imagined them, some were very artsy. The weather was absolutely gorgeous - we are so spoiled down here in SoCal.

The pier in Imperial Beach looked really pretty and we had a good work-out walking around all the sandcastles. There were vendors and a lot of food along the street.

While I really enjoyed the castles I still thought they were bigger and more impressive. Part of why they weren't bigger is that each team is assigned a couple of hours only and due to the tides the castles won't last too long. The time factor plays a big role I'm sure. For a very impressive and large castle you probably need more than just a couple of hours and a safe place on an open beach so that the castles will last. We have seen very pretty ones in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico before.

I am probably just underestimating this thing - I'm sure it looks much easier than it is. It looks like fun though and you can actually win money with your team in this competition.

Some companies worked on their logos - one of the local pest control companies for example was working on a giant sand mouse.

This really inspired me to give it a try and see how difficult this really is. I have been known to ruin one or two bikinis in my day during fun in the sand. It's not recommended to wear light colored bikini bottoms when sitting in the wet sand for a while. ;) Whenever my nephew is in town and we start building sandcastles with him he is interested for about 5 minutes and we end up building castles alone - must be a funny scene for by-passers who can't see a child around and probably wondering why grown people get so excited about building a castle. "Hey, I get carried away sometimes"


Brownie Heaven

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

I entered Brownie heaven this weekend when I gave Ray Romano's Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownie recipe a try. Who would have known that a funny man can come up with such a heavenly brownie recipe. He probably has this from his Grandma' and it should really be 'Grandma Romano's Brownie recipe'. Or maybe he had a dream..... however he acquired this recipe - it's a real treat!

The brownie batter turns out very fluffy and moist. The raspberry adds a very nice hint of fruit, although mine were a little 'sour' when they first came out, but got better over night. I am looking forward to trying this with other fruit too. The white batter was meant to mix more with the brown batter...I have a feeling it could have to do with me using 'Light Cream Cheese' that it didn't mix as it should have. It doesn't look as pretty as it should have, but it looks all that delicious nevertheless. (Doesn't it?) I always try to exchange for low-fat ingredients if possible and of course this can take away from the taste here and there - not in this brownie though.

The last wonderfully in the fridge and I warm them up in the microwave for one minute when I feel like having a brownie. (Every day could/should be a Brownie day) Talking about this...I'm fairly sure my gym doesn't miss me. They are very happy with me paying without showing up. I'm so far from causing machine-wear to their treadmills..shame on me. ;) would I find these recipes for you if I was at the gym all day?



Beach Wedding Guest Outfit

Saturday, September 04, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Why is she proposing an outfit for a beach wedding, now that we are getting so close to fall? - you might be thinking. The truth is here in Southern California you can wear this kind of outfit almost year round. During the colder season or for later at night you might just want to combine it with a cute cardigan and you are good to go. I looked into a possible guest outfit for a beach wedding this April (you can read more about the wedding here) and I decided to create my outfit around this beautiful J.Crew Maxi dress that I ran into browsing their homepage. I am absolutely in love with this tone of grey and I decided to pair it with turquoise in order to make it 'beachy'. The J.Crew dress is stunning - it almost feels more like a gown than a maxi dress and that way makes it perfect to attend a beach wedding in my view.

I just recently tried this new DKNY fragrance called Pure that is new in stores just now and I am absolutely in love with it. I think it would match this outfit perfectly.

Any good outfit ideas for a wedding at the lake in California in October? :)
Let's hear 'em...


Chicken Tikka Masala

Thursday, September 02, 2010 Anya 1 Comments

I have never tried to prepare an Indian dish on my own but I can sure say that I'm a fan of Indian food. Tikka Masala is always one of my go-to menu choices at Indian Restaurants and it was time to try it out on my own. After finding this recipe here I felt inspired to give it a try and I have to say that it worked out great.

It's such a blessing to live in a country and state so culturally diverse that you'll have no problems to find all the ingredients. One of the main ingredients of course is Garam Masala, which I was able to pick up at the International Market around the corner but you can also order it online if necessary.

Can I just say that I love the huge rice bag with the handle? Very convenient!! We got Basmati Rice, Garam Masala spice (which you can also mix yourself), Yogurt, Diced Tomatoes, Half and Half, Chicken Tenders, Onion, Garlic, Butter, Cumin, Ginger, Ground Coriander and Turmeric. Adding peas and turmeric to the rice turned this into a colorful and appealing dish with great taste.


I'm amazed on how well it turned out the first time considering my frustration with Asian dishes. I highly recommend that you try it out if you like this kind of food. It's just as good warmed-up! Do you like Indian Food and have you tried to prepare it at home yet? Any good recipes you'd like to share?


Make-Up Favorites

Sunday, August 29, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Since I decided to do my own wedding make-up last year I started to look into new products and took advantage of a couple of make-up consultations at Sephora. I have to say that they were really helpful even though I didn't like the color they chose for one of the eye make up consultations. I probably should have been more clear about my preferences for natural and earthy colors when it comes to eye make-up. For my wedding I decided for the Dior Show Mascara which was recommended by the sales rep and I have to say it was really good. It sure stayed in it's place when the flood gates opened during the wedding ceremony and that is exactly what I was looking for at that time. However the mascara is a little pricey but I wasn't able to find anything that I liked better in 2009. Now in 2010 I was completely impressed by the new Covergirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara Volume And Length. 

It comes with the super affordable convenience store price tag of under $10 which can't be beat and I absolutely love it since the first time I tried it. Apply this 2-3 times and curl your lashes and they will look as gorgeous and full as normally only fake lashes would. The NARS Blush is another one of my favorites since I tried it lately. The color is subtle and very beautiful. It will last and doesn't make you break out. 

If you can get your hand on the Urban Decay Gilded Baked Bronzer give it a try. It gives a wonderful sun-kissed glow without the harmful rays. Several people have commented on my tan when I use this product. :)

Jergens, Neutrogena, Too Faced, Smashbox, NARS
Mascara: Covergirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara Volume And Length Finishing - $8
Powder: MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Microfinish Powder - $30
Bronzer: Urban Decay Gilded Baked Bronzer - $24
Blush:  More Face Blush by NARS - $26
Eye Shadow: Too Faced Naked Eye Palette - $35
Eye Shadow Primer: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Primer – $18
Primer: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer - $36
Foundation: Smashbox High Definition Healthy Fx Foundation - $38
Concealer: Smashbox High Definition Liquid Concealer - $18
Daily Moisturizer: Neutrogena Healthy Defense Tinted SPF 30 - $12
Face Tanning Lotion: Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer - $8.99

Have you tried any of these products? What is your favorite make-up and why?