Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Moving Tips

You can take it from me, because I'm kind of a pro by now; tomorrow will be the 6th time I've moved in the last 8 years. I'm a pack rat, too, so these aren't going to be unrealistic tips for minimalists and men who have three drawers full of clothing and nothing else to pack.

My last move from Brooklyn, NY to the UK was by far the biggest deal of all moves I've ever made, and it was also my first time packing unassisted. All of those moves in my college days had the handy dandy help of family and friends, but in New York I didn't have those luxuries during the packing stage, and I also had a lot more to pack as a post-grad working, living human.

I've only been here for 8 months so far (Only! Lol.), but even I was surprised at how much stuff we already had - whether shipped over from the U.S., or purchased for our new flat. But I was still able to do the packing single-handedly, and here's how I kept it all together for a smooth move this time around:

1. LABEL THINGS. There's nothing worse than A) trying to unpack and not knowing which box you need, and B) unloading a moving truck/van/vehicle and not knowing which room to place boxes in. Just grab a Sharpie and label that shiz, yo. Just the word, "KITCHEN" is sufficient, or you can get super ridiculous and make inventory sheets for each box, with a corresponding numbering system. I know, I know, it makes me sound insane, but when moving abroad, you have to have an inventory for EVERY item in EVERY box you pack for customs purposes, so you'd better organize yourself from the get-go. And it's really handy when you're unpacking, too; "Oh, can you grab me the mandolin? It's in box #12." Also, the numerical inventory list system works great when you're putting things into storage, i.e., "I have to grab box # 2 because it contains the Christmas decorations."

2. PLAN AHEAD. If you know you're moving in the semi-near future, you can start packing NOW. There's no way you need to use everything you own, all the time. Extra sets of dishes, sheets, out-of-season clothing, and your DVD collection can all be boxed up (and labeled!) way in advance. It saves a lot of time and stress as the days count down to your move.

3. FILTER. Embracce this opportunity to downsize a little (or a lot). It's less that you have to pack, so look at it on the bright side! I got rid of TEN MASSIVE BAGS of clothing in my last move, and packing this time around, I still have a ton of clothing. It was hard to let go at first, but it's so liberating. Even if you have every September Issue of Vogue for the last 20 years... when was the last time you looked at any of them? Magazines are heavy. Do yourself a favor and recycle or donate to charity. You won't miss them. I promise.

4. MAKE A LIST for the morning of your move. There are some things you can't pack in advance (i.e. toiletries, refrigerated items, the cat) and you want to make sure that you can simply breeze down a checklist in the AM and be on your way. There's nothing worse than forgetting something behind. Trust me.

Have any more tips for moving? Leave them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On My Plate: Week of March 15th

I haven't been that exciting this week with my eating. I haven't been in the kitchen as much while packing up to move to the new flat, so there's lots of fresh fruits and salads and lemon tea, but not my usual ton of cooking going on.

I made a big batch of yellow split peas (aka mung beans I guess?) curried up with some celery, carrots, and peas, and I've been having that with salad for my lunches. It's not very photogenic though, and kind of looks like something you'd find in a diaper (as most curries tend to do), so I didn't take any pictures of it. It's yummy and flavorful, though, and I've enjoyed it.

Here are a few other highlights:

Kiwi! I got some kiwis on sale (half price, yo!) on Monday, and I've been nomming on them since. I haven't had kiwi in ages, and it's one of my favorite fruits. So that's what I've been having as snacks and sometimes breakfasts.

Dark chocolate with hazlenuts! Oh man, this is good. It's a massive bar, too, and it was only like £1.50. It's pretty good, too, for store-brand chocolate, and it's been keeping my sweet tooth at bay this week. It's been really effective at helping me to resist the urge to bake chocolate chip cookie bars or something equally horrifically caloric.

Pret latte! I haven't been to Pret in, like, months. So a short trip into Windsor on Tuesday meant that I got to indulge in one of my favorite places to get a latte. This used to be a Friday tradition for me, since there's a Pret A Manger on like every corner in Midtown, and I kind of miss it. A lot. Not pictured here: the egg & spinach 'protein pot' I had for breakfast with it.

I brought back a classic lunch favorite this week: eggplant (aubergine) "pizza", Here's a link to the recipe - it's grain free and tastes JUST like pizza.

Lastly, this was the only time I cooked dinner this week: Pork roulade stuffed with apples, caramelized onions, garlic & rosemary. Da bomb dot com. There was a really thick, delicious sauce that had the addition of some balsamic vinegar and rosé wine, but I took the photo before adding it because, come on, that roulade is pretty. 

Spring, please.

I am really desperate for springtime. I feel so motivated  this year, and I want to embrace the season that I so often overlooked while living in a city. Yesterday when the weather warmed up, I took a much-needed long hike/walk off the beaten path in search of anything and everything that showed any sign of spring and new life.

Thanks to Pinterest, I have a newfound obsession with foraging, and I would really love to get my hands on a field guide so that I can put my theoretical new passion into practice. A mushroom guide would be amazing, too. I love mushrooms, and I have really fond childhood memories of going mushroom picking in the woods near my grandmother's house, with a giant mushroom encyclopedia in tow. I'm pretty sure that most of the mushroom season is in the fall, but I'd love to get my hands on some wild chanterelles or morels at this time of year.

So, back to reality: we move into our new flat in... (I literally have to go count on my fingers now)... 8 days! Well, kind of. We're getting the keys and moving in some boxes on the Friday, and doing our first grocery shop to stock the place up, but then returning back to stay one final night in our current room at my in-laws' house. The furniture will be loaded into a moving van early the following morning, and then we're out of here for good, supressing the overwhelming urge to sing "So Long, Farewell" in unison. If it were up to me, I'd sleep on the floor the first night, but in the interest of saving money on fuel, it's out of my hands.

Speaking of saving money, I'm going super saver all up in this joint. It's no secret that money has been a tough and tender topic while I'm sitting here waiting to get my visa so that I can go to work, but I've learned a few lessons about what 'necessities' really are in the process. Plus, I've always been the "make it yourself" type when it comes to everything from cleaning products to repurposing objects and containers, so expect some handy DIY type posts in the near future.

That's all, folks!

Friday, March 13, 2015

On My Plate: Week of March 8th

So, this is the second post in my "On My Plate" series. You can catch the first one here if you missed it.

This week was pretty awesome, in terms of deliciousness. I mastered the gluten free sweet potato gnocchi, and I've incorporated it into 3 meals so far. I also came up with a fantastic recipe for balsamic glazed chicken, and it was such a hit that I'll be doing a recipe post for it soon. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of it at the moment. It was one of those meals that was eaten too quickly to photograph.

I haven't had bubble tea since leaving New York, so I was thrilled to see a bubble tea stand when Steve and I were out & about. It was a nice little treat (and a splurge that I wouldn't usually spend money on) that brought back a lot of fond memories of my former home, and my beloved Chinatown.

Speaking of foods that remind me of home, I made a classic "mom's cooking" favorite: pickled eggs & beets. If you're not from Pennsylvania Dutch country, you're probably not going to understand why anyone would enjoy eating stinky, pickled purple eggs, but trust me: they're incredible. And I love them. And as soon as the weather starts to turn warm, I can't get them out of my head. Well, pickled eggs and deviled eggs... basically, any eggs that you would find served at a picnic potluck. Which is ironic, because they're probably the last foods that you'd want to eat after they'd been left out in the sun. But I digress...

Then I experimented today with my classic tomato sauce. Since it's a Lenten Friday and I won't be partaking in meat today, I made a tuna tomato sauce (served with the last of my sweet potato gnocchi) with fresh spinach & basil. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the flavors are a match made in heaven. I'm even playing around with the idea of a tuna meatball recipe, just for kicks.

Let me know in the comments if you'd like me to post any of the above recipes!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Passive Aggressive

There are some things about marriage that no one tells you about. They don't have to necessarily be good or bad, but they exist, and at some point, they make you laugh or scream. I'm going to be the one to point out the elephant in the room. Our bathroom, to be a little more specific.

Since the day my darling husband moved into my apartment in Brooklyn, to the bathroom we share now, we have been in this passive aggressive war over the placement of the shower head. No one talks about it, but every day when each of us showers, we move it back to where we want it. Sometimes, it's moved into an exaggerated position, to make a point, but we never speak about it. Not a word. Not once. 

I'm 5'3" and I don't wash my hair every day (as most women don't), so I like the shower head to be pointed pretty much directly downward and hit me somewhere below the shoulder blades. This way, no wet hair, but clean Dani. I mean, who showers with water in their face, anyway? How does one breathe? Or see what you're doing? Being constantly pummeled in the face with hot water is somewhere between being cooked alive and waterboarded at the same time. No thank you. 

Steve likes to stand with his head under the hot water for 10 minutes "thinking" before he actually washes himself. How he functions with his head under the water is a mystery; I just assume he's sprouted gills. Why he can't think before entering the shower, I don't know.  He's not a morning person, let's put it that way. So the shower is aimed directly at my eyeballs when I turn it on, if I don't adjust it first. 

And it happens again and again, day after day. 

And I have to laugh, because if I didn't, I'd probably die of frustration. 

And that's what it's like to be married.

All found images.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On My Plate: Week of March 1st

Optional title for this post: "How to eat Mexican food every day for a week: The Dani Robinson story". Sounds like a Lifetime movie akin to a documentary about the morbidly obese, but I digress:

This is a new little feature that I'd like to get into, because I know I've taken some time off from food and recipe blogging on Street Cred until we move into our new flat. But as someone who is obsessed with cooking, I figured that some of my readers might be wondering what I actually eat. And it's usually pretty healthy, so if there's enough interest in any particular recipe or meal, I'd be more than happy to post it.

First up: Taco-lasagna. I know, this is not the prettiest meal you've ever seen. It's a total weeknight casserole type of thing. But we do "Taco Tuesday" in this house on a pretty regular basis, so this week I mixed it up with all of our favorite taco fixin's in a big lasagna-style presentation. The verdict? Less mess and cleanup, and leftovers were consumed for breakfast the next day (they didn't even make it until lunch, is the point I'm getting at here).

Basically, the taco meat (w/ added crushed tomatoes) was layered with sauteed onions and peppers, cheese, and tortillas replaced the pasta in this lasagna assembly. Then once it came out of the oven, the whole thing was topped with lettuce and tomatoes, and individuals could garnish their portion with salsa, sour cream, guac, etc.

Next up: Leftover pork chops turned burrito bowl. I thinly sliced the pork, added it to onions and peppers, and cooked it up with garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Then I threw it on top of some rice and topped it with homemade salsa, some guac, and greek yogurt (instead of sour cream). It was a great lunch in a pinch, and only took all of 10 minutes to make. On a larger scale, it could make a pretty filling dinner.

Souper: (that's a pun between "soup" and "supper", by the way)
I cooked up some black beans the other night, so I used what was left to whip up a quick black bean soup for lunch. About 1 cup of homemade chicken stock, some onions and peppers (are you sensing a theme yet?), garlic, frozen sweet corn, cumin, chili powder, kale and fresh cilantro (coriander) all cooked up in another 10-minute lunch. A great filling and healthy vegetarian option if you use vegetable stock i/o chicken, and it's perfect on a deceptively chilly day.

The week isn't even over yet! I wonder if I'll end up with a quesadilla tonight...

I've Got Nothing to Wear a wedding! My brother-in-law is getting married this June, so I've already begun thinking about what I'm going to be wearing (and getting in shape to wear it!). I love any excuse to get all dolled up, so forgive me for turning it into a bit of a production. These details can sneak up on you if you're not careful, and I don't want to be caught at the last minute without a dress.

Luckily, I got an email the other day from Victoria's Dress, asking me to check out their new collection. They've got everything in stock from wedding gowns to flirty prom dresses, and I thought it would be the perfect place to have a browse for a formal dress for the wedding I'll be attending.

I started off in their bridesmaid dress section, believe it or not - because bridesmaid dresses tend to be simple, classic styles that are pretty universally figure-flattering, and you really can't go wrong with the prices. I'm still debating whether I want a long or knee-length dress, but I definitely want something that's light and flowy so that I'm not sweating in my Spanx (flashback to my own June wedding).

Current favorites (from left to right):

How about this navy A-line style? It's got some unique character, and it's a fit that I know looks great on my body shape. I think it would be a dress that I would definitely wear more than once. (Side note: I just noticed that it's available in a longer length, too! Now I'm definitely  leaning toward this one, if I decide to go with a full-length dress!)

This little purple party number (it's a color that I love, and I know looks great on my skin tone) could easily be paired with a wrap, for church appropriateness, or if I get a little bit chilly in an air conditioned building. Plus, I can totally picture myself dancing the night away in this one.

This is a little more formal than the others, but this long emerald green gown is beautiful, albeit not the most practical choice for this particular occasion. But then again, when has practicality ever stopped me?

Which one is your favorite?

I am happy to say that this is a sponsored post. All of the ideas, thoughts, and writing are my own creation. 
Please help to support the businesses that help to support me by visiting my sponsor's website.
All images are property of Victoria's Dress.