Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Edibles – Chicken Salad

There are so many ways to make chicken salad! Husband can eat chicken salad three times a day – that’s how much he loves it. The first time I made it, I had a hard time choosing one. Husband has deemed the version below to be the best one out there!

Ingredients
1 medium rotisserie chicken
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup toasted pecans
1-2 cups mayonnaise
1 12-oz jar sweet relish
1 small granny smith apple
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Pick the meat off the rotisserie chicken and cut into small cubes. I usually throw away the skin as it is high in cholesterol.

Chop eggs into medium cubes and an apple into small cubes. If you use halved pecans, cut them into smaller pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl; depending on how moist the chicken is, you may need to adjust the amount of mayo (I usually start with one cup, and add a little more if needed). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a sandwich or a wrap! I use pumpernickel bread, sliced tomatoes and lettuce to make the most delicious sandwiches that make a great lunch.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How Many Push-Ups Can You Do?

As of today, I can do ONE. I am talking about real push-ups – not the fake kind (you know, the one you do with your legs bent at your knees. Those don’t count as I can do a bunch of those).

I know what you’re thinking – one real push-up isn’t much. Until now though I could do zero real push-ups, so that’s a 100% increase! Not bad at all.

There are three explanations for my newly found ability to perform a single push-up:

1. Supernatural powers;

2. I am getting lighter; and

3. My arms are getting stronger.

I doubt it’s the first. Alas, I am pretty sure it’s not the second either. I have, however, been doing fake push-ups for over six weeks now, and my arms have been getting stronger. It has got to be the third reason!

I will see how many push-ups I can do tomorrow. How many can you do?

*I found this adorable image at http://happylists.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/10-reasons-to-do-push-ups/. I look absolutely ridiculous doing push-ups; the baby is a much better and cuter alternative!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Irreplaceables – A Web Browser with Good Memory!

Despite being born in the century of technology and scientific progress, I am not as up-to-date on the latest gadgets. I don’t have (and don’t want to have) an iPhone or a Blackberry, and I am probably the only person left in the world who doesn’t own an iPod.

Moving on to my laptop, it’s a 20-lb Dell Inspiron that was born in the stone age as far as computers go – February of 2004! It has had all sorts of upgrades and replacements. It works fine most of time, albeit a tad slow. It shuts off in the most inopportune moments when the temperature gets too high (for instance, it shut off just a little while ago when I was studying for my exam); it needs a new fan. Other than that, no major complaints!

Until today, I STILL hadn’t upgraded my Internet Explorer to the one where you can have multiple windows open in the same browser. (Computer Police, please don’t arrest me!). Then instead of studying for the said exam, I decided I couldn’t wait another femtosecond – I needed a new browser, right there and then. I was choosing between three kinds:

1. Yahoo’s Mozilla Firefox
2. Apple’s Safari
3. Google’s Chrome

I ended up going with Firefox, although I’ve used Safari before and have heard really great things about Chrome. I LOVE my new Firefox browser! I can’t believe I hadn’t done it when it first came out! It remembers the sites I visit, and I don’t have to type in my Etsy and e-mail passwords a hundred times a day like I used to. Love it! I’d say go ahead and get one, but you’ve probably been using one of these for a gazillion years already. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

jaC Procures at Wal Mart – New Nail Polish!

Painting my nails is an excellent way to cheer myself up. I have no idea why it has that effect on me, but it does! Last summer in NYC, I got a manicure weekly for only $10. Prices are so low because of stiff competition – there are several salons for you to choose from on each block. That’s when I got adventurous and started getting my nails painted all sorts of fun colors – bright coral, pale coral, scarlet red… OK maybe I didn’t get THAT adventurous.

After returning from NYC, I would paint my nails now and then; now that it is getting warmer, I have been painting them weekly! Today I headed to Wal Mart to buy a few summer shades. Want to see my loot?

L’Oreal is my favorite nail polish brand; I usually do two coats and finish off with a top coat. The manicure lasts about a week, virtually intact. Here are the colors:

On the left: Sweet Nothings, #180 - my favorite neutral shade that looks subtle (and as all light colors do it makes your nails look bigger).

On the right: Top coat, #110 – I’ve been using L’Oreal top coat for years with great results! It works well with other nail polish brands also.

In the middle: are you ready for this one? I am just going to show you.

Trust Fund Baby, #400. I would have never guessed on that one even if I tried. I was expecting to see something soft and pretty to describe the delicate pink that’s in the bottle, like “Shimmery Rose” or “Sweet Cheeks”. But "Trust Fund Baby"? Hmmm… Anyway, I’ve never had pink nails, but thought this understated shade is good for the spring/summer season. I tried it out already, and I think I’ll have to apply three coats to get the density I want. Otherwise, despite the bizarre name, it’s very nice.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the Sunday Winnables - Share your Best Job Interview Story contest is Pam of pixelimpress!

Congratulations, Pam! You get a $10 gift certificate to my shop. Contact me when you're ready to redeem it!

Sunday Unreasonables – Some People are Slow Learners

By some people, I mean I. A few years ago around this time a year, I didn’t realize I was having allergies, and they eventually turned into bronchitis. Every year since then, you’d think that a thick layer of yellow/green pollen that covers everything outside (and even inside when I leave windows open) would be my clue that it’s time to take Claritin and don’t spend too much time outside. It’s a reasonable expectation I have of myself. Yet, every year without fail I forget that I have allergies and think that it’s just a mild cold until I can hardly breathe. This year, I set a new record by going for 3-mile brisk walks when pollen count was at its highest. How unsmart. The faster I walked, the more pollen I inhaled, which made for a miserable week this week.

Maybe next year I will finally learn (but probably not). In the mean time, enjoy some pretty pictures I took on one of my walks!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Receivables – Sweet Treats from The Fetching Hound!

I have been working out five times a week in an attempt to melt away a few extra pounds that have stuck around ever since the holidays for longer that I would have liked.

Husband said I should cut out sweets (he said this right before making me a key lime pie and a coconut cream pie – I think we’ve got a case of man logic here). I said OK, after the pies are gone, no more sweets.

And then I see this.

And this.And so many other tasty treats that make me want to jump into my laptop screen and get lost in The Fetching Hound’s shop filled with delicious goodness!

Why maybe hopefully look good in that summer dress weeks from now when you could be enjoying these confections now?! Well, not right this second – but with a click of the Etsy checkout button, you can have these delivered to you the day they are made. Immediate gratification guaranteed. Goodbye gym, hello The Fetching Hound’s shop!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Wearables – Light (as in Not Heavy) Jewelry

I called my one and only sister to find out what she wanted for her upcoming Birthday. “Jewelry”, she said. “Something bright red and lightweight.” You see, anything heavier than a single strand of pearls is too heavy for her, so the necklace would have to be delicate. As much as she loves the chunkier designs, she just cannot wear them (unless she’s in the outer space - everything is weightless in a vacuum!). Right away, a design popped into my head, and I began searching for the perfect red beads. She is the best sister in the world, and I was not willing to settle for anything but the perfect components for that design. I found some rubies; fancy, but more of a pomegranate red – not red red. I found some garnet and tourmaline – pretty, but still not the right shade.

I turned to my good friend Alison of Alison Kelley Designs for advice, and she recommended I use Swarovski crystals in a shade called coral. I have never seen that shade in person, but knew that Alison would not sway me the wrong way. The crystals came, and they were that exact red shade I had in mind! I got to working on the necklace, and it came out even better than I had imagined. Here it is! The best thing? Despite having nearly 70 crystals attached to it, it’s practically weightless!

If you are looking for a light necklace, check out this beautiful Evening Primrose Necklace - Sterling Silver, Citrine and White Rice Pearl Necklace. It is feminine, delicate and summery.

Can’t wear heavy earrings? No worries: these Think Pink Earrings - Pink Swarovski Crystal Teardrops and Sterling Silver Earrings (Threaders) are so light, you won’t even know you’re wearing earrings!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Edibles – Chicken Marsala

On Friday, I felt like cooking something new – sometimes I get tired of the same old recipes. I went searching for ideas to my favorite culinary place in the entire world – Wegmans.com. As usual, it did not let me down! I found a few recipes to try out, and cooked this delicious Chicken Marsala recipe (with a few adaptations reflected in the below version) for dinner that night. You’ll be surprised how quick and easy it is! I served it with steamed broccoli – what a light and delicious meal it was!

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
12-16 oz sliced wild mushrooms
1/2 small onion, sliced
3-4 tbsp Marsala wine (I got mine at Trader Joe's. They had dry and sweet; I got the sweet.)
1 pkg (11 oz) beef culinary gravy*
1 tbsp minced Italian parsley (flat leaf)

Preparation
Season chicken slices with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in pan on HIGH, until oil faintly smokes; add chicken and onions. Cook until chicken turns slightly brown, turn and continue to sear until second side has browned. Transfer chicken and onions to clean platter; set aside.

Heat remaining oil in pan on MEDIUM-HIGH, until oil faintly smokes. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring 8 min. Remove pan from heat; add wine. Return to heat. Cook, stirring about 2 min to reduce liquids by half. Whisk in gravy* and parsley.

Return chicken to pan and cook everything together for another 3-4 min on MEDIUM, until the chicken is heated through.

Serve with a side of your choice!

*I did not have any gravy so I used 4 tbsp butter instead. I added the butter right before adding mushrooms to the pan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunday Winnables – Share Your Best Job Interview Story! Take Two

I know it’s not Sunday, but since Stacy is the only one who has entered my contest, I decided to give it another try.

Alison thinks nobody else entered because there were no pictures accompanying the post. Either that or my readers think that a $10 gift certificate to my shop is a really lousy prize! Either way, I am going to see if I can get your attention this time by posting not one, but three pictures!
Enjoy them, and don’t be shy – let us hear your best/worst interview stories! I know you’ve got them! Hurry; you only have until Saturday. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Irreplaceables – Sebastian Shaper Plus Hairspray

If you have fine hair, a good hairspray is great to maintain that extra volume! Even if you don’t need all that volume (in which case I envy you so), Sebastian Shaper Plus hairspray is excellent for styling your hair! I discovered it a while ago at my salon, and am pleased to say that it is now offered at Wal Mart, Harris Teeter and other drug and grocery stores. It gives my hair that much-needed volume and style without making it sticky or stiff.

I have been using Touchable Extra Hold Hairspray with Humidity Resistance; there are a few other kinds for you to choose from.

What are your favorite hair products? Feel free to share them with everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Magnolias (?)

Magnolia is one of those flowers that sounds as pretty as it looks. (Nasturtium, Calendula and Coreopsis, while all gorgeous, sound like names of really bad diseases – the kind you don’t ever want to get!). Magnolia blossoms also smell heavenly, and I’ve always admired how the enormous magnolia trees “protect” their most delicate white flowers.

Well before white magnolia trees ever blossom, their much smaller cousins produce the prettiest pink blossoms. I called them “much smaller cousins” because their blooms look just like magnolias, only pink, so I assume they’re pink magnolias, but I don't really know for sure. Here are some pictures of these blossoming beauties!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Time-Saving Trick – Organize your Silverware

My mom’s company paid for all employees to attend a workshop on how to get organized and free up time to increase productivity both at work and at home. One way to save time on cleaning the mess on your desk is to never make the mess to begin with; that means filing papers where they belong right away instead of piling them up on your desk. The thinking was, instead of spending time on cleaning your desk, you’ll use that time on working on client projects.

I applied this principle to placing silverware in the dishwasher. Instead of randomly putting utensils into the dishwasher, I place each type into a separate compartment every time I put dishes away – salad forks go with salad forks, bigger forks go with other bigger forks, tea spoons go with other tea spoons, and so on. Once I run the dishwasher, all I have to do is pick up each silverware type and put it away – no need to spend time separating the various utensils!

Give it a try and see if it saves you a little bit of time. :)

P.S. Don't forget to enter the contest for a $10 gift certificate to my shop (http://jacjewelry.blogspot.com/2009/04/sunday-winnables-share-your-best-job.html)! You only have a week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday Receivables – Kitty Print

I am sure by now you know my love for cats and all things feline. While browsing on Etsy to make yet another Treasury (a shopping list curated by Etsy members), I stumbled upon amberalexander’s shop.

What a great find it was! The shop is filled with Amber’s originals, prints and greeting cards. I love her sense of humor – for example, I thought this Eat Your Peas print was both adorable and hilarious.

Another favorite of mine is this Les Mews- French Revolution Kitty print and this portrait of a fox cleverly named Mademoiselle. Check out Amber’s shop for more terrific artistic finds!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Wearables – Coral Designs for the Summer!

Sometimes I work and work on a piece, and it doesn’t come out as planned. I take it apart and try again until I get it right. Other times, the design just puts itself together, and the final result is even better than I had imagined! This was the case with the three fantastic pieces I just added to my shop; they are made with the prettiest coral components and are terrific for the summer!

These Sea Branch Earrings - Pink/Pale Salmon Coral and Sterling Silver Earrings are just amazing. They are delicate and dainty, and I love how the tiny coral branches come together to form a fluid and free-flowing outlines. Imagine wearing these with a white sun dress – so light and airy! They are also perfect for a bride who is having a beach wedding!
Next is the Underwater World Bracelet - Pink Coral and Pewter Fish Bracelet and Underwater World Anklet - Pink Coral and Pewter Fish Anklet duo (available for sale separately) made with the prettiest pink coral and the most adorable fish toggles. When I saw these fish toggle clasps, I knew I couldn’t pass them up! These pieces are great for the summer, even if you are not a beach lover. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Spring

In my promises of spring, I managed to leave off Pam, who lives in Seattle, WA. Here are some pictures for you, Pam! Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Multi-Usables – Aluminum Foil

In addition to all the typical uses for aluminum foil, here are two more:

Use aluminum foil to wrap sandwiches when you take them to work/school for lunch. I have never liked saran wrap (maybe because even the brand names don’t stick to anything, ever!), and aluminum foil is a great substitute. I put avocados, lettuce and other fillers into my sandwiches, and aluminum foil keeps the sandwiches together wonderfully!

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. The cheese will stay fresh much longer and not mold! I have tried it out on a chunk of brie cheese; so far so good.

Share your unconventional uses with everyone by leaving a comment!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Beauty

Let’s take a break from Tuesday Irreplaceables today and admire at a few more spring photos I took over the weekend. Holly, Michelle and everyone else in Alaska – spring is coming your way, I promise!

Monday, April 13, 2009

jaC Procures at TJ Maxx – UGG® Australia Fluff Flip Flop Slippers!

Remember my pink fluffy slippers that appeared in the first Tuesday Irreplaceables back in January? The cheapest I was able to find them online was $60. Guess what, this weekend I found them at a local TJ Maxx on clearance for $15 a pair! What a great and completely unexpected find it was! They were available in pink, white, purple, baby blue and black. I procured two pairs pictured here for when my current pair becomes defunct!

In the interest of full disclosure, the tags did say “Irregular”. I carefully inspected each pair, and the only thing I found irregular about them was the tags on the right slipper of each pair were sewn on a bit off-center, which doesn’t bother me at all.

If you’d like a pair or two of your very own UGG fluffy slippers, visit your TJ Maxx and see if they have them! Even better – give your store a call and ask before going! If you can’t locate them at a TJ Maxx, I also saw them at Marshall on clearance for $20.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Winnables – Share Your Best Job Interview Story!

A few years ago when we were looking to fill an opening in my department, I had the opportunity to interview a dozen candidates. When you interview 10 people a day, after a while all candidates and their answers start to blend together. I asked everyone the same set of questions, so that it would be easier for me to remember who said what. Here is what one candidate said while answering my questions:

My question: “Would you have a problem with working for someone like me?”
His answer: “No, I don’t think so. There doesn’t seem to be anything physically or mentally wrong with you.”

I kid you not – this was his answer, verbatim! He was serious, too. Can you believe it?! I nearly fell off my chair trying not to laugh. Anything to make yourself memorable, I suppose… I know people are nervous during interviews and all, but still! The best (or maybe worst) part? We ended up hiring him…

Another good interview story has to do with a question a classmate of mine was asked during an interview for an internship:

“What is the biggest animal you can kill with your bare hands?”

Really? Was the interviewee supposed to answer THAT?!

Now it’s your turn – share the most outrageous interview story you’ve ever heard for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to my shop!

Here is what to do to enter:

1. Simply leave a comment and share your interview story.

2. Be sure to leave your name and e-mail address right in the comments section, so that I have a way to get in touch with you.

That's it! I will choose the best answer, and that person will receive a $10 gift certificate to my Etsy shop! This contest will be open for two weeks; the winner will be announced on April 26, 2009. One entry per person only. I am looking forward to your stories!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Receivables – Spring/Summer Dresses!

The last couple of weeks it has been warm enough to wear light clothes! I turned to online window-shopping for cute dresses that are wish list-worthy. For me, dresses are wardrobe essentials because they are often easier than two-piece outfits – while you have to think about coordinating pants with a top, slip on a dress, matching shoes and a necklace, and you’re ready to go! You will instantly look dressed up.

Here are my top picks:

Jersey empire-waist dress, in gorgeous lycian turquoise, from Banana Republic (shown above). Now on sale for $39.99, it is bright, stylish and versatile. Put on a pair of white sandals and a white coral necklace, and you’ll look great going to work or running errands!

There is something that instantly attracts me to wrap-around dresses; even better when they’re white! When I saw this adorable Calvin Klein Laser Cut Ruffle Dress in petites at Nordstrom, I fell in love with it right away, especially because petite sizes fit me better, but they are usually hard to find. Imagine this dress with red shoes and a chunky red bracelet! The price is a little steep at $118; I hope this dress goes on sale soon. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Wearables – My Favorite Color Combinations: Blue and Brown

I find blue and brown look so pretty together! Back when I wore suits to work, my favorite one was a brown suit with blue pin stripes. I wore it with brown shoes and a baby blue shirt. I also like baby blue and black together, but brown makes it so much softer.

For something a little brighter, try aqua and blue – for example, these cute summery Fun in the Sun Earrings - Sterling Silver Flip Flop and Brown/Blue Swarovski Crystal Earrings. They are fun and playful, and will look great with a pair of jeans or shorts and a white tank top!

To make the combination a tad softer, I added another shade of blue – baby blue crystals - to this Fun in the Sun Anklet - Sterling Silver Flip Flop and Blue Brown Swarovski Crystal Anklet. I love how it turned out! The anklet has already sold (it went to Cyprus earlier this week – how neat is that?! What a perfect destination for this beachy anklet! If you are looking for an anklet, here is a pretty one in aquas and blues.).

I used the same color combination to create this delicate sealife-inspired Fun in the Sun Bracelet - Sterling Silver Seahorse and Blue Brown Swarovski Crystal Bracelet. It is hot off the presses – I just listed it in my shop minutes ago! Seahorses are such gorgeous creatures. This sterling seahorse charm is so cute and precious. You can adjust the legnth as necessary. You will look great wearing this bracelet, a summer skirt and a tank!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Edibles – Olive Oil and Parmesan Cheese Dip

Today’s recipe is not really a recipe; nor is it a dip. It’s a neat little trick I learned at my favorite Italian restaurant! Sneaky, I know – but you’ll love it next time you’re making Italian food for dinner!

Most restaurants give you bread to snack on before your meal comes. Some even pour some olive oil to dip the bread. It’s good, but here is something that will make it taste even better: freshly grated Parmesan cheese! Add it to the olive oil, dip a slice of fresh bread into the mixture, and enjoy!

Here is what to do:

Pour extra-virgin olive oil into a small dish;
Grate 1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and add it to the olive oil;
Sprinkle the mixture with fresh cracked black pepper;
Serve with slices of bread.

It takes about 2 minutes to prepare and tastes wonderful!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

This weekend, the 6800 cherry blossom trees in DC were at the peak of bloom! If you have never seen them, they are simply breathtaking. I swear they get prettier and prettier every year. I have not seen them this year, but I am sure it was no exception.

Aren’t they stunning?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Irreplaceables – Toe Socks

Next time you run a marathon, get yourself a pair of these socks! I heard all sorts of horror stories about what happens to a runner’s feet during a marathon (and I can see why – I just cannot imagine running THAT many miles!). Husband wore a pair of these when he ran his first marathon, and ended up with two very minor blisters – that’s all!

On a more realistic note, even if you are not a runner, these are great for any type of athletic activity. They don’t look very comfortable, but in fact they are! I got my very own pair of pink Injinji Tetratsok Mini Crew Socks for Christmas (and I'll give you $5 if you say Injinji really fast 10 times without getting your tongue twisted). They are as adorable as they are comfortable. I wear them when I go for walks and to exercise, and they have been fantastic. While they fit each toe like a glove, they are made to virtually prevent blisters. I have not tried other brands; these particular ones come in several different colors and are well worth the $12 price!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Come to the Edge

The day I started my first “real” job, I read a poem my boss had copied to his white board. The poem stayed on the board for over a year; it very much captured his leadership style, and I was inspired to do bigger and greater things every time I read it. I have yet to find a more inspirational piece expressed so eloquently in just six lines. The other day, I remembered it and wanted to share it with you.

While some sources attribute this poem to Guillaume Apollinaire, others claim that Christopher Logue wrote it about Appollinaire. While it’s hard to know for sure, here it is!

Come to the Edge

Come to the edge, he said.

They said: We are afraid.

Come to the edge, he said.

They came,
He pushed them,
and they flew.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the latest giveaway on my blog!

The winner of the elegant sterling silver, amazonite and white coin pearl necklace is Cindi!

Be sure to check this giveaway schedule for future opportunities and sign up for my newsletter - sometimes I hold giveaways that are open just to newsletter subscribers.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Receivables – Summer Flats!

We are moving to a big city and getting rid of our cars in a mere two months! Comfortable shoes are a must for all the walking around I will be doing when we get there. Thinking ahead, I searched for the perfect sandals online. Last summer I learned that flat minimalist leather thong sandals work the best for my feet. The first place I checked was Nine West. Typically, Nine West offers comfortable quality shoes at reasonable prices; I still have a pair of brown sandals I purchased there last summer, and they are fantastic. As of right now, their online selection is limited; I didn’t see anything that was a must for me. Perhaps they have more choices in stores. Until I am able to check one out, I turned to Nordstrom website, and found three fantastic pairs at prices similar to those you’d pay at Nine West. Here they are!

Franco Sarto 'Jitter' Sandals, $69.95, come in four different colors. My vote is gold – it will go with any outfit and will tactfully add a little sparkle to your outfit. Picture these with a white summer dress or a black tank and jeans! That buckle in the front is adorable.

DV by Dolce Vita 'Dahlia' Sandals, $49.95, in black patent leather, are elegant and slim. They have a tiny barely noticeable stacked heel, and will look terrific with anything you wear, from a casual outfit to a smart casual dress.

Steve Madden 'Seeri' Sandals, $49.95 (and free shipping!), in white patent leather, are terrific; the only draw-back is that they are synthetic. Another simple style, these sandals will look crisp and clean with your outfit. I have an oversized white purse to wear with them.