Monday, April 30, 2012


Some of you just got a sneak peek because I was trigger happy with the PUBLISH button (all you google readerers out there)! Shhh, don't tell about Friday's post!

Drink Up, It's Monday

Photo from Martha Stewart

Planning a party for more than a dozen people is a lesson in the art of assumptions. And when you make assumptions, you make an ass out of you and me. In planning this week's "party," it's remarkable how hung up you can get on silly little things that most people won't even notice. Today's hang-up: drinks.

What are your favorite drinks to serve at parties? What did you serve at your wedding? Of course it's all well and good when you're in the dreamy stages of planning, but when it comes right down to it, can you really afford a signature cocktail?

Neatloaf to the rescue! Check out these links for budget drinks and party guides:

7 Budget Friendly Spring Wines from Trader Joes on theKitchn.

Watermelon cocktail recipe at OnceWed.

A full blog devoted to Costco Wine reviews!

12 non-alcoholic drinks for your wedding.

Real Simple's alcohol-buying calculator for your reception.

A video from the experts at Martha Stewart Weddings about the quantity of drinks to buy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Finds: Pretty Pattern Love

It's one of those days when I just want to fill up my imaginary shopping cart on the internet and shop til I drop. This is not really feasible, so instead I've decided to start up a nice, new Neatloaf tradition: Friday finds. Help me extinguish my shopping need by taking a look at all of the great things I've scouted throughout the weeks. And if you end up buying a piece, be sure to come over to Assemble and brag about it.

1. I've always been a watch girl. Perhaps that's because I forget my phone every where I go. I still need a clock here and there, and this one is my most recent favorite: the ASOS Patent Color Watch for $45.45. Available in lots of colors!

2. Quite possibly the most perfect slouch dress I have seen in a while: Madewell's Dotty Dress for $168. I'm pretty sure you could wear this anywhere.

3. Perhaps I leave my phone at home constantly because it's a crappy old Nokia. If I had an iPhone I'd be sure to bring it everywhere with me, and in this: the Gold the Phone iPhone Case, $39.99, available from ModCloth.

4. Let's pretend we need a Sea Bag, and we are on vacation. Yes, let's. J. Crew's Medium Sea Bag tote in two colors, $168.

5. These would make me feel like Audrey Hepburn, and who doesn't want that?? The Alessandra Burlap Ballet Flats from TOMS shoes, $79. I vote they change the name to the Audrey Burlap Ballet Flats. Yep.

6. Watch out, or you'll develop an obsession with these. Roll it with Paper Tape Set, washi tape available from ModCloth, $14.99.

Have a happy, bright, cheery weekend!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Being 30.

My earlier post today suggests that I might consider being 10 years old again, since some of those clothes are too darned cute.  But the reality is that I'll be 30 in a very short while, which I am really looking forward to.  I read this article on Huffington Post, referencing Glamour's new book "Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Know by the Time She's 30" and was surprised that I have and know most of what is on the list!

Buy it here.
I'll let you read the complete list on HP, but I wanted to share the one have and one know that I have one month to check off.

By 30, you should have:

(#14) A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

By 30, you should know:

(also #14) Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.

I have already been thinking about my own personal 30 by 30 list, similarly inspired by Jenn of Bow Tie & Bustle, who shares her list here.  At least Jenn is giving herself a whole year! Perhaps my list will be called "30 while I'm 30"...

If only I were 10 years old again...

What cute clothes for girls right now.  If only these stylish summer arrivals came in my size too!  
Girls' apron dress in wildflower print
Apron dress by J.Crew, $68
Sparkle sunglasses by GapKids, $9.95
Heart tank with bow from H&M, $9.95
Girls' organza skirt in mini stripe
Organza skirt by J.Crew, $98
Bow Polka Dot Espadrille
Polka dot espadrilles by Gymboree, $32.95

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Locavore Givememore

At the moment, I am eating pretty much low-salt, low-sugar, vegetables, lean meats and fruits. The wedding festivities start in about nine days, and I want to look my best, so I'm depriving myself in the meantime. In Seattle, it is nearly impossible to avoid delicious, scrumptious, not-so-good for you foods. Great "bad" foods are everywhere I look: the best of the best even. So instead of eating them, I will just look at them. Download photos, create mosaics and stare longingly at the sugar and salt while I eat my celery stick. Or better yet, why don't you have a go? Eat as much as you want of these local favorites, and then tell me all about it.

1. Trophy Cupcakes' April masterpiece: the Lemon Meringue Cupcake. Fresh lemon cupcake, atop buttery graham cracker crust, filled with tart house-made lemon curd and topped with toasted marshmallow meringue. Holy amaze balls. Will someone just put me out of my misery? I'm not a sweets person, usually but lemon curd gets me EVERY time. Well done, Trophy. (Hurry up, just a few more days of April!)

2. House Wine from The Magnificent Wine Company. I was introduced to this one by my realtor, when she left us a bottle upon buying our family condo. Located in Walla Walla, Washington, these wines are DELIGHTFUL. My favorite is Steak House which is a 2009 Cabernet. mmm mmm! They range from about $8 - $14 depending on where you buy them.

3. Via Tribunali Pizza. Need I say more? The Queen Anne location is but a walk from my house and I'm pretty sure I dream about their Misto Salumi pizza once a week.

4. My craving for these will be satisfied on the wedding day! As we are serving them as a post-ceremony snack. Tim's Cascade Chips are a Pacific Northwest Treat, from family owned farms near the Cascade Mountain Range. They've been named "The Best Potato Chip in Seattle" and gained several taste awards from Esquire Magazine and The American Culinary Institute. Plus, they's salty!

5. If you haven't been around to hear my unsolicited lectures about the benefits of eating wild game over factory farmed, then it's probably only just a matter of time. Local roadside-style burger shack, Uneeda Burger, serves up a "happy meat" Elk Burger, fit for my soapbox.

6. Fran's Chocolates' local, handmade Salted Caramels. Pretty much every sweet I enjoy contains salt of some kind. Savory snacks! Pick these up at any Metropolitan Market or QFC. They're $10 for a package, but don't worry--it's worth it.

7. Beecher's Mac n' Cheese. I think I made my love for this gem clear back during Valentine's Day, but I'll be happy to sing their praises again! Original recipe or spicy--take your pick!

8. Dante's Inferno Dogs. This is a rare treat. I try to stay away because I know the siren call will keep me coming back weekly (Ballard Sunday Market) if I'm not careful. Delicious, and vegetarian available!

9. And last but certainly not least, Assemble's neighbor in crime, Bluebird Microcreamery & Brewery. If you haven't had a taste of this yet, then by golly, you are missing out my friend. Their Stout Ice Cream is some sort of miracle realized. Next time you come in to visit us, definitely make a stop there as well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Emily's Every Night Salad Recipe

I love salads with fruit -- Romaine with pears and Gorganzola, or spinach with strawberries and a balsamic vinaigrette. We bought that huge tub of mixed greens as well as a crate of apples from salad every night it is!  Here is my perfected recipe (serves 2-4):

Yes, you NEED this cheese -- German Cambozola, ~$15 per pound
(Photo from Goodies First, with a review of this and other soft blues.)

Emily's Every Night Salad

A big bowl of mixed greens
An apple, cubed
Handful of dried cranberries
Handful of golden raisins
Sprinkle of chopped pecans
Several dollops of this creamy blue cheese
Orange-champagne-honey vinaigrette (see below for recipe)

You can see my measurements are pretty...flexible ;) Of course, substitute the contents of your fridge as needed. However, what makes this salad perfection is that special blue cheese and this dressing.

Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, $4.99 

Vinaigrette recipe
2 Tbsp Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
6 Tbsp olive oil
Tiny pinch of salt

In a small bowl whisk honey and vinegar until well incorporated. Slowly whisk in olive oil until thick. Add salt to  taste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sweet Inspiration: Foil Stamping

Foil stamping has been synonymous with car wash and insurance salesmen's business cards....until now. Foil stamping can be some of the classiest design out there, you just have to know where to look! I think I may have a slight obsession...Check these out for inspiration:

Gold foil-stamped Happy Notes from Tokketok

Julie Pop Bakery foil-stamped business cards by Bureau Rabensteiner

Sweet Suite! from MaeMae Paperie

Friday, April 20, 2012

Occupation: Woman

I'm going a bit deeper into this post than most of mine because I have been thinking about roles. I'd love to hear your opinions and discuss:

Comic by Natalie Dee

I came across this silly comic by Natalie Dee, which made me laugh, but then got me thinking--about gender roles, about life, about expectations and choices. The word "feminist" has always really bothered me. It is a word full of connotations of riot grrrls, burning bras and rejecting the traditional role of a lady. In its true terms, I suppose I have never met an "anti-feminist" and I suppose I'd like not to.

Although this comic cracks me up and is tongue-in-cheek accurate, it makes me wonder about modern female roles in America. I have been enrolled in quite a few of them: single woman, engaged woman, childless woman, business woman, I-love-my-new-blender-and-iron woman, fight-with-my-landlord woman, asking-for-a-loan woman, carrying-pepper-spray woman, etc. etc. In essence, the comic pokes fun at the silly modern girl who enjoys baking cookies and would rather be a homemaker than take advantage of all of the opportunities presented to them. Despite the humor, our roles ARE definitely scrutinized under a figurative microscope--and not by men, but by each other. Why is that?

I have never heard a man tell another man that he had better hurry up and have kids or he will be a geriatric when they are in high school, or scoff at him for deciding to focus on school or a career instead of rushing into having a family, or brag about his partner's natural childbirth/breastfeeding. Or vice versa! Why are you wasting your energy being a homemaker or a stay at home mom, when you could be contributing to society?? Pre-feminist revolution women's roles may have been stifling, I am not arguing that, but at least they established a position. Today, women are expected to retain all positions: mother, wife, chef, career woman, maid, model, etc., and are judged for each and every choice. Perhaps you want to own a company and a dog, perhaps you want to own a company and have five babies, perhaps you want to own a KitchenAid mixer, have five babies and bake cupcakes and clean house: regardless of your choices, when will women respect other women's choices? And remember that they are CHOICES in America. What do you think?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Favorite Apps

I just joined the world of iPad owners. I admit I was hesitant to enter the world of apps and digital books and photo programs -- it all seemed too complicated.  Here's the thing -- it is insanely easy! Actually, this iPad thing is pretty dangerous. I can buy just about anything with a single gesture. Best of all, it keeps Henry interested and quiet long enough for me to do the dishes. Oh boy!

iPad version 3

My favorites
Instagram - Yes, I'm a convert. This app makes every picture vibrant and special without being as overwhelming as Photoshop. You get about a dozen filter options and that's it.
Words with Friends -- It is easy to be addicted to Scrabble. As long as your friends play along, it's a fun way to waste a minute or two during the day checking in. You can play for free with Facebook, but the ads and constant prompts slow down the fun.

Plic Ploc Wiz

Henry's favorites
Harold and the Purple Crayon -- Such a sweet story and simple pictures that you get to color in as it's read.
Plic Ploc Wiz -- A modern puzzle game, matching shapes and colors to pictures. Minimalist and not obnoxious.
Curious George episodes via iTunes -- Henry probably wouldn't even notice if I left the house while he watches this silly monkey. I don't mind the stories, either!

You can see our lists are not that novel -- just fun things we've found so far. What are you playing, reading, buying? I really wanna know!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I have to admit, I am a bundle of exhaustion. With a bit over two weeks before our wedding, I keep thinking I'm done and can relax and then forget another thing that I need to do, like, I don't know.. taxes, my business, an art show, cleaning the house, taking care of my sick pup, etc. etc. So, in honor of exhaustion, for Wildcard Wednesday, I will be posting my favorite calming photos. Enjoy.

My peanut, Grady

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Emily's Easy Morning Muffins

I love this blueberry muffin recipe, that I copied from my mom's index cards. I don't know ts origin but it is a go-to recipe for me. It doesn't require buttermilk, which a lot of muffins call for and I never have on hand, and you simply mix the wet and dry into one bowl. Quick and easy and makes the house smell sweet.

Emily's Easy Morning Blueberry Muffins 

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1 pint blueberries

Beat room temp butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Alternate adding the dry mix and the milk to the butter/eggs.
Fold in berries.
Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

826 National: here in Seattle

I'm sure most of you have driven past or stopped inside the charming 826 Seattle Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company. If you haven't made it in yet, you're in for a treat.

826 Seattle and it's shop are offshoots of a project co-founded by one of my favorite authors, Dave Eggers (author of the fabulous Zeitoun--if you haven't, READ IT). The project originated in Valencia, San Francisco, and provides free volunteer (sometimes by very famous and notable writers) services for kids in all of the writing and literature arts. In-school programs, writing labs, workshops, field trips, student publishing and after-school tutoring are just a sampling of what 826 offers to kids of all ages and economic backgrounds. In fact, our own 826 Seattle was recently awarded a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities by Michelle Obama.

The sweet shops, on the other hand, help to fund all of these wonderful free services for kids. 826 spans eight cities, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Washington DC, Seattle and Boston. Each shop has an adorable "theme" and if you've ever had the opportunity to step inside one of these shops, you will be able to attest to the magic of it. Themes range from Pirates to Robots to Space Travel to Bigfoot. Check out more info at the 826 Official Website.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tonight: Ryan Berkley with American Folk Tales & Tails

Once in a while, at Assemble, we have a really, really special show. We get excited for every artist (we wouldn't have picked them if we didn't love their work) but sometimes we get to have a show with an artist that we already own work by! Tonight is one of those special nights. Ryan Berkley of Berkley Illustration will be here at Assemble from 6-9pm with his lovely wife and partner, Lucy, and their brand new baby girl Ramona. Come see the spectacular new show he has created, entitled American Folk Tales & Tails. It will be up for a bit, but wouldn't you love to meet the artist? Come see us and have a cup or two! Plus, they'll be bringing along tons of prints! Who's with us?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Shoe Wardrobe

I'm in a shoe rut. I suppose I don't care so much when it is pouring rain and my footwear is simply keeping me warm and dry.  But the last week has been so beautiful in Seattle, that I have finally noticed my weary kicks.  I have always said that just one new pair of shoes can give you a new wardrobe, for a lot less.  Here are my picks for this season --

For running errands with Henry
Converse Slip-Ons in Charcoal-Lavender, $69.95
Wear with: navy shorts and a white spring sweater

For a picnic or coffee date
Miz Mooz Panthea Ankle Strap in Green, $99
Wear with: a cotton pleated skirt and a long-chained locket

Everyday workin' at Assemble
BC It's a Cinch Flat in Blue, $59.95
Wear with: skinny ankle jeans and a chambray button-up shirt

For dinner with Will
Dock Star Heel in Navy, $62.99
Wear with: any cute dress and button earrings

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inspiration: Modern, Mason Jars

It's no secret that spray paint is one of my best friends. I will spray paint anything to add a little spice. I was taking some photographs for my new house tour the other day -stay tuned for photos- when I saw a sweet little project that the homeowner had created: painted jars. With our wedding coming up, we have mason jars a plenty stacked up in the living room, and I'm sure we'll have a surplus afterward as well. I'm excited to get this project going!

Photo from Joy's Hope

Spray paint the inside of a mason jar and turn over on a piece of styrofoam to drip dry. Or drip acrylic glass paint into the base, roll for full coverage and drip dry over styrofoam or cardboard. Head over to Denise in Bloom for more creative ideas for mason jars. Have any of your own?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wedding Presents (for no one in particular!)

I. Love. Weddings.  I really do.  I love the flowers, the reason to be sappy and silly and mingle and dance. For as much as I love old fashioned and traditional weddings, I also love the quirky bits couples throw in to define their style. You can get a sense of the couple, if you don't already know them, by looking at their registry.

So here is the question of the day -- do you buy from the registry or send a gift of your own?
Hamptons yellow dinnerware set from Crate and Barrel

Why stick to the registry?
It is easy and fast, usually online, and you know the couple is getting exactly what they desire.

An iron, or something equally as mundane, is really an acceptable gift. Couples don't want to think about going to Macy's a week after the wedding, so having dishes and glasses and towels purchased is helpful and appreciated.

Registries are no longer limited to department stores.  MyRegistry or Amazon wish lists compile gift items from all types of vendors, so couples can be more creative and give guests fun options to choose from.

My favorite registry items to give
Teapot, coffee pot, kettle, creamer/sugar set.  Something along those lines and then I throw in a few bags of my favorite teas or local beans.

Cake plate, and a copy of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.

Le Creuset French/Dutch oven. Every home needs at least one.

Rosy-cheeked Coupes at BHLDN, $68 set
Good reasons for a unique gift:
The couple may remember a handmade wedding quilt more than who bought the dishes.

You can take cues from the registry for color palettes and general style, then go find something thoughtful to add.

Lots of gifts off-registry are still returnable -- it doesn't have to be handmade or personalized. So why not give it a shot and include a gift receipt?

My favorite off-registry items:
Silver.  Not many couples these days register for silver serveware. One of my favorite wedding gifts was a Wilton platter that I use so often, I now give as a shower gift to almost every girlfriend. A silver pitcher or candlesticks are good, too.  They go with any decor, are always sophisticated, and last forever.

Interesting glassware.  The couple probably has registered for a set of water and wine glasses, but I like to send a set of 2 (or more depending on the couple) specialty glasses. They don't have the match anything but are still practical. I love the above coupes from BHLDN.

Tickets -- to the museum, a concert, or a game. One friend gave us tickets to a Mariner's game as a wedding gift. How cute. Will and I had just moved to Seattle and she hoped to give us a fun night out, and it was!

Whatcha think? Given or received anything great...or horrible?!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fine Little Day

Have any of you been privy to the loveliness that is Fine Little Day? I could get lost in here for hours, gaining inspiration, reading the blog and looking at great Swedish design.

Fine Little Day was founded in 2007 by artist, Elisabeth Dunker. They describe themselves as "a sprawling and happily inconsistent company and blog based in Sweden, Gothenburg." No more explanation needed! Look at the handful of awesome things I found in about ten minutes!

Head over to Fine Little Day to take a look.

**And on another happy note, Michelle had her little one the night before Easter! --Joseph Robert Jr.-- Congratulations Michelle & Joe Sr!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Type Tangle

I've been finishing up some details for my wedding, such as signs, programs, etc., and have gotten myself into what I am calling "the type tangle." I'm sure all of you have, at some point, experienced another type of tangle--whether it be staring glazed eyed at youtube videos of cute animals (guilty), reading article after article about Charlie Sheen's breakdown on Salon (guilty), or gotten lost browsing through the wonderful world of shared typefaces.

Pretty photo by Andy Clymer

Finding the perfect typeface for our programs within my budget has been a tough one! My favorite script is Mary Read, but to save money, we're going with Wisdom Script from Lost Type.

I found the latter looking through the Snippet & Ink list of 50 Favorite Fonts. Love them all! Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tangerine Tango at Sephora

Ooh! A friend just filled me in -- Sephora is carrying a new line of beauty products inspired by Pantone's color of the year, Tangerine Tango.  I absolutely wanted to order the lip gloss set immediately, but decided to go see the shades in person first.  I'm glad I did. The four shades look so similar and three of the four are shimmery.  I thought that I may end up wearing only the one matte version, which made me reconsider the lipstick.  The only reason I hesitate is that my wardrobe now has several coral/orange/tangerine items and I didn't want to over do it with the matchy-matchy.  This limited edition collection is pretty great, and I recommend you check it out!
Lip Gloss set, $20

Creme Lipstick, $18

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Floriade 2012: Venlo, The Netherlands

When I was ten years old, I had the opportunity to go to the decennial flower festival, The Floriade, in Zoetermeer. The Floriade is an amazing horticultural World Expo that occurs every ten years in the Netherlands. People flock from all over the world to marvel at themed hectares (10000 square meters) of plant-life, garden art and horticultural innovation. As I was a kid when we went, most of what I remember about the Floriade involved lots of hybrid flowers and the fact that I won a goldfish that I couldn't take home, but it has always been a family memory of something amazing that we experienced.

This year, The Floriade 2012 is being held in Venlo, The Netherlands, as the highest bidder in the region. A one-day ticket will run an adult around €25,00 (33 US dollars), and a plane ticket to Europe, of course. This decade's theme is "be part of the theatre in nature; get closer to the quality of life," and features 66 hectares on five themes: environment, green engine, relax & heal, education & innovation, and world show stage. Who feels like going?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shellac Manicures

Are you a nailpolish girl?  I used to always have a coral colored manicure and always kept it neat.  That was until I had a baby...haven't had my nails painted in over a year!  Until a few weeks ago, that is.  My sister recommended the new Shellac manicure, which lasts two weeks or more, dries completely before you leave the salon, and doesn't chip. Amazing. There are a few catches -- it is more expensive than a regular manicure (averaging $30 or more), it takes about 45 minutes, and it must be applied and removed by a trained professional.  Even so, I think it is a great choice for anyone who loves getting a manicure but doesn't have the luxury of keeping her hands still for long.

Yes, it really looks this pretty for two weeks.  PS--Not my hands. Not my ring (although I wish it were!)
Photo courtesy of Kristina, Pretty Shiny Sparkly.  She gives another review of Shellac here.
There are about two dozen colors to choose from. My first choice was Clearly Pink, which was a bit softer and more natural than the bottle suggests. I think I want to try gray Cityscape next. Anyone try Shellac yet? Love it?

Monday, April 2, 2012

This One's For the Boys

There aren't enough awesome blogs for stylish men out there. Well, I have to admit I haven't really been searching. But, I did stumble across this little gem, The Well Groomed Blog. The blog is on a hiatus, but there are plenty of goods to look through in the previous posts. Groom or not: it's a good place to check out guys' fashion, gift guides--the works.

Photos by Tec Petaja

Want more? Check out these great ones for guys as well:

Nerd Boyfriend
Bow Tie and Bustle Blog (for guys AND gals)
Put This On
Valet Mag
Style Salvage

Okay, okay, and one quick one for the girls: Jon Hamm Outtakes