Happy Fifth of July!

For those of you who call the United States your home, I hope you had a lovely Independence Day! And for everyone else, I hope you had a lovely fourth of July. :)

Last night I watched the fireworks from my rooftop, and caught a few smiles:

Shiny happy fireworks!

Shiny happy fireworks!

It was a good show, although SF’s perpetual summer evening fog hung over the city. Definitely had some interesting effects, like in the photo below!

Fireworks capped by fog.

Fireworks capped by fog.

Earlier in the day I went to my friends’ house for a super yummy barbecue. They’ve got a smoker, so among other things they served up homemade smoked knockwurst and chicken. Noms! (Note to self: get apartment with yard & buy smoker.)

Homemade smoked knockwurst, chicken, and homebrew in a stein.

Homemade smoked knockwurst, chicken, and homebrew in a stein.

And I got a little festive with my nails, with Julep “Taylor” and “America”. Yep, “America” has silver star glitter in it!

Manicure with Julep Taylor and America.

Manicure with Julep Taylor and America.

Speaking of Julep, congratulations to Carley L. for winning my Julep Maven intro box raffle! And if you’d like to give the Julep Maven subscription a try, head over to the Julep website, take the Julep Maven style quiz, and sign up using the promo code MAVENINTRO to get your intro box for a penny!

How did you spend your fourth of July?

[All photos by me and available on my Instagram: katealamode!]

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A Lovely Valentine’s

This morning I was greeted with a sweet start to Valentine’s Day. My husband, Pat, made me a cappuccino — with a heart.

Cappuccino, with love

Cappuccino, with love

After work, I came home to some lovely roses, and Pat and I had cocktails. I whipped up a new cocktail recipe that was absolutely delicious — if I do say so myself. :) I’ve decided to call it the Briar Rose.

The Briar Rose, a cocktail by kate à la mode

The Briar Rose, a cocktail by kate à la mode

Briar Rose
2 tbsp honey syrup
1 tsp berry jam
2 oz vodka
3/4 oz crème de cassis
1/2 oz rose-water
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

To make the honey syrup, mix 1 part honey with 1 part hot water; stir until blended.
Mix berry jam into honey syrup until smooth (if necessary, heat briefly — about 10 seconds in the microwave).
Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

After cocktails, we headed out to Fringale for dinner, where we had a scrumptious dinner.

And the best part? I got to take some balloons home!

Les ballons. Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Les ballons. Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Okay, maybe not the best part — the food was awfully good — but certainly a fun way to wrap up the evening. I asked the waiter if I could take a balloon home, and he gave me a whole bunch. Win!

Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s too!

Dress: Most Memorable Dress, Stop Staring via ModCloth
Shoes: Hot for Hemlock Heel in Crimson, Chelsea Crew via ModCloth
Coat: Burberry
Purse: Cole Haan

Year of the Dragon – The Feast

Earlier I posted about the outfit I wore for Lunar New Year’s Eve, but I’m just now getting to the real New Year’s Eve story: the feast.

My husband and I joined several of our friends at his parents’ place for an absolutely amazing 12-course, all-day feast.

We started out with 4 courses of appetizers:

  • Gow Choi Gau Zi (shrimp and chives dumplings)
  • Lo bak go (daikon cake)
  • Trio appetizer platter: 5-spice beef, jellyfish, BBQ pork
  • Minced chicken in lettuce wrap
Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Then moved on to the main courses:

  • Dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat
  • Sautéed prawns and scallops in XO sauce
  • Beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce
  • Stir-fried crab with green onions & ginger
  • Steamed whole fish
  • Pea sprouts in garlic sauce
This picture is just dying for a funny caption - any suggestions?

Clockwise from upper left: dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat, sautéed prawn and scallops in XO sauce, beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce, and roasted crab with green onions & ginger

And finished up with 2 courses for dessert:

  • Don tats
  • Fortune cookies and orange slices
Fortune cookies and orange slices

Fortune cookies and orange slices

Keep reading for the recipes!
Continue reading

Year of the Dragon – The Outfit

For Chinese New Year’s Eve, my husband and I went to his parents’ place, where several of our friends joined us for a holiday feast. (Photos and recipes available here!)

Chinese tradition holds that red and gold bring good luck and wealth. So, of course, any proper Chinese New Year outfit must incorporate those colors. I figured my “Fireworks of Love” dress by Trashy Diva, along with some gold accents & accessories, fit the bill perfectly!

The Dress:

Fireworks of Love Dress by Trashy Diva, via ModCloth

The Accessories:

Un-Teal the End of Time Bag, Magnes Sisters via ModCloth

Un-Teal the End of Time Bag, Magnes Sisters via ModCloth

Vintage (1980s?) Gold-Tone Bracelet

Vintage (1980s?) Gold-Tone Bracelet

Tippytoes Heels, Seychelles via ModCloth

Tippytoes Heels, Seychelles via ModCloth

Unsurprisingly, being January in the SF Bay area, it was raining. Luckily, I had a bit of blue sky with me. :)

Blue Skies Above Umbrella via ModCloth

Blue Skies Above Umbrella via ModCloth

And anyway, I’m not going to let a little rain get me down on a holiday! Especially a holiday that’s all about bright colors, good food, and being with friends and family. :)

So, do you celebrate the Lunar New Year? What are your fave New Year traditions?

Gung hay fat choy!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Gung hay fat choy!

Dress: Fireworks of Love Dress, Trashy Diva via ModCloth
Cardigan: For Orchestra Blazer, Lush via ModCloth
Shoes: Tippytoes Heels, Seychelles via ModCloth
Purse: Un-Teal the End of Time bag, Magnes Sisters via ModCloth
Bracelet: vintage
Umbrella: Blue Skies Above Umbrella via ModCloth

Photos by Pat Zimmerman