Thursday, September 30, 2010

My life is complete

D found Krusovice cerny at BevMo*. It isn't my beloved Staropramen cerny, but it's pretty amazing. Cerny (which translates to black) beers are dark and just a teeny bit sweet and caramelized but not as smoky or as coffee flavored as you sometimes find in dark beers.


Prague ruins you for life, guys. Nothing else is ever good enough.

*Looks like they're currently sold out online, but he found it at our local store.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted root vegetables

Despite the record temperatures, our CSA box assures me that fall has indeed arrived. A sane person would have made some kind of cold slaw or pickled dish with the root vegetables. I decided that I MUST enjoy the first roots of the season roasted, weather be damned.

root vegetables
{root vegetables}

I sliced turnips, carrots, fingerling potatoes and radishes with the mandoline (makes life much easier), tossed them with some fancy mustard, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, fresh thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper. And then I baked them at 375 for about 40 minutes. I cursed every time I had to open the oven to flip them. We couldn't face them hot, so we waited until dusk had fallen and ate them room temperature, with roasted chicken that we purchased already cooked. Because there was no way I was going to turn the oven on again.

roasted root vegetables
{roasted root vegetables}

It was fall-ish. And we'll eat the leftovers cold out of the fridge.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Purchasing ...

Kristina mentioned that she's been living in the Threads for Thought tanks (um, for nursing, but they AREN'T nursing tanks and normal people can wear them). I am always on the lookout for shirts that will fit my oddly long torso and Kristina promised they would. Double bonus points because Whole Foods carries them. If I can avoid going to an actual clothing store, I almost always will.

tft tanks
{tanks, image from threads for thought and yes, i'm using the exact same image kristina did, but only because the photos of the models wearing the shirts are so unflattering and i didn't want to scare you off}

I bought a couple of the tanks and also the v-neck tees and I'm sold. Sadly, my WF is being really lax about re-stocking, so I finally went online* and placed a big order. They are the most perfect gym tops, super long and very soft, but also decent enough that you could actually wear them out in public with jeans.

Sizing wise, these aren't meant to be skin tight, but they're nicely cut. I've tried small, medium and large in both styles and settled on a medium. For reference, I'm 5'6 and a wee bit (okay, approximately 20 lbs) away from being the skinny minnie I was in college (um, possibly making some progress on this front, which I may or may not share at some point - weight stuff is tricky) - I would call myself comfortably average at the moment, when I'm not being overly self critical.

* Please be forewarned - their website kind of sucks. It somehow managed to empty my shopping cart the first time I tried to check out and then made me go through what seemed like a lot of pages in order to actually get checked out. If I didn't already know how good the shirts feel in person, I might not have persevered. And the pictures do not do the shirts justice, at all. I almost bailed on the whole idea when I saw the picture of the model in the tank top. But they're so much better in real life.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The weekend, briefly

The summer we never had decided to show up this weekend. We spent Saturday evening downtown, participating in the LA Craft Beer Crawl. Luckily it had cooled down enough that it was perfect for leisurely walking. They gave us each 6 ounce tasting glasses and a map of the participating bars and we wandered around sampling for the whole evening. You never know how these events will turn out, but this one was mellow and perfect - no crazy lines or frenzied atmosphere.

la craft beer crawl
{la craft beer crawl}

golden gopher alley
{golden gopher alley}

{golden gopher}

lagunitas tasting
{lagunitas tasting}


Sunday was quiet - working and sleeping and trying not to overheat and drinking gallons of cold water.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday flowers(ish)

This might be the last of my summer basil.

basil, glass
{basil, glass}

I'm going to see if I can get a second crop. I've had these sprigs sitting in water for a couple weeks (I change the water every couple days) to get them to sprout.


It's working! Once the roots seem developed enough I'm going to pull out the old basil plant and put these in. It might be too cold for them soon, but since all my gardening efforts are completely inept, I might as well try it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sauteed leeks and roasted bell pepper quiche

Leeks from our CSA box last week. I was tempted by this recipe, but these were a little too large.


Quiche goes with just about any vegetable so I decided to employ it here. The leeks were sliced, sauteed with a knob of butter and a handful of chopped fresh sage until tender and almost melting. We had a selection of bell peppers as well, so I roasted them in the broiler - one of my favorite ways to handle the excess. I added a bit of bacon just because we had it, but this would still be excellent without it.

Weeknight cooking can be tough. I like to make my plan of attack before I even get in the kitchen, usually on the bus ride home. I start thinking about what steps need to be taken and when, to be as efficient as possible. If there is water to boil, I start it first. If there are onions to be sauteed, I chop them and get them started before measuring out other ingredients. I do this reflexively so I don't always remember to share my thought process with you guys but since this is a re-hash of an old recipe it seems like a good place for an example.

Game plan: To make the quiche, start with your favorite pie crust recipe (mine is here) and then pop it in the freezer to let it firm up. Next get the bell peppers in the top rack under the broiler and then slice and thoroughly wash your leeks. Saute the leeks with butter and sage until they're tender and then set them aside (the bell peppers are still in the oven, so check on them every once in a while). When the bell peppers are soft and fairly blackened, pull them out and turn the oven down to 350F. Grate your cheese and beat your milk and eggs together (quiche recipe here). Once the bell peppers have cooled, peel the skins off and chop them up. Assemble the quiche and stick it in the oven. If I have a spare second anywhere in the midst of everything (and you almost always do) I wash measuring cups and cutting boards and knives, so as to finish with as few dishes as possible.

I like cooking this way - super focused, almost constantly moving, but with a good enough mental map that it doesn't get stressful or chaotic. Add a glass of wine and some music to mellow it out a bit and it's not a bad way to spend an evening, even after a long day at work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shop update!

Sept 2010 shop update

Lots of new rosebud colors up in the shop, along with new (patterned!) silk chiffon ruffles pins and new single bloom corsages and hairpins.

I'm working on getting the belts section filled up with rosebud belts (on the menu - white, cream, royal purple, deep red, sage and burgundy, for starters) but there simply aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. So, headbands and belts are coming, hopefully soon, but I can't commit to a date just yet. In the meantime, I'm always happy to fulfill orders on request, if you need something sooner than "sometime in the future."

Also in the dreaming and scheming stages - new napkin designs (dying to finish these and get them out!), a new notepad, and a new headband design that I wore (I call it testing out) and loved all summer. What I really need is eight hands and a 34 hour day. Someone should get on that, stat.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


D rarely buys me flowers. Which makes sense, seeing as I purchase them for myself almost every week. I get better surprises, like my favorite sliced ham waiting for me in the refrigerator (seriously - this is very exciting for someone who loves sandwiches).

Or this ...

He had a dinner and drinks night recently that kept him out till last call and he was up surfing (despite our great white shark infestation) before I made it out of bed. I generally wake up, brew my first cup of tea and stumble back to bed. During the stumbling part, I saw this little box on my bedside table.

And inside ...


I ate them all for breakfast, with my tea.

Better than flowers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The weekend, briefly

Jam packed weekend, with lots of driving and general busy-ness.

Started with some clean out the fridge cooking and baking (pictured - banana bread in process). 


Someone got a new toy and was excited to share. These were almost the only photos where she wasn't a complete blur.

circe's new toy
{circe's new toy}

circe, waiting
{circe, waiting}

An evening walk, with lovely light.

walking in claremont
{walking in claremont}

Huge heart shaped cookie + a teeny bit of my face, photo by D.

heart cookie
{heart cookie}

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday flowers

The other fun part about mixed bouquets is that everything dies off at different times and you can usually get a recycled arrangement out of it the second week.

recycled flowers
{recycled flowers}

The snapdragons, the lisianthus and a few of the filler flowers still some life in them, so they went into a small vase. They're actually living in our entry way, but it apparently gets NO LIGHT whatsoever and I've never been able to get a photograph there. Sigh.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Orzo salad with feta and bell peppers

Another really excellent use for the Valbreso feta - orzo salad. We made this dish multiple times this summer. It keeps well in the fridge and makes excellent leftovers*, especially if you stuff it in a lightly toasted pita. Carbs on carbs is always a win, in my book.

orzo salad
{orzo salad}

This contains raw garlic and green onions, so it's fairly intense. I love it, but if you're faint of heart where garlic is concerned, you might want to ease up on it.

Orzo salad with feta and bell peppers (from here, makes 8 - 10 large servings)
12 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

1/3 cup olive oil (reduced from original)
1 1/2 cups feta cheese (or whatever amount you like)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (I also tossed in some green)
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers (I left these out because I can't stand capers)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (completely optional)
:: Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the bell peppers, olives and green onions and set aside.

:: Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard and cumin in small bowl to create the dressing. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

:: Cook orzo until tender but still firm to bite (7 - 9 minutes, usually). Drain. Rinse briefly; drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in the dressing mixture. It will smell amazing. Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped bell peppers, Kalamata olives, green onions and capers (if you must).

:: Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat while still slightly warm or cover and refrigerate. Either way, garnish salad with pine nuts before serving. Although I've forgotten to do this 2 out of 3 times and it's still great.

*LOTS of leftovers. This says 8 - 10 servings and it means it. They aren't side servings. For the two of us, we'll usually cut the recipe in half, unless we want to eat it for lunch and dinner for several days. Which we sometimes do. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thrifting, lately

Ginormous ring - large enough to be a fairly effective mirror, excellent for checking to make sure nothing is stuck in your teeth, awesome filigree detail on the underside, fits perfectly on my middle finger which could come in handy in so many situations.
(from the NCJW thrift store on Santa Monica Blvd, always pricier than your average thrift store but also a little better organized and curated)

vintage ring
vintage ring
{vintage ring}

Milk glass baking dish with vintage detailing. Cleaned after I took this picture - looks even more gorgeous now.  Love.
(from my usual Goodwill, also on Santa Monica Blvd)

vintage baking dish 
{vintage baking dish}

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Penpal project

I got a package from sweet Marta in the mail on Saturday  ...

penpal project
{penpal project}

Wrapped perfectly, as always - I'll never get over her handwriting. These postcards are a collaboration between Marta and Summer, both of whom are seriously talented.

postcards, wrapping
{postcards, wrapping}

I love getting personal mail, but I've gotten worse about sending it over the years. I used to have actual friendships that relied on letters because long distance calling was expensive and email didn't exist. Remember that? I would write long letters and then put fun stuff in the envelopes, like glitter. I'm sure people looooved getting those glitter bombs - that stuff sticks around for weeks. (I actually own over 30 different shades of fine glitter but D made me swear to retire them when we moved in together. He is not a fan.)

I'm going to make a vow to send more random mail this season and I can't wait to get these guys out into the world. If you want your own, they're available here. And when I wrote Marta to thank her for the sweet surprise, she offered a little discount for you guys. Enter HEARTOFLIGHT at checkout to get 15% off penpal project orders for today only. Blog friends are pretty wonderful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The weekend, briefly

It was one of those transition weekends - chilly enough that you can tell fall is coming, warm enough to keep eking out a little more summer. These in between times are my favorite.*

We were being productive this weekend so we were inside a lot, but we snuck out to pick up our quarterly wine shipment at the vineyard.


coconut popsicle
{coconut popsicle}



rocky road
{rocky road}

While being productive I also re-watched the entire last season of Dexter. Just to be fully ready for the new season coming up. My TV watching time goes way up when I have sewing to do.

* Even if we never really had summer here and part of me feels like it's going to suddenly pop out and surprise us with an October heatwave. It could happen, guys.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday flowers

A mixed bouquet from the flower stall.

mixed bouquet
{mixed bouquet}

I love all the different textures, even though it requires a bit more work than my usual one flower arrangements. 


I'm certainly not a professional, so feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt, but when I'm putting together something like this I start by pulling out the largest flowers. In this case, that was the dahlia, the lilies and the snapdragons. I put my trusty flower frog in the bottom of the vase and stick the larger flowers in securely, spreading them out more or less evenly. Then I start adding in the filler flowers, often sticking a stem in and then pulling it out to trim it a bit. It's not effortless for me, because I'm always having to correct and re-arrange, but I do love the process.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Loving ...

Valbreso feta cheese, from France. I'm picky about my feta and will brave LA cross town traffic to purchase Greek feta (from here) when making spanikopita, but the French stuff is fabulous for summer salads. It's creamier and milder than Greek feta and in a totally different ballpark from the cheaper Bulgaria feta that you see around.

valbreso feta
{valbreso feta}

Our Whole Foods stocks it for $10 a pound, but I recently found it at our local middle eastern market in bulk for $6 a pound. Sold.

tomato salad
{tomato salad}

Feta, tomato, basil + a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. We eat it with baguette or warm naan and call it dinner.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CSA (ish) update

Currently, our fridge is filled with these ...

produce bags
{produce bags}

Which are filled with this stuff ...

CSA contents
{CSA contents}

I'm on an ongoing quest to figure out how to best incorporate local produce into our lives. In a perfect world, I would go to the farmer's market every week and lovingly pick out perfect veggies. So far, that hasn't worked out for me. Mostly because I have a full time job and there are a whole lot of things I would rather do in my limited spare time, like sleep.

I tried a local CSA for a while (posted about it here).  My pick up location was pretty conveniently close to my work IN THEORY, but I had to lug the box home on the bus every week, thus taking up an extra seat and spreading ants around, both of which earn you some well deserved glares during rush hour. Also, you get a box of mixed veggies and fruit and the fruit is frequently cantaloupes, which neither of us is overly enthused about. That is an understatement. I hate the smell of cantaloupe so much that I can't have it in the house.

Currently I'm trying a new provider that sources from a couple different local(ish) farms and delivers. Delivery is heaven. The box arrives before 6 am every Wednesday, so we can get stuff put away before leaving for work. They let you pick out the option that suits you best, so we get a veggie only box every week - no more melons. It's pricier ($31.50 per week) but our grocery store trips have gone way down. We buy cheese, bread, eggs, lentils, pasta and beer to supplement the box contents. We eat out less because there is a certain amount of pressure to get through all the veggies each week. So far, so good.

Once the box arrives, I wash everything off and then place it in our muslin veggie bags (purchased here, but you could make your own for less money). You can't see through them, so I also make a list of what we have and we refer to it when deciding on meals and cross stuff off as we use it. Having the list to work with makes our lives easier, because instead of "what should we eat tonight?" we're thinking "we have to eat an eggplant tonight, how shall we cook it?". So much more specific and helpful for the chronically indecisive.

I love the variety we get, but I have a sneaking suspicion that subscribers get the older produce. I know how long produce from our garden lasts in the fridge and these veggies go off MUCH more quickly. We're okay with it, because we're on the weekly plan so nothing is sticking around for too long anyway, but it's something to be aware of.

A CSA box can be great for people who prefer not to spend much time shopping for produce and are pretty flexible with their cooking and eating. Good standby options to use up leftover veggies - chop them up, coat them with a bit of olive oil and salt and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees until tender. Then you can store the roasted veggies in the fridge and toss them into omelets, quesadillas and lentil dishes (these lentils are awesome cooked with fresh tomatoes instead of canned and with the addition of some roasted eggplant and potatoes).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The weekend, briefly

Nearly non-stop weekend, which always seems to be how these three dayers play out.

A bit of cooking, sorting through boxes of childhood stuff, games of memory, a pie contest (we just went for the tasting - amazing!), and some puppy time, family visits.

green onion
{green onions}



pie tasting
{pie tasting}

marscapone fig pie
{marscapone fig pie}

circe + chocolate lab
{circe + chocolate lab}

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday flowers

Orange-y red freesia.


They smell amazing.