Thursday, March 31, 2011

Way behind the times

I bought a pair of skinny jeans. Only about six years after the rest of you have been telling me to stop being a wimp. And right before they go out of fashion, apparently.

The embarrassing part is that they're from Forever 21*.  Yep. I purchased a pair of  jeans from F21 for $10.50 and they don't suck at all. And yes, they've been washed and dried and worn multiple times and they still look totally normal.

* I've been trying to a) reduce my shopping and b) subscribe to the quality vs. quantity rule, which makes F21 verboten. But I swear, I had a really good excuse to be in there at the time and also I tried very hard to find skinny jeans from multiple other, more reputable sources and all of them made my ass look so terrible that I nearly cried in many dressing rooms.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to love stainless steel pots

After years of cooking with very old non-stick pans, we received a very generous Christmas gift from D's grandmother - a whole new set of stainless steel pots and pans.

pot + pan
{pot + pan}

They are gorgeous. Also, they had a steep learning curve. We have this set and it's perfect, but if you are buying a la carte, I think you could live without the 10" fry pan. We use the braising pan all the time instead. If you are only buying one pan - buy a straight sided braising pan (about 12 inches across, with sides 2 - 3 inches deep) with a lid. It's an all star (pictured below, browning short ribs).

new pan
{new pan}

Now that we're used to the stainless steel, it's a dream. We've adjusted our cooking a little bit, and here's the general outline, for those of you considering the transition.

- Get used to deglazing. Even plain old water will do, although I'll use whatever wine we happen to have open, or beer, or vinegar, or soy sauce, depending on what I'm making. I always deglaze at the end of a saute, and it means nothing sticks to the pan and cleaning is a breeze.

- Turn the heat down a little. You don't need it as high as you did with your non-stick skillets. These get hot, fast.

- Get used to using a little more oil. It's fine, honestly. If you're cooking at high temp, it won't even be absorbed, but you need a good sheen of oil covering the pan in order to get a nice sear. To get a sear, get the pan fairly hot, add the oil, toss the food in the pan and then jiggle it so that it doesn't stick. There's a great video demonstration of this technique here. (Ignore the fact that I don't love either of those chefs)

- Give up on a couple of things. Neither of us has managed to successfully fry an egg without making a huge mess of the pan. Ditto on veggie burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches. It creates a lot of smoke and you end up having to scrub the pan out, intensely. Luckily, we have a cast iron skillet, and we break it out for these types of things. Cast iron is the original non-stick.

My favorite part is transferring the pans directly to the oven. And the fact that they are really easy to clean (and easy to tell when they're perfectly clean, unlike our old pitted teflon guys).

I'm still learning, but I'm feeling much more confident lately. I definitely don't see us ever going back to non-stick.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The weekend, briefly

I'm pretty sure I did more than eat all weekend, but that's all that's showing up on my camera. It was drizzly and quiet. We tried to catch up on sleep.

granola bars, dishes 
{granola bars, dishes}

farmers' market
{farmers' market}
greek nibbling
{greek nibbling}

 salty marg
{salty marg}


The granola bar recipe is from Summer, I've made them before. This time I tried cutting the sugar down by half (but leaving in all the honey) and reducing the butter to one tablespoon. They are still good, but lack the decadence of the original. I'll probably end up making them both ways, depending on how virtuous I feel.

The greek snacks are from our farmers' market. We have several competing stalls selling similar products, but we're currently loyal to Brother's. Previously we were buying from Mother's. The similar names make us suspect a family feud or possibly a copy cat situation. No idea who is original, but Brother's has my beloved gigantes (giant lima beans in tomato sauce) so they win.

The margaritas were accompanied by nachos. Not pictured.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday flowers

Spring is coming, even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet.

spring flowers
{spring flowers}

I picked up these iris and tulips last week, but they've held up surprisingly well.

spring flowers
{spring flowers}

But then this week I noticed that the ranunculus are in! I almost tossed these guys and replaced them, but I managed to restrain myself. I just seem to gravitate towards ranunculus. Proof here, here, here (scroll down to the second picture), here, here and here (albeit in mixed bouquet in this last one).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The weekend, briefly (and much delayed)

Things have been hectic lately and I tend not to take pictures of hectic. I like quiet moments. Food that sits still for me. A sleepy dog. We've been trying to carve out some of those moments amidst the chaos. Currently, it's a work in progress.

monkey bread!
{monkey bread!}


shauna + pretend puppy
{shauna + pretend puppy}


{bedroom, paintings}

Weekend notes: 

D had never seen monkey bread before this Sunday. I was shocked. I mean, it's monkey bread. Duh. He was officially blown away and I was reminded of just how good it is. I might have to make it sometime soon. Deb has a recipe that looks amazing.

Shauna isn't ours either (this blog is basically a documentation of awesome dogs that aren't mine) - she belongs to my dad and stepmom (Circe and Snowy belong to my mom and stepdad, if you're keeping track). She's part Alaskan Malamute and part Siberian Husky.

Speaking of dogs, we were curled up on the couch last Sunday, listening to the rain lash violently against the windows and I thought of how much I would like to have a little dog curled up with us. And then I remembered that we would have to take the dog out for a walk, in the rain. And then dry it off when we got back in the house. And repeat in the evening. Maybe it's okay that we don't have a dog right now.

Oh, and we are finally, finally trying to figure out where to hang our beloved paintings. We bought them from Lily almost a year ago. Don't worry - they haven't been stuck in a closet somewhere. I had them in my workroom, but they get totally inadequate light in there and I'm the only one who gets to see them. We're thinking of having them in the bedroom, but we're still working on the placement.

And I never, ever make my bed and I've gotten over worrying about other people knowing that. It's so much more inviting for naps this way.

10 things

I'm over here today, sharing ten of my favorite things. Thanks, Emily!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HEARTS + HANDS (for japan)

Hello! I'm still around. A little overwhelmed with actual life. I even had pictures this week but still haven't gotten around to getting them off the camera. Soon. I hope. 

The ever inspiring Lynn is organizing an artist's benefit for Japan. In the face of devastation, it's hard to know what to do. But if everyone takes little steps, it can add up quickly (yes, I realize that sounded like one of those inspirational posters, only less thoughtfully phrased - sorry). As a nice side benefit, if you donate to the cause you also have a chance to win some wonderful gifts.

Around 80 artists (so far!) are generously donating pieces. 100% of the profits will go to relief efforts in Japan in the aftermath of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Please click over and check it out right here. You can see a list of links to the artists participating in the right hand column. The list is amazing, truly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The weekend, briefly

I'm still feeling quiet over here, so I'm going to take the week off. I'm particularly busy right now, but that's not really the reason - I'm just quiet. It's odd, to have so little noise inside my head, so few things that need to get out. But I like to let my mind go fallow, whenever it chooses to do so. It's a nice change of pace.

These pictures do not accurately reflect my weekend AT ALL, which was so full of activity that on Monday morning I felt like I had run a marathon. But in the future, I certainly wouldn't say no to a weekend of 1/3 donuts, 1/3 Circe, 1/3 signs of spring. (The apricot has set fruit, we've got our fingers crossed that we don't have a cold snap now.)

murder + donuts
{murder + donuts}

sunday breakfast
{sunday breakfast}

circe carnivore
{circe carnivore}

circe watching
{circe watching}


early apricots
{early apricots}

Fact - I own every mystery Agatha Christie every wrote (although not under all of the different titles they were published under). I've read them all so many times that it's ridiculous to re-read them. But I haven't made it to the library before closing time in over two weeks and I very much dislike eating breakfast without reading.

And in case you are worried, Circe is chewing on a barbecued rib bone, not devouring an animal (although she would if she could).

I'll be back, probably next week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friday flowers, early

You guys, I don't know what my deal is, but I am totally done for the week. My head feels empty in a washed clean kind of way and it's refreshing so I'm going with it.

Here is another shot of that bougainvillea from last weekend.


It's actually from our wedding location (guess what? we found a venue!). This wedding stuff is pulling together, more or less organically. If you can say that about something that you've spent a million hours researching. Maybe you can't, but all the agonizing and comparing disappears when you make decisions that just feel right.

I'll probably do an update on that stuff soon. Currently, I'm enjoying my complete lack of motivation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An eggless breakfast

Shocking, for me. But on days when I run in the morning, I can't eat eggs right before. And I can't run on a completely empty stomach.

So, 3/4 cup kefir + 1 cup frozen mango + 1 scoop whey protein powder + a tiny bit of water to thin it out. I even have a fancy cold drink cup with a straw that I can take on the bus with me.

mango smoothie
{mango smoothie}

More details ...

 "Run" may be overselling myself. My running pace is not much faster than my walking pace (but I am an insanely fast walker, so there's that) but I can go for over four miles without stopping and I am so impressed with myself. Seriously. I spend most of the run just smugly thinking about how awesome I am. It's addictive.

I'm using kefir on the assumption that it is somehow superior to regular milk. No idea whether I'm just buying into another health food fad or not. I get the 1% plain kefir from TJs.

The frozen mango is also from TJs, so good.

I buy the generic Whole Foods protein powder - 365 Whey Protein Powder in vanilla. I'm kind of torn on using protein powder (I'm not sure how well the FDA regulates it, and food additives make me nervous), but it keeps me full longer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The weekend, briefly

This weekend I tried to make a dent in the citrus harvest. Being inside an orange canopy is magical, particularly right after a rainfall. It's hard to describe - the ground is loamy from the fallen leaves, the sunlight only comes through in patches, it smells damp and fresh and sweet from the orange blossoms. I wanted to live under here as a child.

orange canopy
{orange canopy}

nosing around
{nosing around}


afternoon snack party
{afternoon snack party}

circe, waiting by the door
{circe, waiting by the door}

bougainvillea, clouds
{bougainvillea, clouds}

I also ate my weight in cookies in lieu of any actual meals on Saturday, drank a margarita that didn't deserve the name, listened to some excellent mariachis and sorted through ten boxes of family Christmas decorations (and dropped five boxes off at the thrift store).