Tuesday, January 31, 2012



I've been eating more bacon than is justified.


The Christmas tree is down.

c-salt truffles
{c-salt truffles}

We went to another family wedding and Courtney's truffles made a welcome appearance (I snagged leftovers to take home and savored them for an entire week - I say I'm not a chocolate person but I definitely have some exceptions).

baby girl
{baby girl}

We celebrated one year with some sweet baby legs.

perpetual chore
{perpetual chore}

And attempted to keep everything else limping along, somehow. To be fair, D did all the laundry. I just took a picture of it. At least laundry looks nice, which is more than I can say for a lot of household chores.

How is this month over already?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Purchases - reading

The wait list at the library (for either physical or e-copies) was MONTHS. For every single one of these. So I gave in and made my second e-book purchase ever. They are embarrassingly good.*

I used them as motivation to get myself back in my morning gym routine last week. The stair mill is much more bearable when I have something to distract me from the pain.

* I know everyone else has been saying this for years, but people were saying the Twilight series was good and I had to force myself to wade through the first book before deciding to give up on the whole thing (and I'll read and enjoy just about anything). I just don't get it, people.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Simple, fast

Way back in November I made a birthday cake for D's mom (the same one I made last year) and it was looking plain. I didn't have enough frosting left to do anything fancy. I didn't feel like reprising the walnut decoration I did last year. So ...


I made colored sugar (since I wrote that post, I have never again purchased decorating sugar - love it) and cut out a quick balloon stencil on wax paper, sprinkled a bit and it was done. I drew the strings on with a toothpick dipped in a bit of food coloring. It doesn't look bakery-level professional, but I'm okay with that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading, lately

I'm not even sure what I can say about this book. I don't know when I last read something that I enjoyed this much. 

{the house of tomorrow - cover image}

It's hilarious, full of teenage angst and punk dreams and some genuine sadness and it's set in a geodesic dome.  You should probably just read it.

Kindle update:
Since I shamefacedly admitted to buying a Kindle back in October, I can officially tell you that I'm obsessed.   I was already a pretty voracious reader, but I tended to re-read books I already own because I'm not so great at planning trips to the library around my working hours. Now I'm reading something new nearly all the time and it's so much easier to tote around on the bus. Love it. I've only actually purchased one e-book, because I prefer to check my e-books out from the library and then buy a physical copy if I really love the book and know I'll re-read it. I'm mostly using my Kindle as a portable public library. It's not nearly as photographic as real books, of course, and I can't take it in the bathtub. Nothing is perfect.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lemon ginger cookies

I made these cookies last weekend for my cousin's wedding. The original recipe makes thick cookies that you  slather with a lemon buttercream. Perfect showstoppers for a wedding, but it's hard to justify a buttercream sandwich for everyday eating.

cookies, stacked
{cookies, stacked}

The cookies by themselves on the other hand? They are perfect for an afternoon treat. The addition of almond meal makes the texture delicate and the flavor almost wheat-y. They're more lemon than ginger, though, and I'm a ginger addict. I think in the future I might try finely chopping crystallized ginger and adding it to the mix. You can double this recipe in a stand mixer with no problem at all.


Lemon ginger cookies (makes 18 if you're going for 3" cookies - original recipe from here)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted, ground (I used 4 oz of TJ's ready made almond meal, which is amazing and a huge time saver)

:: Mix the flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.

:: Whip the butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on high (I usually get this going and then measure out the rest of the ingredients).

:: Stir in the lemon zest, vanilla and almond meal.

:: Stir in the flour mixture. I found that it worked best if I used the mixer on low speed to incorporate most of the flour, but I had to finish it by working the dough by hand briefly. The dough is fairly dry but it rolls out beautifully once you refrigerate it.

:: Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Refrigerate about one hour, to make the dough easier to handle.

:: On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc at a time to just under 1/4" thick (this is pretty thick, especially if you're used to rolling out 1/8", which is more standard) and cut your preferred shape. I used 3" scalloped edge circles. Set aside the scraps and then repeat with the second disc. Gently knead the scraps into a ball and roll them out to get a few more cookies. I only did one re-roll, although you might be able to eke out one more without affecting the texture too much. We just opted to eat the scraps instead.

:: Bake the cookies in a 325 degree oven for about 14 minutes, until the tops are firm and the bottoms are golden brown. You don't want to overbake them as they'll start to taste burned quickly. The original recipe suggested 20 minutes, but that was way too much for my oven (the little stack you see in the top picture is overbaked!). I would start checking at 14 minutes and add extra time if necessary.

These don't have any eggs - that's not a typo (trust me, I checked the original recipe about 20 times to convince myself I wasn't messing it up when I made them). They really don't need them. I was worried about the dough being cohesive enough, but it really does come together. Promise.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The weekend, briefly



tea and cookies
{tea and cookies}

road trip - wedding
{road trip - wedding}


home brew
{home brew}

the reception
{the reception}

:: Notes ::

We've been slowly attacking the gingerbread houses. Makes me feel like Godzilla.

I spent Saturday baking cookies for my cousin's wedding. We ate way too much cookie dough and I drank more than my allotment of tea.

We roadtripped it up to the wedding (in a rental car, unexpectedly - ours is finally getting the bumper patched up following a rear ending that happened all the back in November). And I do mean road tripped - 200 miles up, 200 miles back, all in a single day. A hotel room just wasn't in the cards this weekend. We had a really amazing lunch in Los Alamos on the way up and just enjoyed the scenery on the 101. So gorgeous. I changed into my wedding frippery in a Starbucks bathroom. The wedding was lovely and our other cousin made all the beer himself. Very impressive.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Purchases - workout pants + make up

Make up from Korres (mineral foundation, illuminating powder, mango lip butter)


Tristan recommended the mineral foundation and I've learned to take her recommendations seriously. I got a sample from Sephora to test it out and then a coupon came up on Gilt for $50 for $30. I'm not sure this was the smartest move for me, because the foundation is $28 and I didn't need the other two items that I purchased to get up to $50, but I'm happy to have them.

Four pairs of workout pants

new workout pants

I forgot to put these on my list last week, but they were on my mental list. I bought two pairs of Lululemon pants last year, realized that my long suffering sweat pants were not adequate workout pants but then couldn't bring myself to suck it up and pay the (exorbitant) price for another few pairs. I'd been dragging my heels and hoping to find a decent substitute and then Frontrunner's had these on 60% off over the weekend. I got all four pairs for about $10 more than a single pair of Lululemon pants would have cost and they are just as good. One week of workout pants is all I need, so I can happily check that off my list. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The spending strategy for 2012

Resolution: Post every single purchase I make this year

Background/blathering ... 

I posted in-depth about my spending thoughts this time last year. You guys, I think a lot about shopping/spending/consuming. I won't re-hash that here because I think I covered it pretty thoroughly.

Basically, in 2009 and 2010, I did the shopping hiatus inspired by Joslyn. Last year I tried to mix it up and gave myself an annual allowance. That failed, miserably. By which I mean, I got lazy and just didn't enter anything in the spreadsheet and pretty much forgot about it I started thinking about 2012 resolutions. It was a good idea, but I'm not so great with month to month follow through.

I'm thinking I should just look to Jos again, since she seems to come up with the best ideas. Last year she resolved to honor her stuff and then started operation simplicity where she blogs about what she's acquired + some inspiration.

In that spirit, I'm committing to post all purchases here, for the entire year. This means every single thing I buy. I'll tag them with "purchases 2012" so I can pull them all together at the end of the year and see what I'm doing. I'm also hoping that the listing part of it might make me think twice about my purchases. You know, like when you write down everything you eat. Which I'm not doing, but should possibly consider. But I would need to wait until I finish decimating our gingerbread houses.

Rules, for myself:
- All purchases other than food or necessary toiletries have to be posted (toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. = necessary, new mascara = not necessary)
- I'll reserve the right to hold off on posting about gifts until after the recipient has received them, but I'll make a draft post right away so I don't forget

This will either be really embarrassing or really awesome.

I've also developed a list of items that I think would be the best use of my funds. I don't plan to go on a shopping spree, but I'll be keeping my eyes out for these in the future. I realize it's a little shoe heavy. I just don't do much shoe shopping and it has become apparent that I'm deficient in a few standards.

On the potential list for this year -
flat boots in brown (to mix it up a bit and to take a bit of the stress of my grey pair)
good black flats
- rain boots (I've never owned a pair and I never remember that I need these until it starts raining and I spend all day at work with wet feet - a commitment to public transit requires foot protection)
round toed black leather pumps (wish I hadn't even seen these because they are ridiculously good in person and I won't ever be able to buy them, might end up settling for these if they go on sale)
a couple more pairs of jeans (may have gotten a jump on this at the Barney's sale, but I'm still debating returns it's really hard to justify premium denim if I still find myself reaching for my F21 jeans instead)
a couple of versatile tops, ideally in silk - sometimes the tees don't quite cut it.
a clutch that is large enough to sometimes transition between daily bus commute + happy hours (this one, specifically, if I can ever make a decision about color). I need to be able to carry my giant wallet, assorted lip stuffs, phone + kindle. I seriously considered a hipster backpack but decided I wanted to get away from the giant bag issue altogether. So awkward in bars.
good cardigans are always on my list because I wear them to death. It's what happens when you live in a temperate climate and work in a building that overcompensates for the weather. I need LAYERS.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Best things I bought in 2011


These skinny jeans.

These super soft tee shirts + tanks.

These flat boots.

Add a cardigan and you basically have my day uniform for the entire year. I know it's boring. It has made such a huge difference, though. Having everyday boots is sort of a revelation.

It's interesting to look back, because I don't always correctly guess which purchases are going to get the most use. My goal is always to purchase the fewest number of things that will get maximum use/enjoyment. In that spirit, I've been trying to evaluate my wardrobe and decide what pieces I could really use this year. And I have the newest form of the shopping hiatus rattling around in my head, ready to be posted soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Habanero tequila gifts

We've been going through a major habanero tequila + grapefruit juice phase for the last few months, so it only seemed natural to package some up as Christmas gifts. Oh, and those little peppers there? Not purchased as photographic props, I promise. We're replenishing our personal supply this week.

habanero tequila
{habanero tequila}

We managed to co-design a wrap around label that includes the recipe for the drink. We only argued about fonts/spacing once. Mostly because we were both too tired to keep going.

habanero tequila
{habanero tequila}


We were working from this recipe. It's great, but we've learned a few tricks.

Start with a decent affordable tequila. You don't want an anejo for this, mostly because it would be a waste of aged tequila. We used a Cazadores reposado, although I'd like to try it with a blanco soon.

Taste your peppers before you use them. Not all peppers are created equal and every once in a while you get a crazy hot one. Take a tiny bite first, and then decide how to handle it (you can reduce the steeping time, or you can remove almost all of the seeds - both will help).

Set a timer and taste every hour to make sure you aren't going beyond your spiciness tolerance. If it accidentally goes too far, you can mix it with regular tequila to help balance it out.

And once you want to make the drinks ...

Highly recommend using only unsweetened pink grapefruit juice. This could be my prejudice against sweet cocktails, but I think the strong flavor from the grapefruit is all you need. No sugar here.

The recipe is for a large batch. We basically break it down into parts so we can scale it. They recommend a 1:3 ratio of alcohol to juice, but you'll want to see where you like it. I'll sometimes do 1:3 but other times go for a 1:2. A normal drink has 2 oz of alcohol (1/4 cup).

Oh, and I used these bottles for packaging. I can promise you that I checked every website known to man and this ended up being the best balance of price + shipping. It drives me nuts when shipping is almost as much as the product, but I guess you can't really get away from that when you're purchasing glass.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The weekend, briefly

the collection
{the collection}





sunset + clouds
{sunset + clouds}

getty at twilight
{getty at twilight}

moon over los angeles
{moon over los angeles}

:: notes ::

We had a leisurely Sunday afternoon lunch, and the cakestands got to make an appearance. Normally I have them distributed here and there throughout the apartment, so I had to hunt to gather them all up. They're being loaned out this week, so I had them all spread out so we could pick and choose.

The washi tape flags were a last minute addition to designate the vegetarian sandwiches from the rest. I didn't have time to make dessert, but we made do with a bowl of satsumas and some really good coffee. I'm still mostly caffeine free, but I'll generally give myself one day a week to enjoy coffee and one cup of tea per day. So far, so good.

A last minute trip to the Getty with just enough time to catch the crazy sunset and see another of the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions. We left at closing and walked down to our car instead of taking the tram, enjoying the moonlight.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Facing 2012

We spent New Year's Eve just the two of us, which is actually how I prefer it most years. No driving worries, no over hyped parties. We made it up till midnight, somewhat miraculously if you consider our previous night.

the beach, new year's hike
{the beach, new year's hike}

the city, new year's hike
{the city, new year's hike}

smoke city
{smoke city}

We took a hike on the Monday holiday. Such a good way to start the year. And then we drove straight from the hike to eat some barbecue, which is also a pretty good way to kick things off. 

I'm an entire week late on this, I realize, but I do have some New Year's-y things kicking around in my brain  (a look back over the last year, new strategies for this year). I was feeling super unmotivated about all this last week which was somewhat disheartening because I usually get pretty pumped for naval gazing and life tweaks. I guess I was just running a bit behind - will probably get some posts up next week, when all of you are already feeling over your resolutions. Sorry.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The in between week

D and I both got to take most of the week off and it was amazing. I realized we really haven't had that much time together in years. Guess what? We still like each other.

We started it off at home in LA, doing some damage at the Barney's sale, stopping in at APC (where I just browse because while I love looking at their stuff, it all looks terrible on me), eating at ink.sack (liked it, but didn't loooove it).

ink sack
{ink sack}

We had a mini-post-Christmas gingerbread house party, which is slightly heretical (how do you know when you are allowed to eat it?!), but mostly low key and fun.

mini gb house party 2011
{mini gb house party 2011}


I got our thank yous written and posted. Love the holiday stamp design this year - should have remembered to stock up now that I think about it. We never got around to doing Christmas cards this year, so I only bought a couple panes of stamps.

thank yous, out
{thank yous, out}

We snuck away for a night down in San Diego. We initially intended to make it a single day - we were just going to see a museum exhibit* so we didn't bother booking a hotel room. But we were late getting out and decided it was easier to stick around and see the second part of the exhibit** the next day. Things fell into place. Jamie had sent us some sweet recommendations and we found a hotel in the general vicinity (only to realize that we'd stayed at that exact hotel 6 years ago! weird.) and cabbed it over to North Park and made the most of a full night out. I think we hit every bar on 30th St. It was excellent.

light exhibit!
{light exhibit!}

30th st ipa from green flash
{30th st ipa from green flash}

30th st, san diego
{30th st, san diego}

* The exhibit was SO GOOD. It's only open till January 22nd, but you should go if you can. I don't have any pictures because it was against the rules and I'm terrified of being reprimanded by museum guards, but they wouldn't do it justice anyways. Full room installations, gorgeous cast resin pieces, super interactive. Loved.

** I love a good museum but I have about a 1.5 hour tolerance, max. Which means I can either look at a special exhibit or part of a permanent collection, but never both in one day. Splitting up the exhibits usually works best for  me. D will happily spend an entire vacation in various museums. We generally solve the issue on vacations by me sleeping in late while D visits a museum each morning. Later day joint museum visits are carefully planned around food/drink stops.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas, briefly

Our Christmas is always fairly hectic, as we attempt to maximize family time and minimize mileage.  I was typically lax about documenting much of the actual merriment, but managed to capture a few quiet moments.

egg nog, homemade, with bourbon
{egg nog, homemade, with bourbon}


circe feet
{circe feet}


cookies, sees
{cookies, see's}

czech santas
{czech santas}

wrapped and ready
{wrapped and ready}

holiday tea
{holiday tea}

:: Notes:: 

I took a cue from Erin and made time for homemade eggnog on our last night at home. I baked those cookies two more times. I bought See's*. We loaded up the car and saw two families on Christmas Eve and two more on Christmas Day. I made our savory bread pudding** in both veg and bacon laden versions.  I woke up Christmas morning with a pile of pups. I drank holiday tea with real cream. We finished off tired and sated and ready for a couple days of sleep.

* We are second generation Californians, therefore we eat See's on holidays - it's mandatory, I'm pretty sure. My personal fave is the rum nougat and happily I have no competition because everyone else thinks it's grandma chocolate.

** It's become a Christmas day tradition and for good reason. I can put it together the night before, put it in the oven whenever and we can eat it hot or cold.