Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday flowers

I have a special fondness for iris. They are somehow elegant without being fussy. They always make me think of English gardens (I'm not even sure if this is appropriate - any English readers care to chime in? Do you have lots of iris over there or am I just imagining that you might?).

yellow iris, brown glass
{yellow iris, brown glass}

These ones look like they'll open up even more and hopefully that means they'll last for a while.

yellow iris

For Halloween I'll be sipping cider and hopefully getting some work done. I have to admit that I can't even face the thought of going out on a Saturday Halloween. I must be old, because just the thought of those crowded bars makes me shudder a bit. Also, I am not up to the costume pressure. I can never think of anything good and then I suffer from costume insecurity.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quiet, windblown

I feel quiet today. The Santa Ana winds have blown in and the city looks bare and scraped clean. It would be a perfect day to curl up and drink something warm and listen to the wind howl outside.


The Santa Anas are so beautiful in their own way. They carry electricity. My hair stands on end, trees tip over, they dry up everything they touch. And while none of those things sound very wonderful, they do bring a sort of excitement in with them.

I think they've sparked some ideas, because I have a million things rattling around in my head and absolutely no time to get them out. If there was any way I could swing it, I would spend the day in bed. Ideas need to percolate, I think. And there's no better place than a cozy bed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Listening to...

The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You. On repeat. For the last four days straight. If D decides to break up with me after having to listen to this album one. more. time. well, I have to admit that it would be justifiable.

The album is all over the place - bluegrass and folksy stuff and other songs that sound totally modern. Luckily I love all of it.

This is the song that got me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No knead bread

You are all making this bread already, right?

overnight bread
{no knead bread}

If you aren't, please do yourself a favor and try it immediately. Honestly, it isn't the no-knead aspect of this that I love. I grew up making bread, kneading and all, and I have no issue with kneading. It's a nice arm workout, it feels very meditative, and it's a great excuse to eat bites of yeasty bread dough.

It's the crust. The crust on the no knead bread is fabulous. Bakery quality. It shatters when you bite into it. I made it for a dinner on Saturday and D and I had to physically restrain ourselves from eating all of it before our guests arrived.

The recipe has been dissected about a million times on the internet, so I'll just add my tiny tips.

Use a smaller pot. Or double the recipe. The bread doesn't rise a whole lot in the oven, so you will end up with a pretty flat loaf if you make it in a pot that is too large. If you don't have a smaller pot, don't worry. It will still be delicious.

Skip preheating the pot, if you need to. Transferring the dough to the preheated pot was too stressful for me. I will give myself third degree burns, given half a chance, so I avoid messing around with hot, heavy objects. If you have a similar problem, just skip that step. I lightly oil the pot I'm going to use and then transfer the dough to it for the second rise. It's always turned out just fine.

Don't stress about the timing. It's pretty flexible. As long as you do the first rise at least overnight, and the second rise at least one hour, you'll be fine.

Salt is needed. You can add more salt to the dough, as Mark Bittman recommends. Or you can serve the bread with cold, fresh butter and sea salt on the side, which is my preferred method.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The weekend, briefly

This weekend was a bit packed. I went on a silk hunting expedition in the fashion district, played with pretty paper scraps, baked, cooked and ate. I managed to sneak in a quick nap on Sunday afternoon, just to get ready for the week.

fashion district
{fashion district}

{making gift tags}

apple tart
{apple pie, filled - recipe here}

apple tart
{apple pie, finished}

dinner table, waiting
{dinner table, waiting}

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday flowers (improvisation edition)

This week slipped right through my fingers. I don't know where it went. I did go to the market but I couldn't find any flowers I liked. I poked through all the options and felt blah about them, so I decided to forgo blooms.

And then I went home and walked onto my balcony and noticed that my neglected parsley had bolted and it looked quite beautiful, in a leggy, unruly way. So I brought a bit inside.

parsley, bolted
{parsley, bolted}


flowery herbs, bedside
{flowery herbs, bedside}

Here's to hoping for more serendipitous surprises over the weekend. Also, this is a good reminder to myself that I need to decide what I'm doing about my little garden over the winter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New blanket

I may live in Southern California, but I get cold easily. And we don't have heating in our apartment due to a combination of factors (laziness and a desire to appear bad ass being the main two). We do have a large supply of blankets, for those winter nights that drop below 30 and leave us cursing our lack of heating.

I've been lusting after Swiss Army wool blankets like this one for over a year, but I just couldn't justify the cost. But when I saw a piece of boiled wool in the remnants sections of F&S a few weeks ago, I jumped on it, clutched it to my chest and danced around.

boiled felt

At 60" wide and 1 3/4 yards long, it's almost a perfect square and I love the deep burnt orange color. A piece of good boiled wool this large would normally run around $75 (wool is expensive, guys - there is a reason those fabulous blankets cost what they do), but it was marked down to $15!

boiled felt

I'm pretty sure this was a once in a lifetime remnants find, but if you can't mange to drum up almost $300 for a Swiss Army blanket, I would recommend checking out the boiled wool selection at your local fabric store.* This material doesn't even require hemming, so all you have to do is bring it home.

*It does need to be a good fabric store. You won't find high quality wool at a craft store like Joann's, so save yourself the disappointment and don't even try.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Savory apple tart

D took his little brother apple picking last weekend and came home with a bounty of Pippins, our favorite. There will definitely be an apple pie in our house very soon (recipe here), but in the meantime I started dreaming of something a little more savory. I poked around in the blogosphere, but couldn't find anything that quite matched the vision in my head.

apples + onions

So I winged it. And luckily (and unlike some of my attempts) it was a huge hit. Sliced tart apples with caramelized onions and a bit of cheese are lovingly enfolded in pastry, making a perfect fall dish.

apples + onions

Do not be afraid of the pastry dough. Pastry dough is easy-peasy and takes all of 5 minutes to whip up if you are using a food processor and only minimally longer by hand.
Savory apple & onion tart (serves 4 - 6, easily)

For the pastry: (pate brisee recipe from Martha Stewart)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
3 large tart apples
3 onions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used Parrano, a swiss variety)

:: Make your pastry dough. Put the flour and the salt in the food processor and pulse a few times. Add 1/2 of the butter and do a couple 5 second pulses. Add the rest of the butter and do a couple more 5 second pulses. (Adding the butter in two parts gives you some well incorporated butter and some larger pieces, which makes for a perfect, flaky consistency.) Add the water, a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition. The dough should come together very quickly. You need just enough water to form a dough. Remove your dough from the food processor and quickly shape it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge to chill.

:: Caramelize your onions. Toss them in a heavy bottomed pan with the olive oil and salt and cook over low heat approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden.

:: While the dough is chilling and the onions are cooking, peel and slice your apples. I use an apple peeler/slicer, which may be the greatest silly gadget ever. Having perfectly even slices ensures even cooking, but you can certainly do this by hand (as I did, for years).

:: Take the onions off the heat and toss them with the apples. Set aside.

:: Gently roll your dough into a large circle (approximately 12 - 13 inches in diameter for me). You don't have to roll it very thin for this recipe. It will still be almost 1/8 inch thick, as if you were going to cut cookies.

:: Lay the dough in some sort of pan. The edges will fall over the sides. I used a 10" tart pan, but you could use a large pie pan if that's what you have handy. Spread the filling out inside, sprinkle with your shredded cheese and then gently bring the edges over and towards the middle. (I can't figure out how to explain this, but take a look at the picture of the finished product and you will see that it is really easy.)

:: Bake in a 375 degree oven until the pastry is pale gold. It took about 45 minutes for me.
This is a wonderfully indulgent meal. We ate it hot for dinner and then cold for breakfast the next morning and loved it equally well both ways.

Next time, I'm going to try punching it up a notch and adding some chopped fresh rosemary or sage to the crust (add it with the flour and salt, if you want to try it), for some extra fall flavor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shop update - minis!

Introducing minis!

{minis! ruffles & rosebuds}

I love tiny versions of things and I wanted to put something in the shop that would work as a stocking stuffer (I start thinking about the holidays as soon as Labor Day rolls around - I just can't help it). The minis are small versions of my two favorite headbands, on bobby pins. I've been sticking them in my everyday low, loose bun, for a little extra pop. They come in rosebud and ruffles styles.

Each set of two is $9 and there are lots of colors to choose from (I felt a little sorry for my patient sister when she had to pose through 23 different color and style combinations). Shipping is low for the minis alone and free when you add them to an order. They come on sweet little tags, perfect for popping in a stocking or tying on top of a gift. Or you can just wear them, of course. I hope you love them as much as I do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The weekend, briefly

I played with thread.


And re-read an old favorite.

{a wrinkle in time}

And baked a little bit.

muffins + apples
{healthy muffins (recipe here) + apples}

Not pictured - working, sleeping, cuddling with a terrier, watching Mad Men.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Truffles + wine

If you're in the SoCal area, my extremely talented cousin is hosting a truffle making workshop in Long Beach on October 25th.

Courtney is the genius behind C Salt Gourmet, and she handmakes small batches of the most amazing candy. She'll teach you how to make your own truffles, while you sip wines specifically chosen to pair with your creations. Fair warning - her workshops fill up fast so get your spot reserved if you're interested.

Check out the details and sign up here and see a list of SoCal retail locations here. I'm addicted to her pine nut brittle, personally, but absolutely everything is delicious.

{lovely image from C Salt Gourmet site}

Friday flowers

I can tell it's going to be harder to have decent Friday flowers pictures as the days get shorter and the light gets dimmer. I ache a little bit around 3 pm when I'm in my office or the lab and I'm thinking about how lovely the light must be in my apartment. I think my job needs to involve time off for picture taking.

Anyways...this week I got a pretty hydrangea variety that reminds me of lilacs. Just three stems, but they look perfect in some old glassware.

hydrangeas + labware
{hydrangeas + labware}

hydrangeas + labware
{old glassware}

hydrangeas + labware
{lilac-y hydrangeas}

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Check out Kirei Nest today to see what I recommend tucking in a Los Angeles gift basket... it involves cupcakes, wine and historical tours.

New (to me) boots

So, the Old Navy tights are working out fabulously. I recommend them, even though they are $6.50 in the store despite being $5 online. They are opaque and cozy. Thumbs up. If you are eying the two tone dress from last week, I highly recommend going up a size from your usual Old Navy size (which is probably much smaller than your regular size). It's very cute but the fabric doesn't have much give and the size small and the v-neck cut combined to make me look way too busty for public.

And why did I need new tights so urgently? To pair with my new boots, of course.

new (to me) boots

D's grandma had these in her closet and she kindly passed them along to me recently. They are wonderful soft leather with contrast stitching, and I've been wearing them with tights and adding a dress and a cardigan.

new (to me) boots

It's the most comfortable fall uniform ever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Loving this...

I have no loyalty when it comes to shampoo. I will grab whatever looks interesting if it is on sale.

{images from Giovanni}

I'm loving this Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat shampoo and conditioner. With tea tree oil and mint, it's super refreshing in the morning and it makes my scalp tingle pleasantly. I also love the rectangular bottles, because they don't roll around if I drop them. Why hasn't anyone else thought of this?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gradated leaf garland

A fistful of autumn leaves.

leaf pile
{leaf pile}

A needle and a little bit of thread.

leaf garland
{leaf garland}

A simple garland that doesn't cost anything and feels festive without being silly.

I sorted the leaves into color piles and then played around with laying them out for a gradated look, but you could do alternating colors or anything else you can think of. My only tip is to work with the leaves as soon as you collect them. String them gently (a few will rip) and then get it hung before the leaves dry out. They are harder to work with once dried.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The weekend, briefly

It was quiet here this weekend. The light was soft, the air was chilly.

We drank coffee. Plain black for D, pumpkin spice for me (Ariela's recipe is great, but I cut the sugar quite a bit because I don't like my coffee very sweet at all).

coffee, plain + pumpkin spice
{coffee, plain + pumpkin spice}

We visited the beach. The offseason is my favorite time.

beach, october
{beach, october}

I packed up orders. I never, ever get tired of putting together packages. It might be the best part of having the shop.

orders, packed
{orders, packed}

And I worked a bit, as the light failed.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday flowers

Mini callas, in a beautiful black pitcher D made years ago.



Calla lilies are very serene and stately, which means I find them either utterly boring or perfectly peaceful, depending on how I feel. This week, I appreciated the serenity and I'm hoping they'll set the tone for my weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More dresses...

Dear Old Navy,

Your commercials bug me. Cheerful talking mannequins are weird.

Your sizing is completely bizarre. Maybe you should work on that.

Your "sales" generally suck. Knocking a dollar off the regular price does not qualify as a sale, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate the fact that you have a lot of dresses with sleeves right now. Sleeves are good for people like me who do not spend all our spare time doing push ups. Neither of these are particularly groundbreaking, but they would look very good with my boots this fall.

I might even buy one of them. IF I can convince myself to go to the store and IF I can actually find either one amongst your piles of stuff.

I also want to check out your $5 opaque tights. Because I have a hard time believing that there is much difference between your $5 tights and Gap's $10 tights and Urban Outfitters' $14 tights.

Maybe we'll meet have to meet up this weekend to discuss it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mini diary from Marta

I love to jot notes. I used to keep a daily diary, in the throes of adolescence, and I would write pages and pages a day, mostly whining about having to wear a school uniform and being annoyed that I couldn't drive yet. Sadly (or maybe not?) I haven't kept a diary in years, being a little fearful of the time commitment.

And then sweet Marta sent me one of her mini diaries. So tiny! So perfect! So easy to fit into my day (and my bag)!

{mini diary - image from Marta's lovely shop}

A mini fill in the blank diary is a perfect first step and it will be so nice to flip through it later. The cover is gorgeous and the paper is perfect. D actually examined it with his keen graphic design eye and requested I find out what kind of paper Marta uses because it has such a wonderful weight and sheen.

Thank you, Marta!

For those of you who want your own, they are up in Marta's shop along with lots of other special things.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hello Fall! (pumpkin waffles)

There is a chill in the air. It's almost time to trade my summer bedspread for my winter comforter. It is dusky by the time I get home in the evening and I like the coziness of our little apartment, lit up against the night. Mornings are crisp and bright, perfect for burrowing into covers and flannel sheets.


And perfect for pumpkin waffles. The recipe is straight from Deb, so I will send you over to her, rather than retype it all here. It needs no alteration. The waffles are just a bit spicy and pumpkin-y. They fill the house with the most delicious smell. They are a good enough reason to abandon my warm bed in the morning, especially if you add a dab of butter and just a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

I have heard that many people do not have a waffle iron, because they think they won't use it or some such nonsense. People, waffles are easy. They are delicious. They are less messy than pancakes, because you don't have any pans to scrub afterward. A good waffle iron will last forever. All of mine (yes, I have four, but they are all slightly different - please don't judge) are from the thrift store and they work perfectly despite being 40 years old.

pumpkin waffles

And now back to the weather. I have always loved fall, but lately I've found that I love every season. I look forward to the slight changes in the air, I'm attuned to the shifting light. I mourn a little for whatever season is passing, but I'm eager to greet the new one. I don't want to rush through these transitions, or the seasons themselves. This is exactly how I want to be in all aspects of my life, relishing the moment, not looking too far forward or pining for the past. Starting with the weather is a step in the right direction, I think.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The weekend, briefly

A gallery opening for an exhibit D helped curate (I'm so very proud of him and all his hard work - the artist was thrilled with the results and the gallery was packed by the end of the night).

exhibit, pre-crowd
{exhibit, pre-crowd}

Pumpkin waffles for breakfast (details to follow).

{messy waffle iron}

A little tree of corsage pins.

craft tree
{corsage pins, stored}

A very special girls only cookie and cupcake decorating party hosted by Em (thanks, dear!).

cupcake party

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday flowers + useless info

Ranunculus this week.


Such sweet, unassuming little flowers.


The lovely Emily of Wide Open Spaces tagged me earlier this week. Most of you have probably noticed that I almost never participate in these things, but I am doing a modified version of this one and listing 7 things about me you might not know. If you already know more about me than you ever wanted to know, feel free to take off and start your weekend. I totally understand.

1. I have made up schedules that I adhere to very strictly. I will not have the TV on before 11:30 am (exception allowed only during the Tour de France), I will not drink soda (if I drink it at all) before noon, I will not drink tea after 4:30 pm. I don't know why - I never even think about these things, they're just ingrained.

2. I read very, very quickly. I tried to learn how to read more slowly when I was little because I was always running out of books. I can read a few books a day if I'm not forced to do other things, like work.

3. I do not wear shoes in the house. Ever.

4. I mutter to myself if I don't think anyone is listening. Sometimes I forget and do it in public.

5. I take milk in both my coffee and tea. But never sugar.

6. I am addicted to the show Hoarders on A&E even though it gives me mild anxiety attacks to watch it.

7. I spent the first few years of my life abroad, first in Athens and then in Cairo. I don't remember any of it, sadly.

I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to participate and let me know if you do. I'll head over and check it out.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Me, elsewhere


Come over and visit me on The Lovely List.
And see my favorite parts about living in LA on Absolutely Not Martha. (Welcome to the city, Jackie!)

Etsy love - rennes le chateau

Anabela might turn out to be the downfall of my savings account. First it was the perfume. Now it's bags. She posted about rennes le chateau a few weeks ago and I had to head over to the shop and stare at all the lovely pictures.

{gretel leather tote - image from renneslechateau}

It was fate. I've been in the market for a simple weekend getaway bag / busy day tote (you know, the days where you need to carry a couple changes of clothes and some files and you have packages to mail). I'd much rather make a purchase like this on Etsy, where I feel like I know the person I'm buying from.

{the Annie bag - image from renneslechateau}

I brought the Annie bag in slate gray home to live with me. We're getting along very well already.