Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall round up

I love the time capsule aspect of having a blog. I can scroll through the archives and see what I was doing a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. The pictures + words transport me back right away, and I remember the light in our old apartment, how it felt to be writing in this space that first year, Dustin at school and the late nights and early morning breakfasts. I remember how I felt as I baked each of these recipes, what I listened to while I worked on the projects. There's a lot of life below the surface, of course, things that don't get written about, either because they were too big or too trivial. All of that floods right back. Assisted memory.

Fall makes me thoughtful, always. Also, hungry.

My gradated fall leaf garland from two years ago.

leaf garland

"trick or treat" banner

apple-sage-cardamom pancakes

Savory apple tart from two years ago (must revisit this ASAP).

apples + onions


Potato-apple latkes from 3 years ago (!).

latkes (with apples!)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Minimalist fall decor

I have a thing for pinecones. I wait for my bus every evening under a canopy of large trees and at this time each year I find myself scanning the ground, looking for the most perfect specimens - shapely and small enough to squirrel away in my bag. It's an odd compulsion. Gradually I end up with a small pile on in the entryway and eventually they all have to get thrown out. Every year.

So this year I made a little place for them.


Oh, and I couldn't resist playing favorites and gilding the best one.

{gilded pinecone}

I'll now consider us fully decorated for the season. I love fall.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Teeny tiny porcelain spoons.

tiny scoops
{tiny scoops}

The perfect addition to our thrifted salt container. In case guests prefer not to have to take pinches of salt with their bare fingers. (So far no one had complained, for the record)


From here. Also the source of the straight up and down cocktail shaker we used on Sunday, which I love inordinately more than the standard tapered shape.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The weekend, briefly

toast + coffee
{toast + coffee}

welcome committee
{welcome committee}

snowy, waiting
{snowy, waiting}

saturday drinks
{saturday drinks}

evening fog
{evening fog}

pie for breakfast
{pie for breakfast}

wedding photos!
{wedding photos!}


sunday drinks
{sunday drinks}

fall grilling
{fall grilling}

fall on the patio
{fall on the patio}

Weekend notes:

:: I'm still off caffeine on a day to day basis, but I've been allowing myself the occasional cup of coffee or tea as a treat every few weeks. So far, so good. This particular cup had real cream in it and was served in our wedding china. And yes, we always eat toast directly off the counter. I guess we could start using plates.

:: Our wedding photos arrived (!) so you can expect to see more on that in the next few weeks. There are plans.

:: Since we sort of missed summer this year, we're eking out every bit we can, grilling every Sunday. Those are the same drinks we had last week, but shaken oh so professionally and with a bit of rosemary added. I probably should have noted that we use entirely unsweetened grapefruit juice, and for two drinks I mixed 3/4 of a cup of juice + 1/2 cup habanero tequila. Excellent and not at all sweet.

:: Kind of funny that last weekend started and ended almost exactly the same way as this one. Toast to tequila.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I have no picture* of this, but you should still try it ...

I've made this broccoli crunch slaw salad twice in the last two weeks. Huge batches both times, because I can eat it for days. Miraculously, it stays pretty crunchy in the fridge.

I was initially skeptical for a few reasons - I don't generally like mayo based salads, unless you're talking about potato salad, and for some reason the idea of cranberries and broccoli combined seemed weird.

It isn't weird. It's good. So good. And the recipe will let you play with it. I don't bother to chop up the broccoli very small, because I'm lazy. I think I use more broccoli than the recipe calls for, because I like a higher vegetable to dressing ratio in general. And while the original ratio of equal parts mayo to greek yogurt is awesome, you can successfully make the salad with 1 part mayo to 2 parts yogurt (for those of us attempting to shed a few honeymoon pounds).

I've tried it with less lemon and more lemon and I would actually recommend you stick with the lower amount (1/2 lemon). Crazy, because normally I'm all about more lemon.

I also do a quick pickle step on the red onions (just chop them fine and then cover them with water + white wine vinegar + a spoonful of sugar, let it sit while you do all the other prep and then drain them) because D isn't a huge fan of the intense bite they have otherwise.

Oh, and if you need it to be a meal, rather than a side dish, it transitions nicely if you add something extra. We'll throw on some chopped grilled chicken for dinner. Or I'll add chopped avocado, which is amazing because it adds extra creaminess. Yesterday I threw in some roasted brussels sprouts, just because I had them in the fridge.

* I love fall, but the shorter days really kill weekday picture taking opportunities. It's almost always dark when I leave, it's dark when I get home. I decided to spare you a gloomy picture of a chopped salad since there's a perfectly nice one if you go straight to the source.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



We were going to be smart and just tuck our wedding checks away into our savings account, but they're meant as gifts, right? So we're finally biting the bullet and getting new cushions for our dearly beloved (but sadly abused) midcentury couch.

We got an amazing deal on our couch and chairs on Craigslist a few years ago. They're beautiful, but the previous owner smoked and had a menagerie of cats. In a desperate attempt to make the cushions less janky, I ran the covers through the washer and dryer*. You can imagine what happened. We managed to stuff the cushions back in, but they bulge oddly and the fabric still isn't totally clean (although the smell was vastly improved). But we've been living with it.

Just looking at fabric swatches was exciting. This is going to be so good. Are we crazy to have a light grey couch? D swears that he's used this material in homes with toddlers before and it's easy to clean.

* In my defense, I knew that the covers were probably going to shrink. My reasoning was that I wanted to replace the covers anyways, so it didn't really matter, especially if it could make them even a little bit more liveable for the short term.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The weekend, briefly

apricot jam, toast
{apricot jam, toast}



evening light
{evening light}


{sunday evening drinks}

habanero tequila + grapefruit
{habanero tequila + grapefruit}

Weekend notes:

:: A gifted bag of freshly picked apples. We used them for a crisp.

:: After a long week of heat, this weekend felt a little bit more like fall. The light is changing and I love watching it, even though it's one of the hardest effects to capture accurately.

:: This drink is the simplest + most amazing I've had lately. We meant to make them over the summer, but the summer totally got away from me this year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Avocado season is in swing.


It seems a bit ridiculous to call it a season, since between the two family trees we basically have them year round. But I still like to see the babies coming up.

baby avo
{baby avo}

I have a big bag waiting to ripen (at the beginning of the season, the avocados take longer to ripen - usually at least two weeks) and I'm looking forward to avocado toast and avocado quesadillas and guacamole, of course.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I gave in. Our library system announced that they were finally compatible with the Kindle and I placed an order immediately.

sunday afternoon
{quiet afternoon}

It makes my heart ache a little, because I am deeply attached to my bookshelves. I'm a compulsive re-reader, so my books may look abused but they're really just very well loved.

But I have to admit that having multiple book options (without the load of multiple books) is working out pretty well for my daily bus commute and for traveling. And the holder I got has a built in reading light that automatically shuts off if I don't turn a page for a while - a pretty big bonus for D, because I'm immune to light and always just fall asleep and leave it on, forcing him to get up and turn it off hours later.

After lots of back and forth debating, I finally decided to get the cheapest version that comes with advertising screensavers - it's a pretty measly discount, but I can't ever get over my impulse to get the best deal possible. You don't see any ads while you're reading, just when the Kindle is off (this was NOT clear to me when I was purchasing - I would think if something were off, you would just have a blank screen). If I didn't have a cover, this would drive me batty, but since I never see the screen unless I'm reading, I'm fine with it. EDIT - Sorry! I was wrong about this - if you hold the power slide over for at least 5 seconds, the Kindle will actually turn off and you won't see the screensaver. If you just let the Kindle fall asleep on its own, then you will see the screensaver. It won't turn off by itself.

Currently, I'm only using it for library books (and for a nice back up supply of my favorite classics that are available for free). Anything that I love enough to buy would be purchased in print, because it doesn't seem real to me unless I can actually hold it. Clearly, I'm conflicted. But mostly, I love it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The weekend, briefly

Road trip!

velvety hills
{velvety hills}

barlata happy hour
{barlata happy hour}

remedy coffee
{remedy coffee}


in the vineyard
{in the vineyard}

ceremony drinks
{ceremony drinks}

wedding table
{wedding table}

driving the 5
{driving the 5}

The wedding was way up north in wine country, so we had lots of driving to do this weekend. I know we could have flown, but with all the time you spend waiting in airports it doesn't end up being the biggest advantage. And with the car, we were able to make stops for important things like happy hour with friends and the Tapatio chips I've been dying to try (verdict - good, but INTENSE).

The wedding was beautiful (and they served prosecco + lemonade for the ceremony and I love having ceremony drinks) and it's always good to catch up with people we don't get to see often enough.

Driving long distances like this feels so quintessentially Californian. I have a love/hate relationship with cars in general and usually opt to take the bus here in the city, but I have to admit that I have a weakness for road trips. It is just so unbelievably beautiful out there. I even love the long empty stretches with nothing but truck stop diners and windmills and the sun beating through the windshield and the gritty feeling you get in your hair when you stop for gas and the wind gusts around you. There's something magical there.

Monday, October 10, 2011


So, I compromised on the sequins. I waited to put the jacket on until *after* the ceremony and then thoroughly enjoyed being an animated disco ball for the rest of the night.

sequins, dancing
{sequins, dancing}

I barely left the dance floor all evening - not sure if that's because the wedding was at a winery or because of the magical powers of the jacket.

P.S. - The jacket is from here and if I had seen the online photos I would never even have considered buying it. But the fit is totally different on me - you'll have to take my word for it because I'm pretty sure that's the only photo we got.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Too much?

Is it appropriate to wear a gold sequined jacket to someone's wedding this weekend? I'm kind of worried that it will look overly attention-grabby.* D thinks I think too much.

gold sequins!
{gold sequins!}

Back up option is a super wide gold sequined belt. Either way I'll be wearing a black silk dress.

* I, personally, would have been thrilled if someone had shown up decked out in sequins (well dressed wedding guests make for the best photos).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Simple vanilla pudding

I've made this every night for the last two weeks. I'm in a bad dessert habit, leftover from the wedding, I think. We don't keep anything sweet in the house so if you want something, it has to be made.

simple vanilla pudding
{simple vanilla pudding}

Luckily (unfortunately?), pudding is so, so easy. I don't know why people buy mix. The original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, but I make a half batch and I've modified it a little bit to suit my needs (less sugar, less cornstarch, no egg white). This gives you a soft, not overly rich pudding that is just a bit sweet. It makes me feel a little better about eating the entire batch in one sitting.

Simple vanilla pudding (makes 2 normal servings or 1 large serving)

1 1/3 cup milk, divided (I use 1% and it's fine)
1 egg yolk
1-3 tablespoons sugar (1 if you don't like it very sweet at all, 3 if you're adding semi-sweet chocolate at the end)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

:: Heat 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan.

:: Meanwhile, whisk together the extra 1/3 cup milk and the egg yolk.

:: In a heatproof 2 cup measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt and then add the milk/egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking so clumps don't form.

:: Slowly pour the hot milk into the mixture, whisking the entire time.

:: Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook for a few minutes, until thick and bubbling.

:: Stir in the vanilla and eat warm (my preference) or let it cool and set up a bit.

If you want chocolate pudding you can toss in some chocolate chips after it's done cooking and whisk it well.  I usually just toss in a small handful, but you can start small and then add to taste.

The entire procedure takes maybe 10 minutes, tops, and that includes washing out the measuring cups (naturally I can't wash the pan until later - you guys know that washing hot pans warps them, right?).


I really need to start weaning myself off the whole dessert thing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The weekend, briefly


hunter circe
{hunter circe}

circe, frustrated
{circe, frustrated}

napping snowy
{napping snowy}

odds and ends
{odds and ends}


wine + work
{wine + work}

Weekend notes

:: My parents got two rescue chickens and Circe is going nuts. Despite numerous attempts to explain to her that the chickens are also pets, she remains unconvinced. They're currently in a temporary coop, plans are in place for a fox terrier proof one.

:: Snowy's teeth are a source of endless amusement to me. He has an underbite and pointy little vampire canines.

:: I don't feel like I actually got all that much done this weekend, but I went to bed at 7 pm yesterday.