Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eating ... (vegetable heavy breakfasts)

I've been aiming to get more vegetables in which is fairly easy for the most part, because I love them dearly. But breakfast was sort of the final frontier for me - it tends to be grain heavy or just straight up eggs and it was tough to break away from that. Here are some of the ones that have been in regular rotation. And yes, they do all involve eggs. I should probably get more creative at some point.

poached egg + arugula + toast + avocado
{poached egg + arugula + toast + avocado}

poached egg + arugula + toast + avocado

friday breakfast
{roasted asparagus + poached egg on ciabatta}

eggs + broccoli
{eggs + broccoli}

saturday breakfast
{leftover roasted mushrooms and asparagus + poached egg - no toast needed}

The scrambled eggs with broccoli gets the most play. We eat steamed broccoli with dinner at least a few nights a week, so I just chop up the leftovers and toss them in while the eggs are cooking. 3 - 4 eggs + 1 cup of chopped broccoli makes a really filling breakfast for two.

There has been lots of food pondering around here lately. I'm working on increasing our produce consumption and better sourcing what meat we do eat. There are several good options on the table right now, and I'll share once I've had a chance to solidify everything. It's feeling really good, so far.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Soooooo ...


I'm still processing this big change. I've (rather smugly) had the cheapest possible cell phone with a pre-paid plan for years now and it finally broke me this weekend, when I had lots of texting/calling to do. I feel silly because I don't need this phone, but it will make my life a little easier. And they still had a few of the last model left, so it was cheaper than anything else in the store and we spent over an hour negotiating the best possible phone plan (always check for work discounts, and if the lowest package they have is still too much time for you, ask if you can get something lower that isn't advertised). Clearly, I'm still attempting to justify this purchase to myself.

So, joint cell phone plan! Does this officially make us a family?

Also, I need a case and I'm not liking anything very much. Love the stripes on this, but is the branding too obnoxious? Other recommendations?

And ... am I the only one who doesn't understand how people are getting flattering pictures from their iphones? I recoil in terror every time I turn on the camera and realize it's facing me, and usually from an incredibly unforgiving angle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The weekend, briefly

This weekend didn't turn out how I had planned and ended up being fairly stressful. But there were little moments here and there that were really lovely. 

sunday eggs
{sunday eggs}

waffles + strawberries
{waffles + strawberries}


garlic knot
{garlic knot}

A quick trip to the farmer's market yielded fresh eggs, strawberries and cheap freesia (flower season is really getting going!). 

We were ready to eat at a completely awkward time on Sunday evening and took advantage of it to slip into Milo and Olive before the crowds hit. The garlic knot was totally worth it, even though I was afraid to get too close to anyone for the rest of the evening, lest I knock them out with my breath. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Purchases - gifts

:: A tie bar for D. It was a no-particular-reason splurge, but I couldn't resist once I realized that he'd had the browser page open for three weeks.

tie bar

It is gorgeous. Sadly, the wedding last weekend was destined to be the one and only outing it got. Apparently tie bars (or maybe just this one?) are not designed to withstand a truly serious dance party. We didn't realize it had come off until towards the end of the night, at which point there was no way we were going to find it again. D did leave his number with the venue manager, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that it turns up. And trying not to feel too bummed about it.

:: An anatomical heart vase for Em (purchased jointly with a friend) - you can see it in her place here.

:: Some kitchen necessities for another friend who is getting married soon. A rolling pin + cookie dough scoop - I was sad that someone snagged the silicone baking mat off her registry before I got there because that would have been the perfect trio.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We've had bookshelves in our dining room since we moved in but our computers quickly took up residence and the mess has been getting to us. When D suggested that we attempt this project, I happily agreed. And by happily agreed I mean I said I was happy to spend the money on it if I could have a free pass to not feel guilty about not helping, because I do not voluntarily put together Ikea furniture. D, who actually enjoys putting together furniture but heartily dislikes listening to me sigh and complain about it, was completely on board.

And so we have this.


Which hides all this.

the hidden parts
{the hidden parts}

I'm thrilled.

We ended up leaving one cabinet open because our speaker needs to live there and we can use it to display a few of our most favorite serving pieces.

The cabinets are from the Besta line at Ikea and they are deeper than the cabinets used in The Brick House fauxdenza because the measurements just ended up working better for us.

beveled edge
{beveled edge}

D made the top from walnuts planks that he glued and sanded and cut with a beveled edge. He used a food safe finish because we plan to use it as a sideboard. Not to brag or anything, but he did win the "best in woodshop" award when we were in 8th grade. Of course, we don't have a woodshop in our apartment, so he used knowhow shop, which is a communal workspace here in LA that lets you purchase day passes. It's such a genius idea, given the number of apartment dwellers around here. They're fully set up with all the standard woodworking equipment along with some fancier gadgets (we've used the laser cutter a couple times). You can also hire them to do custom designs if you're not comfortable doing it yourself. They do really beautiful work.

No, I have not yet taken down the shower decorations. I'm getting to it!

The cost breakdown:
$140 on cabinets + doors (we got one cabinet from the as-is section)
$120 on the walnut planks
$60 for the workshop time (D did a couple other projects at the same time, so this is a little higher than it really should be - he used two days off his punch pass)

We sold the old bookcases on Craigslist and got $110 to put towards the project. One of the nice things about Ikea furniture is that it tends to sell quickly and at a decent price. We usually aim to charge 50 - 75% of the original price in store. And since we always buy as-is or off Craigslist if possible, it works out pretty well for us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The weekend, briefly


{hotel keys}

heath (the original)
{heath (the original)}

I'm still recovering from the weekend. Driving out of LA we were a little uncertain we were going to make it through the grapevine. The rain was so heavy it was sheeting off the freeway and the snow line was looow. But we persevered and it was beautifully forbidding once we made it through the pass.

The wedding was amazing and it was so special to have a whole weekend to celebrate. There was lots of love and amazing drinks and an excellent dance party. So good.

We made a quick stop in Sausalito to visit the Heath summer collection in person. No purchases, because we're still debating between this and this. It's all even more lovely in person.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Watercolor drink tags template


Anyone who was asking for the template for the watercolor drink tags from the shower - they're up today over at Emily's along with an easy tutorial. Head over there if you were looking for them!

I couldn't make them completely identical to the ones I used at the shower because it would have required you all to have Adobe Illustrator! But I think the tag template + handwriting the names is an easy option for a party and would work just as well. 

2012 - the year of no decisions

beer notes

We were married in September and we sped right into the holidays without much time for reflection. And then January hit. We were driving home from a wedding at midnight and I started to feel my anxiety rev up. 300 miles along the coastal highway is pretty during the day, but at night it feels like you're hurtling forward without any inkling of where you actually are and it starts to get disorienting.

I was rambling on to D about how we were married and did that mean we had to start thinking about whether or not we were going to have kids (we are both so deeply ambivalent that it's difficult to even figure out how to have a conversation about it) and whether we should move, or maybe even try to look at houses again except we spent most of our savings buying a car and then having a wedding and do you know how much down payments are in Los Angeles? Does that mean we should move somewhere else? Or should we be saving even more? And then I jumped to careers, to wondering if we should be pushing each other harder and if I just enjoy my job is that enough because shouldn't I be passionate about it and also maybe find something that makes more money but what would we do about health insurance?

Before we were married, things felt pretty stable. We knew we would get married eventually and then we'd figure out what to do next. Now it suddenly felt like marriage had dumped this puzzle in my lap and I had to figure out how all the pieces went together and if you know me, you know that I don't like half finished projects so I want all the pieces in place NOW.

Dustin did what he's so talented at doing, which is to make murmuring noises during my increasingly amped up rants and then finally suggest that we just set all that aside for now because we probably aren't going to figure out our lives at midnight when we've already driven 400 of our 600 miles for the day.

And then I realized that not only did we not have to think about these issues at the moment, we didn't have to think about them for a while. I upped the ante and immediately declared 2012 to be the year of no decisions.

Obviously we still make little decisions every day and we'll make big ones as they come up and have to be faced. It's not the year of being an ostrich. But we're not voluntarily making any life path* type decisions this year. My goal for the year is for us to enjoy our lives in this moment. I want us to get to our one year anniversary and feel like we did the absolute best we could with what we had and got as much out of it as possible.

It's feeling good so far. 

* I've become increasingly jaded with life path decisions anyway. I've always been seriously type A, which means I had most of my life planned out by the time I was 8. And everything went basically according to plan until I graduated college and started realizing that you can plan your little heart out and nine times out of ten something unexpected happens and you have to re-group and possibly change directions altogether. Which is fine, good even. I think we need to learn to be flexible and I now value resilience over any other quality, hands down. When I accepted that I didn't have control over everything, it freed me up to start focusing on how I live my life and what qualities I want to cultivate in myself. I can't control external factors but I can make sure that I'm comfortable with the person I am, regardless of what sorts of hands I'm dealt throughout life. That's a good thing, but every once in a while my inner planner pops out and starts screaming about timelines. I'm working to ignore her. I discuss this issue a little more towards the end of this post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Patio modesty

I bought outdoor fabric last year (oh god, maybe two years ago?) to make coverings for our balcony. I love having our large balcony, but you can see onto it from the alley behind our apartment and we aren't so great about always keeping it neat. I was starting to feel bad for our neighbors.

The reason I waited so long was because the sewing sounded like a huge pain. The fabric is thick and the pieces are long and I just didn't want to wrestle with it. I had a lightbulb moment when I realized I could just fake a hem with hot glue and call it a day. 15 minutes later we had balcony coverings. To be honest, sewing probably wouldn't have taken that much longer, but I had a mental block at this point.

I created a pocket hem along the top and we slid a hollow metal tube through it. The bottom is just regular folded over hem and I put grommets in that I can attach to the balcony railing. I used wire through the tube and the grommets for a sturdy attachment.

balcony coverings
{balcony coverings}

As it turns out, I'm really glad I didn't bother with the sewing, because our balcony is very clearly not level (you can't see it in these photos, but it is really obvious and has me a little worried that the back half of our apartment will someday slide right off the building) and at some point I'm going to want to re-do these and account for that to make it look more level. I'm calling these a mock up.


How long will the hot glue hold up outside? I have no idea but so far it's withstood several weekends of heavy rain, a few incredibly windy nights and some sunny, hot days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The weekend, briefly

easter donuts
{easter donuts}

baby circe!


circe stare down
{circe stare down}


warm afternoon
{warm afternoon}

sunday evening
{sunday evening}


:: We celebrated Easter on Saturday and had donuts. That probably doesn't sound like a very big news flash, but we normally have a pretty big Easter celebration and it was hard to admit that we just weren't going to be able to make it happen this year. Easter is the time for yeasted doughs. I always make homemade cinnamon rolls, and maybe a brioche or some monkey bread. We dye eggs and put together baskets. Sometimes I make peeps. By Friday afternoon of last week I was admitting to myself that it just wasn't going to happen. I've been working a lot and my sporadic insomnia has recently decided to go chronic for a while, leaving me hoping desperately for a measly four hours of sleep a night (after night, after night...). Something had to give. And this is perfectly fine, because everyone loves donuts and an entire day of sleeping on Sunday was what I needed most, but that doesn't make it easy to accept.

:: Circe loves donuts but rarely gets a taste. She stuck close to the table the whole morning. Unrelated - she got an intense haircut shortly after these pictures were taken (we were feeling a little bad about how patchy she was looking post surgery, since they shaved a couple large parts of her body).

:: I went to a really lovely bridal shower for one of my high school girlfriends. No more pictures because I was deep in concentration, making the ribbon bouquet. It is serious business.

:: I slept in on Sunday and then treated myself to a drink on the patio in the early evening. When the weather is like this, you really need to be outside.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Purchases - boring ones (+ flowers!)

Purchases are below - be prepared. They really are mind numbingly boring, but I'm trying to stick to this.

palest pink
{palest pink ranunculus}

I'm not totally clear on where I draw the line here, so I'm giving you everything. I'm sure no one really wants to hear about my shower caddy, but I did purchase it.

Shower caddy ($8.99 @ Ross). I did not take a picture of it, because I don't really want you all to see how long it's been since I last scrubbed my shower.

Pillowcases - we always seem to destroy our pillowcases faster than our sheets and we need a few extra. These Oxford ones from Land's End are pretty sweet. Heavy + durable + NOT silky. I hate sateen.

Clear nail polish - Height of boring-ness, but I needed it. I've pretty much sworn off purchasing actual nail polish other than for my toes. I was accumulating nail polishes at a rate that didn't make sense given how often I paint my nails. I've finally decided that if I want painted nails, I'll suck it up and pay for a manicure or a polish change. In an attempt to extend my rare manicures, I've been using this Essie's No Chips Ahead for a couple weeks now (side benefit to being really behind on my purchases is that you also get reviews!) and I have to say I don't love it. I think it does something weird to my manicure (which is odd, because if my nails are painted, it's usually with Essie polish) and dulls it out. It does prevent chips, but it makes my nails look terrible. I'm bummed that I apparently purchased the wrong thing and now need to find something else.

Annnnnd ... Ikea stuff. Final product to be shared shortly.

In the meantime, we bought:
2 besta cabinets (one from the as-is section - score!)
3 besta doors
2 suspension rails

Non-Ikea but same project - 2 lengths of walnut from a local lumberyard

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reading, lately

One of the odd parts of reading from a Kindle is the surprise aspect. When I go to the library, I choose my books based on a number of factors - cover aesthetics, font choices, book thickness, blurbs from authors I like on the jacket. I have a decent idea of what I'm getting into.

Now that I do most of my browsing online, I'll randomly search and add books that look interesting. I can see a cover image and read a quick summary, but that's it. I toss them on my waiting list and when my turn comes, sometimes months later, I check out the book and sit down to read it.

And I have no idea what to expect. At that point I don't remember anything about the book unless it's by an author with whom I'm already familiar. I can't see the cover. I don't know how long it is. I just have to dive in. I read pretty much every genre indiscriminately, so it isn't really a big issue.

{The Passage - image from publisher}
Which is all a very long way of saying that Justin Cronin's The Passage blindsided me a bit. I had absolutely no memory of putting it on my waiting list and I had no idea what it was about (apparently it was pretty well hyped in 2010 so maybe it sounded familiar?). Edit - I heard about it from Lauren, who I really should have guessed was the most likely person to be reviewing this book.

One chapter in and I thought it was going to be a literary novel about a small town single mother. I'm totally game. Love those. One more chapter in and there's mention of a virus discovered on a South American expedition. Okay, shifting gears, but it's a generally promising premise. And then everything pretty much implodes into a government funded vampire-zombie-virus that takes out America. Holy cow.

I loved it. Of course, I love post-apocalyptic worlds, crazy road trips (bonus points for it taking place in a deserted, futuristic California - those were my favorite parts), viruses and zombies, so I'm probably the prime audience. Your mileage may vary.

It's very long (I just checked and it's nearly 800 pages!) and it's only the first in a trilogy. Be forewarned.

Previous reading update: I am still reading the Game of Thrones series but I decided to take a quick breather after the second book. Man, that was a lot of war to digest. I'm hoping the third book focuses a bit more on the various intrigues and a bit less on the actual battlegrounds. I always tend to start skimming during prolonged fight scenes. Unless there are zombies involved. And I was really happy with the season premiere this Sunday - I think book two might actually be more fun to watch than to read.

- The post where I finally give in to the Kindle is here, and yes, I'm still a little embarrassed to have gone over, but I'm even more happy with it after a few months, so I'm getting over it. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fringed lantern tutorial

I first saw these fringed confetti lanterns over at Oh Happy Day and immediately marked them. The originals are actually meant to be filled with confetti, which I intended to do but then I wimped out (I'm really not a fan of vacuuming).

pile of lanterns

The original tutorial is great and uses double sided tape. I'm guessing that it is MUCH faster than my method. My lanterns were large (10" and 14") and they took at least two hours each. I just think of that as four episodes of 30 Rock and it goes by quickly.

I modified it because I needed a bit more coverage (the only lanterns I could easily get had dorky writing on them and I needed to cover it thoroughly) and I wanted to add additional colors and I'm obsessive and wanted everything even. I ran out of time to order the crepe paper folds, so I just purchased regular crepe paper streamers at the store, which means that all the fringe had to be individually cut, which is slower than the original method but gives you a really great, delicate texture. My fringe scissors were a lifesaver here. My method uses hot glue, so take my standard advice and wear gloves if you are prone to burning yourself. I didn't get any burns this time around, but I was careful.

The easiest way to do the tutorial was to put all the photos in a set. Click here to step through them and read my notes and feel free to ask any questions in the comments on this post (sorry - I don't get comment notifications through Flickr, so I'm likely to miss any questions posted there). The photos are dark because the weather wouldn't cooperate, but I think you can get most of the details. Let me know if I've left anything out!

Shopping list: 
- Paper lanterns (I ordered these, because it was easy)
- Crepe paper - (how much you'll need depends on the size/number of lanterns. I got a jumbo roll of the pale pink + a normal size roll each of hot pink and darker pink and it was more than enough for three 10" and two 14" lanterns. This is the standard stuff you get at party stores. I added a bit of gold mylar as well, even though it was a pain to cut)
- Glue gun + hot glue
Fringe scissors (optional but seriously amazing - I got these for Christmas and I love them)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The weekend (very) briefly

We drove over 300 miles this weekend. Back and forth from the desert, through fog and rain, then on the 405, in bright sunshine, all over Orange County.

back roads
{back roads}

I know I should mind it, being a rather zealous public transit person, but I do love all the various California roadways, under the right conditions.

We had a big family party and lots of little visits here and there (including one to Miss Circe, who had surgery to remove an enormous lipoma a week and a half ago and is recovering like the little stoic she is - the only clue that she was slightly under the weather was her uncharacteristic willingness to cuddle in full daylight) and I didn't really take any other pictures. Sometimes it works out that way.