Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

My Oldest-and-Best Friend needs happy thought today.  Her little sister, who we used to dress up in old ballet costumes and have bring us tea when we were playing at VERY fancy ladies, needs happy thoughts.  She has grown up to be a really fantastic fun woman and a rockstar of a human being.  She's on the other side of the country from her home and sisters and she is dealing with something I cannot imagine.  She and her husband are in the hospital welcoming their first child and, if the doctors are right, saying good bye to their sweet baby minutes later.  A random fluke.  It could happen to any of us.  Please keep them in your thoughts and, if you are the sort to pray, prayers.   I am still hoping for a miracle.  A right out of nowhere, act of God, completely unbelievable, story book miracle.  Let's hope together.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Goodbye Old Friend


I've been saying this for years now.  It's time to get a new wallet. I've been rocking my J. Crew Magic Wallet with woven terriers since my sophomore year of college. That was a really long time ago.  It was gorgeous and wonderful and perfect for my metro card and since I am one of those people who never has cash ever (I was shocked when I saw the new ten dollar bill TWO YEARS after it came out) it’s been perfect.  Now it is falling apart.  Like REALLY falling apart.  

Since I’m no longer a student losing my id card (fifteen times in four years) I feel like it might be time for something a little more grown up.  Something for carrying cash (DC cabs don't take cards yet), something so that I don't have to rotate my cards through.  Yes please.  I'm sharing my shopping with you.  Right now I'm leaning toward 4 because pink and orange are lovely.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Envelope Liners

Mary asked how I managed to line the envelopes for my friend Judy's shower invitations so here is the easier DIY ever.    Get an envelope, pretty paper (I used the cover of the Paper Source catalogue), a pencil, scissors and glue stick or glue pen.

Trace your envelope onto the wrong side of the paper.  Cut it out.

Slide the paper down until the top looks like it's about right.  Trim the bottom of the liner off so it will fit inside your envelope.

Put a little glue on the bottom and slide the liner into the envelope.  Glue the flap portion and BOOM!  Done.   Lamest DIY ever, so effing easy. 


Last night I watched the documentary Happy.  I'm sure you've all seen it already but it was great.  I read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and Happier At Home and even though I haven't done my own happiness project I always feel like just reading about the happiness project makes me happier.  I like knowing that the happiest people are close to their community and family and that people who are happier are more focused in intrinsic goals.  It's nice to be reminded that having the perfect apartment won't make me much happier but finally getting the guitar from my parents and learning to play might.

Do you have a happiness project or things that you consciously do to be happier?  Do you try to be happy or do you stumble upon happiness?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



We've painting and I want to make this magical tufted headboard in navy and get this  Foruna Map, and two of these lamps and keep our lovely white duvet.  Yes please.

Monday, March 25, 2013

For Bread, For Jam

Have you ever made butter?  I did the whole shaking the mason jar violently in elementary school but I'd never done it as an adult.  I followed the Food In Jars recipe and it's amazing.  Light and whipped and tangier than regular butter.  I was eating it on crackers on Sunday like a git.  So amazing.  Go and make it now.  It tastes like magic.

Cherry Blossoms and Snow

snowy commute by foot
Last night it snowed in Washington. The cherry blossoms are supposed to be in full bloom in the next couple of weeks. I hope they won't be hurt by all the snow that's still coming down. This weekend I cleaned and painted half the bedroom, I canned and cleaned and made polenta with wine braised beef and watched documentaries and drank lots of lovely wine courtesy of my chum Judy.  I feel ready for the week which is really all that you can ask of a weekend. 

Friday, March 22, 2013



This weekend is kind of going to be a catch up.  We've been swamped for what feels like weeks and I've been running to Trader Joe's over lunch to pick up stuff for dinner (which could feel young and French and instead feels chaotic, expensive and unhealthy) and running hither and yon in searching of printing help and envelopes and paper for a week and a half.  This weekend I'm going to do some canning, shopping, reading and catching up on Girls (I've seen only a few episodes of this season).

 I am most looking forward to doing some grocery shopping, real life meal planning and all.  Every week I think I'll make a frittata and have it for breakfast in the earlier part of the week before switching to the standby scrambled eggs.  It hasn't yet happened but this just might be my weekend.   I also want to make these rice and salmon cakes.

And, if you haven't already, go read Why We Like Beautiful Things.  The author was on NPR this afternoon talking about beauty and his book.   And quick-like-a-bunny read this letter from Eudora Welty to the New Yorker when she was younger than I am now and wanted a job.  When I lived in Mississippi I knew her old bartender and people universally refer to her as 'Ms. Welty' and remember how badly she drove. She had a lovely garden and lived in Jackson with few breaks for almost a hundred  years.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lemon Curd


After the Christmas canning extravaganza I was well and truly over canning for a while. The desire to put food in jars has just returned and in earnest. I’ve made lemon curd and tomato jam and strawberry syrup (friends should visit – I will provide breakfast foods to accompany the syrup) and am getting ready for a marathon weekend of canning favours for a friend’s bridal shower. I’m thinking of doing more lemon curd and wandering the markets and see what I can find for a more traditional jam (maybe strawberry again? Or apricot? Yum!). The lemon curd recipe is magical. I’ve heard varying things about whether or not you can can it. Ashley English says pressure can it. Food In Jars says water bath is fine. Hannah says put it in jars and put those jars in the freezer until you need them and then pop them in the fridge. That’s what I did just to be safe. Spread them on scones or crumpets or toast or eat it by the spoonful (most of ours has gone the way of Hannah standing in front of the kitchen door eating curd by the spoon). And the curd is AMAZING spread on these Pepper-Cumin Cookies.

Lemon Curd
6 lemons
4 eggs
2 cups superfine sugar (or regular sugar in a food processor until it looks super fine whatever that means)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter

Makes about three half pint jars.

Wash and dry your lemons, then zest them (try to avoid the pith).  Juice lemons and strain to remove lemony bits and seeds.  Set aside.

Crack eggs into medium heat-safe bowl and beat lightly so the yolks are all mixed in.   Fill a medium saucepan with 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Set the metal bowl over the simmering water to form a double boiler.  Add sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice and whisk until the sugar is all dissolved and the butter has melted.

Stir the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon - mine took about 11 minutes.  I poured mine directly into clean jars and let them cool a bit before popping the lids on and fridging the one I planned to consume immediately and freezing the other two. I'm hoping someone on the Food in Jars facebook page will get back to me and let me know if you really can can this because it would be amazing to be able to really preserve it.  Enjoy!

*I realize that all my photos recently have been instagramed.  I promise I'll take real pictures soon.


Tocca - Eau de Parfum - Cleopatra

I am a terrible perfume wearer. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t keep buying it. In high school I was fairly committed to Clinique Happy (weren’t we all) and my freshman year of college I bought and religiously wore Lacoste Pink. By sophomore year I’d mellowed and I bought Burberry Brit Red (remember the Rachel Weisz ads?) for the winter because it smells like sweaters and Chanel Chance to wear in the summer because it smells like fresh air. During study abroad I coveted Agent Provocateur’s perfume so much it was unhealthy. I used to drag Mary into the basement of the department store downtown and make her wait while I sprayed it all over myself. I loved that all my scarves smelled like it and finally, right before we left, I broke down and bought it even though it cost more than I should have possibly spent. Somehow it wasn’t quite so magical in the US. I still wear it occasionally.

My youngest sister got Tocca’s Cleopatra from a friend for Christmas and it’s my current obsession. I am swinging by the cosmetics shop on my lunch break to smell all the Tocca varieties to see which one I want when I finally break down and buy it. I spent a lot of time trying not to be annoyed by life on student loans and secretarial salary but when I think about those trips to spray Agent Provocateur all over my pashminas in York I’m glad to be coveting and waiting and saving up my wee pennies to buy something that smells so lovely and rich. I’m going to practice wearing it regularly. A spritz on the way out the door. By the time I get my Tocca I’ll be ready.

Central City Signage

Teller House Hotel and Casino

 Will and I took a vacation last week, just the two of us, for the first time in over six years. The last time we traveled together as a couple was back when I was studying abroad in the UK. It was long overdue. We went to Colorado for a week of firsts--first time in Colorado, first time seeing the Rocky Mountains, and first time skiing (in over 11 years). On the drive from Denver to the lodge, we stopped in Central City, an old mining town restored to its period of significance (mid 19th century). Although it wasn't our initial food destination (we were looking for Chipotle), it was a happy accident for my historic preservationist and signage enthusiast self.

Williams Stables (now used as a theater)

Brick decay

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


It's the first day of spring and it feels like it.  I was just getting sick of sweaters and my floor length black down coat.  Time for bright colours and warm temperatures.  There are flowers on my desk and I'm hoping that this weekend we can go to Eastern Market and see what's available for buying and canning.  I'm tired of stews and shepherds pie.  It's time for salads for dinner and asparagus and those lovely early spring veggies.   This spring I want to wear dresses and skirts and get a little more vitamin D.  I'm looking forward to the end of the school year and summers up at the farm.  The season approaching is always my favourite and right now I am jazzed for spring.

Lotty Petal Dress, Director Dress, Tote Bag, Sunglasses, SkirtShirt, Navy Skirt, Necklace, Wedge, Grey Skirt, Sandal, Wood Necklace

Shelves and Guilt

Sometimes I think I am consuming too much beauty.  Too many blogs, too much Pinterest, too much time wandering through Capitol Hill looking in people’s windows (you know you do it too).  Our apartment is wonderful given that we are living off my secretarial salary and Dave’s student loans, given that it’s incredibly cheap and in an incredibly expensive city.  We have wood floors and enormous windows and a mfing dishwasher.  It’s paradise.  But I’m feeling discontent.  I want it to feel cozy but minimal and clean.  I want it to be warm but sleek and modern.  I want it to be all new and lush without having to throw out or replace anything we have.  I think this is the malady of being a consumer of too much beauty-media. 

I’m trying to think about what would make our flat more usable - having the table rearranged so we can have people over and so we eat at the table like adults; getting rid of clutter so we feel calmer (outer order contributes to inner calm); having the things I love and use accessible.  The part of our apartment that makes me happiest are the bracketed shelves I put up in the kitchen as soon as we moved in.  The shelves themselves are functional and minimal and they hold the tea and breakfast things.  They make me happy every time I make a pot of tea or grab a bowl for ice cream.  

In persuit of a home that feels like my kitchen shelves I’m trying to let go of the things in our home that make me feel guilty.  When my class graduated college we all got a print of our alma mater.  I have it framed and in our living room and I kind of hate it.  I love my alma mater, I would love to have another image of it somewhere but I don’t like that stupid water colour with our class year below it.  Every time I look at it I think about how I wish it weren’t there and then I feel guilty because I don’t want to throw away this reminder of graduation and my friends and college.  It’s time for it to go.  Or the very useful corner cabinet that I painted two years ago and never quite got right.  The knobs are bugging me, the glass never got put back and the colour didn’t work out that well.  I’m making a list of things that bother me specifically and daily and leaving the rest alone.  My life is not a photoshoot. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trial, Error

Our tiny apartment is causing me grief. We are handing down one of the couches we inherited from my parents to my younger sister (and accepting that she will turn it into a Doritos Locos Couch, she yelled at me and told me she doesn't eat Cheetos so my complaints about Cheeto dust are crazy THAT DUST IS FROM DORITOS!) and maybe moving a bookshelf or two around. I'm planning gallery walls and I have a very involved social life with dinner parties once our dining table can seat more than two staring directly at a bookshelf.

All of this is very well but the last time we moved all the furniture I ended up sitting on the floor crying and David had to feed me Roti to get me to calm down (seriously, their pita bread is crack).  So before we move everything we own into the bedroom and start breaking things I wanted to give everything a go space wise.  I considered the good old graph paper and moving little mini graph paper couches system and then I did some googling.  I found Autodesk Homestyler*.  I measured my apartment and my couches etc (and didn’t worry too much about making sure the colours were representative, I just want to see what will fit and what will be miserably tight) and started playing.  I also like that you can see in 3D.  Here my apartment looks sort of fine (maybe I should have cared about colours) in 2D but crazy tight in 3D.  It’s kind of annoying to measure everything you might want to fit into your room but it’s really nice not to move all the furniture, scratch the floor, pull all the cookbooks off the shelf and stub your toe just to realize that nothing fits.  Now I’m inspired to cull our books, organize our towels and maybe start thinking about the mess that is our bedroom.


*Who doesn’t know I exist or that I wrote this post, I just thought it was cool.

Shower Invitations

My friend Judy is getting married in 75 days and we are throwing her a shower.  I designed these invitations and a matching recipe card.  I'm lining envelopes in gorgeous paper and addressing them in silver ink.   There is something about silver pens and stacks of perfectly even cards that make me so unbelievably happy.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sign Painters

Have you seen this trailer for Sign Painters?  It looks fantastic.  The way they can just paint the most amazing fonts blows me away - maybe it's my terrible handwriting.  I'm in awe.  It's going to be showing at the end of the month here in DC at the Smithsonian for free.  Good afternoon fun.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Walls, Gallery

Do you ever find yourself loathing everything in your closet? I often find myself with baskets full of laundry and nothing that makes me excited to get dressed. That's sort of how I feel about our flat at the moment. We arranged lots of furniture in the tiniest space and slapped paint up quickly. Maybe it's the tiny flat with two people, a dog and a cat (and this week a house guest) or maybe it's the coming of spring - regardless of the cause, I'm ready to throw everything out. I want to minimize our furniture, books and tchotchkes and hang art right the way to the ceiling.


Something about spare furniture and abundant art really rock my socks these days. We have a weekend filled with visitors and a trip to the National Archive and printing invitations to a bridal shower. I am pretending that the weekend includes boxes of books on their way to Goodwill and ladders and art.

Have a good weekend.