Project Life, Weeks 40 and 41

Project LifeWheee, we’re in the 40s! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being perpetually behind on Project Life doesn’t really bother me at all. Better late than never! Ten years from now, it won’t matter if I made the pages three months late–it will matter that I made them. But I do confess to a certain feeling of, oh, joy when I see my scrapbook getting fatter and fatter with happy memories and pretty paper. And so: onward!

Project LifeThe main event of this week was an impromptu bike ride. Fun!

Project LifeWho wouldn’t want to go on a bike ride with this hunk? Also, who wouldn’t want to use their adorable bike stamps? Thank you, craft store clearance!

Project LifeI really wanted to try a new Italian place in our neighborhood for date night. I had read some really good reviews and then a lot of really meh ones, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I always hope that the negative Nellies will turn out to be wrong wrong wrong, but eh, the place wasn’t that great. However, their wood-fired pizza oven really makes out neighborhood smell nice, so: I accept the door prize.

Project LifeThis week I really hit the ground running on some quilting stuff, and that was super fun too.

Project LifeThe following week was Easter, which was a lot of fun. I’m so glad I saved these pretty Easter seals that Eric’s mom sent us on our Easter cards.

Project LifeLook at all of this candy! Easter time is the best time. Eric’s parents always send us an Easter box filled with goodies. It was hilarious watching our most preferred candies quietly disappear.

Project LifeSomehow not finding that to be sugar enough, I baked this crazy three-layer carrot cake. It was delicious. But. Three words: Too Much Frosting. We knocked most of it into the freezer and ate little pieces of it for the rest of the spring and into the summer. I like how it looks like a gigantic pecan-encrusted Pac Man in this picture.

Project LifeEric and I spent most of our Easters apart while we were dating, since Eric was often on research trips in the spring, so it always feels special to be able to share this time with him. Lent was really meaningful for me this year, and I was actually really sad when it was over. Thankfully, the Ignatian group I was going to is still continuing now. A few weeks ago we were asked how long we wanted to meet, and I said, “Forever!” I so love the friends I’ve made there and all that I’ve learned from them.

Project LifeAnd finally, tacos! And tulips cut from my tiny paper punch. Eric found a handful of these punches for me at the Depot this spring, and I adore them, even if I have to step on them to get them to cut all the way through the paper. Small price to pay.

August, Currently

August, CurrentlyPlotting all the fun stuff I want to do with my parents in Seattle next week (Pike Place Market, Fremont, Ballard, Delancey: I am coming for you). Few things in life are more fun than hanging out with my parents (those of you who have met them know this fact: they are awesome), but combining that with exploring a new place is probably going to make my head explode, in the best way possible. Can’t wait!

Sewing and knitting and cross stitching.

Dreaming of squeezing in painting and quilting too.

Looking at the Greek alphabet every time I brush my teeth. I’ve got it taped to our bathroom mirror. As Eric would say, “Efficiency!”

Enjoying some summer swimming, both the relaxing kind and the workout kind. This summer has still been mercifully mild, but that won’t keep me from getting in the water.

Tripping over the pile of books next to my side of the bed. I am currently working my way through a travelogue on Greece and a fabulously even-handed book on nutrition. It’s fascinating and refreshingly free of any kind of agenda. Perfect for the kind of person who just wants to pat herself on the back every time she eats vegetables. And beans. And grains. And, oh, everything else except cake.

Working away on the book, and loving every minute of it. I’m currently working the interviews into the body text, and after that there won’t be anything left except finishing the proposal and sending it on out there into the world: eeeee! (That is the sound of a perfect blend of terror and excitement).

Eating so much roasted okra and so much French morning melon. We’re in farmer’s market heaven over here.

Pinching myself that a month from now, we’ll be in Greece. I still have a lot of planning to do. Luckily, that is basically my favorite thing ever.

Looking forward to a few fun things starting in September: 30 Days of Lists and Flora Bowley’s Bloom True painting class. Woot!

Feeling so loved, respected, encouraged, and affirmed. And so grateful.

Lemony Chickpea Summer Salad

Lemony Chickpea Summer SaladOne of these days when I get around to making a recipe index, I am going to make a whole category for cold summer salads, and this one is going to be at the top of the list. I had it for the first time a month or so ago when Hillary had us over for dinner. There was the prettiest spread on the table, but this salad was the star. In between cramming bites of it in my mouth, I expressed my admiration, and Hillary told me that they’d gotten the recipe from Cafe Bariloche, an Argentinian restaurant in Ventura. I did some searching for it, and it looks like it’s now been closed. I am sad to find that out, but glad that it can live on, at least a little bit, in this salad. We also had it at our Huntington picnic, and I have probably made it three times since then. It’s just that good.

Lemony Chickpea Summer SaladThe recipe is very simple: chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, scallions, salt and pepper. It’s one of those salads that gets better and better as the days go by. It’s one of those salads you really want to have in your fridge on a hot day. It’s a perfect lunch, it’s a perfect dinner. It’s the perfect reboot for your leftovers: toss in salmon or chicken or roasted veggies. They will play well here.

Lemony Chickpea Summer SaladI’m so glad to have it in my summer repertoire.

Lemony Chickpea Summer Salad
Adapted from Hillary and Cafe Bariloche

2 cans of chick peas
Juice of 1 and 1/2 medium lemons
3 Tbs olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
-Mix it all up, adjust proportions to taste, and enjoy!

Weekend Happenings

Weekend HappeningsYou know it was a good weekend when you’re having trouble choosing which pictures to share. A little voice inside you screams, “Share them all!” but the more rational voice of the angel on your shoulder reminds you that there are only so many hours in the day, and that your readers surely also have other things to accomplish. Also, it might be midnight already, and you might need to go to bed soon. Ahem. My blog friend Kendra once described herself as being chatty in one of her posts, and I loved it. So here I am, being chatty. On to the recap! Friday night was low-key and was rung in with tacos and Aviations. I had been really grumpy about something I can’t even remember anymore (typical!), but then I got an email that a book I had requested from the library had come in, and, hallelujah, the weekend was ON.

Weekend HappeningsOn Saturday I made plans with my glorious friend Hillary: art store shopping! Blick is having a huge back to school sale, if you are so inclined, so we stocked up on some stuff we need for our painting class this fall, and we got some other goodies too. It was great, great fun, and I’m still pinching myself that I have such an amazing friend.

Weekend HappeningsShe brought over her sticker printer, and lots of fun was had with that too.

Weekend HappeningsEric and I usually have about one thing scheduled per weekend, and I knew were going out to see friends on Sunday, but late Saturday afternoon I decided that we should go on a DATE. I found out that Star Trek was playing at the cheap movie theatre ($3!), so I got us tickets and we ran over to The Luggage Room for dinner. I love wood-fired pizza. Mmm.

Weekend HappeningsOn the way in I was so hungry, and I told Eric that I wanted a pizza with MEAT! He put his hand on my forehead and asked me if I was feeling alright. Oh yes, I was. We shared this pepper and sausage pizza and then went wild on dessert: chocolate pave cake and strawberry gelato. So much deliciousness.

Weekend HappeningsAnd then: movie time! It was a fun show.

Weekend HappeningsOn Sunday afternoon we headed over to Golden Road Brewery to meet a few friends for a birthday hang-out. It was such a cool place, and I was totally thinking about my dad the whole time. He would love it.

Weekend HappeningsThis is for you, Dad!

Weekend HappeningsThe brewery has three buildings, each in a lovely primary color. I naturally thought they were photo-worthy. To say nothing of this handsome model.

Weekend HappeningsWe headed home around 4 and went over to the pool, where we got a quick workout in. There are no pictures of this, but it was an awful lot of fun. I swam competitively for years (most of my childhood through early high school), and it always feels good to be in the water. And so I reach my triumphant conclusion: it was a great weekend! How was yours?

Continued Adventures in Dyeing Fabric: Polka Dot Dress

fabric dyeI have a fever. A color fever. Now that I’ve started dyeing things, I more or less can’t stop. It’s just so cheap and easy to make a new garment out of an old one. When Hillary and I went to the greatest art store on earth last week, I picked up a new kind of dye in turquoise. I had a dress that I decided had seen better days. I actually just wore it a few weeks ago, but it is so not a good color for me. It is actually more of an absence of color than a color, technically speaking. Observe:

Adventures in DyeingIt’s a cute dress, and I love the polka dots, but that shade is just a no for me. It’s roughly the same ivory color as the buttons, in case you can’t tell.

Adventures in DyeingNow, I must tell you, this was my most successful dye job ever. The color was so even and so bright. It took marvelously. Is this due to the new dye? My more meticulous dyeing setup? Perhaps…but most likely, it is because I finally followed the directions. Dye packets inform you that you are supposed to add an entire cup of salt to the dye bath. An entire cup. Reader, surely you can agree that this sounds entirely too excessive. But this time, I did it. And it worked! You are supposed to use salt for natural fabrics and vinegar for synthetics, so it must be some sort of acid vs. base thing. I should ask my dad. He’s a chemist. Do you know, Daddy?

Adventures in DyeingI have to tell you the funniest story about the aftermath of this dye job. I do all of my dyeing out on the balcony, to protect our carpet, but I leave the bath out for a few days in case anything else should come along that needs to be dyed. Tonight Eric was helping me drag it into the shower to dump it out, and, thankfully, there were no casualties among our floors. But I did dump the whole thing out on my feet in the shower, and now I kind of look like a wannabe smurf. Small price to pay for a new dress, I say.

Adventures in DyeingA few hours later, Eric asked me if it made any sense to actually do the dyeing in the shower. And I told him I thought this was a brilliant idea. No more dragging dye baths over carpet. Eric is a genius, I tell you. And, I promise, I ironed this dress and then it wrinkled its little self right back up. Oh well. I have already acquired yet another dye packet (emerald green!), so my closet is undergoing a grueling audition process for a Gumby-esque transformation. I’ll get back to you after I’ve turned my feet as green as Marvin the Martian’s.

Istanbul Scrapbook: Day 3

Istanbul ScrapbookWelcome to the third installment of the Istanbul scrapbook! Perhaps I shall finish it sometime this year. It’s good to not be rushed, though. On to the trip: thankfully, by day three we were a bit more caught up on sleep and ready to do some exploring.

Istanbul ScrapbookWithout a doubt, the best part of the day was seeing the incredible Hagia Sofia. The openness, the light, the history that made up every worn stone: they left me speechless.

Istanbul ScrapbookAnd these pretty simit carts kept us company while we were waiting in the long line. Eric had repeatedly said how much he misses these stands–they are just so convenient! And simits are so undeniably delicious.

Istanbul ScrapbookSuch beautiful tickets. I don’t know if you can tell, but parts of it are iridescent.

Istanbul ScrapbookHere’s the journaling for this page and a girl who is so happy that the park in this major tourist area is so lovely and calm.

Istanbul ScrapbookI love this picture of us so much because it is one of the few that we have together. We both hardly ever put our cameras down the entire trip, and maybe that’s why we don’t have many shots together! In any case, I am grateful for Eric’s long arms and for the foresight to take a picture together here, a wonder and a place that moved us both so deeply.

Istanbul ScrapbookThe next page contains our continuing adventures and some of my favorite rub-on embellishments.

Istanbul ScrapbookThese amazing mosaics were on the higher floor of the Hagia Sophia. So crazy to look at them and think about the hands that made them and the hands that tended them over all these centuries.

Istanbul ScrapbookWe had lunch just around the corner. We lucked into finding a courtyard cafe in what was an artisans’ workshop in past ages. It was great to sit and rest and sip tea.

Istanbul ScrapbookLove this picture of Eric on the grounds.

Istanbul ScrapbookAnd, of course, our beloved Istanbulkart had to be preserved here. Every day we walked down the hill past the bread bakery to Tophane, where we waited for our train. A few times we went the other way down, to the water, and got on there for the gentle glide over the Golden Horn. I wanted to keep my card so much that Eric suggested we just get individual-ride cards for our last few rides. And that, ladies, is when you know you have the best husband on earth.

Tournament House

Tournament HouseA few weeks ago, my friend Mike told me he would take me to a Pasadena landmark for an inside look. It would need to be on a Thursday afternoon. All this mystery had me very intrigued. Would it be the Castle Green? City Hall? Some clandestine spaces inside the Rose Bowl? All of my guesses were wrong! He took me to the gorgeous Wrigley House on Orange Grove Boulevard, also known as the Tournament House, since the Tournament of Roses conducts their business here. The house is sometimes called “the house that gum built,” given the nature of the Wrigley fortune. Mike has written a great post on the history of the house, so I will send you over to his blog for some background info. Eric and I have driven by so many times and never known that we could go inside. So, if you’re local, get on over there on Thursdays between February and August, and you can get  a free guided tour.

Tournament HouseThe house, completed in 1914, is the one of the only ones left standing from what was once Millionaire’s Row, a tight cluster of mansions built by easterners who came to Pasadena for its mild weather. This is the restored living room. None of the furniture is original except for that little bamboo table by the window on the left. This is where Mrs. Wrigley set her coffee while watching the Rose Parade process down the street.

Tournament HouseI loved this carved fireplace. It arrived from Italy in eight pieces with no directions. I think they did a good job of putting it together, nonetheless.

Tournament HouseThe upstairs rooms have been converted into meeting spaces and exhibit rooms. I was a fan of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

Tournament HouseI took this picture of the Cal helmet just for Eric. I am nothing if not loyal.

Tournament HouseThis is the room where the queen and her ladies hold court.

Tournament HouseI think this impostor is definitely a pretender to the throne…

Tournament HouseThe grounds are just as lovely, with rose gardens as far as the eye can see.

Tournament HouseI fell in love with this gorgeous fig tree, which Mrs. Wrigley had planted when it was just a sapling. It’s just incredible.

Tournament HouseThe amazing thing is that the land surrounding the house actually belongs to the city of Pasadena and is open to the public. This would be such a lovely place to come with a Sunday picnic. Definitely putting it on our summer must-do list.

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeI seem to be on something of a blueberry kick lately. I also seem to be on a bake-every-cake-Martha-Stewart-ever-came-up-with kick. The two are linked, clearly. I love my kale and quinoa and strawberries as much as the next person (and maybe even more…mmm, kale), but every few weeks I am possessed with the immediate need for cake. I start scouring the fridge and kitchen cabinets for things that look like they might want to be turned into cake. And Martha never lets me down.

Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeI can’t remember which came first: the blueberries or the idea, but just like the chicken and the egg question, the most important point is that it led us to where we are now. I discovered as I was putting this cake together that I did not, however, have any sour cream. Blast! I also did not have any yogurt. Double blast! The internet told me that I could I just put a bit of lemon juice in some whipping cream, and, voila, sour cream would emerge. The internet was fantastically correct. It was the most delicious sour cream I’ve ever tasted. I shall never buy sour cream again! (Key fact: we always have whipping cream on hand because of my ice cream addiction).

Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeI also came up with my own little idea to solve one of the most pervasive of Bundt problems: the bottom of the cake, which is at the top of the pan when you’re baking, always ends up getting kind of mushy after a few days under the weight of so much sugary goodness. I can’t handle soggy things, so I decided to sprinkle a hearty layer of oats on the top/bottom to absorb the moisture after flipping. Reader, it worked like a charm. No more soggy cake!

Blueberry Lemon Bundt CakeBecause the sky is blue, I put a hefty dose of walnuts in. No crunchy, no eaty. The cake was moist and lightly tangy, and the brown sugar gave it a rich flavor not unlike that of French toast. Only the best French toast you’ve ever had. I’ll happily eat cake any day of the week, but the summer ones are extra special.

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries and zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest Nonstick cooking spray, for pan
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Oats for sprinkling over the top

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.
-In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of sour cream.
-In a bowl, toss blueberries and zest with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Mix in nuts. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle oats over the top.
-Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.

One Little Word: July

One Little Word--JulyI have to say that I think this month’s One Little Word prompt has been my favorite so far. I think it would be a fantastic thing to do every month. The idea is simple: you write your word on sticky notes (I chose to do 7, but you could do as many or as few as you like) and hang them somewhere you will see them. From there, you have plenty of choices for how to incorporate them into your life. You can grab one in the morning and keep it with you throughout the day as a reminder. You can grab one at the end of the day for some journaling. You can take pictures of your word out in the world, in places that are meaningful to you. What I love the most about this prompt is that it really encourages you to make your word part of your life not necessarily in a big way, but in tiny everyday ways. I felt like it was especially well suited to my word, and I loved pulling the sticky notes down and placing them in my page for this month.

One Little Word--JulyAs I felt myself being open throughout the month, I grabbed my sticky note and did some journaling about my experience on this 12 x 12 page, which will go into my Project Life album. I liked drawing the boxes around the journaling and seeing which spaces were left, wondering what might come along and fill them. As you can see, two of them are covered. Sorry about that–they are personal or just not ready to be shared. That’s how you know I’m keeping it real!

One Little Word--JulyThe things I wrote about ranged from giant to minuscule, and I love that.

One Little Word--JulySome things seemed tailor made for this exercise. I love that too.

One Little Word--JulySquirrels. They are special too.

One Little Word--JulyI probably would have forgotten about this if I hadn’t written it down. I’m so glad I did.

One Little Word--JulyAnd then one last little surprise at the end of the month. I had so much fun watching this little page take shape, and I definitely think I will do this again in the future. Do you have a word for the year? I would love to hear it!

The Happiest Weekend

The Happiest WeekendI did not at all expect this past weekend to be such a happy one. Eric had two nights on the Keck telescope (done remotely from Caltech), so I knew he would be either asleep or at work all weekend. And then my marvelous friend Hillary stepped in. I told her I’d be flying the craft ship solo, and she agreed to come over and hang out with me. She’s the best! I whipped up a little dinner for us: kale and quinoa salad with avocado dressing and my latest addiction: roasted okra. I realize that is the trendiest-sounding dinner I could ever have invented. What can I say? I’m just glad we live in age when kale and quinoa are the hip things to eat. A few hours before Hillary arrived, I caved and created an Instagram account, and…I’m now addicted to that too. I spent all this time telling myself I didn’t need another social network, but the truth is that I spend half my time on Twitter looking at people’s Instagram photos, so I figured this was good enough logic. I’m such a visual person that it’s right up my alley. If you have an account, tell me in the comments so I can follow you there! (Please!)

The Happiest WeekendSo, this Instagram thing was really fun/funny because we both were taking pictures and realizing that this sounded like the world’s most hipster dinner, and we had a good laugh about that. I made pistachio rosewater ice cream for dessert, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out (perhaps I am still smarting from my sweet lime frozen yogurt disaster?), but it was delicious. I will share the recipe if anyone is interested. We talked for hours, and it was glorious. Friends who you can talk to for hours on end about anything and everything, laughing all along the way: they are gifts straight from heaven. I am thanking my lucky stars.

The Happiest WeekendAfter a while we decided to get to the business at hand: making things! Hillary brought her ten-year-old ModPodge (still good!), and we laughed that our two bottles were reunited after many long years of separation.

The Happiest WeekendThis was our spread: all kinds of pretty, shiny things! Hillary made a mixed media page, and I was working on a stamp collage for the cover of a journal. And we also had some beads and jewelry supplies at the ready.

The Happiest WeekendIsn’t she lovely?

The Happiest WeekendHere we are, at the height of our crafting giddiness. I sent this picture to Eric to keep him company in what I lovingly call his space dungeon (the windowless room where he does his remote observing). We laughed and painted and ModPodged until we reached the ebullient state known as slumber party delirium. It was awesome.

The Happiest WeekendI was bummed not to have Eric with me for our regular Saturday morning trek to the farmer’s market, but I did get the last box of strawberries from our favorite vendor, so I am sure his spirit was with me.

The Happiest WeekendAlso, I bought these figs. They blew me away with their gorgeousness.

The Happiest WeekendAnd I did not skip our other Saturday ritual: jumping straight in the pool after the farmer’s market. It was quiet and sunny, and I did some reading. The rest of the day was spent on various projects and getting ready for happy weekend event numero dos.

The Happiest WeekendEvery summer the fabulous Huntington Gardens holds concert and picnic nights for members. Hillary invited us to come and join them, and I jumped at the chance. Have I mentioned that Hillary has four-year-old twins? They are the smartest, sweetest, most hilarious girls I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. We had a blast checking out all the ducks and fish and turtles and playing mermaid games.

The Happiest WeekendHillary’s husband (also awesome: it seems to run in the family) packed us a beautiful feast: fresh tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, smoked salmon with cream cheese, and champagne. And Hillary brought my beloved chickpea salad. I contributed figs and slices of my favorite tropical melon. It was divine. We made a video to send to Eric in his space dungeon, and the girls sent their adorable greetings. I keep watching that video over and over again because it is just so sweet. And so, in a word, as Gogol would say after the most rambling of sentences, it was the happiest weekend. How was yours?

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