Monday, November 30, 2009

the end of november

The beets from the market were mighty delicious. Not that you can really mess up the little gems. I said this was going to be my go-to beet recipe when I made it for Katya's shower and I've now made it 3 more times in the last month. (So reliable. Or obsessive. Either way.)

The recipe being: little beets tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and balsamic, roasted on a baking sheet at ~400 until perfectly tender. I usually cover them with foil for the first part of roasting to make sure they're cooked through before the edges start to burn.

This time I finished them with a sprinkling of blood orange olive oil that we brought home from Napa. Yum.

And I'd recommend using every variety of beet you can find... for prettiness. I used bull's blood, chiogga, golden, and white. (not sure if the white ones have a special name or not).

Last weekend was also the official weekend of leftovers...

Hoping I can convince Brock to eat this bread pudding for dinner again tonight. I'LL MAKE A FRESH SALAD I PROMISE.

And the Christmas decorations are slowly assuming position.

I couldn't resist a simple Scandinavian style wreath at Solo this weekend. It reminds me of the straw bird ornaments my mom always hangs on her tree.

I'm kind of excited for December.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving

A few iPhone pics from the market yesterday. I went early and it was completely mobbed (obviously) and absolutely stacked to the sky with beautiful produce. I wanted to make 3 extra things for today just to take advantage of all the vegetal options. I restrained myself however. As much because I couldn't carry anything else as other reasons, like remaining sane.

Which had me thinking... do I need one of those farmer's market trollies? They do look tempting when you're lugging huge winter squashes and pounds of apples and tangerines around with your 7 month pregnant belly. I've been jabbed in the shins by those on more than one occasion so I'm a little hesitant.

Or maybe just a more sturdy basket? In a few months I will have a stroller after all and that seems like it would serve the same purpose?

Hope you all have a delicious weekend of friends and family and food!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our trip north

A bit late, but sometimes it just feels like too much to go through all the photos and post them. See our honeymoon. Wait you can't see it, because I never posted it. Because I took like 1,000 photos and can't get it together to go through them. BUT honeymoon album is on the pre-baby list so maybe I'll end up posting them before February. I did post some lovely Australian seed pods...

Now on to the trip where we eat our way through the bay area and take pictures of menus to prove it.

First stop, dinner at Full of Life Flatbread for our first anniversary dinner. Man, it was good. And beautiful on the porch with the sun going down.

Then up the coast in the winding dark to Big Sur, where we stayed here (SO CUTE) and ate our wedding cake my mom had be saving in her freezer since last year. She packed in into a cooler for us to take on our trip because she's such a good mom and I have to say, it was pretty darn delicious. Some traditions are kind of cute.

Had breakfast at Big Sur Bakery as planned...

And saw a flock of wild turkeys in the early morning.

Then we drove north on the coast through Carmel and Pacific Grove and stopped in Monterrey.

The jellyfish are clearly the coolest thing at the aquarium.

And made it to San Francisco where we proceeded to eat and walk around the city.

Seriously enormous sandwiches at Tartine. Why is this not a published fact??

Chanterelles and eggs at Boulette's Larder.

And some of their lovely cookies and spices.

As you can see, the taking of photos has started to slow. In Napa I barely took any. But I do have a few to PROVE that we were there.

Ubuntu was completely deliciously amazing. I would consider flying up to Napa for the weekend just to eat there.

The French Laundry, if I'm being honest, was a great experience but I'm not sure it's worth it if you're eating vegetarian. It was delicious, especially the desserts. My god, the desserts. But when the table next to you is eating lobster poached white truffle infused filet mignon, and you're delicately savoring 7 mushrooms (delicious mushrooms to be sure), it's hard not to feel like one menu should perhaps cost less than the other? Now I'm going to culinary hell, but I think honesty is best. And I'd have appreciated reading such a review before we went. So there you have it. I'm glad we went, but we could have also had a lovely new coffee table instead.

I do have to make special note of the butter cookies they pack up and send home with you. OMG. omg. Perhaps the most delicious little morsels I have ever tasted.

Also of note: Solage. It was such a perfect place to stay and relax and do nothing. We swam laps in their huge pool in the morning, took spin class, dipped in their mineral pools, had a spa treatment, and read in the sun. Definitely worth the splurge and they were so so nice.

Kay, that's it. Our trip. It was great and now we're in full on nesting mode.

a little engagement package

Overall it was a sad weekend for my family. Perhaps I will write more about it in a bit, for now I'm just processing.

But I did manage to put together a cute little package for our friends Becky and Shane who had their engagement party this weekend.

That's homemade chocolate chip + sea salt cookies, Sofia Blanc de Blancs (one of my all time favorite bubblies, though I think I like the 2007 and Whole Foods only had the 2008), and a cute little set of Sweetie Stats journals.

Sadly, I had to miss the celebration, but Brock went and celebrated for both of us. I'm so so super excited for their wedding in June. I've decided it will be my first big event post baby and am pinning all my hopes for upcoming adult fun on this one weekend at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. We've already booked our room. No pressure, B&S. Plus from what I've heard, Becky's dress is amazing. I cannot wait to see it in person.

And thanksgiving is this week! Already. Wow. I think I'm finally going to make this.

Friday, November 20, 2009

500 pencils

This would be the most awesome present for anyone who loves color and making things.

It's like the hue of the month club! Every month for 20 months you get 25 pencils. And then at the end you have the entire spectrum.

My only question, after nearly 2 years, wouldn't the first ones be just tiny little nubs by the time you received the last set? I think they should have an expedited package where you get 50 per month for 10 months. Some of us couldn't wait that long to have every option.

500 pencils

Thursday, November 19, 2009

can't stop the nesting

Most of the things I've been doing as of late aren't exactly interesting, unless you're me. Like making lists and crossing things off ever so slowly. Last night I made it through one half of one item... Frame prints and photos that have been neglected for months and in some cases, years.

Successfully framed two cute prints for the kitchen:

We still have a few more to go, including two neat prints from Australia. Sadly I think those will have to be custom framed because they're weird dimensions. Why is framing so expensive??

Also in the baby list department, we found our Doula! So excited. She's awesome.

And baked those amazing chocolate chip cookies last night. Note: they're still delicious even if you don't properly age the dough overnight.

I made this yummy soup on Monday and we managed to have it for dinner for 3 nights in a row. So convenient. I substituted beet greens for the kale because I had 2 huge bags left over from farmer's market purchases. And I added parsnips for more fall flavoring.

(sorry, no link. Martha's food team has apparently been slacking in the "upload recipes from magazine to website" department).

I've also decided to give in to early Christmas mania. Peppermint mocha lattes, Christmas carols in every store, decorations have been up in Santa Monica for weeks... why fight it, you know? I'm going to break out my Julie London cds, drink egg nog in my coffee and start preparing for the crafting of gifts. Even though it's only the middle of November.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

culinary treats I dragged home from the bay area

Look! We really did go on vacation. I have spices and oils and things to prove it.

So many delicious things to buy and bring home. I did pretty well in restraining myself. At least that's what I think. My traveling partner might disagree.

From Boulettes Larder: Garam Masala and Smoked Sea Salt (in the little plastic bins below).

And from Whole Spice at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa:

Fennel Pollen - for the dusting of things yet to be determined.

Black Cardamom - I'd never seen it before and I LOVE cardamom so of course I had to get some. It's sweet like green cardamom but really smokey too. I can't wait to make something with it.

REAL Cinnamon - did any of you read that little blurb in the last Gourmet? Most cinnamon is actually cassia. Which according to the cinnamon guru, does the trick in mulled cider but is nothing like the real thing. I shall report back. See, now how am I going to find out crucial things like this without Gourmet??? If you're into culinary nerdery, you can buy the real deal on Epicure Pantry.

Urda - Sweet sticky turkish chili. yum.

And a Yemeni spice mix. I can't remember the name, but it smells divine.

And I also stashed away a few different olive oils and a cabernet vinegar. Yum.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

things I learned from visiting a newborn (and his mom)

In my preparation for welcoming our first child into our life, I've started to compile a list of both practices and products I should not continue life without. Visiting Laura in Georgia was such a sweet (though way too short) way to see how a mom I know and love and admire is handling the first weeks of parenthood, and also an excellent way to test out must-have products to add to our registry. Not that we have one yet. But say we do make one, at least I'll have some things to add to it.

Full disclosure, this post is most likely only of interest to pregnant people and moms. Just want to let you all know that I'm aware that I'm stepping into new territory here.

I'll start with practices and then move on to the arguably more exciting products. If anyone out there has suggestions, please do share!

Lighting: Laura is great about setting the mood for herself and for Judah when she's up in the middle of the night. She has her lights in their living area/kitchen on dimmers so she can leave them on really low all night. That way when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she doesn't have to shock herself awake with bright lights. (I smell a home improvement project coming).

Music: She's also conscious to turn on music when she gets up, which I thought was a really great way to create a nice space for nursing. It keeps her company if Jason isn't up with her and makes being awake so much more enjoyable. Definitely making a few "wee hours" playlists before February.

Diapers: We're going to use cloth diapers for our little one and I was pretty certain that we'd go the diaper service route (despite industrial strength bleach and all of that). But seeing how things go in their house, it's actually pretty easy to wash everything yourself. And I learned that we won't be using strictly pre-folds anyway (which are the old school cloth diapers that diaper services carry), because there are so many great options out there now. So if we're going to wash half of our diapers at home, we might was well just wash all of them. I'll report back on how that goes.

And I'm sure there's much more I'm forgetting. But I'm quite pleased with just these few little kernels of wisdom. Sadly for Brock, they also mean more projects added to our expanding pre-baby list. But quickly, look what a good sport he is: Friday night... we went to Ikea. Yes, either the happiest place on earth or the seventh circle of hell, depending on the day. We are so FUN! But we also have a much more organized laundry room/service porch. The joys of minor home improvements. And yes, nesting is kicking in to full gear.

And now for products that we clearly shouldn't live without:

Moby Wrap. Damnnnnn, those things are like large pieces of cloth miracle. I want one in every color and I will wear it exclusively for the first few months. They are like insta-quiet-sleeping-baby.

Ergo Baby. I'm going to say it, they're kind of ugly. But the coolness in function outweighs the styling. Laura's sister Becca wore her son Elan on her back to our wedding welcome cocktail party in her Ergo and it was the cutest thing ever. Plus they're supposed to be better for baby than the Bjorn. What do I know? Nothing. I just go with what I'm told.

Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe blankets. According to moms in the know, these auto-swaddle numbers are awesome. Especially for little babies when big blankets are just too much fabric.

Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets. I forget why (except that they are really pretty), but Laura said these are a must have. Okee-dokey.

Sound Machine. Anyone else use one of these? It seemed pretty nifty.

Kissaluvs, Fuzzibuns, and other cloth diaper alternatives. Aside from being much cuter than those kooky raincoat-style diaper covers that go over pre-folds, these are apparently really excellent from a functional perspective too. And I've been instructed to get the "one size" versions since baby can wear them from newborn to whenever he/she is potty trained or we give up on cloth diapering. haaa. And this leads me to the nifty washable diaper bin bag. Which played a big roll in convincing me that washing diapers myself isn't that bad. You just throw the entire bag into the washer and that's it. See, not too bad.

And, I haven't even entered the etsy black hole. I'm sure there's tons of cute handmade options for both diapers and diaper covers. If anyone out there uses or used cloth diapers and has any favorite recs, please share!

And then there's clothes...

Because I can't help myself, I've also started a bookmark folder of the cutest baby clothes I can find. Wondering this: do we actually register for SPECIFIC onesies and stuff? Like we want this onesie in blue stripes size 3 - 6 months?

Also, we are 100% committed to waiting until birth to find out the baby's sex, but um, shopping for clothes would be much easier if we knew.

Polarn O. Pyret- In love with these stripey clothes. I will start a stripes only registry on their site.

Kate Quinn Organics- Simple and pretty with great colors.

ittikid- Why do europeans insist on making much cuter fabrics than we do? Need one of each, again.

Bloume Baby- Just found this site. They don't tell you which brand their products are (annoying), but what they have is pretty cute.

So this was kind of a long post. I promise I will not be posting exclusively on baby stuff from now on. But it's kind of on my mind since we have, oh, ~3 months left until birth day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leggings report

Last year around this time my friend Becky, who is lives dangerously on the cutting edge of style, debuted these awesome "fancy" leggings with little gold zippers dressing up her ankles.

I was pretty taken with them. But when I stopped by the boutique next door to her house to pick up my own, sadly they didn't have my size in the right color and I never followed up with much heart. But I've rued the day I gave up on them ever since. Like when I take what was previously a cute mini dress out of my closet and find that it has become a shirt (tunic at best), I've been saddened over and over again that I missed out on those zippered darlings.

Actually, it turns out I didn't. I just haven't been scouring Shopbop on a daily basis for the last 6 months, which means I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to fall fashion. (Side note: this has been immensely satisfying. It feels so good not to NEED to shop. Even if it's because nothing fits me).

I bought mine at Tucci in San Diego. I was pawing through the sale racks looking for large sizes of cute things that at 70% off I could justify as a pregnancy necessity, all but ignoring the lovely regular people clothes. And then I saw them. THE ZIPPER LEGGINGS! A whole stack of XS with one lonely size M at the bottom, clearly waiting just for me and my ever larger belly. HALLELUJAH!

Shopbop is carrying two different pairs (probably more considering they have like 300 pairs of black leggings on their site)... by LNA and David Lerner.

If you are even remotely on board with the leggings thing, pregnant or not, you'd best be purchasing a pair of these. If you do happen to be pregnant, they sit low and have a nice wide waist band that's been perfectly comfortable so far.

And now the second part of this post. As I was lost in the world of designer leggings this morning, I discovered something curious. Something I NEVER in 1 million years would have considered up until pregnancy. Denim leggings?

Could they actually fit and look cute with a long shirt/tunic/mini dress? They have an elastic waistband which gives me hope. I never thought I'd be so excited about elastic. But I'm scared to order them. Has anyone tried these on? So intrigued.

These are by Seven and Joes, but there are tons more options online.

Happy weekend. Please don't spend 2 hours lost on the internet looking at fancy leggings like I just did.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

lust-worthy Heath

This is easily my 7th post about Heath Ceramics. Do tell me when you get tired of this particular blog topic. At least it's not an official category.

I saw a little photo over on Joslyn's blog of a factory shelf crammed full of delicious ceramics and was especially taken by what looked like huge rustic canisters. And then immediately I was like WTF are those and how do I get them???

They are, it turns out, a collaboration with Commune and Alma Allan. And I do in fact need one. AND they're at the LA studio, which means I will be making a trip over that way this weekend.

Know what I'm saying?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

georgia, very briefly

I managed to leave georgia with mostly pictures of pigs. But here are a few snaps of fall in babyland...

big winter squashes ready for dinner.

pretty little vignette at olivia's house

a very sweet baby

more babies of the porcine nature. sadly i missed seeing the teeny piglets because mama pig had them covered up with straw when we stopped by. smart mom, but how selfish.

and the quiet woods surrounding laura's house. good place to take sleeping baby walking in the moby wrap while his mom naps.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

colors, flavors, fall

As I was going through my photos of our trip I realized I'd taken a few the week before that were so nice and fall-like, it seemed it would be a shame not to share.

Katya's shower was sort of the christening of fall cooking for me. Loads of colors and root vegetables from the market. I love roasted vegetables. For dinner I made a bunch of different types:

Winter squash (kabocha, butternut, and acorn) with thyme

Beets with balsamic and rosemary

Carrots with cumin seed and cilantro

Heirloom potatoes with dill flowers

I'm kind of getting hungry just remembering. The beets with balsamic and rosemary were a new combo for me, inspired by a Jamie O. episode and the bride's obsession with Balsamic. They are here to stay. OMG.

And the dill flowers were kind of a neat addition. Very delicious. Plus all of the combos included the essential olive oil, salt, pepper, and in some cases a little garlic. Cannot go wrong when you toss and set in the oven on high heat.

And we had a yummy salad of Maggie's Farm stellar mix greens (the secret to any successful salad) with persimmon, gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. Plus a bunch of other things that I'm not remembering at the moment.

So looking forward to simple, delicious meals. And lots of squash. And beets. And persimmons.

But first, I'm off to catch an early flight to Georgia this morning to visit Laura and her little man, Judah. And visit the farm and dine at Farm 255. And then I'll be back with lots more photos. I think they might even have piglets right now. The farm, not the restaurant.