Saturday, September 22, 2012

Material Goods: Fall Fashion Spree

I had a busy week in which I took two of my professional licensure exams.  This morning I decided that I deserved a bit of a shopping spree.
My job doesn't require flat shoes, because we all have to change into steel toed boots before we go out to the construction sites, but its not really a heels environment because it's too casual.  So I always need flats.  These oxfords are really cute on.  I tried a couple years ago, but didn't really find the tap-shoe pointier toe and less substantial sole to be very flattering.  I'm excited to wear them.
Do you wear perfume?  I go through perfume phases, and right now I'm in one.  I'm a pretty loyal Thierry Mugler Angel fan.  Its the only perfume that someone tried to spray on me at a department store that actually made me stop and come back for another sniff.  Its a strong scent, so I tend to reserve it for special occasions.  For daily use I switch it up a little.  My mainstay is L'Occitane Jasmine Green Tea.  I bought a Tocca Violette fragrance a couple weeks ago.  And although I've been an Guerlain Aqua Allegoria fan for years, but I've never actually pulled the trigger and bought one before.  I chose Pamplelune today, but they all smell good.
Next up was makeup.  Red, rose and plum.  They all seem like darker fall shades here, but they go on sheer.  Pretty, pretty.
And finally, I love this shirt.  The fit is perfect on.  Tailored and relaxed all at once.  Kind of a crazy print, but it looks on.  And, it's a really light weight cotton, which is perfect for this climate.  I wish the other colors/prints had been as good.  I would have bought multiples for a winter uniform.

What have you bought lately?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Recent Inspiration

I haven't been terribly inspired by much online lately.  A few images here and there.  I'm sure its partially my own fault because I haven't really been looking in any concentrated way and partly because everyone seems more into Instagram postings than blog posts these days.  I'm guilty of it myself.  Instagram is so fast, most of the photos are original and posts are sort of in real-time.  Its appealing, but the downside is that the images are tiny, you can't zoom in for a closer look, and the platform isn't about imparting details.  I find most of the online and boutique magazines similar.  Pretty photographs but few details and no articles to speak of.  Magazines used to have a variety of columns, not just the brief prose that accompanies the main photo spreads.  Where did the writers go?  I'd like both please.  Anyone have any recommendations?

A few images over the last few months have inspired me though and they are both kind of out of character for me-- monochromatic.  I can't get this living room out of my head from Shareen Joel's beach house, discovered via The Marion House Book's pintrest.
And this product shot from the Justin Timberlake / Estee Stanley collaboration for Homemint.

I misinterpreted the caption thinking that the headboard was black linen, which inspired me to start planning a DIY.   I'm rethinking my Albuquerque bedroom to go black and white. 

What's inspiring you lately?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home Kitchen Progress

I try to get some small home project done whenever I visit Albuquerque.  Last October I painted my living room.  This last trip I started painting my kitchen cabinets.  The color is Benjamin Moore Van Deusen blue.  It turned a little greyer as it dried.
Before and during.  No after pictures yet, but its getting there, little by little.  I plan to have very limited upper cabinets, one in the corner there above the microwave and one above the refrigerator, which is just out of frame on the left.  They won't be painted blue, but I haven't quite decided what they'll look like.  If I reuse one of the old cabinets I'll probably paint them to match the wall color, but I also might just buy a couple of new cabinets.  Like I said, little by little.  I also keep changing my mind on the backsplash.  Right now I'm favoring this:
Blue and white talavera tiles in "Harlequin" pattern, which allows for a zig zag pattern.  I don't want to over-kill on the blue, so I'm also considering a brown color way... or green, or yellow...

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I was in Albuquerque last week.  I arrived just at the tail end of a heat wave and was lucky to enjoy several days with rain while I was there.  New Mexico is just incredibly beautiful, and seeing all my friends, family and dogs made it really hard to leave.

 All shot from the car on the drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Recent Acquisitions

Some things that I've happily acquired in the last few weeks.
Four World of Interiors magazines from 2009.  The top issue is one that I had for a particular spread that I love on Henry Wilson's London home, with elaborately hand painted walls inspired by his life in India.  My mom donated it to the free magazine bin at our local library when I was away from home.  I'm sure she meant well and was just trying to clean up my house, but seriously, it was one of those moments when you wonder if your parents know you at all.  This new copy came as a lot of four from eBay, so I'm looking forward to reading those that are new to me. 
(Henry Wilson's London home, December 2009, World of Interiors). 
Tom Dixon Copper Hex bowls.  On serious sale at Design Within Reach right now.  Gorgeous, but impossible to photograph thanks to their faceted shiny sides.  Trust me, they look much better in person.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apartment Files: Kitchen Improvments

Major kitchen improvements.  I built an island and bought some stools and a rug.  This happened in March, but I just haven't been in a blogging mood.  [All about Instagram right now.  Its so fast and easy.]  It's made cooking and eating so much nicer. 
Then I replaced that West Elm advertising poster with shelves!  I've lost track, but this probably happened at the beginning of May.  Having my tea and spices above the stove freed up a lot of space in the limited cabinets.  Plus, it's much more convenient for cooking. 
As I feel the need to proclaim every time I post a picture of this apartment, that wall color is atrocious.  It seems to be very common for rentals down here near San Diego.  I see apartments on Craigslist all the time with the same weird yellow/green/beige.  Do landlords think it's "sunny and bright"?  Ugh, it's awful.  I really want to paint, but I also want to move.  I suspect I won't get around to either, but I day dream about it.
For scale, this is the view from the couch.  The bedroom door is just to the left of those Etsy prints.  Overall, I like how the apartment has come together.  The only thing still missing is art for over the bed... but that's another post.  This one is called kitchen improvements, and I'll stick to that.  Any kitchen improvements of your own lately?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Culinary Chronicles: Weeknight Supper

Can you tell that I feel like detoxing this week?  Last week I cooked a big pot roast and ate it for five straight days.  This is my dinner tonight.  Not a meat product in sight.  A variation on Heidi Swanson's Sushi Bowl.   Its good hot or cold, so it's an excellent thing to pack up for lunch tomorrow.
Followed by an Indian flavored chia pudding-- coconut milk, rosewater, cardamom and pistachios.
Have you tried chia pudding?  I like that it's non-cook and easily non-dairy, and low in sugar.  Make it chocolate and it's pretty good.  I'd like to try grinding the seeds in a spice mill for a smoother texture.  I've read that it works, but I haven't tried it.  As a frequent eater of real tapioca pudding, I'm not able to fool myself that the seeds are tapioca-like.  In my tiny kitchen this hasn't become enough impetus to buy another appliance, no matter that a spice mill is small.  (And for the record, even chocolate its not nearly as delicious as this dairy free pudding.  Seriously, use good chocolate and its hard to fail, but make a dessert with tofu-- easy fail.  That one is a win all around).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Apartment Files: Storage Improvements

As anyone who lives in a small place knows staying on top of clutter is the key to a happy life.  And probably being a minimalist by nature is the real secret.  However, I am not a minimalist.  I like to collect things and I want to be comfortable.  If I go for a hike, I come back with cool rocks.  If I go to the beach it's impossible not to pick up a shell or two.  If I go to a thrift store, I buy dessert plates.   I LIKE THINGS!!  So small space storage is going to be the key to my happiness as long as I'm living in a 450 SF apartment.  To this end I've made the following improvements recently.

In the living room, I upgraded my TV cabinet from a borrowed cast-off nightstand to this pair of IKEA PS Cabinets, with locking doors.  Perfect for when the little wandering toddler comes to visit. 

And in the bedroom I finally got a dresser.  I had the following three choices:
This lovely set of Danish dressers for $1200 (identical, only one pictured).  Beautiful, and not a bad deal for a pair of dressers.  However, more than I wanted to spend right now, and I don't really have room for a pair.
This Art Deco highboy for $375.  Actually really liked this, but I have some other pieces of 30s furniture in Albuquerque that I like, but don't love in the overall context of my home.  In the end I went with something cheaper.  Kind of regret it though when looking at this photo.  You are so pretty Art Deco dresser.

This is what I ended up with, a blondish no-name mid-century dresser which needs some refinishing.  I like the shape, but not the yellow-y finish.   The decision was made because this dresser was big, located 10 minutes from my house, and under $100.  I don't love it, but it'll do for now. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Apartment Files: Decorating the Kitchen

I just ordered these two prints from the Sevenstars Treasurebox store on Etsy. 

Seriously, excellent illustration style and a recipe?  Perfect.

So excited for them to arrive.  Now if I could just find a spicerack that I like.  (Not normally a  spice rack person, but I need to free up cabinet space since my kitchen is tiny).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Culinary Chronicles: Sourdough for a Small Kitchen -- Crepes

I almost always prefer a savory breakfast to a sweet one.  A few weekends ago I put together my standard sourdough pancake starter on Saturday night, but Sunday morning I just wasn't quite up for pancakes drizzled in syrup.  Instead I remembered the sweet potato and bag of spinach that I needed to use up in the vegetable crisper.  What's the savory answer to pancakes?  Crepes!  I modified the pancake recipe into crepes by omitting the baking soda, and adding water to the mix to thin it down.

A quick sauté with some onion, and a drizzle of an improvised goat cheese sauce, and they were delicious.  Later that afternoon a classic lemon and sugar crepe to go along with my tea.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Light postings = busy life

I just noticed that I've only posted three things so far this year.  I've never been a regimented blog writer, but I will admit that I've been neglecting this space lately.  There are lots of reasons-- visitors every weekend of February, a broken oven(!), no major changes to the apartment to document, a broken computer (!!!), a new computer that doesn't like my old adobe software (I'm very loyal to photoshop for editing my photos, but I can't justify the $1200 cost for a new creative suite since I'm not using it for work right now), a new phone (finally an iphone, which connects me to the internet in non-blog ways).  I have a couple of posts partially written, and a few planned updates to the apartment.  I'll try to do better when it comes to the blog.  Meanwhile the new iphone has made me an Instagram adopter.  If you aren't on Instagram yourself, you can see my posts here.  And I'm still pinning inspiration items on Pinterest here.

Culinary Chronicles: Quinoa and Fennel Salad with Citrus Dressing, Fresh Peas and Fava Beans

Yesterday was one of those perfect weather days here in Southern California.  This is what it looked like at 7:00 am.
  (Just want it noted that the skull+ antler garden art is not remotely my style, but my landlords')
I went to a barbeque last night and after such a beautiful day I really wanted to bring something super fresh and spring-like.  At the farmer's market I saw lots of fresh fava beans and fennel bulbs, and I knew I already had some quinoa cooked up and waiting in the frig.  A quick stop at Tawny's to raid her garden peas, mint and citrus trees and I had a delicious salad.  Worth noting the recipe for future use.  If it's not so spring-like where you are, try this warm quinoa breakfast drink instead, and come back to this salad when spring hits you.

The salad:
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin and cut into strips
1 red pepper, sliced thin and cut into strips
1 cup fresh picked and shelled peas (or frozen if you need to)
1 cup fresh fava beans (if you can't find them just use two cups peas, dried beans would work, but the point of this salad is freshness!)
small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped (about 3 Tbsp once chopped)
small handful of green portion of fennel bulb (ditto)
zest and juice of two small lemons
juice of one large tangerine
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the peas and fava beans until just tender.  It's more time consuming, but do it separately.  My fava beans cooked so fast that they were a little too soft, whereas the peas were a little tougher.  Drain each, then throw all ingredients in a big bowl and toss well.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat to maintain the crunch of the red pepper and fennel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Culinary Chronicles: Sourdough for a Small Kitchen-- Vanilla Almond Scones

It's all well and good to bake bread with your sourdough starter, but what about when your kitchen is so small that making bread is just a hassle?  These days I'm working with two feet of counter space, and a tiny apartment-sized electric oven.  If I can't mix something up in one bowl, I just don't have room to make it.  And just try to get your tiny apartment grade oven to reach 500 degrees, much less hold that temperature for an hour in order to get a good crust.  Impossible.  As a result, my sourdough starter was suffering from neglect.  My go-to pancake recipe is great, but there are only so many pancakes a girl can eat, no matter how foolproof they are.  So when I had a scone craving a few weeks ago, I immediately looked for a sourdough scone recipe.  And then I modified it, of course.  

I don't really like soggy fruit in my scones, and anything too sweet limits their ability to be eaten throughout the day.  My go to recipe has just a hint of vanilla, and little or no sugar in the dough, but some sprinkled on top.  In this case I have lots of blanched almonds that I failed to use up in Christmas baking, so I threw a cup of those in.  But that's the great thing about scones, start with a basic recipe, and add whatever you like.  The result were delicious and moist, and perfect for eating with a flavorful goat cheese and sweet lime jalepeno jelly, that I've been buying from a local producer.

Sourdough Scones (Vanilla and Almond in this case) adapted from this recipe
(Makes 6 to 8 scones)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (or less depending on taste preferences)
3 Tbsp cold butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 Tbsp vanilla + 1 tsp for topping
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 - 2 Tbsp of milk or egg for tops
coarse sugar for tops

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix together all of the dry ingredients, including almonds.  Add in the cubes of butter and cut in with a pastry blender or a knife (or in a food processor) until the mixture starts to hold together when pressed.  Add 1 Tbsp vanilla to the sourdough starter, then add the starter to the dry ingredients and mix lightly so that it forms a soft dough.  If you were going to add fruit such as raspberries or blueberries, do so now.  The key to scones is not to mix too much.  The ingredients should remain as separate as possible while still holding together.  If the mixture seems too dry, add a teaspoon of milk or water.  Repeat as necessary.  On a lightly floured board, pat dough into a rectangle about a half-inch thick.  Cut into eight squares and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Brush on milk or egg (mixed with the remaining tsp of vanilla) and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the tops turn golden.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Morning: Nearly Perfect Breakfast

Yum, soft boiled eggs, tangerines, toast with sweet lime jalapeno jelly and Tour de France tea (like Earl Grey but with jasmine added).  Plus a lovely interiors magazine.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been enjoying it on a sunny terrace on vacation in a foreign country.  Happy + relaxing Sunday to you!