Monthly Archives: July 2012

Music Monday

 

I’m dying over this song. I can’t wait for the full album to come out! I am also so very, very bummed that they are not coming to Phoenix on their tour… I am even considering going to LA to see them play because I want  to see them live so very much.

(At least Beach House will be in Tucson in September!!)

But for now, enjoy Sleeping Ute by Grizzly Bear. It is oh so very wonderful.

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All Wrapped Up

A little night at home:

1/ Learning how to mix a tasty cocktail
2/ Nectarines are harder to muddle than it looks, apparently
3/ It ain’t a date until someone starts burning something in the candle
4/ Taking the soon-departing roommate on a walk. He was so pumped!

Now it’s the weekend! Go out and play!

 

 

 

Egghead

True Story: I Love Eggs. Sunny-side-up, poached, scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, deviled… I really love eggs. My good friends from school will tell you that I ate an egg salad sandwich almost every day during my senior year of college. This is serious business. Very fortunately for me, I now have ten feathered roommates who love eggs just as much as me, if not even more.

Meet the chickens.

The chickens are pretty hard to photograph on an iPhone as they like to run around in that typical chicken way, so please excuse the blurry faces. They are good chickens, however, and I promise they have normal faces, not blurry faces. Our chickens are free-range, organic-fed, happy, blur-free chickens. And guess what?! They make so many delicious eggs!

Right now we have four grown up hens and six little guys. The little guys aren’t so little anymore, I suppose, as they are nearly the size of the grown ups and will likely start laying any day now. Probably when it cools down a little bit. I was pretty frightened of my new roommates at first. They really like to swarm at you and peck around your feet (and maybe on your feet if your shoelaces happen to look like worms). They make weird noises and puff up and act really angry and broody (ha ha get it? broody?) when, in reality, they’re actually quite docile and silly. I am starting to become quite fond of the chickens!

Our very biggest chicken, Mabus, is a monster of a hen. I have been practicing picking up the hens lately, and today it was my grand goal to get up the guts to pick up Mabus. It happened!

I don’t know why I am making that face. Mabus is a really nice chicken. We have meaner chickens than Mabus. She is arguably the loudest of the chickens, of course, but she’s really a very amiable creature. I had no reason to be making such a face at Mabus. Sorry, little hen.

As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs at our place. Oftentimes, we are swimming in so many eggs that we have no idea what to do with all of them. This is when we send out SOS texts to friends and family – “DO YOU NEED ANY EGGS RIGHT NOW??” This was the case right before we went to San Francisco. Right now, unfortunately, not so much. We’re pretty sure it’s just because of the intense heat we’ve got going on right now — most of the chickens’ energy is going to staying cool. In any case, we only get an egg or two every day which we greedily cook up on the same day.

Fresh eggs? Like… layed 10 minutes ago fresh eggs? Boy, let me tell you, they’re pretty delicious.

Inspired by my old friend and fellow blogger, Rebecca Yang of Yang with a Dash of Yin, who posted a delicious recipe the other day that I’ve been drooling over for some time, I decided to finally learn how to poach these eggs. Now, I’m someone who will order an Eggs  Benedict at any chance I can get these days, and typically end up paying a premium for delicious poached eggs. I was a little nervous to try to do it myself for the very first time, but…

…It went pretty well!

I poached them very quickly so that there was still a good amount of yolk in the middle, just how I like it. I found it was really, really easy… but Blaise tells me that I’m getting spoiled by learning how to poach eggs with such fresh eggs. I hear it is a little more difficult with store bought ones.

I am very proud of my first egg poaching experience. I served it on top of a potato hash that was also pretty simple:

2 potatos
1 green onion*
1 medium garlic clove*
small handful cherry tomatoes
basil*, salt, pepper, other spices (to taste)
olive oil -or- butter

*items were pulled from our garden!

Heat up a seasoned cast iron skillet while you peel and cut both potatoes. Throw them in and stir them around with a bit of the olive oil so they are all completely coated. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Cover. Let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the potatoes have had some solo time in the skillet, toss in the garlic and green onion. Continue to cook on medium, making sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan, but remembering that the potatoes really do need a good amount of sustained heat-time to soften. If it’s looking like the potatoes are mostly just getting brown and burn-y, throw in a little bit of butter or oil to help them stay soft. When the potatoes are just about done, chop up some cherry tomatoes and throw them in, too. I try to avoid putting tomatoes into my hashes or stir fries until the very end because they get pretty wrinkled and acid tasting as opposed to staying sweet and succulent.

Additional goodies to put in:

kale, spinach, or any other leafy green
mushrooms
peas
carrots and/ or parsnips
avocado
lean meats

or, as pictured above….

eggs.

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DSquared2 FW2012 Campaing Film by Mert and Marcus

This is basically what I will be wearing this fall.

An Outing

School is about to spring, so I’ve been making the most of my time.

A quick trip to World Market on 18th street and Camelback.

A dish like the one I saw at Gallo Blanco

Rows of delightful wine glasses

I seriously want a mortar and pestle to crush up all the herbs and spices I’ve been buying these days.

Shelves full of wonderful, foreign, overpriced items.

We also took a side trip to a Ocean Floor. I’m coming over to the fish tank idea. I really do want a pet, but fur and dander is really starting to be a turn off for me… especially with all the nice furniture we’ve been amassing over the last few weeks.

Little Neon Fishies! They swim too fast to get a good shot…

Big Fishies.

Strange faces

Pretty tanks.

Fish tanks could be pretty cool. And pretty mod… done right.

Just a thought!

Do you have any fish? Saltwater or fresh? Any advice?

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We Struck Gold!

It has been yet another excellent day out here, with a few unexpected twists and turns. Although I am sad to see my summer ending, I feel like today was the perfect capstone, complete with a triumph of huge proportions.

Blaise had a few antique shops he wanted to check out today – Zinnia’s being one of them. Although we keep running into fantastic mid-century modern end tables (mostly nesting or two-tiered tables), formica kitchen tables, bar stools, lamps, and various odds and ends, we’ve really had our heart set on the perfect couch. We’ve been able to visualize it, but mid-century couches have been very hard to come by at all. Either they are very, very expensive, or they are not quite right. Or, alternatively, they are nowhere to be found!

We have lately felt that we need to absolutely scour this city for its antiques and vintage items in order to find the right couch for the right place, which means that we can spend entire days dogging in and out of shops as far north as Cave Creek and as far east as Scottsdale, not to mention our uprooting of the entire Central Corridor (the Melrose District has been our little playground, lately).

The trouble with antiquing, however, is that despite having a vision for what you want or a certain era you are searching for, you always end up finding a great many other things that are also so very delightful.

For Example:

Excellent antique bottles that would be perfect for some of Blaise’s house made bitters… or moonshine!

Many, many perfect little mirror trays…

Turn Tables. You know how much I want (/need!) one of these.

Booths complete with all sorts of things you might imagine early Phoenix settlers to be using…

But you have to tune out all these distractions. None are mid-century modern, and none of them are a couch, either. However, there is the matter of neat mid-century mod things that you have to pause to admire.

Neat couch tables with floating nesting tables underneath. I think I might actually go back and get this one if it’s still at Switch next week…

Imitation Paul McCobb wine racks.

But we passed up on all of it. We were seriously on a couch mission today. Before each shop we entered, we began to whisper a little mantra: “our couch might be in there!” By early afternoon, we were definitely lagging. We went everywhere from Goodwill to Nest Interiors, from iConsign to upscale custom showrooms with no prices listed. Each place had its own little vibe – from darkly lit, densely packed warehouses to brightly colored showrooms. Our search took us through practically the entire spectrum today.

Cute and cluttered

vs.

Shiny new things

As we wound our way back into Central Phoenix, we were starting to feel a little dejected. It had been about two weeks of non-stop craigslisting, haunting antique stores, furniture dealerships, resale shops, etc. We had even talked about visiting junk yards for parts! I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find the right couch. Maybe our expectations were just too high, maybe all the good couches were already snapped up. I was ready to go home and take a break from all the couch hunting.

But Blaise suggested we stop at a little place called PHXUFO just for good measure.

The store wasn’t quite open yet, but the owner let us wander in anyway. I wasn’t entirely encouraged by the giant alien head out front. Could our mod couch possibly be in a place like this?! The owner (he was really quite friendly), allowed us to peak in his back workroom where he reupholsters and repairs the majority of the furniture that comes through the shop. While I don’t necessarily appreciate the fabrics he seemed to favor, it was clear that he did pretty great restorative work.

In the stuffy, crowded back room was a ton of neat chairs, bolts of fabric, and piles of foam. We glanced around and then…

…there it was.

In all its glory.

OUR COUCH!

Well… the frame anyway.

I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure what Blaise thought of it, so I sort of stood there and gaped at it for a few minutes. It was piled on top of a few other couch frames, upside down and a little dusty. But it was clearly what we had been looking for… the wooden arms, the peg legs, the straight lines. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Although I nearly blew the negotiations for how much we were willing to pay for it (c’mon, Cal, just play it cool, okay??), we ended up snagging this bad boy for a deal of a price. Although we could have also paid to have had it upholstered there at PHXUFO, we decided to take it elsewhere – or do it ourselves.

As we drove away, I felt a huge sense of relief wash over me. We counted out how many stores we’d stopped by between 10:30 and 2:30 today. It was fifteen. Fifteen. I can’t imagine how many dozens more we’ve been to in the last weeks. Although we now have our task cut out for us in attempting to make our own couch cushions, I’m just so relieved to have half the battle done. A couch! For us! Hooray!

And to be honest, I’m pretty excited to start shopping fabric. I’m thinking vanilla bean tweed (but I have a hunch that Blaise is thinking blue. Uh oh!).

 

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Weekend Photo Recap

It was a pretty excellent weekend. I’m now camped out in the bedroom, stuffed with good food, sun baked, and absolutely exhausted. Here is what we did.

Sunday morning, I made French Toast with the remainder of our bread and the last of our eggs. The secret to excellent French Toast batter, of course, is vanilla. Luckily, we had some homemade Scottish vanilla extract that fit just the bill.

We headed out to Home Depot for some more succulents and came out with these little guys and some stuffs to repair the credenza display we got the other day. I’m so excited to fill this place at every level with little terrariums! They are so nice looking and oh-so easy to maintain. We then went back to QCumberz for the second time in one week to look for a few table legs we’d seen sitting in the back. The tough thing about places like QCumberz and Charlie’s Corner is that they are filled top to bottom with neat little things I’d love to have.

The dishes with the blue flower pattern on them are the same as my mom’s casserole dishes. I keep seeing them in antique shops, which she says makes her feel old. Don’t worry, Mom! You’re not old! You just have cool dishes!

Corelle Corner! I want everything in vintage Corelle…

Curiosities everywhere. This picture makes me think of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I can’t believe he died this year…

When we got home, Blaise got to work re-staining the little display case he picked up the other day. After spending several hours on Saturday sanding it down and trying to mitigate weather damage, it was starting to look nice. He attached our newly purchased peg legs onto it later that night and voila! We had our very own mid-century modern credenza.

Monday was just as nice as Sunday, if that was possible. After a late breakfast, we headed off to lunch with Blaise’s grandmother and cousin, Elizabeth, who is in town from South Dakota. We ate at Gallo Blanco, one of our favorite haunts. I suppose I was a little selfish in my request to go to Gallo, because really, I just wanted to go swimming in the pool at The Clarendon after lunch…

Blaise and Elizabeth split some tacos. The above pictured was, I believe, octopus.

I stuck with a little lighter granola, yogurt, and fruit dish. I love that bowl so very much, too.  Here are some similarly-styled ones from Anthropologie…

And then there was much swimming! I love that little Phoenix bench over on the far side of the pool… what a neat logo my little city has.

It was largely a day of food, food, food, because as soon as lunch was done, we headed over to my parents’ place to start cooking dinner for them. They had just arrived back in town after a quick trip to Colorado, and I offered to make dinner for them so they didn’t have to worry about it on their first day back.

We decided we had all the makings for tacos, so we set to work mixing up some peppers, onions, ground beef, spices (i.e. cumin, cumin, cumin!), tomatoes, chilies, and a few scrambled eggs. I think they liked it.

After dinner, my mom took the both of us down to Zoyo for a bit of dessert. Always down for a bit of frozen yogurt.

Today was my last full day of summer. Tomorrow I will head back to school for the faculty potluck, and on Wednesday I will start “New Faculty Orientation” — even though I have already taught for a full semester. Next week will begin my school’s orientation and training, and before I know it, I will have a classroom full of living, breathing, students in front of me. Time flies by more quickly these days than it ever has before.

I am struck by how wonderful this summer has been. I have so many incredible people in my life, and I have been given such good opportunities over the past few months. I can’t be anything but grateful, to be honest. But for now, with the aforementioned full belly, I must turn off the computer and fall asleep. So many ladybugs to make tomorrow!

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Devil in the Details

Today saw a continuance of the little nesting spree I’m in, and to be honest, I’m sure it will continue for quite some time! I had a bunch of free time to catch up on little household tasks like dishes, laundry, and putting things away, and it was nice to see a tiny transformation around the place. Having three adults (and all their stuff!) packed into one apartment is a little tricky for now, but we’re making it work. In any case, it was nice to do a few things and spend a few hours feeling productive.

I’m still quite thrilled with our little table. My only complaints are that it seems to scratch easily, and as you can see in the window reflection in the photo below, our furry little roommates leave their white furs to wander and land ever so sweetly on the shiny table top. Nothing a damp rag can’t fix, however!

I’m starting to realize how important it is to put a little extra effort into small details. I’ve never been very good at accessorizing, or honing finer points, to be quite frank. It’s not that I don’t adore little accent pillows, quirky cabinet pulls, etc., I’m just so bad at picking them out for myself! Luckily, Blaise seems to be an expert at these sorts of things, and I’m slowly learning.

I’ve lately become quite obsessed with little trays (of which there are a-plenty at Goodwill!) and love arranging my jewelry and accessories on it.

Here’s a little black tray with enamel flowers (which you can’t really see underneath all the stuff!) that Blaise already had. I keep a few necklaces, my bracelets, and my rings on it.

This pretty mirrored tray might be my favorite, however. It’s quite perfect for housing little bottles so they don’t get cluttered around the top of the dresser. I found it yesterday at Charlie’s House (right next to Qcumberz)- a truly fantastic antique shop around the corner that is really reasonably priced as well!

The apartment itself is starting to come together really nicely. Over the last few weeks we’ve put up a few shelves, and Blaise has taken on the business of planting dozens of little succulent terrariums in glass containers. You can see on in the top photo of the table, but this one might be one of my favorites. It’s on one of the shelf units that we’ve just hung over the bed. I want more shelves! Tons more! More places to put neat things!

I love the vintage Vanity Fair men in their charming wears that are underneath our first shelf!

There’s still a ton left to do tonight alone, not to mention the many, many days coming up that will be full of lots of work. I can’t wait to get my hands into the dirt in the garden, too! Oh boy I’m having so much fun thinking about what I want to plant, i.e., what I want to eat come harvest time. But it’s rainy slightly outside, so I suppose I’m stuck inside folding laundry. Ah well, clean laundry was never a bad thing, I guess!

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A Grey Day

So it’s not really a grey day here, but it’s as close as you can get in Phoenix. Mostly, we have taupe days. Or beige days. Tan, languid, sanguine days. It gets dusty, a little blustery, and everything seems to be coated in a slight sepia haze. If Phoenix were one giant instagram photo, it would be in the “Sierra” filter. That’s hipster speak for “it is really gross outside.”

Despite the home improvement swing I’m in, I’m starting to feel staid. I’m ready for school to begin. However, I still have so much lesson planning to do! I’m a little nervous. I do have a great book to work through – Art in Story – that seems promising. I also have a cute little book for teaching the elements of art to young students that I’ll use for my ECE classes. So much to do, so little motivation – and yet so much anticipation and excitement.

There’s a potluck for faculty next Tuesday, and I think I’ll make these guys to take with me.

They’re actually pretty simple, and a lot of fun to make. Grab a Ritz cracker and spread some goat cheese (or some equally delicious, spreadable cheese – even cream cheese would work!) on it. Quarter a cherry tomato, and arrange two of the quarters like the little wings. I tend to deviate from the above picture, when I also quarter a black olive (the above uses a whole olive) and use one of the curved ends as the head. I use a toothpick to drill two little holes into the olive, and fit in small (less than 1″) clippings of chives therein. Then I use a little bit of black icing for the dots. If you are truly ambitious, you can use a smooth pesto paste for the dots, but I find that that the icing adds a bit of unexpected sweetness (but not too much!).

I feel it’s a good potluck item for an art teacher to bring. Just creative and cute enough! I imagine a lot of people will bring potato salads or cakes or cupcakes (yawn!). Potlucks require strategy… people want yummy, filling things that are easy to grab with their hands. For example, as much as I love pie, it’s just not good for potlucks! Far too messy!

So I suppose the moral of the story is that I am, in fact, excited for school to start. Even if I have to take baby steps – like preparing tasty ladybugs for the faculty potluck – it will be nice to return to routine-world. Ha! Just you wait, world, it will be a few short weeks before I will truly miss my free-wheeling summer lifestyle!

For now, I shall blog away at Lux, sipping on a hand crafted cocktail made by newly-minted bartender, Titus, and reading SPIN magazine’s latest issue. Boy that Bethany Cosentino is some piece of work! Cocktails in the late afternoon, you ask? Well, what else am I supposed to do on a grey day?

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Nesting

Now that I’ve moved in with Blaise, we’ve taken on the task of rearranging, redecorating, refurnishing the place and making it new. We’ve spent a lot of time hunting on craigslist, local vintage and antique shops, ebay, etc., searching for the perfect mid-century modern furniture (think Eames / Herman Miller / Mad Men even though we [gasp!] don’t watch it). Just the other day, we found the most darling credenza that we snatched up for a really great price, and yesterday we drove up to Sun City West to grab a terrific, tall chrome-edged bar table and three tall chairs to go with it. It looks so fantastic!

We’re still on the lookout for hutches, bookshelves, more (at least one?) credenzas, and most specifically, a couch. I suppose my dream couch would be from Thrive, but that’s a little out of our price range these days. Sigh! There are also a few nice things from Ikea, but they are in the upper-mid range of our price bracket, and I figure that if we’re going to spend that much money, we should really hold out for something antique that we can get for a steal of a price. I’m not the biggest fan of Ikea — it’s got some great stuff, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t have that durability factor that I really crave.

A few wants:

ImageWhat a gorgeous credenza…. I could own a warehouse of these guys and never have enough!

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Exactly what we got for the kitchen!

Image

ImageI so want something like this to keep all our dishes in!

It’s going to take a while to get everything the way we want it to be. Gutting, cleaning, painting, wallpapering (I would love to cover a wall in this or this!) , hanging new lights, organizing, installing this that and the other thing… it’ll be a huge task! And I haven’t yet started to talk about the garden!

And as quickly as I check the clock to see what time it is today, I realize that my summer vacation is quickly slipping away. Sigh! Classes will start again so very, very soon and I’ll have to return to adult-world. I’m learning a lot about time management these days, but it’s still so very hard to get everything done in just one day!

All in due time, I suppose. Including all these home improvements!

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