Friday, November 27, 2009

This Year's Thanksgiving

In photos...

Jesse in the kitchen.

He made Poached Pear Tart with Chocolate Ganache... oh my word.

I made cranberry apple cider. I just love how cranberries float.

The spread of food (after we demolished half of it.) Homebaked bread, corned beef, green beans, mashed potatoes....mmm!

Suki wanted some, too.

Our Post-Dinner walk, to make room for leftovers.

We found a bridge, and drank hot chocolate!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

Thanksgiving is sneaking in on me this year. It seems like it was just Halloween! Thanksgiving is always that weird holiday that is a big deal, but no one's quite sure why. Sure, we're all thankful that the Pilgrims survived to be fruitful and multiply, but half of us came in on a later boat anyway. And we also know that the pilgrims and Native Americans didn't have the best of relations, no matter what our 5th grade school play tells us.
So it's become this strange family celebration that centers around food, and the awkward tradition of announcing what you're thankful for. But since it's always fun to eat, and it's good to be thankful for things, I won't argue. Instead, I'll remember a few Thanksgivings that stick out to me.

1) I'm about 12 or so, and it was just my parents and I for Thanksgiving that year. We'd decided to do something different, so we had gone to the library to get cookbooks from another country, and make a cultural feast. That year it was Mexico--the next it was France. The tradition only lasted 2-3 years, but I remember always being so very excited with what we could come up with.

2) I'm in college, and everyone is home for the holidays. Thanksgiving is generally a day to sleep in and veg until it's time to eat, but for some reason my parents decide it's a great idea to do our town's Turkey Trot--a 5k race way too early on Thanksgiving. Since they threatened no food unless we did it, I bundled myself up and flailed my way to the finish line. You know that terrible feeling of being out of shape plus being in cold weather? The feeling of your lungs giving out on you? That year, I was thankful I survived.

3) 2007. I'm in Prague, Czech Republic, teaching English. This memory has two parts, really. Part 1 includes the actual day of Thanksgiving, where my roommate and I got locked out of our apartment and had to borrow metro money and coats from the old Czech lady next door to find someone to unlock it.  You know what we were thankful for.... 
Part II is where we celebrated our very own American Thanksgiving with a lot of English teachers stuck in a country that doesn't do Thanksgiving. We pulled out a potluck feast complete with turkey, casseroles, veggies, and my new tradition of making kolaches!

4) 2008: my first Thanksgiving with Jesse and his family. I was introduced to all sorts of new "traditional" food like apricot balls, chick-lets, tried a couple new recipes of my own, and continued my kolache-making tradition. Plus, Jesse and I struck gold with the leftovers and went home with our next 25 meals. Score!

So, those are just a few that stand out in my mind. It's funny, I don't really remember strong, solid, Thanksgiving traditions. We seemed to change it up every year depending on who was there, who was vegetarian, and where we were. My Thanksgiving requirements are being around good people, with good food, and maybe getting to see some of the Macy's parade. Then, putting up decorations and turning on holiday music, because it's Christmastime!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Pattern

I just bought a new pattern today, and I'm so very excited for it to arrive in the mail. It's from Colette Patterns--made by a local Portlander with an eye for vintage style.

I just love the style:

Isn't it fantastic?

I'm quite excited to work with a real pattern. So far I've been using Burda Style, which is wonderful (not to mention free. no arguments here), but you have to tape together the pattern pieces and the instructions never make sense. This pattern comes with a little instruction booklet. So high quality! I paid a high price for it, but it's supposed to be cherished and used again. And why not have one pattern like that, especially such a cute one? I've been working with peanuts for awhile, time to move up in the world. And I'm not sure what that peanuts metaphor extends to, so I won't even try...

I like the model in white, but I'm not sure how often I'd wear a white dress, so I'm thinking of other colors. My current idea: a light periwinkle blue, with the yoke and waist a salmon-red color? I love that combination so much!

Any ideas or thoughts?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apartment Pictures

So, at last, we finally got our apartment cleaned up enough to take some pictures! Hooray! Much rejoicing! Here's a little tour...

Ikea shoeholder bench and cat:


Across from kitchen:

Looking from kitchen:

Dining room/nook/area:

Across from dining area:

Living room:

Bedroom with sliding door:

Closet area:

Then the bathroom has a second entrance on the left of the closet.

Cat in camouflage. 

The end! Hope you enjoyed the little tour. We enjoy being here!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sickness and Health. And Netflix.

It's been a sickly week for us, which is no fun at all. But amidst the piles of kleenex, mugs, water glasses, disposable thermometers, and blankets, we have discovered a new love: Netflix Watch It Instantly.
There is a whole plethora of movies and tv shows ready to been seen right away, with just a click of a button. This is amazing news to those as couch-ridden and slightly delirious as Jesse and I were. Here are a couple picks from our "recently watched" list.

1) The Incredible Hulk. This was Jesse's. I can't explain it. Apparently it's amazing, but it's really just some guy painted green with crazy bushy hair.

2) She's All That. Mine. I admit. Oh, Freddie Prinze Jr. Although for some reason I remember it being a lot better... 10 Things I Hate About You still wins in my book.

3) 30 Rock. Love this show! There's nothing better to watch when you're sick than a ridiculously funny show about ridiculous people. Plus, Tina Fey is awesome.

4) Ferngully. Again, mine. I admit. I remember this movie striking a strong "Save the Rainforest" vein in me when I was 7. Strangely enough, it had the same effect on me today...

5) Jim Gaffigan Stand Up Comedy. So, so funny... I fell into a feverish sleep about halfway through this, but what I did see was hilarious. *Hot Pockets*...

So, there's our Top Five Netflix to Watch When You're Sick.

Hopefully you don't have to utilize it anytime soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Blues Skirt

It was a Monday again... and what a Monday. Yesterday was kind of a bum day at work, then I came home to find Jesse very sick, and our place a mess, and nothing to eat...
But last night as Jesse vegetated on the couch I sewed, sewed, sewed, and managed to finish my new work skirt! I call it my Monday Blues Skirt. Since, you know, it's blue. And I wore it on a Monday. I'm very creative, I know.

Please note that the glass in the background is Ginger Ale, not wine. I already have enough problems sewing--I don't need to add more risk.

 The skirt pattern is a free pattern from Burda Style, called the Marie skirt. It's kind of a tulip or bubble skirt, with a high waist. I am a bit addicted to the Burda Style patterns, but I think it's out of convenience more than anything else. The instructions really leave you in the lurch a lot of the time. On the plus side, I have to kind of make up half the process, which makes me feel like I'm a designer. Sort of.

Here it is, all finished! I really like how it turned out. I wore it to work today, and felt so professional. I also wanted to blurt out that I had made it to everyone I saw. (I managed to only say it once. I was very reserved and professional.)

 Here I am gazing out our balcony, as I so often do right before work on freezing cold days. Also, you can see my new haircut in this picture! I like it very much. It feels very polished.
High waisted skirts are very fun, but you have to be careful. The addition of a simple cardigan turns it from "naughty secretary" to "dull librarian" instantly.
Making this skirt solved my sewing slump, though. I feel so inspired now that I actually finished something! And wore it! And loved it! I am quite happy. Quite happy indeed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sewing Tragedy

So, I've been frustrated in my sewing lately. Mostly it's because I haven't had much time, with starting a new job, then moving and packing everything up, then trying to unpack and get set up again. But I've been working on a dress from Burda Style called "Coffee Date Dress." It's a super cute pattern, and I got this great dark grey fabric that I thought would be perfect for work. Especially with a cute navy cardigan.

So, I started cutting and sewing a few weeks ago, and it was going great. I got the skirt part down before we had to pack up, and it was looking really good. So the other day I dug my sewing stuff out and got all excited to work on the dress again. I remembered, though, that I hadn't washed the fabric, so I thought I'd throw it in the washer to get it all nicely shrunk and ready to sew again.

I didn't realize, though, that Jesse had used the washer to bleach some white shirts of his, and apparently there was just a tiny bit left over, because it got all over my nice gray fabric! And of course that fabric was the only thing in the wash that got it. Grr...

It got hit pretty bad, so I thought "Fine. I'll just bleach the whole thing, and have a lighter colored dress." Yeah...didn't quite work that way. Take a look:

The fabric on the right is the original stuff--it's a nice, shiny, quality dark gray. The fabric on the left is what's left of the bleached stuff. Not only did it completely wash the color out to a faded denim look, there are still random dark and light spots everywhere! It's very sad... I might be able to salvage it into a rocker-chick style skirt, but that was not my original vision. I really wanted a nice gray dress for work!! And now I'm left with a sad strange mess.  Oh, bleach, you devil, you.

So now I feel all stunted with my sewing. I have another skirt pattern I want to start, and a shirt I still need to finish, but first I feel like mourning the loss of this dress. It would have been so chic and cute. Goodbye, Coffee Date Dress in dark gray that would have looked great with my blue cardigan.
I'll miss you.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I love soup. So much. So very, very much. It is warm and flavor-bursting and delicious and yummy. As the dust jacket of my newest soup cookbook says, soup is "the ultimate comfort food."

This new soup cookbook was given to me by my dear friends Nat and Andrea (I'm suspecting it was mostly Andrea, but I have nothing to back this up) for our wedding. It's called The Daily Soup Cookbook, and is chock full of really good recipes for an entire plethora of soup-cooking. It divides the soups out into main ingredients, like Corn, Lentil and Pea, Rice, Cheese, and so on. It also throws in extra little sections like Movies to Rent While You Eat Soup, Periodic Table of the Soups, and Things to Do With Leftover Soup.

Apparently Daily Soup is a great little soup place in New York City. I didn't know this because 1) I've never been to New York, 2) Portland is very far away from New York, and 3) I think my degrees of separation with New York is like 4. Meaning I don't know anyone who lives there.

But I guess they make good soup, because the cookbook is fantastic. They have really simple recipes all the way up to making your own stock. So far we've tried Greek Tomato with Orzo, Mexican Cheese, and tonight's meal: Corn, Red Pepper and Zucchini Chowder. Of the three, I think tonight's was definitely the winner. (It was also the only one Jesse made. Should I read into that too much?)

 It had been a long day at work, and I came home to find Jesse almost done making it, so the smell was overbearingly delicious. It was a perfect thick chowdery soup for a chilly day like today, and a perfect amount of vegetables for right after Halloween. My sugar-stuffed body appreciated those healthy veggies. Way to go, new cookbook (and Jesse). Thanks for giving us a winner!

Perhaps a trip to New York City should be in the works now. I mean, if the soup WE made was that good, imagine what professionals could do! I want to go to that place.

Also, since we've had clear weather lately, the moon was really pretty tonight, so here's a bonus picture. I'm still withholding indoor pictures of our apartment on account of an excessive amount of mess.

a little ridiculous, old-school, and oh so stylish