1. The door knobs are so old and lovely. This one looks a bit green as the bathroom is currently an unsavory key lime pie green, however this fall that shall change! 2. Joel's parents gave me this chair as a wedding gift. It was made in Paris in the 1940's. It's like a story book only furniture 3. LOVE love LOVE my dutch oven! It's so much fun to cook in and makes everything taste like a secret recipe 4. We are the proud owners (or at least renters) of a claw foot tub. 5. Joel found this box in Mexico and then bought me a French flag for the apartment so it'd feel more like home 6. Old school light switches, they make turning the lights on so much more fun 7. I've never actually had a moscow mule, but the cups are just so lovely! One day I'll make them, but until then I enjoy sipping water from these copper beauties.
Hello B! My I've been terrible lately! So sorry. I have - however- been enjoying your posts! So so much! Your Nomadic Messes post pretty much sums up this past bit since May. After getting married I moved in with Joel and then we moved again on August first. Typing that date I now realize we've only been in here 18 days - so I feel a bit better. But there has been a stubborn pile of boxes lining the hallway. No matter how many times we sort thru them they just keep sitting there, I'm convinced they've tripled in size even though I've thrown more than half of the stuff away. Tonight we were determined to get rid of every last box, tossing out family heirlooms along with the rest just to be done with it. We piled everything in the truck and drove off to Goodwill.
We rolled up in the old white truck, it was Joel's grandpa's and I love it. Several men were loading up the days intake. We parked and Joel got out. One of the guys said sorry we close at 8. ( Please note that it was 8:01 and the website said they closed at 9). Joel very politely asked if he could load the items in one of the crates they were filling. All of a sudden an angry middle aged man ran up and said, "we closed." Joel again kindly asked and explained how the website said otherwise. "We closed. I work 12 hours. CLOSED," he yelled. Joel got back in the truck but before we could drive off I swung the door open and walked over to this middle aged, balding, some what muscular man. " There is no excuse to be so rude. I work in a customer service position and I understand you are tiered but you can't speak to people like that." I turned around and stomped back to the car. "We closed, " rang out behind me. I know I know - I should control my temper. But there is really no reason to be so rude. Anyway we drove down the street and dropped all the items of at Value Village and they gave us a $3 dollar coupon. I may be avoiding Goodwill for a little while. So there's my story for the day.
making: lists of the updates I'd like to make in the apartment. I was going to try and photograph them and show them to you. I still may. It includes a new system for storing our clothes. I'm thinking we'll make pipeline book shelves and put metal baskets on them. Re-painting the whole place - currently an undecided mocha but I think cream will help keep it bright in the winter. Painting the kitchen cupboards and putting knew knobs on the doors. Oh and making a shower curtain. We have a brilliant claw foot tub but shower curtains that cater to that size are hard to find and typically pretty expensive.
seeing: The empty spaces we cleared out tonight. Good riddance!
tasting: Iced cranberry juice. It's really refreshing but oh so sour. This summer I've been so sensitive to the heat it's laughable. After living on a tropical island for the formative years of my childhood you'd think I'd be well adjusted. But it's been really humid hear. I've become an expert at keeping cool and even sunk to putting ice in my drinks. Very un-french. I know.
hearing: The fan humming away against the still of the night.
feeling: Sleepy but happy to be finally back to the blog
reading: So many good books I can't wait to post about. But this one I have to share right now. Hyperbole and a Half - it started as a blog and became a book. The covers tag line reads " unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happen." I just love her! The book is pretty cynical but oh so clever. There are also some pretty poignant parts. I was going to share one of those but instead here's what she wrote on her back cover. You'll understand why I love her!
loving: Fun summer things. A blog post to follow on this soon. It includes playing cards in the park when your apartment get's too hot because it's on the top floor which is what you always wanted and you love about it - but also make for quite an oven. Oh and also our new apartment. Pictures soon.
watching: I am ashamed to type this - but honesty honesty. Joel and I have been binge watching Entourage. It's based in LA and is basically about four guys from Queens who make it in LA without becoming "LA." That's why I was asking you what you thought about the people in LA. It's Joel's favorite show. I begrudgingly watched the first season then one day I was home sick and made it through the second season. So there you have it.
anticipating: Being settled into our new little home.
By the time you read this we will be halfway across the country soaking up Chicago and all the places and people that we love there. Chicago was really hard to get used to (such a culture shock between there and the PNW) but it was also our first home together. So that makes it very important. Obviously. After a long weekend there we will cross the rest of the country by TRAIN! I am thrilled about that, to say the least.
Anyways! Here are just a few of the things I cannot wait for:
The 66 bus: I know it’s weird and some would argue, mildly Stockholm Syndrome-y, but I just love that bus!
Gin & tonics with my amazing friend Karin and her family…including the tiniest one that I cannot wait to meet! I love being with them because they just envelope you into their own everyday life (which is beautiful)!
Star Lounge: that back patio… reading the Onion and the Reader… iced coffee on tap…
A certain game of freeze tag (with a monster twist, I’m told) that I’ve been promised by the sweetest, most excited boys ever! Also I can’t wait for them to take me around all our old stomping grounds!! (the dirt park, which apparently isn’t so dirty anymore! Maybe even our secret park!)
Alley walking through Ukrainian Village.
Krystal: the best neighbor ever…. We’ve seen so much of her since we moved which is just how friendships should be! (also I have some amazing little presents for her that I cannot wait to give)
And countless other people and places! Chicago was very hard to acclimate to (not just because of the winters) … it was such a culture shock between there and the PNW… but it was also our first home. Aw shucks.
making: lists of things to do in Richmond--you know, to light the winter nights.
seeing: my suitcase and shoulder bag stuffed to the gills yet, incredibly, clasped tight.
tasting: almond butter from the jar...again. I should really diversify my lunches but you got to empty the cupboards before moving so diverse lunches will be part of what lights my winter... and fall.
hearing: old Armenian men talking casually and loudly to each other. Also a little boy calling down the steps to his grandmother, "where are you going?!" "A la farmacia!" "where???" "La farmacia!" "oh" "good bye, mi amor!" ...it was heart meltingly sweet. Oh and Charlotte Gainsbourg... so no english at all in fact!
feeling: belly full of wiggles cause I'm excited to leave LA but a bit sad to leave my lone summer! I realized yesterday that apart from a few days of visitors I never met or hang out with a single soul other than Jesse all summer long. So wonderful! Also the holes in my shoes.
reading: Doris Lessing's Four Gated City... I oddly had never thought of her apart from her short story, Sunrise on the Veld, from freshman English class. I am so glad to have discovered her novels... I'm not very far into it but it's lovely so far. And the copy is soft and dog eared and the beautiful 70's paperback covers I love... also it's proper tome sized... like five or six inches thick and was only 3 dollars at my favorite bookstore in LA. It's technically the last in it's series but the first in the series was less than an inch thick and twice as much so I decided that I've never really let order rule me in the past and that I have a long flight and a 20 hour train ride coming up and I really need something good and long to keep me busy. Aside from Finnegan's Wake.... and all the other books my mom brought. I like to travel large as far as books go.
loving: our nomadic life... and the pleasurable thrill of not knowing where in the world we'll be in nine months... and yet having a place to burrow for a winter again is wonderful too. (I know its just the beginning of August and that I am setting myself up to be bitterly disappointed by finding the hottest bits of the southern summer yet to come in Richmond... but the summer feels over in so many other ways!)
watching: To The Wonder... now I hated Tree of Life vicerally and passionately and still do. So I didn't even consider watching this movie until we finished all our shows and it somehow popped up on my radar. So I read the spoilers for it and decided it may, possibly, be a different breed of movie. And it was. And is. Terrance Malick is still weirdly obsessed with spinning women but this woman is darker and moodier and a far deeper and vaster being then anyone in Tree of Life (to be fair Ben Affleck and whoever that other girl is in this movie are pretty terrible...thankfully they are so bland they are easy to ignore). Also I want Olga to narrate my life. In French. No subtitles.
anticipating: our TRAIN RIDE!!!! seriously... I am like a little boy about trains. Maybe cause of my rail riding, Oakie of a grampie (you know, like, maybe it's in my blood?)... or maybe because people who don't get thrillingly excited by a train lead soulless and sad existences... or maybe they just didn't read enough British mysteries growing up. That's it. Because Jesse (probably due to his very recent twenty five hour bus ride...I keep telling him trains cannot even compare to greyhound busses) is the opposite of excited and I know for a fact his life is not sad... I mean, I am his WIFE!
1. The laundry room is nice and cool...plus I love the filtered light streaming in. 2. too hot to do much else... also we (our airbnb host actually) got an eviction warning for having us there so we tend to hide out in the bedroom where we won't be able to hear anyone who may knock! 3. again in the laundry room... I love empty chairs. I had a big problem collecting too many of them in Chicago. Now I try to just photograph them instead of schlep them home. (the things studio living has taught me!!) 4. A good picture of happy married life... reading side by side. (He is actually reading most of the time that it looks like he's on his phone) 5. also we play lots of cards, still! And drink gin cocktails and Newcastle respectively. And my mom brought me a beautiful copy of Finnegan's Wake... and Jesse openly laughed at me when I stated I intended to read it. And justly so.... what a joke. Anyways we are now reading it aloud to each other and laughing at it .... and mocking it. Although it does sound nice reading aloud. Jesse meticulously pronounces each word whereas I read it quickly and fluently and skip some/many syllables. My reading makes more sense. It sums up our general reading styles too.... he reads slowly and probably gets much more out of (normal) books but I definitely have him beat in sheer volume. It's something I've noticed about english majors.... we non english majors tend to read way more... I think it has something to do with reading for pleasure instead of school. School kills natural delights. 6. And the last view of our car! say goodbye! She is acing her smog test... we discovered after trying to sell her for a week that the reason no one was buying her was due to California's ridiculous emissions standards and they were all convinced that there was no way an '89 Lincoln could pass. HA. We showed them. The '80s was a great decade for cars. The greatest. I was weeping openly in the coffee shop looking at '90s-present cars. They repulse me. Sorry Jesse.
So Chelle! Here are all the reasons for my radio silence this past week! I hope your week is treating you like a champ! Also let's see more apartment details! I am so thrilled that you moved into a light filled place. Darkness is the worst.
I am kind of in (platonic) love with this man: The Brazilian guy who is buying all the records in the world. His listening library is such a beautiful plan!! I hope to go someday. Also I want to work for him. Maybe in May we'll move to Brazil. I have such a lot to say about collections that I should probably save for another post. So more later!
We are just starting our last week here in Los Angeles... we are trying to sell our car (hopefully that will happen tomorrow!!) and making travel plans for getting to the other coast with a stop over in the middle to see our Chicago peoples!
Lately I've been looking at Mieke Verbijlen's beautiful interior photography and wishing we were back in our beautiful (styled by us) apartment rather than our not so beautiful (styled by someone else) Airbnb. But what I really appreciate about her work is how she captures her friend's homes exactly as they are... mess, people living in them and all. It's much more of a "storybook" style interior photography.... and as you know storybook is the highest praise coming from me!
So here is the place we are staying...complete with the piles of clothes that are inevitable when one lives out of a suitcase (or in Jesse's case, a backpack), piles of books due to no internet and my speed reading habits, pink tiles that most people have torn out by now, no counter space, and literally mountains of clay and plaster. Our host is a graduate student in art school.... There is one narrow walkway that is actually supposed to be the living room but due to the layers of furniture (shelves, then tables, then boxes stacked right up against each other) it's approximately four feet wide!!
We love traveling around but there comes a point when you just can't wait to slide a cake into your own oven and sit around your own little table drinking your own homemade coffee and frothy cashew milk! And, at just the right time, we want all that!
It's so funny because it seems like people think being married is like a switch - you just suddenly turn it on and hey presto you're married. Everything changes. All at once. I am actually enjoying what I think should be called the process of being married - even thought that doesn't sound quite as romantic. Maybe the experience.
The best analogy I have for it at the moment is changing my name. Initially I though it was something that just happened when you got married. Like by signing the marriage license my name would magically change. It turns out that's not the case. So I thought about it the first month after getting married, found a website that gave me all the paper work I needed for a small fee during the second month, spent an hour or so figuring out all I would need.... and here we are three months later. But it's fine. It's a process that takes time - it doesn't just happen over night.
It's still really funny to me that I look down and see two rings on my finger, or that I fall asleep next to the man, or that we sit on the couch of an evening and chat and no longer have to worry about driving home. All good things. Just all gradual things I'm sure I'll get used to one day. I didn't realize all the little things that would still just feel new and fresh and I like that.
Anyway I was just thinking about that and wanted to try and put it into words but wasn't exactly sure what I was trying to say.
Looking forward to the weekend! Sleeping in, sunshine, ice coffee, books, and I think just spending time at home settling into the new apartment.
I want to try the sensory thing... I'll give it a go tomorrow
making: Does editing photos count as making? Also all morning I've been hard at work curating a new Pandora station (A Sufjan one.... I'm quite proud of it actually....it's all about the thumbs down).
seeing: ....well the screen...
smelling: the detangler in my hair.... I sprayed it in then never got around to brushing it...
tasting: spoonfuls of cashew butter...left here by my mom!
hearing: "Leaves in the River" by Sea Wolf... a real storybook song
feeling: sad for my old church, Mars Hill.... so sad.
reading: "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath but I'm reserving the right to not finish it if it becomes too depressing to me.
loving: seeing Jesse's empty beer next to me. And that Newcastle Brown Ale is his favorite ...cause, you know, it's British, and darkish, smells good, has a well designed label and great advertising!
watching: The Americans.... it's a weird show to recommend....which is probably why not many people do....it makes me like the KGB a bit too much for Jesse's comfort. He reminds me regularly why that's a bad idea and that the Cold War is the not so distant past and that just cause I like Putin's name doesn't make him a good guy. So bearing all that in mind, it's a gorgeous show! So stunningly well filmed, casted, costumed and styled. And calmly yet remorselessly intense (I know those are all contradictory but they are all true!).
anticipating: being in Chicago in one week! And seeing my not so baby boys! And all our other friends there and our church! And, you know, Chicago...
I think I've mentioned before how much I love the concept of a town square... and how sad it is that that concept is becoming more and more foreign here in the states and even in Europe. But the other day I stumbled on this park that gave me some hope for it! It's a few blocks from where we are staying, but I'd avoided it because it's almost invisible from the street.
I saw some steps and decided to climb them because I had time to kill and they took me to this boarded up (albeit beautiful) building... and I'd walked by more than the normal amount of homeless men and it was starting to get towards evening so I was feeling a bit uneasy walking around with my camera. I was about to turn around but then I saw a dad teaching his son to skateboard...heart-meltingly adorable! I asked for a photo....see how bashful the boy got then he started showing off! Then just as I turned to head back down the steps I was arrested by that view! Look at the perfect picture with not one but two iconic Hollywood sights! Because Los Angeles is so vast, I felt like I'd discovered something very rare and precious. I looked around more and realized there were tons of cars parked so there had to be more people somewhere so I followed the sound of a distant boom box and, at the top of another flight of stairs, I found this gorgeous pine (I think?) grove... complete with adorable couple deep in conversation. There is a cloister like walkway, an old mansion, several grassy slopes on all sides of the hill with shady trees and these iron chairs that you can move wherever you desire to sit! And on the east slope of the hill there's a row of art studios that host classes for all ages all year round. So yes... I had found something very rare and precious... Barnsdall Art Park! A gathering place for all on top of a hill. Since then we have been back several times for picnics and cards and sunsets and cocktails.
I was just listening to this story from WBEZ this morning while I was doing the dishes... I love that these brave souls are going out and trying to create this kind of community in South Chicago. A place to hang out on the street or in parks literally involves risking your life because of the gangs. The women from a few different churches set up on a street corner every Saturday with jump ropes and hula hoops and create, right then and there, in the most dangerous parts of the most dangerous city in the states, a town square for that not only spreads community but more importantly, the Gospel! Such a simple concept and yet, because of its rarity, startling enough to catch the attention of the public radio station!
Oh my goodness your posts have been lovely! Sorry for the absence we were in the midst of moving last week and I kept trying to snag a few pictures and get a post up - but alas here it is Sunday night and I'm scrolling through my phone trying to find some pictures that sum up the past week.
Well we moved. Hurra! Just from downstairs to the third floor - so still in our lovely old building. We only had one evening to move and clean the apartment as someone was moving out of the one we were moving into and someone was moving into our old one all within 48 hours. How confusing. Anyway we had a great group of friends show up and move all our stuff (oh do we love our books, boxes and boxes of them) in an hour. We then popped some champagne and spent a last evening on our little patio. We exchanged that for a fire escape and a view. Worth it in my opinion.
In other news Seattle has been so hot lately - which is rather uncommon, the muggy sort of hot. This evening we had to dash out of church in the midst of the last few songs and walk through the frozen food section of our grocery store to stop the heat exhaustion from fully defeating me. Yes I do love to be dramatic.
All that to say I love you and I miss you and I'll be writing you more and more with pictures of fire escapes, kitchen cabinets, and the usual array of everyday life from up here in Seattle (and the 3rd floor)
I have seen this kind of post on a few blogs (especially a friend from Chicago's blog, thanks Kirsten!) and I was stuck at home with no internet yesterday so I scribbled this up (after trying to edit photos but ending up watching that swirly rainbow swirl on my computer till the battery died... ya... I was suuuuper productive. Oh and then I fell asleep waiting for my phone to charge. Some days are better than others).
Making: coldbrew, fennel salad and plum gin cocktails (both in jars for "happy hour" at the park)
Seeing: tops of palm trees, tops of skyscrapers, orange and fig trees (not ripe sadly)
Smelling: ripe fruit (we need to eat that before the fruit flies come!), pesto sausages
Tasting: ice tea (NOT sweet tea...gag)
Hearing: Coeur de Pirate, sizzling sausages, air conditioner unit, two week old baby crying across the stairs, old lady cleaning a cast iron skillet in next apartment (lots of sounds around here....it's a very lived in building)
Reading: "Right Ho, Jeeves" --growing up the boys and I watched the Masterpiece Theatre series with Hugh Laurie and Stephan Fry... I'm pretty sure they used the books word for word. So much fun to read and have Hugh Laurie's voice in my head.
Watching: Welcome to Sweden--this is excellent so far! Besides being gorgeous (scenery, design, etc), it basically feels like your watching the product of Amy Poehler and Aubrey Plaza hanging out over a bottle of wine (or maybe whiskey?). I don't know if Aubrey has any contribution besides acting but it definitely sounds like her. This reminds me! The past two weeks we've gone to the weekly free Asscat show just a little ways down the street from us... so much fun (once we're in... the hour and a half wait in line is a bit grueling. We stood in line three weeks in a row and only saw the show twice. Very popular. Very.)
Anticipating: more "happy hours" in the park (perfect for end of summer budget...) we went last night and had secret cocktails in jars (I love being back in a normal state where you can get perfectly adequate gin from Trader Joe's for 6.99!). We watched the sunset and played round after round of Mexican Poker and discussed the importance of hanging out together every possible moment. Cause we love each other. And can't think of a nicer way to pass our lives.
Plummy Gin Picnic Cocktail
1 pour of gin
2 pours of sweet vermouth
1/2 plum (very ripe)
dash of honey water
Mix a half table spoon of honey with about a half inch of water and simmer over the stove for about a minute, maybe less...just until the honey disappears. Set aside to cool. If you are making these in a jar for easy transport skip the ice (store in freezer until ready to leave). Pour the gin and vermouth into the jar. Next slice the plum over the jar (so you don't lose any of the drippy juices!) and drop a few slices in whole. Take the other slices and squeeze them over the jar and then drop them in too. Add the honey water, to taste. And lastly, fill the jar up with soda water and pop it into the freezer!
I think this would be delicious with some crushed thyme but I didn't have any on hand.
1. a fashion building (see the spools in the windows?) that I wouldn't mind living in. 2. I really don't know why people from LA hate downtown so vehemently... just look around you! So much more beautiful then the much praised West LA. The beach is alright but the architecture and streets kill my soul. 3. And an alleyway!!! with fire escape upon fire escape!
There is a steady stream of people flowing and rushing past at the top of the Metro station in Downtown LA. It seems like me and the old man panhandling across the sidewalk from me are the only ones capable of standing still. I bring a book to read while I stand there waiting (I just finished this one and I am still mourning it's ending... not because of it's sadness but because I always hate to end a real book like this). Guys are less likely to hassle you if you're very obviously reading.... it doesn't always work but if they do try and talk to you you have a really good reason to ignore them.
A girl alone in LA is a magnet for guys hassling and hitting on you. Some of the choicest examples:
- [in the book section of Goodwill] "MOM! Mom!" Mom?"
- [My face registers nothing, I continue staring at the books]
-"MOM? ---huh. THAT didn't work..." [he turns and walks away]
- [also in the book section of Goodwill a few minutes later] "Can you read THAT?!"
-"How long does it take you?!"
-"I don't know, I haven't read it yet..."
-"I have NEVER finished a book!"
-"HEY! [right in my face] You did your hair like a UKRAINIAN!"
-[elevator door mercifully shuts]
Anyways, back to the story at hand, I stand there reading giving my most frigid face possible (you know the one, Chelle!) until I feel someone grab my hand and Jesse sweeps me around the corner and down the street to our favorite happy hour at Seven Grand. It's an upstairs bar that's all plaid carpet (just like the old school hotels and restaurants in Scotland), dark wood, taxidermied heads, marble bar tops, dark intimate corners and billiard tables, a knocked out hallway with booths and ash trays where we can smoke (hard to find a place for that in LA) and five dollar classic whiskey cocktails till eight.
It should go unsaid that after spending the day dealing with conversations like those above that these happy hour meetings are pretty dang nice. We tell each other stories, laugh at the silly guys, plan our next apartment, discuss ad agencies and award winning ads, and empty our wallets and try and decide if we can find enough dollars to buy a second round before eight... we never can. Then we amble down the street toward the metro, enjoying the cool breeze that picks up and reminds us that LA is actually a desert. The other day there was a Johnny Cash cover band playing in the park. They were pretty awful but I loved every bit of it. Especially because nearly half the audience were street dwellers and travelers--not many cities would put on a show for that crowd. And to be fair I don't think LA set out to do that, it is probably an attempt to culture downtown... and we are all very appreciative! I think it's so sad that people have fled downtown areas most of my generation's lifetime but that is now changing!
4. Benefit lipstick in La La Land **
A few months ago Jesse got me Rodin face oil and it is probably the most elegant thing I own... and it has resulted in my being able to ditch nearly all my make up except for these bare minimum basics! I really enjoy seeing how little I can get by with. Last summer I was definitely more efficient clothing wise. This summer having to pack for weddings and other specific events combined with the knowledge that I do not have to fly home and the ample thrift stores here in LA means that my clothes collection has grown a bit (I have been very strict with the black and white only rule though!). But this summer I am much more efficient with my make up collection!
*this eyeliner is the best gluten free and 100% natural (whatever that means) eyeliner that I have tried. It has trouble holding up under strong heat and humidity, but the benefits outweigh that in my mind. It's very strongly pigmented and the applicator practically puts the cat eye on by itself. They sell it at all Whole Foods and it is surprisingly affordable.
**this is both my lipstick and my blush currently... I'm a bit disillusioned with the much praised RMS Beauty products. Coconut oil is actually really bad for my skin I'm discovering... and I've read in a few places that I'm not the only one! I kept breaking out along my cheek bones and I cleared up right away when I stopped using the RMS blush. This benefit lipstick is a hand-me-down from my mom, actually, and I can only reach it with my finger and it's discontinued! So that is just so sad. If anyone has some good tips for gluten free, preferably organic, lipstick let me know! I'm considering this one from Ilia but I need to check the color in person. Berry-ish reds tend to look the most natural on my skin tones, but this one may be too dark. Thankfully I'm in LA this summer so there are actually stores that carry it unlike in Richmond! Anyways, I love minimizing by using the same product for lips and cheeks. It feels very French too.
***I got this in France last year and it was so cheap and works so well and I just adore the shape and lines of the bottle. If i can't find a way to order it here in the States I may just pour whatever other black I get into this bottle.
A few other products that I recommend currently:
Harry's Razors: I will never go back to Venus razors again. Not only are these far and away better quality, but they are beautifully weighted and minimally designed. The colors are understated and elegant... no more garish pinks, purples and lime green (all my least favorite colors) and barbie-like sparkles. They are designed by the same people who designed Warby Parker glasses, for much the same reasons. They were shopping for razors and realized that the only razors that even remotely worked were utterly hideous to look at and preclusively expensive. The entire Truman package costs less than one pack of Venus refills. It comes (in beautifully designed packaging) with a razor, three blades and their own shaving cream. I am not entirely sold on the shaving cream... I still prefer this one. But for only five dollars more than the single razor, why not?!
Hanes boys T-shirts: Ok this sounds crazy but I was folding some laundry when I was visiting home earlier this summer and found my ten year old brother, Giles', t-shirt and on a whim tried it on. It is the perfect cropped basic T! I asked him if I could have one and he shruggingly agreed and said they were almost too small for him anyways (yikes.... he's almost taller than me!!! Don't tell him I said that though...I'm playing it cool with him). Anyways! I've loved it all summer! Something about the materiel makes it the easiest white thing either Jesse or I own to clean. I never have to spot clean it after washing (I have this gorgeous soft cotton Italian made white tank that actually gets more stains from being washed... I have no idea how it manages that... most high maintenance thing I own). And just look how cheap a five pack is!!! It is my new summer (all year) basic.
While trying, unsuccessfully, to find a certain article from Garance Dore I discovered this article.... apparently Bite Beauty Lip Lab in New York will match the color of your favorite discontinued lipsticks! I think I will have to swing by there this fall when we are in Manhattan... maybe! They are certified gluten free by the US and Canada too!
The great thing about friends falling in love is that we get to go home... a lot... Oh and also their falling in love is nice too. We have an unofficial (which means we get to break it whenever we feel like it) rule that we only attend weddings that one of us is in. So far by the end of this year, we'll have been in three weddings. Which means three trips home! These weddings were a huge factor in why we tried so hard (and succeeded) in getting to the west coast for the summer. Airfare (or bus fare as the case may be) is much cheaper from LA to Seattle than Virginia to Seattle! I am personally very very grateful to Mark and Katie for planning their wedding for the Fourth of July weekend. My Lewellen side has a rich history of extreme pyromania and I have been out of (or across) the country for the fourth for the past five plus years so Jesse has never experienced the glory of the celebration.
The real pinnacle of our celebration was back when Jesse and I were a brand new couple (just a few days old and most of the family didn't even know he existed). That year we really out did ourselves. The party included several homemade potato cannons, many and various homemade explosives, a few odd canoes/large chunks of styrofoam carried by the tides/driftwood rafts, and enormous amounts of fireworks of questionable legality along with the normal cannon volleys and black powder.
Below my grandparents' house/small Welsh castle is a secret cove that is invisible from the outer bay because of overlapping sand bars. It was used by rum runners during the prohibition. So we had a battle with some other people who showed up down there. We built fires on the sand bars to light our fireworks and just lobbed all we had at them. Everyone ended up soaked to the skin and no one was majorly hurt, amazingly.... Long story short, I have wanted Jesse to experience our fourths (he was actually slightly terrified by my descriptions, I think....) ever since we met. But he wasn't sure of his work schedule when he bought our airfare and was going to miss it with his non-refundable ticket. When he saw how sad I was, he bought himself a very cheap greyhound bus ticket and embarked on a 25 hour bus ride from LA to Tacoma. Mercifully, our friends Jon and Kaile (pictured above in the tower) were driving up from Vancouver, WA and picked him up in Centralia or one of those scary towns that start with C down there... He arrived only 6 hours before his 2 hour flight would have got him there and it was wonderful... for me. I think he liked it.... He is very noble.
There was not a full on battle this year (sadly), but there was a cannon, tons of muddy trucks (compliments of my cousins and brothers), illegal fireworks, and more shotguns than there were people (almost) and clay pigeons. We played lots of pool, climbed the tower, saw lots of family and old family friends, snuggled this now one year old baby....
...who just wanted to look at the cow, T-bone, and the chickens... and roll in the grass giggling uncontrollably at how hard water balloons are to blow up with my Gwenna girl (a photo would have ruined it).
Then we left the peninsula behind and headed up to Seattle for such a great wedding! Jesse was a groomsman and I was the wedding decorator (Anyone need one? I love doing it!!). Mark and Katie make the best friends, so it was basically all the best people all in one spot with a bonfire and dancing and some great singing.
Good Morning B (well late afternoon now) -
Saturday started out so perfectly! A hot cup of coffee and a slice of amazing lemon cream butter cake. Anyway, you know how we just adore stories of people finding ways to do what they love. Well the story of that slice of cake is one of those stories. I asked Tracey, my friend who made the amazing wedding cakes to write a guest post about how she got into making cakes. She writes for Well of Health as their nutrition writer. Tracey knows so much about health, nutrition, and overall well being and is someone I want to keep learning from. She also makes amazing cake and here's her story:
I suppose baking cakes is just something I kind of fell into. My grandmother always made cakes from scratch, so from the very beginning I have memories of measuring out flour and sugar and cracking eggs into the bowl of her mixer from my perch on the kitchen stool. After I became the gleeful owner of my own stand mixer just out of college, I found myself playing around with recipe after recipe in my free time, the products of which I passed on to friends and colleagues who were more than happy to take them off my hands. It wasn't long before they started asking for their favorites. I didn't start with the intention to sell my treats, I made them for the love of the art. But the seed had been planted in my head, and as more and more opportunities arose, the idea of Twist Catering (more informally known as #traceystreatsies, in its earliest days) began.
This was my third wedding to cater, if you include my own. (For the record, I'm not sure I recommend making your own wedding cake...I was feeling very ambitious when I made that decision.) I never thought I would be bold enough to take on a wedding, but after a friend approached me with the idea about a year ago, the thrill of it enticed me, and I accepted the challenge. That wedding brought a wave of exposure, which has since brought several other opportunities for baby showers, birthday parties, and other small events.
While I do have a list of my favorite items to make, I prefer to cater whatever my client has in mind. When it comes to baking, there are so many possibilities! This means that I do a lot of experimenting, adjusting, and learning along the way. Those around me certainly don't mind, as they get the remnants of all the test batches! Most recently, I've been practicing several options for those with dietary restrictions. Requests for gluten free, grain free, dairy free, vegan, low sugar, and paleo treats are growing, as allergies and food sensitivities abound in today's society. This pursuit has been an adventure of learning how to maintain texture, flavor, and functional capability as I manipulate various ingredients to meet the need at hand. Believe it or not, there's quite a bit of math and science that goes into baking! Perhaps that's why as an engineer-turned-dietitian I enjoy it so much.
Even so, I think a classic layer cake will always be my favorite. They're simple and beautiful, and I love to assemble and frost them. My style is typically similar to rustic shabby chic, with symmetrical lines and soft, loosely textured dollops of buttercream. Layer cakes have a timeless elegance, and a plated slice exposing the the contrast of airy cake separated by creamy filling is, in a word, lovely.
The main cake at Rachelle's wedding is one of my favorites that I've done to date, the eucalyptus leaves bringing color and distinguishing the tiers, and each bite bursting with fresh vanilla and juicy lemon cream. As much as I loved the bright flavor, I couldn't get enough of the decadently rich chocolate cake either. As this was my first foray into a gluten free wedding cake, it took many, many tries to develop it to perfection. At one point I was comparing 4 different versions! And believe me, I always went back for one more taste. Lastly, and not to be forgotten, the brown sugar cake with berry buttercream and vanilla bean frosting exclaimed summertime with every bite.
Together, they were a perfect complement to the celebratory atmosphere of the evening: sweet and cheerful, deep and rich, fresh, and full of life. What a joy and an honor to be a part of it all!
For more information about Twist Catering, please contact me at email@example.com!
Last night we had a get together and Tracy made this lovely little cake on the right! We printed out pictures from the wedding and had people over so they could pick their favorite pictures and eat some cake! It was so much fun! Your pictures will arrive in the mail soon! Once I figure out how to send them to wherever you are staying! Love you B!
Coat the chicken breasts in spices and one of the lime's juices then slice and stir up, making sure it's well seasoned. Saute on pre heated cast iron skillet. Meanwhile, take lettuce leaves and arrange two (they reinforce themselves) on each plate. Then chop the rest of the produce. In a small jar put the remaining lime's juice, mayonnaise, olive oil and a squirt of honey. Screw lid on tightly and shake until it comes together into a creamy dressing (be sure to taste check... if it needs a bit more tartness add some apple cider vinegar to supplement the lime. Also if it could be thicker add more mayonnaise). The chicken should be done by now, so you get to assemble it! Put the raw carrot ribbons into the lettuce first, then the chicken and everything else can be piled on top. Cilantro should be the last before the dressing so it doesn't wilt.
2 chicken breast sliced in thin strips
4 iceberg lettuce leaves (good strong bowls)
2 carrots peeled into ribbons
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
2 limes (juiced)
1 or 2 squirts of organic mayonnaise
1 generous bunch of cilantro
I recommend a crisp, dry, white wine on a rooftop or stoop with this song playing in the background. Oh, and some nice warm weather... you know the kind of evening that's still light around 10pm? And it should be eaten around that time too... Happy Friday!
photo credit: Jesse
As soon as I saw this building I pulled over and started taking pictures... Los Angeles is so big it wasn't likely I would see it again so it had to be done then. It has to be one of the most idyllically designed buildings I have ever seen. I like that it fits perfectly in Southern California and yet I can't actually think of a city here in the states that it would be out of place in. For that matter, I'm pretty much banking on there being this exact building in London someday. And I will live in it on the top floor and climb up that fire escape to the rooftop garden and plant in the pots (over and over cause they will probably die) and drink my morning coffee at that little table on sunny mornings and next to the rounded wall of windows watching the rain drops race down the panes on rainy afternoons. And my evening g&t (I really need to figure out where to get quinine so I can make my own tonic... anyone have ideas? I believe it's called cinchona bark at supplement stores...) on the fire escape with Jesse. I particularly love that opened window that is etched in the far right there...
I mean... the red steps!! For anyone in Los Angeles this was somewhere along 8th street between Koreatown and Downtown. I really should have noticed the address but who can be bothered by that when you have this to photograph?!
We have talked before about apartment living and the unique challenges of making a rented space your own. I really do love the flexibility of renting... especially as we tend to move a lot it's fun to have new and different styles of places to flex my interior styling skills in. Lately several of our friends (including my brother and sister and law) have bought houses and it seems like such a huge step! I'm very excited for them and can't wait to see the beautiful things they do with their homes (that is a huge advantage of owning...)--my brother is incredibly skilled at woodworking and making the drabbest seeming houses into these things of unexpected beauty. Check out their new place on my sister in law's blog and see their progress!
But all that said, for Jesse and I right now, I couldn't be happier renting teensy tiny apartments. Renting studios is a bit like writing poetry rather than writing prose.... every bit has to count. It's a very serious business to curate the details!
I remember the details of your wedding B! They were so special and perfect. Do you remember walking to the farmers market in the morning to get the bridal bouquets? Or hanging spark plug mobiles from the trees outside? They were fantastic.
Remember the post about wedding party inspiration? Well it worked! Everyone did a great job and all the details came together. One of my favorite memories from the day was seeing how the bridesmaids and the groomsmen looked so well matched! Everyone chose their own wardrobe and look at the result! B, can't believe you found yours for $2. It was perfect! Melissa did the flowers and they were stunning. We sat down and worked out that I wanted lots of green and white and pussy willow (because that was my favorite tree to climb when I was little).
Props to the men for sticking to the color pallet and choosing textures! Loved it.
Remember when I visited you and Jesse and we went to that fantastic old antique shop with the slate tiles. That's where I found a stack of linen hand embroidered napkins. It took months of visiting thrift stores, antique shops, hours of washing and ironing, but by May I had 200 mismatched vintage napkins. I couldn't do this with all the details but I did find someone who could. Vintage Ambiance. This is an awesome Seattle based company that rents vintage things for weddings (and well anything else you'd want it for). We rented the silverware, and it was the same price as normal table settings what a treat. It looked lovely!
Eucalyptus sprigs scattered through the tables with babies breath incorporated the wispy romantic feel my wedding dress with the details of the reception. I chose eucalyptus because it's australian and also grows in California where Joel grew up.
The wedding cakes were so pretty. The chocolate ones were gluten free for Joel and the white one was a lemon vanilla cream creation of all sorts of goodness!
Another one of my favorite details from the day was the gift for guest. We had Matt Rowe - an on demand poet- sit with his typewriter and compose poems for whoever wanted one. We never vetted him so had no idea what type of poems he would write- but they were brilliant! Did you get one??
1. A few blocks from the last studio we stayed in here (our housing fell through last minute so we stayed in one place for the first month and now are in another place for the next few months), was the LA County Museum.... I never actually went inside, but the grounds and coffee shop and bar are stunning. I sat for hours there and read and photographed and people watched. 2. Jesse thinks he should make a tumblr of things that make his Brittany cry. One thing that definitely would make the list is school groups and tourist groups in neon t-shirts. Oh my stars. It is heartbreaking! They always flock in the prettiest locales! And ruin all my photos. (I am not actually super emotional... well not publicly, but it is true... this is the kind of thing that could and has made me shed very real tears). 3. I respect a museum cafe that cares enough to be beautiful. 4. This is actually from a hardware store not the museum... I loved the keys and sharp objects behind him... I have a thing for crowded peg boards.
Hardware stores are something I cannot walk by without entering. You never know what they will carry! There is a growing trend to call hipster shops "general stores" when in reality they are very niche designer shops....the complete opposite of a general store. (Ok I admit that maybe this is one of the other things that makes me cry, but it also makes me very happy since it means I can still one day be a real shop keeper). Anyways! I have this theory that hardware stores are the only remnant left of real general stores. I have found some of my prettiest white ceramic dishes stacked half hazard on shelves so dusty they are only rivaled by the objects they hold. Also, bright yellow handlebar tape in faded packaging from the 70s for only a dollar. Moka pots. And spark plugs. And string. And ropes. Bundt pans. Vintage fans that have never been used.... and they always have the most beautiful heavy walnut sets of small drawers that take up all the walls.
This same day I went to another hardware store and I was the only customer. The aisles were filled with boxes of half unpacked merchandise and the shop keeper was preoccupied with the World Cup. And I loved it! It was so old and vast...like the best kind of bookstores that you get lost in. They didn't have what I was looking for (I'm thinking it doesn't exist) so I was treating myself to some spark plug gazing when suddenly all the lights went black. It only lasted for a minute then they flickered back on to reveal the ashen faces of myself and the shop keeper looking at each other from down a few aisles. He laughed nervously and said something about how that was weird when suddenly the lights went out again and an alarm started blaring from an unknown source. Scenes from every assassin movie ever flashed through my head and I started stumbling and weaving my way through the boxes and dimness. Once out in the garish brightness of the LA midday the alarm seemed even louder and I tried to scuttle as dignifiedly as I could...not stopping till I was in my car with the doors locked. Then I started worrying about the old shop keeper... so I drove by the back door that opened onto the alleyway and everything was quiet. I hope he didn't get assassinated! I should go back and check....