A Wonderful Weekend

We had such a fun Seattle weekend! My mom and youngest sister were in town, along with Pete's mom from Madison, to do some wedding planning and dress shopping. And, guess what? We found the perfect dress! I really love it and it's actually very affordable. I'll do a longer post about the whole dress shopping process later this week.

But, in addition to having fun playing dress-up, we also made a visit to Golden Gardens and then went down the road to Ray's Cafe for a lovely sunset dinner. We walked around Green Lake. We made it to TWO farmers markets, where we managed to eat quite a few crepes and quesadillas, and TWO community gardens. We also sampled from Mighty-O and Cupcake Royale, and had an amazing lunch at Veraci Pizza (who we're considering for catering our wedding.)

I didn't want the weekend to end!

Love for Seattle:
More amazing Seattle photography, including the photo above, from Ben Blood.

The Washington Secretary of State has a delightful online shop (who knew??) I bought some of the notecards with vintage Washington photos and advertisements.

Apparently, Washington has amazing online archives, which actually win awards. Again, who knew??? Their news page is kind of fun and interesting.

Wedding Planning Weekend

Well, it's oddly foggy in Seattle this morning. But I have faith that the sun will come out by the time my mom (and Pete's mom!) get into town later today for a wedding planning weekend. Besides the mandatory dress shopping, I'm hoping we have time to hit up the Phinney Ridge Farmers Market tonight, take a walk at Green Lake, eat some Molly Moon's ice cream and Mighty-O Doughnuts, stop by Golden Gardens to scope out our reception site, go to church to scope out the ceremony site and maybe grab a meal at Oddfellows. Whew!

Plus, we're going to eat Veraci Pizza, since we're considering having them bring in their pizza oven cart to cater the wedding.

I've been cleaning like crazy and trying to get my little apartment ready for house guests. So, how about a little Friday serenity in the form of a Longfellow poem I saw posted on The Wednesday Chef this week? A good reminder to slow down and enjoy our summertime.

Then followed that beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm-yards,
Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him;
While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow,
Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.

(P.S. Check out the link to her blog for some good, quick meals using toast. I had the spicy salmon for dinner last night because I was cleaning and didn't want to get any dishes dirty.)


Reasonable Shopping

I've been thinking quite about about my personal shopping and consumer habits. It started when I hauled three HUGE bags of clothing and shoes to Goodwill and didn't even notice a dent in my closet and drawers. And then, I read an interesting article in the New York Times about how women are trying to address their personal shopping habits. None of their solutions seemed quite right for me, but they did help me to have my own brainstorming session.

After all that thinking, I believe I've come up with a reasonable resolution to test out. Here's the deal: I will only buy new clothing if something I own actually needs replacing (i.e. gets a stain, rips, wears out). Now, I know most of you probably already adhere to something akin to this. But, I'm always drawn by the siren call of sales and just the fun of having something new to wear. I just keep adding to my wardrobe, and I really don't need all of this stuff.

I will try this out for three months, and if it goes well I may extend it to six. And, I'm blogging about it so that there will be some degree of personal accountability. Here's to being a little more responsible and thrifty!


Fun Stuff for Friday

Happy Friday everyone! I'm headed up to a cabin outside Bellingham with friends this weekend, and can't wait for the festivities to begin!

I've made some delightful and interesting discoveries lately, and thought I'd share.

Books - I'm not into the Twilight books (actually, I think they're terrible - don't hurt me for saying this!), but I do really enjoy the whole vampire trend. It's kind of fun and scary and campy. I watched True Blood for a while, but it got a little too creepy and I'm a little too much of a scaredy-cat. But, I have recently breezed through the first two books from the young adult Blue Bloods series. So fun! It's about hot young socialites in New York that happen to be - you guessed it - VAMPIRES!

Food - I'm loving Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage Patties. Pete's family brought them to the lake, and I think I like them better than actual breakfast meat. You can get them at Trader Joes.

Shopping and clothes - I did a huge purge of clothing and shoes last week. I just felt overwhelmed with the amount of STUFF in my closet and drawers, and wanted to pare it down to the items I really love and wear often. It felt so good to drop everything off at Goodwill. Of course, I then promptly hit the the Nordstrom sale. I don't feel too bad about it, since I usually get a lot of wear out of the few items I buy at Anniversary Sale. But, overall I've been realizing that my urge to shop is a little stronger than I'd like. I was thinking of taking 1-3 months off, and not buying anything new. Then, the New York Times published an article on taming the urge to buy. Some good motivation and ideas in this! Some people commit to only wearing six articles of clothing for an entire month (although, I don't really see the point of this) or not buying any clothes for a year (maybe a little much for me).

TV - Have you been watching Parks and Recreation? It has been cracking me up lately. And I do work for the government now, so I feel a little more loyal to the show. I happened to see the episode where the staff goes hunting. Hilarious. Seriously, watch it. Amy Poeler is so great in this clip.

More TV - How much do I love PBS? A lot. I even became a member! I'm really into all their mystery shows (most of them BBC) because they're interesting without being absurdly violent and disturbing (I'm talking to you, Law & Order SVU!) Plus they have America's Test Kitchen, Tavis Smiley, Antiques Roadshow, Newshour . . . I could go on. I saw an incredible documentary on Kenya called Good Fortune that talked about the challenges and complexities of outsiders trying to come in and provide aid.

A little more TV - Did anyone watch American, The Story of Us on the History Channel? I think I'll have to get it from Netflix. I took an American history class this spring at the community college, and I'd be interested to see how they put this series together.

Wedding stuff - Let me tell you, there are a million wedding blogs and website. Talk about overload! Some of them can really make you feel inadequate and lazy - but I've just stopped following those ones. A couple highlights: Wedding on Wheels!! and a truly lovely Scottish wedding (I don't know, maybe I just love mist, lace and plaid?).

Disguises - A downloadable disguise kit! I feel like you could make a fun photo booth at a party with this. Kind of like the one at a wedding Pete and I recently attended.

Have a fantastic weekend. Get some sun and fresh air! Read a book or magazine! Eat some fresh fruits and veggies! (That's the recipe for success, I tell you.)


Caesar Salad

I had a few heads (hearts?) of Romaine left over from a barbecue I hosted, and yesterday got the idea to make Caesar salad with them. I knew I had some old halves of French bread in the freezer and most of the other ingredients I would need (since I've now started keeping lemons and Parmesan cheese on hand at all times). I wanted to make one that was tasty (obvs) but simple. I had just read about how to make the fancy French version in Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone. (BTW - I really enjoyed the memoir by the former New York Times restaurant reviewer and Gourmet editor.) It involves coddled egg (which I learned is an egg boiled for one minute in the shell) and anchovies. It also had a somewhat complex set of steps for assembling the salad. I'm sure it's delicious, but it's not quite the direction I wanted to go last night.

So, I started with the usual suspects - my favorite blogs and recipe sights. And, holy croutons!, there are a lot of Caesar salad recipes out there. I found very traditional versions at The Reluctant Gourmet and allrecipes. They both involved using raw or coddled eggs. Others seemed a little more accessible, but still not perfect, like the Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, Martha Stewart and epicurious. So, I decided to take all of these not-quite-perfect recipes and combine them.

Then, lo and behold, a new blog I just started following happened to post a Simple Caesar Salad yesterday. Don't you love it when that happens? Like when you mention how much you love a song and then it comes on the radio. Thank you, Everybody Likes Sandwiches!

I made the recipe last night and it was delicious - exactly what I wanted. She has you make the croutons on the stove top in bacon grease (brilliant!). My only tip is to use a big pan or cook the croutons in batches. I dumped them all in my smaller cast iron and then had to take half of them out to make sure they all got crispy.

One final note: I found a really interesting vegan Caesar salad at 101 Cookbooks. I'd definitely be interested in trying this one out at some point.

Happy eating!


A Quest for Sandals

I just wanted a simple pair of black, flat sandals for my trip to the Midwest on Friday. Even nice-ish flip flops would have worked! You'd think it wouldn't be that hard, right? Well, unfortunately for me - a girl with very long, narrow feet that resemble water skis - these are the type of sandals in style right now:

And, in theory, I think they're cute. But something awful happens when I put them on my abnormally long feet. They look horrible! My foot looks like it stretches on forever, and the strap across my ankle cuts off my legs and makes them look stubby. Just . . . no. I refuse to spend money on these just because the fashion gods tell us to.

I had almost given up, when I made a quick stop into Old Navy. And . . . yes! Tons of cute sandals. I bought these simple ones (in black):

And absolutely could not resist these yellow ones either:
(I know the yellow ones look similar to the dreaded black ones above. But, the straps are just different enough and the beading is just big enough to make a difference. Plus, yellow!)

Now, if the sun just comes out in Seattle, I'll be ready! Let's hope they help me stay cool in the muggy Midwest :)

P.S. I'm going to try to start posting more regularly. Really, I am!