Wednesday, November 25, 2009

well, isn't that pretty!

{yes, that is an engagement ring. yes, i am engaged. yes, i'll tell you more tomorrow}

Monday, November 23, 2009

"oh no! i don't have enough casserole dishes!"



The above photo was the scene in my kitchen tonight...

Here's the e-mail I sent to my mother a week or two ago. This year the celebration is catered by me and my parents. There's a whole lotta food to be made, plus I'll be taking a dish to Brandon's family dinner:

"So, I started thinking about turkey day last night....
OK, you know I've really been thinking about Thanksgiving for weeks. :~)

I know you and dad are making:
Turkey
Ham
Dressing and Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Sister Schubert's Rolls
Pumpkin Pie

I was hoping to make:
Mashed Sweet Potatoes in Orange Bowls
Pecan Pie*
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (unless Dad wants to make his pumpkin roll, then, I'll be glad to concede.)

How do those sound to you? I can gladly make more, or if you'd really like to make something I don't mind giving it up.

Oooooo, can you make that pineapple cheese casserole?** I LOVE THAT STUFF!
Love you!
xoxo-ccm"
*I'll be making my aunt's Bourbon pecan pie. YUM! Have I shared that recipe with you yet?
**Note, this is NOT my mom's recipe in the link, but oddly enough, it is titled Tricia's Pineapple Cheese Casserole. (My mom's name is Patricia, and she often goes by Tricia.) I don't think this deviates too far from her recipe.

Yes indeed, that is what we plan to serve this Thursday.

I started cooking tonight. I already feel behind! I made the macaroni and cheese tonight, and will finish the baking and the topping on Thursday morning. My other goal for tonight is to assemble the pineapple cheese casserole that I plan on taking to Brandon's.

Tomorrow's game plan: sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
Wednesday: corn casserole and pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Broken down like this it doesn't feel like I'm making that much. I just mapped out the casserole dishes I plan to use, and realized I'm one dish short! I guess I'll just have to pick another one up.

Check out this little beauty I got on Saturday. It's an Emile Henry casserole. I found it on sale at the William-Sonoma outlet. I am one happy cook!
Maybe I can find another one tomorrow to fulfill my one missing casserole conundrum! :~)

I also got a really great rectangular cake pan with a lid. I'll use it for the gooey cake.... I'm ready for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"i'm a pioneer woman!"




I just made my very first batch of Irish soda bread!

Now, I know this is not a true bread in the sense that it's made with yeast and takes hours to make. This stuff is really easy. But, I feel like bread making is one of the first steps to someday becoming completely self sufficient. Next step, urban chickens! (Brandon is obsessed with the idea of someday having backyard chickens.)

Plus, I know what went into this stuff. There's no high fructose corn syrup or weird preservatives. Yep, making my own bread really fits with my food philosophy.

I liked the flavor, it was hearty and had a thick cracker-like crust. It tasted delicious with a spread of pumpkin butter from Brandon's mom. (Thanks Mrs. Debbie.) (I love a good apple butter and have recently discovered pumpkin and sweet potato butters. Yum!) I don't think I would use this bread for a traditional sandwich. But honestly, I don't eat that many sandwiches anyway. It would be a nice open face sandwich bread.

It was easy to make this recipe fasting friendly. Every recipe I found calls for buttermilk, simply use soy milk mixed with vinegar to create vegan buttermilk. The reason buttermilk is used is because the acid in the milk and the baking soda in the bread mix together to leaven the bread. (Remember science class? I always loved the baking soda/ vinegar experiment!)

Here's the recipe I used from eatingwell.com. It was really simple, and came together in a matter of minutes.

  • Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (next time I plan to use all whole wheat flour instead of half AP half whole wheat.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk (To substitute buttermilk: place 2 1/4 teaspoons vinegar in a measuring cup, then fill to the 2 1/4 cup mark with milk or soymilk. Stir together and let sit for a few minutes until it has curdled. It will change in texture and look thicker.)

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with oil and sprinkle with a little flour.
  • Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
  • Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
  • Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

I promise, you're gonna love this stuff!!!

PS: One of my favorite parts about making this bread is making the cross with a sharp knife before cooking. Ireland has a long Christian history, so this traditional detail made me smile. Here's an explanation of the meaning from one website:

"The cross on the soda bread has several explanations. Legend has it that folks did it to "let the devil out" while it's baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

again...

Sunday began the period of fasting we call "The Nativity Fast" in the Orthodox Church. This is my third Nativity Fast. I was a little taken back when I realized this last night. Being Orthodox has become such a part of me that I forget sometimes that I haven't always been here. But, on the other hand, time flies. I can't believe that I am entering into this fast for the third time!

Last night we prayed the first Paraklesis service. I have mentioned it before. For those of you who don't know it. It is a service of intercessory prayer to the Theotokos. (The bearer of God, The Virgin Mary.)

For the first time in almost a year, we sang this song:

"The Virgin cometh today into the cave to give birth, ineffably to bring forth Christ the Word eternal. Therefore, rejoice, O earth at the message glad with the angels and shepherds give glory to Him who shall appear by His own will as a young child, He who is from eternity God."

I love to sing this song. I love it not only for the lyrics, but also for the sweet memories it brings to mind. I love this service because it is a quiet service after the sun goes down. I always feel cozy and safe with my fellow parishioners in the church whenever we're praying this service. That's one of the many reasons I love it so much!

I still don't really feel like Christmas is anywhere near. (That might have something to do with the 70 degree weather outside...) But, last night brought back a few happy memories of preparations for Christmas in the past few years. (I am aware that I should have been more focused during the service, but my mind wanders frequently.)

Of course, I cannot write a post without including some mention of food:

Someone asked me on Sunday if I planned on posting some fasting recipes soon. During every fast one food emerges as the "go to" food for the fast. Such as my 15 bean soup or something quick and easy to prepare. I have already noticed an obsession with sweet potatoes. Since I'm just cooking for me it's easy to make a potato and have a pretty decent meal. (I realize it lacks a lot of protein, I didn't say it was perfect. But, it is decently healthy.) I will definitely be posting some fabulous sweet potato recipes soon.

I also have another new obsession. It isn't for something NEARLY as healthy. But, it's pretty great if you ask me.

On Sunday my friend Liz and I were talking about her recent experiments with a really cool idea using black beans in brownies. (I'll let her post more on that sometime.) She mentioned the "Coke Cake." I had no idea what this was, but I was definitely intrigued. I think it's magic. Or rather it's two very highly processed foods coming together to form cake. AND, it's fasting friendly! AWESOME!

Coke Cake:
1 Can of Coca-Cola (you are welcome to use diet, or any other type of fizzy soda.)
1 Cake mix (I used chocolate for mine, but I think a ginger ale/ carrot cake mix combo would be really good!)

Mix the coke and the cake mix. Bake according to package directions.

No, I am not kidding. This just made my LIFE!

I made icing for it, but I didn't really follow a recipe. I used margerine, a little bit of coke, cocoa, vanilla, and powdered sugar. It will do the trick in a pinch, but I've made better icing in the past. Last night, I made an icing with rasberries and lemon zest that turned out really well! (I was inspired by the "razzle dazzle" cupcake at Muddy's Bake Shop, chocolate cake with rasberry icing.)

It's interesting to note that I was just talking with a friend about cutting back on the processed foods during this fast... Everyone needs cake every once in a while!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the pâté of the south...

Of course, I'm speaking of none other than the staple of any Southern lunch repertoire: Pimento Cheese. (Note: it's "Pimento Cheese" not "Pimento AND Cheese.")

It's such a simple dish. But like with any other basic recipe, there's room for improvement, room to fail, and always a few that stand out. In the case of Pimento Cheese, some brands are stand alone favorites and "Aunt So and So" or "Pappy" can be worshipped as gods when they create a signature secret recipe.

For those of you, such as my former roommate, who don't know what pimento cheese is. Here's one definition. In its simplest form, the spread includes: grated cheese, mayonnaise, and diced pimentos. See, there's a whole lot of room to modify this one!

I set out to create a signature recipe.

I love the flavors of plain and simple pimento cheese, but also like a bit of zing. Something that makes the dish a bit different from the others. Where to begin?

Cheese. I'm a purist. Pimento cheese is supposed to have sharp yellow cheddar. I definitely prefer white cheddar on a daily basis, but this is one dish that should always be made with yellow cheddar. I don't think I should have to explain why I prefer FRESHLY grated cheese. But, for those of you who might not understand, here's the explanation: fresh grated cheese has more moisture than its pre-grated counterpart. Plus, it tastes a lot less like the plastic packaging it comes in. It simply tastes fresher. AND, it's cheaper. So, roll up your sleeves and start grating.

Mayonnaise. I know it would be better for me to use homemade mayonnaise. But, most people don't have the spare time to master the art of egg and oil emulsions. My favorite mayonnaise brand is Duke's. Anyone care to disagree? Cause, you'll lose. It's simply the best. PS- Dearest Mayonnaise Hating Friends (Mindy, that's you) I have seen a recipe for this using cream cheese. I have no idea why you'd what to do this... but I also have no idea why you hate mayonnaise.

Pimentos. I don't think I've ever seen any other brand of these than "Dromedary Pimentos." I feel like this is a traditional thing. As with most things, I would prefer to use a fresh pepper, but the flavor and texture of the pimento end of the pimento cheese equation is derived from these canned jewels. The Lee Brothers (Southern cookbook authors, who specialize in fresh ingredients in Southern cuisine) like to roast a red pepper for their recipe. But honestly, I like to stick with the traditional, no matter how canned it is. Plus, I have grown up recycling those little jars for everything! I don't think my mom ever threw away a pimento jar, they're the perfect size to store tiny items.

Name. Since most of the immortalized recipes include the name of some beloved family member, I think mine needs that sort of name.... Hmm, most of the kids I babysit call me "Miss Caitlyn." Brandon's nephew calls me "Aunt C.C." what do you think guys?

I haven't shared a recipe with you in a while, so I think now's as good a time as any.

Miss Caitlyn's (or Aunt C.C.'s) Pimento Cheese
1 1/4 Cups of freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup Duke's Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons diced pimentos
2 Tablespoons very finely minced white onion
1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/4 Teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (a smidge more if using pre-ground)
1/4 Teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Mix ingredients together. Serve on bread, crackers, or on an old leather shoe. I promise this stuff would improve its flavor.

Enjoy!


Thursday, November 05, 2009

in order to pray more...

I'm already thinking Christmas...

I'm not a last-minute Christmas gift shopper. But, I feel like I'm one of the masses each and every year. Between December 1 and 24 I'm out hurriedly shopping with the rest of America. It makes me angry, and it makes me nervous. I've done a couple of online only Christmases. But honestly I still don't like waiting until after Thanksgiving.

One answer would be to shop before Thanksgiving... That's a nice idea. I've noted before that once Santa shows up in his sleigh in the Macy's parade the world says: "ready set CHRISTMAS!!!" I like the idea of shopping before Thanksgiving.

A few years back, a woman from my church mentioned doing shopping before the Nativity Fast began.

The Nativity Fast is a 40 day period of fasting leading up to Christmas. It begins on November 15. During that time, Orthodox Christians spend more time in church for various services. The fast is not meant to be a time of celebration for Christians. It is meant to be a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. This explains why Orthodox people don't usually host parties during the fast. We celebrate for the 12 days following Christmas. It's a really sweet time of celebration.

It would only make sense to cover all of the duties that consume my time during the holidays before the fast begins. So, I made it my goal to finish all of my Christmas "To Do" list before the fast.

And, oh what a joy it has been!

I am ALMOST done with my Christmas shopping. I have to pick up one more present, although it has already been chosen. I bought supplies for my Christmas cards today. I also bought all of my wrapping supplies, and began wrapping the presents I have now. (I did a lot of online shopping, it wasn't as hard for me because I'm not worried about things not coming in on time.) I'm waiting on the bulk of the presents to arrive.

Tonight I made 26 bars of orange zest and clove soap to give as presents. That's taken care of...


What's so interesting is that I'm not really in a Christmas mood yet. You would think that I'd be drinking peppermint hot chocolate and listening to my (very guilty pleasure) Mariah Carey Christmas CD. But no. Even though, I know that I won't be able to drink hot chocolate in a few weeks due to the "no dairy" rule of the fast. No. I'm simply overjoyed to be almost done with the things that take me away from focusing on the fast each year.

Now, I get to focus on:
  • Decorating my apartment for my very first Christmas in my own place!
  • And baking. Yes, I'll be freezing most of the goodies to enjoy when the fast is over. But, I do have a great fasting (vegan) recipe for gingerbread cutout cookies. I now have time to make plenty of those.
  • And to plan for St. Nicholas day festivities. Ladies, I think a gingerbread cookie decorating party for the kids sounds like a good plan...
  • Oh, and I really want to have a St. Stephen's day celebration this year (Dec. 27.)
Yep, I'm going to find plenty to occupy my time during the month of December. I'll just have a few less things to worry about...

Oh wait, I'm already forgetting the reason why I shopped early.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

a mouthful of sugar...

Isn't that what Halloween is all about?

A few weeks ago, some of my friends with children were discussing their Halloween plans. They were talking about going to a certain cafe for a cookie decorating class. I thought it would be fun to also take the girls I babysit (Caroline and Mary Elise) to the class.

The only problem? It cost $12 per kid.

So, I channeled my mom's industrious side and set out to plan our own alternative party. My friend Liz provided the special icing, Kh. Jeanette provided some fun sprinkles, Trish provided The Great Pumpkin DVD, and I provided cookies and the venue.

I hosted 13 kids for a very fun, very sticky mess of a party. Am I crazy? Yes. Was it the most fun ever? YES!!!

Here are some of the party details. (I really love to plan a party. But, planning a KID'S party, 10x more fun!)

Here's the "medium kid" table. (The 2 year old bunch, were set up in the kitchen. And the bigger girls were in the bonus room.)


I got these fun take out containers and put the cookies into each box ahead of time. I gave each child 5 cookies: a bat, a witch's hat, a scaredy cat, a ghost and naturally a pumpkin.


I, once again, channeled my mom when I made these alliterated name cards for each child. Do you know how difficult it is to find a spooky word beginning with A? We settled on "Alarming Anna-Marie" because it was the least offensive title we could come up with! I thought the others turned out pretty cute though!




Let the fun begin! Here's "Lurking Lydia" piling the icing on her cookies. Liz made orange, green, black, and white icing for the kids. It was the perfect representation of the Halloween color spectrum.


"Jumpy James" going to town on his plate of cookies.

"Nightmarish Nicholas" at the little people table in the kitchen.


I think it was controlled chaos. I think.


We ended the party by watching (not listening, the kids were far too loud) Charlie Brown's The Great Pumpkin. Classic!


The three crazy "big" girls. The only one missing was Grace. Harveys please come home!

I invited Cailyn and Clare to keep Mary-Elise company. I think they had a great time.


Mesmerized, and in a sugar coma! I love it!!!


"Petrifying Paul" graced us with his presence. He says, I'm cute, and I know it.



Sweet friends, "Spooky Sarah Ann" and "Crawly Caroline." SAC "BOOed" Caroline earlier this week. Have you heard if this? Read about it here. She passed on the Boo to Mary Wren and Isabelle.



We all had such a fun time. Thanks for coming everyone!

Monday, October 05, 2009

it's about time!

I was in a seasonal cooking mood today. For breakfast I made maple nutmeg french toast. (Cool weather means I can use copious amounts of nutmeg!) Then while composing a weekly menu for the family I work for I could only think of cozy foods. I made my somewhat famous (it's my grandfather's favorite) chicken pot pie with an herbed biscuit crust for their dinner.

I went to visit my goddaughter Cailyn this evening. It's her 10th birthday today! May God Grant you many years sweetie!

When I got home I made fudge. Seriously, I can think of nothing more seasonal than fudge! (OK, I might be pushing Christmas. Oops.)

I e-mailed my friend Elizabeth on Christmas Day for the recipe. (Yes, I said on Christmas Day it's that good.) Along with some other incredible baked goods Liz gave me some of this fudge...

You have to know about me: I adore fudge. I feel like it's the ultimate. Although I rarely ever make it myself. I realize that the truffle is a much more sophisticated version of this chocolate treat, but I have fond memories associated with fudge. I'll stick with the childhood favorite.

This fudge is incredible. Get this, not only is it chocolate, but there are pecans, and COFFEE!!! Coffee-Pecan Fudge!

I've talked to several of you who made Debbie's Cookies in the past week. Feel free to freeze the gobs of cookies you probably still have. You need to get back in the kitchen and make this fudge. Don't wait almost a year to make it like I did!

Liz said this came from a Southern Living Christmas cookbook. But I choose to think of it as Liz's recipe.

Coffee Pecan Fudge:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
12 large marshmallows
1 cup semisweet choc. chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine first 6 ingredients in a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10-15 minutes or until sugar dissolves and marshmallows melt. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 234 (soft ball stage). Remove from heat.

Stir in chocolate morsels until melted. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Spread fudge immediately into 2 aluminum foil-lined mini loafpans (I used one regular loafpan). Cool completely. Remove fudge from pans. Slice fudge into 1/2" slabs.


I'm eating mine with a glass of milk right now. But I think if I were enjoying it earlier in the day I'd need a cup of black coffee to accompany it.

Tell me, what sort of food are you cooking now that the weather is getting cooler?

Since last night was particularly cool and rainy it made it the perfect weather for our dinner group at the Williams! Mindy made 2 types of chili along with delicious pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. Wow. It was incredible, and perfectly seasonal!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the perfect chocolate chip cookie

Go now. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then come back to the computer.... oh and while you're at it. Set out two sticks of butter, you're going to need them.



There's a possibility I may have found it. The perfect chocolate chip cookie.

This is not something I would ever say lightly. I say this with extreme conviction. I have never. ever. liked a chocolate chip cookie that came from my oven.

Too crispy. To thin. Too limp... You get the picture. I am not usually a fan of the cookies I make. Even when others tell me "oh, what delicious cookies," I'm prone to roll my eyes and sigh. But this recipe. It causes me to say: "I know, they're amazing right!?"

I have served these to several people in the past weeks. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've been keeping a batch at all times for impromptu get-togethers. These freeze (and ultimately) thaw at room temperature very well (in a matter of about 20 minutes.) They make a wonderful complement to a glass of milk. (I have some great short glasses that make them perfectly dunkable.) They're wonderful dipped into black coffee. And they even pair very well with a nice cabernet sauvignon. Although, I wouldn't recommend dunking them into the wine. (Red wine and chocolate, good for the heart. Even if there are two sticks of butter involved. Right?)

Brandon's mom gave me this recipe. Hence the name. I love a family recipe, so I renamed these "Debbie's Cookies." Thanks Mrs. Debbie!

The woman has made these legendary. I think I gained 20 pounds upon beginning my relationship with her son almost three years ago. She keeps a batch made at most times and has a knack for finding great deals on crazy/unique chocolate chips. (We've had mint swirled chips and cappucinno chips in the cookies to date.) These cookies also complement pecans very well. The sweet and somewhat savory butter flavor of the cookie echoes my favorite aspect of a pecan.

As if you needed more convincing, here's a testimonial from my friend Marjo's husband Billy: "These taste like they're from a cookie factory in the best possible way!" (And Marjo says he REALLY likes chocolate chip cookies!)

Without further ado: Here is the recipe for Debbie's Cookies:

Debbie's Chocolate Chip Cookies:
(Makes: a whole bunch!)

1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
2 Eggs
Dash of Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt (I love using a fine sea salt for these, but table salt will work as well)
1 Bag Semisweet Chocolate Chips (This is completely subject to your personal preference! I like more, some people like less. Feel free to experiment with different flavors. I've been using a great 70% cacao chocolate chunk lately. Wow.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the sugars and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix together the dry ingredients (excluding the chips) in a separate bowl. I like to whisk them together in order to sift them and combine the ingredients. But, my friend Claire is partial to sifting straight into the bowl. Your preference entirely. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. (I don't have to tell you that the Kitchen Aid is your friend. Or, a hand mixer. These are just nearly impossible to do by hand!) Then add the chips. If I remember, they seem a bit crumbly. Simply push them together when forming into balls. Form into GOLF BALL sized balls and flatten slightly. (I said slightly, don't make cookie pancakes!) Bake at 350 degrees for 10- 12 minutes. I love a soft cookie, so I usually do them for less time. This is another matter of preference! They are so substantial that they can be removed from the tray almost immediately without breaking (this makes the baking process go quicker.) Cool them on parchment or on cooling racks. Enjoy! (Everyone else seems to!)


(The above photo is from a party the family I work for threw. My boss specifically requested Debbie's Cookies for the dessert bar.)

Speaking of the cookie, here are a few photos of my dear goddaughter Cailyn when she came over on a Wednesday night to bake with me while her parents attended the Wednesday night teaching at church. This has become one of our weekly traditions, I love getting to hang out with her. She is already showing quite a talent in the kitchen!

Further confirmation, that not only do we share almost identical names and a Patron Saint; we also share a love of cooking. I love this kid!


These were not the famous Debbie's Cookies, but rather some fasting friendly cookies. They're not quite as impressive, but will do for a fasting day!



Check out the nesting doll apron Cailyn is wearing. Mrs. Debbie gave it to me not too long ago. So precious!


Happy baking dear friends!

Friday, September 25, 2009

you're invited:

To my new apartment!

Yes, this is terribly overdue. Thankfully I have been slammed with clients and tons of work! Be happy for me, don't hate me for not posting until now.

The above photo is your view upon entering the apartment. (The living room)

These are the chairs I got for Christmas 2 years ago from my parents. They have pretty great taste, huh?

My fireplace and very first Craigslist find, my super cheap television armoire.



We have an entry staircase and it was BEGGING for some color. I found this piece at the Cooper-Young festival this past weekend. I love.

I got this green chair (and another identical one at ThriftCiti on Summer Ave.) And yes, I haggled. I bought both of them for a grand total of $50. Not bad!

My most favorite (yet, vastly under-decorated) room, my dining room. My Amy Butler fabric was going to be backordered indefinitely so I am having to regroup. It definitely needs color.

My amazingly inexpensive dining table from the West Elm outlet.


Boring bedroom. I am working on a headboard solution right now.


I love our teeny bathroom. We actually have to sit sideways to use the toilet. I know, I know T.M.I.... But it makes me laugh out loud to think about it.


I made this bookshelf and wall hanging a few years ago. I really love newsprint.

Is this not eye candy? I love staring at my open shelves with white dishes. They make my day. I love love love my walk-in pantry!


Brand new gas range. Ahhhh... it's beautiful!


Kind of organically my kitchen became a red kitchen... and I love it!

Please come over. I've been keeping batches of chocolate chip cookies ready at all times for visitors. I love to host people. So far I've hosted: Margarita night, Girls' night, my parents and grandparents over for Sunday dinner, an impromptu wedding after party (many years Barbara and Mikael!) I've had a crepe making party, an Office season premiere watch party, lunch dates, an evening of cooking with a friend, a cookie baking date with my sweet goddaughter Cailyn and several other get-togethers... And I haven't even been here a month!

I can think of nothing that makes me more happy than to have people over almost every night! I have had to discipline myself to not have people over on nights when I'm extremely exhausted. Because otherwise I would never take a break.

I'm loving having my own place, and I couldn't ask for a better roommate. Ashley is the sweetest person ever!

Please come over. Consider this post your open invitation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

packing music...

No apologies. I haven't even attempted to post anything since my last two posts. I have been so busy doing my dream job and another job too (it's pretty great as well!) I have some of the best bosses in the world! I love the crazy busy. No complaints here.

I promise to post some more info about The Ruffled Apron soon. It's going pretty well. I still can't believe I get to do what I love... and get paid for it!

I move this Saturday. {!}

I just started packing last night. (Yes, I know, I'm behind.) My poor mother is left with nothing in her kitchen. I have amassed so many cooking tools over the years, and I'm taking them all with me. I filled up several boxes with kitchen gear. Obviously, there isn't much I need to buy immediately.

Ashley and I went to looked at the apartment this past Thursday. Ashley is my roommate, for those of you who don't know her. She'll live with me until she and her fiance Nathan get married (sometime around January or February.) Then she'll move in to Nathan's house. I think she liked the apartment.

I took some photos for those of you who are curious. I'm calling these the "mid-before" pictures. There has already been a lot of work done, these pictures are a such a stark contrast to what Claire, Trish, and I saw only 3 weeks ago! Thanks fabulous crew! (They're mostly all members of my Church, along with Fr. Nikolai.)

The whole place has gotten a fresh coat of paint, the hardwood floors have been refinished, and the kitchen floors are being replaced. Plus it was given a thorough scrub down. It's pretty much ready for us to move in.

On to the photos: The apartment is the upstairs of a duplex. It kind of feels like living in a tree-house. It was built circa 1920. Hello charm!

This is the living room. The doorway on the right leads into the dining room.
Yes, this is my romantic fireplace. To the left is a nook for my fabulous Craigslist television armoire, and to the right is the entrance to the apartment.


Living room again, from the front door.

I kind of really love this vintage light fixture. It's in my dining room.

Hello sweet dining room, I cannot wait to host a party!

Teeny little bathroom.


They were working in here, but you get the idea.


Yes, these curtains will be replaced. (They are currently terry cloth with cats all over them. Ahhhhh!) The oven was just replaced. (And yes, thankfully it's a gas range!)

This is my walk-in (yes, walk-in) pantry! Don't get too jealous. These open shelves face the kitchen and then after walking through the door there is a large pantry cabinet, these glass doored cabinets and space for a washing machine.

PS: Anyone looking to sell a washing machine? We need one. A cheap one preferably!


Don't worry, I cannot wait to post some fabulous AFTER pictures.

While I should be packing, I've created a playlist for packing. The most basic rule is that all music has to make me happy.

Artists: Fruit Bats, Good Old War, Andrew Bird, Bowebirds, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Joe Purdy, Noah and the Whale, Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, Sufjan Stevens, and a little bit of Cat Stevens. Now, I hit play. And I pack... actually I need to go run some work errands. So, I pack tonight. But either way, I'll have some fantastic music to pack with!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

designing fool!

Here's a picture of the fabric I just purchased for my dining room chairs. I want to reupholster the seats since they're bland. My dear friend Mindy is giving me a great dining table that will be painted to somehow coordinate... any ideas for the color? I think I like the eggplant color.


This is Amy Butler Nigella Twill "Water Lotus, Ivory" for those of you who keep up with fabric designers. Thank you fabric.com!

It coordinates with my Ikea fabric for the den. And since the den and dining area open into one another, it had to look good together!

I bought 2 lamps very similar to this from Target the other day. Isn't it fabulous!?! They are for the "buffet table." Aka- my old dresser to be used as a buffet.

Here's the rug I bought for the den with my VERY GENEROUS birthday gift cards!

I also bought a "vertical organizer" to serve as end tables. The one I got is a bit different, it has a back on it and looks more substantial. I'll be using fabric drawer cubes in the shelf for a bit more storage. I really hope it looks OK. Otherwise, I'll use it for it's intended purpose ... in a closet!

OK, gotta run. Nap is almost over. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the sign of a content life?

Don't get too excited. I really only have about 20 minutes to compose this post.

Wow. Life is crazy, hectic, and pretty nice these days. I would like to think that the reason I haven't posted is because of my general contentment with the way things are going nowadays. Maybe it's the sign of a content life.

Here's a list of things that are going on, excite me, and generally take up my time...

  1. I have been bombarded (or blessed) with a ton of babysitting work this summer. Not bad!
  2. I start working for a wonderful family from church in the next few weeks, I'll be their nanny AND chef!
  3. I also start chef-ing for my dear friend Susan and Fr. Basil next Monday. The Ruffled Apron is really happening. I am absolutely thrilled! (Check out this post Susan wrote about our initial planning session.)
  4. I got Ruffled Apron business cards! My friend Ben designed the logo for me, and I love the way it turned out! (Sorry I don't have the file with me right now, I'll show the logo to you later.)
  5. I'm probably going to get to move out soon!!! My friend Ashley and I have found the perfect apartment, with a pretty nice landlord (our priest.) I will DEFINITELY show you photos soon.
  6. I have spent hours upon hours looking at home decor. I know that most people wouldn't consider renting to be a great situation for decorating, but I do. I'm thrilled to make the apartment beautiful... even if I can't paint the walls. I while the evenings away looking for great items and on design blogs. Design*sponge has become a favorite, thanks for introducing it to me Andrea!) I've also made some fun purchases for the apartment, including dining room chairs (hello, I have to be able to host a party) an incredible rug, and the prettiest two acrylic stacked ball lamps you ever did see!
  7. Sally and Jason got married! I got to help decorate the Hi Tone for their reception, fun venue huh!? I don't know that I've had that much fun at a wedding reception ever! Many years Mr. and Mrs. Boyle! (Very exciting, and sad. They moved to Jason's house in WI.)
  8. The Harveys are moving. Charlie got a job as an administrator and teacher at an Orthodox school. How awesome is that!? The only problem, is that they're moving to Yakima, WA. NOT AWESOME! (But exciting for them nonetheless.)
  9. Trisha, my sweet goddaughter Cailyn's mom, is going to do Meribeth's job as church secretary. Congrats!
  10. The O'briens hosted a pretty awesome going away bash for them. They're pretty sweet.
  11. I'm housesitting this week. It's fun.
  12. Brandon is on a pilgrimage to Holy Cross Hermitage in WV. He's more than welcome to come back ASAP. I haven't been able to talk to him at all since Sunday afternoon. (No cell phone reception at the Monastery.) It's tough when you're used to being able to call or text someone (for the past two and a half years) and suddenly you can't. But, I'm so happy he got to go, he hasn't ever been to a Monastery before. They are wonderful places to go!
  13. Hannah, Matthew, Peter, (and not yet born little Ada) are here for the summer. (Exciting indeed!) (Except for when they have to go back to St. Tikhon's when seminary starts for them again.
  14. Stacy came to visit. She's been living in Africa. It was great fun to have her here. I only got to know her a bit when she lived here 2 years ago, but we've gotten to know one another even more since she's been gone. (Exciting.)
  15. Clark made me a St. Phanorious cake! Thanks Clark, and St. Phanorious for helping Clark find 7, yes 7 pairs of shoes. Also, congrats to Clark for finding a job!!!
  16. Brandon took me to see Wicked and to Circa for my birthday. Good grief, could I ask for a better boyfriend?
  17. We went to Smithville, TN for the Fiddler's Jamboree and to visit Brandon's grandparents. It was so much fun. We even made a pit stop at the Appalachian Center for Craft and also at the Russel Stover's outlet. Two very nice excursions on a very fun trip!
  18. Ashley and Nathan got engaged! Many years you two crazy kids. I'm so glad I've gotten to know you two, I love you both dearly. Nathan, I'm a little mad that you're taking away my roommate.
  19. New friends, and old friends. I have gotten to spend a lot of time nurturing relationships with my girlfriends lately. I love it! And, I've made quite a few new friends this summer. I love a new friend! I also really love girls nights and dinners out with the girls!
  20. Shell concerts. They may be over, but they're coming back in September. Goodness I love them!
  21. Rhode's pool parties. I love this summer tradition at St. John. It's such a great way for our Parish to bond outside of church!
  22. Some good friends are going to have a baby! I'm so thrilled for them! (Not totally sure it's public yet...)
  23. Claire and Ethan got a house. It's awesome, and is starting to look better and better every day. (The house needed a bit of work, and the ever industrious Van Drims were willing to do it!) It's going to be an awesome house. That Claire, she's got style!
  24. <--- That's how old I turned on my birthday this Saturday. Abby was in town for once. (She's been out of town for my past several birthdays.) She took me to Target to buy some bathroom accessories for my new apartment. Bestest best friend... EVER! Brandon took me to Brother Juniper's on my birthday morning. Brandon's mom made a fabulous birthday lunch for me. And the night before the girls took me out to Noodle Doodle Do (ridiculous name) and then to The Beauty Shop for caramel cake. Such a fun birthday. Thanks for all my presents and birthday wishes everyone! Basically birthday=pig out!
  25. Ooooo, Andrea had a birthday too! It was so fun to catch up with everyone. We also got to see their new house. We're so happy for them, it's beautiful! (PS- Happy 3 year anniversary Andrea and Aaron!
  26. Life is generally pretty great.
Ok, so you all see why I haven't had time to blog. This is why!!! Things are busy, wonderful, and lots of fun.

Talk to you soon. Maybe this time, sooner than two months!

PS- Look at how much I wrote in 20 minutes. INSANE!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

ikea.... ya!?

We're here in Atlanta!  We'll be home tomorrow.  I've had a great time at the beach.  My sunburn is almost completely healed, and I have a pretty nice tan.  

My favorite "Patricia" fabric was not to be found.  I QUICKLY regrouped.  For only $7.99 a yard, I was able to get this amazing fabric.  Honestly the picture doesn't do it justice.  I hated it online, but I love it in person!  The green is perfect, and it's a really funky pattern.  To me, it looks a bit dated in the photo, but it looks really decorator-y in person.  LOVE IT!

My parents recently finished the renovations in my bedroom and were sweet enough to e-mail me photos so I could see it on vacation!  I love those two!  

Note: All of the items purchased on this Ikea run were to outfit my current bedroom are also for my future apartment....  

Meet Majken.
Say hello to my accent fabric: Katrin.  They look amazing together.  I promise.  These two together will make throw pillows, maybe a cushion for a bench, and I think I'm going to stretch a few over canvasses to make some accent wall art.  

My curtains: Matilda.  They're kind of sheer, not usually something I'd go for, but they're neat because they have this little bit of texture.  There are these little knots throughout that look really cool in person and the color is more off-white that bright white.  (Again, you're going to have to trust me on this.)


I got my lamps.   They're awesome! 


I don't have a ton of storage space, so I bought these boxes in lots of sizes in green and black (don't worry, they're currently collapsed, I promise I'm not squashing the Harvey fam too much with all of my purchases!)



This is a quilt to use as a bed-spread.  It's very plain.  I plan to accent it with the throw pillows.  I bought taupe colored sheets, but I figured you didn't need a picture to understand those.
How much do you LOVE these pillow covers?!  Meribeth found them.  I bought two.  They're absolutely perfect for what I need.  They're embellished with crewel embroidery that complements the very 2D fabrics.  

I would like for you to meet my impulse purchase for the trip.  Come on, it's perfect and it was only $6!  I can't wait to invite you all over (at least with photos) to my beautiful new bedroom. 


We ate at the cafe at the store.  They serve Swedish meatballs!  (Don't be too disappointed in me, I tried them.)  It was a pretty cool/ intimidating place to visit.  I can't wait to come back when I have a whole lot more car space, time, and money (I sort of spent WAAAAAAAY too much.)  The place is simply daunting.