Category Archives: Life

26

Today is my birthday. I’m 26.

A year ago today, I was in the midst of heavy wedding planning, a bout of pneumonia, getting everything in line for my exit show, and freaking out a little bit about being 25. Well, year-ago me, 25 was pretty great. Let’s hope that 26 is pretty great as well.

I’m thankful to have such wonderful, patient, loving, and supportive family. (Ok, Wednesday isn’t really patient, but we’ll overlook that. She can’t help it if she believes it should be cat time 24/7.)

Since I don’t really have anything profound to say, here are some early Lauren birthday photos. I still make that same cake face, and I do get ketchup all over my face from time to time.

Hooray for cake, and hooray for another year.

Pretty Ugly Pie

A week or two ago, we bought some downright awful apples. (Serves me right for stepping away from the ever-reliable Granny Smith variety.) I’d been on a hunt to figure out what locally-grown rainbow-ish red apples that I bought a few years ago at a produce stand, and, well, these sad McIntosh apples were not the same. I know not all McIntosh apples are mealy and tasteless, but these were. Sorry, tangent.

Anyway, I couldn’t bear throwing away (sort-of) perfectly good (ha!) produce, so I wanted to at least try to do something with the little devils. Enter a Google search, a weird want for pie, a need for something moderately not-awful-for-you, and something low maintenance, I found a “Rustic Apple Pie” recipe by Ellie Krieger. (She makes me want to claw my eyeballs out on video, but some of her stuff is very well done.) The fact that we were snowed in coupled with my lack of want to fall on my hiney while walking to Publix led me to make a few changes to her recipe. (If you want to read/look at hers, go right ahead.) I was surprised at how ridiculously delicious it was, and how ugly, yet slightly charming, it was. Want to make it? Go for it.

Pretty Ugly Apple Pie

Ingredients

1 cup of whatever flour you have on hand

2 teaspoons of granulated sugar or sugar-substitute

2 pinches of table salt

4-5 tablespoons of COLD, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons skim milk

3 tablespoons ice water

3 apples (I used 2 of the mealy-awfuls and one Granny Smith)

Juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

(Here comes a ghetto part!) 2-or-so tablespoons from a low-sugar Cinnamon and Spice Quaker Instant Oatmeal (The original recipe called for cornstarch as a thickener, and cinnamon as a seasoning, but I had neither on hand, so I improvised. 4 stars for this improvisation, I think.)

Another tablespoon of brown sugar

Boiling water

Directions

For the crust, haul out a food processor. Combine the flour, salt, and granulated sugar in the food processor, just a few whirls. Then add the butter and pulse until combined. You’ll notice little sandy pebbles form. Add the skim milk and ice water, then pulse until it turns into a nice dough ball. (Hooray for a virtually zero-effort pie crust.) Flatten the dough ball a little, wrap in plastic, and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

While you’re waiting for the dough to firm up, core and slice up your apples and toss in the lemon juice. After they’re coated, add in the brown sugar and instant oatmeal mixture (or cinnamon and cornstarch, if you’re not going renegade). Mix around with your hands to combine.

By this time, your dough is ready, and you have two options. Option 1, the option of a sane person, is to roll your dough ball out, with a little bit of flour, until it’s about 9 inches in diameter. Option 2, the option of someone who accidentally THREW THEIR ROLLING PIN AWAY WHEN MOVING AND DIDN’T REALIZE IT UNTIL THEY WERE MAKING THIS PIE, is to manually smush and stretch your dough out until it’s about 9 inches in diameter. (Kind of fun, like making pizza dough.) Place your rolled out dough on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, aluminum foil, wax paper (probably not the best option, since wax paper sometimes likes to get smoky at high temps). Mound your apple mixture in the center of the dough, leaving as close to a 2 inch border as you can. Stretch sections of the dough up and slightly over on the sides, and fold/pinch the joints together.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes. Pull the pie out when the crust is brown and the apples look cooked.

Make a quick glaze from the tablespoon of brown sugar mixed with a little bit of boiling water to your desired thinness. Pour over edges and center of delicious (and probably ugly) pie. Cut into six wedges, then try not to down it all in one day.

Ellie’s recipe has 230 calories per wedge, and I’m guessing that mine is a hair lower than that (BRING IT!), given that I omitted raisins and buttermilk. Don’t take my word for it, but I’ll bet it’s pretty dang close.

Go forth, make easy ugly pie, and eat it.

Christmas Music Extravaganza!


Fairytale of New York – No Use for a Name (Creepy random YouTube video, I know.)


I have a thing for any sort of Christmas media. I watch Christmas movies year round, and love making ridiculously long Christmas mixes.

I’ve accrued a great deal of songs over the years, and every year, I revamp my “select” Christmas music mix. (I still retain a full playlist of all of them, but a girl’s got to pick some yearly favorites!) One year it was only jazz and swing music, one year it was only punk covers, one year it was Christmas movie soundtracks, one year it was only super-pretty indie. This year? A mush of all of it. Without further ado, here’s this year’s mix of 26 of my favorites, in no particular order.

  1. Angels We Have Heard on High – Relient k
  2. Better Do It Right – Smash Mouth
  3. Christmas of Love – Little Isidor and the Inquisitors
  4. Come Though Fount of Every Blessing – Sufjan Stevens
  5. Deck the Halls – Relient k
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear – Rosie O’Donnell & Elmo (Ridiculously adorable. I can’t help but love it. Irritates the mess out of some.)
  7. Fairytale of New York – No Use for a Name (Ultimate favorite non-traditional Christmas song. Played year-round.)
  8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Relient k
  9. Handel’s Messiah – Relient k
  10. Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Carol of the Bells – SHeDAISY
  11. The Hat – Ingrid Michaelson (Another super-favorite. When I worked at Old Navy, this was a part of their mix, and I loved hearing it every time it came on.)
  12. I Saw Three Ships – Sufjan Stevens
  13. I’ve Got a Boner for Christmas – Nerf Herder (Completely inappropriate, but it always makes both of us laugh. It’s just, yeah. NSFW.)
  14. Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming – Sufjan Stevens (Adore this song, any version, so much so that we had it played during the unity candle lighting at our wedding.)
  15. Lonely Christmas Eve – Ben Folds
  16. Nuttin’ for Christmas – Smash Mouth
  17. O Come O Come Emmanuel – Sufjan Stevens
  18. O Holy Night – Relient k
  19. Oi to the World – No Doubt
  20. Peppermint Winter – Owl City
  21. Silent Night – Priscilla Ahn
  22. Sleigh Ride – Relient k
  23. So This Is Christmas? – Mxpx
  24. We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Relient k
  25. Zat You, Santa Claus? – Smash Mouth
  26. Pennies from Heaven – Louis Prima

Hope you can add some of these to your Christmas playlist! Everybody loves new Christmas songs, right?

All of these songs are available via iTunes and for a listen on YouTube, and if I weren’t such a busy bee I’d probably link to all of them. Later, I hope!

Wishery

Lovely. By the creator of the Upular mash-up, which will always hold a bit of my heart.

Let the quarter-life crisis begin!

Today is my birthday. Today I am…

Untitled-1I really can’t believe I’m 25. Seriously. I should be a grown-up by now, but I’m not.

While I’m 25, I will..

  1. Graduate with an art degree
  2. Get married
  3. Move
  4. God knows what else

Wish me luck for this Golden Birthday. (For those of you don’t know, your Golden Birthday is when your age matches your date. I was born on 1/25/85, ergo my golden birthday is my 25th). I still have pneumonia, which sucks as far as birthday conditions go, but I’m still going to a fabulous dinner tonight with my parents and JP at Sotto Sotto.

As far as birthday presents are concerned, I know JP has bought me Adobe Lightroom 2, but I have no earthly idea what I have coming from my parents. We shall see!

Anyway, that’s what’s up today. I’m also working on a new flower post, as well as a giant color post and a nailed-down theme one. Be excited.

Checca Checca Checca!

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Checca [pronounced KEKKA] is one of my most favorite pasta dishes EVER. I first had it forever ago at Figo, and decided to attempt to copy it. I think I did a pretty damned good job, if I do say so myself! The sauce is so easy, and requires no cooking. It takes about 3 seconds, I swear. People love love love love love it.

You’ll need…

  • – big bunch of fresh basil
  • – head of garlic
  • – 2 really large ugly ripe (or other heirloom) tomatoes
  • – buffalo mozzarella
  • – good extra virgin olive oil
  • – kosher salt
  • – garlic salt
  • – freshly ground pepper
  • – 4 tbsp butter
  • – 1 loaf french bread
  • – 1 lb pasta

First, begin boiling the water for the pasta. Preheat oven to 350. Then peel and finely chop the whole head of garlic. (I use the food processor, even though it is my arch nemesis. I’m usually a knife purist, but this just takes too long for such a fast dinner!) Take out about two tablespoons of the garlic and put it in whatever you’re serving the pasta in. (A big big bowl works well). Pour in about a quarter cup… or less… of olive oil. (I just eyeball it). Then wash and sliver the basil, put it in the bowl, stir around. Throw in some kosher salt, a few pinchfulls. Wash and chop the tomatoes in big chunks. (About 1″ square pieces). Throw those guys in the bowl. Take the buffalo mozzarella out of it’s watery bin, and chunk that up like the tomatoes and throw it in the bowl. Put in about a teaspoon of garlic salt, and grind in however much pepper you like. (I just swish the garlic salt over the top). Stir around and if everything doesn’t seem coated enough by the oil, add some more. Let all of that hang out in the bowl.

Take the butter and throw it into the processor with the garlic. Whir and whip it around until its combined, then spread on halved french bread. Grind pepper over them. (Cut it down the long way, and then into however large you want the pieces to be. This is for the side!) You can leave all of the bread parts out, but it’s so delightful to dip in the pasta sauce remnants. Put the bread in the oven, cook the pasta.

Wait.

Ok, now pasta’s done, bread’s done. (Bread’s done when it is golden and delightful). Take a slightly-less-than-ladle-full of pasta water and put it into the big bowl. Drain pasta, toss in big bowl, serve with the bread, and proceed to NOM your heart out!

P.S. Sorry for the lack of Checca pictures! I need to take photos when I make it next time!

Next Halloween…

So, well, this Halloween, the only thing we decorated or dressed up was the cat. Next year, I think P should be the lead singer from this wonderful vid, and I’ll either be present-girl or one of his minions. Wednesday can be the doberman pinscher.

Watch and enjoy. And giggle at an Italian butchering some German.

“I thought these were an urban shoe myth!”

So, I’ve been in hot-hot-shoe-love with the Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes since, well, this episode aired. I’ve been a Blahnik fan for years and years and years, got my first pair in 2003, but these puppies have always held a special place in my heart.
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Well, on Sunday, JP and I went on an epic adventure to Neiman Marcus, complete with my mother’s fancy NM card. There, I saw the Blahniks, and they had them in my size! I could be the owner of my very own urban shoe myth! I tried them on, but my stupid arch was too high! I thought I was going to cry little tears, but the shoe guy saved the day. “Oh, we might have these in a size bigger.”

Now sometimes I can get all weird about the sizes of things, but most of the time I’m like, “Whatev. Nobody checkin’ my tags anyway.” And for these Blahniks, I’d wear 42 sizes bigger than my normal!

Lo and behold, they fit. They were a little long length-wise, but arch-wise we were all good. I [read: my mother's credit card] bought them on the spot.

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I’d love for these to be my wedding shoes, but I need some flatty-flat flats for that. Perhaps I’ll get Sir Blahnik to make a pair of these in a flat? In my dreams. Rest assured that these shoes will have some play in wedding-land. I’m thinking engagement shoot as of now!