Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Format - The First Single

This song is old (from 2002), but I just discovered it through this Glitter Guide profile on Blair Eadie, whose fashion blog Atlantic-Pacific I check daily.  The Format was an American indie rock band formed by Nate Ruess and Sam Means. They announced a hiatus back in 2008, so no more new music from The Format, although you can still buy some of their old t-shirts and other merch online.

They have some other good songs, including "She Doesn't Get It," although I think "The First Single" is their best as some of their other songs get more poppy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dots on Dots

{Dress: J. Crew (old, similar here), Coat: Marc New York (from Nordstrom Rack, similar here), Tights: Target, Booties: Sam Edelman, Purse: J. Crew (old, similar here), Gloves: Target, Watch: Anne Klein, Necklace: old}

A warm outfit for a cold winter day, with the added interest of a red coat, red lips, and leopard print shift.

Photos by Megan Nugent.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather

This song has been getting a fair amount of radio play here in Portland, so maybe you've heard it already, but   I think it's a nice little bouncy song, and the music video is kind of sweet.  The Neighbourhood is an indie band from Thousand Oaks, California, and while I don't think their sound is anything we haven't heard before (and some of their artistic pretensions are downright annoying), they have a couple of nice songs.

They released a couple of EP's in 2012, but their debut full-length album is supposed to come out in March 2013.  They're playing here in Portland at the Crystal Ballroom on February 22nd, and tickets are only $0.94.  They also just released a music video for their song "Let it Go."

Image via.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekend Brunch

My sister and I had Steph over for brunch last weekend, and made Eggs Florentine, which are kind of like Eggs Benedict, but with sauteed spinach instead of canadian bacon.  We served it with home fries and sweet & spicy bacon.

I think you all should saute the spinach and cook your potatoes howsoever you choose, but the two good takeaways were the Hollandaise sauce recipe we pulled from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and our standby way to cook sweet & spicy bacon from Orangette, which is baked in the oven and thus doesn't splatter grease all over your stove, and is also super delicious.

To assemble the Eggs Florentine, you just toast some English Muffins, and then layer on your sauteed spinach, poached egg (good tutorial here), and hollandaise sauce, and then top with a dash of paprika.

Hollandaise Sauce, from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook:
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
dash of hot sauce

Cut the butter into small bits and melt gently is a small saucepan until 3/4 melted.  Remove from the heat and stir until the remaining pieces melt - which ensures your butter doesn't get too hot.

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a dash of hot sauce.  Blend at high speed until pale yellow a smooth, about 30 seconds.  While the blender is running, drizzle in the melted butter, slowly at first and then gradually in a thin stream until all added.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or lemon juice if needed.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Sweet & Spicy Bacon, from Orangette:
1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
0.25 tsp cayenne
0.25 tsp black pepper
1 lb bacon (roughly 12 slices)

Position an over rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and peppers.

Arrange the bacon slices in one layer, not overlapping, on a rack on a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan or directly on the pan itself.  (It is important that your pan has a lip, because the bacon will give off its fat, which you don't want falling onto the bottom of your oven.)  Bake the bacon for 25 minutes.  Turn the slices over, and sprinkle them evenly with the spiced sugar.  Continue baking until the bacon is crisp, about 20-30 minutes more, checking every so often.  Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pinback - Fortress

Thanks goes out to my friend Laura for the Pinback introduction.  I'm going to their concert here in Portland with her tomorrow night and have been listening to a bunch of their music in preparation.

Pinback is an indie rock band from San Diego, California, formed back in 1998.  Their most recent of many albums, "Information Received," came out back in October, but they've got a bunch of good stuff.

Image via.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gray & Blue

{Jacket: J. Crew (currently on sale), Dress: J. Crew (old, similar here), Tights: Target, Boots: Fergie (old, similar here), Necklace: Harlow, Watch: Anne Klein}

Some poor lighting, but I wanted to share an outfit entirely inspired by pieces I've seen Steph wear and then went out and bought.  Thanks Steph!  Also, a good chance to wear my new jacket, that's currently on sale - hurry, before they run out of your size!

Photos by Megan Nugent.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Green Mexico Smoothie

I'm adding my two cents to the veritable flood of green smoothie information on various blogs.  This one is based on a smoothie my sister had every day while on vacation in Sayulitas, Mexico, except we've omitted the fresh cactus, which isn't as easily sourced here in Portland, Oregon.

I'm not very good at remembering to eat breakfast in the morning, as anything that adds to my morning routine (ie would make me wake up earlier) usually gets dropped in favor of sleep.  Sometimes I manage some peanut butter toast or yogurt and granola, but only if I have the ingredients at work, so that I can assemble it once I get in to the office.  However, smoothie ingredients can be thrown in the blender the night before and only require a couple of minutes in the morning to mix and dump in a mason jar to be carried to work.  So as part of our New Year's attempt at healthier eating, my sister and I have been making green smoothies most mornings.  In the middle of this process, we've also upgraded to a Vitamix, which has improved the consistency notably (particularly those celery strings visible below), although is not necessary.  I'm excited to try some other smoothie recipes out there, particularly this one from The Muffin Myth, but feel free to share your favorite smoothie recipes.

As with all smoothie recipes, the amounts of each ingredient are negotiable and come down to personal preference/what you have in your fridge, so feel free to edit/substitute to your heart's delight.

Green Mexico Smoothie
(serves 2)

2-3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
handful (~1/4 cup) of parsley, chopped
2-3 cups of spinach
1 cup canned pineapple, plus some of the canning liquid
1/2 cup silken tofu, diced
1/2 cup water (or more for desired consistency)

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smoothie reaches desired consistency, adding more water or other liquid as needed to get blender going.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brown & Blue

{Jacket: Michael Kors (old from Nordstrom Rack, similar here), Sweater: H&M (similar here and here and here), Tee: Gap, Scarf: scarf shop, Jeans: Joe's (old from Nordstrom Rack, similar here), Boots: J. Crew (old, similar here), Purse: J. Crew (old, similar here), Gloves: Target, Sunglasses: Michael Kors}

A warm outfit to walk to a weekend brunch with Steph and Chad a couple of weeks ago, with some silly posing.

Photos by Megan Nugent.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blind Pilot - Half Moon

Thanks to my lovely friend Annie for the Blind Pilot introduction.  They're an indie folk band based here in Portland.  Their first album, "3 Rounds and a Sound," came out back in 2008, but they have a more recent album from 2011, "We Are the Tide" of which NPR called the songs "remarkably sturdy, gorgeous."

I've been enjoying "Half Moon," but they have some other great songs too, and they're playing with the Oregon Symphony here in Portland in April.

Image via.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter brights

{Sweatshirt: Target (old, similar here), T-shirt: J. Crew, Jeans: Target (old, similar here), Boots: Target (old, similar here), Scarf: Fuchsia (old, similar here), Purse: J. Crew (or available on eBay), Sunglasses: Michael Kors}

Often in the winter I find myself wearing all black, or all gray (as above), so sometimes it's nice to throw in a brightly colored accessory or piece, to keep it all from getting too boring.  I was also excited to model some of my Christmas presents, this amazing purse from Stephanie and the killer sunglasses from Megan (even indoors).

Photos by Megan Nugent.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mujadara & Things to Cook in January

There hasn't been much cooking going on in light of the pervasive sickness, but we did manage to make a batch of mujadara one afternoon.  Also, now that I'm feeling better there will hopefully be more to come.  This recipe is an old one from Orangette and was perfect for a cough-filled afternoon because it can be made from pantry items and takes a little while to pull together.  Mostly it just takes a while to properly caramelize the onions, as per this article sourced by Claire, which give the dish most of its flavor and so can't really be cheated. We also added some red pepper flakes for additional flavor, and because they pretty much go in most everything in our house.

While it is certainly not very photogenic, it is tasty, and good comfort food for winter.  I ate the leftovers yesterday for lunch, and inadvertently followed Molly's advice exactly, with a grapefruit for dessert.

We have been getting a fair amount of cabbage in our produce box, so I'm excited to try out this Asian Cabbage Salad from Tea & Cookies, and this Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad from The Yellow House.  We also just got turnips, which I don't think I've ever cooked before, so I'm looking to this NYTimes blog entry for inspiration.

I've also been diving into the archives of The Yellow House, and this Collard Cobbler sounds delicious, and another nice way to indulge my love of vegetables with grits, just in cornmeal biscuit form.

Also, in the hopes of starting the new year off well, my sister and I have been thinking about trying Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse.  Granted, we haven't started yet, so we'll see if we get around to it this month, let alone this year, but I thought it was an interesting idea worth sharing, even if only to pull a couple of recipes or the general idea behind it.

And on that note, I've also been thinking about Apartment Therapy's January Cure, for getting your space in order.  Granted, once again, I haven't actually done any of these tasks yet, meaning I'm already 10 days behind, although I take that back, I have set up an Outbox.  I have a notoriously hard time getting rid of stuff, so the slowly weaning away, and emotional detachment before physical detachment, will really help me, I think.

Also, I'm not feeling badly about my lack of progress on either of these tasks.  At the beginning of the year it's so easy to fall into the resolution, failure, guilt cycle, that this year I'm opting out, at least of the guilt portion.  I've made some resolutions because it's nice to have something to strive for, but there's no need to beat yourself up over them.

Mujadara, from Orangette

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tsp. salt, plus more for serving
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large saute pan/skillet/Dutch over, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized, a rich shade of amber.  If they're burnt and blackened in spots, even better.  This takes a while.  Depending on the size of your pan and your stove, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

While the onions cook, put the lentils in a small-medium saucepan, add water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

When the onions are ready, stir in the rice.  Add the cooked lentils, along with 2 cups of water, the salt, and red pepper flakes (to your taste).  Stir to mix well, and bring the pan to a boil.  Reduce the heat to keep the pan at a slow simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is done.  This last step will depend on the size and shape of pan you use, but should take roughly 25-40 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and give the pot a stir.  If there is still visible liquid, replace the lid and keep cooking.  If there is no obvious liquid, taste some to check the doneness of the rice.  If the rice isn't there yet, add some more water and keep cooking until it is.  It's all ready when the rice is tender and there's no liquid left.

Serve with additional salt and hot sauce, if needed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ellie Goulding - Anything Could Happen

I just heard this song on the radio the other day and have been hooked since.  Ellie Goulding is an English singer-songwriter and musician.  "Halcyon" is her second studio album and came out back in October.  "Anything Could Happen" is the first single.

She's currently touring in the U.S. and will even make it to Portland, playing at the Crystal Ballroom on February 6, 2013.

Album banner via.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reading Lately, in the sick house

At any one time I am usually in the midst of a couple of books, which either works out brilliantly or makes it terribly hard to keep the stories straight, but these two were particularly interesting to read at the same time.  Also, a bout of illness over the holidays allowed me to finally finish them both, in addition to a few others I had lying around.  It's always nice to start out the new year tidying up loose ends.  Finally, I've really been enjoying Rachel's posts over on Heart of Light on her current reading, and so thought I would try out a couple of reading posts here.

"Quiet" was recommended to me by my mother, and as a self-described introvert planning on attending business school in the fall, it was particularly interesting and helpful.  The author does a good job of keeping the book engaging, which I often find not the case with nonfiction.  Also, while decidedly written from the viewpoint of another introvert, I think the book would be interesting for people of either personality type, if only to help unpack how people can react so very differently to similar situations.  My friend Arden introduced me to the idea of personality types and how better understanding your own and others' can really improve your professional and personal relationships, more about one such test here.  I found this book to be a good introduction to one particular aspect of personality types, and a well-researched and thoughtful fleshing out of something that is usually presented as a dichotomy, as in, you're either an introvert or an extrovert but there's nothing in between.

I can't remember now how I found "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth," but I think I mostly enjoyed reading it in conjunction with "Quiet."  It is also nonfiction, which is probably something of a record for me as I tend to read a lot more fiction, but quite a bit drier than "Quiet."  The author follows multiple high school student outcasts or geeks for about a year, and details how the attributes that make them unpopular in high school are exactly the same attributes that will make them successful as adults or even in college.  There is so much cruelty that goes on in high school and even middle school, which makes certain sections painful to read, especially for someone who struggled through high school.  Overall, I thought it was an interesting read, but she gets quite prescriptive in the end, giving advice to teenagers, parents of high school students, and teachers, none of which was relevant for me.  Also, she pretty well hits you over the head with her thesis and wraps up each student's story line a little too neatly in my opinion.

Photo from my instagram.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Afternoon Tea & some resolutions

I spent New Years Day at Afternoon Tea at the Heathman Hotel here in Portland, and I highly recommend it.  It was the perfect venue for making inappropriate jokes and mocking first world problems.  It was also delicious and a wonderful way to catch up with good friends.  The best examples both came from Gahlya: "My monogram came out wrong." and "These dollar bills are too crumpled, and I have too many.  They're making my wallet too fat."

I hope 2013 is treating all of you well so far, with jokes to keep you laughing.  I think it's going to be a big year, this one, with my best friend having a baby and then business school in the fall.  In preparation, here are my resolutions, with the hope that writing them out here might actually make me more likely to fulfill them.

  1. Figure out what I want (both big and small things) and don't be afraid to ask for it (aka remember I am the main event in my own life).
  2. Go to bed earlier (stolen from Megan).
  3. Be more intentional about how I spend money.
  4. Own less crap (stolen from Mighty Girl).
  5. Get more outfit posts up on this here blog.

Do you guys have any good resolutions I should steal?

Picture from Megan's instagram.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

alt-J - Fitzpleasure

This song has been out for a while, but I just rediscovered it the other day.  The album "An Awesome Wave" came out in September in the US.

alt-J is a British alternative indie rock quartet, named so because if you hit alt-J on a Mac, you get the Greek letter Delta, which is the band's logo.

Image via.
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