Thursday, May 29, 2008

Unemployment rules.

So, in case you hadn't heard, i'm unemployed for the summer, trying to figure out my visa situation for the coming year, sort our employment stuff, but mostly, yknow, just being unemployed.

the cool part is that i get to cook and sew and go to the gym a lot, which is wonderful. I also get to cook with my retired dad, which is fun. my first day home, we made croquettes, see?

(yes, ok, you can't really see the delicious croquettes under the creamy goopy mushroom alfredo, but you can imagine them, can't you? I can, and it's been over a day since I ate the leftovers for lunch.)

Also, my dad and I bought some seven-grain organic flour, and I made maybe the best looking loaf of peasant bread I've ever made (ever seen? seriously good). Maybe tomorrow I'll take a picture.

Other than that, everything I've been doing seems to be retro inspired. I blame A Dress A Day and El Fez Designs flickr, which I've been reading too much of.

But seriously. The last two projects I've made have turned relatively unbeautiful 80s outfits into fifties-inspired skirts. Here's this morning's skirt:

(And yes! That's my dressform, my eighth-grade birthday present, which my mom had been using in her archives museums while I lived in dorms and apartments--happy to be using it again!)

Next I started this red gingham dress, which hopefully will become beautiful later this week (it's a "very easy" butterick pattern, so I'm only allotting a couple days to do it).

It's this pattern, look how beautiful:

And then my mom's been getting rid of half her library, and giving away all her books... So here's my next read, I think:

PS. Did I mention?
Rhubarb Pie.
Sooo good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Travel Photo Wednesday

For my first installment of our new feature, travel photo wednesdays, I'd like to bring you a shot from my trip to Taiwan this past January.

This was taken in Teipei, inside an insanely hip underground (I mean literally below street level) lounge with its own CD shop, music venue, cafe/bar, and some other shop, pictured at the end of this photo. It was totally rad. No idea what the writing on the wall says (maybe it's "no need to be lonely," in Chinese -- See Mal's last post).

More new theme days coming soon. Enjoy!

Travel Photo Wednesdays

Introducing an exciting new feature...every Wednesday, Sidonie and I will each post a photo from past travels.

For my first Travel Photo Wednesday, here is one of my favorite road trip photos. It was taken at a rest stop in either Iowa or Southwestern Minnesota, under a dispenser for a "Country Singles" personal ad newsletter.

Of course, since I'm studying in Germany right now I have lots of European travel photos, and I'm sure you'll see some of them as well - there are a lot of Wednesdays in the future.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tiki, tiki, burning bright

At 9AM on the morning of my roommate Liza's golden birthday (actually the day before), she told me she wanted to throw a tiki party.
This was an extremely good decision.

Surprisingly enough, you can get everything you need for a tiki party in Grinnell, IA (without shopping at Wal-Mart).

Everything you need for a tiki party:
- Great, large wooden deck off the kitchen
- Big back yard
- Pineapple
- Mango
- Unripe mango (or was it a cactus pear?)
- Tiki torches and tiki oil
- Strawberries to add to the jug of Carlo Rossi left behind by friends
- Hint of Lime tortilla chips & mango salsa
- Rainbow sherbet to add to other drinks
- The Ashley (one of Liza's excellent concoctions, made even better by sherbet)
- A beer-run to kum & go halfway through the night (sign of a successful party)

The photos probably speak for themselves:

On the realization I had nothing appropriately "tiki" to wear, I made a new skirt for the occasion from a dress I never wore.

Strawberries & jug wine... It must be just about the end of college.

My camera takes terrible pictures after sunset, but we had quite the spread. Here's part of it:

Believe it or not, this was my first experience cutting pineapple.

An Ashley with sherbet...

A great early summer party, if blurry.

The night definitely made me think of my first party in this house, Mal's and my housewarming, almost a year ago now (see it here).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Morocco, part two

As promised, here are some snapshots of the more adventurous parts of the big Morocco/Spain adventure. Early on, we decided that "vacation" just wasn't the right word. It conjures up something much more relaxing than Morocco's constant (usually pleasant) assault on the senses.

Adventure 1: Camels

Adventure 2: Mountains (getting here involved an unfortunate meeting of taxi and dog that I won't detail any further)

Adventure 3: Dinner in Marrakech

Adventure 4: High-pressure souvenier purchasing (I became a very adept haggler)

Adventure 5: Cheap hotels (ever wonder what 5 euros per night will get you?)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moments from morocco

I've been in Morocco and Spain for the past week or so, which (partly) explains my long absence from the blog. Of course, I have lots of stories and pictures and adventures to share, but if I commit to describing the whole trip in a marathon post I am sure I will just never get around to it at all. So I'm going to try to share some little bits throughout the next few days.

Even though I saw lots of exciting, unusual things that I never see in my everyday life (skinned whole goat heads, fire jugglers, camels, piles of steaming snails, etc.), some of my favorite moments in Morocco were, unsurprisingly, the little breaks we took to sit down for a little while and enjoy something simple:

like fresh mint tea overlooking the beach in Essaouira,

fresh cherries by the side of a river in the High Atlas Mountains,

or fresh squeezed orange juice at one of many stalls in the main square in Marrakech.

The hot chocolate and churros that we had in Spain on the last night of the trip would be here too, if I had a picture, but sadly I don't. Just imagine the darkest, thickest hot chocolate possible and a frighteningly large platter of long tubes of fried dough. Mmmmm...

Some of my other favorite simple treats were fresh bread purchased on the street in Fez (a desperately needed snack when we got lost navigating the most winding, confusing streets I have ever encountered) and almond-filled pastries and tea at a tiny cafe in Fez (another impromptu snack stop when we once again found ourselves lost and hungry).

Hopefully, I will update with some more stories and some of my purchases in the next few days. First, though, I have to deal with one extremely smelly backpack.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

leftover post from my cooking overload...

As mentioned below, last weekend was sort of a cooking/baking binge for me.

Maybe the best thing I made, though, was spinach-ricotta gnocchi with red wine tomato sauce... it pretty much ruled.

First thing was to make the sauce and then let it simmer for, like, 45 minutes while we did everything else. Slow cooking... awesome.

Next step was to make the gnocchi mix. I'd only ever had potato-based gnocchi before, so this was a real treat for me. Plus, how cool does this spinach-cheese-egg mix look?

Lots of flour made them stick together!

Then they got the parmesan-broiler treatment!

And that really made the meal.
But what really made the meal (besides my handmade flying-objects-themed placemats!) were the cheese straws, pictured below. They were another product of my day spent in the kitchen. Really I made them for a party, but they went well with the meal, too.

This meal was amazing. We had no leftovers (except the cheese straws).

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Today was crepe day.

And let's face it: more days in our lives should be crepe days.

But today was a fruit crepe day, and Brian and I bought blackberries, strawberries, bananas and homemade raspberry-rhubarb jam to fit the theme.

Crepes, for some reason, feel really luxurious to me.
The strange thing is, they are super easy to make! They come out so delicate and rich, and I definitely prefer them to pancakes, but they may actually be among the easiest meals I can think of.

And there's nothing like a blank canvas.

...except maybe a bright and colorful one, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Oh! Oh, yes.

Other culinary items on today's agenda include:
- ricotta/spinach gnocchi with red wine tomato sauce for dinner,
- rosemary peasant bread, which I adore and make about twice times a week, and
- cheese straws, which sounds really weird from the name but seem to be like thin, cheesy breadsticks. I can't wait.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Follow-up on the Craft Fair

As promised, here are some photos from the Grinnell Student Craft & Art Fair last Sunday. In the first couple, Fiona shows off some handmade earrings.

And here Lindsay demonstrates hand-spinning yarn.

See the previous post for more details on the fair itself.

And can we appreciate for a moment how lovely the JRC101 is, with those huge windows? It's a really nice space.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fair is Fair

Grinnell College didn't know what it was missing before this year, seriously.

This past Sunday we hosted our second ever Craft & Art Fair on campus. The first took place last November, after Mal and our friend Fiona and I finally decided to put one together. It was a remarkable success--a surprisingly remarkable success for most of us, I think.

I'd never sold anything I'd made before that Craft Fair, and we had a number of other newbies like me, as well as some experienced budding entrepreneurs in the group. It was really a great mix.

This semester's fair, with Mallory gone & me not selling (just organizing and playing cashier), didn't feel quite as full, but was certainly as successful. We had hundreds of people stop by--and that's huge, on our busy little campus of just 1500 students.

One woman from town bought $100 of handspun yarn from one of our sellers; Fiona herself sold dozens of pairs of earrings made from watch-parts, typewriter keys, etc. And yes, some vibrator cozies were sold. Even a winter hat sold (although this cold April has certainly made that less surprising).

I took some pictures on Fiona's camera phone, having of course forgotten my own camera. I'll post them when I get them.