Archive | November, 2010

Design loves.

28 Nov

Last spring, while we were preparing to do the (seemingly) annual exodus from one apartment to another, I came across the blog and shop of Shanna Murray. She makes decals, cards, stationary, and the like – and lest there be any doubt, she has no idea who I am, let alone that I’m writing this love letter of a blog post to her, so you can be sure that this is all untainted by freebies.

Her holiday cards are to die for as well – true to her style, they’re simple, elegant, and a little indulgent:

We love our wall decal so much (it hangs in our dining room) that it even

made a guest appearance in our engagement photos.

If you guys somehow don’t know that Olivia Leigh took them yet, I’ll

remind you again just because she’s that awesome and you really

should check out her blog.

I think the decal (which you can buy here) adds something special to our tiny little dining room. I love the warmth it lends to the apartment, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “I’m a decal! Look, I peel off!” – in fact, I’ve had several people ask me if it was painted on. So, from a totally geeky art and design lover, check out Shanna’s work! It’s amazing.

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My oh my, sweet cherry pie!

26 Nov

I had an irresistible craving for cherry pie this Thanksgiving. Vegan pie recipes are not very common, and when I do run across them they tend to have graham cracker or all-shortening based crusts. But before the days of veganism, I didn’t use any shortening, and I’m still not a huge fan of it.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, make her own recipe of course! Since it was a huge hit (so much so that neither R nor I got to taste any!) I thought I’d share it with you all.

Anni’s Sweet Cherry Pie

Crust (double crust)

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup chilled solid non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, such as Earth Balance, cut in pieces
1 1/2 sticks of cold non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance), also cut into pieces
small bowl of ice water, to use as needed

In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or, if you don’t have one, two sharp knives (but really, invest in one, you’ll be glad you did!) and gradually cut in margarine and shortening. Splash in cold water as needed, but not more than 6-8 tablespoons. When all the wet ingredients are added, knead with your hands and form two equally sized balls of dough. Stick these in the refrigerator while you make your filling – or make ahead of time and wrap TIGHTLY in plastic wrap before freezing. This dough really only stays good a day or two in the freezer.

Filling

4 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup cane sugar
dash of sea salt
1/2 lemon (to squeeze juice into mixture)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon Earth Balance margarine, cut in small pieces

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease your pie pan with about a tablespoon of margarine. Then, pit your cherries. I actually found this to be sort of fun with our new cherry pitter! Just be warned that the pits sometimes fly everywhere, so don’t wear your favorite outfit. Mix in your dry ingredients, then the almond extract and juice from your lemon. I find it easiest to do this with my hands, as it tends to get everywhere otherwise!

At this point, I rolled out my crusts and put the bottom crust in my ceramic pie plate. Spoon your cherry mixture into the pie pan, but if an excess of liquid has formed at the bottom of your bowl, only allow a little to dribble onto the mixture. Take your remaining tablespoon of Earth Balance and disperse little pieces throughout the top of the mixture. Cover your filling with the second crust and trim the overhand from the sides. Cut two slits in the middle of the pie to vent, then sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of your crust.

Bake in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake about 25  more minutes. I’ve found that I often have to cover the edges of the crust with tin foil for the first 15 minutes or so of baking, otherwise they begin to burn. The pie is ready when your kitchen smells heavenly and it’s browning on top.

My finished product (sorry for the iPhone picture, we’re currently selling our dSLR so I can afford my 7D!)

Art in an Apartment

24 Nov

I think this applies to all really small spaces – it’s difficult to hang a piece of statement art without it overwhelming the room, and, consequently, the furniture. Which is why I absolutely adore this Chicago home I found on Apartment Therapy:

It’s Almost Thanksgiving

19 Nov

– and Thanksgiving means Christmas has exploded!

It’s official, according to my walk down the street. The blue, snowflake “Lakeview East” banners have gone up… there’s an abundance of Christmas wreathes on campus, and I spotted these to-die-for holiday cards on Hello Lucky.

If they had a Chicago one, I’d snatch that baby up!

I’m on fire.

16 Nov

First, you must listen to this song while reading this entry. Why? Because I said so!

Lately I have been contemplating a big life change.

Growing up, I always assumed that I’d have a very academic job. I considered myself very intellectual, although that mainly consisted of reading entire stacks of classic literature for the fun of it and being a Time subscriber at the age of 11.

I’m not nearly so naive now as to consider myself an intellectual, but I do thrive when reading all sorts of things about philosophy, literature, neuroscience, biology, and the like. I can’t claim to be very smart, but I like to read what I can on these things. So I always felt safer sticking to them.

As many of you know, I’m finishing up a B.S. in Psychology right now. I’ve absolutely loved my college experience, and I’d love for psychology to have a place in my life, although some of my grades have been far from perfect. But as the end of my college time nears, I’m contemplating a very different career path with much less stability.

That scares me half to death! But it’s so exciting at the same time.

 

For your Monday

15 Nov

Love this guy, love this girl – M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

Going to one of my absolute favorite places in our city today:

12 Nov

My Body, My Self.

10 Nov

Generally speaking, I’m a healthy eater. You won’t see any meat or dairy in our apartment (except the pet food!) and we eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies, beans, and whole grains. When we splurge on junk, it’s unprocessed junk, like homemade or local vegan treats or dark chocolate with all natural peanut butter.

But (gasp!) we have our bad days. And this week has been a bad week. We’re both emotional eaters, and that just spirals. Last Tuesday, we found out that a favorite resident (who actually lived in R’s parents’ house for five years) had died suddenly. His funeral was Saturday, and we’re just wrapping up classes and preparing for finals.

Instead of eating healthy and keeping up the yoga like we should have, it nearly stopped. There was a funeral luncheon, busy nights, and some comfort chocolate. I think we’ve all been to that place, and it’s not pretty.

But today I was reading Christopher Hitchens’ column on Vanity Fair, Miss Manners and the Big C. For anyone who doesn’t know, Hitchens has been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy. It’s an eloquent column (per usual) in and of itself, and deserves a read.

But one point really stuck out to me. Hitchens says “I don’t have a body, I am a body.”

I don’t have a body, I am a body. How I treat my body is how I am treating myself. I’m not suggesting no more dark chocolate in the face of a really emotional night. But I know that I really went wrong in not sticking with yoga for the week. Because when I do yoga, I don’t want to put crap into my body. Sure, I might indulge a little, but Im very conscious of what I ask my body to do, and eating junk makes it so much more of a struggle that it’s easy to resist.

Instead, I listened to the part of myself that lives for instant gratification. It’s that little kid inside of all of us: “but I don’t want to stop watching TV” “but it’s cold out and I don’t want to take the dog any farther.”

It’s a cycle – biofeedback. Now my body is telling me that it’s sluggish and tired, and so I sleep or stay inside. I’m not going to snap out of this by thinking, I have to do.

I am my body, I need to do. What is it that your body needs? Do you have a hard time listening to it?

The Best of Sale Shopping

9 Nov

If there was a talent competition in shopping, I’d win.

Does that sound vain? I swear I’m not. But nothing gives me a feeling of satisfaction like knowing I got a great deal on something I adore. Sure, it has its awkward moments – while I was browsing in Barney’s CoOp the other day, the salesgirl asked me where I got my Alexander Wang bag, and when I said Ebay she didn’t quite know how to react. But I got that bag new with tags for over 50% off of retail price (who really cares what season a bag comes out?) and that, to me, is worth it!

So, I thought I’d start a weekly feature on here where I scour online sale sections and post some of the best finds. I decided to start with Anthropologie, because it’s an old classic. They’ve given me some great deals, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. For instance, the time I decided to splurge on a really cute lamp, and I got it for $10 because it wasn’t ringing up. Or the time we got our couch for 50% off because the leg had been damaged when it was being moved into the store.

And of course, my engagement photo top was less than $30 at Anthro’s online sale!

So, today’s picks:

red dresses work almost all year round, and I think this dress would be a great transition from fall to winter. It’s $60 here.

For anyone planning a winter getaway, this super cute vintage bikini top is $20. I have this same one in navy with dots, and use it with a couple different bottoms. It’s really flattering for a C cup or anyone who needs a little more support than your typical unlined/no underwire bikinis. You can check it out on Anthro’s website. The matching bottom is for sale for $10 here.

And because statement pillows are worth a little splurge, this beauty is $50 here.

Happy Tuesday!

Cop Out! Or, my Survey Post

6 Nov

Hey guys, time to admit something: I haven’t been feeling much like writing the past few days. My favorite resident died unexpectedly (although he was elderly and in pain from his condition) and it really threw me for a loop. His funeral is today, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Posting about anything else seems silly for today, but since Kelly posted this fun survey, I thought it’d take a few minutes to fill it out. And let you guys know I haven’t slipped off the face of the earth.

1. If you could only wear one color for the next 10 years, what would it be and why?

Grey or navy blue. I’m boring, I need my colors dark! I think half of the time I have to talk myself into why other colors would be better when buying clothes. My whole wardrobe is blacks, greys, blues, purples, neutrals, and a few bright pieces that don’t go with anything else.

2. If you had to replace the Internet with another activity for 10 days, what would it be and why?

Yoga. I would love it if I had a secret little yoga studio to sneak off to anytime. It’d need to be heated, though, because when I try to do yoga in my living room I shake uncontrollably. I’m ALWAYS cold.

3. What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

Shop. Nothing gives me a high like having the money and time to walk over to Wicker Park/Bucktown and hit up the boutiques… and actually walk out with a few things.

4. What is the strangest food or food combination that you love to eat?

I don’t think my foods are weird, but I’m sure some people do! When I was a kid they were much more interesting, because I was a carbatarian (aka, a vegetarian who lived off carbs because I was too picky for vegetables) – so I’d make up weird concoctions like enchiladas with cottage cheese and cheddar cheese. Now I just throw veggies in everything. I made a burrito last night with spinach, black beans, seitan, potato, and avocado. It was to die for.

5. Who would you want to play you if a movie was made about your life?

Michelle Williams is the comparison I get most often (more when my hair was blonde.) All I can say is, I wish! I don’t know who I look like as a brunette.

6. Which TV show would you like to have a cameo in?

Mad Men. I think it’d be so fun to be made up/dressed up by their wardrobe people. They have the most amazing fashion on any TV show right now. I’m talkin’ to you, Project Runway!

7. What is your absolute favorite dessert item…either homemade or at a restaurant?

Yellow vegan cupcakes with chocolate frosting. My favorite bakery makes a recipe that I’m 99% sure is essentially the one from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which is the one I make, too. But their frosting sets them apart.

8. Which accomplishment in your life are you most proud of and why?

Getting through freshman year of college in one piece. That sounds silly, but it was scary. My parents helped with my tuition, but as far as a place to live, food, etc, I was totally on my own. Rent prices are high in Chicago, and I had a kitty to feed, and it was my first time living with a roommate. I ended up working two jobs while going to school full-time to make it work. I’m pretty sure I was sometimes a walking zombie, but I made it, and it was a huge life experience. Luckily I’m down to one job, so things are more manageable now.

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