Saturday, January 31, 2009

More LA Pictures

Jess has better ones on her camera, I think...but these are pretty rad.

Jess has better ones on her camera, I think...

Friday, January 30, 2009

so you think you can dance?

Admission to the Getty: $2.50 per person
Iced tea to drink while we walk around and enjoy the sun: $2.00
Watching two grown men participate in a dance-off: priceless

Thursday, January 29, 2009

spicy artichoke tomato soup

To make up for tempting you with those naughty but oh so delish cookies last week, I cooked up a big ol' batch of this healthy, spicy soup just for you. Ok, it was really for Pete and me but if you hop on a plane right now, I promise to have a bowl waiting for you when you get off the plane. 

Spicy Artichoke Tomato Soup

1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can diced or whole tomatoes, slightly pureed (you don’t want it to be totally smooth)
4 cups stock
1 12 oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts (I get mine at Trader Joe's), thawed and chopped finely (you could probably use canned here as well, but I don't recommend the marinated kind)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 T fresh thyme, minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
squirt of siracha (how much really depends on how spicy you like it)
1/3 cup sour cream

Sauté onion in olive oil until tender, add minced garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or so. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sour cream and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Taste as it simmers and adjust for your preferred level of spiciness. Stir in sour cream, simmer a bit more and serve.

I served this with my girl Ina’s biscuits. These are my go-to biscuits because they are both easy and super versatile. I've made them with cheddar, chives, rosemary, whatever I have lying around gets tossed in. Tonight I threw in some parmesan, used half whole wheat, half white flour and replaced the half and half with skim milk. Pete also thinks these are tasty toasted, smeared with butter and slathered in honey. As Ina says, "How can that be bad?"

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Started with Boots

Hi. I know, it's been too long for me too. Over President's weekend, Jed and I visited Pete and Jess in LA. Everything was so great. One day, Jess and I went to the Santa Monica Flea Market, which alone was enough to make me secretly wish that one day Jed will have a great job with the Lakers or the Dodgers or even the Sparks.

One booth was filled with so many amazing vintage boots. my eyes kept going back to a pair of booties that said DEX on the sole. of course, i was a little drunk so i couldn't be bothered to try the shoes on or to remember the brand. A few days later, Jess reminded me that the brand was Dexter. I had to find a pair, ASAP. so I turned to ebay, my trusty source for goods when i am too lazy to look for anywhere else.

I couldn't find the exact shoes I saw in LA, but I did find a close second (see above). I bid, and a day later, found out that I had won. I told rach and jess and they both responded in the same way dh did a few ebay buys ago: "maybe it's time i get on ebay."

ebay is so simple. it's time to overcome any anxiety and be empowered to use the tool that will help you get boots or 1980s sundresses or vintage sewing patterns or stained glass windows for your mom's birthday.

On ebay, you don't have to have a username or password to look. search the same way you do craigslist. type any terms you want. Try to be as specific as possible to reduce intense feelings of overwhelmingness. In the past few weeks, I bought 2 sewing patterns from the early 1970s, the boots and just now, while typing this post, Fromer's 2008 Paris Guide (for $2.00).

Check it out and be sure to share your finds. What's the best thing you've found on ebay? What are your go-to search words? There was a time when mine were "vintage linen" and "pyrex nesting bowls". Happy shopping.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

chocolate toffee cookies

Now I know that the holidays are over and that instead of yummy cookies and festive tarts, we are all trying to focus on good for you salads and hearty soups, but I just can't help it. I made these cookies for our first annual cookie swap at work and meant to talk about them back then, but got sidetracked. I was reminded of them today when, a full 4 weeks after the fact, I got yet another request to make them again. My coworkers are so desperate, they even offered to chip in and buy the ingredients.  That, my friends, is a mighty fine cookie.


Melty chocolatey goodness. Swoon.

Even though the sprinkle of sea salt sounds weird, DO IT. It elevates this cookie from "good", to "we're going to have to log some extra hours climbing the stairs".

Look at all those crackles. 

You can find the recipe here. I deviated from it only in that I skipped, OK, forgot to add the walnuts, and I used Skor bars instead of Heath bars (but I think they are pretty much the same thing right?). Regardless, they are totally delish and would definitely make your weekend a bit better.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

ABB LA edition

Greetings from LA.  The Bronsteins invaded the Burton/Huester household and we are an unstoppable foursome.  LA is warm and sunny and we all spent the day outside at the Getty and then touring Malibu.  dh is cat sitting and texted me that she was leaving our sink dripping because pipes are freezing in the Fishtown.  
Tomorrow brings AM farmers market, EAGLES and then the flea market.  Monday is the tar pits.  Pictures will be posted soon.  until then, stay warm east coast.  I'll soak up enough vitamin D to bring back and share.   xoxo 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

fit in '09

Part of my plan for making 2009 and beyond a bit better was to be more active, to incorporate physical activity into my everyday life and to make it something I enjoy as opposed to something I force myself to do. Part of what makes that hard for me is that I just do not enjoy going to the gym. Seriously, it is downright painful for me, I would much rather be outside than be stuck in a room with a bunch of sweaty meatheads making out with their biceps.

One of the contenders for outdoor activities is running, however, running has not, and probably will not, ever be something I can do long term. Bike riding is fun, but can get a tad boring, especially if I ride the same route every day. Plus, I don't like wearing spandex. Then I realized that one thing I can do is I can climb stairs like a mofo. So I decided to start climbing the Santa Monica Stairs every morning during the week.

This is one section of the stairs, there are about 3 or 4 more, for a total of 9 meeeeelion stairs. ok, it's only 150 or so steps. but it feels like more.

That plan was immediately derailed when, after my first session with “the stairs” I couldn’t walk for a week. I was literally crying out in agony every time the wind blew on my calves. I seriously overestimated my athletic ability and the stairs literally kicked my ass.

But I persevered and once my legs healed, I came back for more. I plan to continue with this for as long as it is enjoyable, because it’s a great, free workout, I get to be outside breathing in the fresh air, and seriously, staring at this:

is so much more than a bit better than staring at Biff in his muscle tee while he checks out his pecs in the mirror.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Before & After - Closet

On Sunday, I started and completed a bedroom upgrade project in no time at all. (Just don't factor in the conception, deliberation of purchase, shipping time and time spent waiting to complete said project).

This is a project that would have made my life abb months and months ago. Not only did I line the back of the closet, but I had Jed take the doors off as well. Anyone want to place bets on how long it will take before I find just the right fabric to use as a closet door? ps, said fabric will cover the far right side of the closet, aka jed's closet, as well as the shelved masterpiece.




**tip - I started off using modge podge, but switched to spray adhesive almost immediately. Spray adhesive is my new favorite thing ever. So fast, no clean up, really not labor intensive.
Otis says hi.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thanks Jess

Polodroid is pretty awesome. I'm addicted. These are my favorite converts.

poladroid, i think i love you

I have always loved Polaroid pictures. There is just something so aesthetically pleasing about the white border, the faded colors, the slight crackling. They make me happy. However, once I finally got around to actually buying a camera, whoops, they went and discontinued the film. is the closest I will get to achieving that vintage look I love, without having to shell out major moolah for the film. It is super easy and totally fun. It even makes the noise a real Polaroid makes when it is spitting out your picture! How can you not love that?

A few thing I learned, that I will now share with you, because I love you:

* Poladroid spits the images out onto your desktop, but saves them elsewhere. To find them, right click and select “show in finder”.

* It took me a while to figure out how to actually remove the initial image off of my desktop, probably because I hadn't had coffee yet or because I am not smart, but anyway, just shut down the app and the images will go bye bye.

* You can only do batches of 10 (just like you can only take 10 pictures with a cartridge of Polaroid film) but if you shut down and restart, you can continue on your merry way.

* You have to wait for the film to “develop”, but if you want it to develop more quickly, you can, as Outkast instructs, just shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Adventures in Baking

Please join me as I reflect upon my Christmas baking adventures.....

The beginning of a tarte tatin

Puff pastry purchased from Whole Foods. One of these days I swear I am going to make my own.

I don't have a photo of the final product because I burnt the caramel on the apples and it looked like crap. My mom loved it but I think it was just because she could tell I was upset, gotta love moms. However, nothing made with puff pastry tastes THAT bad but things usually taste better not burnt. Note to self; do not attempt trying new recipes on any major holiday. I guess that is basic knowledge but I figured what the hell, why not, I can bake anything! Lets just say this was a humbling experience.

This was my attempt at a vegan pumpkin pie for my dear bro (i roughly followed the recipe). The pie crust was also purchased at Whole Foods but I think it would be interesting to attempt making my own. I'm envisioning a day of crust making...Anywho, the filling tasted wonderful, the coconut milk mixed with the pumpkin and spices really went well together but the sucker did not want to set! I baked it for over an hour and it was still way jiggly in the middle. Jiggly in a way that made my bro roll on the floor laughing. I would have baked the sucker for another hour to see what would happen but the Christmas crowd was restless. So what they got was a vegan pumpkin pudding. At least the vegan liked it.

To end on a good note, I baked these and got positive feedback, thanks to butter purchased here, and I used 11 ounces of chocolate when the recipe called for 8 ounces...hehe.

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!!

Next week....pinenut rosemary shortbread cookies

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality

2009 is here. And to be honest, it couldn't have come sooner. '08 was great, but it was time to say goodbye. After what seems like 21 solid days of drinking, eating more than my annual allotment of butter and red meat, and seeing every family member in the tri-state area, it is time to get back on a schedule. The schedule I need involves a bedtime, a semi-regular physical activity regime, healthier eating and dedicated time to being creative. Minus the work part, I started to get back on track on Friday with my first gym workout in a very long time. On Friday night, we went to El Camino Real and I ordered fish burritos instead of bbq brisket (equally delish, btw). I went to yoga on Saturday morning and then vegged out, first with Heather, then with dh, then with Rach. Girl time is great.

Jessica Mae shared the link to Yoga Today - "free yoga delivered daily." Each 1 hr session is filmed outdoors from Jackson Hole, WY and it was a pleasure to start my Sunday with sun salutations and purposeful breathing without leaving my house. I can definitely see these classes becoming a part of my normal, non-vacation life.

I then went to my cousin's baby's christening. Lil Brianna is precious and I am honored to have been able to step in as the god-mother during the ceremony. I used my brand-new sewing machine (best holiday gift ever, thanks jed) to whip up the cutest baby gift ever - homemade bibs:

The bibs are reversible and couldn't be easier or more satisfying to make. The pattern comes from Bend the Rules Sewing (a book I look through at least twice a month for inspiration). It took me about an hour, start to finish, for all 3 bibs. This was my 2nd attempt at making the bibs and I have to say, I am totally getting better with practice. I'm putting it out here now - if you are my friend and you have a baby, you will get bibs. Start practicing the surprised face now.

As fun as it was for me to sew, it was even better being able to send my cousin back to LA with lil pieces of handmade love.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I am officially getting old. Pete and I spent last night eating a delish steak dinner (which is now going to be our new years eve tradition), drinking bubbly and hanging out with Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin and 1 million of our closest friends freezing their butts off in Times Square. Unfortunately, since we rang in the new year with our East Coast comrades, we were sufficiently partied out by 10:30. Oh well.

The first day of a new year is usually a day full of promises of fresh starts: resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, jog 5 miles a day. The past few years I haven't made resolutions, mostly because I always break them and seriously? There’s enough to feel bad about nowadays, I don’t need to add any fuel to the fire. This year, I have hopes for myself, things I want to incorporate into the big picture of my life, and that I aspire to carry with me long after this new year is over. 

I hope to be more thoughtful; to call my family and friends more often; to eat more of the amazing food grown around me instead of trucked in from far away; to be more active and to make exercise a part of my life instead of something I make myself do; to be more creative and productive, whether it be through photography, sewing, gardening, or baking; and to explore more of my environment. I hope to do these things because I know that they will make me a healthier person, both physically and mentally.

I hope that you said goodbye to 2008 surrounded by people you love, that you enjoyed the last year of wearing those new years glasses, that you drank tons of champagne, that your hangover wasn't too bad and that 2009 and beyond is everything you hope it to be.