Tuesday, April 30, 2013

(Belated) Make It Yourself Monday: Parsnip Oven Fries

I feel like I'm sending out one of those mediocre "Sorry I forgot" birthday cards. This will probably be a somewhat meager week all around, since I'm in the city working, have no one available to take outfit pictures, and convinced myself I didn't need to put out a call for guest posts ahead of time. But, without further ado, a delicious parsnips fries recipe. I vaguely adapted it from somewhere online, and now I cannot find where, but all oven fry recipes are basically identical and I didn't follow it closely, so I don't feel too horribly guilty.

You will need:
3 good sized parsnips
olive oil
spices/herbs of your choice--but for a good first time combo, I recommend garlic salt (lovely as fresh garlic is this distributes the flavor better), rosemary, thyme, and a hint of black pepper or lemon pepper.

This recipe is easy as pie.

1) PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 450 Farenheit.  Scrub off your parsnips, chop off the dried parts of the end and tips, and admire them.

2) Cut them up into nice skinny fry sized pieces. The easiest way to do this is to slice them lengthwise, and then slice those sections even smaller lengthwise. When you are done, spread them evenly on an edged tray, so they look pale and unappealing, like this:

3) Next, coat the fries in about two tablespoons of olive oil, tossing them to make sure it is evenly distributed. Add spices to taste, and repeat the tossing. They might look marginally more appealing, 

4) Put the tray in the oven. The parsnips should at least be golden, which will take at least 10-15 minutes, but if you want them to be crispy, I would let them go longer. Just check them frequently, making sure to shake them around every 5 minutes or so, until they are as dark and crispy as you like. If your oven has a convection bake option, that will make them even crispier.

5) Eat! I like them not dipped in anything, but I suspect an aioli or a good mustard would be great.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Puppy Clothes

I'm continuing the theme of casual for the week, since with a partially trained puppy around, I need clothes that won't snag, or stain, or any of that.

Trusty keds, and one of those bracelets that was everywhere last summer. Mine is from a little boutique in Rhode Island and I can't remember who made it. If you like this style, Honestly wtf has a tutorial on how to make a super simple bracelet, which inspired me to make this one

shirt: thrifted, pants: marshalls (brand bullshead), purse: vintage, bracelet: mystery, sneakers: keds, earrings: thrifted

I really like this shirt. It's so silly and loud and it makes me feel like spring is really coming. It was almost left at Goodwill when Ali didn't like the fit, but she talked me into handing over the 6 quarters required to buy it. And keds always remind me of walking up the slide at the playground as a kid, so all in all, a very happy outfit. Tomorrow I'm hoping to have more time with the dogs and some tagsale adventures before I head back to New York for another week of substitute teaching...

Petal storm. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with: Ashley of Southern (California) Belle!

From time to time, I'll interview bloggers who I think have really great personal style that I'd like to share with you. First up is....

From her colorful hair to her bright, creative outfits, Ashley has a look that is completely her own and completely great. If you don't already read her blog, it's definitely worth checking out! Ashley shared some of her hair and style thoughts, favorite recipes, and blogging advice with me here.

lm: When and why did you decide to start your blog? 
Ashley:I decided to start my blog back in early 2011.  My husband (then boyfriend) had a job where he travelled the world for a living and I was often home alone for months at a time.  I've always loved reading fashion and personal style blogs so I figured I would give my own blog a go.  Although I didn't post very much at first, I got a great camera later on that year and started becoming more serious about it.  The rest is history!

lm: What inspires your fashion choices? How do you put an outfit together? 
Ashley:Most of my inspiration comes from other bloggers.  Since I read so many wonderful girls' blogs I get inspiration everyday.  I definitely plan my outfits ahead!  I tend to be the person who wants to wear my new pieces as soon as I get them, so my choices usually involve the newest thing I have in my closet.

lm: I can see from your blog that your hair has been all kinds of amazing colors! Have you had any favorites? Any tips for those who want to try a different hue themselves?
Ashley:My favorite hair color is actually the one I have right now.  It's bright purple that fades to a pink ombre.  I've always loved changing my hair up and I'm no stranger to color!  If you're going to do your hair yourself, just make sure you know what you're doing.  I've experimented with my hair since I was 16 so I've had many years of trial and error.  My top two tips would be to always to a strand test before taking the plunge on a new color and if you choose to bleach your hair, a lower volume of developer is always safer.

lm: What are three of your current faves (recipes, songs, brands, authors, whatever!)?
Ashley:I'm on a pretty big health kick right now so my three favorite recipes right now are:
Green Lemonade- My sister is a nutritionist and a juicer enthusiast and this recipe is so healthy and so yummy! http://aroundtheworldinhealthyways.com/
Tomato, cucumber, and onion salad- I have yet to post this on my blog (it's so easy), but I've been eating it for days on end.  It's seriously addicting!
Plain greek yogurt with honey- This is a wonderful substitution to dessert.  It gives you that sweet fix without all the guilt.

lm: Finally, any tips for new (or established!) bloggers?
Ashley:I think the best thing to remember when blogging is that you really want organic followers.  It's not all about the numbers!  I know it's easy to get roped into the "follow for follow" numbers, but the best bloggers have the followers that actually read your blog and interact with you.  While my blog is not big by any means, I love my followers because I feel like I know them.  I'd take that over thousands of empty numbers anyday :)

You can check out lots more of Ashley's outfits and writing over at Southern (California) Belle !

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Wishlist

1) This dress by Fleet Collection (and just about everything else on their site):

2) This dress, available at faire jour (and again, about everything else they carry. It's a pretty new company, and they already have an amazing selection!):

3) This laptop case by bertie's closet. Actually, I wanted a different one they made, with coral wildflower fabric, but that one was on my wish list so long it no longer exists, so elephants it is. They have tons of adorable patterns.

4) This log cabin bed nook, from Brian Vanden Brink:

5) To go here, from Hang Out Point :

What are you pining for this week?

Dog Days of April

Dress: gap, Shoes: ciao bella, Earrings: thrifted, Purse: left in the car...

I love this dress...it is so comfortable, and easy to dress up for work. The earrings I thrifted recently, and I was so excited to wear them! It was hard to get a good photo, but they are little studs shaped like baskets full of flowers. I tried to take a picture of my eye make-up for you, but I don't know how make-up bloggers take pictures of their eyes that don't look super creepy, so I'm going to draw a little tutorial at some point instead! 

I had good reason for wanting to be comfortable today, because...

we have a puppy here! Meet Strider: 

He's staying with us for the week. He is 7 weeks old, completely adorable, and a little mischievous. He is also a border terrier, just like my 15 year old dog, Henry. I'm including a picture of Henry too, just because he is, in my clearly unbiased opinion, the most handsome dog in the world. 

All decked out because we were in Maine for Christmas and it was hunting season. 

Needless to say, it's been a very busy time around here trying to balance the very different speeds of a 7 month old puppy and a 15 year old dog! But fun, for the most part. 

I also made rosemary garlic parsnip fries tonight...they were pretty good, and I may do a recipe tutorial at some point in people are interested...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Take Note: Fields Notes

Please note: Field Notes did not ask me to write this post. In fact, I didn't even tell them I was planning to write it.

For those who write, jot, draw, scribble, plan, list, and scrawl: If you haven't already heard of Field Notes, this is for you.

Field Notes makes a bunch of different journals, from lined to blank to grid to steno pads, as well as pens and pencils. They frequently release new collections with different themes--a few recent releases have included The Expedition Edition, which resists the elements and is bright orange (so you can find it no matter the conditions), and The America the Beautiful Edition, currently available and adorned with majestic scenes from across the USA.

Not only does Field Notes make fantastic, handy note books--they are really good people, too, and I can attest to that personally. While I was doing my student teaching, working in a low-income district, I really wanted to leave each of my students with a journal to keep writing down their plans and dreams. Unfortunately, I had close to 90 students, and just couldn't afford to do it, no matter where I looked. As a last effort, I sent a letter to a few notebook companies in the hopes that someone would be willing to donate or steeply discount and make my plan possible. Field Notes was the only company to even answer. Not only did they offer to donate, they sent a pen, a steno pad, and a graphing notebook for each student, plus extras. It was an incredible act of kindness that meant the world to my students (many of whom were used to hand-me-down supplies) and to me. You can see a few of the books all packaged up (the colored papers are my personal notes to each student) below:

Anyway, the next time you need a new place for your thoughts and ideas, know that this country has my heart-felt endorsement. Not only for their awesome and unique writing products, but also because they were generous enough to give to a group of kids they didn't even know. True kindness. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Make It Yourself Monday: Caponata!

As promised, here is a recipe tutorial! I was cooking this at my grandmothers house, and she was missing some key utensils, so bear with me here.

Caponata (closely adapted from this recipe, published in Vegetarian Living UK. Caponata is a Sicilian dish. It's basically a warm, hearty cooked salad. It's really delicious (and this is coming from someone who doesn't normally like eggplant!)

You will need:
2 heads garlic
2 large eggplants
2 stalks of celery
2 red onions
4 plum (or vine) tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
~16 large green olives (preferably 2 different fillings, ~8 of each)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp butter (3/4 of a stick, leave out to soften a bit)
1/2 a cup plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh parsley
fresh basil leaves
pita bread

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit while you chop the eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and celery down to bite size, and slice the olives into smaller rings.

I recommend using a bigger plate for the eggplant mountain. By the time you've finished this, the oven should be preheated, which means it's time to get the garlic roasted. If you've roasted garlic before, this will be familiar--if not, it's a great thing to apply to all kinds of recipes (or just make plain to spread on bread or crackers)

Take one of the heads of garlic, and cut the top portion off, so the cloves are exposed. Repeat with the second head. They should look like this:

Next, take a piece of tin foil and crunch it up in a little bowl shape around the garlic, leaving plenty of extra at the top. Drizzle it in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (If you decide to use this with another recipe, all kinds of herbs and spices are good--rosemary, thyme, anything lemon, to name a few). Wrap the foil completely over the garlic in a little package, and pop it in the oven. It should take about 40 mins, though I think it's fine up to an hour--set a timer for 40 to make sure it'll be done.

Put the remaining olive oil in a LARGE pan on stovetop and heat to medium. Add the eggplant and fry for 8-10 minutes or until golden (or just darker; I don't think eggplant gets very "golden"), stirring. It will start out like this:

 And end up like this:

Remove the eggplant from a pan with a slotted spoon (so that you don't take any remaining oil with it) and set aside on a plate. Add the eggplant and celery to the pan and sauté for at least 5 minutes--it needs to get soft and more translucent. 

Return all the eggplant to the pan. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, red wine vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste to the pan. Stir it, bring it to a boil, cover it, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring on occasion to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. This is before. It will cook down and there will be more liquid, but I sort of forgot to take pictures until the end after this. When it's done, remove from heat and keep covered.

While the caponata cooks (set a timer if needed), take the garlic out of the oven and unwrap with mitts. Allow to cool. By the time the caponata is done, it will probably be cool enough. It should look like this, soft and anywhere from a golden brown to a darker brown. 

Squeeze the garlic cloves into a small bowl, and mash with a fork. Cut the butter into chunks, and mash it in. Stir/mash until thoroughly combined. Finally, chop 2 tablespoons of parsley (or use my method and snip off little bits with kitchen scissors and stir in. Tear one piece of pita per person in half, and toast pita. When it is done, spread garlic butter over the top of each slice. Serve the caponata with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan, and buttered pita on the side. 

Enjoy! If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

lazy sunday

The violets and daffodils are out...

I have a spring cold, which I've always thought seems oxymoronic and shouldn't be allowed, so I didn't do much today. However, I was very excited about my new comfy tag sale boots, so:

I had some balance issues partway through...

boots: etienne aigner (thrifted), jeans: forever 21, oxford: bdg (urban outfitters), sweater: h&m

Nail polish is very out of the ordinary for me, and nail polish with any design even more-so, but I've been seeing so many pictures of pretty designs that I wanted to try some polka dots. Here's the terribly fancy how-to: paint nails, let dry, find broken mechanical pencil, dip in second polish, dot. As you can see I'm a real professional. 

I went to my grandmother's house today to make some dinner for her and her family, so a recipe tutorial awaits tomorrow! (I swear I'll do a diy one of these Mondays). I made vegetarian caponata, which, if you've never had it, is delicious. Served with toasted pita spread with a mixture of butter, roasted garlic, and parsley...best of all, it's good warm or cold, which is really nice for lazy people like me who like leftovers but don't have a microwave. 

Sneak peek: