Friday, August 31, 2012

August Reads

Terrier, the Legend of Beka Cooper, by Tamora Pierce
Confession: I survived middle school because of the escape offered by Ms. Pierce's books.  Fabulous literature?  ...not exactly.  But a wonderful way to spur imagination, and still some of the most comforting reads in my arsenal (yes, up there with Harry Potter, something I used to read aloud to my youngest brother every night).  My friends and I would compose elaborate notes to each other as characters and pass them off between classes.  Yes, I willingly participated in a fan fiction role playing game.  And I loved it.  But her books that were outside of middle school never quite made it to that stage of adoration, not quite sure why.  It's not a bad book, but it just feels...young.  Then again, I'm probably not the intended audience anymore.

Also--I just remembered I had this:

Wow.  Two are married, one has a child, one girl I don't remember, at all.  It's a long way from April 2000. 

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
Two things I take away from this?  There are many beautiful sights left in America, and we don't have many ideas on how to take care of them.  Between invasive species and the "right" way to do things, simply a guess due to the lack of money to do research and figure out the right thing...?  Gosh. 

A Friend of the Family, by Lauren Grodstein
It was...fine.  Honestly, I just don't particularly like reading train-crash-falling-apart-can't-pull-myself away books.  They're depressing, and instead of illuminating the human condition, they simply make me sad. 

Green Riders 1 and 2, by Kristen Britain
I liked them, but they just feel a little bit like the author stole bits and pieces from other famous fantasy works and shoved them in her story (ohhh I like elves!  I will hereby call them Eletians!  ...ok?)

House at Tyneford, by Natasha Solomons
I enjoyed it!  ...but it was a little on the contrived side.

Also, I fell completely in love with Ian McKellan reading Homer's Odyssey on the Olympics commercials, so I'm trying to track down a copy to listen to on long walks. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012


This shot looks calm and peaceful, but thirty seconds beforehand, I was pretty much having a coronary getting all the flowers ready for the bridesmaids and bride.

The bride had a really sweet idea where guests would bring flowers for the bouquet - from farmer's markets, from their backyard, that sort of thing.  Now, I love this idea.  But it's really hard to execute.  And keep in mind, the bride is a very chill person, a very go-with-the-flow person.  She wasn't trying to make this difficult.  Actually, of the ten links I sent her with ideas she chose the easiest of all them, saying she liked the feel of an informal bouquet.  Awesome.

However.  Trying to cut organize a plethora of flowers, find a suitable color scheme in the flowers we had, batch them together, add flower tape and then wrap with satin ribbon and pearl pins?  It is not a one hour, one person job.  No way, no how.  I felt very lucky to have the last minute assistance of the father of the bride and two bridesmaids to get them ready to go.  We were done with half the bouquets when the parents and grandparents were walked down the aisle.  Thankfully, someone gave the cue to have the musicians add a song, and we finished just in time, literally handing bridesmaids their flowers as they walked down the aisle.

In those last quiet moments, my heart beating a million beats per minute, I grinned at the bride and whispered jokingly, "I'm gonna kill you."  As I gave her a the biggest hug I could without mussing her dress, she laughed back and said "I know!  But they look lovely." 

(photo credit unknown)

In the end, it all worked out, the flowers looked gorgeous.

The singer was one of my other roommates!

See?  We have the mom, the dad, the nice daughter, and the hooligan son.  What a family.    (And yes, I'm the dad in this scenario.  Mom's the singer, above, the daughter is the bride, the son is a bridesmaid, and the dad was the florist).


I love these mints. 



First dance


"Mom and Dad"

Mm, red velvet.

Father/daughter picture.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Playing catch

Why yes, we are spoiled rotten.

Come on, find the ball!

Ready, ready, ready, ready

Oh! Oh!  I've got it!

Yah, you got the ball, yes.


Murpfgh!  Got it!

Oh thank you!

...Repeat until tired.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy birthday, mom!

Happy birthday!  Wish you were here so I could feed you a grilled peanut butter and huckleberry jam sandwich! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Donut Hut

My visit home started with a visit to a childhood favorite, the Donut Hut.  I told one of my friends here that I was just so excited about this, and the response was, "Wait, you like donuts?  But, um, you never eat them."

She's right---but there's room in my life for nostalgic donut binges every once in a while, hey?

Now, Saturdays growing up were a sacred time at our house.  My brother and I would wake up early to watch cartoons in our PJs, and my dad would take one of use to Donut Hut around 8 am, making sure to get back in time to have bacon ready for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at 9 am.  And then I'd patiently wait for the funnies section in the newspaper...cause no one touched that thing until both mom and dad were finished, house rules.

Located in an unassuming strip mall, Donut Hut is the best of old school donut-ry.  Bear claws, the most wonderful apple fritters, cake donuts doused in sprinkles, and raspberry-filled sugar-covered donuts.  So good.  [also...the old guys sitting in there drinking coffee thought I was a nutter for bringing out a camera.  Ah well]

Those white boxes make me so nostalgic, I can't even tell you.

My dad's car, a Chevy Suburban from the 80s.  Yes.  It's the same age I am.  But do not fret, it does have power steering.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

back to Boston!

from the rain-soaked backwaters of the Mississippi River (the highway is 494 between 35E and highway 5)

to the drumlins of Boston Harbor.

And in 24 hours, I have dealt with a flood, my first midnight resident angrily pounding at my door, a deee-lightful parent encounter, water damage up in the Penthouse...I am ready to go back to the cabin. 

Thank goodness for the loon CD my mom bought at a garage sale just before I left, it is doing a great job of chilling me out. 

The best of these was probably the flood, I arrived back at the dorm around 9:30, took a quick shower, and decided it was time for dinner.  I opened my door to grab some pasta from my pantry closet and heard the sound of water. 

"Huh.  Someone must be taking a bath with the bathroom door open.."

I round the corner, and there is an inch of water on the carpet, slowly leaking into rooms, coming towards me. 

This was no bath. 

I started wading into three-inch-deep puddle in the kitchen in my flip-flops, trying not to fall into the rush of water coming from the cabinet under the sink.  I opened the door, and more water came rushing out.  A pipe had burst.  I got back to my room as quickly as possible, called the emergency Fixit hotline, and finally, four hours and 21 emails later, I declared a tentative victory and went to bed. 

I should have taken a picture, but I was freaking out too much about the newly-renovated kitchens, the new girls who had just moved in, and, you know, I just didn't think about it. 

What a way to start the semester.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


After nine (9!) ten hour days in a row (!! yes!  weekends, too!) ...I am Minnesota-bound, heading for a wedding-family-reunion-cabin-State Fair respite. 

...and no, I don't plan on pulling that schedule again anytime soon, I think I got about a day away from giving myself an ulcer.  While it takes advantage of my "bonus time," my mood is decidedly, well, cranky.  But!  On to more relaxing morning tomorrow will be the trifecta of awesome: donuts, dogs, and seeing this girl's garden!  (maybe if I'm good she'll let me steal some raspberries!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Penthouse garden



Cornflower (bachelor's buttons)


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cocktail Party

I had the honor to co-host a cocktail party up in the Penthouse with the lovely Aimee this past weekend.  A "Dress to Impress" event, everyone showed up in their finest.  And yes, there was a guy in a bowtie.  Win. 

We decided to serve five cocktails and four slushes to ease the bartending duties, and what a great decision.  It was so nice to have half of the cocktails made already, in the freezer, ready to go!  And even better, we learned a great heat transfer lesson...putting frozen drinks in a cooler with ice and water results in instant freezing cold icy coozies.  Oops.  Thank goodness we only put half out and kept the other half in the freezer...

All smiles.  No other pictures, though...sadly, I forgot to charge my camera battery, and I was busy pouring drinks!

But the week before, because we're cool kids, we had a photoshoot!  And then a wonderful Saturday night drinking all of our practice rounds, obviously.  We actually used the photos in our menu to describe the ingredients in each drink.  While I'm able to do macro shots on a white background fairly well (what is now being described as gooseberry porn) --- getting an area designed for shooting larger things just hasn't gone well.  These are all taken with Ikea linen tablecloths behind them, and as you see, un-ironed tablecloths. Oh well.  There is a reason I'm not a food blogger.

St. Germain and Champagne - sweet, bubbly, addictive.  

We got the recipe for Drink's Aviation from bartender Will Thompson himself:

1/4 oz creme de violette
1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur 
2 oz london dry gin  (Beefeater, Gordon's, Citadelle; the middle 80% of gins as far as juniperness goes)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix all together in a shaker and strain into chilled coupe.

Grapefruit Thyme Spritzer - god bless Martha Stewart.  And the black pepper...?  Amazing.

Mint Julep -instead of muddling, you add mint directly to the whiskey and let it extract for a couple of hours.  Add a glass full of chilled ice and mint simple syrup, and you are set for a wonderful julep. 

We also did a rosemary gin spritzer, but we didn't end up making it til the party---however, it turned out great!  And if anyone's curious, we had 26 people over, and food plus alcohol was $300.  We asked for donations, and ended up only $20 short, which was fabulous.  So, very economically smart, and people left happy and just a bit tipsy. 

I'm going to keep the recipes of the slush drinks a bit under wraps, since I sent them off to Serious Eats to be tested for inclusion in a summer slush drink feature.  I did offer to treat the always hilarious Drinking the Bottom Shelf blogger Will Gordon to my slushes, but they prefer to do in house testing.  But--if that falls through, I'll post the recipes here. 


Watermelon Mint Vodka

 Blackberry Sage Gin