Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ginger

This is Ginger, our beautiful Buff Orpington. She's the queen bee of our flock, and I love her so much! Every time she hears the click of the gate when I go outside, she runs toward me, and with her fat feathered body, she looks like a fancy lady lady in a hurry- her petticoats all bunched around her knees. She's the noisiest of the girls. If it's 7am and I haven't gone outside yet, she lets me know. Lately she's been escaping to out next-door neighbor's house. There's more shade over there, which I think she likes. She has to be flying over the picket fence, as the bottom portion is blocked by chicken wire. She stays close to the fence and never can seem to remember quite how to get home, but she's immediately interested in returning if I open the bin that holds the feed. Such a little punk.
As the hen who is most willing to receive cuddles, Ginger gets scooped up regularly and carried around the yard. (Buff Orpingtons are known for their calm demeanor and good social skills.) This is an old photo of her- she lets me hold her with just one arm now and stays still while I collect eggs or close the gate. And her little voice! When she is content she coos so sweetly, very unlike her rhythmic "wake-up-it's-mooooorning" song. Additionally, she's a daintiest eater. She eats so gently from my hand, unlike her sister Chompy, named for her voraciousness. Other hens include Amelia, Felina, and my sweet girl, Clover. Photos and stories of them to come at a later date!

Love, Lauren

P.S.- Spa day for the chickens. They dug up my hydrangeas to take a group dust bath. Thanks, girls.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

This is a favorite recipe of mine this time of year... the time of year when fresh blueberries and plentiful and most importantly, on sale at most grocery stores. With a streusel topping and a swirl of fresh blueberry jam, they're bursting with bright Summer flavor. They're excellent fresh from the oven (obviously) but I always double the recipe because they keep fairly well for a couple days on the counter.

 

Blueberry Streusel Muffins (adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, May/June 2009)

For the muffins:
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over (toss the ugly/mushy/shriveled ones)
1 1/8 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick, pale yellow, and fairly homogenous. Whisk in butter and oil slowly, until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a spatula, and then stir in the blueberries. Do not overmix batter! It will be a bit lumpy, but don't worry.

Make the jam: In a saucepan, combine 2/3 cup fresh blueberries and a teaspoon sugar. Cook over medium heat, mashing berries, and stirring frequently until mixture cooks down and thickens. Allow to cool.

Mix the streusel: Stir together 3 Tbsp each white and brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2/3 cup flour. Drizzle with 4 Tbsp melted butter and toss with a fork until mixture forms large chunks.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and adjust the rack to the center. Portion batter into a prepared (greased) muffin tin, completely filling the cups. It makes a dozen, but you may get a couple extra if you use muffin liners. Spoon a teaspoon of the jam in the center of each muffin and gently swirl it in with a chopstick or a toothpick. Crumble some of the streusel over each muffin and press it down slightly so it sticks.

Bake until muffins are golden on top and just firm, 17-19 minutes (I usually turn them halfway through baking). Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then cool on a rack. Soooo tasty on their own, but you could add some butter or honey. Excellent with a cup of tea, if I do say so myself.

Love, Lauren

Friday, May 11, 2012

This American Life

This American Life (Ira Glass and co.) did a live show last night and broadcast it to movie theaters across the country. It was fantastic. I laughed. A lot. I came very close to tears a few times as well. David Sedaris was in sad clown make-up, which was at least as terrifying as you're thinking. Also, OK Go performed (with audience participation). One of the many acts of the show included a short film by Mike Birbiglia, which I'm sure I'll be laughing about for a long time to come. Here it is:


The theater was full of public radio listeners, which is to say, the theater wasn't full at all really, but it was a great time for us nerds who did show up. It was a good couple of hours.

This was also funny...



Wasn't able to find any more clips, but I'm sure they'll find their way online soon. If you're on the LA area this coming Tuesday, they're airing an encore performance of last night's show in select theaters. I highly recommend it. 

Love, Lauren

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love: Elle Fanning

from Lula magazine
I would love to have tea with this girl. So cute! She's caught the attention of style icons like Marc Jacobs and Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, and co-starred in Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere." Plus she was in Lula magazine, which is super rad. On to the pictures.

from Lula magazine
Marc by Marc Jacobs

 

Phoebe in Wonderland


Such a doll! Read this interview. It's funny and cute. Every interview with her is really light and fluffy like that. Anyway. I think she's darling.

Love, Lauren

Friday, April 27, 2012

"It's not red, it's crimson glow."


Since getting my hair dyed bright red a couple weeks ago, I've been feeling a bit like Claire Danes' character, Angela Chase, from 'My So-Called Life,' especially if I wear anything plaid.

"Things were getting to me. Just how people are. How they always expect you to be a certain way...When Rayanne Graff told me my hair was holding me back, I had to listen, 'cause she wasn't just talking about my hair. She was talking about my life."

Also, I've been listening to Pandora Radio at work and 'Blister in the Sun' came on the other day.... couldn't help but think of this scene, which is probably one of my favorite scenes from that whole show...


So awkward, but so good. You really can't listen to that song and not want to do a silly dance, right? Right? (Right!) But, yeah. Red hair. Because I need to take myself both more and less seriously, depending on the subject. And it was time- I've been wanting red hair since the Fall issue of 'Lula' a couple years ago. I'm glad I did it, despite all the attention I've been getting. I don't know why it never crossed my mind that when you look like Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" or Jean Grey ( from X-Men) people will stare. I'm not used to being looked at. (This must be how Declan feels all the time, what with that handlebar mustache on his face! No wonder he spends so much time making sure it looks perfect!)

Love, Lauren

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shrimp Scampi Recipe


So, this was our dinner last night, over some linguine. So good! Though it probably would have been better if I'd remembered about the homemade pasta in my freezer... oops. It's a really quick meal and I have a million lemons right now from my parents' house, and the parsley in the garden wants to take over the world, so this was a perfect use of what we already had. My go-to easy meal if we're feeling fancy enough to buy shrimp. Mmm...

Here's the recipe I use, as adapted from Italian Classics (By the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine! I generally trust anything they put their name on.)


Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2-ish (And I'm shortening it and using my own words because it's easier than typing a whole page. You get it.)

2 Tbsp good olive oil
1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp* (I use the Argentinean red shrimp from Trader Joe's. They're wild caught and they taste kind of lobster-y. Their season is suuuuper short, though, so we hoard a couple bags in our freezer.)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I sometimes add a couple more, as we love fresh garlic in our house)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I juice half a lemon and usually call it good)
1 Tbsp dry vermouth (or one "glug," as my Grandmama would say)
Freshly minced parsley leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or two)
Salt and pepper, to taste

*The recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp to serve 4-6, but 2 pounds of shrimp is expensive, and when you serve this over a huge bowl of pasta to soak up the extra juices, you'll be pretty full. BUT if you want to splurge on 2 pounds of shrimp, double the rest of the ingredients. It's not saucy enough otherwise.)

The greatest thing: the shrimp and sauce are prepared in one pan in almost no time. In fact, it's just about the same amount of time it takes to cook a pound of linguini or spaghetti.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook until just done (medium heat, flipping once, a couple minutes on each side), - they'll be re-heated once the rest of the sauce is complete. Remove shrimp and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside. Return the skillet to medium-low heat. Put 1 Tbsp of the butter in the skillet. When the foaming subsides, add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant (30 seconds). Off the heat, whisk in the lemon juice, vermouth, and the remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Return the shrimp to the pan and throw in the parsley, cayenne, and any additional salt and pepper.

Because this sauce comes together so quickly, I like to have everything pre-chopped and poured out into prep bowls. (Nerd alert!) It makes the process much smoother. If you don't have prep bowls, you can have the garlic, butter chunks, and parsley in piles on a cutting board- just have them ready so you can toss them in when it's time.

Also really fantastic with homemade bread or a good baguette if you haven't got pasta. Unfortunately, shrimp don't re-heat super well as leftovers, but this is so good (rich, but good) you won't need to worry about it.

Love, Lauren

Monday, April 23, 2012

Busy year, guys.

Oops. I need to work on my updating skills. As in, I need them. Period.

So, in the last year, Declan (aka Husband) started back in school, which has been so great for him. He's planning on transferring next Fall to SDSU to major in Environmental Science because he's so smart and loves nature.

In the midst of adjusting to a new and very hectic schedule due to school and work, we found the most darling house on the planet, which we are now renting! As soon as I saw it I knew it was meant to be ours. It's a little cottage that was built in 1928. Hardwood floors, open beam ceilings, boysenberries growing all along the back fence... but it needed A LOT of fixing up. That was our entire Summer, really, fixing up the house and getting moved in. Summer and Fall semesters were brutal, as we didn't see much of one another. Any spare time together was spent on home renovations. (I feel like I need to get some before and after shots together to prove how busy I was.)

Last Spring I lost my 2 art room co-workers at Trader Joe's (they both transferred out within a couple weeks of each other) and got a very talented replacement that exceeded all my hopes! Work has been good. Busy/stressful at times, but good. It's good to have work to do, right?

So much work that I've put the Etsy shop on the back burner. I've been so focused on the house and the yard and the animals (we have a dog and 5 hens now!) that it's been tough to juggle everything. But you know what? I'm tired of being a slacker and I'm going to be more creative- because it makes me happy. Nothing matters more than being happy.

We've hosted a few really lovely parties in our new place. Our annual Thanksgiving Part One was great. We cooked a giant bird and everyone else brought sides and desserts. I've had a couple tea parties, and I threw Declan an ice cream sundae party for his birthday in February. We even had a mini keg of root beer for floats. It was fun.

Declan's doing great in school- almost a 4.0 and he's working 4 days a week. He's been managing his time so well and it's inspired me to do the same. I should be able to balance work, home, and creative time.

Coming soon:
- saving money in a classy way
- more updates on the Etsy shop
- recipes and projects
- and moooore!!

Love, Lauren