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