31 July 2010

book club!

that's right--as if a cross-country move and beginning medical school weren't enough (two days, people!!!), i'm joining a[n online] book club!

you can, too! read all about it from charlotte, the host, and chime in if you're interested! i already know what i'm going to pick when it's my turn to select, and i can't wait to see what everyone else chooses for us.

yay, book club! it's been a while since i've had a chance/reason/excuse/opportunity to read for fun...

27 July 2010

america, the beautiful

o beautiful, for spacious skies
for amber waves of grain
for purple mountain majesties
above the fruited plain...

we saw everything mentioned in that song, and more.

because we've been saying for ages that we wanted to take a trip, just the two of us, and because my husband and i moving to california provided the perfect opportunity, my best friend and i spent four days on the road, driving over 2,300 miles from the nation's heartland all the way to the left west coast.

we saw the familiar woods and farmlands of wisconsin. we saw the endless plains of iowa and nebraska.

we saw mountains upon mountains upon mountains--and every range completely different!

we saw expanses of majestic beauty that made us feel oh so very small, and put us in awe of the Creator of it all.

(by the way, mountains don't fit in the camera, so you'll just have to go see it yourself.)

we went nearly 100 miles with no sign of civilization but the road stretching out before us under the stars. we saw so many incredibly beautiful sights, we longed for suburbia to re-appear so we could have something mediocre to look at for once...and even that was interesting.

and finally, we came to my new home.

oh, p.s.? that best friend i mentioned?

you should go say hi. it's her birthday! =)

18 July 2010

summer fashion week - sunday

the end of summer fashion week...boo! be sure to get over to moms are for everyone! to check out what everybody has come up with--there's some great stuff! it's been so fun to be a part of. =)

shirt: h&m
jeans: thrifted
sandals: kohl's (though i've also seen them at target)

this isn't an outfit i've actually worn yet, but it's planned for a day that's technically still summer, although the start of school always seems to herald the start of autumn. i'd like your feedback...

people, i start medical school in two weeks. two weeks!!! and i think this is what i want to wear on the first day. i haven't worried about what i wore to the start of school since i started high school, so i feel silly about it now, but...this is medical school! i'm going to be one of the youngest people there! we're supposed to be real adults now! there's a lot of pressure! =)

so, tell me what you think--first-day-of-(medical!)-school appropriate? casual, but not overly so? fun and flattering? does it say "i'm smart! i'm fun! be my friend! join my study group!"? please be honest. =)

thanks for playing along. let's all keep up the encouragement we've been showering on each other all week! it's been awesome.

17 July 2010

summer fashion week - saturday

sorry for the blank posting initially - i was attempting to post from an iphone...it did not go well. =)

it's been really great to see everyone's different take on summer as well as the way this online community of mostly strangers comes together to encourage and complement and congratulate. check out all the rest of the fun of summer fashion week over at moms are for everyone!

saturday was one of the busiest days i've had in a very long time--i was the personal attendant, aka "make-stuff-happen girl," at a friend's wedding. it was a long day. it was a hot (!) day. it was a joyful day. most importantly =), here's how i looked:

dress: this dress from david's bridal, in "sangria."

seriously, people, probably my favorite dress ever! i didn't *have* to wear it, my attendant's clothing wasn't dictated like the bridesmaids' dresses were, but this was a perfect choice and more. it's 100% COTTON (perfect on a hot july day!), has a flattering cut with which i could wear a normal bra (albeit a change-the-straps-around-a-gazillion-ways one), and it has pockets! i carried the bride's iphone (same one i unsuccessfully attempted to blog on) around all day with the master list of what was happening--as well as sunscreen, duct tape, matches and my wallet--and no one could tell. i LOVE pockets! =)

i also got to wear flowers in my hair all day, and a wrist corsage that i made myself (i did all the of the flowers for this wedding). the hair stayed up and in place all the way through the night! how did that happen?!?

the best part of this wedding--other than the lovely couple, of course--was something that was also a major hit at our wedding last august: a photobooth! =) great fun...

i love weddings! =)

15 July 2010

summer fashion week - friday

vest: target
dress: see story below
belt: thrifted
shoes: who wears shoes?

there's a wedding rehearsal this evening that i am excited about wearing a lovely summer dress to. this dress is particularly special--it was hand-made just for me by a bunch of girls at an orphanage that i became friends with when i lived in peru. hand-made! by a 14-year-old! seriously, check out the embroidery and smocking detailing that cover the entire front of the bodice...

i love how you can see the color gradient in the embroidery. my mum and i brought beads and embroidery floss up the wazoo down to the orphanage when we first went down to peru, and the girls used some from that stash in my dress. =) i love the wandering white-yellow-green zigzags...

be sure to go check out the rest of summer fashion week's lovely ladies at moms are for everyone!

bumbleberry pie

inspired by shabby apple's "pie in the sky" contest, i'm writing up the story of how i became the piefairy and developed my "signature" pie.

i am the piefairy. that's a nickname/title/identity i've held for probably four or five years. the origin of the name is my father. having developed a habit of making pies with a friend for special occasions during my senior year of high school, whenever i came back from college i would find ingredients sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me. the logical response is to make a pie--and since said pies always showed up whenever i did, my dad dubbed me the piefairy. (i have a hunch he was the ingredient fairy, but that name never really took.)

this pie was inspired by a few recipes in my most-used and much-loved cookbook, pie by ken haedrich. i've adapted it with whatever i have on hand at the time and incorporate some techniques i've picked up over my last five pie-making years.

i call this pie "bumbleberry," which is nice because it's not a specific berry and therefore you can put in whatever you wish. which i do. it's different every time. =) i've made this so often, i have the recipe memorized. it's a very satisfying feeling.

2 cups flour
3/4 stick of butter, frozen (but if you forget to freeze it, cold from the fridge works well too)
cold water
1/3 cup sugar, brown or granulated
1 large green apple
~4 cups mixed berries of choice, fresh or frozen (exact amount will depend on the size of your pie plate)
2 tablespoons cornstarch OR 1-2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 egg
granulated sugar

making the crust:
put the flour in a large mixing bowl. grate the frozen butter over the flour with a coarse cheese grater. (it gets kind of messy, but that's okay; if you minded food messes, you wouldn't be baking, now would you?) rub in with your fingertips--the goal is to get all the butter thoroughly coated in flour, and all the flour rubbed into butter. you should end up with the "pea-sized" chunks so frequently described in recipes.

add cold water (cold is important!) one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork. stop adding water before you think you should--i usually do about four tablespoons, though it feels like i should add nearly half a cup. stick it in the fridge to chill, (honestly, i usually skip that step), then roll half of the dough out on a floured surface and transfer to your pie plate. ball up the other half of the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.

everyone has their favorite method for transferring pastry to the plate--waxed paper, rolling it up on the rolling pin, what-have-you. my way involved gently folding my circle-ish-shaped dough into fourths, then unfolding it in the pan. do what works for you. then stick it in the fridge (again, i usually forget). you can pre-bake the crust if you like--about 10 minutes at 350 degrees should do. if you don't pre-bake, then pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

making the filling:
peel and core your apple, then cut it up into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. put this in a medium-sized bowl. add your berries of choice--strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blueberries are all perfectly acceptable options--and top with sugar. dissolve your cornstarch or gelatin in the lime or lemon juice, then pour over fruit. toss everything (and by "toss" i usually mean "mix gently with your bare hands") and set aside for ~10 minutes to let the fruit juice.

making the topping:
remember how you stashed half the dough in the freezer? when your bottom crust is ready (cool, if pre-baked) and your filling has juiced, pour the filling into the crust and let's make the topping. this is a great pie for a standard top crust, and beautiful (dark purple-y red!) for a lattice crust, but i usually make a crumble crust. take the frozen-ish dough, and grate coarsely with a cheese grater over the pie. cover as much as you can, all the way to the edges. add cinnamon or other spices if you so choose.

bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. at that time, remove any crust-rim-cover you may have put on, rotate the pie 180 degrees so the back is now at the front, and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. beat the egg and brush onto the pie to glaze; sprinkle granulated sugar on top of that. bake for 25-30 minutes more (at 350 degrees) until the top is golden brown.

cool completely (difficult, i know!) so the filling can thicken. enjoy with ice cream, whipped cream, or straight out of the pan!

summer fashion week - thursday

check out what everyone's got going on during the summer fashion week! =)

this outfit is from going out dancing last night. we swing dance, which means that ease of movement and willingness to get clothing sweaty and gross is necessary. sadly, last night was my last night swing dancing in our local scene. =/ there's plenty of dancing to be had where we'll be moving to, but this is my scene and these are my people, you know? this was the first thing i got plugged into when i moved to madison, and has been the source of much enjoyment and great friendships (and my husband!).

vest: target (it swirled around like a cape when i was dancing! awesome!)
tank top: probably target?
gauchos: also target (i think they're technically pajama bottoms, but i wear them all over)
ginormous pearl earrings: free from an etsy seller when i bought a necklace
pearl & gem bracelet: gift from a friend recently returned from china

oh, hey, check out my shoes, too:

i call them my "there might be dancing shoes." they're not "real" dance shoes, but rather a sweet pair of wedges (naturalizer brand, bought on zappos) that i had re-soled with hard leather for dancing. they're cute and functional and non-dance-specific, so i can wear them to events (such as weddings) where i may want good shoes for dancing, while not having to bring a second pair, since "real" dance shoes often can't be worn as street shoes, since you'll damage the soles and the "real" dance floors at "real" dance venues. =) i got these for our wedding, and can't figure why i didn't do it sooner!

13 July 2010

summer fashion week - wednesday

day three of the summer fashion week blog fun, hosted by emery jo! i'm really enjoying seeing what everyone puts together. =)

this outfit is actually from sunday. seeing as today's agenda was moving furniture and vacuuming a decade's worth of dust and debris, my attire was man-shorts and a gym shirt. not fashionable in the least. (but it's not like i didn't warn you...)

sunday was church in the park, and then madison's art fair on the square. this means: comfortable, walk-able, and a big hat to protect me from that glowing orb in the sky that burns:

shirt: modcloth
awesome purple shorts: thrifted
chacos: ebay?
hat: ???

and hey look, my hair is finally long enough to braid again!

12 July 2010

summer fashion week - tuesday

and now for the second installment of summer fashion week, hosted by emery jo...

terribly blurry, but...so it goes.

dress: target
shoes: boston store, on massive clearance
earrings: modcloth (they came as a free surprise when i bought this dress)

this not-particularly-summery getup is me dressing up for an indefinite time frame girls' night.
we've done this a few times since graduating high school and "growing up"...at least this time, we didn't break any stemware. =)

and hey look, here's our group photos...on the eve of going off to college (2005)...celebrating major life milestones (2009)...

...and, three weddings, a baby, three continents and an imminent trans-continental move later:
today. (well, yesterday).
love these girls!

(and yes, we did intentionally line up in the same order every time. =)

summer fashion week - monday

here's the thing about summer fashion:

i don't do it.

i spend most of my summer in just-slop-something-on-because-it's-not-socially-acceptable-not-to clothing, and avoiding the HOT at all costs. and the SUN. gah. i don't do very well with either one.

however, this week i am making an exception, because i do so love to play dress-up, and because there happened to fall quite a number of exceptional events that all pull me out of my normal tank-top-and-gym-shorts summer attire. (however, as i observed this evening at a Gathering of Good Friends, i'm still firmly stuck in the boho-flower-child revamp that was fashionable when i was in high school. but you know what? i'm okay with that.)

first off: this was actually last saturday's outfit, for attending a wedding. (you see what i mean with the flower-child?)
dress: modcloth (summer 2009)
earrings: some random place in madison
bracelet: ????

and oh, hey, look:

*linking up with emery jo's summer fashion week - yay!*

11 July 2010

black caps

black raspberries, aka black caps. these grow wild in south central wisconsin. there's a giant patch near our house, on public land and free for the taking, and nobody seems to know about it but us. (yay!)

we've picked all the ripe ones we could find a couple times now this summer, and have come home with nearly a gallon altogether. some get eaten fresh, and the rest are frozen for later use in jam, pancake syrup, and similar delicious endeavors...

...the most recent of which, on the holy-cow-why-must-it-be-so-hot days of last week, was heaven.

07 July 2010

sinking in

it finally sunk in today (or at least started to) that, very very soon, everything in my life is going to change.

what brought this on? it was my last day of work.

this seems...kind of silly. i mean, i enjoyed my job, and i liked [most of] the people i worked with, but it was a part-time student position--it's not like it's part of my identity. am i going to miss my administrative/research office work, or pine after the good times with my coworkers? no. so why is this affecting me so much?

my best guess is because i've had this job for two and a half years. two and a half years, people! that's more than 10% of my life! and because of the nature of the company--highly successful healthcare IT--the environment and culture were very edifying for those of us who wear the label "geek."

i planned on taking time after i clocked out today to explore all of our campus (which has expanded significantly since the last time i did that, two years ago). this was inspired by the sign that's been sitting outside my office for the past week or so:

(i suppose i should explain: our office buildings--11 thus far--are named alphabetically after celestial entities. i work in building A, andromeda; the cafeteria is building C, cassiopeia, etc. building H was just recently opened--and there's significant construction still going on--and so people are still trying to find their way around.)

don't say that doesn't make you smile! people made jokes about it being a stairway instead of a tunnel, and about staying away from the light at the end. it's cute. plus, you just know that whoever makes the signs was having a good time with it:

so i went off to explore buildings H, I, J and K. except, i forgot that "last day of employment" meant that i had to turn in my access card, which meant that i couldn't unlock any outer doors after 6pm, which is when i finished work and went wandering around. so, i only made it inside H (heaven) and K (kohoutek). bummer.

the buildings are all themed. my first office was in a NYC-themed building; others have jungle, garden, western, and other themes. when i explored kohoutek, it was pretty easy to recognize its asian theme:

(can you see the wire sculptures in this picture? they're elephants! they'll be topiaries when the vines grow up.)

however, as for heaven's theme, the best guess i have is SHINY!

i'm sure those little white things don't show well in the picture, but those are all fiber optic cables. the ceiling is sparkly!

and check this out--

instead of taking the stairs or the elevator, you can take the slide!


it's a cool place. a neat environment--encouraging creativity and fun. not bad for a bunch of dorks. =)

oh, and rather randomly, here's a photo of our office's recycling bin on top of the bookshelf next to my desk. it was raining rather hard this afternoon, and then it started to rain through the ceiling. onto me. and my computer. =)

01 July 2010

summertime, and the living is easy...

...well, actually, it's not.

kind of crazy-busy, actually. slightly overwhelming.
but all in all, good.

good, because we are in the middle of some huge changes that, although stressful, bring new and exciting adventures.

good, because i am tying up loose ends and finishing old projects and reminiscing about people i love and good times we've had.

good, because i am deliberately enjoying the unique and wonderful things that define this place i have come to call home, and will soon have to leave.

time to get off the computer. i'm going to go have a drink at the terrace, make my peace with the sun, and pretend my life is easy now in the summertime.