Friday, May 29, 2009

Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind

For our anniversary, Alex was going to get me some flowers. Instead he brought me home a plant. I don’t have much of a green thumb and the other 2 times Alex has bought me plants instead of flowers, I’ve killed them. I’ve been talking about starting a window box garden next spring in our new place, so Alex thought it was a good idea to start with an African Violet.

African Violets are supposed to be pretty hard to kill, but I’ve decided not to take this lightly and do a little research! African Violets are good house plants because they like the same temperatures that humans do (day time temps of 75 degrees and night time temps of 65 degrees). You are supposed to water them when their top soil feels dry and they don’t like to get wet, so you are supposed to water them from the ground up. I picked her up some fertilizer on my way home from work yesterday because apparently that’s critical and I have to mark repotting on the calendar in 6 months!

We named her Georgia. She’s pretty and pink. Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby, baby, I was made for you

Today is Alex and my 5 year anniversary! To celebrate tonight we are going to make dinner, watch Terminator 3 (so that we, okay I, can see Terminator Salvation fully prepared having seen the original trilogy), and do some laundry. We aren't fancy, but we have fun.

Alex & me at the Sox ALCS game circa 2004.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You make me feel like a natural woman

On my very long list of crafts to try, some sort of homemade beauty product always makes the list. To be honest though, the idea of making beauty products scares me a little. Chemicals and the kitchen don’t mix in my book. My greatest fear in life is poisoning myself or others.

So when I found this recipe for lemon scrub that uses only sugar, salt, olive oil, and lemons, I knew it was kismet. Now I can realize one of my craft dreams without any fear of living my worst nightmare!

I found this awesome recipe for Homemade Hand Scrub at Craftzine by Katie Goodman. The scrub would work on any of your rough body parts, but we’ll probably use it on our tootsies more often than anywhere else. Nobody cares more about feet than Alex, and this scrub leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth, and smelling sweet.

Homemade Hand Scrub (by Katie Goodman of Craftzine)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Lemon extract

Combine sugar, Kosher salt, and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until the oil is evenly distributed throughout the sugar and salt mixture. Using a microplane zester, grate the zest of 2 large lemons. Add zest to the bowl and stir to combine. Add 1/4 tsp lemon extract.

Spoon the scrub mixture into a clean jar. Make sure to wipe up any spills on the outside of the jar and tighten the lid.

One recipe makes 2 cups or fills a 1 pint jar with a little left over to start enjoying right away.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bon weekend à Montréal

To celebrate the long weekend, Alex and I decided to take a trip to Montreal. We’ve been to Montreal once before to see the Arcade Fire, but it was February and not exactly walking around weather, so we didn’t know very much about the city before the trip. We both really love Canada though, so we thought it would be fun and we were right.

Montreal is a really neat city. It’s super old and kind of tiny like Boston. It is unique, unlike American, European, or even other Canadian cities we’ve visited, mostly due to it strong French Canadian culture. Downtown Montreal sits to the northwest of the St. Lawrence River and southeast of Mont Royal, which is nice because it has a little something for everyone.

Most of the action takes place in Old Montreal, but there are lots of great little neighborhoods like the Quartier Latin, The Plateau, and Gay Village. Mont Royal Park is also particularly nice for views of the city and a little urban hiking, which is how we spent our Saturday morning! We also checked out the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal and found the underground city, a place that would have been helpful when we visited in February.

We went to two great restaurants on our visit, one in Old Montreal called Modavie (on recommendation from Emily and Christopher!) and one downtown called Mesa 14 (which we just stumbled on and ended up being incredibly good Mexican.) The beers are out of this world, as expected, and everyone we met was great. The official language of Montreal is French but everyone speaks English so most conversations start off with a “Bonjour Hello!”

The best part of our trip and a definite “don’t miss” was the Biodome (no, we didn’t see Pauly Shore). Originally constructed as the cycling arena for the 1976 Olympic Games, the biodome houses 3 simulated ecosystems: tropical, North American, and polar. It was so neat. We got to see monkeys, turtles, penguins, otters, parrots, bats, and a capybara all living in harmony in their simulated natural environments (much more exciting than an abandoned cycling arena.)

All and all Montreal was a fantastic weekend trip and we both want to visit again!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stop staring and start sewing

For the longest time, I’ve wanted a nice little apron to wear when I’m baking goodies in the kitchen. Aprons are kind of like cute pajamas though; they aren’t a necessity. I would rather spend $25 on dinner or drinks with friends than on looking like Martha in the kitchen. That being said, for months, I’ve been book marking cute apron tutorials with the intent to at some point sewing something together. Well here goes!

I used this tutorial from Stop Staring and Start Sewing. The pattern requires one fat quarter for the main apron piece and 1/2 yard of fabric for the waistband and ties.

First, I removed the selvedges from my waistband fabric. Then, I laid my waistband fabric down and made 1” snips at 6" and 12" and ripped my fabric into 3 equal strips, so that I had 3 strips (6" x 44") and one fat quarter. Lastly, I removed the selvedge off of my fat quarter, and then it was time to break out the sewing machine!

So, I took one of my waistband strips and cut a piece off the same width as my fat quarter (22" or so, not the 18" side). I saved the remaining length of this waistband strip for later. Then I folded the strip in half and pressed it.

Then, I put my fat quarter and the folded strip together so the raw edges matched up. I stitched in place using about a 1/3 inch seam allowance and pressed my seam allowance upward and topstitched to finish it off. Next, I hemmed the sides of my apron by folding over twice (pressing each time) and stitching.

Next, I took the remaining piece of my waistband strip (the one I cut from the bottom of my apron) and pinned the two long pieces to each side, stitching both seams and pressing them open.

Then, I laid my main apron piece on the center piece of the waistband, right sides together, and stitched the pieces together across the top of the apron piece using a 1/3" seam allowance.

I folded and pressed the unfinished edge of my waistband strip directly above the main apron piece (just the part above the apron, not the whole length of the waistband). Next, I folded the waistband strip, right sides together, matching raw edges. Then, I pinned both sides, leaving the center above the main apron piece open.

At the end of each waistband strip, I made a mark 2” up from the bottom. Then I stitched the waist ties starting at the main apron piece. When I got to the mark I made, I lowered my needle, pivoted, and stitched a straight line ending just above the corner where the fold meets the raw edge. To finish off, I trimmed the extra fabric away below my stitch line.

Next, I turned my ties right side out (my favorite part of sewing because it feels like magic) and pressed them flat (presto-chango! you have an apron). I folded the unsewn part of the waistband over, so that the folded edge covered the stitch line, and pinned it in place on right side. I used a small zigzag stitch on the right side of my apron and stitched all the way across the top where the main apron piece met the waistband piece. Lastly, I trimmed all my loose strings and ironed my apron.

Ta Da! Time to go make dinner in my super cute new apron!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best laid plans

On August 1, Alex and I will be moving into our new very-own apartment! We found a cute little one bedroom across from a park in between Inman and Central Squares. It’s a pretty sweet place with hard wood floors, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, central heat and AC, and the prettiest little roof deck patio I’ve ever seen. We had originally been looking for a 2 bedroom, but it ended up coming down to either being able to afford a pimped out 1 bedroom or a bare minimum 2 bedroom, and I couldn’t give up the idea of having a dishwasher.

We are really excited to move! Right now we are in the process of inventorying everything we have, browsing furniture sites for cheap cute additions to what we already own (like this in dark turquoise and this), and plotting out our ideas for what the apartment will look like with all of our things in it.

One of our major challenges is space. We love that the new place has quirky little alcoves and slanted ceilings because it gives it a lot of character, but they also prove to be a design challenge. We have a ton of books, movies, and cds so we definitely want lots of shelves. I also have a ton of clothes, even after donating 6 garbage bags full. Lastly, and probably our biggest challenge, will be to find a bedspread we can both agree upon. You’d think they’d make more gender neutral bedspreads; they all seem to be either super manly or floral.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Your daddy's got them Deep Ellum Blues

Since we started dating, back in 2003, Alex and I have pretty much spent at least 4 nights a week at each other’s apartments, usually Alex’s. Most often those 4 nights are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and one random weeknight. So after I checked my subtenant in on Friday night and we went back to Alex’s to watch T2 and drink a few beers, it was like any other weekend. Monday morning rolled around though and I’m still there, which is super fun. That being said, we have to remember that we live together now and just cause we are hanging out doesn't mean it's the weekend.

Last night we had a few drinks with Emily and Christopher at Deep Ellum. After which Alex and I proceeded to hang out and drink back at the apartment, until 2AM. This morning I woke up to find out that it wasn’t Saturday morning and I had to come to work, slightly hung over, and annoyed that it was only Wednesday. Whoops!

Deep Ellum is a fantastic bar though. It’s super cozy; with exposed brick walls, mahogany bar, and soft candle-like lighting. The seating is limited, but a nice patio in the back gives you a better chance of getting a place to sit in the summer. The beer list is extensive, bordering on slightly pretentious, with 22 drafts and 100 bottles of which I didn’t recognize one beer that I’d ever had before. We didn’t have dinner there, but the menu looked really good, with classic bar favorites like hot dogs, burgers, and bbq chicken. The staff was friendly, helpful, and seemed to have a lot of character. The music was rock and at the perfect volume level for good conversation. The only downside to this gem is its location. Deep Ellum is located at 477 Cambridge Street in Allston. If I still lived in rock city, this bar would probably be my new favorite hang out, but now that I’m over on the other side of the river, I doubt we’ll be back that often. Maybe in a few years, with a little luck, they’ll open a second bar in Cambridge.

Deep Ellum gets high marks from both me and Alex!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not quite Martha Stewart Living

In our “family,” Alex is the chef. I like to cook, but I’m usually strong armed out of the kitchen because he is at it. I am, however, the more experienced baker, so when it comes to something sweet, I usually reclaim a little ground in what Alex has deemed his version of mantown: the kitchen. Alex is not a fan of most desserts, but he does appreciate the occasional cookie or brownie. Since I didn’t want to eat 12 cupcakes by myself, I thought I’d start off by baking some chocolate sugar cookies from my favorite recipe blog How to Eat a Cupcake.

The recipe originally hails from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. According to How to Eat a Cupcake these cookies are supposed to be thin and crisp, but I like my cookies chewy and more cake-like so I modified it a bit, using some tips from the blog, to get something that tastes like a brownie, but eats like a cookie. Here goes:

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies (inspired by Martha Stewart’s Cookies)
Makes 8 cookies (I made them regular sized; I got 24 cookies)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (+2 tablespoons for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in melted butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Chill dough in the refrigerator, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes (about 11-12 minutes for regular sized cookies). Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two hearts that beat as one

This is me and Alex…

This month we are moving in together. Big step! Well, not that big since we’ve been dating for 5 years. But still, kind of big step!!

So I’ve decided to start a blog to chronicle our experience of nesting, moving in together for the first time, and making a new place home sweet home. The blog will feature crafts, sewing projects, recipes, decorating ideas, and reviews of just about everything that we try as we nest into our new living situation.