Sunday, June 29, 2008


I love biking on any bridge over the Mississippi. The bars on the guard railing start to blur together and disappear as I bike past, making it look as if I could go a few feet to the right and plunge right into the shimmering water. And while normally this should scare me, it actually sounds quite thrilling - flying through the air to land happily in a pool of cool water, washing off the sweat I've accumulated while biking under the sun.

(What is it about biking that makes me completely forgot that a fall into the river would hurt, a LOT, and that the Mississippi is totally gross? I feel bad even putting that here as it completely ruins my idyllic fantasy.)

projects - wristlet and a beyond new dress.

So the other night I was having major ADD and decided I needed to organize my fabric. But in my world organizing means rummaging through a giant box and deciding to make something straight away. I still have a bunch of vinyl leftover so I decided to make a wristlet using this tutorial.

Here's what happens when I read tutorials: first I start scanning it, and soon realize that it doesn't make any sense. So then I turn off any music I'm listening to, cut off IM conversations, and read it with my full attention. Yup, it still doesn't make a ton of sense. (Something about any directions with sewing takes me hours to figure out.) At this point I either give up or decide I can figure it out myself, which usually works.

Anyway. I made this!


The zipper isn't perfect but for a first try, I was okay with that.

Next up. So I was shopping on Wednesday, hoping to maybe find a cute and wonderful dress for the weekend of weddings. (Yeah, I have things I can wear, but they're Ugh.) I ended up buying this dress in white, not thinking about or ignoring that rule that you're not supposed to wear white to weddings unless you're the bride. Etiquette be damned, I said! Also, it looked really cute with this red necklace I had just bought. But I later consulted with my sister who said it just wouldn't work for a wedding. And then I realized that I really had nowhere to wear it. Not to mention, white on white is scarily impractical.

I was complaining about the dress situation with my friend Andy when he suggested I just dye it. GENIUS! I ran all over trying to find kelly green dye. I consulted the internets for advice. I got really nervous that I could possibly ruin a good dress. But I went for it anyway.

Before and After:
white dressgreen dress!

I wish the green were a little bit darker, but I still have half a bottle of dye left and much more confidence in the process. Overall I'm happy with the lack of streaks, and green is so much more fun than white. Yay! New Dress!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

legacy chocolates.

I'm going to a wedding this weekend - wait, no, I'm going to two weddings this weekend. Well, ACTUALLY, I'm going to one reception for a wedding that already occurred and one full wedding.

For the reception only wedding, the invitation specifies not to bring gifts. Yet I feel a bit naked bringing nothing to an event like this. So what's the perfect gift for someone who claims not to want gifts? No, it's not a crystal vase or a figurine with a faceless couple holding hands. The perfect gift? Consumables. And what is a better consumable than chocolate? The answer was all too clear. (And don't worry, I checked in with my friend first and she said that this type of gift would be acceptable.)

I think, really, I just wanted an excuse to go to Legacy Chocolates. [At Cleveland and Marshall in St. Paul] I've only heard good things about the place, and I love chocolate, so it seemed quite pathetic that I hadn't been there yet. So I hopped on my bike and chose a wide selection of truffles to go in a pretty box, plus one for myself.

I hadn't quite thought out that chocolates + heat = bad news, so that killed my plans to stop by the vintage stores at Snelling and Selby on the way home. I biked home quickly under the hot sun, knowing that a mason jar full of iced tea and a shower awaited me. (Of course, I wasn't yet aware that a centipede was also waiting for me in the shower. There was screaming.)

Back to the chocolate. After the truffle had a chance to get cool again, I decided to eat my one and only. It was an 85% espresso truffle, and oh my god. It was, dare I say, better than Izzy's ice cream just doors away. Why didn't I buy more? That was extraordinarily stupid of me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

a random list of junk.

1. Yesterday on my run (outside) I was continually intoxicated by the smell of lilacs. Then I was nearly reduced to tears by a dead cat on the sidewalk. This still totally beats the gym, where all I get is sweaty.

2. Remember when I grew herbs? That pot looks drastically different now. The thyme is dead, as is half the rosemary, and the mint is about to take over. The worst part is I'm not sure I even LIKE mint. But I do like mint in water, it's quite refreshing in the summer.

2.5 In other herb news, my basil plant is doing well, and I made some delicious pasta sauce with it the other night.

2.75 Doesn't this eggplant salad look yummy? Also, it has mint in it!

3. Here is my nugget of wisdom for the day: to get clean, you must first get a little dirty. Take that any way you wish.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

rock the garden.

Rock the Garden at the Walker, with Bon Iver, Cloud Cult, The New Pornographers, and Andrew Bird

I'm so out of practice with writing reviews, but I'll attempt anyway. Rock the Garden was placed smack in between the Walker and the Sculpture Garden in the middle of the street. It actually seemed like a really small space for 7,500 people. Overall, I had a great time and was really glad I went. All of the bands put on solid performances, though I wish I could see some of them in other places.

Bon Iver

This was a really good set. Although you can hear the quality of his voice on record, the beauty of it comes across so much more live. My complaints have nothing to do with music, but were circumstantial. First of all, it was 4:30, the sun was beating down with no respite, and I just couldn't stop thinking about the heat. It was also hard to reconcile such intimate songs in a decidedly non-intimate setting. I would love to see him in a smaller club.

Cloud Cult

I don't have much to say about these guys since we took a break sitting on the hill and I wasn't paying attention. Next!

The New Pornographers

This is one band that has stood the test of time with me - the last (and only time) I saw them was five years ago. Silly things have gotten in the way of me seeing them in the meantime, so I was super excited to see them again. It ended up being the highlight of the night, partly because I just like them that much, and the setting suited their music really well. I think at this point, most people (myself included) had just enough beer in their system to happily sing along with the music (such as "The Bleeding Heart Show." So good!). The sun was still out, though not as strong, and everything just worked together to make it an awesome time.

Andrew Bird

This boy is so supremely talented, and his whistling is unsurpassed, but again I was bothered by both venue and circumstance. First of all, there were minor threats of storms so they had to take a ten minute break, which broke up the flow of the set. It also seemed like the point of the night where the drunk were just getting drunker, and more annoying, and that didn't jive well with Mr. Bird's music, either. Don't get me wrong, he put on a great show as well, but it just reminded me that I should really see him a theater sometime.

Other thoughts? There were many well dressed and attractive people there, so that was fun. The lines for any sort of food were ridiculous, though. Which is why my friends and I smartly decided to drink instead and go to King and I Thai for dinner later.

In other news, I made a new muxtape in honor of summer. CLICK!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

the naming of things.

Many thanks to James for helping me with my new banner. (Banner! Of course! How did I forget that?) Even though our methods would probably be laughed at by any designer, they work for now. Although we did notice that I have all these pictures, none of which are of cupcakes. So maybe at some point I will change the name of this blog and move the entire thing to wordpress. Or not, because I would certainly have a total crisis about a new title.

Going back to cupcakes and pictures thereof, I FINALLY went to A Piece of Cake, a delightful bakery in my neighborhood. I've walked by it so many times, usually alone, and it just seems like cute cakes and baked goods are things to be shared. Of course, whenever I was with people we weren't hungry or it was closed. But yesterday I had friends in town, and we shared a peanut butter filled cupcake and some lemon yummy things. And yes, they were quite good.

a piece of cake

THERE. It's a picture of a cupcake. And my job for the day is done.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

bloggy blog blog.

I feel like my blog needs an update. My links list on the sidebar is so so old, and not really reflective of what I actually read now. I also want a...I don't even know what you call it. A title bar? Sure, a new title bar. With pictures! The problem is, I clearly have no design know how when it comes to web elements, and no programs with with which to design anything. Don't get me wrong - I can figure out what looks good. But I can't create it and install it into my blog.

Digressing, digressing. What I want is something like this:

coffee.rooftoptri-color tomatoesIMG_4937blood orange

Basically, pictures (perhaps bigger) across the top, then with pictures of cupcakes scrawled on the bottom right hand side in a pretty font. Now, let's ignore for a second that this seems not too difficult and yet I have no clue how to do it. Instead let's think about: what do these pictures say about my blog? Do they reflect what I write?

The way I see it, the pictures that I have chosen (for now, this could be changed) say that the content of this blog is 60% food, and 40% buildings/lighting fixtures. Uhh. Hmm.

So then of course the nerdy math geek in me came out (again! you've been so persistent lately!) and said, "Hey, why don't you do an analysis of what your blog is really about?"

I came up with 6 basic categories, though some are quite broad:

- Food
- Links
- Life/personal/etc
- Craft
- Semi-enlightened attempts at writing (Really, this is life/personal/etc but longer and trying a bit harder, I guess. For example: comparing ReadyMade in digital and print form)
- Music

I crunched the numbers (just for posts from 2008), and came up with this:

36% Life/personal/etc
24% Links
21% Food
10% Semi-enlightened attempts at writing
7% Craft
7% Music

..and, those numbers totally add up to 105% because the extra 5% is for AWESOME. Or, I rounded and counted a couple of entries in more than category.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, header picture thingies. I need one! The end.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

about that cake (and other food).

Soooooo I managed to transport the cake to the retirement party in one piece! It was received well, although it turned into a total mess when cut into small pieces. A total mess of gooey chocolatety caramely DELICIOUSNESS. Mmm-hmm. So I'd say it was a success.

As for other food at the party, I have been on a disgusting meat binge due to excessive chicken and pork leftovers. I also made a super awesome mango salsa. I'm going to have to make that again.

To close, a picture of vegetable kebabs, because vegetables are pretty.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

the cafe latte challenge.

Anyone who lives in the Twin Cities and loves dessert has probably been to Cafe Latte, or has at the very least heard of it. One time I went there with a boy, who wanted something sweet after dinner. We got a piece of cake (though not the famous turtle cake, I don't actually remember which kind) and ate it. I asked him what he thought, and he said it was alright, but certainly not worth $5. (Which I believe I paid, by the way.) I defended the cake in question, stating that Cafe Latte probably uses high quality ingredients, which aren't cheap, and then there's the whole cost of labor in making the cake. And sure, $4-5 seems a lot to pay for flour, sugar, and eggs mixed together, but you're not only paying for the cake - you are paying for the experience of going out to eat cake among the people! Cake you didn't have to make yourself!

[Aside: When recounting the story to a friend, she agreed with my view completely, saying that the price is totally worth it cause their desserts are just that good. Also, if you want yummy dessert for cheap, look for the smaller pieces with a toothpick in them - they're half off because they don't look as pretty. But they still taste delicious!]

Fast forward to Friday. My sister and I are hosting a retirement party for our parents, and there was the question of dessert. My sister suggested I pick up a cake from Cafe Latte, but also noted that the recipe for turtle cake is on their website. That recipe was like a challenge, egging me on. Sure, some of the ingredients would be expensive, but so would the cake. And the truth is I like baking, and I don't normally have a reason to make fancy three layer cakes. Also, it was a Friday night and I had nothing better to do except watch depressing holocaust films. (Because I'm just that cool.) So the challenge was on.

I headed to Kowalski's for the finest of ingredients. (More on the cost of ingredients later.) I came back home and started mixing, then put the batter into cake pans that I've had for over two years and have never used. It wasn't until the pans were in the oven when I realized I had possibly made a huge mistake - what if they turn into something that is not cake like at all? Was I completely overconfident in my baking prowess? After all, this could turn into a major disaster and then I'd be out all the money for the ingredients AND I'd have to buy a replacement cake.

But it turned out I was freaking out over nothing, as they baked into something that did indeed look like delicious cake.

cakes and pecans

So phew, disaster averted. Until I remembered that I had to get the cake out of those pans in one piece. Shit. I had a little more trouble with this part.

eep! perfect!

Only one came out perfectly (don't ask me how). One was missing a small portion from the middle, which could be easily covered with frosting, but the other was missing a large chunk from the side. Crap!

Sheesh, this is getting obscenely long. After the cake cooled I started the frosting process, using delicious chocolate goo to cover up any mistakes.

layer one

There was three layers of this, and in the end it looked pretty good, if not a bit lopsided. Leaning cake of Pisa, or something. BEHOLD.


So there it is, ready for tonight's party. Taste reviews will have to come later. Now let's talk about cost, so the hidden math dork in me can calculate this.

1 Egg - bought in bulk from the co-op = $0.25
2/3 cup vegetable oil - Oil is like...a buck? And I still have a lot left. We'll say $0.25.
1 cup buttermilk - 4 cups is $1.79, so 1 cup = $0.45.
2 cups flour - Google tells me there are about 20 cups in a 5 pound sack, which I believe cost $2.50 (rising food prices, man.) 2.50 / 10 = $0.25.
1 3/4 cup sugar - Aw, who cares. We'll just say a quarter for that too.
1/2 cup good quality cocoa - I don't remember how much this was when I bought it, but I used about 1/4 of the guess is $1.00.
Salt and baking soda - What, like 4 cents? Not computed.
1 cup hot coffee - Crap, I have no idea and patience to figure this one. Um, $0.30.

1/2 cup milk - 1 gallon = $4.49 (food prices! geeze!) = 16 cups -> 4.49 / 32 = $0.15.
1 cup sugar - Again, who cares. A quarter.
6 tbsp. butter - I feel like 1 pound of land o'lakes butter is around $3. This is very shaky math territory. 1 pound = 32 tablespoons -> that's about 10 cents per tablespoon x 6 = $0.60.
2 cups high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips - Ghiradelli bag = $3.59
3/4 cup caramel - I just used Smucker's stuff. = $2.15
1 1/2 cups pecan halves = $4.89

Don't worry, I'll do the math for you. The cake only costs about $2.50 to make. The frosting and toppings are $11.63. Yikes. That's a grand total of $14.13. I think a full sized cake from Cafe Latte is about $35. So I saved about $20, not including labor costs.

But are we really talking about cost here? Not really. We're talking about the fact that if I walked in with a cake that I bought, although impressive and delicious, it is still a cake I bought and does not carry much pride. But this one I made? It is also impressive and (hopefully) delicious, and the bottom line is I MADE IT. And labor costs? This was a labor of love, indeed.

Anyway, more to come later. I have to go cut millions of vegetables now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

click to enlarge, swoon.

Confession: I have a special tab open solely for this man, and I believe it will stay open for the rest of the day. I'm not usually one for tattooed guys, but I think it works out like this: hat + scarf + tats + argyle socks = rugged hotness. I suggest staring at his picture while eating cake, as both are delicious.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Annie - I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me

And now, for this month's installment of super poppy dancy videos with lots of color, I present..Annie!

I think Annie has had some better songs, but I still like all the colorful dresses.

[Previously: Alpha Beat - Fascination]

Thursday, June 05, 2008

ReadyMade - digital vs. print.

I've long been torn by the divide between reading my media sources online or in print. Usually I prefer print editions, for sometimes silly reasons: I like getting ink on my hands, I like the portability, and I like being able to write and do crossword puzzles in the paper. In practice though, I get most of my news and other information online. It's nice because I'm not wading through piles of old papers and it's free, but there are still drawbacks.

When I used to pick up the local paper, I would thumb through nearly every section. I didn't read everything of course, but I did a quick scan of headlines and knew what was in there. Editorial decisions about which stories were above the fold were only made once a day. Meanwhile, at, headlines switch multiple times a day and the most read and e-mailed articles are prominently located on the side. Some might argue that this is perhaps more democratic, but it's hard to email articles to people when they are buried.

I'm getting away from the point here - which is to discuss that ReadyMade Magazine is now available online, for free! (Okay, and it has been since April, which is when I started this entry.) I've been a fan of this magazine for a while, but I never got around to getting a subscription. Soooo without further ado, a review of the latest online issue of ReadyMade.

One of the ingenious things about ReadyMade online is that instead of putting the article text and pictures on an entirely different looking webpage that is cluttered with side bar ads and other junk, the online version looks like the magazine. Of course, this includes everything, including the full page ads, so it's a bit annoying when pop up ads show up on top of that. The two page spread displays nicely across my browser, and the zoom navigation is pretty intuitive. There are a few drawbacks to this, of course - I had to read the up and down pages on packing tips sideways.

The other thing that the online version does well is to make good use of the tools available in the medium. You no longer have to type in the address of that site you read about, you can just click it! Want to read that article they mention in the editor's page? Don't worry about paper cuts, just click on the number!

What is it missing? The fact that it's an actual magazine, of course. For many obvious reasons that I've already touched on and more (portability, cuttability, loanability), reading a magazine online is just not as exciting as holding it in one's hands.

But is that excitement worth the $5 cover price and the hassle of storing it later? Probably not. The truth is, I really enjoy having easy access to ReadyMade once again - even when I used to buy it from the newsstands, it wasn't exactly easy to find. And though it's not quite as exciting as getting a nice colorful magazine from the store or in the mail, I will happily read it online again.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

someone cares about what somebody else had for lunch.

A wise woman once said, No One Cares What You Had For Lunch. Although the book looks a bit silly, that phrase has always haunted me whenever I want to write about the fabulous thing I ate for lunch, or breakfast, or dinner, or whatever. Sometimes I listened to the warning, sometimes I ignored it, but then worried that I was resorting to the style of my livejournal days. [Quote from 2001: so i took a nap this afternoon. i seem to be having so much trouble sleeping lately. i don't get it. I only keep these around so I can be thoroughly embarrassed by my younger self.]

But a bigger part of my response to this whole assertion is that it is a LIE. Why else would I read about what 100 New Yorkers had for breakfast with such rapt attention? Why would I start theorizing about the day of the week this survey was taken, as it seemed odd that so many people had such hearty breakfasts? Why would I become motivated once again to make my breakfasts more creative, more pretty, and perhaps even fashion cute napkins and place mats so the whole meal looks more like the ones at simply breakfast?

Maybe it's true that no one cares what I had for lunch (or breakfast). But I care about what you ate today. And if you took a picture of it, I'd be even more fascinated.

For the record, I had a rare breakfast provided by work: some fresh fruit, a honey wheat bagel with walnut cream cheese, and chai tea at home.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Long ago, back in the winter of my discontent, I foolishly made some resolutions. [Summary: Run a half marathon in under 2 hours, bike more.] It's easy to make warm weather exercise resolutions when it's too cold to do anything outside and you're horribly out of shape. Now, six months later, I'm wondering what the hell I was thinking. Today I could barely run 3 miles and I'm trying to run 13.1 at a 9 minute pace as early as August? I can try for the half, but the time goal is clearly not going to happen.

So my one quantifiable goal is out (for now), that leads to the next one: biking! Well, I did acquire a working bike - here it is!

my bike

Isn't it pretty? It's sitting in Minnehaha Park on a beautiful Sunday. It's about seven miles to get there from my place, though the route is pretty much perfect. [Although complicated today by Grand Old Day.] Even though seven miles on a bike really isn't that far, I felt so out of shape after the run that I really thought I would die. But it went quite well, even on the way home (which is more uphill). And it made that Heath Blizzard totally warranted.

Now I only need to figure out a few things: install these bike lights, get some panniers, and figure out how to arrive at my destination without being a pile of sweat.