Tuesday, May 24, 2011

my trip to the cathedral

it's not often i blog about my "real job"--this is an outlet for me, afterall. but from time to time, my job affords me some pretty unique opportunities that i just have to share. this weekend was one of those. my good friends at the chicago cubs invited me on a trip to be part of mlb history. the cubs were playing at fenway park for the first time since babe ruth himself was on the pitcher's mound. babe ruth! 1918, to be exact. so 93 years later, i got to be there when today's cubbies entered those hallowed grounds.

while in beantown we experienced fenway, shopped on newbury street, had some celebrity sightings, and traveled back in time...

fun @ fenway
i'm no sports geek, but i have a strong affinity for the tradition of america's pastime. to think of all the memorable moments that happened behind these walls makes my head spin a little. the history of fenway park far pre-dates me. and you if you're reading this. what a testament of time.

it wouldn't be a trip to fenway without yawkey way. for those who don't know, yawkey way is a closed-off street technically inside the gated area of the ballpark. it's a big ole baseball themed street festival.

complete with a band...

and fried dough...

did you hear me? FRIED DOUGH. yes, i had one. i would've taken a picture but i had powdered sugar all over my face fingers and gobbled it up rather quickly. it's basically a funnel cake without the trouble of the pattern. it's a fried pancake covered in sugar and/or cinnamon, depending on your preference.

shopping on newbury street

between games, we spent some time shopping on newbury street. the shopping district has erected amidst brownstones, mixed in with a few architectural gems and eateries. in the south, our architecture is pretty limited. ya see, we had some guy come into town and torch everything a while back.

funky shoes at john fluevog...

another stop was jonathan adler. of course we couldn't resist the punchy patterns and bold colors... 

[a li'l inspiration for a project]

[funky butter dishes from jonathan adler. shoes, dogs, mouse, whale?]

it wouldn't be boston without seeing a firehouse. with firemen hanging out in front, of course.

the junior league of boston. do you think kate spade was a member?

the iconic brownstones with a little ivy...a nod to the cubbies i am sure.

celebrity sightings in beantown
first, we saw marilyn. and we actually stalked her like the paparazzi when we saw her running down the street. we finally caught up with her as she was greeting some adoring fans. jfk was from boston, no?

then, we saw bill murray at the game. he's a big cubs fan, so i hear. 

last, but certainly not least, and definitely most appropriate for this trip...the babe. he was kind enough to pose for a pic and didn't mind my blue stripes...

time travel
on saturday night, we traveled back to 1918. the red sox decided to recreate the last cubs @ bosox game, including details like...

if you wanted to know who was up to bat, the jumbotron only showed the lineup card...

[can you even read that? i can't tell you if it was today's roster or 1918's]
and if you needed to see what that player looked like, they provided the black & white photo of the 1918 red sox team for easy reference...

oh, and if that wasn't enough to test your baseball knowledge, there was no PA announcement throughout the game. only if you were sitting in the infield could you hear the play-by-play from the megaphone. yep, a megaphone.

as thorough as they were, they overlooked a few details:
  • there were no lights at the ballpark in 1918
  • women probably weren't allowed at the games. especially wearing pants.
  • ticket prices weren't prorated to the 1918 price
  • some folks started the "USA" cheer...which wasn't invented until the 1980 olympics
  • beer prices were much higher than 1918

but of all the throwback nods, this guy was my favorite...nicely done t-bone.

hope you enjoyed my trip to see the Old Towne! i wish i'd seen more sights, but i missed out on the duck tour thanks to an incredibly slow waiter at charley's eating & drinking saloon. guess i'll just have to go back...but definitely not waiting 93 years like the cubbies.

oh, and if you need a convenient place to stay to visit the place mentioned, we stayed at the hilton back bay. it was about a 15 minute walk to the ballpark and 5 minutes to newbury street. the rooms were spacious and clean!

disclaimer stuff - i wasn't paid to endorse any of these places or things. i was on this trip as part of my full-time job, but i didn't receive any direct compensation.

super simple summer strawberry shorts

to go with the bbq shower menu, i needed a crowd-pleasing + easy-to-eat treat for the sweet-toothed guests. the guests of honor aren't fans of banana pudding, so strawberry shortcake "shots" were the winner.

assembly is EASY and could be partially pre-prepped ahead of time. makes about 40 individual servings.

3 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed + diced
1 fresh lemon
2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on your tastes
1 store-bought pound cake
whipped topping
3-ounce cups

add berries + sugar to large bowl. squeeze 1/2 lemon into berry mixture. use a potato masher to mash the strawberries and mix the flavors together.

spoon the strawberry mixture into 3-oz cups. return to refrigerator to chill.

once ready to serve, cut the pound cake into small cubes. remove the strawberry cups from fridge. place a few pound cake cubes into each cup. top with a dollop of whipped topping.

serve + enjoy!

if i'd had enough strawberries left over, i would have used a few to garnish the tops. oh well!

i'm linking up to Rhoda's summer recipe party so hop on over + check it other tasty goodness...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

judgment day to-do list

with these guys claiming that the rapture will occur at 6pm on Saturday, it's got me thinking. well, only partially thinking since they once claimed the world would end in Sept of 1994.

so i probably need to re-prioritize my current to-do list. so far it's this:
  • return my new wedges to BR. they hurt my little pinky toe. who needs shoes to walk streets of gold?
  • return some party supplies to Michael's that we didn't use. i imagine there are plenty of doilies in heaven. and candy.
  • straighten out some address issue at the bank. but this probably won't matter since we won't need $ where we're going. and my address will likely change, come to think of it.
  • pick up some birthday cards. hmmm. maybe i'll go ahead and pop those in the mail, just in case.
  • get a haircut. obviously, i want to look my best at the pearly gates, but i should probably make sure it'll work with the windblown look since we'll be defying gravity on our ascent.
  • try on my bridesmaid dress for a summer wedding. maybe i'll wear it on saturday to make sure i get a good wear out of it. it's pretty!
  • book our hotel for a summer wedding. again, maybe futile, but i hate to miss this wedding.
  • return a library book & pick up a new one. i'm guessing St. Peter frowns upon late fees.

in all honesty, i'm not terribly concerned about 6pm on Saturday. i'm pretty comfortable with where i'll be whenever the good Lord calls us all home. and, on Saturday, i'll be at one of the few remaining cathedrals in the country, so i can't think of a much better place to be. more on that trip to come!

has the threat of the end of the world helped you prioritize anything?

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    bring home the bacon

    Cricket started his new job today. Good news--he's going back tomorrow! Despite the overwhelming deer-in-headlights feeling that comes with most first-day-on-the-job experiences, he walked in the door tonight with obvious excitement + eagerness to fall into his new role.

    I commend Company X for keeping his days full for the next week until he finds his routine. There's nothing worse than starting a new job, being ready to tackle The challenges, and then being left to sit in your cubicle "getting settled" while everyone else is in meetings.

    The best part...he didn't just bring home the bacon. He brought home a squeaky toy.

    Lula approved!!!

    diy party pennant banner

    i used the couples shower we hosted as an opportunity to give my pennant banner crafting skills a trial run. my sis has commissioned 100s of yards of pennants for her august wedding, and having never done this before, i wanted to practice before taking the scissors to her basketful of fabric remnants she sent me.

    [happy couple]
    the invitation was similar to this one from minted, so it was a perfect excuse to incorporate them into the decor!

    for this trial, i used scrapbooking paper instead of fabric remnants. i also used some store-bought die-cut letters, grosgrain ribbon, and good ol' elmer's glue.

    [scrapbook sheets + 4" letters]

    first, i created a pattern triangle once i figured out the size + shape that would work for me. i basically folded the paper to get an even triangle and trimmed with scissors. since i didn't use double-sided paper, i needed the triangles to fold over the string for a double-sided appearance. next time, i'd use double-sided paper.

    i cut out enough of these to accommodate the letters to spell the bride + groom names. once i had enough cut out, i spaced them along the ribbon. then, secured the front + back sides to the string with a bead of elmer's around each edge.

    [bead of glue along flag edges + ribbon]
    then, i folded the triangle over the ribbon, pressed, + let dry.

    once dry, i used sticker dots to apply the die-cut letters.

    i used the scraps to create a few miniature banners, too. i wasn't as concerned with these being double-sided, so i attached them to the ribbon with scotch tape instead of glue.

    [materials for small flag assembly]

    [ribbon taped to back of small flag]


    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    patio furniture refresh

    we purchased a patio set from ikea last spring to host a crawfish boil when my folks came to visit. we were in a temporary rental + didn't want to spend much on the set so we got the table + chairs for about $130.

    over the past year, it's seen its share of rain, sleet, snow, hail + isn't in the prettiest shape. the table has warped + the chairs are really chipped. i can't completely blame the weather, since we didn't bother to cover it, varnish it, or anything else over the past year. we left it in the elements, poor thing. i thought i owed it to the table to try + salvage her before tossing her to the curb.

    first, i sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the flakes. then, i hosed off the pieces to remove the dust. they actually look better wet. if i could keep them perma-wet, i'd have left them as-is.

    then, a coat of primer...

    followed by a few coats of krylon's sun yellow gloss...

    they look better, but not super great. whatever oil finish ikea put on them made it really tough to paint evenly. the wood would just soak up the paint, then suddenly it would pool + drip in a section. i probably should have sanded more + added at least one more coat of primer. but really, i'm not sure it'd have been worth the extra effort. the table's a great extra serving surface for the patio + the chairs weren't that comfy to begin with, so we'll fold 'em up + store them for extra seating when needed.

    but i really like the bright + cheery color they add, even on the dropcloth against the grass.

    project costs:
    sandpaper 3 sheets = $3
    primer - 2 cans @ 3.50 ea = $7
    paint - 6 cans @ 3.50 ea = $21
    TOTAL: $31

    linking up to Sarah's spray paint project party...

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    recipes of the weekend

    it was my time to host book club this month, and after spending so much time outside working on the new patio, spending time in a hot kitchen wasn't high on my to-do list. it was a glorious weekend in atlanta, so i opted for a low-fuss summer-friendly meal.

    on the menu:
    homemade pimento cheese sandwiches on rosemary sourdough
    heirloom tomato, basil [fresh from the garden], + mozzarella on ciabatta rolls
    broccolini pasta salad with ricotta salata + thyme [fresh from the garden]
    ribboned asparagus salad with lemon
    homemade ice pops: raspberry/agave/yogurt + grapefruit basil [fresh from the garden]

    as you can tell, it's also an excuse to use some of my very own crops!!
    [very first basil crop]

    pimento cheese
    i basically followed this classic recipe + made it my own with a dash of garlic powder. i used the food processor to grate the cheese + mix all of the ingredients. super simple.
    [pimento cheese on rosemary sourdough]

    i oversalted the batch + tried to balance it out by adding more cheese. not sure it was 100%--though none of my bookclubber pals said a word. bless them for grinning and eating it.

    i served them on rosemary sourdough from whole foods, and it was tasty!

    caprese sandwiches
    i sprayed the rolls with olive oil + constructed the sandwich layers: basil, sliced ovaline mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes. easy peasy.
    [heirloom caprese on ciabatta]
    the most complicated part of this sandwich was the 2nd trip to the store to pick up replacement bread. lula pulled the original ones off the counter while we were at a kentucky derby part on saturday night. we didn't realize it for several hours when we came home + finally found the remnants tucked into the sofa cushions. turns out ciabatta isn't really her fave, as there were loaves hidden everywhere.

    pasta salad
    this one came to me via my mother-in-law. she made it for family dinner last weekend when zenn was in town for BB's birthday weekend. she sweetly left the recipe at my house so it was top-of-mind, + i had most of the ingredients still fresh!

    as a time-saver, you can steam the broccolini in a metal colander while you boil the pasta. i love efficiency!
    [pasta with broccolini, ricotta salata, + grape tomatoes]

    the thyme was from the garden. there's just something about fresh hand-picked herbs. these little herb snips i've had came in super handy, not just for snipping the thyme + basil, but also for stripping the thyme from the stems.
    [herb snips from williams-sonoma]
     i chilled it until time to serve.

    ribboned asparagus
    this was my "experiment" of the menu, as i'd made/tasted everything else at least some point before. i saw this on smitten kitchen this week and it spoke to me as a refreshing, fresh option to pair with the sammich fare.
    [ribboned asparagus with lemon]
    it was delicious. i found that using the thick asparagus stalks worked much better than the thinner variety. luckily, i'd bought the big suckers at whole foods. also, i learned that GENTLY peeling the ribbons reduced the breakage versus when i tried using more force. when i was tougher with the stalks, they'd split once they'd been whittled down.

    this was definitely a hit! thanks smitten kitchen!!!!!!!!!

    ice pops
    these were an experiment too. i didn't have popsicle molds, so i used these oversized silicone ice cube trays from crate + barrel.
    [jumbo ice molds from c+b]
    for the pomegranate flavor, i followed this recipe from the kitchn. i substituted agave nectar for the honey. i also attempted to swirl them, without much success. the yogurt mixture just sorta clumped. they were tasty, but not as pretty as they could be. next time, i'd probably pre-mix all of the ingredients for an even flavor, otherwise the pom is kinda tart.

    for the grapefruit basil, i made it up. i was inspired by a similarly delicious pop from atlanta's own king of pops. i used fresh grapefruit juice [from the store, i didn't squeeze it] and basil [from the garden]. i chopped the basil, placed in the trays, + filled with juice. these were super duper tart. i will definitely dilute with water next go round.

    about an hour after placing these into the freezer, i inserted wooden popsicle sticks + left to freeze for 8 hours or so.

    they were easily removed from the silicone trays after running a little warm water over the trays. i served them in ice cream dishes since they were HUGE. definitely a learning experience, but a refreshing summer treat i'm sure we'll have throughout the summer.
    [pomegranate agave pops + grapefruit basil pops]