Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waking Up My Taste Buds

In the absence of 90 degree angles, lined up shoes, multi-purpose cleaners, vacuums, paper towels, uncluttered surfaces, fresh flowers, perfectly made beds, evenly stacked books, sponges, organized shelves, folded laundry, dust-free window sills, fluffed pillows, decorative accents, and crumb-free tabletops, there is disorder.

Ah. That sounds a touch compulsive, doesn't it? A little obsessive? A few miles past tidy, neat, and clean? An exit away from neurotic? Sigh. I'm allergic to mess. 

I don't even generally like food that [really] requires a napkin. I find it very upsetting! when my carbohydrate, my fruit, my veggie, and my meat touch on my plate. I like to cut everything into bite-size pieces that won't fall off my fork and wreak havoc on the order below. Mom's quesadillas are the one exception to this rule. People keep tellling me there are LOTS of exceptions to all rules, and in many cases rules exist to be broken. Hmm...I remain unconvinced.

Messy Eats

There's no way to sugarcoat this...these quesadillas are a disaster, both to cook and to eatThe stove top always looks a little worse for wear (the downside of using minimal amounts of cheese...the fully loaded tortillas have trouble sticking together for the big flip) and the place mats at the kitchen table are always lost under mounds of discarded napkins. But once I'm done waking up my taste buds (and kickstarting my metabolism - fact or fiction?), I can load the dishwasher to my heart's content. For a half an hour, I can eat with my fingers and enjoy my favorite hot and spicy dish.

Sandwiched between two Joseph's flax, oat bran, and whole wheat tortillas* (a tasty low-calorie alternative):
Red, yellow, and green pepper
Fresh tomato
Ground beef seasoned with Penzey's Spices (Adobo, Northwoods fire, Cracked pepper, Chili powder, Cumin)
Cabot's hot habanero cheddar cheese
Medium hot salsa

Assorted Veggies

Separate Sauteed Corn (To Appease Brother #3)

In the Making (Pre-Flip)

*In case you're curious about these wraps...

Joseph's Tortilla, Nutrition Facts

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Patterned Plates

I can't be the only person under the age of 21 who is dizzy in love with Anthropologie's dinnerware. I know it's too early to think about furnishing an apartment, picking out china patterns, and buying silverware...but I'm addicted to the "grown-up" section in Anthropologie.

I can't help exclaiming over each and every accent plate, bread and butter plate, fruit plate, appetizer plate, salad plate, dinner plate, and dessert plate...Even though no two look exactly alike, I find them to be equally appealing. I'm dying to buy a few of the multicolored dishes to use as backdrops in my "foodie" pictures (ha - my photography skills are a running joke around here)...but I think they just may be sensational enough to upstage the main attraction.

Some of them look like watercolor paintings splashed onto circles of smooth ceramic. Many of them are carefully crafted by Parisian artists and have a distinctly French motif. I have a hard time justifying spending upwards of $25 just for a stoneware plate...but what kind of a French major would I be if circular plates painted with petites files, pommes, and papillons didn't just call out to me?  

Pretty Plates, from Anthropologie

However, I stumbled upon another use for slightly quirky, mismatched, and brightly patterned plates: wall decor! I'm much more inclined to buy an expensive plate now that I know it can live out on display instead of just collecting dust stacked in my cabinet. That's reasonable, isn't it? Of course, said plates don't all have to hail from Anthropologie...

I'm thinking about mixing in some of the plates we have at home that seem to have lost their brothers and sisters over the years: a vintage floral plate, a delicate keepsake from Greece, a gold-rimmed china plate from my grandma's wedding, a faded but sturdy survivor from my early childhood, etc. Even lonely plates rescued from garage sales, antique stores, or thrift shops would add some personality and make for a good story (like Joy the Baker's).

Source of Inspiration 1

Friday, July 29, 2011

One Bowl Dinner

Have I mentioned how much I love dinners at home?

Thinly sliced grilled pork tenderloin (pre-marinated in a mesquite barbeque sauce)
Rao's tri-colored and homemade farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
Stir-fried garlic scapes, mushrooms, eggplant, bok choy, snow peas, roasted red pepper (grilled outside first), broccoli, and zucchini
...all thrown into a big stir-fry pan and sprinkled with salt and pepper

This was hands down the best stir-fry I have ever had. The blend of fresh veggies, textured artisan pasta, and spicy circles of meat was to die for. All exaggeration aside - this dish was certainly worth risking a fork stab from Brother #3 in the sprint for seconds of pork tenderloin.

Mesquite BBQ Grilled Pork Tenderloin*

*Sad story sidenote: my photography skills aren't getting any better, even after three months of experimenting!

Last night involved a new food to add to my growing list: garlic scapes. A garlic scape is the light green curling stalk of a hardneck garlic plant. While the "real" garlic bulbs grow below, the tender stem (if cut early enough) offers a nice mellow garlic flavor to add a little something to any number of recipes. Mom harvested our garlic scapes right out of the the garden and let me play photographer for a minute before she sliced them up.

Quick Morning Harvest, with Garlic Scapes

Bicycle Garlic Scapes!

Tonight was what we call a "one bowl dinner." Much to my delight, the saucepan just got more and more full as the 6 o'clock hour drew nearer.

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

And as always, a side-by-side (except not really, because I can't figure out how to get Blogger to let me do this) view of Brother #3's plate and my bowl.

Brother #3's...Mess

My Bowl

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Silver Square

When the first streaks of sunshine sneak past my shades, my routine begins. Almost on autopilot, I fling open the blinds, make the bed, fluff up the pillows, change into running clothes, scoop my hair up into a ponytail, and plug my phone into its charger by the door. I pad across the remaining luxuriously soft carpet and feel a quick jolt as I make first contact with the bathroom's icy cold tile floor.

Scale, Clip Art

Still rubbing my early morning eyes, I slowly approach the silver square that can supposedly measure my body fat, body water, and bone mass. As I wait for 0.00 to flash, I see a lightning-fast slideshow: two slices of chocolate zucchini cake, a wedge of zucchini herb cornbread, a knife slathered with peanut butter, a piece of bread barely visible underneath a melted slice of Havarti with dill cheese, a generous amount of almonds, and a handful of crispy homemade croutons. You're going to have gained weight, threatens that terrible little voice that deserves to be clocked over the head with a ceramic frying pan.

Homemade Zucchini Herb Cornbread

Flickering digits wink up at me for a heartbeat before they register on the tiny screen. It takes a full second longer than that for my brain to process the numbers. Exactly the same as the last two weeks, give or take .1 of a pound! With a whoosh, recollection of all of my recent two-a-days (easy runs, tempo runs, ab labs, pilates sessions, speed work, strength training, circuit training, hill repeats on the bike) flood back into my mind. I stare at my flipper feet for a moment longer before stepping off the scale, reminding myself that maintaining weight is the goal now.

In the past 14 days, I've been exercising smarter and purposely letting myself eat more. I made the decision that overtraining and undereating just wasn't working for me, not physically or emotionally. I'd restricted so many foods from my diet that I was no longer satisfied by anything, and my body wasn't getting close to enough rest or fuel to recover properly. I actually got to the point where I stopped losing weight (even though I was working out like crazy and not eating anything I wanted), presumably because prolonged elevated levels of cortisol encouraged my body to ramp up its fat storage. Now no food groups are off-limits (even though I obviously still get tangled up guilt tripping myself sometimes), I always eat post-workout (no matter how close the next meal may be), and my training plan has built in easy days/recovery runs. I'm still very particular about my food choices and I'm admittedly still a stickler about portion sizes, but I'm amazed at how much less fatigued I feel and how much higher the quality of my workouts are. Honestly, I haven't felt this good physically in over a year.'s still coming along. I'm happy about some of the changes that I'm starting to see in the mirror (my muscles are starting to look more defined and my sternum isn't quite as prominent anymore), but I still obsess over the stubborn curve in my lower belly, the slightly rounded tops of my thighs, and the width of my hips. On the brighter side, I'm much less grumpy now that I'm not shooting daggers at anyone around me who dares to dig into the cookie jar or to take down the baking books. I still can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that eating more is going to improve my health & my fitness level, without making me gain 10 pounds...but I certainly feel encouraged that this is a better direction than before. I'm not sure if this is the diet & exercise plan that I will stick to for the rest of my life, but I'm going to experiment with it. I'd like stepping on that silver square to be about feedback, not about failure or success.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shelving My Inner Pessimist

That little voice in the back of my head, the one I often want to squeeze into an overflowing closet and slam the door on until I feel better equipped to handle's been rather vocal lately.

Like a broken record, it whines time is running out to an unknown tune.

Thinking of summer's close makes my stomach tighten and my head hurt. There's still so much I want to do: go blueberry picking, visit Moosehead Lake, spend a week lounging around our time-shared Cape Cod cottage (that has seen better days but has an undeniably gorgeous water view), take a ferry to Martha's Vineyard to meet a friend, go to Mainely Custards for the frozen custard of the day, hike up Mount Katahdin, go shopping in New York City, research job opportunities in the writing/editing field, attempt a half a dozen DIY projects to decorate my room at school, learn how to make Mom's orange chicken fajitas, check out the rest of the library's Karen Robards collection, have dinner at The Good Table Restaurant, take a weekend to visit Boyfriend on the lake, sail a Laser with my dad and my brothers, complete a 15 mile long run...the list goes on.

Despite my repeated attempts to savor every hour of every day (and subsequently slow down the passage of time), the calendar keeps turning. July is hurtling towards August, and soon the warm weather months will have slipped away entirely for another year.

In order to temporarily shelve my inner pessimist, I'm trying to keep in mind the things that are making me happy. Not having any serious commitments (outside of the occasional doctor/dentist appointment) has been such a welcome relief. Being able to spend time in the kitchen, puttering around the garden, and out on the road with my mom has been somewhere far north of so nice. Having Brother #3 (who doubles as my year-round best friend) around to work out, grill, and bake with has been such a treat. I'm most grateful for the fact that the thought this is the life has popped into my head more times than I can count in past three months.

Of course, there have been some material things worth smiling about too. Here's a look at some of the things that have made me happy this week:

New Easy Reads

Mom's Garden Bouquet

Destination Stickers and a Tomato Red Journal

Progress on the Recipe Book, Part I

Progress on the Recipe Book, Part II

My New Toy!

Turquoise Earrings from The Carry All in Scarborough, ME

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zuke Season

Tonight's dinner menu: Baked mahi mahi garnished with Tex-Mex zucchini and zucchini ribbons, grilled zucchini, zucchini pie, and thyme garlic hasselback potatoes (fun fact: minus the olive oil, we grew all the ingredients this recipe called for!).

Dinner (On Biking Plastic Plate)

Which of these things is not like the other? Perhaps it's these adorable potatoes?

Thyme Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Zucchini season is in full swing around here. Since this is one of my favorite vegetables, I hardly blink an eye when Mom unloads yet another basket brimming with zucchini from the garden. Dad, on the other hand, is starting to get a little sick of the green we've been on the lookout for recipes with clever ways to use up our most bountiful ingredient (including a few baseball bats neglected zucchinis).

Garden Zucchinis

All three zucchini dishes for tonight received a thumb's up. The red-hot tex-mex zucchini that we used as a garnish was actually leftover from a side dish we didn't quite use up last night, the grilled zucchini slices are always a big hit, and the zucchini pie was surprisingly good (I am not a pie person but I loved this). My mom tells me it was more like a quiche than a pie...either way, it was wonderfully creamy and full of flavor.

Tex-Mex Zucchini Recipe
(adapted from FamilyCircle's Quick and Easy Recipes)

Mahi Mahi with Tex-Mex Zucchini and Ribboned Zucchini Garnish

(8 servings)
4 slices of bacon (we didn't have any on hand so we omitted this...but I bet it would be delicious!)
6 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
2 teaspoons of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of ground red cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cup of salsa (we mixed 3 different kinds: one medium, one very hot, one with corn and black beans)
1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (we decided we wished we had left this out)

If you're going to use bacon, start by cooking the bacon in a skillet until crisp.
Add the zucchinis, all spices, and salsa.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir.
Cook for an additional minute.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Grilled Zucchini Recipe
Too few ingredients and instructions to making filling out a "recipe card" worthwhile.

Grilled Zucchini

Zucchini Pie Recipe*
(adapted from Sandra Garson's How To Fix A Leek cookbook)

Zucchini Pie, Minus 1 Piece

(8 servings)
4 cups of cubed zucchini
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of corn oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano leaves
1 cup Bisquick (gasp! just close your eyes and do it)
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heavily butter or oil a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate or square baking dish.
Mix everything together in a large bowl and pour it into the greased pan.
Bake for one hour at 350 degrees F, or less if using a convection oven.
Serve warm with roasted meat or grilled fish, or as a lunch entree with crusty bread and a tomato salad.
Can be reheated in a microwave.
*This is Sandra's most requested recipe ever, even though it calls for Bisquick (a pre-mixed baking product with a terrifying ingredient list).

I've seen bookmarked recipes for zucchini chocolate cake, zucchini herb cornbread, zucchini slaw, zucchini curry, zucchini ribbon salad, zucchini bread, zucchini casserole, chocolate zucchini muffins, zucchini spaghetti, crispy baked zucchini fries, and sweet zucchini pancakes. I have to say it makes me wonder...will I still be so gung-ho about zucchini two weeks from now?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snack Time!

Fact: Snack time was the best part of preschool.

What about recess, you may ask? I think recess was more of an elementary school phenomenon. Besides, on my trip down memory lane I seem to remember that all we ever did in preschool was have fun (finger painting, coloring with chalk, zooming down slides, sitting in sandboxes, listening to pretty teachers read the best books, etc.), so eating time trumps playing time in my book.

What ever happened to snack time, anyway? I don't know when I got on the "adult" meal plan, but I don't like it. I'm much happier eating six small-ish meals (breakfast, mid-morning nibble, lunch, mid-afternoon refreshment, dinner, and post-dinner snack).

Now that I've switched to a new training plan (which involves a heavy increase in mileage and a healthy dollop of cross-training), I've vowed to fuel myself properly so all my hard work isn't for nothing. Run more, eat's as simple (and as complicated) as that. I've found that eating little no-guilt snacks right when I feel those hunger pangs helps me avoid overeating at meal times (when I'm in such a rush to get food in my starving belly that I don't even realize when I'm full) and keeps my energy level (and my mood) up. It's amazing how much happier I am when I'm not "trying to make it" with no food between lunch and dinner. Even though I'm still pretty strict about what I eat, at least I've lightened up about when I eat.

Here's a list of the snacks in my rotation at the moment:

1. Sliced apple with sprinkles of cinnamon

Apples with Cinnamon

2. Celery with peanut butter

Celery with Peanut Butter

3. Yogurt with crushed granola mixed in

Yogurt with Granola

4. 100% Whole wheat pita with a slice of turkey

5. Multigrain English muffin with salsa and a slice of cheese

6. Carrots dipped in hummus

Carrots and Hummus

7. Vegetable soup

8. A handful of almonds and half a banana

1/2 Banana and Handful of Almonds

9. Toasted 100% Whole wheat bagel thin with guacamole

10. Dry salad (but made fun with garden produce and fresh herbs!)

Garden Salad

11. Rice cakes

12. 1-Egg omelet with veggies

Vegetable Omelet

13. 1/2 Cup of rice with red peppers and onions

14. Leftovers from dinner (ex: half a grilled chicken breast)

15. Small fruit salad

16. 1/2 Cup of frozen yogurt and a handful of chocolate chips

Black Raspberry Frozen Yogurt with Chocolate Chips

What's your favorite healthy snack idea?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ab Lab, Part II

When it's 85 degrees and humid by 7:30 in the morning, I'm hardly skipping out the door looking forward to sweating through yesterday's breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's hot summer days like today that make me miss winter runs, even with all of the layers and hazards cold weather running entails. All I had to do this morning was put one foot in front of the other for 6.7 miles (with 5 quick strides to avoid getting too comfortable in the marathoner's shuffle). That's all. It wasn't a long run, a tempo run, a hill workout, a speed workout, or even a particularly challenging course. I was actually under orders to take it easy (in preparation for tomorrow's hard run) and I left at 6:30 so the heat wouldn't be too oppressive.

Doesn't sound so bad, right? It wasn't even the slightest bit fun. I felt like I was slogging through a thick wall of humidity, with no escape from the suffocatingly hot sun. I tried, in vain, to convince myself that it was all mental (as I watched steam curl up from the pavement ahead). With salt stinging my heavy-lidded eyes and no cold water in sight (besides a waving sprinkler down a side street that I seriously considered making a detour for), all I could think about was the dreadful prospect of the afternoon run. I'm going to be out here again, in less than 7 hours. 

Post-run Hydration 

After I got home and polished off a few Poland Spring's (and watched the thermometer climb higher and higher into the "red" zone), I decided against running another 4 miles at 3 o'clock. The extra 300-400 calories I'd burn plodding along just weren't worth it to me...not when it was 96 degrees in the shade and the clothes on the line were drying in half an hour. A 4 mile "recovery" run through a sauna on a very tired set of legs wasn't going to help me physically or mentally. Enter the beauty of doing a second workout inside, with the AC blasting. I've done a post about Ab Lab before, but it's about time to share some more exercises to add into the mix. I've never done the exact same core circuit twice - muscle confusion is a great thing!

For new readers, here's the general idea:
-Ab Lab is comprised of any 8 ab exercises
-Each of the 8 exercises is performed nonstop for a 50 second period
-After each individual exercise there is a 10 second rest
-When all 8 exercises have been completed, there is a full 60 second break
-The circuit gets repeated 3 times (24 minutes in total)

1. The windmill with straight legs 
Position yourself on your back, with your legs extended perpendicular to the floor. Keeping your feet together and your legs as straight as possible, lower your legs and begin to make a circular motion. Both hips should be on the ground at all times. Make sure your legs are swooping around like a windmill (you shouldn't just be tracing little circles with your feet). Complete one full revolution before reversing the direction. Try to keep your spine anchored to the floor and don't slide your hands under your butt as a cheat.

2. The "wiggle"
The name of this exercise should serve as an indication of the awkward motion to come. I recommend you try this one in the privacy of your own home - but it burns like crazy once you get the motion down! Position yourself on your back, with the soles of your feet together and your kneecaps pointing outwards. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground and bring one knee in to meet your elbow. Then switch to the opposite side (basically it should feel like you're wiggling side to side). Make sure you're not just bringing your elbows to your knees like you would in a bicycle crunch!

3. Split leg pulses
Position yourself on your back, with one leg outstretched a few inches off of the ground and one leg sticking straight up perpendicular to the floor. Lift your head and shoulders up and crunch up another couple of inches for 1, 2, 3 pulses. After the third pulse, switch the position of your legs, briefly rest your upper body, and repeat.

4. Double leg drop with scissor kicks
Position yourself on your back, with your arms draped loosely by your sides and your legs extended perpendicular to the floor. Keeping your feet together, slowly lower your legs until they are hovering a few inches off of the ground. Flutter both feet in a scissor kick motion for a couple of seconds and bring your legs back up to the initial position. Repeat. Again, make a concerted effort to keep your legs straight and your hands out from under you!

5. Plank with arms on a Swiss ball
This exercise always makes me shake all over. Think of a regular plank, only instead of bracing your elbows or hands on the ground, use a Swiss ball. Make sure you don't sacrifice your form as you try not to tip over...I always have Brother #3 on hand to yell "head up!" and "drop those shoulders!"

6.  Long-arm crunch with a medicine ball 
This exercise always wears out my upper body before my abs. Position yourself on your back, with your arms extended by your ears. Hold a medicine ball (or a dumbbell) in your hands. Your outstretched arms shouldn't move from that spot just behind your ears. All you're doing is trying to curl your upper body into your chest with your arms still sticking out behind you. The "crunching" motion itself shouldn't be that drastic - the point is to make sure only your core isn't getting any help from your upper body's momentum.

7. Swiss ball pass
This exercise, when I'm not too tired to do it properly, always has me moaning and groaning when I try to sit up in bed the next morning. Lie on your back with your legs stretched out on the floor and your arms fully extended over your head. Grab a Swiss ball with your hands and crunch up to meet your legs in the middle. Pass the ball to your feet and lower your legs slowly to hover a couple of inches off the ground. Lift your legs back up to the middle and transfer the ball to your hands again. Slowly lower your upper body until it's a couple of inches off the ground. Repeat. Don't let the ball touch the ground!

8. Side plank with hip drops 
This one is just your dear old friend the side plank, only with rapid-fire hip drops added into the equation. Get in a side plank, lower your hips towards the ground, and then lift them back up until you're back in the generic side plank position. Go for 25 seconds and then switch sides.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kiss the Carbs

As far as chores go, replenishing the bread drawer isn't too much of an annoyance. Although Big Sky Bakery is a bit of a hike for us, they produce heavenly artisan breads using whole wheat flour that they mill themselves. I know I've briefly mentioned this bakery before, but it's a family favorite and definitely worthy of a second post.

Just walking into Big Sky (which is located in the old Engine 8 firehouse at Woodford's corner in Portland) is enough to kick my taste buds into high gear. Rows and rows of freshly made loaves of bread (to name a few: 3 seed, cinnamon swirl, English muffin, German rye, hearty oat, and ciabatta) decorate simple shelves and an enormous wooden cutting board labeled Samples.

They don't skimp on the samples around here. They'll slice you a little of this, this, and this, along with a lot of that, that, and that, if that's what you'd like. The sample tray is extra enticing because the bread of the day is always included in the rotation. Some specialty breads only come out once a month, like the jalapeno cheddar boule we picked up for dinner.

Big Sky Bakery, Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

It was dense and doughy, with sizable hunks of fiery-hot cheese and slivers of chili pepper tucked into little hills and valleys. This was the best bread I have ever tasted. It didn't need butter, it didn't need to be toasted, it didn't need to be dipped, it didn't even need to be sliced...I tore off a bite from a loaf that had just cooled and I seriously debated running behind the counter to kiss the cook. It's probably a good thing I was anxious to get home for lunch.

We picked out a loaf of jalapeno cornbread for sandwiches (and stuck a loaf of marble rye in the freezer for later).

Basket of Bread

I must have had jalapeno on the brain today since it also made an appearance in this morning's omelet. I had my spicy sandwich (toasted) with oven roasted turkey, roasted red pepper hummus, and garden lettuce. In my opinion, bread can make or break a sandwich...and The Big Sky Bakery never disappoints.

Big Sky Bakery, Jalapeno Cornbread

Since today involved a long run (12 miles @ 5:30 am to beat the heat = success!), my assignment is not to shy away from carbohydrates. Clearly this won't be a problem...I even snagged a bag of Big Sky's infamous granola to give a mid afternoon yogurt snack a little more weight! How did I ever enjoy yogurt without rolled oats, almonds, soy oil, honey, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, vanilla, and sea salt?

3 O'Clock Snack

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Study in Style

Every night evening before I go to sleep, I lay out my outfit for the following day (don't laugh - I used to do it for the entire week when I was in high school).

Sometimes I keep it understated and timeless, sometimes I favor splashy prints, sometimes I'm inspired by silks and exquisitely embroidered details, sometimes I build my whole outfit around a long-forgotten accessory, sometimes I err on the feminin and floaty side, sometimes I play professional with a cropped blazer and tailored trousers, sometimes I go for a cozy flannel and a sweater stolen from the boys, sometimes I'm cheered by preppy stripes and tiny polka dots, sometimes I'm drawn to empire waists and sequined sashes, sometimes I throw my hands up in the air and just pair black yoga pants with a running zip-up...

I don't think I have much of a particular style just yet. The finer points are that I'm pretty matchy-matchy, admittedly picky about how fabrics feel agaist my skin, and very fussy about things that wrinkle easily or stretch out after an hour. Since nothing looks appealing in my closet today, I thought I'd take a virtual shopping trip to create tomorrow's look.

This outfit would be just perfect for a leisurely walk through the farmer's market before a brunch date downtown (although who am I kidding? You know I'm a breakfast or lunch type of girl).

Onyx flare jeans from DL1961 and Jenna's cardigan from J.Crew (a sheer genius cropped and fitted sweater with three-quarter sleeves that would show off the tails of a corset-inspired tank from Girls from Savoy) would ward off dawn's brisk ocean breeze.

Ray-Ban® Small Aviator™ RB3044 sunglasses, made especially for smaller women's faces (and easy to pull from Marc by Marc Jacobs' packables striped shopper), would make an appearance by mid-morning to help soften the summer sun.

After strolling through Portland's cobblestone streets, I would be feeling thankful for my comfortable walking shoes (playful black and white spot plimsolls from Boden) and quite pleased with my $30 cherry red bling studs by JoJo.

By the time we sat down to hear the specials at our favorite bistro, I would be covertly admiring my royal blue manicure (Mezmerized by Essie) and my new Saundra Messinger silver ring (with a tiny diamond cushioned in her signature matte finish). 

So maybe that's my style: a fitted but functional mostly black and white study of splurges and saves, brightened by a few punchy bursts of color.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Growing Gold

Despite repeat invasions from one very fat (and single-minded) groundhog, the vegetable garden's bounty has been wonderful this summer: French zucchini, several different types of lettuce, spinach, garlic scapes, garlic, kale, Swiss chard, golden beets, red beets, scallions, radishes, and all kinds of spices (dill, basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, chives, sage, etc.).

Zucchini (Not Quite There Yet)

Teeny Tiny Eggplant!

Cucumber! (So Close)

Pole Beans!

Golden Beet, Breaking the Surface

Tomatoes! (Unripe)

Empire Apples! (Unripe)

Blueberries! (Unripe)

Obviously it's still too early for a lot of our garden produce, but it's just the right time for potatoes! Mom planted her Yukon gold potatoes in early May, and now we have dozens of little golden gems nestled in the soil away from prying eyes.

Potato in the Ground!

Garden Harvest (Dirty)

Garden Harvest (Clean)

Being sent out to the garden to snip a sprig of parsley or cut off a chive stalk feels distinctly like a chore, but going out to the garden to gather potatoes is actually fun. It truly feels like a harvest! Think of hunting for Easter eggs...only the resulting treasures aren't full of quarters and jelly beans. The potatoes grow in between the roots and can be found just by brushing away the topsoil. Now we've collected enough to start thinking about potato recipes! I'm thinking boiled with herbs and butter, mashed with garlic, roasted with rosemary...or maybe even chopped up in an omelet.

Tiny Potatoes, Perfect for Omelets