too early to be awake...

It's no secret that I love Christmas music. But it's still (barely) September! It's way too early, even for me, to think about Christmas. Although I know that, I may or may not not have pre-ordered A Very She & Him Christmas album. I'm so excited! Thankfully, it won't be released until October 24, because starting to play holiday music in September is just wrong.

straight out of the pantry...

I bought a can of cut beets a while ago and they've been sitting in the pantry looking at me. I'm not sure why I picked them up, I've not ever bought beets of any kind my whole adult life and this was before I went meat-free. Anyway, today, I drained them, cut them up even more, mixed them with a small can of mandarin oranges (also drained), and about half a cup of walnuts. I splashed on a bit of balsamic vinegar and sprinkled on some salt and pepper. Delicious, and so pretty!

I suspect it would have been even better if I let it chill in the fridge for a bit, but I was too hungry. You gotta love a quick recipe that can be made entirely from the pantry. By leaving off the salt and pepper, maybe adding some cut up strawberries, I could definitely see this as a quick, healthy dessert option too.

black and white

Seems like I'm not the only one loving on black and white (and Chanel) right now. It's just so crisp and classic, especially with some nice red lips. Here's some of my fall+winter inspiration clips:

And here's some of my favorite recent b&w-styled editorials.

fall nudes

For the first time, ever I think, I find myself drawn to style inspiration in soft pinks and nudes for the fall:

I think it started after seeing this Neiman Marcus advertisement with Karlie Kloss. Her dress is similar to one I just bought, and the nudes work so well with it:

Most of my closet is black, white, or purple, and these soft pinks and nudes would go with all of that. I also want to add some red pieces to my wardrobe, and red and nude will be a nice change from my normal red and black and white.

So excited for fall shopping, especially now that the air conditioner in my apartment is fixed and it's no longer 89 degrees inside here!

creamy corn chowder

I followed this all-recipe for Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder, but un-veganized it by using whole milk instead of soy milk to please the hubby. Still a lot healthier than my normal similar soups - like Cajun Crab and Corn Bisque - since it uses a little bit of olive oil instead of the normal sticks of butter, and milk rather than heavy cream. And, of course, meatless.

Creamy Corn Chowder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 c. sweet onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 ½ clove garlic, minced
2 ½ c. vegetable broth, low sodium
2 medium baking potatoes, diced (5 c.)
1 can cream-style corn
½ can golden corn kernels, drained
2 c. whole milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. liquid crab boil
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and celery; cook until just slightly golden (10-15 min.). Stir in carrots and garlic; cook until garlic is slightly golden (10-15 min.).
Add 2 c. vegetable broth and potatoes. Simmer 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender, adding more broth to cover as needed.
Add corn and spices, simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring often. Add more broth, if necessary.
Reduce heat to low, and pour in 1 cup milk. Stir soup well, wisk in flour, then stir in remaining 1 cup milk.
Cook, stirring constantly for 15 minutes. Do not boil.

This was really good, and surprisingly thick and creamy. I followed one of the comments, adding potatoes and also added a tiny bit of my secret ingredient - liquid crab boil! I was worried about the thickness from some of the comments, so added 2 tablespoons of flour and was sparingly used the extra broth. Next time I won't worry so much, and when I reheat for lunch tomorrow, I'll probably need to add some more veggie broth to thin.

vintage dress pattern

One of my to do items is sewing a dress. After too many hours browsing, I decided on this simple 60s a-line mini with rolled collar (middle):

I'm thinking of making one in a thick red fabric for fall, to wear with my precious leopard pumps, and if that works out maybe a gray wool to wear with my black knee-high boots...

A Conversation on Cool

Stole my current desktop photo (love Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg) from this recently found blog - I wish I had paid attention to where the link came from. It's filled with interesting photos and quotes, and completely timeless style. Doesn't everything look cooler in black and white?

modern art

I was really looking forward to going to the SFMOMA again. Until I got there. Wandering through the Face of Our Time photography exhibit, I came into a room of framed photos of "New Orleans" and Hurricane Katrina. I've seen these photos a million times, I've seen the real things, but something about the way they were hung and framed in the art museum really broke me down. This is not talent, this is not art. This is definitely not original, I've seen these exact photos taken by multiple others, and there was nothing high-quality or original about the way they were photographed. This is not speaking for people that have no voice, this is not showing the world injustices to incite change. This is capitalization off of personal tragedy, tragedy experienced by people with digital cameras and flickr accounts who could have shared these exact images if they wanted to. This is not even New Orleans in most of the photos, it's St. Bernard Parish, but I guess that doesn't conjure the same effect.

(Here's my dad, the actual face of that time. He is typical of the majority of homeowners in St. Bernard Parish. Not what you were expecting? Let's focus on the graffiti instead, that's more New Orleans-y.)

I remember my brother telling me a story about when he was helping my dad clean out his house after the storm. They worked on it for hours after work every day, in a mostly deserted town. He told me about how people would drive down the street and get so excited when they saw him and my dad working, wheelbarrowing piles of ruined possessions and dumping them on the front lawn. They would pull up the car and roll down the windows and take pictures and talk to each other about how great it was to find something so great to photograph - that something being my family's destroyed lives.

(Photography taken from the car on the way home. Think I should donate it to SFMOMA? Oh, wait, they already have one...)

I thought a lot about why these photographs bothered me so much. I didn't have the same reaction to Jim Goldberg's photographs of the refugees in the Democratic Repulic of Congo, considerably more tragic. Was it just personal? But I came to the conclusion that the major difference is that even if other people were covering the exact same subject at the exact same time, they could not have taken the same photograph as he did. And that is the difference.

Books Inc

When we were in California a few weeks ago, I walked to the bookshop to get some reads for the trip. It's so lovely being in an actual real bookshop, and not Borders (especially with their 80-90% off - crazy inside) or Barnes & Noble, or a big discount shop.

Books Inc. is not too tiny, but not so large as to be too overwhelming and had a really decent selection. I only found about half of the 10 books on my list, but I found many more treasures that I wouldn't have picked up otherwise.

(Can't resist tiny notebooks, especially when you add candy.)

(Beautifully written, but very sad.)

(A one-hour read, but I just love me some Rand.)

(You can read it free online, but I still love an actual book.)

(I used to buy Italian or French Vogue instead, and couldn't read them at all.)

In other book-reading news, I am now officially 68% done reading Les Miserables and so excited. If I read 30 more pages this month, then 110 more pages for October, November and December, I'll be finished.

new glasses

(First thing in the morning, hence the overprocessing.)

My optometrist thought I was lying when I told him I would bring my husband back later to help me pick out frames. I think we found in these Robert Marc frames the perfect compromise between what I love when looking at other people, and what will actually work with my face. When trying them on at the store, I thought they were kind of bold, but once I started wearing them I didn't experience any mirror shock at all.

split pea soup

For some reason, I love cooking anything for a long time in a big pot. And, while I didn't think I liked split pea soup, I've found it can be really delicious. This time I cooked it with a bag of baby bella mushrooms instead of ham. Mmmm...

Split Pea Soup with Mushrooms

2 cartons chicken (or vegetable) broth (48 oz. each)
2 lbs split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 bag baby bella mushrooms, lightly chopped
1 c. matchstick carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
olive oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (love this on everything!)

Heat olive oil (to coat large pot) on medium heat.
Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook 10 minutes.
Add baby bellas and cook 10 minutes.
Add peas and bring to boil over high heat.
Scrape the foam off the top and discard (new tip I learned), reduce heat to low.
Cook 45 minutes or until peas are tender.
Add spices and cook for 15 more minutes.

My little pink pig timer always cracks me up...

Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother was good, but probably more of a netflix movie than theater. It was a sadder than I expected, and not as funny as it looked from the trailer.

I mostly don't care much for Paul Rudd, but sometimes I love him, like in Clueless and now in this.

Also the first time I remember really liking Elizabeth Banks. And I always love both of these ladies individually, but not so much together:

Another plus, I was totally inspired to get some new glasses. In fact, my eye doctor is right next to the theater, so we went right over and bought a pair.

Also totally inspired to get a British accent, but that's not working out as well...

veggie, week one

Week one of the kind diet in effect, and a complete success, until we went out for sushi yesterday.... I feel more full more often, but I guess that's because I've been eating more than usual to try to get enough of everything. I probably will start just eating when I'm hungry, but this week I've been getting at least 3 meals in every day.

My new diet goals:
  • Stop buying meat/dairy/eggs (except for a bit of leftover cream cheese, and defrosted lentil soup made long ago with chicken broth, I've not eaten any. Oh, and the sushi.).
  • Drink lots of water. (I love my new insulated cup. Actually kept a glass of ice water cool for 2 hours in my parked car in over 100 degree heat.)
  • Make mindful choices (I've been good here, except for that bag of chocolate chips... this is much easier when hubby is here, and not out of town!).
  • Listen to body (eat when I'm hungry, and aim for variety).
  • Move (haven't exercised since 2010! I gotta get on this one, but I keep procrastinating...).

My favorite meal of the week was my Portobello Fajitas. For maybe the first time, I didn't even use a base recipe.

Portobello Fajitas (for 2)

1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1 package sliced portobella mushrooms
olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
soy sauce (I used one small packet from takeout, maybe 1 Tbsp?)
Tortillas (I used small flour ones originally, then whole wheat wraps for the leftovers. The flour ones worked much better.)

Slice up the bell peppers and onion. (I put the other half of everything in a ziplock in the freezer for next time...) Heat olive oil over medium heat in skillet, add peppers, onion, garlic, spices, and soy sauce. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms, cook until soft. Heat tortillas (I nuked them for 1 minute, but I'm sure there are better ways). Serve with avcacado and salsa.

Simple and really so good!

I Love You, Phillip Morris

I liked this movie much better after I watched it than during. It's a good, but sad, love story, with lots of life lessons. Ewan McGregor was great in it, but I'm partial.

I'm really shocked to find out that it was based on real life. Crazy.