Thursday, March 29, 2012

Well Tested

Remember back in August when I showed you a new sweater and mentioned something about the shoes that inspired it? Well Cash and I went for a walk in the woods yesterday and finally took some pictures.

I wanted to link to the post about our honeymini-moon, but looking back through the archives, I realized there was no post and there were only a handful of photos! Obviously we had a lot of fun and didn't write home about it. We have dreams of a big vacation chasing cyclists around France, but last year decided that we would keep it simple and drive to the Finger Lakes region of New York and do some camping. It was a fun few days of seeing waterfalls, talking to locals about secret swimming holes, stocking up on delicious foods at the farmers' markets, and picking up lunch at Moosewood.

On the last day of our trip I had one more mission ~ to stop by the Aurora Shoe Company and pick up a pair of the shoes that I was coveting ever since I shared them with you in this post two years ago! If you haven't watched the video that talks about the company and shows you how the shoes are made, click here to check it out.

I wanted a pair for the longest time, but was in love with the idea of going right to the source. The day we visited the factory, activity was relatively low. David, the owner, greeted us and fit me for a pair of shoes while another worker was cutting leather for future shoes. I bought one pair of the Middle English style in burgundy. They felt slightly tight when I first put them on, but it was nice having an expert help with the fitting, but David assured me that they would stretch and mold to my feet as I wore them. It's been almost a year, and my pair fits like a glove.

As soon as I bought them, I started thinking about how good they would look paired with jeans and woolly sweaters, and that's how the shoe-inspired sweater project began. As I said in my post on the sweater, the shoes immediately had me thinking about "cool fall days, apple picking, and another wine tour in the Finger Lakes region". One not-so-secret secret of going directly to the factory is that the shoes are about half the price of what they are sold for online or in other retailers. So who's in for a visit to the Finger Lakes? After testing out my first pair for a year, I'm ready for more. We can stock up on wine and shoes, and then go back again next fall for the apples and more wine and shoes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack

wooohoooo, going to see Bruce on Thursday! Here's a little warmup::

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Update

This was our first weekend at home in three weeks, and I enjoyed every moment. Other than leaving the house to pick up supplies, we stayed in, cooked up a storm, did a bit of work, watched some movies, knit, ate, convinced the dog to sleep in late... good stuff.

 I worked on an experimental marmalade with these little guys. More details on the fruit and the marmalade soon::

Last week I felt like we were living in a food desert ~ every morning there was nothing quick and easy {& healthy} to grab for lunch, and every evening I was hoping that C had a better idea than me {oatmeal anyone?} for dinner. I decided to remedy that for the week ahead and took a bunch of macro photos as evidence.

 This jar of split peas turned into soup:: The soup was so simple. Sweat two sliced leeks and two sliced carrots in olive oil. Add your split peas and the appropriate amount of vegetable broth. Simmer on low for an hour or two, mixing every once in a while to help your peas turn into a mushy goodness.

 This cauliflower was roasted with some garlic and then blended with white beans for a tasty dip:: The recipe came in an issue of Everyday Food, but it can also be found here. The dip is a nice alternative to hummus. I ate it with pretzels and slices of bell pepper. BUT before the cauliflower became dip, I nibbled on the roasted bits and discovered my new favorite way to eat that veg.

 A whole pile of lima beans, some cucumbers, bell pepper, and a handful of mint became a salad:: I topped it with a vinaigrette made of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. During the week, I'll eat it as a side at dinner, and add it to greens to make salads for lunch.

 Outside, the pansies we planted last fall are re-blooming in their hanging basket::

And a branch we cut off the cherry tree that was hanging a bit too low, giving me plenty of blossoms for a jar on the porch::

And finally, when the sun went down today I was back inside working on a new piece of art for the bedroom. As soon as we fold the clothes in there and put away the coffee pot {if only I were kidding}, I'll show you the final piece::

Friday, March 23, 2012

Link On

To celebrate the week's end :: a few photos from our early morning dog walks and a few fun links from my internet browsing.

A crochet project :: this simple receiving blanket

I'm waiting for this to arrive in the mail :: tree of life

A new plan for your Easter eggs :: temporary tattoos

And a new-to-me food blog with a recipe for tonight's happy hour :: grapefruit, rosemary, & gin, oh my!

Happy Friday*

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wow, I wanted spring to arrive, but I really didn't expect the explosion that's taking place out in the yard right now. I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't set up a camera to document this rush of early spring growth. I walk around the yard every morning before work and again after, and some days I'm sure there has been inches of growth where the previous morning there was only soil! Right now the weeping cherry is in full bloom::

Under its umbrella of branches, the daffodils and hyacinths are on show. While I was out yesterday morning I put the three flowers together for our first bouquet of the season!

And yes, it made our breakfast extra tasty, and the work-from-home day almost enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack

Some new stuff by one of my favs.

 Song:: Love Is Making Its Way Back Home
Artist:: Josh Ritter

 Video Awesomeness :: The images are made from construction paper! There's no digital trickery, just 12,000+ pieces of paper.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weekend Update

The weather? Amazing. We enjoyed it to the fullest this weekend.

We began by firing up the grill on Friday evening::

And then packed up the car and drove to Philly for C's back to back races on Saturday and Sunday. Here he is leading the peloton on Saturday::

And then joining his biggest fans for a little post-race picnic::

Sunday began with a group Skype-call to Sarah::

Followed by the calm, uneventful start of a second race::

That ended with a crash, boom, and bang {unfortunately someone's stocking doesn't lie}::

And while the bikers sat upfront to recap the weekend's events, I sat in the back and happily worked on my hexagons.:: I'll have to take a better picture soon to show you how this afghan has grown. It's large enough now that it acts as a true blanket while I'm working on it, making it the perfect project for air-conditioned trips in the car!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thailand ~ Last Day

If you're keeping up with Sarah's adventures, you know that early last Saturday she and Saleem left for their 10-country adventure. So in the wee hours of the morning, she woke me up to say a goodbye and I sent her off with the biggest hug I could muster while refraining from jumping into her backpack and tagging along. My flight out of Bangkok wasn't until 1:00am Sunday morning, so I had the day open to wander around the city solo. When traveling, I always find comfort in returning to a city I've visited before ~ you don't have to spend as much time and energy thinking about how to navigate, and can spend more time enjoying the ride. This is how I felt with my day in Bangkok, since I spent the previous Sunday there, I knew how to get around using the {lovely} Skytrain, and I knew that I definitely wanted to return to Chatuchak, the large marketplace. In addition, I wanted to swing by Lumphini Park, the city's largest green space, and then head over to Jim Thompson's house. So armed with a map and the only two Thai phrases I knew, sa-wat-dee-ka {hello} & korp jun ka {thank you}, I was off.

Quick travel tip :: Since we enjoyed it so much the first time, we stayed in the Lub.d Hostel again on Friday night. Like most hotels and hostels, Lub.d has a luggage room, so I stored my bags there on Saturday while I toured the city. In addition, as I was checking out on Saturday morning, I explained my plan {to walk around the city before catching my flight that night}, and I asked them in I could shower that evening. They were more than happy to let me use the facilities. Many hostels have towels you can rent for about a dollar, so rather than having to use and pack my own wet towel, I used theirs. I can't tell you how nice it was to be able to shower the Bangkok grit off of me knowing that I would spend the next 24 hours in planes and airports!

Rather than heading straight for the Skytrain, I decided to walk to the park and Jim Thompson's house. As I left the hostel, I was reminded of my day walking across Berlin, and how there's something so nice about taking in the city on foot with a few key destinations to guide your route.

March is kite-flying season in Lumphini Park, and I was hoping to see some of the colorful kites. Alas, the wind was nowhere to be found last Saturday, but I did meet a nice old man who was excited to share his impressive knowledge of the US. He knew all fifty states, where they were located, and their major cities. He also knew the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore! Looking back, I wish I had stayed and talked to him longer. I'm curious to know more about him and his life. Did he visit the US? Is he just a geography fanatic?

Even if you're not riding the Skytrain, it's platforms are great for getting that bird's eye view of the city streets::

Finally, I made my way to Jim Thompson's house. Thompson was an American expat who had worked for the OSS during World War II. After leaving the army, he moved to Bangkok and worked with the Thai silk industry, increasing exports of the product and developing some of the bright colors that the silk is known for today, while maintaining the cottage-based infrastructure by allowing the women to continue to work and weave the silk out of their homes. Thompson's house in Bangkok is amazing. He went around the country and had bought a number of old, traditional Thai dwellings, which he moved to Bangkok and combined to create one large, and amazing house. He then filled the house with treasures he collected from his travels around Asia. Unfortunately, Thompson mysteriously disappeared while traveling in the Cameron Highlands during Easter weekend of 1967. The following year his sister was murdered in the US. Their sudden deaths combined with his work for the OSS has lead to a variety of theories about his disappearance.

Between the architecture and the house's treasures, this site is well worth the visit! And if you love a mystery as much as I do, don't forget to stop in the gift store to pick up a copy of his biography.

Do you see the two drum-shaped pieces on either side of the table? I've noticed that these have become popular as side tables, but did you know that they were originally designed to be heaters? Hot coals would be put in the drum, and the heat would radiate out. The large wooden-block print hanging on the wall was used to print designs on fabric.
And if you zoom in on the fish's fins, you'll notice that some of them are a slightly different color and are one piece, cutting across the seams in the design. These pieces can be removed so that a different color of dye can be applied to the fins.

A Thai spirit house guarding Jim Thompson's house. You can read more about the sprit houses here.

The canal behind his house::

After visit's Thompson's house, it was off to the market! Sarah and I shopped until we dropped last weekend, and I was down to my last Baht, so rather than buy every awesome thing in site, I picked up just a couple more t-shirts and then walked for miles around every bit of the market just taking it in.

When I couldn't walk any more, I stopped for some homemade coconut ice cream {I can't wait to make a pile of ice cream this summer!}::

And I adored the soda bottles as I waited for an afternoon masala tea::

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thailand ~ Teacher Sarah

Before I left for Thailand, I was excited to visit Sarah and to see the new country and culture, but I didn't think about how much fun it would be to get a behind-the-scenes look at Teacher Sarah's everyday life in Thailand. Since it was her last week of school, I got to see how she spends a typical day, which you'll see mostly revolves around teaching and eating. Back in her apartment, it was fun to see the differences in the every-day objects that she uses there. So for today, I'm giving you a little behind the scenes look at Teacher Sarah's life in Thailand.

She's a pro in the classroom::

But before her day begins, she stops at this corner stand to pick up a couple of steamed black bean buns for breakfast::

Which she takes back to school and eats in the teachers' lounge::

And when she has someone to share with, she picks up a Thai iced coffee {although, last week we discovered that the iced green tea was even tastier}::

For lunch she has a favorite "rice lady" that serves up delicious fried rice with veggies and a fried egg on top. Sarah prefers hers with a squeeze of lime juice::

Other days she'll stop in to one of her favorite "veg" places for a combo platter of vegetarian dishes::

She has a silly little Thai broom::

And a crazy panda trash can!::

She gets uber excited when her favorite sushi stand is open::

She plays a mean game of hand clapping at the night market::

And finally, when her cab is lost in translation, she knows how to chill::