Wednesday, February 29, 2012

food & frames

On to Valentine's week! I left off last time with a picture of root vegetables, which were destined to become lunch on Sunday. Steve made them into potato, celery root and sunchoke soup with purple potato chips from Cannelle et Vanille. I had bookmarked it on Pinterest some time ago, although I wasn't sure if we could manage to find all the components at once. It turned out, they were all at the farmers market that Saturday. And I'm glad they were, because this soup was really good. Have I mentioned how much I'm digging sunchokes and celery root lately? The little purple potato chips really kicked it up a notch too. (BAM!)

43/366 root soup

As was the trend that week, the next day's picture was more food. With Valentine's Day approaching on Tuesday, Monday afternoon was spent baking for our breakfast the next day. (Steve makes a fancy dinner; I make breakfast.) This year, I chose the Honey Tea Cakes from the Miette Cookbook, partly so I could use the pretty linen napkin with bees on it that we bought in Florence. I even got a small container of honey and a honey dipper the week before so that I would have more props to use in my picture of the tea cakes.

Too bad the cakes didn't turn out as pretty as I had hoped... The recipe didn't specify how far to fill up the loaf pans; it just said "divide the batter," and I filled them to the tops with batter to spare. Of course—of course—they overflowed. (I knew better.) Unfortunately, only one of the loaves turned out to be at all presentable and only from one angle. So I took pictures of the honey and dipper and used one of those as my picture of the day.

44/366 honey

Valentine's Day followed, which really deserves its own blog post. The short version: Steve made his fanciest dinner yet out of three dishes from the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook. The picture I used for the day was of the main course of lamb with puntarella, apples, and vadouvan. Like the other things he made, it was fabulous. To read more about our dinner, stay tuned for a special Valentine's post, coming soon... as soon as I write it...

45/366 valentine's dinner

Then, Wednesday was Steve's birthday. I opted to order his cake from Miette this year, rather than trying to make the same one from the Miette cookbook. I had done enough baking earlier in the week, and I didn't want to be pressed for time that day. Nor did I want the pressure of making a perfect cake on the first try and finishing in time to take a picture. This way, all I had to do was go to the Ferry Building and pick it up.

I did, however, make something to go on the cake. I had found a picture of some cake bunting on Etsy and realized that I had everything I needed to make one of my own. We even had the skewers already, so all I had to do was cut some triangles out of card stock and sew them together. (I did it while babysitting Elsa during her nap on Valentine's Day, while Dan and Carmen were out picking up their new loveseat.) Next time, I would probably make a little hitch at the end of each triangle, but my backstitching worked quite well otherwise.

That night, we out to dinner at Contigo with Dan, Carmen, Rob, and Traci. The food was great, as always, and we came back to the house for cake and presents after.

46/366 steve's birthday

Thursday was leftover night, but first we ate the fancy salad that Steve didn't end up making for our Valentine's dinner. It was another Eleven Madison Park recipe; he had chosen two and bought most of the ingredients for both. Since I encouraged him to pick just one for Valentine's Day, we decided that he would prepare the other on Thursday, along with the various leftovers that filled our fridge. This was the radicchio salad with mango and basil, and it turned out to be a nice wintery play on a caprese salad. I had a full plate of leftovers of the salad for lunch the next day too.

47/366 valentine's revisited

That concludes the food portion of this post. Frames were next!

I had spent the last week or two acquiring frames and prints for the dining room and living room. In fact, the frames for the living room and the prints of my pictures that I had ordered all arrived on Thursday. Unfortunately, when I finally unpackaged the CB2 frames that I had bought for the dining room the week before, I realized that one of them had a 5x7 mat instead of the 8x10 that I wanted. I had to make another trip to CB2 on Friday to make the exchange before I could put both prints in the frames and take the picture that I wanted for the day.

48/366 ready to hang

On Saturday, I tasked Steve with hanging all the frames that I had acquired. I made templates from the frames' packaging, taping them to the walls to help us decide on placement, and then he did the measuring and hammering. Once we were finished with the dining room frames, we moved on to the living room.

For the living room, I had decided to frame the four notecards that came with the Little Italy Polaroid book from FieryEyed Photography. They were too pretty to actually use as cards, and two of them were taken in Cinque Terre, Italy—one of the places we went on our trip last fall. I was going to make a 2x2 square with the frames on the wall, but then I realized that a simple row would fill the space above the couch better. I really love the result, and now it looks more like we live here! (5 years after painting the room...)

49/366 more frames

Coming up next: a more detailed account of our Valentine's Day dinner and how I photographed it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

two for one deal

Week 6 was a week with two food pictures and two Elsa pictures, hence the title of this post. The first of the food pictures was taken on Sunday—Super Bowl Sunday, in fact. We didn't really watch much of the Super Bowl that day, but Steve made us a quesadilla lunch that was fitting for the event. These were the Avocado Quesadillas (with cheese and tomatillo salsa inside) from A Platter of Figs, served with an onion relish. While they were good, we wouldn't necessarily feel compelled to make them again.

36/366 avocado quesadillas

Monday's project was cleaning out my closet/wardrobe. It's kind of my dumping ground for accessories, shoes, spare toiletries, jewelry I don't wear regularly, and clothing (of course). It was in need of a good purge. While I was organizing, I found this lion ring in a jewelry box. I think I wore it occasionally as a kid, and it's one of only a few pieces that I kept, since it's cute and vintagey. A quick macro of it on my bedside table was about all I ended up taking for pictures that day.

37/366 little lion ring

On Tuesday morning, Carmen invited me downstairs for some of the lemon almond tea cake that she had just made. (It was very good.) Afterward, she and Elsa came up to my place so that Carmen could see the progress I had made the last two weeks. And Elsa sat on the floor in the living room for a while, looking adorable for some pictures. She was very into strings at the time.

38/366 tethered

What probably would have been my picture on Tuesday (if not for Elsa) became my picture for Wednesday. It was a bottle of elderflower soda that Steve had brought home for me from the Ferry Building. I've been a little obsessed with anything elderflower/elderberry in the last year or two, and I recently discovered that Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building carries this brand of soda from the UK. After trying it, I think I still prefer my elderflower flavor as part of a cocktail, but it does make a refreshing soda. At first, I thought it reminded me of peach/apple, with the floral quality of something like lavender. Later, I realized it reminds me a lot of lychee. Also, the packaging is really charming.

39/366 elderflower soda

Then, it was my turn to go to the Ferry Building on Thursday. I was on a secret mission for mini disposable loaf pans, honey, and a honey dipper for Steve's Valentine's Day breakfast (and accompanying photo). I got there just as the Thursday farmers market was packing up—I had forgotten about that—and snagged a cute little container of honey from the Marshall's Farm people. Then, I stopped at Sur La Table for the loaf pans, and I found a little honey dipper, cheap, at the honey kiosk. With all that accomplished, I ended up taking my picture of the day on my way out: an old F Muni car, stopped out front. From there, I walked to all the way to CB2 to buy some picture frames for the dining room. Luckily, it was a really nice day.

40/366 f train

Friday's weather was not quite so nice; it was getting chilly and looked like it might start raining. Nevertheless, that didn't stop Carmen and me from going to Humphry Slocombe for ice cream. Elsa came along in the Baby Bjorn, wearing her hood and providing me with an opportunity for a second baby picture that week. It's nice to take pictures of her outside, where I don't have to crank up the ISO so much.

41/366 in the hood

My second food picture was made possible by Steve's pre-Valentine's Day trip to the Ferry Building farmers market on Saturday. I thought I would take pictures of the lady apples that he needed to buy for one of the recipes, but he didn't end up finding them. Instead, I took pictures of the many root vegetables that he brought home. There were beets, purple potatoes, celery roots, baby carrots, and sunchokes. The beets and carrots were for use on Valentine's Day (or with leftovers, in the case of the carrots). The potatoes, celery root, and sunchokes were actually for our lunch on Sunday. But I'll get to that in the next post...

42/366 the roots

Saturday, February 18, 2012

productivity, part 2 (electric boogaloo)

I fear I've fallen a couple weeks behind again... All this productivity in the real world has led to less productivity in the bloggy world. In fact, many of week five's pictures were taken almost as afterthoughts, as my attention was on other things.

Sunday was another food photo lunch, and the subject was a couple of quinoa patties from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day. They turned out well, but the recipe called for way too many onions, which also made the cakes fall apart more easily. With some adjustments, we'd make them again, though. These had gruyere and chives, but they're the kind of thing you could take in multiple directions with different ingredients.

29/366 quinoa patties

On Monday, I started my next project: finish the stupid plaster medallion on the dining room ceiling. The room has been painted since 2008, but the scraping and painting of the medallion has taken much longer. I worked on it here and there the last few years and had it almost ready to paint by the time I ran out of motivation last time. But now I was determined to finish it! I did the last of the scraping and sanding off the old paint on that Monday afternoon.

For my picture of the day, the word was "Nature." I didn't have the time or desire to do much more than walk through the park and around the block, so it was probably an ideal theme. Not the most exciting picture, but it did the job for the day.

30/366 nature

Of course, I went even lazier for Tuesday. The theme was "You Again," which was clearly meant to be a self portrait to bookend with the one on January 1. Yeah... I didn't do a self portrait that day either. And I certainly didn't feel like taking one on a day when I was working on the house. I spent some time on the ladder again, washing the dust off of what I didn't get to the day before. This is what the medallion looked like at the beginning of that work session. Quite a bit more definition in the design when compared to its state in 2008 or even 2009. Looking at those pictures, I can't believe how much work I put into it. It was worth it, but... never again.

31/366 you again

Then it was February 1st, and the daily themes were at an end. Technically, there's a new list I could have used for February, but I thought it was time to go back to making my own rules. And my rules say that the first of the month needs a calendar picture. The page for this month featured a heart for Valentine's Day, so I decided to augment it with a few of my own. There I was, still wearing my paint clothes from priming the medallion that afternoon, cutting out hearts from card stock, and hurrying to get my picture of the day done before the light was gone. I think I showered at about 5pm that day.

Also, I had this brilliant idea a few days before: we had a board that was supposed to cap one end of our cupboards, and it was just sitting in the utility room, not being used. (We never got around to putting it up...) I dusted it off, and now I have a fake table top that looks way better than our actual dining table. That's what I used for this photo.

32/366 february

I took a day off from ceiling work on Thursday so that I could run some errands in Noe Valley. Mostly, I needed to buy some birthday cards and send them to a couple nephews. Then I saw this interesting pitcher and mug set in the window at Ambiance, which ended up being my picture of the day. I went to the playground with Carmen and Elsa later that afternoon for some quality swinging time, but I liked the color in this shot better.

33/366 perfect pair

Friday meant more painting, while listening to every last podcast I had downloaded to iTunes. (There was some "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," some NPR Pop Culture podcasts, and some old How I Met Your Mother and Grey's Anatomy ones.) It took a couple hours, but I got the whole medallion painted and finished. I'll probably take an "after" shot one of these days, but I'll wait until after we've replaced the ugliest light fixture ever with something better.

After painting and showering, it was time to take my picture of the day. I had determined that eggs would be a nice subject, since I was on a hard boiled egg snack kick around then. Steve had even gotten me brown eggs so they would make a prettier picture if/when I decided to take the shot. The ones that made it into the picture weren't actually the hard boiled ones, but they looked no different anyway.

34/366 eggs

Saturday was a little less exciting. We didn't do a whole lot, other than a making a quick trip to Walgreens. On the way, we passed these interesting flowers, so I took some pictures. I also got a few pictures of neighborhood cats on the way home, but I liked the flowers better this time.

35/366 green flowers

That takes care of January, which means the first mosaic of the year.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

perhaps some productivity

One week into February already. I might not have believed it if I didn't have the daily pictures to account for all 31 days of January. Of course, I'm not actually caught up with recaps for all of January yet, so I'll get to it.

The fourth week of the year was when I started to get a little bored. I had taken a few field trips here and there, but many of the project's pictures so far had been taken around the house. In short, it was about time for some productivity. But I'll get to that more later.

The theme for Sunday's photo was "My Shoes," which prompted a rare no-food-picture Sunday. (Steve didn't make anything new for lunch that day anyway.) Normally, I might try to go somewhere interesting to provide a different backdrop for a shoe picture, but it was rainy and cold that day. I literally slipped on my shoes and stepped out the door to take this picture. No productivity that day, although I did make a schedule of stuff to do for the next two weeks.

22/366 my shoes

Monday was the start of my new productivity plan. On the agenda for the day was touching up the beige paint of the walls in the hallway. Steve's parents had helped me paint just before Elsa was born at the end of June, but I never got around to doing the touch-ups. This was the first step.

When that was done, I had to find "Something Old" to shoot for my picture of the day. I got out the Kodak box with the prints of my Grandpa Brady's old photographs, mostly 5x7s that he took of my mom and her brother as kids. I had forgotten the pair of smaller pictures I had of him and my grandmother. (My guess is that they were taken in the late 1930s or early '40s, since my grandparents were married in 1940.) I chose to use those two pictures and lay the others out on the table as a backdrop. It's funny, I see my some of my sister Bethany in my grandfather's features, and myself and Christine in my grandmother's.

23/366 something old

Tuesday was "Guilty Pleasure" day. I went with one of my food-related guilty pleasures: boxed mac & cheese. I used to go for the Kraft spirals, but now it's Annie's organic shells. I'm sure there's very little nutritional value in this as a lunch; I'm always hungry again about two hours later. But it has the Rabbit of Approval!

Oh, and I did the last of the paint touch-ups in the hallway after lunch. I taped above the wainscoting and gave the trim another coat of white wherever I felt it was necessary. If nothing else, it made a cleaner line between the white below and the beige above.

24/366 guilty pleasure

Wednesday's theme was "Something I Made." I really shouldn't have had to think so hard to come up with something for this one. However, my mind went right to "crafty," and other than some scrapbooking and Blurb bookmaking, I don't do a lot of crafting. What should have been my first thought was what I eventually landed on: baking! (Duh.)

I chose a couple recipes from the Miette cookbook to try. First: creme fraiche scones, since we had creme fraiche in the fridge that needed to be used. And second: lemon curd, since that sounded like a good accompaniment to the scones. After all, the scones had lemon zest in them already. The recipes weren't quite as straightforward as I might have hoped—many of the scones crumbled as I tried to cut them into squares before baking, and the lemon curd took forever to get to the specified temperature—but the results were very tasty. And as long as I had enough pretty scones and lemon curd for my picture, I was happy. I'd even make both again, although I'd switch up some things with the scones to facilitate cutting them.

25/366 something i made

A dentist appointment on Thursday morning brought me downtown, where I hoped to find some "Colour" for the day's photo theme. I was going to look for something to photograph around Union Square after my cleaning, but then I thought of nearby Chinatown. Chinese New Year was the Monday before, so it would be a good time for a Chinatown picture. I also knew it was usually pretty colorful there, with all the lanterns and cheap souvenirs, even if it was rather gray at 10am that day. 

26/366 colour

Friday's theme was "Lunch," which sounded like a good excuse to go out to eat. Talking with Steve the night before, Sweet Woodruff came up. It's a new sandwich/takeout place in Nob Hill, which I had read about online a week or two before. Steve had heard about it when someone brought a menu to the office, and he thought that it sounded good too. So we decided that we should try it together sometime, which is when I remembered that I was already planning to go out for lunch on Friday for my picture. I would have gone to Mission Cheese otherwise, but I was happy to meet Steve downtown for lunch at Sweet Woodruff instead. The verdict? Really good sandwiches and banana cream pie too—worth the 5-block uphill walk from Steve's office. (The uphill is really not so bad by SF standards.) And there's even room to eat your food there.

27/366 lunch

Having finished the last of the painting in the hallway on Tuesday, it was finally time to put up our framed wedding pictures on Saturday. It had been almost 3½ years since our wedding, over 2 years since I had come up with this layout and gotten the prints ordered, and more than 6 months since (mostly) painting the hallway and buying the frames. It was good to get these on the walls at long last, and Steve did a good job of executing my layout plan with his math skillz.

The theme for the day was "Light," which I figured applied to just about any picture. Sure, I could have chosen to take a picture of a fancy light fixture or something, but I was honestly too lazy to find something like that to shoot. I was more interested in taking a picture of the photo wall, since that was the big project of the day/week.

28/366 hallway light

 The productivity continues in week 5! Stay tuned.