6 Oct

A million other people will say more eloquent things than I ever could.

He made beautiful machines that shaped our lives.

We are all the better for it.

Thank You.

Dear Jim

4 Sep


This time last year I was wide awake, couldn’t sleep, worse than any kid at Christmas.  We would be getting married in just a few hours.  There were a million things left to do but I wasn’t stressed like I (and all of my friends) thought I would be.  All the details we had been working on seemed to melt away.  I was just so excited to see you, tell our friends and family how much I loved you.


We went back and forth for weeks about if we would see each other before the wedding.  Our decision to spend the day together was the thing that kept me so calm.  Getting to see you with everyone who worked so hard to help pull things together, I’ve never felt so loved and supported.  The day turned out beautifully, with blue skies and perfect weather.  It was a whirlwind that all flew by too fast.  I remember holding your hand too tightly and staring at your shoes.  I buried my hand in my pocket and was so glad that I had remembered a handkerchief.  We both laughed and cried and pulled a lot of goofy faces.  When I finally managed to look up and saw your giant grin I could breathe again and when we promised to always respect and support each other will always be crystal clear in my memory.


This first year has brought a lot of things that neither of us expected, but we’ve made it through together and I know that no matter what comes next we’ll be able to handle it.  So thank you for being my best friend.


Photo by Andy Kahl




That Was Fast

1 Sep

J. and I had some really grand plans to celebrate our first anniversary together.  We booked a long weekend a bit early outside of Philly at a gorgeous b & b and I managed to snag us tickets to Outstanding in the Field.

Photo by OITF via Oh Joy!

We got our tickets back in March and I spent the next five months plotting.   I hunted down the best things in and around Philly for us to do on Sunday after dinner, looked for scenic routes to make the drive a little more enjoyable and booked the wonder pup into puppy paradise for boarding so he could have as nice a weekend as us.  I really wanted to pull out all of the stops.

I managed to finally snag J. a Forage bow tie to wear to dinner

I got myself this 50s pleat dress from asos curve

I packed a picnic of all of our favorites and hid it in the car to surprise J. while we were on the road, stashed a few other goodies away for later in the weekend & made as much room as possible to haul home our finds from the 3p4 Barn Sale.  We hit a snag along the way when J. got put on night shift so we were taking off later than we planned and the schedule shift had left a lot to do with very little time.  Right before we left we got word that the Barn Sale was cancelled and rescheduled due to the impending hurricane.  We were a bit bummed but figured no real worry as there was a laundry list of places to hit around Philly and now we’d have even more time for them.

We rolled out of PGH and the trip was lovely, picnic midway and finally a chance to talk since we had barely seen one another in the last few weeks.  We landed at the hotel and just collapsed, king sized bed, nice long shower & picnic leftovers for dinner.  But then we got an email saying that the dinner was also cancelled, and the town the b & b was in was set to be evacuated.  The entire weekend was basically cancelled.  We debated whether we should drive into Philly early Saturday morning to at least hit a few of the places but decided with the luck we were having we wouldn’t beat the storm  so we opted to just get up the next morning, pack and head back west.  Along the way J. got called into work and the long weekend was cut short to boot.

Needless to say the whole thing took quite a bit of wind out of our sails.  None of our plans worked out and now we weren’t even able to hang out, so the car ride home was much quieter than the trip out.

We picked up the dog and headed back to the house.  We’re home now and settled back into our completely opposite schedules and hoping to find something we can do to celebrate.  Right now I’m looking for a reason to wear our fancy new duds and actually get to hang out together.  For now I’ll just cross my fingers that J. doesn’t get stuck working on Sunday and sneakily work on finishing up my present for him.

Time to Ride

26 May

When I got a new job last year I took my very first paycheck and bought myself a brand new bike.

2010 Fuji Feather

This was a big deal for me.  I hadn’t gotten a new bike since I turned 13, and the now too small for me mountain bike (which was all the rage mid-90s) was an entirely different beast from the oh-so-pretty Fuji Feather I picked up.   I’ll be completely honest though when I say I didn’t really do a lot of research before hand which is incredibly out of character for me.  I had seen her online a few places and then when a new bike store opened up directly between my favorite yarn store and Trader Joe’s and they carried the same model it seemed like fate.  There were a few things though that I now wish I had thought about a bit more or had been explained to me by the store staff while I was shopping.

1.  I originally thought I would use this to commute to work.  Problem being I live on the Northside of Pittsburgh and work in the South Hills.  That would be a 16 mile ride each way and not easily connected via the outstanding trail system.  The other option is to bike 3.5 miles to the T station downtown and then 1 more mile from the T to my office.  Both options actually make my commute take even longer than the 45 minutes to an hour I spend driving each way and the second would still cost me $6.50 in T fare which is more than what I’m spending on gas.

2.  I liked how simple the bike was.  Single speed so no gears to fuss with or worry about.  I get a little uncomfortable driving in traffic since I’m still a commuting newbie & there’s the point that I’ve been hit by a car before…twice.  So they make me a little nervous just yet. In theory the not having to worry about shifting gears would give me one less thing to pay attention to freeing me up to pay better attention to traffic etc.  Problem:  I live in PGH.  On the top of one of the steepest hills in city.

*Also since I’ve started riding my bike more often I realized another potential issue.  My bike only has a single brake.  Maybe it’s just me being a pansy but when I’m traveling on some of the Pittsburgh hills (Troy Hill Road namely)  it sort of feels like it’s not enough to slow me down.  I didn’t even occur to me until I was riding the other day that all my other bikes have had front & rear brakes.

3.  I’m short, only 5’5″ & the bike frame I purchased is actually a bit too large for me.  In theory it should have been fine however they didn’t have my frame size in stock at the store so it would have been a special order anyways.  When it arrived and I tried to hop on it seemed really high – but the store people insisted I just needed to get used to it and play around with the seat/post height.  So I headed home and made Jim help me endlessly shift the seat, with the post it comes with I have it as low as it will possibly go and I’m still slightly over extended.  After he used some of his stellar Google skills Jim found online that the Feather frames seem to run a bit on the large side so I probably should have gone a size lower for sure.  So all of this has made getting used to a much different style of ride that much more difficult.

There are a few ways I can handle this:  gift the bike to my husband and purchase something more appropriate for myself and my intended use, sell the bike and use the cash to find something else, or suck it up.

I’m going for suck it up.  I bought this bike because I thought it was absolutely gorgeous and badass to boot.  I want to be in the sort of shape where I can roll up Pittsburgh size hills without needing gears to help out.  I want to zip around town Quicksilver style.  Yeah, I went there.  I know the more time I spend on it the more comfortable I’ll get and eventually I’ll be able to hold my own with a hardcore bike commute.

There are a couple of things I’m hoping to invest in to make it a little more custom and so I love it even more:

An amazing Brooks saddle in Honey or *gasp* Navy

A wood, rear fender to keep me nice and clean

Maybe replace the drop handles or at least cover them with some Brooks leather tape

I have a huge Chrome messenger to carry all my things to the office.  The only other thing I’ll be on the hunt for is a new helmet.  I have one so I’m safe while I’m riding (don’t worry mom) but I had to buy a childs size so my style options were a bit on the limited side.  Any suggestions for gorgeous things to protect my dome feel free to share.

So here’s to the summer where I teach myself to confidently ride my bike around town.

Breakfast for Dinner

7 Apr

Since J & I have been so busy lately the few hours we get together in the evenings are typically reserved for eating dinner and reading a bit before we pass out.  In order to spend as little of that time as possible cooking and doing dishes our default dinners have actually been breakfasts.  Dutch babies, all manner of egg dishes and even oatmeal – it’s a nice change since our mornings start at 430 we don’t really have the energy to put together anything more than cereal or toast each day.

breakfast for dinner

The other night I went with my standard omelette and paired it with sauted mushrooms with onions and roasted potatoes.  I follow the Julia Child omlette method  for the most part starting with 2 eggs and adding a little bit of pecorino cheese before i fold the whole thing together.  Top it off with chives and parsley and it’s pretty much completely perfect.

Julia being badass.

You’ll notice that there are several things about The French Chef that are absolutely perfect.  For starters it put together by Polaroid – so you’ve included three of my favorite things: Julia, Polaroid & eggs.  It’s my holy trinity of awesome.  By far though the best part of it is her description of an omelette “It’s flat and it’s French.”  Thank you Julia.  There are two tricks I’ve found: One – use a larger pan than you’d first imagine.  It allows the eggs to spread out more cook faster and wind up light and thin almost custard like if you get them in and out fast enough.  Two – butter does not hurt.  I always start with a good sized knob of butter because the last thing you want is the whole thing to stick plus the pure flavor of butter and eggs is just too good together.  The main point to take away is the speed in which you should cook the whole thing.  I used to approach cooking eggs in a more timid manner with low heat so as to not overcook or make them rubbery.  Here though its hot and fast with almost violent shaking of the pan to fold it.  There’s also the factt that if it’s not folded perfect that it in no way matters.  Simply pile it up a little bit more, add a touch more butter and cover in fresh herbs.  I know there have been plenty of ugly dinners at our house but they never taste worse due to a lack of presentation.

And here’s how I roast potatoes.  While they take a little bit of time to fully cook it’s largely unattended and with the speed of the omelette your whole dinner is done is probably 30 minutes flat.

Roasted Potatoes

  • 2 Medium Yukon Gold Poatoes
  • 4 Cloves Roasted Garlic
  • 2 t. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 T. Butter
  • Olive Oil to Coat
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Put small amount of olive oil in a 10 or 12 inch cast iron pan
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees w/ empty pan inside
  3. Scrub and dice potatoes into large, even pieces
  4. Toss with olive oil and spices to coat
  5. Pull out the hot pan and add potatoes in a single layer (you’ll know its hot enough by the sizzle)
  6. Break up the butter into several pieces and scatter around pan
  7. Return to oven and bake anywhere from 15-35 minutes (depending on your dice) turning them once and testing for them to be fork tender as you go

Spinach Risotto

31 Mar

It’s been a very hectic month and April is shaping up to be even worse.  It’s a good sort of busy for the most part but we could really use a chance to slow down and actually enjoy each others company.  So the other night I made spinach risotto from Lidia Bastianich’s book Lidia’s Italy.  I made a few tweaks and it came out pretty great.  A comforting, relatively simple meal even if it did require more attention then you can sometimes manage on a weeknight.

Spinach Risotto
adapted from Lidia’s Italy

8 ounces baby spinach (recipe called for 10 but my bag was 8 – I would def. add even more than 10)

6-8 c. vegetable stock

3 T. olive oil

2 c. chopped yellow onion

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 t. salt

2 c. Arborio rice

1 c. dry white wine

6 T. unsalted butter

½ c. grated pecorino

¼ c. grated parmigiano

Black pepper

Flat leaf parsley

  1. Heat the vegetable stock to just under a boil and keep hot on the stove
  2. Rinse & dry spinach and chop into half inch pieces
  3. Place large 3 q. pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil & onions – cook gently under tender but without color.  Add half the salt and all of the rice to the pot and stir until coated with oil and cooked about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the roasted garlic and wine.  Cook until the wine is fully absorbed.
  5. Add 2 cups of stock or enough to cover the rice and stir for two minutes then add spinach and keep stirring until it has wilted down.  When you can see the bottom of the pot as you stir add another 2 cups of stock and reduce again.
  6. Continue this until you have added at least 6 cups of stock and the rice has cooked 15-20 minutes until tender and creamy.
  7. Drop in butter, cheese, salt & black pepper – stir to incorporate completely.
  8. Serve immediately topped with parsley, additional cheese, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

*  Note:  This makes a ton of risotto.  I didn’t want to cut the recipe the first time I made it but even with this being the center of our dinner we had plenty for seconds & lunches the next day.  So make it for a crowd or you can easily reduce the recipe by half for two.

Weekend To Do:

20 Feb

We had given ourselves a deadline to start to push through on a lot of house projects.  On Tuesday we’re hosting a neighborhood meeting for the Beautification & Recreation Committee that J & I had joined through the Troy Hill Citizens.  Yeah for being involved in your hood.  Anyways – a lot of our neighbors haven’t been inside our house so I really wanted to push through and make it less of a work in progress if at all possible.  We inevitably got behind due to a lot more plaster work needed to be done than we had anticipated and a few places needed an extra coat of paint as well.  So our goals had to be tweaked a bit and we now want to have three areas COMPLETELY finished by March 1 with most of the messy work (plaster, painted etc) done by Tuesday.

What we needed to get done this weekend to be on schedule was:

  • Paint two coats of primer on the bathroom walls & ceiling
  • Prime the dining room walls, trim & mantle
  • Paint one coats of ceiling paint in the bathroom
  • Paint two coats of yellow in the hallway
  • Paint two coats of ceiling paint in the dining room
  • Paint one coat on the dining room walls
  • Paint dining room trim (probably two coats)
  • Paint two coats of blue in the bathroom
  • Paint two coats of blue above the dining room mantle
  • Paint side of medicine cabinet
  • Clean & rehang kitchen cabinet doors
  • Recaulk tub
  • Seal bathroom grout
  • Clean up paint splatters from tile
  • Install hallway light
  • Hang medicine cabinet
  • Wash shower curtain liner
  • Scrub tub
  • Hang shower curtain
  • Hang bathroom shelf
  • Hang bathroom light
  • Hang bathroom fan
  • Scrub bathroom floor
  • Shampoo living room rug
  • Hang bubble lamp
  • Hang new outdoor light
  • Clean off porch furniture
  • Install new outlets & light switches
  • Shop for new light/fan for bathroom
  • Hang artwork in the hallway
  • Hang artwork in the dining room
  • Clean, clean, clean!!!

So yeah, I should definitely get back to work.

I’d give anything…

15 Feb


found via bohemian hellhole

to live someplace like this.

I’ve already emailed my  architect brother.  He assures me that if I find the island he’ll build the house.  Personally he doesn’t see the allure of a house where the front door access is via boat.  I however can’t imagine anything better.

Happy Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

via owly shadow puppets on etsy

I know things have been a bit quiet around here but I promise it’s only because we’ve been so busy getting things done.  For real this time.  Progress is finally being made and hopefully this weekend I’ll have some time to shoot some photos and clue everyone in on the updates.

But most importantly just a little something to tell J. how much I love him.  We have big plans tonight.  There will be take out from China Town Inn, our sofa & Watson on Jeopardy.  I can’t imagine a more perfect evening.

the most wonderful time of the year

2 Feb

No, I don’t mean Christmas.  I mean February!!  Full on winter weather, Groundhog Day, Valentines Day & even better…my birthday!  It sounds terrible I’m sure but I promise I’m not one of those people who requires a week of celebration, fancy dates, big parties or any of that.  In fact as long as there’s something a little sweet I didn’t need to make myself then it’s perfect.

Last year was a little tricky.  Pittsburgh was in the middle of a blizzard so I while J. and I were completely snowed in.  And while it had it’s moments it had been a couple days already and we were running out of groceries had a new puppy trapped with us who didn’t know what to do with several feet of snow.  We ate cheese and crackers for dinner and I baked myself birthday pretzels.  This year will hopefully be better.

And since we kept Christmas a bit on the modest side this year, I have a few things still hanging out on my wish list that I thought I’d share.

orla kiely bag - not that i need another bag but ive wanted an orla kiely bag for ages & this would be great to get to work & its on sale

J. has given me a necklace for almost every major holiday since we’ve been together.  Unfortunately I always manage to break them so I have several awaiting repair.  Maybe  I could wear one of these while I’m fixing the others.

From Homako on Etsy - in the Pink Lemonade - soooo good.

And finally – one of the few major things left that my kitchen is missing – a dutch oven

The Staub 6 Quart in Graphite or Royal Blue

Regardless of whether there’s any presents or dinner or even *gasp* cake – I’m sure it’s going to be a great birthday and and even better year.