Thursday, December 26, 2013

all is calm.

Vintage velvet crop; J Crew skirt; Steve Madden shoes; Brandy Melville necklace
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California Christmas means going bare-limbed and a teeny bit bare-transpyloric plane'd. Anatomy lesson!  The more you know. Also here's a song I rewrote to be about my life:

The sun is shining,
The grass is green,
The orange and palm flowering pear trees sway.
There's never been such a day
In Beverley Hills, LA the San Francisco East Bay.


Friday, December 6, 2013

and i have your shoes.


So here's a big claim I'm gonna make: Madrid vintage shopping beats up on most if not all other forms of vintage shopping.  Big time.  All the time.  Except Sundays and public holidays when everything in Spain is closed.  For a city that wikipedia tells me has been occupied since prehistoric times (by whom, I wonder.  Raptors?), I should not be surprised by the amount of old clothes/things/art for sale on nearly every block.  But somehow the discovery of so much awesome and awesomely inexpensive old stuff makes my heart sort of flutter.







In this city, you can find pre-owned pretty much everything --- dusty magnifying glasses and faded denim workshirts from the Rastro, the entire Sherlock Holmes cannon in translation from a book stall near the park, porcelain plates from a fancy antique shop in Salamanca --- but when it comes to spending my own ca$h, I lean more in the direction of funky sweaters and grandma bags. Which is why my most recent purchases have been (1) a white cropped cable knit miracle and (2) a tiny beaded floral minaudiere, both full of secrets from their prior masters.  The best spot for this kind of shopping is without a doubt Calle de Velarde in the Malasaña neighborhood, which is just storefront after storefront of indie kitsch and shoes from the 70s.  I never feel quite cool enough to be in those places, but I think that's part of the draw.  Plus I also almost bought a witchy black sparkly floor length gown, in part because the scary European electropop pulsing from the loudspeakers convinced me I was a witch, but I eventually remembered and put it back on the rack.  Next time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

pants on fire.

superb Lanvin wannabe, 3 euro from Lefties / too bad mine's not giant but I repeat: 3 euro
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Tricking other people into thinking you are is as easy as wearing a necklace that says so.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

one to ninety-two.



I held off for as long as I could, as simply seeing the stand on the corner makes me sing Christmas carols aloud, but I broke down this week and bought a bunch of roasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper from a street vendor.  Ugh it tasted like straight up holiday spirit.

In other news, you should make homemade peanut butter cups.  They're so easy I could faint.  If children help you, it is possible that they will turn out a little amorphous in terms of shape.  But listen: we filled one half with crunchy peanut butter and the other with Nutella, and the world was good and right and just.

Friday, November 15, 2013

tin roof, rusted.

Uniq sweater; BDG denim; Patagonia socks; Steve Madden boots; Brandy Melville necklace
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Do you ever wake up, get dressed, change your shirt, change your pants, change your shirt again, drink some tea, eat a plum and walk all the way to the train station before you realize you forgot to put on a bra?

I didn't do that today...but I did do it yesterday.  Yikes.


I'm looking down so much because I want you to have the best possible view of my topknot.
One day soon I'll wear color again.
And undergarments, with any luck.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

five words for scarf.

H&M sweater; Madewell cords; vintage scarf; Robert Zur loafers
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Some thoughts:

Now is the first time in my entire life that I have lived more than 40 minutes away from a big time body of water.  Its weird.  Where's the water?  Why can't I see any water?

Isabel Marant for H&M launches in the flesh in 4 days.  My mom and I accidentally went shopping in San Francisco on the day the Lanvin and H&M collaboration hit stores in 2011, which I had no knowledge of prior to our arrival, and we were met with astonishingly rabid hoards of people hungry for ruffles.  It was not a good time.  Do the IM/H&M sweaters look wonderful?  Yes.  Will I wait until the dust has settled, people have stopped biting each other, and at least one restock has occurred before I venture to the Gran Via megastore to cop one?  Absolutely.  And cop one (or three) I will.

If you pretend you're visiting one of the big art museums in Madrid, they let you use their free coat check area, where you can have your backpack and all of your belongings guarded by a security person while you...leave the museum and go for a run in Parque Retiro instead.  -3 points for taking advantage of a cultural institution, +5 for winningggggg.

I want to go so many places in this world, and its impossible.  The amount of hours I spend googlemapping my dreams is not insignificant.  I just want really cheap, really beautiful high speed trains to take me ALL OVER THE PLANET AT WILL.  Ok?  Who can spearhead this project.  Somebody spearhead this project.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

solo uno.


Remember birthday treats?  Was that a thing everybody did?  To celebrate turning seven, you fed other children sugar?  You (but really your mom) made a metric ton of blue frosted cookies, which you loaded into a big tupperware container, dragged to school, and then benevolently allocated to each member of your class and to all of your teachers before recess.  Yes? You did this.  You understand what I'm saying.  I'm imagining you nodding your head.

My sister and I (because we are jerks) enjoyed requesting wildly complicated birthday treats.  There were definite highs (the year of the ice cream cone cupcakes) and lows (the popcorn ball incident of '99, from which I'm pretty sure we still have burns) but we were invariably sent to school each birthday with a box full of bitchin sweets that incited jealousy and hunger amongst our friends and enemies alike.  jk lawlz we didn't have enemies, we brought POPCORN BALLS to CLASS.  Big ups to my parents for making us cool and/or obesity enablers.

I may be turning twenty-three today, which is long past grade school, and I may be in another country, but I still totally brought birthday treats to class.  The humans at the language academy were like, "Wait, it's YOUR birthday.  Why are YOU feeding US?"  And the answer is that sometimes if you want brownies on your birthday, you gotta take matters into your own hands.


These smittenkitchen one-bowl brownies (I found vanilla extract at Taste of America! Praise Taste of America) are ruhl good.  Super chocolatey, minimal mess and a negligible time commitment.  Pretty drama free.  So really nothing like the birthday treats of yore.  Though I did step away for ONE SECOND and return only to find that someone had dragged their small child finger across the top of the pan I'd poured batter into.  I was like, "Are you serious?"  And a little Spanish chica screamed, "I DIDNT DO IT!!!!!!!!" She had chocolate all over her face.  I said, "You have chocolate all over your face."  She started crying and ran away.  And that was that.  I'm hoping she felt really guilty and prayed to Dios for forgiveness but I'mma be real with you, she probably forgot all about it when she turned the corner.  Kids, dude.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

quarry.



Nollie shirt; BDG skirt; Hue tights; Frye boots; Lagos elephant; ferral cat
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The people of Madrid casually murder the boots and coats games every day.  I ride the metro all over the place positively drooling over foot- and outerwear.  Nevermind that it is clearly still too hot to wear a jacket of any sort and I could probably get away with sandals if I wanted to.  Madrileños live in a state of perpetual fall.  Which like, is just the best way to live.


Its also apparently kosher here for everybody to wear leggings as pants all the time.  This is great news because it makes it ok for me to keep doing what I was doing pretty much everyday anyway!  Guys.  Spain rocks.


New boots.


New friends.


Same idiot.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

a bone to pick.


So. Baking in a foreign country!
Tip: Don't try it.

That's not fair.  You can definitely try it.  I've done it already and I'll do it again.  I made chocolate cookies last week and iced them up all nice and Halloweenish and they didn't kill anyone.  And yesterday I made pumpkin muffins because I'm going to La Mancha and need a hostess gift, and they turned out perfectly, all cinnamon-y and light.  But the cultural exchange that is my life in this house does in fact infiltrate the kitchen; until recently, I had never eaten a ripe chirimoya (oh my god I have been changed), and I had also never been told in a grocery store, "No, you are mistaken, there is no such thing as powdered sugar."

Things that aren't readily available in Spanish grocery stores besides powdered sugar: baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate powder, vanilla extract, and unsalted butter.  So like if you want cookies you should just fly home.

Conversely, Maldon sea salt, which is generally more expensive in the United States and comes in small boxes and tins, is sold in Madrid in large sacks.  Also they have more types of fruit than I have ever seen anywhere, like fantasy novel status varieties of fruit.

Things that aren't readily found in Spanish kitchens: many spices, electric mixers, whisks, measuring cups, ziplock bags.  I took ziplock bags for granted my whole life.  Also, and this is my favorite because it involves math: GRAMS.  Grams.  Measurements in grams.  See ya later late night chocolate-chip-cookie-making binges.  I don't even want to think about the kind of conversion ratios I'd use post-pitcher of sangria. 

HOWEVER.  Thanks to some internet tools, a calculator, a big spoon and some patience, 30 mini glazed pumpkin muffins came into my life.  And in about ten minutes, they will come with me on the train.  Is this a weird hostess gift?  Whatever I'm over it.

These are stupid easy and taste like fall.  I don't know what you're waiting for.


Glazed Pumpkin Muffins
made 30 miniature muffin nuggets, but could easily be big ones, or a loaf

for muffins:
1 can pumpkin puree (I bought mine at Taste of America, which is a place)
2 teaspoons vinegar (to make up for no baking powder)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
lots of cinnamon and nutneg (allspice and cloves too, if you have them!)

for glaze: a whisked together mix of:
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used a thicker, vanilla flavored thing called Candy Glass, which worked, but you should use powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 175 degrees CELSIUS omg).

Mix all wet ingredients in one bowl, and all dry in another.  Add dry to wet, and stir to incorporate.

Fill a lined muffin tin (or greased loaf pan) with batter 3/4 of the way, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.  Wait until completely cool before drizzling with glaze.

Monday, October 21, 2013

hand to mouth.


It is, evidently, not difficult to get Spanish kids hooked on a holiday they've never previously celebrated.  I should have known this.  People just like to party.  And if those people are too young to drive and the party involves lots of candy and plastic fangs, its like dear Halloween WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LI-I-I-I-I-IFE? I brought a pumpkin home the other day for carving purposes (cradling squash on the metro, very normal), and after my brief description of other festive traditions was met with genuine interest and curiosity, I toasted the seeds.

Toasted pumpkin seeds are a Halloween gateway drug.  One minute you're minding your own business, gutting a pumpkin on your kitchen floor, and the next you're fiending for candy corn with a previously undocumented ferocity.  We were decorating the house within the hour.  Today we watched like 17 Nightmare Before Christmas clips in a row.  I created addicts.


This was a great guideline, but as always, make the thing you wanna eat.  I subbed in nutmeg for the cumin, vanilla for the ginger, said no to the cayenne entirely, doubled the cinnamon and went the brown sugar route. So basically didn't follow the recipe at all.  There is one non negotiable thing: you MUST completely dry the seeds in the oven prior to coating.  This is the key to crunch, which is the key to addiction.  I know all about this.

Friday, October 18, 2013

i moved.


Nine days is not nearly enough time to be able to have solid opinions about anything so massive as a European capital city, but somehow I feel very certain already of my feelings about living in Madrid.  I spend my mornings in a language class, my afternoons exploring, and my evenings playing with two wild and hilarious niñas aged 8 and 6.  My room has a sloped ceiling and a wall of cubbies.  There is really good coffee pretty much everywhere.  People wear boots everyday.  They speak a beautiful, crack-fast Spanish.  If nine days is premature then I don't want to be right.  I love it here.

Which is not to say that there aren't challenging aspects about living in a foreign country, because duh.  I'm not gonna lie to you, I think pretty much once a day about how much easier everything would be if there was just one Target.  I'm still learning proper cafe etiquette.  The English books I read on the train garner many stares.  Today I bought a fig and almond bar from the supermarket that looked exactly like this thing I buy at Whole Foods, and it had paper on one side and was wrapped in plastic, and after I removed the plastic I found that the paper was actually a bunch of separate little pieces of paper fit together, so that you couldn't peel it away in one fell swoop and instead had to pick at these hundreds of shapes no bigger than my pinkie fingernail...so I ate the paper.  Problems, right?  Probably a Spaniard would have known exactly what to do.

AND THIS, amigos, is the point.  I am not a Spaniard.  Every day I find myself -- less and less now, but constantly during the first fews days -- concerned that I am doing something wrong, something blatently tourist-y or foreigner-y or worse, American-y, and that I am going to be discovered as a fraud.  That my actions are going to clash so massively with The Way Things Are Done In Madrid that everyone within a six block radius is gonna point and laugh, roll their eyes (and their r's) and say to each other, "That poor girl.  What a dumb outsider." What I realized, sort of all at once while writing my sister a letter, is that complete acclimation just ain't gonna happen.  I will never be a Madrileño.  I am fooling no one with my oft-incorrect verb conjugations.  I will never totally master the pronunciation of the train stop for my language school (Argüelles...ugh).  Nine months is a long time, but even after nine days I am sure that my inability to maneuver a cobblestone sidestreet in stilettos is not going to be magically, Spanishly reversed.

I write this so that I remember and embrace it: I have no choice but to be a stranger in a strange land, because that's just the truth.  And as long as what I'm doing is not offending anyone and only makes them think I'm weird, then I'm gonna let myself be a stranger.  I study, and I watch, and I google a lot of things.  I try to learn the traditions and the habits and the tricks and the shortcuts.  I strive to be as small an amount of foreign as is physically possible for me, the least amount of strain on the metro ticket salesmen and the cashiers and my family, because I am in awe of their culture and respect it like a crazy person.  But I cannot alter my heart of hearts, which yearns a little bit for the wide white aisles of a Target megastore, even if it also swells at the sight of Parque Retiro at sunset.  I'm an American in Spain.  And even if it ups my foreign factor to 11, I'm gonna marvel at the architecture and Instagram the old people.  This is the way it is.

RIP skim milk, but there are 3 jars of Nutella in the pantry.  So like, I think I'm coming out on top.

Monday, October 7, 2013

please sir.

Girlfriend CANNOT stop making granola.

   Oats
   Almonds
   Walnuts
   Sunflower seeds
   Shredded coconut
   Agave
   Vanilla
   Pumpkin pie spice
   Oh god
+ I may have burnt the outer edges in the oven but      
   Damn the middle was really good

I'm not super at math, but this checks out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

pantry contraband.


BREAKING NEWS!!!!!  Nutella cookies.

I tried to write a substantive paragraph about how good these cookies are, but I'm sick and congested and feeling blerrrgggh so my wit is pretty weak.  The paragraph ended up super weird, like weirder than usual, like the word "peasant" was in it.  So.

Suffice to say these bad boys are light and crispy and have a subtle funky-nutty-chocolatey thing going on that makes them mildly addictive.  You could take my word for it or you could make them yourself. Spoiler alert: the latter option tastes better.


Nutella (&& Peanut Butter) Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Cream butter with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add peanut butter and Nutella and mix until blended.  Continue to mix, adding sugars and each egg individually, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate fully after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients all at once, and mix until just incorporated.

Using a spoon (or a lil melon scoop situation -- I'm at home, my mom has a lot of cool utensils for me to  cover in cookie batter when she's not paying attention), scoop batter onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Batter will spread, so leave a good inch radius around each mound.  Sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar to finish.

Bake for 12 minutes, flipping baking sheets top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 6 minute mark.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

because it flows.


Who's that fool reading city guidebooks on her front stoop?  And more importantly, does she get to move to another country yet?


Free People tunic; Sam Edelmen boots; vintage and Alex and Ani jewelry; Essie nail polish in Penny Talk

Thursday, September 26, 2013

that shit is gonna look so seasonal*


It is FALL, beezies and bruthamen, which means only squash and butter and sage and orange things and scarves and apples and boots from here on out.  It is fall, and the air is getting crisper, and it sort of smells like fire outside, do you know what I mean?  And while you don't have to love sweaters --- if you don't love sweaters I will still respect you --- just understand that if that's true for you then your opinion is wrong.  Ok.  Great.  Autumn officially welcomed and initiated.  Haters far far far to the left.

Here is an easy way to put fall directly into your mouth.


PRAISE.
Pumpkin pie spice is a one stop shop to oral autumngasm (ew I'm sorry) (not sor-- no, yeah, I'm sorry).  A mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg, it is all goodness all the time.
You should shake it (plus some agave or honey for sweetness) into your nonfat greek yogurt right this very instant.

And, as no fall-flavored breakfast item should go topless:

Crunchy Oat Crumble
based on the topping part of this Bon Ap recipe

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (Would have been pepitas but Safeway doesn't have them???????!? Safeway is uninvited to fall. Safeway, go stand with the haters.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
one shake of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl, then spread evenly on a baking sheet and toast on the bottom rack for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before using or storing.

This makes a lot but you're not upset because think of tomorrow.

If you ***wanted*** you could put pumpkin pie spice directly into this thing, that would probably rock.  But since I knew I was blending it into my yogurt I refrained.  You do you.


OMGGGGG what are you gonna be for Halloween??!

Scheming in the corner and drinking a chai,
Kendra

*this, obviously.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

escondido.


Working as a barista at my favorite coffee shop this summer was good for my wallet, my hipster factor and my coffee IQ, but straight up TURRIBUL for my eating habits.  I've never been awesome at resisting baked goods, but still-hot scones, muffins and bagels are impossible to turn down at 7 AM, especially when they don't cost me squat.  My biggest downfall: the vegan fruit and nut scones, crumbly and cinnamony and studded with dried cranberries and raisins.  I could never adhere to veganism because a life without cheese is not a life worth living, but as a baked good, these bad boys don't miss the eggs or butter at all.  I chucked in whatever we had in the pantry plus some fresh blueberries, and while they aren't identical to the ones I gobbled all summer at the Unicorn Cafe (whattt is the secretttttt??), they are definitely breakfast material.  Also they require only one bowl and less than 30 minutes of your time.  Knock em out, kids.

Vegan Fruit and Nut Scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
internal decorations like whoa:
fresh blueberries
dried cranberries
golden raisins
currants
shredded coconut
chopped walnuts
whole oats sprinkled on top

I am a parishioner at the Church of A Little Bit of Batter Holding All Of Your Stuff Together.  Amen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all things in a big bowl until combined.  Scoop 1/4 cup mounds of batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, flattened a bit, and distanced about an inch apart to allow for spreading.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden, rotating the sheet 180 degrees halfway through.


Serving suggestion: honey, iced coffee, and an issue of Bon Appetit from August 1997.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

mine second.


A hand-me-down Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress from my mama, making me feel grown up and ladylike, which are two things I rarely feel.

floor to ceiling.


Some Things I Wonder: A List

How many years of my life did I erase yesterday by demolishing a bag of Garrett Popcorn Chicago Mix?  Is it weird that I was scrolling though some healthcrazy's fitness Instagram while I was licking the alien cheese powder off my fingers?  Is this the catch-22 of the modern twenty something?  Ok cool.

At what point is it not funny anymore that my nail polish is always chipped?

How many times in a row is too many times in a row to listen to Bruno Mars?  Is Bruno Mars even relevant anymore?

What is it like to be on the lost side of a language barrier?

Should I throw a party for myself when I finish watching the entirety of the West Wing, which I am only three episodes away from doing, and sub-question: should I cheer or weep at this party?

Is it possible to be jealous of a window?

Have you seen Blue Jasmine?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

no work done



During the warmer months of the year, when the earth decides to make all of the best tasting plants have really good hair days all together at once, I am a huge proponent of Minimal Manipulation.  When the weather is good and the produce is better, I am an advocate of Hands Off.  When things are this brightly colored and fantastically fresh, your mission is to screw them up as little as possible.

Enter: salads.  Yeah ok yawn I hear you.  But on a very white plate (this matters), with a collection of assorted attractive vegetables, barely dressed, salads can be sort of thrilling.  I said it.  Thrilling.

Lazy Summer Salad

Sweet corn
Cherry tomatos
Roasted beets --- Wrap in tin foil, 350 degree oven for one hour, fin
Arugula
Pesto --- I did basil/spinach/more arugula/lemon juice/walnut/garlic/olive oil/water/s&p


Requirement: arranging your salad like an asshole.


Though real life doesn't suck so bad either.