101 in 1001 #57: Make homemade pasta!

Shortly after I moved out here, Dave and I binge-watched "Master of None," which I had never seen and which he proclaimed one of the best modern shows he'd seen. I adored it unequivocally - not in the least for the second season's first few episodes, set in stunning Italy as lead character Dev (a lovably hapless-in-love Aziz Ansari) learns to make homemade pasta. 

The show, coupled with the fact that Dave is the child of an Italian family and had made pasta from practically infancy, made me urgently want to check this item off my list. When I came back from Thanksgiving to find a superabundance of potatoes in our kitchen, Dave's suggestion that they become gnocchi couldn't have seemed more timely. 

We had noble goals of spending Dave's Friday night on call cooking, which went rapidly off the rails when he had to go in to the hospital. I prepared to press pause on the whole enterprise, and cozied up with a glass of champagne and some sportsball on television to wait him out. Around 9:30, however, he texted me that he was unlikely to make it home at a decent hour...and that I was on my own to make gnocchi. 

I panicked, a little bit, as one does when confronted with the news that she has to tackle pasta solo for the first time ever. And then I went to town. 

I had a blast churning the potatoes through my new food mill, purchased at Williams-Sonoma based on Dave's instructions. Aside: I'm dangerously obsessed with Williams-Sonoma lately, especially as I've been cooking so much more (and enjoying it so much more). Every time I go in there I want to spend obscene gobs of money on all the gorgeous cookware and gadgety things. GROWN-UP PROBLEMS. 

The situation went downhill with alarming speed when, having followed Dave's instructions to a T, I was left with excessively sticky dough. In hindsight, the common-sense thing to do would have been to add flour...but I was convinced that Dave knew what he was doing and that I was being an idiot by thinking this was wrong. So I blithely continued to "make gnocchi..."

And you would think that I would have at some point realized how awful things were going to turn out when the dough was near-impossible to manipulate. The key is to roll it out into long snakes and cut the dough into little tiny pillows...Dave's words, not mine. My snakes wouldn't roll, they just kind of gummed up our counter, and when I cut them they sort of...puddled. I don't have a better verb for what they did, but trust me - it wasn't pretty. 

I tried to cook them anyway - following Dave's instructions to wait until they floated and then pull them out - and this was the end result: 

I don't even know what you would call these. Sad mashed-potato nuggets? I was simultaneously so frustrated and amused that I couldn't stop laughing - I don't think I've ever been so appalled by something I "created" in the kitchen before, and that's really saying something. 

I scrapped the dough/mush/goo, set our (amazing) homemade vodka sauce aside, cleaned up the war zone that was the kitchen, and boiled Dave some fettuccine noodles for dinner when he finally made it home around 11pm. Though he was on call again the following night, we tried again...this time, SO much more successfully! 

Largely because Dave took charge of the dough and taught me what it's actually supposed to look and feel like: 

How much better do those look? The recipe is legit just a whole bag of potatoes, put through a ricer or food mill...plus three egg yolks, a pinch of salt and pepper, and flour to the point where it forms ^that^ kind of dough. It couldn't be easier - but so much of it is dependent on texture and feel that I was just screwed from the start. 

Dave also appreciated the importance of letting me taste-test all the way along the way - and had made another giant double batch of vodka sauce while I rolled and cut fifty million gnocchi. He cooked a few of them up for me and threw them in sauce/topped them with basil while I cut...and I almost immediately started dreaming of moving to Italy and just making/eating pasta full-time, "Master of None" style. 

UM HI. How delicious do those look?! 

So there you have it - homemade gnocchi by Chef Dave with yours truly alongside for sous chef comic relief. We have an overabundance of them hanging out in our freezer now - can't wait to spend the next couple months experimenting with sauces, or to keep learning the homemade pasta world! 

For more 101 in 1001, head here...it's probably about time to start thinking about tackling macarons, hmm?! 

On sonnets and song lyrics.

...I fell into a swampy, never-ending black hole of my own Twitter history last night and stayed up far too late reading it back over (which I am now paying for with this morning's dry, itchy eyes and headache). This jumped out at me and I couldn't not share it - just a little prettiness for your Thursday morning. 

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Not In A Silver Casket Cool With Pearls

Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
Or rich with red corundum or with blue,
Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls
Have given their loves, I give my love to you;
Not in a lovers'-knot, not in a ring
Worked in such fashion, and the legend plain—
Semper fidelis, where a secret spring
Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain:
Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
"Look what I have!—And these are all for you." 

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Also, I listened to the entirety of Fleetwood Mac's live concert album "The Dance" while getting ready and driving to work this morning. This was a revisit to an album I've grown up with - some of my most vivid, visceral childhood memories are of watching that concert VHS with my dad, jamming to the cd on the way to Toys'R'Us, or marveling at the brassy, percussive marching band at the end.

(Aside: the band at the concert is the USC marching band - and, looking back, they were a huge driver of the reason I actually let my mom badger me into joining marching band in high school. Gotta love the delicious irony of ending up in the Band of the Fighting Irish, loathing the USC band as hard as I possibly can...but still, secretly, loving their two songs on "The Dance.")

Anyway, I was listening to "You Make Loving Fun," and this line jumped out at me...

"I never did believe in miracles
But I've a feeling it's time to try"

So here's to trying to believe in miracles, and to how utterly gorgeous language can be - from sonnets to song lyrics. Happy Thursday, campers! 

a California bedroom

A few weeks ago, I posted this photo on Instagram: 

And it was crazy - I got more direct messages, Facebook chats and texts from friends than I had in a LONG time on a blog post, gushing over and asking about my bedroom here in Cali. I realized that I had never showed my pretty little room here, and so here you have it - a California bedroom by yours truly!

I started this post from the comfort of my childhood bed, and let me tell you, there are few things I love more than that bed. My sister and I got to redecorate our bedrooms when we turned 14, and I've always adored my sunny yellow walls and bright espadrille-striped bedding. 

That said, I feel like as an adult I've redecorated my bedroom every couple years or so, for various reasons. My first grown-up room at the age of 22 was replaced by king-size, "couple-appropriate" Pottery Barn for cohabiting, then replaced again with girly, bohemian Anthropologie in the Chateau de Liz (RIP). As soon as I decided to relocate to California, I decided it was time for another change - and, being v. basic in all things, launched myself straight into the oh-so-Instagrammable all-white bedding world. 

For context, here's how I spent the time after my mom left and before my things arrived in California, and the near-finished product, a few days later: 

A few of my friends have all-white bedding - notably Kelsie, whose room I have ALWAYS envied - and I had found myself browsing Anthropologie's gorgeous offerings on more than one occasion. Given my penchant for lots of colorful decor, there was something so serene about the thought of an all-white bed...almost like waking up in a cloud every day. I pulled the trigger on Anthro's Bertilia duvet and standard shams, their gorgeous Georgina euro shams, and a Moroccan wedding dream of a lumbar pillow. Because the bedding mixed white and cream, I, too, mixed the two tones - it adds a really pretty depth to the bed and is a bit less stark than it could be otherwise in a white bedroom. 

Let's be real though - it wouldn't be me without a bit of color, and I was talked into the two throw pillows by my mom and the bedding consultant at the Palo Alto Anthropologie. (Because, naturally, the Palo Alto Anthropologie has a dedicated BEDDING consultant, right?!) I was doubtful at first, and leaned toward the idea of a totally monochromatic bed, but the second I saw the way the watercolor flowers matched my mural, I was sold. 

As for that mural...it is, without a doubt, my favorite thing I have ever had in a bedroom, bar none. It is actually wallpaper from, you guessed it, Anthropologie...but the story of how I fell in love with it makes me happy and SO I am going to tell you all. 

Anyone who has read this blog for a period longer than this move knows that my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities is Spoon and Stable, the brainchild of culinary wunderkind Gavin Kaysen. His second restaurant, Bellecour, opened in March - right around when I actually committed to moving - and features this stunner in their "Garden Room:" 

Look familiar? I thought it was just the most gorgeous thing I had seen in a long time, and had actual heart flutters when I saw it pop up in Anthropologie's new products less than a week after Bellecour opened. I HAD to have it. Only problem? Renters of apartments tend not to be allowed to wallpaper, and, even had we been, our walls here are slightly textured. 

Naturally, my MacGyver of a father had a solution - 1/8" thick 3x9 plywood, reinforced from behind, whitewashed and turned, effectively, into mobile art installation panels. We spent one of my last afternoons in Minnesota together doing projects, and it was the coziest, most lovely way to spend a Saturday...it put me in mind of school days building boats for the 3rd grade regatta, or putting together science fair experiments. So much gratitude to him for being the kind of papa bear who will drop everything and try anything to make his child's dreams come true, even when said child is fast approaching 30 and, really, didn't need a 9x9 wallpaper installation. 

To this day, I get comments from everyone who sees the panels in their place of glory - our leasing agent lives across the hall, and had seen them through my window and asked about them, even! - and I'm utterly smitten with them. They make such a statement in a very standard, white, square box of a room, and are the perfect foil to my chill, neutral, girly bed. 

The view from said bed is, of course, of a gallery wall, because it is me and my magpie tendencies with art will never fade or die. I'm enchanted with my new pieces, framed (as always) by the experts at Posters on Board.

The central piece is a purchase from Shakespeare and Company in Paris, featuring Alice in Wonderland quotes. My actual fave, though, is the Golden Gate Bridge sketch I legit stole out of Emily's portfolio (with her permission!) over Easter. Seeing all my carefully selected art, from warm-fuzzy quotes to gifts from loved ones to travel souvenirs and thoughtful, intentional purchases, is such a great anchor point for me. I'll always love it. 

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Other dresser-top features: a new jewelry box and necklace tree to make up for my absurd lack of good storage here, my budding collection of Waterford pieces, culled with love from my Grandma Lo's treasured keepsakes, and a new capiz lamp and, of course, Mark Succerberg holding court. It's really just very pretty and feminine and me, which is always my goal and always makes me smile. 

My curtains are Anthropologie (duh) and hide very necessary blackout curtains...and let me tell you, hanging them was an ORDEAL with all capital letters necessary. See evidence: 

Yeah, I did that. I actually broke down and called my parents in tears (very mature over here, yes) and bawled for a solid five minutes about what a mistake it had been moving here and how much I hated everything. My reactions are generally scaled appropriately to the situation, clearly. Anyway, the curtains are gorgeous and the glass tie-backs are so elegant, and I can't wait to get the matching finials. I'm also pleased that my cork pinboard yardstick thing reassembled as well as it did after the hot glue completely melted off on the cross-country road trip out here...I love displaying the notes and cards from my sweetest, most beloved friends there. 

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On a not-so-glamorous note, look at that bitty closet! It's my first-ever not-walk-in closet and, friends, I was NERVOUS. After getting rid of pretty much half my wardrobe (details to come, soon!), everything fits, and it's been a great exercise in consumption reduction and keeping what I love. My favorite feature over here, though? The framed vintage puzzle pieces from Chicago's FourSided, featuring my beloved home state and new home. 

And there you have it! A thousand words on an 11x10 bedroom because I am NOTHING if not excessive, given the opportunity for verbosity. Come visit me sometime and admire it in person, hmm?! 

Bookworm: November 2017

Usually I start these monthly reading round-ups off with a literary quote by one of the authors I read in that month. This month, however, I'm feeling particularly cracked out on holiday festiveness (more to come) and have been quoting this little cutie on repeat, in the most appropriate and inappropriate situations...so enjoy! 

If ANYONE wants to give me books for Christmas, I'll love you forever and ever (and also be very excited about them, I promise!). 

Loved: 

Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward: Being totally honest, it took me a bit to get into the rhythm of this novel, set in rural Mississippi in the run-up to Hurricane Katrina. The writing, though, has a very visual quality I tend to value in books - evocative imagery always sucks me in when all is said and done. The description of the hurricane and its immediate aftermath alone makes this a book worthy of recommending highly. 

Girl Logic, Iliza Shlesinger: Dave, Laura and I are obsessed with Iliza Shlesinger - her acerbic, take-no-prisoners humor is so fantastically fun. In novel form, her intelligence and thoughtful consideration of what it means to be a woman in this day and age come through even more clearly than in a standup set, sprinkled liberally, of course, with laugh-out-loud moments. 

Enjoyed:

Everything was pretty polarizing this month, honestly. And that's almost more fun than being lukewarm on something, isn't it?! 

Tolerated:

The People We Hate at the Wedding, Grant Ginder: I have a really hard time with books where I can't get invested in the characters, regardless of the reason. I found Ginder's cast of misanthropes particularly two-dimensional and unappealing - all of them so mired in resent and their respective pasts that I couldn't get any sense of development in them, or root for them in any way. I'm disappointed - I've read great reviews of this book, and it was a total let-down.

What Happened, Hillary Clinton: I listened to this in audiobook form - all 18 hours of it - and I have such mixed feelings about the book as a whole. At the end of the day, I think I finished the recording with a lot more respect for her, although at times I think her desire to justify actions led to a palpable bias in the narrative that I struggled (and still struggle) with across the board. Worth it, solely for the insight into some of the "why" behind the "what," but I didn't love any of it. 

Re-reads: 

Henry V, William Shakespeare: A classic. One of my favorite memories is reciting passages of this out loud with Michael years ago at the Chateau de Liz, and revisiting it was like catching up with an old friend. A pro move: reading the soliloquys out loud - in perfect iambic pentameter, of course. 

White Oleander, Janet Fitch: This was an over-break read for me - I'm slowly bringing books from MN to CA in my suitcase every time I travel, and started this one while home. It's dark - incredibly dark - but the writing is equal parts harsh and beautiful, which I am drawn to even on a second read. 

You guys, it's royal wedding time!

I've gotta hand it to them - the British royals sure know how to beat the post-Thanksgiving Monday blues! 

A bit of background: I had an absolutely execrable travel day on Sunday. My flight was delayed twice, leaving me stranded at the airport with nothing to do but people-watch, pester all my friends with inane text conversations, and have a drink. Okay, drinks. Then we boarded, were delayed 45 more minutes on the plane before leaving MSP, circled SFO for an additional 40 minutes before landing, were delayed a half hour on the tarmac THERE, and had to wait an extra half hour for our bags. This conspired to a: make me fairly Scroogey, and b: put my head on my pillow somewhere in the vicinity of 1am. 

I had one of those panic moments when I woke up, convinced I had slept through my alarm. So I checked my phone, to find it was 5:40am and that I had a weirdly high number of middle-of-the-night text messages. So I checked them. And immediately SCREECHED at the top of my lungs - royal engagement OH MY GOD. 

I'm perhaps too obsessed with the British royal family. I think Kate Middleton is the best, and I love the Queen and Prince Philip. George and Charlotte and their smooshy cheeks fill me with happiness every time they're out in public. But Prince Harry? Secretly my favorite. I've had a petite crush on him since his army-man days, and I have a lot of respect for the work he's done with children and veterans in recent years. Plus, he seems like a bit of a troublemaker at heart...and I love a troublemaker at heart, of course ;) 

Imagine my delight when he stirred everything up by starting to date a divorced, American, half-black actress. And that delight only grew yesterday on seeing them together, first at the photo call in his mother's favorite garden, then watching their absolutely adorable engagement interview (check it out here if you haven't already, it makes me incandescently happy!). A few thoughts...because you KNOW I have thoughts: 

- I love that she wore kickass heels and a sleeveless dress (and no nylons!) for her first official appearance. I want her Aquazzura shoes BADLY but, alas, way out of my budget. And the whole bare shoulders thing? Way to start shaking things up right away, Meghan!

- They are SO GROSSLY, ADORABLY IN LOVE. The way they look at each other is beyond sweet, and the way they interact just seems so natural and comfortable and perfect. 

- Comparing this interview to Kate and William's, seven years ago, it's clear that Meghan is much more polished and confident than Kate was.  A few factors here: Meghan is accustomed to doing press and interviews due to her role as an actress, and she and harry are, respectively, seven and four years older than Kate and William were at the time. I was still so thrilled to see how natural and charismatic and warm Meghan came across...she seems like the kind of woman I would love to have a long, chatty lunch with (champagne mandatory). 

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- Favorite bits of the interview: the part about the corgis loving her right away, and the tiny little shiver-shimmy thing Harry does when their interviewer mentions Meghan "gaining a husband." He is THE CUTEST. Be still my heart.

- One of my funniest friends sent me this after learning of my complete freakout, and I laughed my ass off, subsequently shared it with every one of my royal-loving friends, and saved it to share here: 

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And there you have it...my royal obsession still going strong. Even though my favorite ginger prince may be off the market, someday my prince will come and, in the meantime, we have a royal wedding to look forward to, WHEE!