the "Vesta La Crema" salad

You guys, I Frankensteined a salad for roommate dinner late last week, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's to die for, and I would be an utter and complete ass-hat if I didn't share this one with the class. 

First off, a little context: Laura, Dave and I have a favorite pizza place here already. It's called Vesta, and it's located in downtown Redwood City - a darling little hole in the wall with an enormous woodfire pizza oven and no air conditioning, but a huge and shady back patio to mitigate the heat. Their pizzas are fantastically innovative - some of our recent favorites: pistachio pesto and burrata, soppressata with Bing cherries and Calabrian-chile infused honey, and fig and prosciutto. Their July special is a peach and bacon pizza with mascarpone cheese, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit that we've either gone there or ordered it pretty much once a week. 

Additional context, for your edification: One of the wine clubs I joined, La Crema, sends out a newsletter regularly with vineyard information, member specials, and recipes for three-course food and wine pairings. The most recent edition included this recipe for a peach, tomato and corn salad, to be paired with their delicious range of pinot noirs. As I was reading the recipe, I immediately thought of the Vesta pizza, and convinced myself that I needed to make this salad...and add bacon...and a balsamic glaze drizzle...and eat it. All of it. After all, a salad is so much more justifiable than a bacon-covered pizza, isn't it?!

So I did. 

Our bougie apartment complex's outdoor kitchen is not completed yet, so I oven-roasted fresh sweet corn using this recipe. You guys, I had an intense, visceral moment of homesickness shucking the corn over our kitchen trash can...almost an out-of-body flashback to peeling corn on the back patio at our cabin as a teenager, with the concrete burning my feet and the sound of the lake in the background. There's something about sweet corn that immediately takes me back to Spicer, where, I shit you not, we'd occasionally get into debates with family and friends about which farmers had the best, freshest, sweetest corn at any given point in time. I genuinely almost cried when I took the corn out of the oven, with the charred kernels and that perfect roasty scent. SO GOOD. SO MINNESOTA.

Peaches, on the other hand? California all the way. I've never seen such enormous ones in my life (and now I'm feeling weird about that sentence because the peach emoji supposedly euphemistically references butts, HA.). The ones I picked up at our local Safeway for like, under a dollar were easily the sweetest peaches I've ever eaten. No buts/butts about it. 

Dave is a cherry tomato fiend, so I got heirloom cherry tomatoes (which I didn't even know were a thing before Thursday), and I was a bit enthusiastic with the mozzarella pearls (because extra cheese never hurt any recipe). I ended up using four pieces of bacon, thinking (rightly) that too much would overwhelm the more subtle flavors. It was the perfect umami addition, though!

After mixing the whole thing up, I served it with spinach on the side to augment it and sneak some green vegetables in...because I still need to work on the green vegetables thing, honestly. And we drizzled it all with the Gia Russa balsamic glaze, which was the perfect sweet counterpoint to the herby lemon dressing. 

I'm in love, basically, with a salad. 

I'm not going to subject you all to my admittedly sub-par food photography skills, but to Frankenstein this baby for yourself, follow La Crema's recipe, with bacon to your liking and a generous amount of spinach. Balsamic glaze optional but highly encouraged...as is a healthy pour of wine (yesterday, I went with Hanna's rosé!)...of course! 

Life lately...

Snippets and bits that have fallen through the cracks in the last several weeks...

dining al fresco on roasted chicken with homemade basil pesto and heirloom tomatoes (and wine, duh, always wine)

getting ready for the next in my series of "Lizzie's Bedroom Gallery Walls"

IMG_1488.JPG

dying over the gorgeous organ in Stanford Memorial Church on a private tour

taking advantage of workplace flexibility to park at a café table in Stanford's Rodin Sculpture Garden

spoiling Fiona rotten

trying new breweries with Dave

capturing Dave's extreme Californianess (it's a word, obviously) post-beers

falling in love with our sunsets on a daily basis

seeing old movies at Palo Alto's adorable downtown theater

finding hidden corners all over campus

screen-shotting Snapchats of Zach and Colleen's cutest little droid (in the onesie I bought him for his gender reveal! Thank goodness he was a boy - although I guess they could've just glued a bow on for a little girl!)

spoiling Fiona rotten

IMG_1711.JPG

brunching in Berkeley at Five

having fun with Snapchat filters and an oblivious roommate

practicing calligraphy on a variety of pretty mail

cleaning my Backer flats on a day when I unfortunately accidentally wore them to work

watching sunsets on campus during class breaks

hanging out with these goons (more to come soon on the best weekend!)

...and did I mention spoiling Fiona rotten? 

You can take the girl out of Minnesota...

...but can't take the Target out of the Minnesota girl. 

East Palo Alto just opened a new Target store on Sunday, and naturally I had to check it out after work/the gym yesterday. Guys - I basically blacked out in a Target-y haze. They were fully stocked. They had everything. The store was pristine. I had SO MUCH FUN. 

Target's killing it currently with their Who What Wear collection, and I may or may not have found myself in a dressing room with legit fifteen things to try on. Ended up coming home with...

...this off-the-shoulder, bell-sleeved white wonder...perfect for refreshing my tired wardrobe of summer whites (and kind of adjacent to this fantastic Anthropologie top, which I just can't justify at that price)...

52167602.jpg

...and this dress, which I saw on a blogger I follow and was intrigued by to the point where I had to try it. Still not sure I'm keeping it, but we'll see. 

They are, however, sadly discontinuing their Merona and Mossimo lines to introduce twelve new brands, and I'm kind of sad. Merona had great work basics and Mossimo has produced most of my casual "idgaf" sundresses for the past several years. I justified an oh-so-trendy cold-shoulder, bell-sleeved top (that I cannot find ANYWHERE on their admittedly awful website!) because it's basically going to be a collector's item once Merona stops being produced...and also it's a super cheap way to try a trend that, I'm sure, will be out in about five minutes flat. (Plus, it's blue and white striped. I'm powerless.)

A few other quick Target faves:

I love the Sonia Kashuk lipstick, and have since Courtney surprised me with a few way back in 2014! I bought "Peach Passion" last night and it's an excellent subtle, not-neon coral for summer. 

One of the first things to get dropped in the face of a California budget was regular shellac manicures and pedicures. Instead, I'm embracing the art of the self-mani with basic nail polish. My problem, however, is that I'm incredibly hard on regular manicures, with most lasting just a day or two before I've bitten and scraped and cracked and smudged them beyond acceptability. So I picked up some Essie Gel Couture to try, in a nice, basic pale pink. I don't have high hopes - but we'll see! 

Also, I'm obsessed with L'Oreal Pure Clay masks. My mom and I bought a couple when she was here helping me move in June, and I do one at least once a week - I'm a huge fan of the charcoal Detoxify, but also love the Purify&Mattify. (Plus, seriously, they're sooo cheap. It's heavenly!)

A final item of note: Target's candle selection is absolutely bonkers, friends. And the best part is that a lot of their candles are manufactured by Illume, the same brand that produces ridiculously fragrant (and expensive) candles for Anthropologie, Patina, etc. I tend to find myself lost in the candle aisle most times I go to Target, but my favorite spot for absurdly cheap hidden gems is actually the dollar section right in the front of the store. You can thank me later! 

Inventory: July 2017

As of 8pm last night...hiiiii, guys, did you miss me?!

Making: time to write - finally - after several weeks of choosing to pursue other things instead (oops). 

Cooking: a giant batch of shredded pesto chicken from this recipe, which I can't wait to use to throw together a perfect Caprese...on Wednesday, once the madness of work and classes slows down for the week.

Drinking: the last of today's 100 oz of water, out of a Notre Dame Band pint glass, naturally.

Reading: Aziz Ansari's "Modern Romance" (which I borrowed from Dave, and can't stop laughing at), Marina Keegan's "The Opposite of Loneliness," and "Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America" (for my museum class!). Also just finished "Commonwealth" by Ann Patchett and it is remarkable. 

Wanting: tickets to Joshua Henry's revue in downtown San Francisco next Monday night. Alas, class!

Looking: at the palm trees outside my bedroom window and still marveling over the fact that I live here. 

Playing: with the New York Times crossword puzzle app, daily (Dave and I are addicted). 

Listening: to La Cenerentola in advance of the Merola Program's performance on August 5th!

Wishing: that this past weekend's Schwegfam reunion here could have lasted like...five more weekends in a row. Too much fun, campers. 

Enjoying: Laura's shared affinity for candles (you should see how many we've got hoarded in our extremely girly apartment, oh dear). 

Waiting: for next month's trip home and October's NYC trip to see "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812!"

Liking: HAIM's new album, quite a lot. 

Wondering: what area to explore this weekend. I'm leaning toward the Presidio...

Hoping: that tonight's opera class midterm went as well as I thought it did. 

Marveling: at NorCal sunsets. Can you get over that sky up top?!

Needing: to find the perfect blackout drapes and hang my double curtain rod (can't wait for better sleep in a pitch-black room!). 

Smelling: my bedside Lilac Blossoms candle, which is olfactory crack in its best, most deliciously floral form. 

Wearing: this nightshirt from J.Crew, which I had monogrammed (because, duh, I've never met a monogram I didn't loooove.).

Following: a handful of awesome new literature-centric Instagram accounts (Reese Witherspoon Book Club, Hot Dudes Reading, Books and Abe, The Shelf, and Subway Book Review).

Noticing: how heavenly-cool it gets here after dark. I'm coming to love sleeping with my window open.

Knowing: that I really should set my alarm for ten minutes earlier tomorrow morning. Also knowing that, realistically, I'm not going to do that. 

Thinking: about my own mortality, but not in a morbid way, in a healthy way that's largely inspired by recent reading material and class discussions and my conversation about goals(z) with my boss earlier. 

Bookmarking: options for wall-hanging wine racks for our kitchen - the "join four wine clubs in a month" choice might've been a tiiiiiny bit excessive.

Giggling: over this hilarious analysis of which past American president would win in a mass knife fight - a longer read, but it's hilarious and well worth it! 

Feeling: pretty damn good about things. 

Goalz

So, starting off with a joke, or rather, a funny little back story – when I was typing the title of this post, I didn’t mean to call it “goalz,” I meant to call it “goals.” At least initially, in its roughest draft form – but I just instinctively keyboarded in “goalz,” and it made me giggle, and so “goalz” it shall be.

I’m really enjoying getting to know my colleagues a bit more, particularly my two bosses (both of whom are fantastic so far). In a one-on-one touchbase earlier today, one boss (we’ll call her “K”) and I got on the subject of performance measurement and goal-setting. K, like me, is relatively new to Stanford, and is very achievement-oriented. We’re entering the performance/goal-setting phase of our year as employees, and I was asking her about goals to set. We ended up on a huge tangent, talking about how people measure success, what makes people feel satisfied, and whether an accomplishment has to have a tangible outcome to truly be called an accomplishment.

K encouraged me to set personal, private goals outside the formal performance/development module, and shared that it was one of the best ways she’d managed to feel like she was making progress onboarding here. Hers weren’t all business-based, either – they ranged wildly and covered a huge gamut of areas that are affected when undergoing a job change. She was quick to point out that the changes I’ve elected to make recently are much more far-reaching than merely changing jobs – moving cross-country, starting a new job, trying to make new friends and establish a routine and build an entirely new life. These changes and choices all conflate to create an environment that could easily feel unsettled, transitional and insecure. Goals (goalz, hahaha), in K’s eyes, provide a framework by which to reduce some of that uncertainty.

And so here I am, sitting at my desk and writing a blog post about goals, with my boss’s permission and, moreover, encouragement. (What is my life?!) It feels like I’m preparing to set New Year’s resolutions again – and I think that this fits right in with my big theme for 2017 of trying to be intentional.

Without further ado:

Lizzie’s California Goalz

1. Get to know my coworkers. Have lunch with someone new at least once a week, and ask someone at least one non-work-related question a day.

2. Move every single day. Keep taking two quarterly fitness classes through Stanford, and keep making use of the on-campus gyms (bonus: I can get in the athlete gym, and watch football/basketball boys work out while I work out. Eye candy for days.).

3. Explore one new neighborhood in San Francisco, or one city/town, every weekend that I don’t have company. Get to know my new homeland.

4. Have regular phone dates with Kelsie and Hannah, my Minnesota loves, on designated/scheduled days if possible, to ensure that we stay in the best touch that we can.

5. Write or journal for at least ten minutes every day.

6. Get involved in one community/club/interest group of some kind outside of Stanford.

7. Make it back to Minnesota at least three times a year.

8. Create and stick to a balanced, conservative (but fun) budget in this land of insanely high cost of living.

9. Take some time every month to look back and reflect on how things went last month, and to plan and prioritize and set mini-goals for the next.

10. Remember to be excited and happy and positive about this change, and grateful for everything it brings. Change leads to growth, and it’s scary and unsettling, but it brings so many good things, and I can’t wait to see what those will be for me!