Monday, September 26, 2011

SuperFancy Cooking on a Sunday takes a long time.

Dear 28,
Writing about cooking? This blog is getting really diverse in content. I keep all my Martha Stewart Living magazines. Semi-obsessively. But I've never cooked a recipe out of any of them. So after scanning the pages of old October issues, I settled on crafting a feast. I could locate and operate an immersion blender. I could figure out how to peel a squash. I would conquer this meal plan provided by the queen of craftiness. (This is how I talk myself up when tackling a difficult task. Or when planning to host another stoop dinner that requires a hefty grocery list. Positive vibes.)

The menu included:
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Cheese Flautas with Cilantro Pesto
Apple Cranberry Crumble
Martha was even kind enough in the article to tell me the order in which to cook things (1. Roast veggies and make pesto. 2. Prepare black eyed peas, salad dressing. 3. Blend soup and prepare flautas. 4. Fry stuff.)
So with my sous chef (Liz you were excellent company) and all the ingredients scattered on the counter, I started peeling 2.75lbs of butternut squash. "Butternut squash?" you say. Yes. Apparently a "sugar pumpkin" doesn't exist at Dahl's and even the produce guy is unsure if a "pie pumpkin" and a "sugar pumpkin" are the same thing. (Note: apparently the two are the same. Sometimes called "sugar pie pumpkins.") While darling Martha did not tell me how to peel or cut up a butternut squash, I was able to cross reference Real Simple, and managed to not slice off my fingers with the sharpest, largest serrated knife ever. Then there was the use of an immersion blender. That was fun.
There were those cilantro+pepitas pesto troubles (the mini-food-processor had some problems). If you decide to make that pesto-- be sure to add extra lime juice and to know that you really only have to buy one bunch of cilantro, that's plenty. Martha asks for you to use baby red mustard greens in the salad, psh. Using a spring mix pre-packaged salad worked just fine. The crumble used the prettiest shiny red frozen cranberries, but would have benefited from some bonus sugar (I used granny smith apples, maybe a sweeter baking apple would have helped too.) 
In the end the meal took about 3.5 hours to prepare, fed about 8 people and was polished off in about 20 minutes. The food was complimented. My sleeveless blue angels shirt I wore while cooking was not.
xo- LP

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I just can't get enough.

Dear 28,
I just can't get enough makes its triumphant return. (and covers some topics you're all dying to know about).

1- The Meaning of Flowers.
I'm serious. I spent nearly 1.5 hours looking at this. After lots of research (and realizing this is why some people may think I'm weird) I had two (other) thoughts.
A) Who determined all of this? Was there a flower panel? Maybe a florist who wanted to peddle more Red Tulips (those mean "declaration of love" and a symbol of a perfect lover. sending tulips make a bold statement)? Maybe it's just a bunch of whooie? and B) Why don't florists tell me these things before I send Gardenias to my boss. There's lots of sites that say many different things, but my favorites included:
Yellow Carnations = Rejection 
(Who sends rejection flowers? Maybe the Bachelor should start handing yellow carnations out to the chicks he doesn't like. That'd shake up a rose ceremony.)
Purple Hyacinth = I'm sorry
Begonias = "Beware I am fanciful"
(Who says that? I think I will start.)

2- Recipes, Reading Cookbooks KarenBrady-Style, and all things Martha Stewart.
The new digs have turned me into a kitchen dweller, again. Maybe its the early morning cardio (I don't believe it most mornings either) and the quest to eat a wee bit better, or the fact that I have a dishwasher (that's more likely), but whatever it is, I'm using the hell out of this new kitchen. I've also spent a bunch of time asking questions about food at the farmers market. (Did you know: kohlrabi is to be peeled and eaten raw. Chicken mushrooms actually have the texture of chicken, seems obvious though, but they also stand up well to grilling. There are itty bitty tomatoes at the Butcher Crick Farms stand that you could eat like grapes.)
Here's a few I think you should try: non-cole-slaw-coleslaw, Ratatouille (without the poached eggs), and you should get Chase+Sara to help you make a shrimp boil too. 

3- Shows on which they sing.
It's a well known fact that I'd prefer life to be a musical.
 (I should also note that all I want to do most of the time is be on a stage, in a band, a backup dancer, etc. #19 was crossed off on the epic Jake+Sahar weekend where I was in a band. Like on the stage. In a band of men with Irish brogues. I played a fancy tambourine. People now call me the "Rhythm Riot." And by people, I mean me.) 
A photo from the epic weekend. (after I was in a band)
 So sign me up for SingOffs, and XFactors and Glee. I'll gladly sing into a wooden spoon during commercials while I whip up cilantro pesto flautas and pumpkin soup. That's not at all embarrassing.

4- Books that teach creatives how to write a business plan.
I've checked out all I can find at the Des Moines Public Library. I've tried to piece together notes of them all.
Here's what I've flipped through:
The Handmade Marketplace
Craft, Inc
How to Make Money Using Etsy (Sorry dude-who-wrote-this, I didn't find you terribly helpful)
Start Your Own Arts and Crafts Business
What else should I be reading?

(So much knowledge in one post.)

Friday, September 16, 2011


Dear 28,
First of all. Apparently August wasn't packed to the "gunwalls" (like the inside of a gun) but should have been packed to the "gunwales" (a nautical term I guess.) Easy mistake if you ask me.
Onto the biggest news of the year. It's really the biggest news of my year, to-date. I printed the postcards. Finally. All it took was a meeting down at Universal Printing, a few egg rolls, 37 handwritten lists, Sara's speedy print skills and talking about doing this for nearly 5 years.
And as a bonus, they were printed in time for this project: 2011ArtVend. I haven't seen the vending machine yet, but I'll share it when I do. If you're up in Ames next week- check out the project at Wheatsfield Cooperative Grocery.
I sold a bunch of cards wholesale the day they were printed to my dear friends at Ephemera and darling Emily of Francy Pants and I was feeling pretty great actually, until I realized I still had about 450 postcards on my hands. I even updated my Etsy site. Then, in a moment of potential insanity, sitting outside Aimee with Chels watching the world class athletes of the HyVee Triathlon race by, we plotted my teeny table at the East Village Bazaar.
With lots of help*, a super great drawer from Francy Pants, and a little bit of courage (it's scary to sell your wares at a table. what if people don't like them), I set up my card table Sunday morning hoping for the best. Some people commented on the lovely flowers, or the weather, or the fact that my freckled-fair-skin should retreat from the sun immediately, but so many others said "oh these are cute" or giggled while reading them or even (gasp) bought one. Even strangers purchased postcards! 55 cards and 4 hours later I closed up shop. Bigtime success.

After about 20 years of drawing greetings, I still can't believe I sat on East 5th Street selling them. I'm giving it a go again this Sunday-- stop by and ask me about the weather.

*Thanks for the push to print, the help getting my sales tax id, for telling me the drawings are cute, for telling me when things really are only funny in my head and not in a drawing, for sending the cards to your moms, for reminding me I can actually do this, for color-correcting, for telling me no one but me really cares about card-stock-quality, for letting me talk about it constantly, for buying them when I try to give you them for free, and most of all- believing in me. Thank you to all of you.

An Ode to the 4404.

Dear 28,
After much revision (and much research so to make it a classifiable "ode," which I believe it still is not).
The Stoop is perfect. But my sweet and lovely 4404, you're forever in my heart.

An Ode to the 4404
Back in 2007 we met out of desperation
and necessity.
I moved in with haste and Grandma's loveseat.
You were home to bountiful bowls of pasta
on Tuesdays.
I once fainted on your stairs.
You went through 2 TVs, 4 antennas
and never had cable.
Our biggest argument stemmed from the
digital television conversion.
Secret meetings happened behind your door,
and one wall is probably still stained with pinot noir.
The humble pantry was packed with paper,
scissors,sequins and sundry other crafty goods.
At least eight other people have had keys to your door.
We baked bread, and terrible cake, and Easter ham.
Many a plant met its demise on the sill of
your perfect kitchen window.
I constantly found glitter on your floor.
Many (solo) dance parties, dinner parties
and pre-parties and even post-parties were
celebrated in your living room.
You served as refuge for those seeking a home
and those searching for a dress.
I should apologize to #10 for all the R.Kelly serenades.
Des Moines became home within your walls.
Your tiny closets will not be missed.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

You have a blog?

Dear 28,
I haven't been able to write. And it's making my brain hurt (more on the brain later. there'll be photos too.). After a year of spilling my thoughts into a text box, I miss the release it gave me, the way it made me laugh, the kind of perspective and sense of accomplishment these silly little posts gave me. And then there's the people who remind me I'm not blogging...
(This is how I look when unable to write.) 
Here we are, nearly 5 months in, at a time when I am "having the best time of my life" (I actually said that to Laura yesterday over lunch. Those exact words) and am doing all this stuff that I've been dreaming up for years (more on that too-- and no. these are no longer hollow writing promises.) In year 27 I'd penned over 60 posts by Labor Day. This year I've written less than 15. It's not for lack of material (this year's been full of odd, superfun and comical bits of blogable life), I just can't seem to get myself to push the keys of the macbook.
Look at that. Typing. Right now. It's a bloggin miracle.
So I decided on this blessed day, the Sara+Holly birth anniversary, I should give it a try. And remember why I started writing in the first place. And remember how hilariously wonderful my life is, especially when I type it out for all the interweb to read.
I suppose we should start with August. Summer really was a blur, the good kind of blur. I did a sloppy recap of July, but August deserves a little more care. There was so much in August, typically marked as my second least favorite month of the year (behind February of course), but yet again the 8th month was packed to the gunwalls with delights.
The highlight of the month was a visit from my sister Jen. (You'll probably click on this link. And then see her blog. And yes. She was on a billboard. And on Ellen.) She megabused into my city and we had a weekend that'll go down as one of my favorite with her in all the 26 years we've known each other. We awed the crowd at AJs with a stirring duet of "Gotham City" (oh and then she iced me. i thought this was a city of justice. a city of love.), took in the Iowa State Fair efficiently and hosted a pre-rager-rager at the Stoop right after she color-coordinated my bookshelf and unboxed some more of my belongings. (Thanks Jen. Can't wait to come see you and complete #25 in December!)
In addition to Jenapalooza, I moved into a new place (The Stoop is my new dwelling. Still working on writing that ode to the 4404), I saw Janet Jackson live at the fair and witnessed the re-emergence of fun Tone and his dancemoves, I went back (back back) to Cali (Cali) with my fun-foodie coworker and the most delicious cake I've ever tasted, had my freelance illustration debut hit 100 mailboxes thanks to the Dwolla, lived through a zombie attack in Des Moines' East Village, sangria-ed in a salvage shop, and got all sporty at a wiffle-ball tournament (and that weird Des Moines wall climbing thing happened too).
Told you it was " packed to the gunwalls." And September, oh. I am simply falling in love with September. The blog lives on.