Thursday, May 30, 2013

eggplant pizza recipe.

i love pizza. i mean i really, really love pizza. when we moved to california the first job james got was at a brand new pizza parlor that opened up near my moms house. and even though the pay, hours, and management were all terrible, i secretly loved that job because it came with unlimited free pizza. i probably ate pizza three or more days a week while he worked there and i am not embarrassed about it at all. 

anyways, homemade pizza used to be on our regular dinner rotation, its really cheap (if you make your own dough), acceptably healthy (as long as you use real ingredients), and everyone loves it. except now i have celiac disease and we can never have pizza as a family again. unless i buy a nine dollar frozen pizza or a seven dollar bag of pizza dough mix, both of which are probably never going to happen.

so i was really, really depressed about not being able to eat pizza. really depressed. like, trying to figure out how bad it would be if i ate an entire real pizza just once a year, i mean, it couldnt be that bad for me right? but then i saw a picture somewhere on the internet of eggplant pizzas and thought this could really work. eggplants are WAY cheaper than gluten free pizza dough (i got them for 88 cents each at sprouts), and theres no way this could taste bad, since its mostly the same ingredients as eggplant parmesan and ratatouille, which are both delicious. since i didnt remember where i saw the picture, i checked for "eggplant pizza" and apparently this is a real thing. 

i tried it last week, and it was great. so great, in fact, that i bought more eggplant so we could have it again tonight (in case you missed it, i do my meal plans weekly). i had to modify the recipes i found a bit since most of them breaded the eggplant, so heres what i did:

eggplant pizzas:
(serves 2-4)

2 large eggplants 
olive oil
lemon pepper
1/2 cup or so of pasta sauce
1 cup or so of mozzarella or cheese of your fancy
pepperoni or whatever toppings your heart desires

preheat oven to 400 degrees. start by slicing your eggplant into patties at least 1/2 inch thick (i made the mistake of cutting mine to thin last time because i didnt know they would shrink so much and they ended up falling apart a little), then brown both sides in a cast iron pan in a little olive oil and lemon pepper. arrange your slices on a cookie sheet lined with foil and top each slice with sauce, cheese, and toppings (no exact measurements here, just whatever you feel like). bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned (i like to leave mine in for a little longer so the cheese gets nice and crispy, but thats just me). serve immediately. 

(i served ours with a sad little crouton-less caesar salad):

and thats it! making pizza this way is actually significantly faster (and if your watching carbs, healthier) than regular pizza, and i think i can confidently put pizza back on our dinner rotation. 

so what are you having for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

adult chocolate milk. a cocktail recipe.

last time we went to target (which thanks to my newfound organizational skills have become less and less frequent and expensive), they had a whole bunch of liquor on clearance. im not talking about a few bottles of stuff nobody wants, there was an ENTIRE ENDCAP of  parton, bacardi, flavored vodkas and decent looking wines. but as ive mentioned before several times, were extra broke right now, and no matter how much i wanted to stock up (i mean, for $50 we could have a fully stocked bar for the next year or so), i had to be responsible and say no. 

but the last time we had any actual liquor was so long ago i dont even remember when it was (i vaguely remember buying some rum last summer?). and while what i can eat is severely restricted, i can drink anything i want (as long as its not beer, malt liquor, or something that has watermelon in it). also, i had just returned some eyeshadows that i bought but didnt use immediately so i figured i didnt need them, and thus had almost eight whole dollars burning a hole in my pocket. 

the least expensive thing was cake vodka:

never mind that ive never had cake vodka before and had no idea what i could even do with it, it was cheap and ive always been intrigued by it, so cake vodka it was. 

i quickly learned that cake and vodka are not flavors that actually go together and its not so good for shots or drinking on the rocks. i also quickly learned that all cocktail recipes that use it are for super fussy lady drinks with 300 ingredients. 

so i tried to figure something out that only used ingredients we already had in our pantry, and i came up with this:

adult chocolate milk

ingredients (for each):
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
1-2 ounces of cake vodka (depending on how much of an adult you feel like being)
sprinkles and/or whipped cream for garnish

mix all of the ingredients (except garnish) either in a cocktail shaker or just in a glass if youre lazy like me and dont feel like washing the shaker (this would be a really good time to use one of those little chocolate milk whipper things from ikea, but we dont have one). garnish with sprinkles and/or whipped cream (this recipe REALLY called for some whipped cream, but again, we didnt have any). then drink it. 

i know it looks all frothy and lumpy and weird, but i assure you, this is literally the best drink i have ever made at home. 

this clearance cake vodka was quite possibly the best decision ive made in a long time. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

measuring day. and how we made our measuring day plank.

maybe a week ago, james and i were talking about how tall alice is now and how we should start measuring her on the wall, but we (hopefully) wont live in our current apartment for very long so wed need to make something. then i remembered that i had pinned this project a few weeks ago when i was trying to figure out a legitimate use for pinterest (i am using it a bit more now, but im still not entirely sold on it), so i told james about it and we decided we would make our own. 

i was really excited about this project, because weve spent a lot of time lately talking about how we REALLY need to work on making our apartment more homey and more "us", and also because our lack of space has kept us from doing projects of any sort (something both of us LOVE to do). 

according to the other tutorial, this looked like a really cheap and quick project, i mean, get a cheap plank of wood, stain it, draw some likes with sharpie and DONE (i mean, she did it with a baby in a bjorn) . so we got started (note: this isnt really a tutorial in the traditional sense, its more just what we did):

now james and i didnt talk much about what we needed to get and he went to buy the wood and stain without me, so instead of buying a cheap plank, he bought a more expensive nice looking piece, which he sanded it and and added a nice little decorative edge (sometimes being married to a carpenter is nice):

then i sketched out how i wanted the lines and numbers to go (i wasnt super into the ruler motif of the other one):

next i measured out all the lines and traced them in pencil:

as well as the numbers (i wanted handwritten rather than vinyl numbers or a traced font):

i started drawing the lines with sharpie, and it looked like crap, so james suggested that we do tape stencils and tape, since thats what he does at work (he builds basketball courts):

and it looked much better than the sharpie: 

i wanted a heavier line weight for the "foot" lines, so we made separate stencils for those:

then i painted the numbers, but i didnt have the appropriate paintbrush, so they came out kind of lame and i had to remind myself that this was going on a wall and nobody was going to be inspecting it: 

then james did the stain:

and when the stain was dry, i touched up some of the numbers with a better marker that james found, and then we hung it up:

and then it was time for measuring day! just like that one episode of angry beavers! 

so this project wasnt as cheap or fast or easy as i had anticipated , but im SO happy with how it came out. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

little treats. a new nail polish.

over the past couple months ive been working REALLY hard at taking better care of myself and my appearance (read more about that here). and ive started to feel like ive made really good progress in things like putting on makeup, wearing real clothes, and brushing my hair more than once a week. so much so that those things are starting to feel like a natural part of my day. so the time felt right to move on to a bigger challenge: buying myself treats. 

now i know this should not be nearly as difficult for me as it is, but look, weve always been broke, and ive always had something id rather spend our money on and ive never really felt like i deserved it. so ive been working on it, but the thing is, ive gone so long without buying myself treats that i dont even really know what kind of treats i even like. 

ive been feeling really crappy for the past couple weeks with my new diet, and havent been able to go out and do much, so i REALLY needed a little treat. thing is, my favorite treats are the food kind, but with all my new ridiculous food allergies, theres not a lot i can do in that department. also, james had school this month and my job is basically nonexistent these days, so were extra extra broke. i needed to find a really REALLY little treat. 

so i picked up a new nail polish last time we went to target. i got a new one that i havent tried before, sally hansen gem crush:

it was on sale for $5.61, and i had a $4 off coupon, so $1.61 seemed fair for a treat, especially since i stopped drinking soda and wasnt spending money on that anymore. i was really intrigued by the displays claim of "full coverage glitter", because thats EXACTLY what i want in a glitter polish. i was REALLY happy with how it came out:

two coats did make for really great full coverage glitter, and i totally love the color. the only thing i dont really like is the super rough texture, it really needs a topcoat, which i dont happen to have. it also chips off in big chunks, but thats really more my fault than the polish, im REALLY hard on my nails, so no manicure (except the one time i got a really, really expensive gel manicure for my birthday) ever lasts more than two days, so im not complaining. i LOVE it on my toes though, it may be my favorite for the summer. 

im thinking this might be a new regular feature, the little treats i find. 

anyways, stay tuned for next week when i share a new craft tutorial!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

my hair.

im sure youve put it together that my hair is not naturally bleach blonde. in fact, its quite the opposite. i havent actually seen more than an inch of it in almost a decade, but given that as a child my hair was dark brown, and hair color typically darkens with age, my best guess is that my natural color is somewhere just north of... black. 

now i know that youre supposed to re-touch your color ever 6 weeks or 1/2 inch to avoid visible roots, but honestly i dont think that rule really applies when your hair color is this obviously fake. i mean, im not trying to fool anyone into thinking that my hair anything other than fake, and i completely use this as an excuse to stretch re-touches as far as i possibly can. personally i like to have at least an inch of regrowth before i even bother with the roots, but my hair is really thick and grows on the faster side, so i can only  get away with putting it off for two and a half months maybe three. 

anyways, i know its time to do my roots when my mom says "victoria its time for me to do your roots", because, its my mom that does my hair. at home. its what weve always done. with the exception of the few months that i worked as a salon receptionist, ive had my color done at a salon exactly once. 

coloring hair at home isnt nearly as difficult or dangerous as its made out to be and when done correctly it can save you A LOT of money, HOWEVER, you do need to do A LOT of homework and learn about how the different chemicals react to each other and why. honestly if you think youre going to go to rite aid and pick a box of clairol dye thats even a little different than your existing color and have it come out exactly like the picture on the box you are most likely going to be disappointed. at the same time, going to a stylist doesnt necessarily guarantee perfect results either, since not all stylists specialize in all kinds of color processes (and no stylist would ever admit that). 

after years and years of trial and error (and my brief stint at beauty school) my mom and i have formed a tidy little method for doing my roots, and i thought id talk about how we do it, but before that i have to give a big fat disclaimer:

*my mom and i are not professionals. this is not a tutorial with any kind of guaranteed results for anyone other than me. this is what WE do and it works for ME, thats all. these ARE professional products that CAN be super damaging to the hair even if used correctly. technically, what we do is SUPER risky and ive even had stylists tell me that i shouldnt be able to do this.*

with that out of the way, these are the products i use:

im not particularly loyal to any particular brands, i just buy whats on sale at sallys, but i always use powder bleach and 40 volume creme developer (when i was in beauty school i used 50 volume). the bleach comes in a one pound tub and is usually somewhere around $20, but theres usually at least one brand on sale for as low as $15 (this loreal is usually around $30, but it was on sale for half price, and so far its my favorite). the developer comes in a clear liquid and a creme, and even though they do exactly the same thing, i prefer the consistency of the creme, and is about $6 (sometimes on sale for $4.99) for a 32 oz bottle. 

the bleach powder usually lasts me well over a year for root touch ups, and the developer not quite as long, so they never run out at the same time. but hypothetically even if i had to buy both at regular price, id be out the door for less than $30 with enough product to last  the ENTIRE YEAR, as opposed to paying a minimum of $40 + tip four or five times a year (and thats if i went to like, fantastic sams. a real salon would be more like $60+, and this type of bleaching isnt really popular anymore, so not a lot of stylists even know how to do it right). really, if i wasnt able to color my hair at home, i WOULD NOT be able to afford it, $30 a year i can do, $40-60 every few months? at this point i cant even IMAGINE how much money youd have to have to be able to do that. 

anyways, the bleach and developer get mixed into a paste:

and carefully applied to the roots only. lots of people believe the myth that bleaching COMPLETELY ruins your hair, and while that certainly can happen, the real culprit isnt the bleach itself, but the re-bleaching of already bleached hair. once its all on, the ammonia in the bleach needs time to oxidize and "lift" the color out. since im going for maximum lift (in stylist speak, im going from a 2 to a 10), i leave it on until the bleach stops reacting completely, about 20 minutes, which is entirely too long to walk around looking like this:

once thats done, i just rinse the bleach out (though i always miss some, no big deal), condition REALLY well, blow dry, and ta-da! no more roots:

its kind of a lengthy ordeal (about two hours start to finish), so im always REALLY glad to have it done so i can go back to avoiding it for the next three months. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

free family fun. bluth frozen bananas.

if i were to pick a very worst thing about living in prescott (other than everything), it was that if you wanted to do anything fun that wasnt shopping for antiques, you had to go to phoenix. and phoenix is REALLY far away from prescott so that instantly made any fun thing super expensive and an all day thing. and im just so not an all day thing kind of lady. so we never did anything fun. seriously, we went to phoenix like, twice the entire time we lived there (well, james went a bunch of times with his friends but thats an entirely different story). 

anyways, if i were to pick a very BEST thing about being back in la, its the overabundance of cheap and free things to do, right in our own town. so we can totally do something fun and do other things in the same day. or you know, just go home and take a nap because outings with a toddler are exhausting. 

so sunday night i found out that the bluth frozen banana stand (a netflix-sponsored promotional gimmick for the new season of arrested development) was going to be in downtown culver city from noon till seven on monday (yesterday). i was really REALLY stoked about this, because 1. james wasnt working and we needed to get out of the house, 2. culver city is really close (only about 20-30 minutes, including traffic and parking), and 3. arrested development is one of exactly two tv shows that i even care about (the other one is bones). i had heard that at the other stops, the lines got REALLY long, and the cast appearances were kind of random and only announced last minute on twitter (not that i cared about that part, i was just glad i knew not to count on it), so i figured the best plan would be to get there around when it opened, and pack a light lunch just in case we had to wait a long time (and also just in case i got hungry, because i am ALWAYS hungry these days). so i had my perfect plan in place, lunch packed, and looking at the map i noticed the banana stand was going to be right in the only part of culver city ive ever been to and i knew where i could get two hours free parking. awesome. free bananas, free parking, what could possibly go wrong?

well to start, i forgot our lunch. but i only got a little bit upset and we went on to have a great time at the banana stand, where alice tried to do her best winking eye alcohol suggestion:

they were also handing out "mr manager" nametag stickers, but alice wasnt that into it and took hers off after just a few minutes. since we got there faster than id anticipated, we actually got there right before it officially opened and didnt have to wait at all, so not having lunch with us ended up not being a problem. after getting our bananas we walked over to a little park across the street to eat them:

after a few minutes i started to get hungry again and decided it was time to go home, and as we started walking back to the car i realized with horror that i had lost our ticket for the parking garage. which meant wed have to pay EIGHT DOLLARS for an hour and a half of parking that was supposed to be free. and i started flipping out. because my stupid easily avoidable mistake COMPLETELY ruined my perfect easy free outing. and i was starving. and james kept telling me to calm down and get over it because it wasnt important. and i got even more upset because he couldnt see that this was important to me. and did i mention that i was absolutely STARVING at the time? so our easy, fun morning dissolved into a very angry and bitter afternoon because apparently i didnt learn my lesson after the benihana incident

i realize now that i was entirely wrong about the whole thing, and i think james forgives me. but what i didnt get to explain was that having to pay for parking nearly depleted my little secret cash hoard, and since i recently had to return a couple things, i finally had enough for a treat, and i really wanted to go to taco tuesday tonight because we REALLY needed a dinner out. but james was sick today so we couldnt have gone this week anyway, so i guess it doesnt matter as much as i thought it did. 

it never does. im just really really unreasonably uptight. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

sunday sweets. my first gluten free baking venture.

today i made the executive decision that sunday nights would always involve a special dessert, because, well im the mom and i say so. my mom bought me some of this gluten free baking mix from fresh and easy:

one of the things it makes is chocolate chip cookies, and the other day i managed to find some ice cream that didnt have anything im allergic to in it on clearance at vons (i have to be really careful about ice creams since a lot of the cheaper ones have corn syrup), so i decided on ice cream sandwiches. 

i was really skeptical about this mix, especially when i finished the dough and it looked kind of weird:

the instructions said to roll the dough into one inch balls, but that didnt seem big enough, especially since i was planning on making them into ice cream sandwiches, so i made them a bit bigger. little did i know that these cookies spread a TON and my inch-and-a-half balls turned into nearly four inch cookies:

i think i accidentally overcooked them a bit, they were thin and VERY crispy, not bad, just not really my favorite kind of cookie. they made excellent ice cream sandwiches though:

were the cookies great? not really. would i buy this mix again? probably not. was gluten free baking as horrible as i thought it would be? not at all, i just have to find some new things to try. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

finding a new routine. also a broccoli soup recipe.

its been a couple weeks now since i was diagnosed with celiac disease, as well as several other very inconvenient food allergies (in case you missed that, you can read more about it here), and im still completely overwhelmed with information. i mean, i really do appreciate that everyone at church has some kind of advice about what they think i should do or eat, but to be completely honest i have so much information coming in i cant even process it. there are just so many things to consider, and since i feel like absolute crap most of the time (though after a week and a half of no gluten, i do occasionally feel ok for an hour or two, not great, but just ok), i just cant even focus. 

i keep reminding myself that my FIRST priority, before trying new recipes or mixing a fifty pound bucket of gluten free flour or going on a juice fast or purging the pantry, is figuring out how to make my new dietary changes work with our meal plans, shopping routine, and most importantly, grocery budget. so as far as what i need to deal with right now, ive got four main concerns:
1. i REALLY LIKE what weve currently got going on in that department (you can read more about it here).
2. i am NOT going to spend all my time running around to every specialty grocery store in town to get one or two things every week (especially since lately alice has been, shall we say, hit or miss at stores). 
3.i also refuse to settle with either extreme of cooking a complete separate meal just for myself every time we eat, or putting ALL of us on a gluten free diet (especially when theres no celiac involved). 
4. and that $50 a week grocery budget? that needs to stay, im not doing that for fun or to have some kind of "extra money", thats all we can realistically do for groceries. 

so ive started out slow, keeping most of my orginal plan intact, just focusing the meal plan around meals that were either already allergen-free, or only needed a small change (i was surprised at how many there were, ill be posting more recipes soon), and keeping my key "special" purchases (bulk cashews, gluten free bread, etc.) to a minimum each week. to avoid running all over town for just one thing, ive been shopping at sprouts on "double ad wednesday" when more things are on sale, and getting all our produce there as well (it can be significantly cheaper than at vons, it just wasnt really worth the effort to go to both stores every week). this has worked out pretty well so far, its not that inconvenient, and since im able to get our produce at a better price, weve only been a few dollars over budget each week (which could have totally been avoided if i hadnt been so liberal with the treats).

ive also been poking around the internet looking for some new recipes, but its been a little frustrating, because for most of the internet "gluten free" is synonymous with "super ridiculously overzealously healthy and requiring $30 of ingredients (mostly kale) and have no calories or carbs or fat or flavor", and that is not at all what i need. i need real food, tasty food, preferably with LOTS of calories and carbs and fat and most importantly flavor. so ive been mostly focusing on recipes that are coincidently gluten free. then i was reading my friend karolinas blog, and she had posted this recipe for an asparagus soup, and it sounded SO GOOD, but asparagus wasnt on sale and i dont have quite as many dietary restrictions as she does, so i modified it into this broccoli cheese soup:

broccoli cheese soup
serves four

1/2 a large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
a few tablespoons of olive oil
2 quarts stock (or water and boullion, i like better than boullion vegetable base, but it has soy sauce in it so ill need to find a new one)
2 medium sized broccoli crowns, chopped into florets (or about 3 cups chopped broccoli)
2 large russet potatoes 
salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
1 cup milk (half and half or cream would have been better but all we had was whole milk)
shredded cheese for garnish (we had some cheddar and an "italian blend")

start by finely chopping the onion and garlic and in a soup pot, sauté them in olive oil until the onions begin to caramelize. peel and chop the potatoes, chop the broccoli and add them to the pot, followed by the stock, salt, pepper, and herbs. bring soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fully cooked, about 10-15 minutes. once the potatoes are cooked, adjust the seasonings if necessary and add the milk. entirely optional: partially blend the veggies in a blender with a little bit of broth and return to the rest of the soup (make sure to leave the center cap of the blender off and cover with a paper towel or the steam will pop the lid off). garnish with cheese and enjoy!

 this recipe makes kind of a lot of soup, it was enough for two dinners for us, though it seems like it would freeze nicely so next time i make it i think ill double the recipe and save half for another day. 

this soup was pretty much the highlight of a week that was really, well, blah. on the bright side, alice has totally picked up on me not feeling well and wanted to spend all yesterday morning (till nearly 11! ) in my bed with me reading books and playing ponies. it was pretty dang cute. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

some big milestones this week.

as of today we are in the middle of may, and somehow this week marks THREE fairly significant milestones for us. well, two are pretty big and one is kind of trivial, so i suppose ill start with that one:

its been an entire year since ive had a haircut. of any kind. heres the most recent picture i have with my hair down:

i think i may have mentioned this before, but my hair is literally the longest its ever been in my entire life. this is partly on purpose (i got a REALLY bad drastic haircut when i was 19), partly because i just cant let myself justify the expense (the only stylist i know i trust is kind of expensive, and when the choice is haircut or week of groceries, im going to choose groceries), and mostly because im really, really forgetful when it comes to my hair. usually i dont even notice that i need a haircut until about six months after i actually need a haircut.

 i know youre probably wondering something like, "if youre as forgetful about your hair as you claim to be, then how the heck do you remember exactly when your last haircut was?", and you would be right to do so. i only remember that its been exactly a year since my last haircut because i remembered that the last time i got a haircut was right after we moved into our apartment, and (as of tomorrow), we have lived in our apartment for an entire year! this is a pretty huge deal because its (by an entire month) the longest that weve ever lived in one place. and honestly, its the first place weve lived that felt even a little bit like "home".

now something you may not know about us (at least, i dont think ive mentioned it here before), is that the three of us live in a one bedroom apartment, in a not so great building, with NO patio, garage, or outside storage of any kind. im not complaining, we had exactly a week to find a place, and weve made it work for us. its just, even after spending an entire year purging unnecessary belongings, its still crowded, cluttered, and ugly. i mean, we dont have people over except our very best friends because im kind of embarrassed about it. 

living in prescott i developed a HUGE complex about our home and having people over. see, i thought james and i got married pretty young (20 and 23, respectively), but that was old compared to all the married people we knew in prescott (all except one woman i knew was already married by age 19). so the majority of couples we knew were only a couple years older than us, but OWNED big beautiful sparkling clean houses, full of all brand new matching everything and giant tvs and had ipads and went on vacation at least once a month and were always talking about all the new clothes they just bought. ALL while having two toddlers. this is not an exaggeration! 

so there i was, newly married, living in a dumpy little duplex with our belongings consisting of: our sparse collection of things we owned before we got married, a handful of nice things that were all wedding gifts, and a TON of junk. not to mention we were beyond broke and were scrambling just to pay rent, let alone buy groceries, heck we STILL dont have any vacations of new clothes to talk about. so as you can see i had a really, REALLY hard time trying to make friends. i mean, how could i let these women with such beautiful perfect lives see the squalor we lived in? so we never, EVER invited people over. not that anyone really wanted to hang out with us anyways. 

all that to say that my entire adult life ive been embarrassed to let anyone see the inside of my house. but after a year of living in one place, i finally feel settled enough to share the progress weve made in our teeny little apartment. i would first like to note though, that i did NOT stage (ok, i vacuumed and put some things that belonged in the bedroom away) or edit these photos (except for adjusting the exposure a bit), so as to convey exactly how small, crowded, and poorly lit our living area is. i would also like to add that this is very, very much outside of my comfort zone. 

so heres the room from one corner:

i suppose this is our main "entertainment area" where we keep the tv and playstation on our super awesome vintage stereo. i really REALLY hope that we can have a place where it can be shown off and not shoved in the corner sometime soon. ive worked really hard this year to get rid of the pile of boxes under the bar, and theres just some stuff (like photo albums, our file box, and collection of videogame consoles) that we just HAVE to save for when we bigger place so ive just resigned to that area being forever ugly. 

anyways, heres the view from the opposite corner, in the nursery/office area:

 which i decided was too flattering of an angle so i re-took it so as not to deceive you as to how small of a space it actually is (note the brown chair). basically everything alice owns HAS to fit in that little white cubby thing and changing table, so i am forever telling family and friends not to buy alice toys, ever. and i only feel horribly guilty about it. but now its here on the internet that im not lying to deprive alice of toys, she literally has about four square feet of toy space, and its overflowing. 

behind the couch we have a few pieces of art that james hung up, and i think its pretty cute (decorating is SO not my thing):

and heres the view from the couch, where you can see our entire kitchen, i should note that its only about three feet deep (see why i dont post step-by-step photos with my recipes?). behind the black bookshelf is the pantry, and to the left of the fridge is our two-person dining table, and beyond that is the doorway to the bedroom and bathroom. 

now im not at all good with change, and it takes me a REALLY long time to adjust and adapt, so im really really thankful to have finally lived in one place long enough to FINALLY feel comfortable and at ease in my own home. 

the last milestone is a really emotionally tough one for me, so im not going to talk much about it (though one day ill tell you the whole story, i guess its pretty entertaining), but it is really important that i acknowledge it: in a few days we will have lived here in california longer than we lived in arizona. if you havent guessed by now, living in arizona was a REALLY bad experience for me, almost everything, our jobs, our financial situation, our living situations, our church, our (lack of) friends, was just, bad. i mean, we got some really nice vintage furnishings that wed NEVER be able to afford in la, and i got to have alice at a REALLY nice hospital, so not everything was bad, but it is SUCH a huge emotional relief to finally get to the point where thats no longer MOST of our marriage. prescott held such a heavy burden over us (ok, mostly just me) for so long, and for the first time it feels like were starting to escape it and really start making our new life happen. 

i suppose ill just leave it at that. stay tuned for next time where i lighten things up and show you how to make some soup!

Monday, May 13, 2013

school week.

this week is kind of a weird week here at the meyers house. its school week. i realize that last sentence probably doesnt make any sense to most people so let me do a little bit of explaining. this is my husband james:

not even six months after relocating back to california and completely starting our lives over from scratch (ill tell you more about that later), james got a really really fantastic job as a carpenter with a company that builds wood athletic floors. and its not just any job, its a union job. on the one hand this is super awesome (i mean, we have real health insurance for the first time ever), but on the other hand, the union has a way of making a fairly straightforward job incredibly complicated. enter school week. 

the short explanation goes like this: the carpenters union has what they call an "apprenticeship program", which means that new hires (like james) start at the very bottom of the pay scale, and after every 400 hours worked, they have to attend a mandatory, unpaid, 40 hour week of classes about carpentry to earn credits which then accumulate to earn their promotions (and therefore raises). this cycle repeats over and over through 8 levels of apprenticeship to become a journeyman. this is supposed to take around three years. 

basically what this means for us is that if we commit to around three years of poverty (remember, james started at the bottom of the pay scale) and inconvenience (since when you go to school is determined by hours worked, theres really no telling when it will happen and its always a bad time), we wont have to be poor forever because one day james will be a journeyman and then we can do middle class things like live in a real house and buy a new car and go on vacations and shop at trader joes. at least, thats what i tell myself. 

the biggest issue with school week though (aside from being mandatory and somewhat random, and no, you cant reschedule without VERY good reason) is that its from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm and all the way in whittier. and we only have one car and i cant be stranded at home without it all day so i have to drop him off and pick him up.  now according to google maps whittier is only like 24 miles away but for some reason the traffic is always horrendous and it takes over an hour each way (except at 5:30 when i drop him off). this means that for five days im spending almost half the day in the car since theres not really anything to do for eight hours with a one year old in whittier. 

thats what i had intended to write about this week, how horribly inconvenient school week is and how i have to cancel all plans and appointments and work for the entire week to be tired and cranky and get a muscle spasm in my back from driving too much (not to mention the extra tank and a half of gas and missing paycheck). but thankfully that didnt happen this time. james got assigned school the same week as one of his coworkers that lives nearby and he was willing to carpool. so this week is only a little bit weird, and thats a huge relief, because i have stuff to do, you know?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

the downtown torrance marketplace.

in case you missed my last post, this week i had to implement some rather extreme dietary changes, and as such, im not doing so well. im on day THREE of gluten free and i feel terrible. not to get overly dramatic, but everything hurts, im starving most of the time, and worst of all, ive got a major mental fog thats keeping me from focusing on ANYTHING for more than a minute or so. i seriously spent most of yesterday on the couch. today we were supposed to go to the renaissance fair, but as you can imagine, that was NOT happening today. we actually had a really mellow day since my dad offered to take alice out, which was great since alice is REALLY losing patience with being at home and me not feeling well.

anyways, i vaguely remember planning out my blog posts for the week before this all happened, but i didnt write it down so its all gone. well not all of it, thankfully. thursday we went to the downtown torrance marketplace because some friends of ours had a booth this week, and i took pictures of it, so i definitely intended on writing about it. its a small little event, every thursday from 3-8 in the cute little neighborhood of old torrance. its a small event, and features some (not always great) live music, but we wanted to see our friends, and i desperately needed a distraction from how terrible i felt. 

my sisters friends meg and sophia made a sweet little booth of super cute accessories, like these sweet little headbands:

i especially loved these dainty little earrings: 

i was SO impressed with how professional their booth setup was. i spent over FOUR YEARS vending at craft fairs and these two tweens (theyre friends with my 11 year old sister) put even my best booth to shame. these girls are so good. like, now im embarrassed to ever let anyone see pictures of my past craft fair booths. 

our friend neal, of basic stuff vintage, was also there selling vintage clothes, cameras and decor type things:

i really wanted that little white tray and some wine crates:

but our apartment is seriously about to hit critical mass, so all we got was a cute brown sweater for james. 

while alice didnt exactly enjoy the shopping part, but she did have a great time running around with her aunt marley (and her pony. she didnt want to carry it with her hands so james put it in her jacket and she just went with it). her and pony enjoyed some ice water:

and learned how to longboard:

and then we went home. stay tuned for next week, ive got some really fun posts planned (and written down)!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

a change of plans.

about two weeks ago i had a food allergy skin test of all the foods. if youve never had it done before, its a pretty interesting process; food extracts are pricked into the skin and watched for twenty minutes before being measured. it looks like this:

its actually not that unpleasant. really the sitting perfectly still for twenty minutes was the worst part. well, and i got sick for three days afterward, but that was because i was allergic to 14 of the 60 things. soy, wheat, peanut, walnut, chicken, oat, almond, hazelnut, sesame seed, navy bean, pea, celery, cantaloupe and watermelon. some of these i could really care less about, like watermelon and chicken. now i dont know if youve noticed from my previous recipe posts, but carbs, especially the wheat kind are kind of a HUGE part of my diet. and by that i mean is most of my diet is wheat based. like, ive been known to eat an entire loaf of bread, just for fun. 

i got a phone call from the doctors office today confirming that i do, in fact, have celiac disease, which basically means that gluten (from wheat products) wreaks all kinds of havoc inside my body, and is probably responsible for all my (many) other health problems. so no more wheat for me. in addition to all of these allergies, ive also had issues with foods that have eggs or certain kinds of dairy. so my options at this point are REALLY slim. did i mention were on an INSANELY tight budget right now? what about my tidy little meal planning and shopping routine? i need to gain ten pounds, how is that going to happen now?

i have no idea what to eat. i like to think of myself as a pretty creative person (i mean, i did attend art school), but i just cant even begin to sort out what this means for me, and more importantly, for my family. every time i try, i just get so overwhelmed and cant even focus (this would probably be a good time to mention that i didnt finish art school). 

i dont know. im just going to have to figure this out piece by piece. i still have more doctor appointments, i have A LOT of research to do, i have to take it one step at a time. ive made a tiny bit of progress, i bought some (ridiculously expensive) cashew butter and gluten free bread, and i learned how to make plain vegetables less depressing by roasting them:

tonight i made broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, just plopped them on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil, added some salt and pepper and baked at 400 for about half an hour. it was really easy, cheap, and yummy (the broccoli kind of tastes like truffles!), so i suppose this will be a new staple of ours. 

well just have to see how this goes.