Wednesday, July 31, 2013

more new foods. cookies, crackers, and mac and cheese.

my original plan this week was to do one small blog post every day about the new foods ive been trying, but this was really one of those ideas that worked much better on paper than in real life. first of all, the commitment to post everyday was a bit much, especially when this is my first week trying to get back into our normal chore routine, and second, only the pizza mix had much of a story to go with it, and i noticed that didnt really have enough to say about each of the other foods to really justify spending the whole week on individual posts. so heres what ive been snacking on lately:

1. jovial gluten free chocolate cream filled cookies:

as you can see, these were in the clearance section at vons, but this is probably the only gluten free cookie ive seen with a price that isnt horrible, especially since the cookies are separately wrapped so they wont all go stale. i wouldnt say these cookies are bad, the buttercream icing inside is good, but they are pretty dry and crumbly and MUCH better crumbled over ice cream than eaten as a cookie. they also seem to go on sale a lot, so they might be a good thing to keep in the pantry for when i need an emergency treat. 

2. schar table crackers:

honestly the sticker price ($6.50 per package) and the fact that "table" is probably my least favorite type of cracker probably would have kept me from ever trying these. also the only other gluten free cracker ive had is the really dry and powdery communion crackers at church so i wasnt exactly hopeful.  but again, at half price it seemed worth a shot. i mean, i really need to branch out if im going to avoid going absolutely insane on this diet. so far ive had them as a snack with some cheese, and theyre pretty good. then i had them for lunch with some tuna salad on top:

and well, they dont hold up so well for dipping into things. they went great with the tuna, i just had to carefully spoon bites of tuna onto each cracker. but like the cookies, they also come packaged in individual servings, which is really nice because i definitely dont want to have to eat an entire box of crackers all at once. 

and last but not least, 

3. annies homegrown rice shells with creamy white cheddar:

this stuff is fantastic. boxed macaroni and cheese is probably my number one guilty pleasure, and this tastes exactly like the real thing. mainly because its just the normal powdered cheese mix with white rice pasta instead of wheat. so far this is the only gluten free product that id be willing to buy at full price. my only complaint at all is that the box is too small. i seriously did NOT want to stop eating this. ever. 

 seriously i cant get over how much i love this. if you know me at all you know that im not exactly adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, so im really glad this experiment has turned out at least one success. 

p.s. my birthdays coming up, and amazon sells this in cases of 24. just saying...

Monday, July 29, 2013

new foods. my first attempt at gluten-free pizza.

just like any other human worth talking to, i really, really love pizza (you can read more about my love of pizza here). unfortunately, since being diagnosed with celiac disease, the only pizza ive had since april has been eggplant pizza. now not that theres anything wrong with eggplant pizza, its just that sometimes i get really bummed out that i cant just go over to little ceasars and eat an entire $5 pizza by myself (something i did somewhat regularly while pregnant with alice). so obviously i was pretty stoked when i saw this in the clearance bin at vons a couple weeks ago:

i dont know if you can see it in the picture, but the regular price for this mix is $6.99, which normally is WAAY out of our reach for a single ingredient, but that was a particularly light week grocery-wise, so i figured i could spare $3.50 to FINALLY GET TO EAT SOME REAL PIZZA. unfortunately this was right before our apartment flooded and i had to wait until last night to try it out. 

now upon closer inspection of the bag, the instructions looked really weird and it seemed to require way too m any extra ingredients for a mix, but if theres one thing ive learned about gluten free baking, its that its always super weird and you just have to trust the instructions.  which i did, but despite following every single step to the letter, this dough was BY FAR the most unpleasant baking experience ive ever had. first off there was having to deal with the multitude of extra ingredients and blending them into the mix in the correct order (which is a real pain since im used to making dough out of just flour, yeast, and water), but that was nothing compared to the "dough" itself. 

i put the word "dough" in quotes because this mix doesnt actually make a pizza dough, but rather an extremely sticky and weird pizza batter, the consistency of which i would describe as something like merengue, but if you had tried to make merengue out of glue. this weird gluey mess then had to be dumped directly onto a (very well greased) pizza pan and oh so gently rolled flat into a pizza-sized circle. i followed the "thick crust" directions partly because we only have one pizza pan, but also because i knew that gluten free people tend to grossly exaggerate the breadiness of their products, and im glad i did, because apparently "16 inch thick crust pizza" means a 16 inch circle of pizza dough barely a quarter inch thick. 

anyways, i pushed through and parbaked the crust before adding the sauce, cheese and artichoke hearts and very impatiently awaited the moment of truth. while it was in the oven the second time i really started to worry about how this was going to turn out and how upset i was going to be if it turned out bad because it had used up the last of our cheese and i didnt have anything to serve as a replacement dinner. but much to my surprise, the pizza came out of the oven looking totally normal:

and tasting almost exactly like when something goes wrong with the normal pizza dough and its all flat and flaky and kind of chewy. which, given that i havent had pizza in a completely ungodly amount of time, was good enough for me. i definitely dont think this will be going on our regular rotation, but ill definitely keep it in mind for birthdays and special occasions. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

sunday sweets. chocolate chip cookies.

 this whole soap opera ordeal with our apartment has left me feeling really poopy. despite giving myself the week off from my normal chore routine, spending an entire week moving, cleaning, organizing, and trying to contain a (suddenly very disobedient) toddler, i was very excited to have a quiet, lazy weekend (though weve still got a ways to go in getting the house back together). 

yesterday i had to work for a few hours finishing a sample, and shortly after i got home my sister picked up alice for an adventure, so in the afternoon i got to take a much needed very long nap, after which we had dinner at my moms house, followed by shakespeare by the sea at wilson park:

if youre not familiar with it, shakespeare by the sea puts on a free tour of two of shakespeares plays in parks and such every summer in the la area. i think its a great time, but alice wasnt so into it:

then today after church we went home and did nothing. until it was time to make dinner, when i made a very large and delicious pizza to stuff our faces with. then after that i made cookies. it was great. exactly what i needed. now im all stuffed and sleepy, but before i go to bed i wanted to take a minute and talk about the cookies i made, since its been a long time since ive gotten to do a sunday dessert post. the other day my mom found this pre-made cookie dough at the 99 cent store:

pilsbury. gluten free. cookie dough. seriously. when my mom told me what she found (this, as well as gluten free bagel chips AND udis bread!), i immediately stopped what i was doing and drove all the way to that location (which is actually really far from my house) to buy all of it. and im SO glad i did. i mean, take a look at these totally normal-looking, slightly puffy chocolate chip cookies:

they taste totally awesome. JUST LIKE REAL COOKIES AND NOT GLUTEN-FREE TASTING AT ALL. yes, i realize that i was yelling, but this is kind of a big deal. they even made ice cream sandwiches without falling apart into a million pieces! but seriously, this is by far the best gluten free substitute product ive tried AND it was only 99 cents for a container that made a dozen medium-sized cookies. im going to be really, really sad when i run out. maybe i will have to start frequenting the 99 cent store in case they get some more. 

in related news, remember when i mentioned earlier how i had a bunch of fun posts planned for the week we were gone (at least, i think i mentioned it...)? well the reason for that was that ive been having REALLY good luck with finding new gluten free treats, and i wanted to share my thoughts on them with you. the thing is the list is getting pretty long and ive still got a lot  to catch up on in real life, so this coming week is going to be all about the new foods ive been trying and not much else. 

stay tuned and ill be back to my regular programming next week, but in the mean time ill be posting a lot of product reviews, which should still be fun too. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

a fancy outfit for a fancy party.

my middle sister, emily, turned 19 last week and celebrated with a "fancy dessert party" saturday night. and by "fancy dessert party" she meant that everyone was supposed to dress fancy and come over to my moms house for a dessert bar. obviously i was super excited about this because, first of all, dessert bar (and not just any desserts, made by my mom desserts), and second of all i havent exactly had much opportunity for dressing fancy lately with it being summer and us being broke and all. i probably spent the entire week brainstorming outfit ideas, and heres what i wore to the party:

dress: hand-me-down, tights: cotton on, shoes: aldo (purchased at wasteland melrose),  necklace: vintage, bracelet: tiffany, glasses: zenni optical

so this dress. it was in my sisters closet. with the tags still on it. when she gave it to me, i started giving her a hard time about buying clothes and not wearing them, and apparently this dress was given to her by someone else. this dress. this totally super cute and flattering and comfortable and all around awesome (ok, maybe the fabrics a little thin and it needs a slip, but every girl has a million slips, right? or is that just me?) dress was just sitting around in peoples closets not getting worn. how sad is that? needless to say, i was more than happy to take it off her hands and give it a loving and appreciative home. 

but seriously, i cant get over how much i love this dress, especially the teeny little pleats in the skirt:

and how the lace overlay on the bodice went perfectly with my vintage pearl necklace (which i scored at the torrance antique fair for $3):

i also wore heels. which is a pretty huge deal because ive only worn heels like two or three times since alice was born. but lately ive been reading a lot of blogs by other moms with toddlers and ive been seeing a lot of outfit posts with fancy dresses and heels. heck, emily at the freckled fox is a million weeks pregnant still wearing heels all the time so if she can do it so can i. 

and i did:

it actually wasnt bad at all. honestly im not even sure what i was trying to avoid by wearing flats all the time but i think now ill probably start wearing heels more often. these are actually the "real" shoes that i bought for my wedding. i was really sad that i didnt get to wear them then because they looked SO cute with my 20s style lace dress, but my "aisle" was a steep stone pathway and i was REALLY sick the week before my wedding so i could barely even stand up straight in the flats i ended up wearing. anyways, im glad that i still have them and get to wear them now, because i probably would never have bought shoes this nice under any other circumstances. 

now, since my mom is far too modest to show off her amazing parties herself, i also thought id share a few photos of all the wonderful decorations and desserts that she made for the party so that everyone out there can see how great she is.

like this super sweet paper bunting:

and wine bottle centerpieces:

heres the drink table (stocked with my favorite sparkling lemonade, too!):

 and the dessert table: 

which featured (from left to right) cookies, mini apple pies, cake pops, chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes, mini peach cobblers, chocolate dipped marshmallows, peanut butter bars, and (just outside the frame) mini strawberry shortcakes. AND all of it was homemade, except the cookies, which were from diddy riese, but thats better than homemade anyway. 

and because my mom is the greatest ever, she even accommodated the guests with dietary restrictions by making vegan cupcakes (also please notice the cake stands, which she made from candlesticks and plates):

 and gluten-free apple pies:

probably the best dessert of the night (even though i couldnt eat it) was the make-your-own ice cream sandwich and milkshake station: 

because diddy riese cookies (if youre not from the la area, diddy riese is a bakery near ucla that has THE BEST cookies EVER):

i actually didnt really take any pictures of people at the party, but thats because my sisters boss set up a super amazing photo booth. i mean SERIOUSLY: 

does my family know how to party or what?

happy birthday emily! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

studio dinners. a lesson in flexibility.

if you dont know me in real life, i feel like i should tell you that im a little OCD and have a tendency to be kind of uptight. and if you do know me in real life you know that what i said was so much of an understatement that it was pretty much an outright lie. i feel like most of the time i do a really good job at hiding this particular flaw of mine (unless, of course youve been in the car with me when ive gotten lost or forgotten something) by doing my best to channel it into something productive. like to-do lists. and schedules. and groceries. 

and if you havent noticed, weve had a rather, well unusual couple weeks (read more here and  here) and this has been a bit more of a challenge than usual. especially in the food department. see, i make my weekly meal plan and buy our groceries on wednesdays, and our apartment flooded on friday. meaning that meals were already planned and groceries were already purchased, and now i had to spend the week in an apartment with an even smaller and less functional kitchen without access to all the supplies id need to prepare said meals (not to mention, several of them were very labor/equipment intensive). and now i had to re-plan almost everything while still using up as much of our existing groceries as possible (especially since the studio didnt have any pantry space). honestly i was more upset about that than i was about spending nine nights sleeping on our crappy futon. 

i seriously contemplated just going to fresh & easy and getting like 700 frozen dinners and just eating those all week, but i knew i could do better than that. instead i challenged myself to make real dinners, good dinners, every night that we were home (which ended up not being that many). i had two main challenges: 1. obviously one big weekly grocery trip wasnt going to work, so i had to resign myself to going to the store  as needed for just a few things (which is terribly inefficient but i just had to get over that) and 2. the physical limitations of the studio kitchen meant that all meals had to use as few dishes as possible, since the sink/counter area was tiny and all dishes had to be washed and dried immediately after using them. 

and now i am very, very proud to announce that i did it! i present to you, for your viewing pleasure, our "real dinners" for the week:

hash brown potatoes with vegetarian chili

salmon with rice and roasted broccoli

mini pizzas with yellow squash

tuna melts with roasted broccoli

so it turns out, the world will not fall apart if i have to re-arrange my meal plan a bit and skip the grocery schedule for a week. who knew?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

our week in review. and our favorite cheap date.

probably the best thing to come out of our crappy living situation last week is that we did everything in our power to be at home as little as possible, we ended up having a really fun and busy week.

saturday we got to spend some time with our arizona friends (and they were kind enough to help us move):

then monday we met my old friends from portland at the pier, where we saw a very large pelican:

and alice literally only wanted to play in front of the kite store:

(after that we went to the park and i found $20!). tuesday alice and i went to the beach, then after james got home we all went out for dinner (because that $20 was REALLY burning a hole in my pocket). wednesday alice and i went to storytime AND the park. thursday we had dinner with friends. friday we went to the beach again, because why the heck not? saturday was my sisters super fun birthday party (which was probably my moms cutest party so far, pictures coming soon):

sunday there was after-church potluck, and then monday afternoon we FINALLY started the moving process. wow, just typing all that was draining, and thats not even all the stuff we did. needless to say that yesterday we were all pretty spent, and our fridge was completely empty from me avoiding the grocery store all week, so we went out for our favorite cheap family date:

we started the night at micky finzz in redondo beach, for tacos:

if we didnt have other stuff going on most of the time id probably go there every tuesday, since dinner for the three of us (alice only eats chips and beans off our plates) comes out to only $14 AFTER tax and tip (they raised their prices recently, it used to only be $12, but i still think its pretty great). 

then we followed dinner with ice cream from handels:

because conveniently enough, single scoops are only $2 on tuesdays. and this isnt just any scoop of ice cream, its a huge scoop of super amazing homemade ice cream thats probably some of the best ice cream ive ever had. 

so thats what we did while i was gone. i wish i could say that now im going to go sleep for a few days, but unfortunately ive got work in the morning and weve still got LOTS of unpacking and organizing to do. oh well...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

and were back. sort of.

as you may have noticed (at least, i hope you noticed...), i have been absent for what feels like a very long time. this is because last friday our apartment flooded and we had to spend a grueling TEN days (as our landlord put it) "camping" in a studio apartment while they fixed the plumbing and replaced the damaged flooring (which was all of it). by the way, "camping" is a very nice but inaccurate word for what we actually did, which was trip over a giant pile of boxes while avoiding having to spend any time at home because this is what "home" looked like: 

obviously this has put me VERY behind in my blog schedule (i actually had several exciting posts planned for last week), so im going to do my very best to try and catch up now that were back in our regular apartment. but since im really supposed to be using todays naptime for cleaning and organizing i thought id just update you guys on this whole flooding situation.

first, the bad news:

1. ALL of the flooring in our apartment was flooded by a major plumbing issue that the building manager has been ignoring for a very long time.

2. management was NOT interested in fixing the long-term problem or replacing our gross flooded carpet (i feel that i should also add that they were flooded about a year ago with a previous manager who flat out REFUSED any kind of help cleaning it up, which i realize now was totally illegal).

3. as a result we had to spend a LOT of time fighting with the management to get both the plumbing and the floor taken care of.

4. and thus had to "camp" in the studio basically indefinitely while management jerked us around about what they were going to do for us and when.

and 5. i may or may not have had several major emotional meltdowns due to having my ENTIRE WEEK (and then some) of routines and meal plans all discombobulated and unorganized.

and now, the good news:

1. EVERYTHINGS FIXED!!!  well, except the bathroom sink which had to be ripped out and then got re-installed wrong but thats supposed to be taken care of today.

2. all our fighting with the management payed off. we got all new floors (that are even better than the old ones) and a discount on rent for the work we missed and the time in the studio.

3. the studio was tiny and hot and miserable and didnt have internet so we spend a lot more time out doing activities together as a family, and that was really nice (stay tuned for a post of all the fun things we did while we didnt have internet)

4. despite having my meal plan VERY MUCH interrupted, and a barely functional kitchen space, i still managed to make us some nice dinners at home (also stay tuned for a post about that).

and 5. i have come to the definitive conclusion that we own way, way, WAY too much stuff. way too much. i realized that its not our apartment thats too small, its that weve got too much stuff in it. we have three people living in a one-bedroom apartment and im still pretty sure we could do without at least half of what we have. so if anything this whole ordeal has been a BIG motivation in purging/organizing the house. also if you want to come over and see if we have anything you like, ill probably let you have it.

so that was our latest adventure, how was your week? anything crazy happen?


Sunday, July 14, 2013

hey folks, just a quick update.

im not going to be around much for a while. dont worry, it's nothing bad, and ill be back eventually, i just don't know when that will be. see, the other night our apartment flooded and we've been temporarily displaced and for the time being our internet access is somewhat sporadic. 

so regular posts have been put on hold somewhat indefinitely, and for the time being any posts that i can manage will probably be text only. or only have low quality ipad photos. just thought I'd let you know.

if youd like to stay up to date on this most ridiculous adventure (and it IS ridiculous, once its over ill tell you the whole story), the best way to do so would be by following me on twitter, my username is @povertyluxe.

and feel free to say hi, im always in the market for new twitter friends.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

rice and beans three ways.

despite the fact that i have owned a crock pot for nearly three years, i literally only use it for beans. i distinctly remember being at bed bath & beyond when we were spending our wedding giftcards, trying to figure out which appliance we were going to put back to make sure we could get a crock pot (i think it was the popcorn maker that got nixed), because it was absolutely essential that we have a crock pot. looking  back i have NO idea what my twenty year old newly married self (that, mind you, could barely make a quesadilla at that point) thought i was going to do with a crock pot that made it so important, because, like i said, i only ever use it for beans. 

but dont think that means that we dont ever use it, because we eat a lot of beans. and by a lot of beans, i mean A LOT OF BEANS. we have some kind of rice-and-beans combination for dinner at least once a week. why? because its a cheap, healthy, easy dinner that freezes well and most of the time alice will eat it. ok, sometimes alice will eat it. but thats more than i can say for most dinners these days. 

anyways, since beans are such a staple in our family, i thought id share my three favorite rice-and-bean combinations. the process for each is the same: 


soak 1 pound of dried beans in a large bowl overnight. in the morning, rinse the beans and put them in the crock pot with any other ingredients listed and cook on low for most of the day (about six hours, unless you live on top of a mountain and then its more like eight), checking every couple hours and adjusting the seasonings as necessary. if you dont have all day or forgot to soak, theres always this method, which is also fantastic. 


honestly i just use a rice cooker, following the factory directions for the rice/water ratios and adding whatever extra ingredients in the beginning. but you could also make it on the stove by combining 2 parts water with 1 part rice and seasonings in a large pot. bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. 

so here are the recipes:

black beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, salt, oregano, cilantro and bayleaf. for the rice add butter, salt and oregano. top with cheese if desired. i think this one is my favorite because its very similar to the rice and beans at wahoos, so obviously its a great accompaniment to fish tacos as well as a meal on its own. 

pinto beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, salt, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 finely chopped jalapeno, 1/2 an onion, cumin and chili powder. for the rice add butter, salt and cilantro. top with cheese if desired, or make into burritos or nachos or anything really, these pinto beans are by far the best ive ever had. (they also go REALLY great with chipotle mayonnaise, which just like the name implies, is mayonnaise mixed with canned  chipotle peppers). 

kidney beans: for the beans, add 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons creole seasoning. for the rice just add butter and salt. this would also be really good with some spicy sausage, but thats not something we usually have around the house. 

making beans at home is not only easier than it looks, its also WAY cheaper (and less wasteful) than buying canned beans. 1 pound of dried beans generally costs $1-2, and makes the equivalent of FOUR 15 oz cans of beans (which generally run anywhere from .80 to $1.50), so even if you pay the higher price for the beans youre still saving a couple bucks AND ending up with MUCH better tasting beans. 

those are my favorite bean recipes, what do you like to make with beans?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

the time i won some free shoes.

a couple weeks ago i checked my email to find out that id won a super awesome giveaway over at the dainty squid. the prize was a free pair of shoes from shoemint, and i was BEYOND stoked. i had literally JUST told james about how i really needed some nicer-than-flip-flops-but-not-exactly-fancy shoes. i mean, i have plenty of really fancy shoes for wearing to fancy dates and weddings, and plenty of comfy but not exactly attractive shoes for wearing to the park and grocery store. what i dont have enough of are the kind of middle-level shoes for wearing to church and regular restaurants. but, you know, were broke and they would have to wait for some kind of miracle (like winning a contest). 

anyways, after i got my prize credit, i was SUPER excited to find out that they had a bunch of the summer shoes on clearance for half price (summer shoes was really what i was interested in anyways, since i live at the beach and its always summer) and i could get TWO new pairs of shoes with my credit! i ended up picking our the ally in silver:

photo via shoemint

and the patricia in metallic:

photo via shoemint

both of which totally fill my current shoe needs, AND since i got a new pair of neutral flats, that meant i can finally throw out the two raggedy pairs that i only keep around for those times that i specifically need neutral flats (not that often, but often enough that i needed to have some around). i waited very, very impatiently for them to arrive, and now that ive worn them a couple times each i thought id share my thoughts on them with you:

ill start with the pros:
1. shipping was free and fast (all i had to pay for was sales tax).
2. both pairs were exactly as described online (though the ballet flats were a lot less shiny than the picture).
3. the boxes are SUPER awesome and totally reusable.
4. both pairs are very comfortable.

BUT there were a few cons:
1. they seem to run a bit small (not a big enough difference for me to return them, but just something to keep in mind).
2. shoemint doesnt seem to send a shipment notification email.
3. shoemint is actually a shoe "subscription" type site with incredibly complicated policies, and if you dont read the fine print you can get stuck with an $80 charge every month.

and lastly,
4. for the price point (retail is $80, and theyre described as being "sold at a discount"), i was really disappointed with the quality. now dont get me wrong, i am SO thankful to win these shoes and both pairs will be getting a TON of wear, its just that i had much higher expectations. in my opinion, the $40 sale price was definitely appropriate (and if you caught an additional discount they would be a steal), but if i had actually shelled out $160 for these shoes, i would have been really bummed. its not that their cheap shoes, its just that theyre definitely not luxury shoes, the soles are thin and flat and the leather of the ballet flat is a bit thinner than id like to see. but obviously since they were free this isnt exactly a relevant complaint, i just couldnt honestly recommend them as a good value at full price. 

anyways, thanks again to kaylah of the dainty squid for the wonderful giveaway! 

and if youre in the market for a new blog to read, the dainty squid is one of my very favorites, check it out:

Monday, July 8, 2013

sunday sweets. peaches and cream.

yes, i realize that im a day late with my sunday dessert post. this is because yesterday was super busy. we had church in the morning, potluck lunch after that, then our friend neal came over to take our annual family polaroid, and i completely forgot that i even had a special dessert planned. until i started cooking dinner, at which point i remembered what it was and got super excited. 

we had fresh peaches topped with homemade whipped cream. now this may not sound like a very exciting dessert to most people but its one of my favorites. last week sprouts had peaches for 49 cents a pound (!), and they were the biggest most beautiful peaches ive ever seen. the only problem is that they were still rock hard and there was no telling how long they were going to take to ripen. i miraculously remembered to check them on saturday (i have a really bad habit of forgetting about ripening fruit until its WAY too late), and they were PERFECT. i was so SO happy. 

theres not much of a recipe to this dessert, its just peaches and whipped cream, but i have spent the past few weeks fiddling with my whipped cream recipe, and since this batch was by far the best ive ever made, i thought id share that with you guys.

homemade whipped cream
(serves 3-4 as a topping)

1 cup heavy whipping cream (it has to be heavy!)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

start by chilling your mixing bowl and whisk (or beaters if youre using a hand mixer) in the freezer for at least ten minutes. once theyre all frosty combine all three ingredients and whip on your mixers highest setting, stopping immediately once it looks like whipped cream (dont wait too long or it will turn into weird, sweet butter). and thats it. 

i would seriously make this every day of peach season if i could, but i think everyone else might get sick of it. 

whats your favorite easy dessert?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

family traditions. the annual meyers family polaroid.

confession: here in the meyers household, we dont really do any of the things generally associated with the words "family tradition". its not that were trying to be cool or edgy or anything, its just that neither of us grew up in a household with a strong sense of tradition. my parents are very young and just not very sentimental, and jamess family moved a lot and had a constantly changing lifestyle. so the idea of doing things just because thats what our familys always done so thats what were going to do forever is just kind of foreign. 

that being said, there is one arbitrary family tradition that we accidentally stumbled upon. our annual family polaroid, taken by our good friend neal, in front of our front door, every year on july 7th. i say "accidentally" because the first one was taken spontaneously when neal and my sister emily came to visit us in prescott and helped us move into a completely ridiculous giant house that we could not afford (thankfully we only lived there for a few months). here it is:

this picture is actually pretty important because its one of about four pictures of me taken while i was pregnant with alice. i think i was around 25 weeks here? maybe a little more, i dont remember. i do, however remember avoiding being photographed because i didnt want to be reminded about all the time i spent as a puffy, miserable, giant, shiny, emotional whale (although in retrospect, i guess i didnt look nearly as bad as i felt at the time). 

just six months after that picture was taken, we had to pack up and move back to la, and when i was unpacking things to settle into our then-new apartment, i found the previous picture and noticed that july 7th was just a few days away, and that our polaroid camera had one more shot left in it. so we called neal over and took this one:

we had accidentally set the camera on the wrong exposure setting, and when the picture came out all blurry, i was REALLY sad that we didnt have another frame, but now i like it, because, frankly, that year was a total blur (we had a small baby, we moved twice, it took us what felt like FOREVER to get settled into stable jobs), and it really fits. 

that day we decided that neal would come over every year on july 7th to take our picture. since last year we used my last frame of expired polaroid film (that im pretty sure i bought when i was 19), the other day we went to urban outfitters for  a pack of impossible project film (even though its REALLY expensive, it was really important to me that the portraits continued to be polaroids). and heres the result:


this year was a lot more stable than last year, so the changes are more subtle. alice is bigger, my hairs longer, james has a better haircut, but were still at the same apartment, with the same jobs, and more or less the same life as last time. well have to see where next year takes us. 

do you have any odd family traditions? id love to hear about them. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

fourth of july. pancakes and social anxiety.

i hope all you nice folks and a fun fourth of july! we a pretty crazy day. since james had the day off, we started the day off with a family pancake breakfast:

i was really excited about this, i havent had pancakes in MONTHS (partly because of a mystery stomach problem and partly because of this whole gluten-free thing), and i really wanted to try a different use for this mix. i didnt have quite enough mix left for the pancake recipe on the box so i had to kind of eyeball the liquid ingredients, but they came out looking and tasting like pancakes, which is more than i can say for a lot of gluten-free products. since this mix worked pretty well for pancakes and cookies, i definitely think well keep it on hand for special occasions. 

after breakfast we went to a really great barbeque/picnic at grace carson opc (its not our regular church, but a smaller, nearby church that our congregation is helping to establish so they tend to have overlapping events). we had tons of fun, swinging on swings:

eating watermelon and other picnic treats:

playing cornhole:

and alice was OBSESSED with playing in the sprinklers:

 after the picnic we went home for a nap and a costume change (i had forgotten to bring alice a bathing suit). and after nap we headed over to the beach for another party. and it was a really, really great party, with really great music and really great food on a really great day at a really great house on the strand. seriously. heres a picture of james and alice and alices friend leona having fun on a trampoline next to the ocean:

i mean, how great is that? 

the thing is, even though this was a party of mostly church people, it was a REALLY big party, which means it was loud and crowded and me REALLY anxious and uncomfortable. ive always had problems with social anxiety, but this party was particularly tough, because well, i dont have a church clique. i dont have regular group of friends, i mostly just hang out with my family. and no matter how hard i tried to mingle and be part of conversations, i just didnt have anything relevant to contribute, so i spend most of the evening with alice, james, and my mom. it wasnt a bad time, it was just really, really difficult and stressful. 

we ended up leaving before the beach fireworks started, because we were all getting tired and we had a LONG walk back to our car. this wasnt that big of a deal since none of us is particularly into fireworks, but as we drove home we noticed that there were probably TWICE as many (giant, totally illegal, exploding-in-the-sky-type) fireworks going on in our neighborhood than at the beach, so we still got fireworks. 

over all id say this was a successful holiday, what did you do for fourth of july?