Thursday, May 29, 2014

why you should totally make your own beans (or, the return of THAT mom)


a long, long time ago, back when my blog was terrible and the pictures were always ugly, i posted some recipes for different kinds of beans. in that post i kind of touched on my reasons for using dried beans over canned, but after making the full blown switch to never buying canned beans ever a few months ago, i thought id take a few minutes to elaborate on my reasoning behind this newfound eccentricity. 

because, as youre probably expecting now if youre a regular reader, im like, "oh my gosh homemade beans are the best and i cant believe i ever bought canned beans ever and everybody needs to always make their own beans! did i mention im totally stoked on making beans?" and now everybody else within earshot is like "OMG victoria SHUT UP and just buy your beans in cans like a normal person". 

but i wont. 

and heres why: 

1. theyre cheaper. obviously youd kind of expect this, since, contrary to what the food industry/american culture/michelle obama would like you to believe, fresh whole foods are just about always cheaper than their processed/packaged counterparts. while the price difference in most cases is marginal and id argue that its really a matter of preference/quality/type of recipe (for instance, in the case of fresh broccoli vs. frozen), but with beans, the difference is drastic. a single can of beans is usually about $1-$1.50. a pound of dried beans is about the same price (most dollar stores carry dried beans, so really you shouldnt have to spend more than $1 for a pound of dried beans) and makes FOUR TIMES AS MUCH BEANS. meaning, dried beans are 75% cheaper than canned. thats pretty significant when, you know, youre poor and eat a lot of beans like us. 

2. they taste better. you know how canned beans totally taste like they came from a can? and have that weird, slimy, starchy bean water on them that you have to wash off? well, for obvious reasons, homemade beans dont. and its awesome. 

3. you can totally control how they taste. maybe this is just me being weird and picky, but sometimes even the "plain" cans of beans totally have a flavor and its usually not compatible with what youre trying to make with them. for instance, i can NOT stand if black beans have any sort of caramelly, barbequey taste (which often the canned ones do, even if theyre not "flavored"), especially since usually use black beans for tacos which is NOT an appropriate time for caramelly beans. by making my own, i can always be sure that my beans taste exactly how i want them to. 

4. on a related note, you can control the sodium content. you know how theres "low sodium" canned beans? thats because the normal canned beans are usually totally loaded with salt. on the one hand, i guess this makes them more appealing and shelf-stable, but on the other hand its not so great for blood pressure (and its probably a big contributor to complaint #3). making your own beans lets you use or less or no salt at all so that way you wont end up with a chili that tastes like heart attacks (real thing that actually happened when we first got married because i didnt realize that the beans, the broth AND the seasonings i used were all loaded with salt. it was awful). 

5. its less wasteful. ok, so if you havent picked up on it yet, im really not a big fan of doing things that create unnecessary trash. i know cans are technically recyclable but in our current living situation recyclings not an option (also, its my firm personal belief that not creating waste is FAR better for the environment than any amount of recycling), so NOT throwing away several cans of beans a week (remember, were poor), is pretty cool. plus, with no cans, theres no worrying about BPA or whatever in the can lining (is that a thing people are still worried about?).

and

6. its not even that hard. im guessing about 95% of you are thinking something along the lines of "MAKE beans? aint nobody got time for that", which i guess on a surface level does seem valid because beans DO need soaked overnight and take a few hours to cook, EXEPT that almost all of that time (except for putting the beans into the bowl to soak and then putting them in the crock pot to cook) is completely passive so its not that difficult. also, if youre not the planning-in-advance-type cook, this method is way faster (and actually easier) than the crock pot. 

as you can tell, im kind of on a big bean-making kick right now, which is totally fine with me because now my freezers filled with rows of recycled glass jars each holding exactly one-cans worth of delicious homemade beans just waiting to be eaten on nights that i dont feel like cooking. which, granted, is most nights these days. 


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

meet the sponsors: may edition.

can you believe that may's almost over? i mean really. 

obviously, i havent been around much, because, well, things have been kind of insane (but good insane!), id like to talk more about that right now, BUT now is not the time for that. 

now is the time for you to meet mays sponsor ladies! 

first up we have the ever lovely laura of side street style



We are a creative couple who are enjoying life as parents to a cool little dude. We love to travel, explore new places and the outdoors, eat good food, try new things and indulge in our passion for fashion and interiors. John is a bearded man and barber while Laura is an expat South African living in Wales. The blog is their little space on the big ol' internet, so come over and say hi


and next we have the amazing carrie ann of little big (who i still CAN NOT believe is sponsoring little old me, but thats beside the point):



Hi there, my name is Carrie Anne Castillo. I used to be a librarian, but these days I have adventures with my punk pixie of a 5-year-old, Isobel, and my newborn son, Elias. My evenings are spent in nerdy pursuits with my husband. There is nothing I love more than a questionable thrift store filled with cheap treasure, or an estate sale featuring the sign “selling entire contents of home.” I inherited a strong love of the absurd and ridiculous from my father. My husband describes my swearing as “nautical.” I am deeply irreverent.
Little Big is my daily journal about stylish, thrifted living, creative domesticity, and making the most with what you have. Here I share practical applications of thrifted living, favorite recipes, my adventures and projects, vintage thrifted inspiration, and snapshots of our daily life. It's nice to meet you.


since our theme for may is "out", our discussion question for the month is: "how do you create a memorable family outing?". heres how everybody answered: 

laura: just be open to any kind of adventure - the best memories we have are often the ones that have been unplanned. Don't take life too seriously, have fun and laugh a lot, this is usually a good recipe for any family outing.

carrie anne: What makes a family outing memorable is imagination and curiosity. Fortunately for us, they are free and we have them in abundance. For example, we were lucky enough to be invited to go sailing with my inlaws, and Isobel was really into pirates at the time, so we called the sail boat Grandpa's pirate ship and he created a treasure map for Isobel. A walk around the neighborhood or trip to the zoo  becomes a safari when we bring binoculars, a magnifying glass, and a safari hat. Someday the kids will outgrow our games, but I hope we can keep the sense of fun and adventure as they get older. 

me: Always be on the lookout for the opportunity to learn something new, youd be surprised at how interesting and educational a simple trip to the beach can be, and dont be afraid to take your time to really enjoy your outing without pressuring yourself (and everyone else) to see ALL THE THINGS. its better to soak in and enjoy half of the museum than rush through the whole thing, not learning anything and making everyone miserable. 

now that weve answered, i want to know what you think: how do YOU create memorable family outings?

(and dont forget to check out/follow laura and carrie annes blogs! you wont regret it!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

bat's day at the fun park (a family outfit post)





my outfit details: 

top: h&m
skirt: vintage
boots: hand me down
glasses: zenni optical





alices outfit details: 

top: vintage
leggings: gift 
shoes: gift (but i think they were from kohl's)



jamess outfit details:
shirt: gift 
vest: vintage
pants: h&m
shoes: vintage
pocketwatch: vintage
bow tie: handmade (by me!)

so, two thirds of the way through may, i think ive finally settled on a theme: "out". so far, may has been a great time for out. out with all our old junk (we had our first family yard sale on saturday), time out with friends and family (we were gone something like six of the last seven evenings), and now that my semester is over, lots of time for family outings (like the beach and disneyland). 

which brings us to todays topic: sunday was bats day at the fun park, and, if you know me, theme days at disneyland are my jam (i mean, dapper day, anyone?). now, obviously the three of us arent exactly involved in the goth community, so in order to not be, you know dressing in costume and effectively mocking an entire subculture, we went with a more victorian-influenced theme for our outfits. which was fairly easy for james and i because the vast majority of my clothes are black or some combination of black and white, and jamess typical fancy attire involves a vest and pocket watch anyway. we werent sure what to do with alice though. until we found that PERFECT vintage top in a random bag of orphan hand-me-downs at my moms garage sale. 

now, i had wanted to go to bats day again ever since james and i accidentally went last year (which was also on cinco de mayo, there was an interesting crowd that day), and we have ALL been waiting for my semester to end so we could have a REAL, ALL DAY disneyland day with lunch and treats and souvenirs and all that. 

which we did get, except, it was the crowdedest day ive probably ever seen in all my years of going to disneyland. were talking, going through sections of the upstairs line on the jungle cruise that i didnt even know EXISTED crowded. so there wasnt a lot of ride riding, and a big chunk of the day was spent at big thunder ranch, which i dont mind at all because its NEVER crowded and alice loves the goats and things like this happen:


it was crowded, it was hot, apparently pizza port stopped giving free refills, and my corset almost made me pull an elizabeth swan (its a real, steel boned waist training corset), but i cant say it was a bad day, because we did get the long day at disneyland weve been waiting for all semester, and somebody really needed a break from all the homework and cleaning and furniture moving:


 (obviously, that somebody is alice)


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

life lately.

its been over a year and i still havent really written a "life lately" post. i mean, its just not really the kind of thing that id really planned on doing with this blog. i guess i just always thought that id be able to stay on top of content development and post scheduling and whatnot and that youd never have to read a long rambling of my current thoughts. 

well, turns out, i thought wrong (as i often do). 

the past couple weeks haven't exactly been a time of productive writing (or researching, or planning, or crafting, or any kind of productive business activity). mainly because jamess school week, the end of my semester, and the beginning of my last homeschool co-op class all kind of converged into the same two weeks and i just didnt have any kind of mental energy to put into this blog. 

thankfully casey and jessica were so kind as to step in with some (rather lovely, i might add) guest posts, and the blog hasnt been COMPLETELY dead. 

but, since im just taking FOR.EV.ER. to recover and get back into a productivity groove, and may's editorial calendar hasnt even been STARTED yet (and were halfway through the month, epic fail), youre getting the life lately post. 

so here are a few things that have been happening/on my mind lately (in no particular order, please bear with the randomness and incongruity of this post): 

my first (ok, eleventh) semester of college is DONE and im all registered for next semester! ill be taking three classes (only seven units though), which im a little nervous about, BUT its really exciting to FINALLY actually be on my way to my dream job (which is, in case you didnt know, stay at home/homeschooling independent fashion designer). yesterday we celebrated with ice cream: 


i recently started using essential oils to treat my myriad of ailments (and poor little alices allergies that seem to last for half the year), and wouldnt you know it, theyre actually working. i dont even know how many alternative medicines ive tried over the years to no avail, and i was SURE that there was no way some little bottles of oil would actually be much help, but sometimes (actually, kind of a lot of the time) i feel like a normal person. its pretty awesome. obviously you can expect a full blog post about this soon. 

after a few months of nothing, things with my etsy shop seem to be picking back up, and now i have enough paypal money saved up to start actually planning poverty luxes first craft fair appearance (probably at the silverlake art craft and vintage, ill keep you local folks posted!). james still needs to build me some clothing racks though. 

james and alice gave me the best mothers day present ever on saturday: they went to the park so that i could have an afternoon by myself. it was lovely. as were the tacos at my moms house the next day: 


even a year later, im still struggling with my diet. for the most part ive gotten used to the gluten free thing, and recently it seems that my immune system has calmed down a bit and i can tolerate corn, nuts, and peanuts without an issue, and ive finally worked my way back up to a weight im happy with, but unfortunately it seems that in order to maintain this weight, i basically need to eat junk food ALL. THE. TIME. and well, thats starting to feel almost as bad as not being able to eat anything. so right now im torn between needing to clean up my diet and get more exercise, and being afraid that if i do that i wont be able to continue to stay at a healthy weight. 

weve lived in our current apartment for two years now, and it finally feels like home. when we moved here i had hoped and prayed that it would only be temporary, but it turns out, small spaces actually have a LOT of advantages. i will admit that its been feeling a little too cluttered and crowded lately, but thankfully my mom is having a garage sale this weekend, so were in MAJOR purge mode. and it feels great. 

i bought a plant today. if you know me at all you know that this is SO not like me. but i hate buying fresh herbs when we only need a tiny bit and the rest gets thrown away. so well see how this little mint does. and if i dont kill it, maybe well branch out to the rest of the herbs. 

i am so, so thankful that jamberry came along when it did, im in love with working from home, especially now that im back in school (also, holy not-spending-the-entire-summer-teaching-kids-classes-while-alice-goes-to-the-beach-with-my-family). today i made my second set of fast start goals (hello $100 credit!), and i am *this* close to making my second promotion (and still not far from the next one, which is the first level with a CASH promotion bonus!). i didnt think id do well with this, at all. but i am, and its awesome. 

i feel like a terrible blogger. to be completely honest i havent been reading or commenting on blogs much lately, and ive been letting my sponsorships expire and i just havent been that involved in the blog community and i feel bad. 

the time has come for some big business decisions here at poverty luxe. and by that i mean, i feel like its time to get really serious about growing this little business into something big. i scored a MAJOR discount on a lifetime handmadeology pro membership, which i plan on studying over the summer, and im also considering the new blog life ecourse from a beautiful mess (is anyone doing this, what are your thoughts? is it worth the money?). 

and lastly, it is too, too hot. it is literally hotter today in coastal southern california than it ever was when we lived in arizona (northern arizona, but still). james and alice and my sister went to the beach while i taught my color theory class, despite the fact that we went to the beach yesterday. its a rough life, i know. 



see, even alice is SO over this heat wave (i mean, what even is that face?). 

now that ive gone on and on about ME for so long, what have you been up to? what are you working on? how have you been? 

lets catch up, please. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

can we just take a minute to appreciate moms?

recently I came across an article on Facebook that absolutely infuriated me. 

now granted, this happens fairly frequently, and since Facebook does that whole thing where it shows you everything your friends like, share, and comment on, in no particular order other than what they've determine that you're most likely to click on, im not entirely sure how this article made it onto my feed.

but it did.

and while most of the time, I can let these upsetting articles pass into obscurity without comment, this one, I just can't let go. 

it was titled something along the lines of, "why I don't allow my son to celebrate Mother's Day" (im not even going to bother linking to because reading it again will just make me even more angry), it started of pleasantly enough, talking about how, as the writer put it, she does not expect or allow her son "to lavish her with expensive gifts and dinners once a year", which on the one hand i get, because that's not what life is all about, and props to you for not pushing arbitrary materialistic consumerism and unattainable expectations on your child in this one particular area. 

honestly, the article could have ended there and i would have been totally ok with it. 

but it didnt. 

she went on to a long winded, overtly academic, narcissistic, postmodernist tirade against not only mothers day, but mothers and motherhood in general. basically, this woman's entire arguement was that we should not even have a special day to celebrate mothers at all, because it's insensitive to all non-mothering women and being a mother doesn't make you any better or more valuable of a person anyway.

and this is where I have to step in and say no. 

stop. 

moms are a HUGE FREAKING DEAL. i would even go so far as to argue that moms are the most important people on earth. 

and taking a single day to acknowledge and celebrate that (cards, flowers, gifts, and dinners are really irrelevant here, we're talking about the sentiment), is the LEAST we can do. 

because moms do SO much (im talking about my own mom here), with no breaks, no pay, and very, very little recognition. and in my opinion, this is complete bs, because without moms, none of us would even exist. and because of this, we should be making a huge deal about our moms every day. 

now, I don't know anything about this woman, or her family, or her experience with motherhood/her own mother, and I REALLY don't want this post to turn into my own tirade about our cultures broad assertion that a mother is the absolute worst thing that a woman could choose or aspire to be (especially if she's young and/or chooses to stay at home, because god forbid anyone invest their time and energy into perpetuating the human race with a diverse array of quality individuals /end rant).

what really got to me about this article was the writers assertion that being a mom doesn't make you a better person. 

now, we could pretend that she was arguing that women that have procreated in the past are not inherently more valuable than other, non-procreating female humans (because on an ethical level, I'd agree with that particular statement), but I really don't think that's what she was trying to argue. because if she was, well, the topic of the article would probably have been something more along the lines of human ethics, and not how we shouldn't celebrate Mother's Day. 

she was arguing that the act of being a parent does not make you a better person, and that the 98% of people who believe this to be true (yes, she even brought in statistics) are ignorant fools. 

and this, this is just complete malarkey.

OF COURSE becoming a mom makes you a better person, or at least, it should. definitely not in the ways you'd expect, and certainly not right away or all at once, but I don't know a single mom (and I know LOTS of moms in all walks of life) that would say that being a mom doesn't make you a better person the you were before. 

because (speaking from experience here) as soon as you have a child under your care (whether biologically, or through marriage or adoption), it hits you like a ton of bricks that "holy crap. I am a HORRIBLE person and I better get my act together ASAP because I sure as heck can't justify letting another person as terrible as me live on this planet", and then you spend the whole rest of your life (slowly, clumsily, often failing along the way, but eventually) becoming the mom that this little person (or people) needs to have in order to grow up into a healthy, functioning adult (I do feel like often us moms of littles forget that this is the end goal). and amid endless diapers and sleepless nights and temper tantrums and mom-shaming about letting your kid watch Cartoon Network (real thing that happened to me) and birthday parties and all the other things that im not qualified to comment on because I only have a toddler, you do it. and it makes you a better person and it makes your kids better people and it makes the world a better place. 

and THAT is why Mother's Day NEEDS to be a big deal. 

not for me, not for my mom, but for all moms everywhere. 



so, happy Mother's Day mom, thank you for being an awesome mom so that I could grow up and be a mom too, I love you! 

(and thank you to everyone that made it all the way through this somewhat out of place socio-political rant, i promise ill be back to talking about food and dresses later this week)






Thursday, May 8, 2014

gluten free chocolate chip banana bread recipe. (guest post by jessica of jess loves this life).

(hello again! its still school week, and i dont have a new post for you, however my dear friend jessica is here to show you how to make some gluten free banana bread!)

Hey there! I'm Jess and I blog over at Jess Loves This Life. I'm so excited to be back here on Poverty Luxe again to share some yummy eats with you all! In case you missed my first guest post, you can check it out here! Today I'll be sharing the tastiest gluten free banana bread ever!


I'm going to be honest, I had never made this bread before this post and I was a little nervous it might be a flop. I also had never A) made any type of gluten free bread before, just cakes and cookies and such and B) was way too impatient to follow a lengthy bread recipe step by step so I kind of winged it a little. I tend to do this quite a bit with many recipes. Usually it works out, but there are times where my stuff ends up being fed to my pup...there are also times where even he doesn't want my reject foods. We've all been there I'm sure. Anyway, this little bread making adventure was definitely a success, and I'm sure you'll love it once you try it for yourself! I decided I'd make this bread with whatever I already had on hand instead of buying anything I might only use for this one recipe (which also happens all too often), and I'm really glad I did that because truly, this bread is awesome and can quickly be whipped up at any moment!


Here's what you'll need:
-3 ripe bananas
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
-3 tbsp grape seed oil (or melted coconut oil)
-1/4 cup cane sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-3 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-a pinch of sea salt
-3/4 cup pf milk
-1 1/4 cup of gluten free flour (I personally do not recommend using rice flour for this, it'll throw the flavor off as rice flour is usually a bit overpowering in baked goods)
-1 1/4 cup of gluten free oats
...I also snuck in a small handful of dark chocolate chips! SO good! 

Here's what to do:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 & line a loaf pan with parchment paper
2. Mash up your bananas in a large bowl and slowly add the rest of the ingredients, stirring your mixture between each ingredient. I added them in the order they're listed in, but any way works. Add your mixture into your lined loaf pan
3. Bake for 1 hour
4. Let cool completely before you cut it, other wise your bread will crumble.
5. Enjoy with a large cup of coffee!!

You can store your leftovers in a sealed container for a few days...if it makes it that long without it getting eaten that is!

Thanks so much Victoria, for having me on here again! Don't forget to come say hello all around the internet!




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

quick west coast getaways. a guest post by casey of true colors.

(hey everyone! this week is school week for james and things are a little crazy and sleep deprived over here, so casey from true colors has been so kind as to take over for the day, hope you enjoy her visit!)

Hi Poverty Luxe Readers!  I’m Casey from True Colours and I’m so excited to be guest posting here today!  My blog is mainly travel focused and while my husband and I do jet off to exotic locations a couple times a year, the majority of our travels try to incorporate places near to us.  Based in Portland, Oregon, we try to take advantage of those places on the West Coast and in our neighboring States as often as we can.  We have such beauty all around us in our own country that often times, it’s important to open our eyes and take in the amazing places that are near to us to create our own adventures without expensive trip costs or lots of vacation days!

Many people don’t realize how close you might be to destinations that can be quick and easy getaways based on your geography.  The US definitely has many different spots to see and experience that could be less than a 6 hour flight from you and easier on the wallet too.  Since I’m based on the West Coast of the US, I thought I’d share my favorite spots for a quick getaway on this side of the country.  We are really lucky with some amazing destinations just a short car ride or plane trip away and here are some of my favorites.



PORTLAND
Obviously my hometown should make this list, as Portland is an up and coming tourist spot.   Believe me, I’ve noticed a huge influx of visitors to my city in the past few years and due to the fact that Portland seems to be in every travel magazine as of late, my city is quickly becoming a favorite of many.  We have amazing restaurants, low prices compared to most big cities and a cool hipster vibe along with clear NW air.  We have mountains, beach and forests all within an hour of downtown Portland and everything in the city is walkable.  Just a quick 1-2 hour flight from basically anywhere along the West Coast and an amazing airport, Portland is always a great long weekend destination.


SEATTLE
The heart of the Pacific NW, Seattle is a city that is easy to get to from anywhere on the West Coast.  All major airlines fly into Seattle and a weekend trip to this beautiful city on the Pugent Sound will transport you to clear air and a crisp breeze.  With great shopping, relatively low prices and landmarks like the Space Needle, Seattle is a perfect stop for a few days.


HAWAII
While most people think that Hawaii is a lot further than it is, it’s really only a quick 5-6 hour flight from most West Coast destinations.  I frequent the Islands a lot for work and I’ve had my fair share of quick trips over there (including some flying over one day and back to Portland the next) so I know that you can cover a lot of ground in Hawaii in just a few days.  And the way most West Coast direct flights are from the mainland, you can leave in the morning and be on a beach by 2 in the afternoon.  It also makes your trip a lot cheaper if you only have to pay for a few nights hotels in the tourist trap prices of Hawaii.  A long weekend is easily doable to Hawaii from the West Coast and a quick escape.



NAPA
Within an hour or so drive from both Sacramento and San Francisco, the Napa Valley can offer a great long weekend destination.  With wineries and fantastic restaurants, this area of Northern California can be relaxing and indulging, perfect for a quick escape from reality.  Rent a car and drive around the area, taking in the gorgeous vineyards for miles and you’ll feel relaxed and intoxicated in the beauty of this part of the State.

Next time you’re looking for a spot to escape to for a long weekend on the West Coast, remember that there are plenty of spots to explore and escape to only a short flight or car ride away!


Monday, May 5, 2014

the time we went to an art show

(note: this post does involve the fine arts, so some images may be considered by some to not be entirely safe for work/small children/people who dont appreciate art)

if i were to pick a favorite, favorite part of not working at joanns anymore (i have to say favorite favorite because everything about not working at joanns is my favorite), its that i dont have to spend almost every saturday at work. 

meaning, we can totally do fun family stuff on saturdays. seriously, i just looked at my calendar to confirm that we have, in fact, had a fun family outing EVERY SATURDAY since i quit (thanks jamberry nails!). 

this past saturday was no different. well, in the family fun department. it was actually very different because we got to take alice to her very first real-life serious fine art gallery opening (actually, considering that serious fine art gallery openings arent exactly a thing that people who didnt go to art school do, it was probably jamess first opening too). 

and it wasnt just any gallery opening (because really if i payed closer attention we could probably go to an opening every weekend, which i highly recommend because they are always free and usually have free wine), it just so happened that my dad emailed me multiple times that my FAVORITE PAINTER EVER (mark ryden) was opening a show in hollywood. 

obviously, we HAD to go. and the email said dress fancy. so we did:


all of us: 


even alice: 


(in retrospect, a black corduroy dress was NOT a good choice for a 90+ degree day in hollywood, now i know how everyone felt at my wedding) 

and then we looked at some paintings: 


now, probably the best part of seeing a mark ryden show in real life isnt just the paintings (though, like i said, they are my favorite paintings), its the frames:


 goodness gracious those frames:


 i just want to frame everything in our apartment in giant hand-carved surrealist-baroque wood frames. and decorate my living room in a pink-and-gold abraham lincoln motif. ahem, this is exactly why i dont decorate, people. 

anyway, back to the paintings. remember how i briefly attended art school? well, funny story, i cant paint. at all. and especially not in oils. so looking up close at beautifully rendered, intricately detailed oil paintings that are literally huge:


is just, awe inspiring (especially when theyre completely smooth and you cant even get acrylic paint to lay straight). also, can we just talk about those pink walls? i just about died (and then maybe looked to see how much it would cost to buy a house so we could paint it pink and then cried because thats way more money than we have). 

in addition to the oil paintings (which is what mark ryden is mainly known for) there was also a room of graphite/watercolor drawings:



and then there was whats probably my most favorite thing that ive ever seen in my entire life: 


its a coin operated automaton diorama. i could have stood there and watched it all day, but, you know, i have a family to take care of. my photo really doesnt do it justice, but theres a video of it here (again, dont click that link if youre one of those people that hates art). 

obviously, we had a grand old time, and even though i swore UP AND DOWN going into the show that we were NOT, under ANY circumstances going to buy the book, we bought the book (but i justified it because we can totally use it for homeschooling when we do a unit study on surrealism in contemporary art). 

since it was alices first art show, we let her have the honors of signing the guest book:


and considering she behaved herself very nicely, and we only had to tell her not to touch the paintings once, i think there will be a lot more gallery openings in our future. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

bluff cove olive oil company.

wednesday we got to do something really special. we got to go to the grand opening of bluff cove olive oil co. obviously i was super excited about this, because if theres one thing i love more than fancy olive oil stores, its fancy olive oil stores owned by friends (and staffed by my mom!). 

this is the owner, jessica:


shes a church friend of ours, and also the owner of this wondrous place:


which not only features impossibly cute and cozy decor, thats just begging you, "please, stay here forever and taste all of the delicious oils":


but also carries literally dozens of THE most amazing olive oils and balsamic vinegars:


dozens of them. ALL OF THEM EVEN MORE DELICIOUS THAN THE LAST. 

and did i mention that my mom works there? well, she does: 


she taught us how to properly taste olive oil. and life will never be the same. 

now, maybe im a little biased, because generally speaking im really into this kind of fancy foodie stuff, and the store is owned and staffed by good friends (and my mom), but you have NO idea how hard it was to not buy one of everything in the store. and really, one bottle would have taken up our whole "completely frivolous food items" budget for the month. i did NOT want to pick just one. 

thankfully in addition to full bottles, bluff cove does custom mini-bottle gift sets, which allow you you mix and match four (or six!) miniature bottles, so we could pick four flavors instead of just one. 

which, granted, picking four flavors out of what felt like a million (and they were all delicious) wasnt really that much easier, but eventually our dear friend michaela was able to help us pack up our four choices:



(we ended up choosing tuscan herb, garlic, and while mushroom and sage olive oils, and a peach white balsamic vinegar, plus some truffle salt, because, truffles)

so, if youre in the south bay area, and youre into fancy olive oils, you probably already know that the closest olive oil stores are in santa monica and long beach. WELL NOT ANYMORE. bluff cove olive oil co is here for all your oil and vinegar needs. we will be back. at least nine more times (i mean, gotta get that free bottle, right?). 

(and no, i was not paid or compensated in any way for writing this post. i did pay for everything i bought and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. i just really love olive oils, ok?)