Monday, July 26, 2010

An even tinier house

Those of you who saw our old house may remember that it was cozy. 425 square feet of coziness, to be exact, and about 75 square feet weren't usable by anyone over four feet because the ceiling sloped. Well, I decided that we could live even more efficiently. Our new house has 350 square feet (32.5 square meters for my metric readers). The new apartment feels much smaller because we lost almost all of the (extensive) closet space that we used to have. In order to make this workable, we had to (1) purge and (2) hide stuff. We disposed of a lot of furniture before we moved to Miami, but we also ended up putting stuff in storage. Our stored belongings are things we really wanted to keep, mainly tools and camping gear, but not things that we needed for daily living. Andrew kept trying to convince me that we could just leave all the boxes in the living room and walk through the piles (maybe we could have built furniture using packed boxes?) but I'm a woman who needs lots of empty space. After a few months of arranging and decorating, I am ready to reveal the beta version of our Miami home.

The living room:
The kitchen, also known as the other side of the living room:
And let's take a closer look at that lamp. Why, it's covered in paper cocktail umbrellas! Just like this one. (I have a feeling that people are going to either love or hate this lamp.)

The bedroom has, as of yet, been untouched by the Wand of Style. Suggestions are appreciated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Portland: coffee, food carts, and conferences

I spent last week at a conference in Portland. I especially enjoyed seeing all of my work friends this time, perhaps because I haven't been socializing much since I moved to Miami. I also appreciate my job more after talking to other postdocs; I was reminded that some jobs can require more adjustments than others. I don't want to sound too Pollyannish (there's nothing more boring than a happy blogger), but I really like my work and the people I work with.

Portland has always been one of my favorite cities, and it did not disappoint. I made multiple trips to an outstanding coffeehouse. I didn't have time to stop at the chocolate shops that everyone was raving about, but I did have many lunches at the food carts that cluster at certain parking lots and parks. (This makes me officially hip, I believe.) Oh, and did I mention the beer? A microbrewery in the area, Deschutes, supplies a lot of the local restaurants, and one night we also had a beer flight at Deschutes where I had a beer that tasted exactly like lychees. (It was not a fruit beer. You'll have to trust me that it was great.)

While I enjoyed the beauties of Portland, however, the cat had to remain at home. When I'm away, a four-year-old neighbor takes care of Phi. Her parents have discouraged me from paying her, so I'm left to the only other compensation tool I know: food. This has been an interesting challenge, as I want the food to appeal to a small girl, yet be enjoyable for her parents (who do most of the work, I presume). So this time I went heavy on the pink and the sprinkles, but also took the time to make French buttercream and genoise. While I was at it, I made a smaller version for me, so everybody will eat well this week. (If anyone has more suggestions for baked goods that would wow a four-year-old, please send them my way.)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

As American as...

I was invited to an early Independence Day party. We were encouraged to bring dishes with a patriotic theme, and people went all out. There was a roast chicken, with a little gravestone that said "R.I.P. Senator Robert Byrd." There was a huge plate of red, white and blue sushi (the rice was died), arranged in the shape of the flag. Numerous flag-decorated cakes, cobblers, and pies made appearances. Oh, and we can't forget the Fox News Kool-aid. (Drink the Kool-aid!)

I wanted to make an apple pie, but I was concerned that there would be an overabundance of desserts. So I made a savory apple pie. I had to make up my own recipe, because I couldn't find any that had all the ingredients I wanted to use. The pie was well received (= I didn't have any leftovers to take home) so I'll be making it again. Here's my abbreviated recipe.

I made enough pie crust a double 9" pie. While the dough chilled, I slowly cooked two thinly sliced Vidalia onions. I wanted most of the water to cook out and for them to get dark and soft. I added a few pinches of salt and pepper and a teaspoon each of thyme and sage. Then I peeled and sliced three Granny Smith apples, tossed them with 2 tablespoons of flour, and a bit of sugar and thyme. Lastly, I sliced 8 oz of sharp cheddar. I layered first the onions and then the apples in the pie crust, then topped them with the cheddar and the second crust. A bit of egg wash, and 45 minutes later I got this:

Happy Independence Day!