Sunday, October 25, 2009

a pop of color

When we were on our apartment search last spring, one of this apartment's features that we couldn't stop thinking about was the great view out the bedroom window. Instead of a cement wall or someone else's living room, there's a courtyard with a number of mature trees. It's like having a backyard (I say "like" because we don't have access to it).

Something about me that you might not know: I love gardening. Love it. And none of our apartments here have been conducive to such a hobby. Until this one. All summer, I'd been talking about putting some flowers out on the patio (aka fire escape), but we couldn't get out there since our old, nasty air conditioner was bolted in. But last weekend, everything changed. Our super came to put it out of its misery. It's true that having anything on your fire escape is against code, but once I was able to stick my head out the window, I could see that all our neighbors already have a pot or two out there. And, when it comes to having things I love (you know, like a fire-escape garden or a hedgehog within the five boroughs), if everybody jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, I'd be right behind them.

So, today we headed out to the farmers' market to get a few mums. It was quite an adventure (really, I could have fallen and died, you know).

The patio -- before. (What a view!)

Me, climbing out the window to start my project.

The photographer at the ready just in case the fire escape were to collapse.

(It didn't.)

Putting the mums in their new home.

Making sure nobody was going to fall over the side.

Relieved that I didn't fall to my death.

My first New York garden!

The patio -- after (and what I'll see every morning when I wake up!).

I could tell the mums were enjoying their new home on the patio so much, I thought I'd let Sprout play outside for the day. (He is our 3-year-old runty grapefruit tree that we started from a sprouted seed I found in my breakfast one day.)

I'm so, so excited to have the opportunity to grow something! Stay may recognize the Thanksgiving centerpieces.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

chili night

Chili is one of those foods I crave for days -- probably because I think about it until I actually have time to make a batch (rare these days). Ian must have been tired of hearing about it, because he finally suggested we make a recipe we'd tried last year and loved (good thing I never throw away my cooking magazines). Saturday was dreary, and the perfect time to putter around the apartment while the chili perked in the slow cooker. He even had the ingenious idea to invite some friends over to enjoy it with us (it feeds a crowd). So what could have been a drizzly, boring Saturday ended up being quite fun while we got ready for Candice and Bryan's visit.

Smoky Slow Cooker Chili
modified from this Cooking Light recipe
(serves 8 hungry people)

Our changes:
  • Use pork loin instead of pork shoulder
  • Swap in 3 medium onions for the 3 cups
  • Use 3 poblano peppers instead of a green pepper (if you want extra heat)
  • Sub 7 oz. tomato sauce and a chopped serrano pepper instead of the spicy tomato sauce (we couldn't find it)

For sides, Ian baked corn bread and I threw together the tangy mandarin orange salad that both of our moms make. Yum yum yum.

The night was a huge hit -- chili included. If you have a slow cooker, I highly recommend you make this. It freezes well too, so you can put that craving to rest in minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2009


We just had the best time in Wisconsin! One of my closest friends in the whole world, Mandy, got married, and Ian and I expanded our trip by a couple days so we could see our families too.
We spent parts of two days with my folks, including a fun (but very cold -- as in, it snowed!) morning at their farmers' market. Fortunately, they live fairly close to the wedding festivities, so Ian and I drove back and forth! Even though we had only a few hours here and there, I feel like it's some of the best time we've spent together since we moved to New York.

It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of Mandy's wedding party. I cannot emphasize how perfect she and Jon are for each other, and how welcoming and kind both of their families were to both Ian and me. Mandy and Jon had a beautiful wedding and one heck of a party. I got to spend the evening dancing and catching up with our friends, April and Scott and Katie and John (the three girls and I spent a lot of time together while we lived in Waukesha).

The day after the wedding, we zipped down to see more family. We got to eat a very leisurely lunch with the A-Team, and then went to Ian's parents' house for a tasty family dinner. It was wonderful to be together. A particular highlight: We got to meet our new nephew, Logan!

Thank you to everyone involved for making time for us! These photos don't do justice to the weekend, but they're a good start. (I was just so busy!!!) If you have photos, I'd love to see them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

a pleasant surprise

On Friday night, Ian came home and told me one of his coworkers would be performing on the Lower East Side the following evening...and that he said we'd try to come. I'd brought a lot of work home, but since it had been a while since we'd ventured that far from our own neighborhood, I plowed through it and finished up just in time.
I'm so glad I did.
Aimee Bayles is refreshing. She has an incredibly versatile voice and makes singing anything seem effortless. If I had to compare her to anyone, I'd say her style is similar to Norah Jones, but she doesn't sound quite as sleepy. Aimee writes and plays her songs, too...I can't get "February" out of my head, even though it's been two days. I hope I can get my hands on a recording soon. Regardless, I'll be at her next show. If you're in the area, you should go too.
Check out Aimee Bayles.