Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sterling Sterling...

Chock this one up to First-World-Problems, but The Boy and I are DROWNING in flatware.  Literally drowning. 

We have our old stainless flatware.  Simple, sturdy, totally well balanced.. Settings for 10.  Then, we registered for new Stainless (at the urging of my mother).  We now have 12 full place settings of the Charlotte pattern from Crate & Barrel.  I nearly returned them, but upon putting the dinner fork in my hand, I just couldn't bear it.  The Charlotte collection is so heavy eating almost counts as working out, and I just loved the tapered tines, and depth of the spoons.  I can hear how desperately nerdy that sounds even as I type it, but really.... it's true.
Simple... just so, so lovely...

Anyway, a new set of flatware isn't obscene.. but it starts to feel absurd when piled on top of the family silver that we were also bestowed as a wedding gift. 

12 gleaming place settings of Royal Danish silver. 

and 12 gleaming settings of King Richard.

And all their serving pieces... 

That means we now have 46 full place settings to somehow organize and store in our kitchen.  Anyone up for a dinner party?  See? First-World-Problems.

If your appalled by this decadence, then I suggest you skip the rest of this post, as it will be spent discussing the relative merits of the two sets and their possible future uses.  Boring to some, but FASCINATING to me. 

Silver is a tradition that I'm somewhat sad to see disappearing.  I can understand why we don't register for china (this bitch doesn't hand wash dishes).  But almost all your silver does fine in a dishwasher, and is such a lovely touch to a casual dinner at home.  My dad grew up using his mom's silver every day.  He remembers slurping his cereal up with the Royal Danish - which in my mind, is how it should be. I suppose that's at $500-$800 a setting it's hideously expensive to purchase (I wouldn't never personally make the investment), and with all the new stainless alloys, it's possible to get the heft and the shine of silver without.... well, silver.

So, without further ado.. the Silver:

The first set comes from my paternal grandmother.  It's her wedding silver from when she and my grandfather were married.  They also came to inherit his father's Silver, which is going to my brother as he will have the appropriate family name to match the engraving :)

She bought us a beautiful new silver-cloth box, complete with plaque that has our wedding date, and theirs...  Which makes it feel even more special to me..
And the full collection -
The full place setting -
Royal Danish is a really nice, fairly modern pattern that I could see us using in a casual setting.  It doesn't feel too stuffy (for silver, lol) and the lack of crazy scrolling means less tarnish (yay!).

I had an inkling that we would be getting the Royal Danish, but the King Richard silver from my Mom's side of the family was a total surprise.  Frankly I think it surprised my mom too, as she sort of expected the silver to pass to her first (sucker! just kidding, she can't totally borrow it anytime she wants.. I swear).

It's as gaudy as gaudy gets and I Totally Love It
All of it. The Boy is less enamored with all of it's scrolling and whatnot, but I think it's pretty, and girly, and wonderful.

It needs a new box, as this one is literally coming apart at the seams, and lacks space for the serving pieces, but look at all that loveliness.
The thing that I love most about this set? Those spindly Iced Tea Spoons.  Makes me want to move to Georgia and build a wrap around porch... swoon.
Totally different look and feel than the Royal Danish.  Definitely more suited for formal dining, but I also totally enjoy the juxtaposition of the formal pattern on our modern, clean dining table.  Also, with the stark simplicity of our stoneware, I think it will look pretty striking.

Which brings us to our current problem.  How to store all this stuff.
We have the drawer space (assuming I relocate my stationary), but it's shockingly difficult to find silver-cloth inserts for drawers. 

In fact, it appears that the only real option is to have them custom made.  Something I'm not exactly giddy to spend money on, but I also know that if I have to go to the pantry, then get out a box, then open it to find a fork for my hot pocket... I'm never ever going to use the damn silver.

If my new massive closet has taught me anything, it's that things must be visible and easy to grab if you are ever going to utilize them.  Out of sight, Out of mind. 

I understand why some people choose not to use their silver on a daily basis.  But it feels like a hop, skip and a jump to putting plastic on your couch or a vinyl runner on your stairs. 

Nice things should be appreciated. 

and used.

And then polished...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kitchen Koosh?

Among the fantastic wedding gifts we've been lucky to receive have been some spectacular Shun Cutlery pieces. 

Even though I keep my cooking to a minimum - I find myself fascinated and somewhat obsessed with really good knives and other random gadgets.  I suppose that makes sense since my shoe rack is taller than me, and my horses have more blankets, boots and bits than they could ever want or need...

So I like to shop.  And I have an appreciation for things that are well designed for their job. 

That's why I nearly peed when we received are bad-ass new knife block.  Skeptical that a plain 'ol knife block could be worthy of a bad-ass title?

Well stand aside - this little gem has solved my age old problem of managing my knife collection to fit the available slots on traditional knife blocks.  Instead, this thing is basically a giant hairbursh framed in a box, so you can just stab knives (and shears, and whatever else) into it for safe keeping however you see fit. 

one renegade Cutco remains...
It's sort of hard to see, but those are little plastic rods that bend out of place as you slide a blade in.  Totally solves the problem of not having enough "big" slots for my random choppers, tomato knives and slicers... It's  like a giant Koosh ball in a box!

Sneaky, huh?

In other news, it was a really gorgeously sunny day in Seattle yesterday and little dog scampered out onto her dock to see if anyone was sipping margaritas yet.  I think she's ready for Summer and afternoons lazing on the water... I can't say I blame her, but I'm pretty sure we've got...ohhhhhh.... another six months of rainy crap until that's a viable option.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Total Success (and a delicious dinner)

As disparaging as I am regarding my general ability to manage a big-kid house... yesterday I knocked it out of the park.  Woke up, worked out (while watching the Today show, love you Matt!), and then - instead of rushing off to work and saving my chores for when I got home... I did them immediately.

Heart rate still elevated and high on a extra cup of coffee, I didn't mind the ga-zillion trips up and down the stairs as I refilled cabinets, collected laundry, took out trash and tidied up.  I even got out the extremely-terribly-totally-awful internal vacuum and lugged it's snufalufugus hose around sucking up pesky pine needles.  Truth be told it only delayed me an additional hour, but I felt very efficient as I trotted out the door with everything all cleaned up and in it's place.

Cleaning must also release some sort of endorphins, because I immediately decided that I would attempt a full home cooked meal for dinner (and not cop out with a "big salad" or assortment of frozen appetizers that I pop in the oven..).

I don't know why I even bothered asking The Boy what he wanted - as the answer is always the same



So, I made my rounds after work, stopping at the cute new Mercato Stellina which has completely delicious fresh pastas, cheeses and naturally, wine.  I walked out with 2lbs of gnocchi (swoon) and a new bottle of red to try from Woodward Cellars (local here in WA).  The manager assured me that it rivals the Quilceda Creek Cab, but for about half the price... yes please!

Anyway, I scooted off to the grocery store for staples, flew by the pharmacy for our Africa meds (anti-diarrheals  anyone?) and home to start my creation.

I finally got to make use of some of our wedding gifts, both in preparing and in serving, so that made the venture extra exciting, but here's what I did:

2 lbs. fresh gnocchi
1 "loaf" (is there a term for this?) of Italian Turkey Sausage. (Italian cause it tastes good, turkey cause it's better for you?) really it's 16 oz.
1 container of those yummy yellow cherry tomatoes
Splash (big splash) of white, I used Ferari Carrao Sauv Blanc
Red Pepper Flakes
Grated Parm Cheese
Some diced onions or shallots or whatever you have on hand (I used both).

After heating up a big sautee pan I tossed the sausage in, breaking it up as it started to brown.  I also dumped in about 2/3 cup of diced onions because I had them already chopped and leftover from my nacho spree last week. :)

Once the meat was done I set it aside in another bowl and threw the tomatoes in (whole) to cook in the leftover oil/juices/deliciousness.  I covered the pan until I heard the tomatoes start to burst, then added in the (big) splash of wine and let the liquid simmer and reduce down.  Depending on the tomatoes, this can be a pretty sweet sauce, or stay fairly bright and crisp.  If it's too tart and you don't want to wait for the tomatoes to really carmelize, throw a pinch of sugar in.. (that's what I do, I hate waiting)

When that was nicely cooked (5 min?) I spooned the tomatoes/wine over the sausage to get it out of the way and cranked the heat on the pan back up to brown the gnocchi.  A big swirl of EVOO, and the gnocchi were in.  I also chopped up an extra shallot and tossed that in to brown with the little bundles of deliciousness.

I covered the pan to help them cook a bit hotter and got them a bit crisper on the outside.  You have to be careful about stirring the gnocchi or you can end up with  mashed potato mush instead. I know because I've accidentally made said potato mush, it's still terrific... just mushy.

Finally, sprinkle as much parm as you want, a few shakes of the red pepper flakes for some heat and dump the whole thing in a pretty dish, top with arugula and VOILA. Delicious, moderately healthy dinner with pretty colors to boot.  AND you only need 20 minutes or so for the whole shebang.

Dinner was rounded out by a simple green salad (prepared while the sausage browned) and a steamed artichoke with aioli mayo.

I shocked myself as how delicious the whole thing was, and we ended up with plenty of leftovers!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

UPS explained (Or the Inverse Law of Delivery and Desire)

One side effect of moving to the suburbs has been a shift in my shopping habits.  No longer do I spend weekend afternoons wandering the city by foot, fueled by a coffee and croissant from my favorite local cafe as I casually peruse boutiques and markets without much of an agenda.

While there are still a few (lovely) small boutiques that I frequent, the weekend meandering has shifted as a result of the proximity of a several huge malls and means that most of my "shopping" ends up consolidated into  finely honed, well thought out expeditions complete with strategic parking and pre-planned routes through the maze of shops.

It also means that a significant amount of my discretionary totally-unnecessary shopping ends up online at ridiculous flash sale/outlet/discount sites that I'm pretty sure don't actually save me any money.

What I've learned from my experience (along with the fact that I apparently can't say no to anything that's 80% off) is this:
The time it takes UPS to deliver my bounty is directly inverse to how badly I want to have it right now.

We can look at all of the unnecessary shopping that I've been doing for our upcoming honeymoon (more on my insistence that I not look like a 1982 L.L. Bean catalog later).   In preparing for this trip I have decided that I need a few key, breezey, light dresses and accessories so that I am somewhat prepared for safari life, but also appropriately dressed for our beautiful stay in Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean.  The thought of being draped in various shades of khaki button ups while lounging pool side at our fabulous resort makes me want to cry.  Conversely, the brightly patterned silks of Ferragamo's Spring campaign likely won't do while forced to pee in the bushes as we watch elephants eat their lunch.

Compromises must be made..

Anyhow, this has resulted in several purchases.  the first was a gorgeous orange gown, perfect for dinners in Zanzibar and possibly as a super chic cover-up.  
  • Brightly colored?    Check
  • Billow-y and Breezy?    Check.
  • Big-Ass slit up the front???   Check, check, check.
Thank you Robert Rodrigez for this gem of a piece.

As you can imagine, although this was my first unnecessary-safari-purchase, it hasn't even shipped yet.  Why you ask?  Probably because I can't wait to get my hot little hands on it and see if it will in fact make me look like Gisele (in Africa).

I may (or may not) have had this recent photo shoot she did for Ferragamo (sigh) in mind when I set out to find that saucy little orange number:
inspiring right?

Also, this is how I envision I might look getting off the plane...
But I digress.  Pretty orange dress, and not even a tracking number to show for it.

My next unnecessary-safari-purchase was the result of a total shopping spree on TheOutnet.com.  A dress, a belt and a scarf, sure to keep me far far away from that dreaded 1982 L.L. Bean look.  Where is it?  Well, it shipped... but I've got 7-10 business days to wait for that pretty little treasure chest. (bastards).

That brings us to my final purchase.  One that's probably actually prudent (and therefore totally unexciting).


I shudder to even speak their name as I believe footwear should be pretty, flattering, and hopefully functional/comfortable.  I understand that isn't how everyone purchases their shoes, but it's how I get mine and when shopping for "outdoor sandals"  it's not very helpful. 

I'm sure the two inch orthopedic looking sole is squishy and soft.  I'm also sure the padded velcro straps are functional and unlikely to cause blisters.  The problem is that I don't care.  At all.

I quickly figured out that there were no "attractive" options in the outdoor-sandal category, so I cut my losses and ordered the least heinous option.  But really, WHO MAKES THESE!??  more importantly.. who buys them? (aside from me.. under duress).
Depressing.  I guarantee you that none of those shoes were even considered for Gisele's Ferragamo shoot...

Anyway, as you can imagine, even though I hit "buy it now" on the extremely hideous sandals only yesterday afternoon, UPS has assured me that they are in fact, "on vehicle for delivery. TODAY."

Awesome.  Thanks guys.

This has solidified my belief in the Inverse Law of Delivery and Desire.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Recovery Mode

The better part of the last week has been spent in total recovery mode.  Usually recovery denotes some sort of accident or injury that would require convalescence in order to properly heal (or recover if you will..) and return to a state of normalcy.

In this case however, both The Boy and I found ourselves desperately recovering from... nothing more than wonderful time with wonderful friends, and perhaps a few minor dance floor injuries (damn those sparkly Jimmy Choo's....)

Never the less, as the snow started falling in Seattle we scampered away from the Wedding and off to the mountains for what was to be a couple of romantic, relaxed nights.

Instead, I found myself in a downward spiral filled entirely with crappy cable television, food in bed, sleeping, more food in bed, and more crappy television.  There was lots of snow.  fortunately we manage to bear witness to it mostly through our window (god forbid we go outside for any exercise).  A summary of our time away went like this:

Arrive and eat dinner (room service, I refrained from photos, but it was wedge salads, a Reuben and some pesto pasta).  None of it was very delicious, but it was greasy, cheesy, and rich.  (YUM)

Later, we justified (more) champagne and some of our wedding cake that we had cleverly boxed to go (i just knew I would want some after the fact..)
Monday started with (more) room service, this time it was a decently healthy scramble for The Boy, but I couldn't decide between the waffles or a parfait.

Naturally I got (and ate) both.
In case you're concerned neither of those options included any type of breakfast meat - never fear the bacon and (and) sausage were in the waffle.  IN THE WAFFLE! how efficient...

Shortly after breakfast we ventured out for a meal in the bar (soups and salad... not greasy enough for me) but that only lasted a little while and I then demanded to be taken into town for some gross family mexican food.

Again I couldn't decide between nachos or fajitas so we got nachos and fajitas!! (pattern, much?)

In a shred of dignity I managed not to devour everything at once, so we returned to our (remaining) cake and wine for the night.

Tuesday met us with some sort of hibernation instinct, so while The Boy slept, I sat in bed and ate (more) of the mexican leftovers.  Imagine waking up to that... I can promise it's not a pretty sight.
sexy time
The snow then managed to close the mountain pass, which "stranded" us at the lodge (oh darn). but never fear!  To the bar we went for more food and drink (BLT? yes please!) before we dashed off at the first sign of the road opening to get home.

One might think that after gluttony like that on the heels of an extended celebration, we might be craving things like salads and sushi.  But no! The mexican craving has not subsided and I can now lay claim to 3 taco salads, 2 burritos, 1 breakfast burrito and nachos from 3 different establishments in the last 10 days.

Something might be wrong with me, but as long as it involves tortillas and guac - I don't wanna be right...

In terms of "suburban housewife skills" (or SHS), this might have to be chalked up as a slight failure, I haven't cooked once...

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Wife Smell

The new husband keeps attesting that I have that "new wife smell."  Which is a charming comment, but after nearly a week of post-wedding recovery which has involved mostly uninterrupted couch time spent streaming multiple televisions series in their entirety from Netflix... I'm forced to wonder whether or not the new-wife-smell is a pleasant one...

Regardless, a new wife is exactly what I am, which feels like it should mark some sort of magical transition from a semi-intoxicated twenty-something playing house to a demure, poised, meticulous Mistress of the Home.

The house is undoubtedly stunning.  The setting is undoubtedly suburban, but my skills? Weeeellllll those might leave something to be desired.

It's ok though.  The last ten years have seen me flitting about in multiple roles, New England Co-ed, Brooklyn indie-rock queen, coach, Seattle-ite, Board Member, Vice President... even a return to my inherently horsey roots with a few wayward purchases of some horses again...

All wonderfully entertaining roles, but none are particularly helpful for honing those ever elusive housewife skills.

One of my dearest friends recently found herself relocated stranded in small town Kansas.. which made me realize I was somewhat wistful for and maybe even even jealous of her racks of lamb (complete with homemade breadcrumbs... I didn't know anyone made homemade breadcrumbs...), fresh pies, and seasonally appropriate decor.  All things that I've never even made a bold faced attempt at. 

That's why, when The Boy and I made our mostly voluntary pilgrimage to the suburbs, I vowed to make every attempt to extend my hostess and homemaking skills beyond an impeccably prepared cheese plate (one thing I actually have down) and a 4 month supply of ramen. 

This is my attempt to chronicle my progress, failures and general frustrations in the home. 

I think I made a good bride... here's hoping my luck continues..