A Birthday

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

My sweet boy turned 6 earlier this month. I can hardly believe he has less than a month left of Kindergarten. It has been such a wonderful year of growth not just for him but for us as parents too.

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We always host a birthday party for him at home, which is certainly a celebration of him but also a chance to get together with our extended family and a few close friends. It is always a full house and there is always lots of good food.

This year, I wanted to make The Birthday Cake from Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar. It looks like a process, and it is, but an incredibly fun one. I so enjoyed putting it together. And the technique of using a cake ring to cut the layers, acetate to build up the side frame and the freezer to set it is genius. I want to make all my layer cakes this way. It's fun and they look incredible. 

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 If your'e not familiar with the Momofuku birthday cake you should watch this video clip of Christina Tosi on Chef's Table and you can find the actual recipe on Bon Appetit...

Also inspired by Christina Tosi, I made a version of her Haute Dogs. However, I used Julia Turshen's foolproof and truly all-purpose yeasted dough recipe from her cookbook Small Victories. I've mentioned her cookbook here at least a few times as it is such a great one. In the cookbook she uses the dough recipe to make 12 raspberry jam buns. I used it to make 12 hot dog rolls (in fact I tripled the recipe to make 36) instead. I also used my stand mixer to initially mix the dough, then kneaded it for a few minutes as instructed. Then I put all three batches into a cambro, covered it with a towel and let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size. I punched it down, covered the bowl with the lid and stuck it in the fridge overnight until I was ready to make them the following morning.

I slathered a mustard butter on each roll and added this red onion jam before rolling them up and baking them. I piled them high on a sheetpan to serve and they were devoured by kids and adults alike.

I also made this great onion dip from Alison Roman served with classic ridged potato chips, a simple and bright cabbage slaw and a quadruple batch of these long time favorite salted brown butter crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen (though I more than double the Maldon sea salt it calls for).

For the adults I found these perfect mini cans of sparking Italian white and rosé at Trader Joe's. They are fantastic for a party, not too sweet and only $4 for a 4/pack...

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I also love hanging lots of paper streamers all over the house. It instantly makes the room feel happy and celebratory. I love the ones from the Oh Happy Day shop...

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In fact I love them so much that the ones in the dining room are still up...

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Lastly (and again related to Christina Tosi) I can't forget to mention these Confetti Cookies...

  Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

I made them to bring to my son's school on his actual birthday to share with his class. Three things in particular make these incredible. They are inspired by the technique of the snickerdoodle with the addition of cream of tartar. They have an incredibly long creaming process (a Milk Bar signature) about 10 minutes total. And the addition of milk powder which Tosi says adds chewiness as well as a depth of flavor. Full of sugar, dairy, gluten and artificially colored sprinkles! But for a special treat, I'd have a hard time passing up one of these. 

 

From My Wishlist...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

I am on a bit of a spending hiatus. Overall I am quite conscious about what I buy, but it feels like I've added quite a bit to my closet and the skincare arsenal lately. So I'm taking a break to enjoy and use what I already have. I feel overwhelmed when I have a bit too much stuff and besides, my savings would greatly appreciate the break. (This is also a good time to re-mention YNAB - go check it out.)

Even though I'm not currently buying, it doesn't stop me from looking and adding beautiful things to my wishlist.

I have long wanted a pair of these Hoffman armchairs at the dining room table...

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This perfect Clare V clutch in cuoio vachetta leather that I bet ages beautifully...

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Also from Clare V this green bandana...

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These sweet little stud earrings...

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These rose gold black diamond huggies...

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And THESE, holy cow. They are out of my price range but I love these something terrible...

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I'd buy this dress if I were traveling to Italy this summer...

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And once I get through all of my current favorite facial masks, this one from REN is the next one I'd love to try...

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Also from REN, this body serum...

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And my robe could use an upgrade. This waffle one from Coyuchi is the one I have my eye on...

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House Margarita

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

It is spring break this week and while most people we know made a mass exodus out of Seattle in search of sunshine (who can blame them) we are having a rather stellar staycation at home. Both my husband and I took the week off. I've been catching up on reading and when I haven't been reading I've been cooking and baking.

Another bright spot has been a visit from dear friends who live in Lake Tahoe that we haven't seen in a few years. When we get together it's like no time has passed. The company and conversation is always easy and there is always laughter. We also drank a few rounds of my "house margarita" which includes my most favorite spirit, mezcal. Yes, yes, and yes.

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A PERFECT MARGARITA

1 oz tequila

1 oz mezcal (I like Vida)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

Juice of 1 lime

Shake and pour over ice (I like these big cube molds for this)

*A note if making these for a crowd - I learned this tip from Julia Turshen. Simply quadruple this recipe (or more if you have a big crowd) and just whisk it all together in a big pitcher. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve and then pour over ice.

 

 

Super Sunday

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

After weeks of downpours and darkness, the sun made an unexpected appearance today! I always feel a burst of energy when the sunlight streams though the windows (we all probably do). I opened up the windows to let some fresh air in and went about ticking things off my to-do list before the football game this afternoon.

First, breakfast...

Every Sunday I make sourdough waffles (or today my son requested pancakes) with a special family recipe. They are spectacular. The sourdough starter has been in my husband's family since 1973. Yup, 45 YEARS. You can read more about sourdough here and if you want to make your own to "feed" and keep alive, this is a good place to start.

Last night I was clicking away on Food52 and read this genius recipe about how to achieve fluffy pancakes. They key is to separate the eggs. You don't have to whip the whites or do anything extra. You just add the whites last after you've mixed everything else together. I decided to try the technique this morning and yup, they were the fluffiest pancakes we've made yet. So if you have a favorite pancake recipe, give it a try... 

 

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Next task, the closet... (can you see the sun?!)

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After doing a full-on-whole-house-Marie-Kondo-purge three years ago, every 6 months or so I pull everything out of closet once again. I try everything on and cull whatever I no longer love or wear. I refold it all and happily put everything back in its place. I really enjoy this process and it never feels like an overwhelming task...

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Going through my denim, I have a few current favorites and they are almost all Everlane. Everlane has really knocked it out of the park with their denim line. It is not only affordable, but the fabric is a premium heavyweight Japanese denim, the cuts are smart and they are ethically made. They also come in regular and ankle length. I love these high-waisted ones  and have them in both the mid-blue wash and black. I also have the modern boyfriend in not only several washes (mid-blue, light and white) but also in a few sizes as well. My regular size is a true boyfriend jean with a nice slouch. But I also sized down one size, which makes them a little less slouchy and a perfect everyday straight leg...

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I also love these from AGOLDE (I ordered one size down from my regular size)...

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A few other new additions that I love - this bra from Thirdlove...

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Some new workout/teaching gear from Outdoor Voices. I LOVE these 3/4 leggings and this bra (the wide straps and scoop back are especially great)...

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I picked up a shorter pair as well...

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I also love this new bra from Lululemon...

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Last thing before gametime, breaking down the recycling. Not a very glamorous task but thanks to my friend Omar I have a new smart little tool for opening up packages and breaking down boxes.

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Further proof that good design makes even the smallest, seemingly mundane tasks enjoyable.

Game time!

 

Modpools

by Kelsi in ,


 

Now that it is officially summer I have decided that we should probably get a pool. Ahem, specifically this pool made from a shipping crate...

 

A Few Things...

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I saw this photo on Clare Vivier's Instagram feed last week and promptly did a quick internet search to find that shirt! Mine arrives today. Get it here

We just installed two of these small Muuto dots in the kitchen. It's a good place to hang my apron but I'll be just as happy to keep them bare. 

I'm looking for some new napkins before the holiday hosting begins. These ones from West Elm look good and would look cool with my vintage indigo tablecloth...

Now that it really feels like fall we put our fireplace to use over the weekend. I would love to have this match striker on my mantle throughout the season...

We are still looking for the perfect coffee table for our basement. I think these rad table legs from Floyd Detroit might be the answer...

They also make cool book ends, which have been a challenge to find...

I just ordered a set in black to wrangle my cookbook collection. Speaking of cookbooks, I certainly do not need another one but Amanda and Merrill of Food52 (still one of my favorite sites) have a new one out that looks pretty great...

 

Back to Basics

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

The last few weeks have been full of re-organizing and tidying up. The kitchen is finally put together and I restocked it with a few of my favorite basics. I keep a stack of these kitchen towels in a basket on the counter...

These are my favorite sponges. I first found them at Trader Joe's years ago but now I can only find them on Amazon. They clean beautifully, never smell and can be sanitized in the dishwasher. 

I finally got rid of all of our random face cloths that had seen better days and upgraded to these super absorbent, soft and affordable washcloths that I keep stacked in the bathroom...

On to the closets, I followed The Sweet Home's guide and upgraded our hangers with these and these. And bought these storage containers for storing our out of season clothes. Speaking of clothes...

I love my new IDLF flannel shirt from Uniqlo...

And my new go-to pant from JCrew...

With the beginning of school, so too came the first cold through our house. This year I have a new cold-blasting weapon...Fire Cider.

I've been a long time fan of drinking raw apple cider vinegar for better health, but this stuff has a few extras giving it a serious, but delicious kick. Oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, habanero pepper, garlic and turmeric are steeped in apple cider vinegar for six weeks and then raw wildflower honey is added making a super immunity boosting elixir. 

I'll sip an ounce or so on its own or add it to sparkling water with a splash of unfiltered apple cider which makes for a mighty tasty non-alcoholic cocktail. I'm addicted and am easily making my way through my half gallon.

 

Begin Again

by Kelsi in , , , , ,


 
  Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from  Marine Area 7

Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from Marine Area 7

A few years ago my friend Rita gave me some sage advice that I still carry with me on a daily basis. I had mentioned how I was frustrated at the time that I had fallen off my own regular Pilates routine. I was re-hashing how maybe it was because I had a toddler at home and was juggling so much and that finding time for self-care no matter how much we enjoy it can be challenging...blah, blah, blah. Typical me, trying to find an explanation as to "why" beating myself up a bit in the process.

Rita wisely said, "We just begin again."

So here I am, two months absent from my last post, beginning again.

This week definitely feels like a new beginning. Today my son is back on his regular preschool schedule. This week also marks a new schedule change for me at the studio which allows me to better balance my home life/work life/husband's travel schedule. The weather here is incredibly beautiful - bright sun without a cloud in the sky but a not insignificant chill in the air. Change is coming.

The last two months have been full of home improvement projects. The kitchen of course (post on that forthcoming) and the exterior got a new coat of paint...

I've been happily spending all of my free time working out in the yard, cutting back plants and hauling and spreading mulch and wood chips. And for the first time I got it together to do a fall planting and put some kale and chard starts in the ground.

Working solo in the yard has also served as a bit of a refuge from the challenge of parenting a four year old who over the last few weeks has more resembled a mad king. At least that's how it feels. So far, four years old feels especially contradictory in that the highs are really high, magical even, where I can't believe my luck getting to be with this little person. But the lows are low, exposing what can feel like the worst in ourselves. Impatient and ungraceful. But the beauty therein lies that even when I am not my best self, tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning.

A huge bright light in the last few months has been discovering this not new podcast, On Being. I have much to say about what a pleasure it is to listen to Krista Tippett and the thoughtful conversations she has with thinkers, artists, scientists, writers. But for now, it isn't a stretch to say that it is life-changing. 

I am enamored with these Japanese towels I picked up at Canoe while we were in Portland last month. We have a small bathroom and no room for a proper towel rack, just hangers on the door so these quick to dry, soft and beautiful towels were a big upgrade. Plus they take up hardly any space in the linen closet.

I'm also in love with my new Hario kettle and teak trivet (also from Canoe)...

It was time for a new pair of wool slippers...

And a new pair of boots...

This Everlane shirt also just arrived on my doorstep and it is pretty perfect. 

 

The weekend update

by Kelsi in , ,


 

We are two weeks into our kitchen remodel. Demo is done and new plumbing and electrical are in place! A few before photos...

Underneath the yellow 1970s lineoleum was a layer of plywood, and underneath that was the original green linoleum from when the house was built in 1940...

And underneath that is the fir subfloor...

Which will be sanded and painted white like this...

Mid demo exposing the lath and old knob and tube wiring...

New electrical...

And new plumbing. The window openings have also been cut down 4" to counter level...

New windows will go in next week and drywall will begin! In the meantime, our "new" kitchen in the dining room is serving us well.

As is our outdoor dishwashing station...

I also celebrated my 35th birthday last week and was kindly gifted some special things from my favorite Heath Ceramics, as well as a new chef's knife and this beauty from Staub...

My brother who works for Brooks also gave me a new pair of shoes that I LOVE (made even more special because they are the first shoe that he fully developed)...

 

My husband and I also had a date night this week and had an early dinner at Joule, one of our most favorite restaurants in the city. The best part of the date was deciding to walk across the street to Miir

I had a sweet latte which was !!!!!!!!!! and Aaron had a beer. We sat and talked and it felt reminiscent of those many hours spent lingering in coffee shops throughout my 20s. I also left wanting one of their growlers (or the half "howler") which would make a perfect last minute father's day gift...

I also want one of their camp cups.