It's been such a busy few weeks here, and it doesn't look as though they're slowing down anytime soon! I mentioned that I was in Minneapolis and Chicago earlier in the month, and this past weekend, I was home in NH for my father's birthday. In two weeks, we're in Iowa for the weekend. Steve's sister is having a baby in August, and they are having the baby shower. I am so pleased with myself, as I finished a quilt for her, and the baby is not here yet! This is the first time I've ever finished a quilt before the baby arrives! Now, of course, I have three more quilts to finish.
Reading: I mentioned the other day that I am finally reading Lean In, and I am also reading Wedding Night, the new one from Sophie Kinsella. Yes, it's fluffy, but everyone needs that once in a while. Has anyone read this yet? I also have a huge stack of magazines to get through. I am such a magazine junkie!
Eating: I have a beef stew simmering for dinner! I know it's 75* outside, but I was having a craving for it, and it seemed like the perfect thing. I am using the recipe from the Tasha Tudor cookbook, and I just love it. Comfort food at its best.
Listening: I have a rerun of How I Met Your Mother on tv. Speaking of, what did you think of the finale? THE MOTHER!!?!?!?!
Thinking: I'm thinking about becoming a Stella and Dot consultant. I had so much fun with the party I hosted last fall, and would love to try it out. They have such gorgeous pieces. I've never done anything like this, and not sure if I'd be good at it, but am thinking about it. Maybe I should have another party first?
Laughing: While I was home this weekend, I saw my best friend's boys, Jackson and Owen. Jackson is my godson and will be six in July, and his brother Owen will be two later in the month. During desert of cupcakes, Renee pointed to me and said to Owen "who is that?" and Owen giggled and said "Auntie Wexy," which I think was two-year old speak for Auntie Lexi...to which Jackson replied, "Ow-ey! she's MY Auntie Lexi, not YOUR Auntie Lexi!" Those boys are the best.
Wondering: Why I don't have a lilac bush in my yard. I rarely see them in DC. I picked some at my parent's house and am wishing I had some here! Likewise, they have TONS of lily of the valley in their yard, and I am dying for some of those too!
Wearing: Yoga pants. Perfection ;)
Loving: The three day weekend coming up! I am in need of a break, and I am so happy that we have no plans for the long weekend. I need a nap.
Wanting: A cup of tea, but I have no milk for it right now. Apparently Steve didn't do any grocery shopping while I was gone this past weekend ;) I did a tea tasting with Capital Teas and Living Social a few weeks ago, and I need to blog about it. I had so much fun!
Needing: To clean the house. How is it always such a disaster?
It's a rainy Tuesday here in DC, and I'm hearing mixed forecasts for the remainder of the week...but, I won't be here for part of it, so I don't mind as much! I love these "my week" posts I see all over the place. I did one a few weeks ago, and thought I'd do one again. Should this become a regular feature? We'll see!
Reading: the latest from Jennifer Close, The Smart One, which follows her debut book, called Girls in White Dresses. I enjoyed that one, and am just a few chapters in with this new one, but so far, so good! Also, I learned that the author lives in the DC area and teaches courses at George Washington University, where I did my second Master's degree! Maybe I should take one of her classes? Have you read either of Jennifer Close's books?
Eating: Crunchy Curls, found at Trader Joe's over the weekend! Made from lentils and potatos, they are gluten-free, for those of you who are. I am not, but I find myself eating a lot of G-free snacks these days, which probably isn't a bad thing, eh? If you have a TJ's nearby you, go find these, they're wonderful!
Listening: There is a meeting going on in the conference room across from my desk. They did not close the door, and I can't decide if it would be rude if I got up to do so....
Thinking: I feel like my hair is shrinking. I haven't cut it in a few months, but it somehow seems shorter than it was not too long ago. It grows so slowly anyway, and I've been taking biotin supplements and prenatals (not for anything else!), because I've heard that they can help promote hair growth, but they don't seem to be doing much. Has anyone had any luck with this?
Laughing: Yesterday's mail brought two letters from my World Vision babies in Albania, Majlinda and Redion, as well as a World Vision magazine. With part of my tax refund, I had sent them extra funds to purchase things the family needed. I received letters back, as well as a photo of each of them with the things they bought with the funds I sent. Majlinda, as always, drew pictures on her letter, but when I went to read the translation, it was the wrong letter! They had accidentally sent me the translation to another child's sponsor! I guess that means someone got my letter too! I called WV, and they were so apologetic, though it isn't their fault at all, and just a little mistake. These things happen! I said I'd mail back the letter so that they can send it to the right sponsor, and they will request a new copy of mine to be sent. It made me laugh though. I've been sponsoring with them for almost six years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened!
Wondering: Why can't I be a stay-at-home quilter? That would just be the best thing.
Wearing: My favorite necklace from Stella and Dot, the Isadora Pearl Bib. I can't get enough of it. I love their jewelry and the company. Maybe I should become a consultant??
Loving: The little bookshelf mini quilt I finished a while ago. I did blog about it once already, but at last month's meeting of the DC Modern Quilt Guild, I showed it off, and someone snapped this photo. I don't know why I look so awkward, but I don't have many photos of me with the things I've made, since I am usually taking the photo! I've done this pattern before (blogged here), and just love it. I need to hang this one in my sewing room!
Wanting: New shoes like whoa. I am in desperate need of new shoes.
Needing: I need to start packing! I am going to Minneapolis and Chicago this week for work! I'll be in Minneapolis for two nights and Chicago for three, and will be gone Thursday through next Tuesday! I've been to Chicago, but never Minneapolis. I'll have a few hours of free time here and there. Anything I can't miss in either city?
If you're on pinterest, I'm sure you've seen the recipe for the fresh strawberry yogurt bundt cake that has been all the rage. I think I've repinned it about a dozen times from a dozen different blogs....each time I saw it, it was a different photo of course, from a different blogger, so I just kept on repinning! Sunday afternoon I decided to try it. I had a container of Greek yogurt, and a container of strawberries that needed to be used. Usually I gobble up the berries as soon as I get home, so I am not sure how these stayed in the fridge for a few days this time! I looked back to pinterest and found my most recent pin (ha!) and grabbed an apron and set off to bake.
This darling apron is the Lucy from Scarlet Threads. She's now retired, but there are a few others in this same style in the shop! Remember, if you make a purchase, use the coupon code lex25 for a discount on your purchase!
Normally when I cook and bake, I follow the recipe for the most part, but improvise here and there. This time, I followed it nearly exactly, with one main switch. The recipe called for lemon zest, and I realized too late that I didn't have any lemons, but I had a jar of lemon zest, so I used that instead. Not a huge change, I didn't think.
However, look at my cake---
This is not pretty, and does not look delightful. It is delicious, but far from appetizing looking! The recipe calls for a glaze on top, but I didn't do that in the end, because it just wasn't looking good. All of the photos I've seen of this cake are gorgeous - light colored cake where you can see the strawberry pieces baked inside! I have no idea where I went wrong!
When I poured the batter into the pan, it filled it at least 3/4 of the way up, and when it baked, it baked up and over the top a bit! At one point, I heard a pop from the oven, and realized that there had been some sort of heat bubble inside that exploded, and a blurb of batter splurted over the top of it, making almost like a crust over the top, while still in the oven! So perhaps I'd have to cut the recipe in half next time? In this case, it is supposed to bake for an hour, but after just over an hour, it wasn't quite done yet.
As I said, it does still taste good, but just doesn't look good. I almost didn't want to post about it, but I figure that not every recipe is perfect every time, right? Mistakes happen, and that is how we get better in the kitchen, eh?
I met Sarah Pekkanen this weekend! She has a new book out called The Best of Us, and was speaking at a local book shop called Politics and Prose, which is pretty much an institution in DC. Steve and I had been out all afternoon, so we grabbed dinner at a restaurant next to the bookshop, and because of that, were a few minutes late to her talk. Ooooops.
Sarah was so wonderful and so funny. I missed the first ten minutes or so, so I didn't hear as much about the book, but she talked about her other books too, and took lots of questions from the audience. She gave advice to aspiring authors too, which I appreciated, since I have a secret goal of writing a book or two one day.
One day. I have the last line of the book finished...though should probably fill in the rest, eh?
When I went up to have my book signed, Sarah said I looked familiar and had we met...I said that I'd tweeted to her, so maybe that was why, and she laughed like we were old friends! It was so refreshing that we chatted that way. I've met some authors who seemed way too impressed with themselves, which made me a bit sad, but Sarah was so, so great.
I haven't read the book yet, but will post a review when I do! I bought a copy for Heidi, as she is the one who introduced me to Sarah Pekkanen's books. Since Heidi just had a baby a few weeks ago (!!!), she couldn't come with me, but I knew she'd want to read the book as well. Plus, she founded our book club, which is soon-to-be back in business! (any DC girls want to join our book club?! we're super fun, I promise).
I love meeting authors, and I love that many of them make stops in DC while on their book tours. This is just one of the reason why I don't like e-readers....it's really difficult to have someone sign your kindle ;)
Have you read any of Sarah Pekkanen's books? Which one is your favorite?
The Desiderata is one of my all-time favorite poems.
The very end is my favorite-
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Etsy has so many lovely pieces, including this print of the Desiderata. I have a postcard of the last few lines on my desk, but I think I need a poster sized copy of the print. In the challenging world that we live in, I think that it is a lovely reminder of how we should try to live our lives each and every day.
If you are not a sewer, you may not know what a fat quarter is. Typically, a fat quarter is a piece of fabric cut to 18" x 22." You can see from this illustration how a normal quarter of a yard of fabric is cut, and then how the fat quarter is cut. I like fat quarters better than regular quarter yards, because you get "more" of the fabric, in more of a square shape, so you often can get more of the design.
When I lived in my little apartment, I didn't have tons of space for fabric storage, so I bought a lot of small cuts of fabric, including fats. They're great for small projects like bags, doll quilts, placemats and napkins, and more! Even though I now have a sewing room of my very own, I still love buying fats. They're great to use when new fabrics come out, to see the print and just buy a bit of it, to see if you like it. Most places sell them for $2-$3 or so, whereas a full yard (36" x 44") can be anywhere from $8-$25, depending on the designer, etc! I don't want to spend so much and then decide that I don't like the fabric!
Two weeks ago, my friend Anna and I drove up to PA to do a little shop hop! We went to four quilt shops in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, and I picked up, among many other things, these fat quarters at the first shop we went to, called Cloth and Bobbin. We both loved the shop and all of the amazing fabrics there. I'll have to do another post on our trip - we had SO much fun!
Look at these! Loving the couple under the umbrella so much, and the London prints are just darling! I really should be a fabric designer! (wishful thinking!)
I am working on several baby quilts at the moment, and plan to do some serious sewing this weekend, but I might take a break from those and make a little something with these instead. What should I make? A little tote bag? For library books? A table runner? Something else? What would you make with them?
My brother's dog Styles has been entered in a funniest pet photo contest!
Don't you love it?!
He's part pit, part mastiff and the sweetest thing you've ever met.
If you are feeling generous and want to cast a few votes, go to this link. The contest is run by a local Rotary group nearby my hometown in NH, and all of the proceeds from the contest go to a local scholarship fund, of which I was a recipient back in the day! Seven votes is $5, and local college students would be so grateful to the support!
If you vote, scroll down to CF18 Styles D***** to cast your vote!
Styles and my brother would also appreciate it, and feel free to share this via twitter if you wish! My twitter name is @lexilooo, if you don't already follow me there!
I've seen a few posts like this recently, and thought it might be fun to do. I've been in a bit of a blogging rut recently, it seems, so maybe something like this will help get me out of it?
Reading:The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy. Apparently I'm wildly into World War II-era novels recently (oh what am I saying, I'm often reading them!). I recently finished The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal, and will review them both soon. Well, I'll review The Storyteller soon, but His Majesty's Hope a bit later this spring. It will be released in May, and I received an Advanced Readers Copy, and was asked to wait until closer to the release date to post my review. Needless to say, I loved both and can't wait to write about them!
Eating: Likely, a wheat bagel with chive cream cheese with my coffee. I wrote this post last night, but scheduled it to post for the morning, so I am assuming that is what I will be eating when it goes live ;)
Listening: At time of writing? I have Kourtney and Kim Take Miami on in the background. Gosh this show is ridiculous, and I can't believe I watch it, but I do. Khloe is the best of the three, in my opinion, and most days, I can't decide who is worse, Kim or Kourt....usually Kim, I'd say. She's just awful awful awful. Awful.
Thinking: How to really get organized this spring. I feel a bit out of it (maybe this blogging rut is spread into other parts of my life?), and I need to do some serious purging and cleaning. I think I might actually make a schedule. This house is a disaster. Also, thinking that I am excited about a sewing day with the DC Modern Quilt Guild this weekend! We meet monthly, and it's been several months since I've been able to attend a meeting, and I am looking forward to seeing the girls and some inspiration, and also, work on a baby quilt for my sweet friend Christine's new little baby Ada!
Smelling: Not a lot at all. I have an awful, awful cold and can't smell a thing at the moment!
Wishing: For a vacation. I spent most of last week in Las Vegas for a wedding, which was spectacular, and worthy of an entire post or two, but I can't be the only one who often needs a vacation from vacation! We took a red-eye back Saturday night, and I was miserable for the second half of it - my ears were going crazy during the descent, and hurt so, so much, and I spent most of Sunday in bed because I felt so awful! I've been a bit jet-lagged since. So, another vacation is in need, I think!
Laughing: At the fact that this "Private Investigator" took Kim K along on both a ride-along and to talk to "clients." Really? That is allowed?! Please.
Wearing: Yoga pants. I pretty much change into them as soon as I get home from work. Ahhh, cozies. Perfection.
Loving: The previews for the new Tine Fey/Paul Rudd movie Admission. It looks really funny! The line "Mom?" "Who is it?" "Who else calls you Mom?" gets me every time! I want to see it!
Wanting: A pair of mint green jeans. I know, I know, I'm totally late to that party, but I've just decided that I can't live much longer without a pair.
Needing: A new job. Like crazy. 'Nuff said.
Feeling: Like I really need to get back to going to yoga regularly. I was good for a while, and then got out of habit of going. This cycle repeats itself all the time, and I need to change this! Also, I want to try barre classes. I took a spin class a few months ago, but it really bothered my knee, but I've heard the barre classes can be good.
I grew up in New England and now I live in Washington, DC where I work for the federal government. I've lived abroad in Luxembourg, Poland and Canada, and would like to live abroad again. I love to travel and fill my passport with stamps. I read a lot and want to build libraries where they don't have any. I have a lot of cookbooks and love using them. I have an adorable godson named Jackson. I also sponsor two little girls through World Vision; six-year old Majlinda in Albania and two-year old Boikokobetso in South Africa. I love cupcakes, poppies, chocolate chip pancakes, peonies, strawberries and deviled eggs. I collect tea towels, teapots, Boleslawiec Polish pottery, vintage sewing supplies, Peter Rabbit books/pieces and Russian babushka nesting dolls. My two favorite childrens books of all time are Miss Rumphius and The Velveteen Rabbit and I would like to write my own books someday. I'm learning to quilt and have become a bit obsessed with buying fabric! I also love red shoes and wear them frequently. Steve, my boyfriend, keeps me sane most days, except for the ones when he's the one making me crazy! All in all, life is good and keeps me on my toes.