Little Letters

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Dear Sequined Lobster Tee:  You are so fancy and funny.  What a find.

Dear KC: 2 days until you’re birthday!  I hope you like what I got you, even though I’m not nearly as good at gift-giving as you are.

Dear Penny:  Sorry about that bath this week, but you were so smelly and you really are cute when you’re all soggy and sad.

Dear Basement Ceiling:  The fact that we still need to paint you has been hanging over my head for weeks now.  Literally.  (Y’know, because it’s a ceiling?  Get it?  I’m the worst.)

Dear BBQ:  What about how KC learned to use you (courtesy of YouTube) and now we’re grilling all the time?  So fun and so summery.

Dear Summer:  You’re really fun, but I kind of can’t help but look forward to fall (and winter!  My favorite.)

Dear ABC Family:  There’s nothing on TV because it’s summer, so I’ve been watching you more than pretty much any other channel.  That’s embarrassing.  (But also, Gilmore Girls is still as amazing as it was in 2005.  Real.)

Dear Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:  So fun that you’re back with new episodes!  And watching you never fails to make me want a latte like whoa.

Dear Lululemon:  I’m so in love with my new Astro Wunder Unders, but I’m not so enamored of the regular Wunder Unders I bought because they fit completely differently.  First world problems.

Dear Blue Bottle:  Between the New Orleans Iced Coffee, those insane yeasted waffles you’re selling, and the fact that you’re walking distance from our house, we should probably just start investing in your stock now (and sign over half a paycheck every week.)  Can’t. Stop.

Love, Chelsea

Cocktails for a Crowd

If you know me personally, or if you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you’ll know that I love cocktails.  I mean, I DIY-ed a bar cart, so I don’t think I need to tell you about my commitment to liquor.

I love fancy drinks, and think that homemade cocktails are an awesome way to show someone that you care about them.  My one gripe about the homemade cocktail situation is that it tends to be a little time consuming.  You spend a solid 5 minutes juicing and mixing and pouring, and then somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes later, you’ve got to do it all over again because you and your pal have already downed your drinks and you’re ready for another.

However, when KC and I were traveling through Europe, we went to a little pub in Edinburgh which presented me with a solution to this very problem:

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Hello, pot-tail.

Yep, that’s a teapot with cocktails in it.  Cocktails — plural.  So, assuming that you and whoever you’re with are enjoying the same beverage, you can throw more than one drink together into a teapot and have it ready to pour whenever.

Genius right?  Totally.

I scored a new silver teapot at an estate sale over the weekend, so I made a pot-tail for KC and I the other night, doubling this recipe to make 4 cocktails at once.  (Sometimes Monday nights call for that sort of thing.)

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Now, this whole pot-tail business won’t work for drinks that have to be shaken (not stirred.  ← had to.)  So, sadly, you’re on your own if your friend or significant other wants a pisco sour.  But if you’re putting together a drink that’s normally shaken and strained, or served over ice, just throw the ingredients into a teapot along with some ice, stir it all together and you’re in business.

Bonus points if you’ve got some adorable teacups to serve your beverage in.  (I didn’t.  But another estate sale or two and maybe I will.)

Recent Projects

KC and I have been working on some projects around the house recently, trying to finish up our basement space and make it a bit more livable.  Honestly, we had just planned on painting the spare room and installing some plank flooring, but that turned into painting the basement stairs and hallway and a plan to paint the ceiling as well (we haven’t tackled that project quite yet).

I’ll start with the basement stairs, because I don’t have great pictures of the spare room yet to show you.

Here’s how the stairs started:

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Hideous, super worn and covered with weird rubber mats.  And please notice the wall color — ugly avocado green.

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Not pretty.

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I painted the walls first — Glidden Silver Birch — then started in on the stairs.  Step one: remove the rubber mats.

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Spackled the nail holes, then did a once-over with the electric sander and cleaned the stairs to ready them for paint.

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One solid coat of Glidden Gripper primer.

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Two coats of porch and floor paint in Valspar’s Gulf Coast.

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I painted the bannister hardware gold (obviously), and painted the bannister with primer and some of my leftover white paint from this project (Behr Oyster Shell).

And voila, the finished stairs and hallway:

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How to Paint Stairs (or a floor)

What you’ll need:

  • spackling paste
  • sander + medium-grit sandpaper (I used 100)
  • broom, dust pan, clean rags
  • painters tape
  • paint brushes and rollers
  • Glidden Gripper Primer
  • Enamel Porch and Floor Paint (there’s also oil-based porch and floor paint, but oil paint tends to be harder to work with and smells awful, so I opted to use the enamel-based porch and floor paint) — I got my paint at Ace Hardware where they do custom colors for porch and floor paint, but only with a satin finish, so that’s what I used.

How to do it:

  1. Fill in any holes with spackling paste and let dry.
  2. Sand all surfaces, then clean with a broom and clean rags to remove any debris.
  3. Prep the space with painters tape.
  4. Paint one solid coat of primer and let dry for at least one hour.
  5. Paint as many coats of paint as needed to get the finish you want (I did two coats + a touch-up).  Wear socks on stairs between coats, only after the paint has dried.
  6. Let stairs cure for at least 72 hours before subjecting them to normal use.

 

Homemade Soft Pretzels

How was your 4th of July?  Ours was fun.  We had a BBQ which ended up going long into the evening and involved a lot of debauchery and a record consumption of Fireball shots (Not by me.  Ew.)  If I had to gauge the amount of fun our party was by how sticky our dining room floor was the next day, I’d say it was suuuuper fun.

At the BBQ we served grilled sausages with sautéed peppers and onions, the world’s largest watermelon, and my go-to Caesar salad.  The night before I also whipped up two batches of homemade soft pretzels (because sausages + soft pretzels — so American, right?  Yah.)  The pretzels were such a hit that I figured I should share the recipe with y’all, so you too can be the talk of the town at your next party.

Soft pretzels aren’t particularly difficult to make, just kind of time consuming.  And if you cheat a little and use a bread maker to make the dough (like me), it’s even easier.

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Soft Pretzels

makes 16 pretzels

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (80-90°F)
  • 1 tbsp. salt (plus additional for sprinkling)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • Alkaline solution: 5 cups water + 1/3 cup baking soda
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a splash of water or milk
  1. Using a bread maker: To make the dough, place all ingredients (omitting the alkaline solution and egg wash) into your bread maker in the order listed above and use the dough setting.
  2. Not using a bread maker: Combine water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture begins to foam.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in flour mixture until well combined and the dough comes together.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Oil a clean bowl with vegetable or olive oil and place dough in it.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 50-55 min, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Once your dough is ready, cut the dough into 16 equal pieces (cut into fourths, then cut each fourth into fourths again).  Quickly roll each piece into a long rope and twist it into a pretzel shape.  *Try to handle the dough as little as possible — the longer you mess with it, the tougher your pretzels will be.
  4. Once you have 16 pretzels formed, place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425°.
  6. Make your alkaline solution by combining 5 cups of water with 1/3 cup baking soda in a wide saucepan, then bring to a boil (I used my Le Creuset braiser for this).  Once boiling, boil each pretzel for 3 minutes, flipping halfway through (you can do this in batches rather than going one at a time).  Place onto a wire rack to drain.
  7. Once drained, return pretzels to a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.  Brush each pretzel with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt (I recommend using pretzel salt or sea salt for this — I used Maldon flake salt).
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. To revive pretzels the next day, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with a tad more salt, and reheat in the oven for 3-5 minutes.

IMG_3122IMG_3123IMG_3124IMG_3119Pair these with mustard and a cold beer and you’re in business.

 

Friday Penny Post + Links I Like

penny and the chair

Penny wasn’t super pumped about having to make the trip from San Jose back to Oakland like this because I’d just inherited 6 chairs for a new DIY project.  I put a towel down to make her more comfortable, but she ended up just picking it up with her teeth and flinging it off to the side.  At one point she hung her head and one arm over the side of the chair and just stared at me for like 5 minutes straight.  (There was a definite, “I cannot even believe you’re making me do this,” vibe.)

Our pets are just a tiny bit dramatic.

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What are you all up to this weekend?  We’ve got a wedding to go to (at the Oakland Zoo!)  I hope I don’t get eaten by a lion or anything during the reception…

Links from this week:

  • KC took the day off this week and we headed to Mikkeller Bar for lunch — it did not disappoint!
  • We also hit the new Michel Bistro for dinner.  The service was a little rocky, but the food (including the free chocolate mousse and creme brulee they gave us) more than made up for it.  If you’re looking for French food in Oakland, this is the place.
  • I meant to post this last week, but then I just abandoned the blog and didn’t write anything.  Oh well.  This post on happiness was very well-timed and felt like such a relief to read.
  • This one-minute clip of Jim Carrey’s commencement speech is pretty amazing.
  • I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I really want to subscribe to this philosophy (re: who has the worst kids).
  • I love Mindy Kaling, and every interview of hers that I read just reinforces my infatuation.
  • A hilarious book dedication.
  • For all you Game of Thrones fans who are also parents, it’s time to step up your game.
  • I feel like I want to make this pizza bread, but I also feel like I want to fit into my clothes.  Dilemma.

Little Letters

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Dear Peonies:  You are amazing.  I wish you didn’t die so quickly.

Dear Ponies (which I accidentally just typed while trying to spell “peonies”):  No, not you.

Dear New (free) Chairs:  I’m simultaneously really excited and totally dreading transforming you into awesome outdoor furniture.  Like all other DIY projects, I’ll probably put it off for a long time and then whine at KC until he agrees to help me.  #marriage

Dear Cooking:  I know we haven’t been meeting up lately.  Let’s try to rekindle our relationship, shall we?

Dear Scale:  We’re in a fight.  We might have to break up soon.

Dear Bar Method:  Thanks for being a nice constant through the past 6+ years.  It’s pretty nice that you’re there for me whether things are good/bad/great/awful.

Dear Blog:  You and I may continue to be on and off for awhile.  I’m feeling unmotivated and not like writing positive posts if I’m not really feeling that way.

Dear Phone:  Remember when you used to be just about talking to people… on the phone?  Sometimes I can’t even remember the last time I used my phone to actually speak to someone on the phone.  It’s all text/tweet/Instagram/check the BART schedule/do anything aside from actually talk on the phone.  (But not really tweet, since all my Twitter is is a repost of other social media…)  So 2014.

Dear Facebook Invites:  Can we not make this a thing?  If you want to invite me to something, could you email, text, call, or (OMG) send me a physical invitation?  Yes, I am high-maintenance and totally being a brat about this, but really.  (And how about we just use Facebook for what it’s intended for — people-stalking, backing up photos, pithy status updates, and getting people’s numbers when you drop your phone in a pool.)

Dear Life:  I’m a little bit annoyed by most things these days and considering becoming a social recluse.  Thank goodness KC’s around to make sure I don’t go all Grey Gardens.

Love, Chelsea

DIY: Blinged-Out Basement Pipes

You may recall that we have some ugly pipes in our downstairs laundry/family room. ↓

laundry 2I think they used to belong to a water heater that formerly existed down there, but they’ve long since become defunct since our water heater is elsewhere in the house.

KC and I didn’t feel comfortable cutting the pipes and then sealing the wall, given that we’re renting, so we just let them hang out for a bit.  However, after we redid the basement space, we started thinking about how we could jazz up the pipes so they didn’t look so… “hey this used to be a basement,” y’know?

After I became infatuated with Rustoleum metallic gold spray paint while redoing the trunk for that space, we came up with the idea to paint the pipes gold.  We couldn’t really hide them effectively, so why not make them a little focal point instead?

This past weekend I rolled up my sleeves and blinged out those pipes like you wouldn’t believe.  It was crazy easy (spray painting is amazing) — the worst part was prepping the space to make sure I didn’t spray paint anything I wasn’t supposed to.  (As much as I love the idea of everything being metallic gold, I figured I should curb my Midas tendencies and keep the gold confined to the pipes).

I was feeling pretty good about things when I started in with the painters tape prep:

IMG_2841Looking pretty good right?  Well, things kind of got… less professional-looking as I started really covering the space…

IMG_2845Whatever.  I mean, it did the trick.  Who cares if I had to use a quarter of a roll of painters tape for this monstrosity?  (Ok, maybe a half a roll…)

I primed the pipes with some leftover Kilz Original Primer Sealer Spray:

IMG_2847Looking better already, right?  Also, doesn’t all the plastic make it look like some sort of weird murder-room?  No?  Just me?  Anyway…

After the primer dried, I got to spraying those bad boys gold:

IMG_2850If you’re thinking this is lessening my obsession with the Rustoleum metallic spray paint, you’d be dead wrong.

I think the gold is quite an improvement:

IMG_2851 IMG_2853I’m maybe going to paint all the things.  Gold everything!

 

Friday Penny Post + Links I Like

Since I do a lot of reading throughout the week (and am about to have quite a bit more time to do so…) I thought I’d use my Friday Penny Posts to share a few of the interesting things I’ve come across over the past week — I hope you enjoy!

Ferocious Pup

Don’t worry, Penny isn’t this scary in real life — I just happened to catch her just at the right moment.  What a beast!

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This weekend KC and I are staying home after having been away traveling for the past 3 weekends.  It seems like forever since we’ve had a weekend at home with no plans, so both of us are looking forward to staying in and working on a few projects around the house.  KC is having a BBQ for his co-workers at our house next weekend, so we’re planning on doing a little trial run to make sure we’re prepared (KC’s never BBQ’d before.  It’s going to be an experience.)  KC also has some grand plans involving refinishing a bench he bought off Craigslist for $10 (I’ve done all the furniture refinishing up to this point, so I’m kind of excited to hand over the reigns on this one.) and he wants to clean out and organize our pseudo-garage space.  That doesn’t sound super-fun, but I’m hoping that I can maybe get away with more of the “supervising” than the actual cleaning on that one… ;)

Links from this week:

Little Letters

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

Dear Swiss Chard:  Your stems are so pretty, I almost feel bad about composting them.  In other news, my at-home manicure color choice seems to be spot-on for this season.

Dear Home:  It’s so nice to be back!  Traveling for the past 3 weeks sure has been fun, but it’s really nice to sleep in my own bed and snuggle Penny to my heart’s content.

Dear Southwest:  Your decision to overbook most of your flights for Memorial Day weekend was a big win for KC and me.  We’re brainstorming how to best use our $900 voucher in the next year.  (NY during Christmastime perhaps??  I’m giddy just thinking about it.)

Dear Weekend:  I’m super excited that we have zero obligations (aside from Bar Method teaching) this weekend.  I cannot wait to actually be home with no plans (y’know, aside from maybe a homemade happy hour or two).

Dear Homemade Happy Hour:  I know that the Monk’s Garden has been my go-to lately, but I think I’m going to have to recreate the cocktail served in a teapot KC and I had in Edinburgh.  Too cute!

Dear KC:  I know that I have been a little stressed over my current job situation lately, but I can’t tell you enough how amazing you have been about all of this.  Seriously, I couldn’t dream up a better support than you.  I love you.

Dear Alexis:  We’re FINALLY back in the same state together!  I can’t wait to hang out tomorrow (even if it is sans-cocktails).

Dear Jet Lag:  You finally caught up with me and it’s the worst.  Waking up to about 2pm just feels like drowning now.

Dear Penny:  You are the saddest, tiredest, floppiest puppy after you get your shots.  It’s so sad and so cute, I can’t even deal.  And I can’t wait to go on sunshiney walks to coffee with you this weekend, finally!

Dear Friends and Blog Readers:  Thank you for all your kind words and support regarding my last post.  Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what’s challenging or difficult within your own life, while forgetting that everyone struggles at one point or another.  Writing that post was tough, but hearing everyone’s sentiments that they had felt or were feeling the same way helped me see that we’re all just trying to figure things out in our own way and that everyone feels a little lost at one point or another.  You guys are the best, and I really hope you know that.

Love, Chelsea