Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's Baking? December: Brownies!

December is National Brownie Month, so it seemed like a perfect choice for Nicole's theme. And what a great excuse to bake up a great batch!

Chocolate and I have a love/hate relationship. It's kind of weird. I get all "omg seriously?!" when someone says they don't like chocolate, but.... to be honest, I don't always like chocolate. I'd prefer to avoid chocolate cake. I can't stand chocolate ice cream (ugh, gross), and I'll only eat chocolate cookies if I have a cup of coffee in the other hand. But give me a chocolate bar and I'm all over it- I require my chocolate in its late-20th-century-American pure form. Or as a lovely hot drink.

But brownies are one of the few chocolatey baked goods I'll get that glazed look in my eyes for. They have to be nice, fudgy, gooey brownies. And nuts, please.

I've been late in baking my theme item for the past few months, so this month I started early early early. My choir performed a staged Boar's Head Festival on December 10th, and we always work together to put on a nice reception after the concert. Of course, I'm the first to sign up to bring food for the reception! So of course with that, and this month's theme, I just had to bring brownies. But not just any brownie: when we're talking reception, I aim to impress. So I took to tastespotting for inspiration.

I found a recipe for peppermint brownies. I've done the kind where you stick peppermint patties in the middle of the batter- they were good, but I unfortunately used splenda for the brownies- I say unfortunately because I despise splenda. If you like splenda, go ahead, sub it in. But I'd rather have no sugar than fake sugar in a baked good. This peppermint brownie concept was different, though- it had a layer of peppermint icing on top of the brownies, and then some chocolate ganache. Sounds good! But, wouldn't you know.... I used up all my peppermint extract last year on the millions of batches of peppermint bark I made, and forgot to buy more. So I bring you...

Cinnamon Brownies
based on tea for six's recipe

12T (1.5 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4t salt
1t vanilla

Melt the butter and stir in the sugar- I did this all in the medium saucepan I used for melting the butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients and mix them in.

Important: line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Don't skip the parchment paper- it'll make it so much easier to ice the brownies later. Bake at 350F for 40-45 min, until they're set. Let cool in the pan.

Cinnamon icing

2 cups powdered sugar
1T water
3-4 drops of cinnamon oil (or go ahead and use your peppermint extract, 1t)
a few drops of red food coloring, for festiveness

Whisk all that together. Pour over the cooled but still in the pan brownies, and spread around with a spatula. It doesn't have to be perfect. Chill in the fridge for a couple hours (I chilled overnight)

Chocolate ganache
250g chocolate (chopped bittersweet, or semisweet chocolate chips, whatever you have)
1/2 cup cream (I used light cream)

Put chocolate in medium bowl. Heat cream over medium heat until it just starts to boil, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then start to stir. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Then pour over the iced brownies and spread around. Pop back in the fridge for a few hours to set the chocolate.

Then cut the brownies!

These were fab. Honestly I had some doubts about using cinnamon oil along with chocolate, but have you ever had those after dinner minty things that are a stick of flavored hard candy dipped in chocolate? They have them at some fancy restaurants. The red ones are cinnamon, and were always my favorite. These brownies taste like that.

Now I've fallen in love with the cinnamon oil and have started using it more- cinnamon sugar cookies, anyone?

One note about these brownies, however: they're a little messy! I was nervous about eating them in my fancy renaissance costume at the reception, although they were gone in an instant so I only ended up with the lopsided ones as I cut and plated them. The brownies themselves are a solid little fudgy cake, very nice for topping. I highly recommend these.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Baking? November: Savory Treats

This month, Jey of the Jey of Cooking chose to have us all bake something savory. Originally I wanted to make some cheesey biscuits or crackers, or something with lots of herbs. But alas, I was only at home for about half of the month, so things got a little tricky. And on top of that, I am full-on in the Christmas rush for my etsy shop! Which is great, but it means I'm not cooking much... or at all.

But tonight! Tonight I decided to utilize all the leftover turkey my parents gave us. What to do, though? This year I got sick and didn't get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my entire family, and therefore missed Uncle Bob's chicken pie, which is the FAVORITE dish at Thanksgiving. Turkey? whatever. We go for the chicken pie. It's a huge tradition, and Uncle Bob's is amazing. So having missed that, I thought, I should try to make my own version! Huge success. This is my top recipe for leftover poultry.

Chicken Biscuit Pie
adapted from foodnetwork.com

2T unsalted butter
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 mushrooms, quartered
1/2t salt
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
herbs of your choice (I used 1T of a poultry seasoning blend from Stonewall Kitchens)
1/3 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
leftover chicken or turkey (original recipe calls for 4 cups, I used about 2 and it was enough)
freshly ground pepper

In a 9in oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions and salt. Cook for about 4 minutes. Add the herbs and then the flour, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for a few minutes, til thickened. Add the turkey/chicken, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Now make the biscuits.

Biscuit topping
2 cups flour
1T baking powder
1/2t salt
1t sugar
6T butter (original recipe says 7)
3/4 cup milk

Whisk the dry ingredients together, then rub in the butter 2T at a time with your fingers. Stir in the milk, stirring until just barely combined. Place the biscuit dough on a floured board and knead for a few seconds, then roll out to a 10in circle, to fit over the chicken veggie mixture (or just break into single serving-sized pieces). Place the biscuits on top of the chicken/veggie mixture and bake at 425F for 40-50 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This was delicious! It's pretty quick: baking it takes a little time, but it's quick and easy to put together. The biscuit top was light and fluffy but with a nice crust, and the chicken and gravy mixture was so flavorful with the herbs and pepper and veggies. I usually don't put mushrooms in chicken pot pie, but now I realize I really should!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrating Lilly's Birthday!

If I can't celebrate with Lilly herself, what better way to pay tribute to her than to go window shopping?

November 10th was a terribly rainy and dreary day in MA. I had a few etsy orders I needed to work on, but honestly, I couldn't bear the thought of sitting in a chilly, grey (especially because the walls are light blue and silver) room and watch the rain out the window all afternoon. Instead, I took a little drive over to E.A.Davis in Wellesley (which, actually, wasn't the smartest thing- the roads were terrible!) and played dress-up. I hope I don't start annoying the salespeople. Usually I don't ask for help, but they're very well-trained there and help you no. matter. what. Believe me, I'd love to have bought something, but the two items I loved most were of course the most expensive (by far). And so I'll wait. But hey, this way I have a wonderful Christmas list!

Let's start at the beginning.

I tried a mix of Fall 2011 and Resort 2011. I had a mental list of Resort I wanted to try, but sadly most of those items were not in the store, or just not available in my size.

First, I tried on Rebecca. I didn't care for Rebecca on the model, but in person I noticed it has a nice , slightly full 3/4 sleeve. It also has a zip up neck in back, which is interesting- very nice if you've done your hair/makeup before putting on your sweater! Despite my expression, I like Rebecca more than I expected, although I wish she weren't quite so long. I most likely won't purchase Rebecca unless she's at a great price, mostly because of that length. Otherwise she fits true to size.
Rebecca Sweater
cotton/nylon/silk blend, available in Island coral and Black. $128

Next, I grabbed the Resort 2011 Elsa. Now, I've heard the CDC (woven) Elsa fits differently than the cotton (knit) Elsa. But I was not aware that Fall 2011 and Resort 2011 CDC Elsas also fit completely differently. Here I am in Resort 2011 CDC Elsa, size L. She's pretty big.

So when the helpful saleslady happened by, I asked for a M.

Ah, MUCH better. With this top, I've jumped on the Elsa bandwagon. It's a great flowy, loose yet still pretty and stylish top. I don't even need to go into the awesome print, do I? I'm perpetually on the hunt for a pretty top that's not super low cut. A few years ago it was nearly impossible, the only non-low-cut tops I could find were crew necks (blah!), but now it's getting much easier.

But I also tried on a solid Fall 2011 Elsa. In a L.
Fall L and Resort M fit me about the same... hmm. Beware, girls! I mean ok, Fall 2011 is a little roomy, but nowhere near Resort L. Solid navy would be more useful, but that print is fab... such choices!!

Elsa, Resort in Snorkel Blue Greens with Envy, available in Navy Hot Hot Hot, Black Skip on it, and hotty pink Greens with Envy, for $158, Fall available in navy, black, white, hotty pink, lagoon green for $138.

Next, we have the Rivia Flounce top. I've seen this on other girls and decided I loved it, but ugh it runs big and I'm between sizes. Here I am in the L. But it's still adorable, and I just hope you aren't between sizes like I am!

Rivia Flounce Top
$68, Available online only in black, but at E.A. Davis in hotty pink and navy.
Cotton jersey

Next, the Mandy V neck t. I mostly just grabbed it for the sake of trying it, not because I particularly loved it. But I was very pleased with the results, possibly because Starry Blue Drama Queen is an awesome print. However, it runs small- here I am in an L.
Mandy V Neck T
Cotton Slub

Here's one of the day's favorites! The Gwyn sweater, from Resort 2011! This is a cashmere sweater, a simple V neck style but with some lovely, subtle yarnover stitch details on the front and down the center of the back. She runs a tad small, unfortunately- since I usually wear a cami under sweaters to prevent against an itchy back. But oh, such luxury to wear... normally I get fussy and vain and skip things I'd have to go up a size for, but this one is worth it.

Gywn Cashmere Sweater
in oh so many pastel colors!

Here's another Resort pick. It's one I really don't love. Like the Cassie, the Ritchie has received rave reviews everywhere. It's cut like Cassie, but with long sleeves with buttons on the ends. And... fits me like a smock. Blah! It runs true to size though, here I am in an L. I will not be buying it: however, this is a great print.

Available in Hotty Pink Let's Go Bananas, also in Hotty Pink Frilly Ferns. Silk/cotton jersey

Let's get back to things I liked.

The Shailene is like a Shauna with prettier sleeves. She fits true to size or slightly big (I'm wearing a 12 and she's roomy). This is Black Dodies Coral Embroidery, and while coral-red and black aren't really my colors, I love love love the style. Having that ruffle at the sleeve and the V neck with contrasting stitching are lovely touches. I really hope Shailene pops up again!

Shailene, $298
in Black Dodies Coral Embroidery

Here's another I love! The Helena Sweater dress. I picked her up, expecting to dislike her, but oh, like the Jonah and Shauna, I love. And again, the ruffled cuff! Plus that ruffle on the bottom. I would love to pair this with a murfee, it's such a classic, stylish dress just begging for some great accessories. Sometimes you need something simple! She fits perfectly true to size, this is an L.
Helena Sweater Dress, $198
Merino Wool

Here's a Fall 2011 pick. Fiona! Fiona kind of fits like a Lulu; however, she's a knit. She fits true to size in the Fall 2011 sizing, although one small complaint: having a side zipper in a knit maybe isn't the best idea. Can you see the weird bump on my hip a little under my hand? That's the end of the zipper. I'm hoping maybe this particular one was stretched out. Regardless though, this has a great neckline and is shaped well. It's also available in brown and ivory colorblock, and navy and hotty pink colorblock, which would be my pick- since I already have a Heel Yeah dress!
pictured in Heel Yeah Jacquard for $188, also available in colorblock for $178.
Heavy cotton jersey

New favorite! The Blayney Ruffle. Now, I've been after this dress in Let's Get Gingky (from Fall 2010), for a LONG time, but haven't had any luck finding it in my size. So this was the first properly-fitting Blayney I've ever tried on... and now I'm hunting even harder for one! This is a L, and I now know that I'm a M in the Fall 2010 version- so watch out! That's a huge (and potentially very frustrating) difference. Some say the ruffle isn't so great if you're busty, but personally, I like it. It may require a little sewing to keep the wrap-over neckline from gaping open, but that's a quick and simple fix. It's a very flattering cut, and it has pockets! Yay!
Blayney, $268
in Starry Blue Drama Queen and Bright Navy Bravissimo
silk/cotton knit

I've saved the best for last. This is Jeannette. I have no idea when Jeannette debuted, since I've never seen her before, and there was only the one of her. First shipment of Fall 2011, perhaps? Regardless, I didn't expect to love her when I picked her off the rack, but like so many things, oh I do! She is a lace dress with same-color lining, and a crepe-y trim on the ends of the cap sleeves and hem. She is simply cut, but very classic, elegant and flattering. And she has an unexpected low back (I won't show you, all the pictures were even more unflattering than normal). She has an exposed gold zipper, which I honestly don't care for, but whatever, I'll deal with it in this dress. This is at the top of my wish list. This is a size 12, she's a little roomy but very comfortably so.
Jeannette, $298
in Hotty Pink and Black

Hopefully some time in December E.A.Davis will get some more Resort 2011 so I can try on the TayTay, Adriana and Joy Tunic Dress. Until then, I'm scouring Ebay for Palm Beach fit pants, in any color, fabric, length. These pants fit as if they were made especially for me, and I'm in love with them. Good pants are so hard to find.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Traipsing down the CT Wine Trail

Last weekend we had a freak snow storm. In our town, we got about 5 inches of very heavy, wet snow. Schools all over were canceled the next day, and many people were without power. We were lucky, we only lost our phone/dsl. The biggest problem with this storm was that fall had come kind of late, so most of the tree still had their leaves, which are excellent for collecting the heavy snow and weighing the poor tree down.

My parents, on the other hand, lost power for 9 days. So by day 7, they'd had it, and came to visit. And we decided to try a little section of the CT wine trail.

I'm going to give you my frank and honest opinions about these places. I would be happy visiting each one again. All of these were in the northeast section of the state, along I-395.

Holmberg Orchards, in Gales Ferry
Their tasting room is this adorable tiny little shed. If you need to use the restroom, I'd wait til your next stop. Sorry, but I just have to say that- you know if you're hitting several wineries in one day, you WILL have to make a pitstop at some point. Don't do it here. Anyway, the wines.
We tasted four wines: a pear, a peach, and 2 styles of ciders. The pear was good, the peach was actually very peachy yet not overly sweet like many peach wines are. But they both paled in comparison to their ciders. If you like a light, sweet cider, these are for you. The Russet Cider is similar to Magner's (an Irish cider that can be a little tricky to find, at least in New England), and the Cortland was a little sweeter, a little heavier. I looooved the Russet. Best part? $7.99 a bottle (750mL, wine bottle size)! Tastings were $6 each you get to keep the very cute glass (which we left in my parents' car... oh well)

Maugle Sierra, in Ledyard.
Oooh, add this one to my favorites list. Their wines aren't cheap ($18-24), and the tasting is $10 for 6 wines (you get to keep the glass), but the tasting room is open, airy and relaxing, their wines are good, the guy behind the tasting bar was so full of information about the wines, and! they serve fancy pizzas. I liked their white wines (House White - chardonnay with a splash of vidal; Sunset White, a very crisp vidal that I'd enjoy in the summer), their rose (St Croix) was very interesting (in a good way! the kind of wine you sip, make that posh wine connoisseur face and say "hmm" before you take another sip), but I really loved their reds. The House Red is a St Croix blended with Merlot. Of course I've forgotten what it really tastes like now, but when I tasted it I decided I'd buy a bottle. Then we got to the Sunset Red, a blend of St Croix and Cabernet Franc. Now, Cab Franc is currently my favorite red, and I'm also newly fond of St Croix, so then I changed my mind to decide I'd get a bottle of this. So finally we tried the St Croix, which is just as good as the previous, but without the Cab Franc flavor mixed in. Clint wanted to buy this one, but we ended up with the St Croix/Cab Franc, partly because it was cheaper, and party because he also really enjoyed it.

I'm definitely returning to Maugle Sierra, just to do a tasting and hang out.

Dalice Elizabeth, in Preston.
This was a cute little place, situated on a lovely lake. I'd love to come here in the summer and sit out on their patio. For $10 we tried the Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Sangiovese. I think by this time I was a little crocked, so I don't remember anything in particular about these wines, aside from really enjoying the Cab Franc and Sangiovese. I felt the Merlot was a little thin, not much body to it. Mostly I remembered encountering a group of women celebrating one of their birthdays, who all worked at a pub that's just opened a new location about 2 blocks from our house- this is exciting, we love walking to dinner. One nice touch is that the grandmother of the young guy manning the tasting room made all sorts of relishes, pickles and apple butter that are sold in the shop. Love that!

Heritage Trail, in Lisbon.
This was another cute place I'd like to return to. Their tasting room is a cafe, and they offer a cheese and wine pairing for 2 for $25. The wine-only tastings were $7, and we didn't buy any wine because on the tasting list they were outrageously expensive- $24-42 a bottle! That's insane. I'm hoping they were priced like that because it's a cafe, and those were the prices to order a bottle of wine for the table or something. Honestly, I didn't really care for any of their wines, they all tasted slightly thin and metallic, but the atmosphere was great. We were unfortunately in a hurry at this point so couldn't stay and enjoy- I'd especially loved to have done that wine and cheese pairing!

Sharpe Hill, in Pomfret.
We didn't get to a tasting, but I promise you, I will be back there. Their tasting room is a smallish room with a super high ceiling so it just has a great effect when you enter. They've decorated with all sorts of farmy old-timey things- I especially loved the 7 gurgling cod pitchers. The bathroom is kind of fascinating (the line is super long because everyone has to look around- the room is all shelves, with interesting knick knacks on the shelves), and the sink is made out of a solid piece of carved soapstone.
We didn't get to a tasting here because we had dinner reservations, and the tasting bar was closed by the time we finished eating. However! This was one of the best meals I've had in at least a month. I had lamb chops with mint jelly, sauteed brussels sprouts and some kind of boring-looking yet fabulous-tasting rice. I had the Red Seraph, a Chianti-style blend of St Croix and Cab Franc (no, I can't get away from that blend!), which was recommended for the lamb... and I can't really say if I ordered the wine for the lamb, or the lamb for the wine. They were both excellent.
Clint had the jerk chicken with some sort of delicious bbq sauce and mango salsa. He gave me his grilled bananas (:-D). Dad has steak delmonico which he practically inhaled, so I can only assume it was good. Mom had scallops that were prepared simply but perfectly. And we all had Princess Louise Birthday cake for dessert- a simple white cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberry puree- the perfect ending.

And we have one more!

The following day, we visited Taylor Brook in Woodstock. Hands down, best wine tasting deal of the weekend- possibly in all the 20 wineries I've been to in CT thus far. For $6 you can taste all 13 wines. You can't keep the glass, but honestly I don't mind that- we have such a big wine glass collection from all our tastings that it's kind of a hindrance.
I won't go through all their wines- 13 is a lot (bring a DD or a picnic. Seriously. Clint and I shared a single tasting, and it was still quite a lot for me). I enjoyed them all, but particularly:
the Traminette, a sweet, light Gewurztraminer
the Cranberry Riesling, a Riseling base with fermented cranberries added. A dangerous drink, since it tastes so much like juice.
Autumn raspberry, a riesling with raspberry essence added
Raspberry Rendezvous, a raspberry dessert wine that's not overly sweet
the Merlot, which isn't listed on their website but is a nice, light, 100% CT grown Merlot grape wine (we bought a bottle).

it's nice there are so many wineries clumped together in some sections of the state, a winery tour is a lovely way to spend a sunny weekend day.

Another good clump you can knock off in a day is over in Litchfield County, the northwest section of CT. We visited CT Valley, Jerram, Land of Nod, Miranda, Sunset Meadow, and just barely missed Haight-Brown, all on one Saturday afternoon. It's too bad they all close at 5pm!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What's Baking? October: Fall Flavors

I missed last month's What's Baking (family favorites), which was sad. So I was determined to do this month's, but I unfortunately haven't had time
to blog about it until the very last minute!

I went apple picking a few weeks ago, as I try to do every year. I picked a 1/2 bushel of apples, and I really think I need to get over there again before they close for the season and get another half bushel! One more apple pie or crisp and they'll all be gone. For this reason, I made something that would use fewer apples for What's Baking?.

Joy The Baker made a lovely apple coffee cake ring earlier this month. It has a yeasty dough and is filled with apples- kind of like cinnamon rolls with apples in a ring form. It looked lovely. And it tastes lovely! I used half whole wheat flour to be a little more whole-grainy, and instead of her streusel topping, I made a cream cheese icing. It's a great breakfast bread, it's appley and cinnamony but not overly sweet (unless you smother it in the icing, of course). One recipe makes two, and we've thoroughly enjoyed having this one around for twice as long ;)

The dough is a very different dough than I've worked with before- it's kind of like a cross between a yeast bread and a cake. It tastes like a bread, though!

Apple Coffee Cake Ring
recipe from Joy the Baker

For the dough:
1T active dry yeast
1/4cup warm water
6T sugar
1 and 1/2 stick butter, softened to room temperature
1t cardamom
1/2t salt
3 eggs
4.5 to 5 cups flour (I used half WW and half AP)
1 cup warm milk

In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 10-15 min for the yeast to wake up.
In a larger bowl (of your stand mixer, preferably), beat the butter, sugar, cardamom and salt together til creamy, about 3 min. Beat in the 3 eggs and 1 cup of flour. Stir til well combined, about 1-2 min. Add 2 more cups of flour, the warm milk and the yeast mixture, beat for another minute. Then add the rest of the flour and mix until you had a sticky dough. Knead for about 10 minutes (I kneaded with the mixer). Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise in a warm place til doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced into small pieces
2t lemon juice (optional, good for flavor and prevents apples from turning brown)
2T brown sugar
1t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
pinch of salt
1t cornstarch

To make the filling, mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Back to the dough: it's risen now, so punch it down and divide in half. Spread out one half on your floured board and roll/stretch to a 10x14in (approx) rectangle. Sprinkle half of the filling mixture over the dough, and begin to roll the long side. Form into a horseshoe, and then using a sharp knife (or even scissors), cut the dough about 2/3 of the way through the roll. Do this every 2-3inches or so, and then spread the slices out to make the horseshoe into a circle. Place this on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, cover with a dishtowel and let rise for about 45min. Repeat with the other half of the dough. You can either bake the 2nd half or wrap the long roll in plastic wrap and freeze. If you freeze, let the cylinder thaw, then cut as for the first half, let rise, and bake.

Bake at 375F for about 40 min.

When cool, drizzle with cream cheese icing: 1T softened cream cheese, 1T milk and 1 cup powdered sugar.

Yum! Take this to the next brunch or tea party you're invited to.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New shoes!

These are not the shoes you'd expect, but I love them just the same!

Over the weekend, my mom and I went to the Lilly Pulitzer Resort 2011 trunk show/preview at the Silkworm in West Hartford Center. Resort is lovely. However, I was confronted with sample sizes, which honestly kind of irks me. It's one thing to only bring one of each item in a variety of sizes, but bringing everything in S and 4 is kind of unfair. Is every single Lilly lover a size 4? I think not. Would it kill them to throw in a couple Ms, Ls, XLs, and XSs? Really? Especially when there were 3 Lana shirts in 2 different colors, all size S. What's the point of that?

This rant-let about sample sizes goes back to shopping around for bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses. With the entire country concerned about weight gain and obesity, you'd think they could throw in a few larger sizes- why bother making plus sizes dresses if you don't have the models available to try?

And I feel completely justified in complaining because for several years, I actually was the main sample size used in bridal shops, so I could buy the samples at the end of the season sale and only have to do minimal alterations to make them work. I'm not just whining because I couldn't zip anything up.

But anyway. I just had to get that out. Other than that, the resort stuff is lovely. They didn't have many of the prints I'd caught a glimpse of in the bootleg lookbook photos that got passed around, but I don't mind waiting for the whole shebang to pop up on the website.

Even more exciting than the resort preview was the sale on all Lilly in the store! You may remember back during the Endless Summer Sale, I'd almost bought a Jonah- but then canceled my order last minute. I was worried the Jonah wouldn't be flattering on me. Yes, I could return it, but then I wouldn't be able to replace it. I played it safe and bought a cardigan. Well, I've regretted not having the Jonah. Not knowing how it looks doesn't really lessen the regret, it makes me more regretful that I haven't even been able to find one in a store to try on.

Well the Silkworm changed all that!

She had one single Jonah in Heel Yeah. Only one size, only one print. And what do you know, it was my size! I tried on a number of things- unfortunately I had my small purse so no camera (hopefully the time for the iPhone 4 is near).

The Fannie fits like the Evie (still no picture of my Evie sorry, but I can tell you it's super flattering and lovely, highly recommend). However, the Fannie has a crew neck and rather wide shoulders, which are completely unflattering on me. I would only recommend this if you have narrow or sloping shoulders. The body is very flattering, with a classic higher waist and the contrasting color stripe is very well-placed. Fannie runs true to size.
Fannie Dress
in Pink Tomato (also available in navy/black and brown/ivory)

The shop owner gave me a Connie... I don't love the Connie. I was probably wearing the wrong size, it was very tent-like- I think she runs big, consider sizing down. I think my issues are just personal preference though, and I recommend trying it on if you like it. I don't even like it on the models, to be honest.
Connie Sweater Dress
in Black High Seas Stripe (also available in True Navy High Seas Stripe, with pink stripes)

I also tried on the Augusta, but unfortunately in a smaller size, since that's all there was. In previous years, it would have been close to fitting, but with the new sizing there was no hope- so I think she runs true to size, but I can't be absolutely sure. However! This is a lovely, lovely dress. The ruching at the hip is very flattering and comfortable. The only thing is... it's REALLY low-cut. Like, get a plunge bra for this one. I was really surprised, because it looks rather high on the model. Go figure.
Augusta Dress
in Bright Navy Bravissimo

The Ciara tunic in Chorus Girls is lovely, but I have no idea how to wear a top like this! It really looked like I was trying to look nice on a fat day. It's huge around the hips (on me, at least). I considered trying the next size down, but then I think it would have been too restrictive up top. It may be that this just doesn't work on me, but I want to warn you all about the bagginess! So I'm not sure how Ciara runs- she might be a little large, she might be true to size and the cut just didn't work on me... I really don't know. I wish we'd had more time and I could have tried other sizes. I was disappointed, because this print is gorgeous, and I think it's only available in Ciara, Bowen, and the hated Eryn (I hate Eryn. I know many love it, but I despise this dress).
Ciara Tunic
in Chorus Girl (also available in Pink Tomato Standing Ovation)

Finally, the Jonah in Heel Yeah :) I saved Jonah for last, because when I took it off the hanger, it looked just like Shauna, which looks like it might not work but then fits perfectly. Jonah is just the same! Jonah is basically the knit version of Shauna. Jonah is a hair roomy compared to other dresses from this season, which may be the goal of the style. It's obviously less structured than say, the Blanca or the Evie. My closet might just become overpopulated with Jonahs and Shaunas, that's how great they are. The construction of Jonah is subtle and flattering. There's a seam above the bust that goes across the entire front, and somehow shapes the dress perfectly. The buttons on the left shoulder are a lovely touch. And there are pocket! The only thing is it's one single, long, tube-like pocket, like on a sweatshirt, not two individual pockets. That's kind of weird, but not a big deal.
Jonah Dress
in Heel Yeah

I wore Jonah last night to a meeting. I was worried the Heel Yeah print wouldn't be quite right for this meeting, a little too superficial-girly, but no one really recognized it as shoes, so now I love it even more. It's a perfect Lilly hotty pink on navy, one of the best color combinations this world has ever seen (oh, am I a little biased? hmm). I love that the buttons are pink, too! And I wore this sans sash- my figure doesn't do belted dresses (luckily the shop owner, who's about 5'10 and at most a size 2) is the same way, so we comiserated over our beltless-ness. I plan to pair the belt with jeans- I just got some gently-used Lilly jeans on ebay, and they fit all over except the waist is too big, My new White House Black Market jeans are the same, stupid things completely stretched out :( And I almost bought the next size up! yikes.

In other Lilly news, my etsy shop is up and has nearly all the inventory displayed that I plan it to have- I have Christmas stockings in 3, possibly 4, more prints to put up, and I'll get Christmas tree skirts in 2 other prints. So far I've made one sale and have 2 more in process. My goal is to be able to sew for the fun of it and be able to find homes for my products, as well as pay for the supplies :) I'm really loving making these Christmas stockings, but we're currently very traditional in our Christmas decorations, and as much as I want a very Lilly Christmas, it won't happen anytime soon. Maybe if we had a small side room that I could Lillify?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Isn't that a fun word? I love saying it.

We had beef bulgogi at the food and wine festival at Disney World a few weeks ago- I've been writing this post for over a week now, it's actually kind of embarrassing I can't get it done. But you know why? Inserting photos into blogger is a huge pain in the... you know. And the F&W post will have upwards of 30 photos. It's a daunting task.

I'm also lazy and have attention span issues lately. But that's neither here nor there. Also? I opened an etsy shop. Making things for my etsy shop takes up a lot of my time- but it's super fun so I usually don't care that I completely miss lunchtime and forget about making dinner until 9pm (which then means that we have cereal or sandwiches for dinner- until I got smart and made a huge batch of pulled pork and homemade grinder rolls, allowing dinner to be thrown together in about 10 minutes). Clint may not agree with the funness being worth eating at 10pm, but pulled pork heals all wounds.

Go see my etsy shop! Sorry, end of advertisement.

So let me quickly tell you about this pork bulgogi recipe I made.

It's not authentic, it's Martha Stewart. But inauthentic can still be delicious! (especially when it's Martha Stewart) It was lovely and easy and thinking about eating the leftovers 2 days later was particularly joyful. We served it with sushi rice for a super yum meal.

Pork Bulgogi
Recipe from Martha Stewart

4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2T sugar
1T sesame oil
2t crushed red pepper (I used 2t sriracha, use 1t if you don't want it really spicy)
2t ginger, freshly grated (I used ground ginger, I was lazy)
1/4t ground pepper
1lb pork tenderloin, very thinly sliced crosswise
1 onion, cut into 12 wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips (my addition)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

In a shallow pan, assemble the marinade: whisk together the garlic, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper/sriracha, ginger and pepper. Slice the pork very thinly across, and add to the marinade. Stir around to coat, cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 10-15 minutes (I left it on the counter to marinate).

Spray a large pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper and pork with marinade (in 2 batches if necessary), and stir fry until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. If cooking in batches, place on a plate while cooking the next batch, and when everything's done, add back the already-cooked back to warm back up. Serve over rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

This was such an easy dish, and is very flavorful. I cut corners by using ground ginger instead of fresh, but really, it was still great. 2t of sriracha makes it my ideal degree of hot- hot so you notice and after several bites you need some water, but not burn-your-mouth-immediately hot. Of course, we all have different preferences for spiciness, and Clint didn't think this was hot at all. The marinade makes a nice salty, sweet glaze. I plan to make this again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

German-inspired dinner

For some reason, pork chops (except for stuffed pork chops) kind of remind me of German food. Perhaps because once upon a time, I hated pork and I didn't really like German food? Also, German restaurants were once almost the only place I ever saw pork- but we're talking back in the '80s, when food and restaurants were rather different than the are now.

Fortunately, by now I've had good German food (a matter of both going to different restaurants and one restaurant just being better), and I learned how to cook my own pork chops so they're not dry and leathery. And I therefore like to eat a lot of each.

We were trying to use up the pork in our freezer, so I was looking for pork recipes. Martha Stewart has these great themed slideshows, and I found the pork one. So many delicious-looking pork recipes! Because we had apples that needed to be used up, the pork chops with apple chutney immediately caught my eye. And wonder of wonders, it was pretty quick and easy.

You'd think that while being a housewife, "quick and easy" isn't really necessary anymore, but I have other things to take up my time... I'll share more info soon ;)
(most boring plating ever, right? I wish I'd at least put this on the blue plate)

Pork Chops with Apple Chutney
recipe from Martha Stewart

For the pork chops:
2T olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning
4 boneless center-cut pork chops (1 1/4 pounds), cut 3/4 inch thick

For the apple chutney:
1T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely diced
4 green apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1t ground ginger
1/4t dry mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork, about 5min on each side. Then transfer to the oven and cook til the meat is 155F, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the chutney. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 min. Add the diced apple and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the vinegar, raisin, ginger, mustard and cayenne pepper, and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Plate the pork chops and pour the chutney on top. Delicious with spaetzle!

Spaetzle. Oh god, I love spaetzle. Like, lovvvvvve. I think mostly because they have nutmeg and are sauteed in butter. Seriously, where can you go wrong sauteing anything in butter?!

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, I've been using it for years.

serves 2

1/2 cup flour (AP or whole wheat, whichever)
1/2t salt
1/2t nutmeg
2T milk
1 egg
1t butter
thyme or chives, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and nutmeg and make a well in the middle. In a separate small bowl, whisk together with a fork the milk and egg. Pour into the flour well and stir around with a fork, gradually incorporating everything. Let the dough rest for 15min.

Heat a large or medium saucepan of water to boil, then place the dough in a potato ricer or colander with large holes, and extrude the dough into the boiling water through whichever device you're using. Stir so the individual spaetzles don't clump up, and boil for about 4 minutes. Strain, rinse with cold water, and then heat the butter in a frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat and add the spaetzle. Saute for a few minutes, until it turns golden brown on the edges. Sprinkle in some herbs, if desired.

Honestly, you can't have pork chops without spaetzle. That's just plain silly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Sandwich Bread EVER

Last night I made some sloppy joes. Now, I don't really like sloppy joes (Clint does), but these were sloppy joes with a Vietnamese twist. And you can pretty much give any dish and Asian twist and I'll try it. But when we ate the sandwiches, what blew us away was not the sloppy joes (they were totally fine) but the sandwich bread. The sloppy joes recipe wanted to be put on French bread, and of course I didn't feel like going to the store, so you know me, I'll just make some. I googled "french bread recipe" and made the first recipe I found... which was ridiculously amazing. This is my new favorite sandwich bread. Forget your wonder bread, your healthy multi-grain bird seed bread, even your fancy artisan bakery bread. This is an easy-peasy bread recipe and only took me about 2.5 hours start to finish. I cannot wait to make a nice cuban using this bread, or maybe I'll get brave and make a french dip.

Best Sandwich Bread EVER
recipe from food.com
makes 3 grinder roll-sized loaves, each loaf good for 2 sandwiches

2 cups warm water
1T yeast
pinch of sugar
1t salt
1T oil (I used olive)
5-5.5 cups bread flour*

*I used King Arthur's First Clear flour, which is a high gluten flour used in Jewish rye. I'm not sure if it's as high gluten as bread flour, but it has a nice earthy taste to it, kind of like whole wheat flour. I used 4 cups of first clear and 1 cup of whole wheat, and the bread wasn't heavy like whole wheat, but had that kind of hint of flavor to it. I highly recommend the First Clear.

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes for the yeast to wake up. Stir in the salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add 2 more cups of flour and knead for 10 minutes. Let sit in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 1-1.5hrs. Shape into long baguette-shaped loaves (I shaped into 2 loaves, next time I'll make 3 loaves), cover with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with water (liberally) and bake in a 375F preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.

This bread is crusty without being rock-hard-crunchy, and super soft in the middle. It's still kind of chewy like french bread, not cottony like most grocery store sliced breads, and is my ideal sandwich roll texture. It's not so flavorful it takes away from a sandwich, but it tastes good on its own. You have to try this!!

Vietnamese Sloppy Joes, or Sloppy Baos
recipe modified from Martha Stewart

I halved the recipe, which would serve 4-5, and wanted to use onion instead of shallots

1-1.25lb ground beef (or sub in another ground meat if you like)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1T chopped lemongrass (I used dried)
2T red curry paste
1 cup ketchup
1T fish sauce
10 basil leaves, minced
1t brown sugar
2T mustard
julienned green mango or green apple
sliced jalapenos
french bread

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, lemongrass and curry paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the ketchup, fish sauce, half the basil, brown sugar and mustard. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the loaf of french bread lengthwise (like for a grinder/sub) and toast in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich, spread the sloppy joe mixture on the bottom half of the bread, arrange julienned mango/apple and sliced jalapenos on top, and top with the top half of the bread. Slice the grinder into individual-sized portions and enjoy!

I really only made this dish because we wanted to use up some ground beef in the freezer. Clint loves sloppy joes and used to eat them often before we got married. I kind of can't stand them. But like I said, I'll try almost anything with an asian twist. And.... these were ok. Clint had seconds, so you *know* he liked them. If you're a sloppy joe kind of person, you'll probably like these. And like I said before, the bread is amazing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Fashion Buffet, part 2 of Fall 2011

This peek into Lilly Pulitzer Fall 2011 is from a few weeks ago, but I have been a busy little housewife as of late! You may or may not know that I am VERY involved in the DAR, and September is time to scramble around and get everything ready for fall. The only time of year that seems to be even busier for DAR is June, when I go to Continental Congress and take part in the committee that orders around the pages. It's awesome. And you can't appreciate this if you've never paged, but I get to SIT at this job. The committee I serve on is composed of several truly amazing women, and we have such fun together. It's always very sad when CC ends- although also kind of a relief.

So I've been busy with DAR, all while wearing Lilly. Later on I'll have to do a DAR-Lilly post, because I wear Lilly to DAR meetings and events at least half the time, and lately, almost all of the time. The only thing Lilly can't do is the banquets and evenings meetings, because Lilly does not make evening gowns. Maybe soon?

But anyway, part 2 of my fashion buffet. I went back to E.A. Davis and tried on more fall clothes. I bought not a single thing for myself, sadly, my trip was purely for research. This time I tried on things that eeeeeveryone's raving about. I agree with some of the raves.... but not all.

The Joanie
in Bright Navy Behind the Rope

This dress is VERY cute. It's now on my list of "possibly buy". The cut looks kind of blah on the hanger, but it fits will once it's on. I'm in a L, and I found it fit perfectly. It's a heavier knit, so it'd do well going into late fall, maybe even winter with boots? Although I'm not great at pairing shoes. The only thing I didn't like is that it's pretty low-cut... although in this picture it doesn't look it.

(looking at this picture, I'm thinking I really need to buy this!)

The Adalie Wrap Dress
in Skye Blue Thrill of the Chaise

I used to be so anti-wrap dresses, but then mom's friend Liz found a size L at TJM and got it for me. I couldn't really say no, right? Well, I adore it. Seriously, I'm surprised this thing is still holding up, that's how much I've worn it. I think the Adalie would be the same. I'm not in love with this print, but the color is perfect. This is also a knit, but a lighter knit than the Joanie. This dress was a more appropriate dress to try on that day, when I was wearing cropped jeans and a t shirt, the Joanie was *very* warm. I think Adalie runs a hair small, at least compared to the Joanie above. Here I'm also in a L, but it's a little tight. But that's the beauty of the wrap dress, right? Easy to loosen. I'd just need a safety pin for the top if it were looser, though. :-/

Everyone loves, but I don't:
The Cassie
in Navy Dress Rehearsal (it's hard for me to avoid this print, I love it so)

Everyone loves this dress. People go nuts for it. They have several. I don't get it. It's a t shirt dress, it's shapeless and blah. Ok, obviously I don't have the body type for it, but that many people do?! I feel like I'm wearing a night gown. The only saving grace of this dress is the fabulous prints it comes in (like this one... but on lp.com it's also in Cameo White Thrill of the Chaise, and I've seen it in other prints too, as well as in solid colors) and the reasonable price. But... really? I couldn't wait to take it off.

This is also a L, so it runs maybe a hair roomy.

Love, adore, totally going to buy:
The Cassie top
$58 for solids, $64 for prints

I just wish I'd grabbed something other than navy to show off with my indigo jeans. Sorry! I'm wearing a L, same size as the dress, but I like the fit of this better, it's a bit smaller so doesn't hang like the other. I like the neckline: not low, but not a chokingly-high, unflattering (if you have my shoulders) crew neck. I do so love a boatneck.

I wish I'd bought this top, because a week or so after this research shopping trip, I got a pair of Kristen palm beach fit cropped pants from ebay (NWT, $12, yay!) and they just scream for a navy top. Do I have a navy top already in my wardrobe? Of course not. I'd never have something so versatile and useful. Sigh. I think I'll get this in navy and in a print... you know it'll be Dress Rehearsal. ;)

As you read this, I am on my way to Disney World, so while I'll get one last hurrah with my summer clothes (and blog about favorites so we can stow away ideas for next summer), it'll probably be a while before I get back to E.A. Davis. However... I know about one secret little Lilly shop that I plan to visit at least once, and possibly make a purchase- because I know about an even more secret discount. ;)

ps. in case you're wondering, the dress behind me in all the pictures is the Memsie in turquoise kissue. LOVE this one, I wish I'd given it a chance earlier. The only size they had was just a hair too small- it zipped, but didn't look good. I also tried on the Kiki, which I'd previously hated but that day changed my mind about... and again, not available in my size. ugh! Oh and the medium blue you see is the Conrad top. haha I hated this one so much I couldn't even bear to photograph it. It's another one people love!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interview Outfit

I hate choosing interview outfits. For an academic position, a suit is way too much- half the time, the person interviewing you will be in jeans. But you still need to look nice. For yesterday's interview, I was going to go with pants, a brightly colored top, and a navy jacket. But then it ended up being nearly 80 out so I'd have to go with summer pants. And I wasn't excited about my choices.

So Bird stepped in and said I should wear the Jonah. Unfortunately, I canceled my order for the Jonah during the ESS so that wasn't an option. I had a great apple green with small white flower print silk jersey wrap dress, but.... wrap dresses are often a little low-cut in front. Not appropriate for an interview!

In the end I went with the Ring Pop Evie. It was a little too dressy for an interview, but paired with my trusty navy jacket, it looked more suit-like- but a suit with a little pizzazz. Perfectly appropriate.

I wore my bronze kitten heels with giant bows on front- a surprising find from a little boutique in my dad's home town in South Dakota last summer. $20!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of me in the interview outfit: the interview didn't go all that well (and it's SO complicated, that's what really bugs me), and when I got back I was 15 minutes late for a meeting so I had to run.

This Evie comes in S-M-L sizes, and strangely enough, I found it a better fit than the other Evie that comes in number sizes. Weird, right? Normally I'm between M and L, but in this one I was a perfect L, and in the other Evie I'm between a 10 and 12. The new fall sizes run small, of course- not great for a girl's self esteem! Thanks a lot, Lilly. Ring Pop is a heavy knit fabric, lined in the bodice but not the skirt, and it's maybe a hair short on my 5'6 frame, but not overly short. The shape of the dress hits me at all the right spots, so it's comfortable and flattering. I appreciate the higher neckline. And it has pockets! Boy, I love a dress with pockets. I ended up doing a little shopping (mostly browsing) because I was early for my interview, and this dress worked great for that- especially after putting my car keys in my pocket and not having to fuss around in my giant Kate Spade purse while walking to my car.

I actually bought this Evie brand new on ebay. I think I may have bought it from someone who robbed a delivery truck, because a month after this dress was released, the seller sold it for $68. It was called "overstock of retail"... I'm not so sure I believe that. But I couldn't resist. I did wear this with some apprehension.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wear it or sell it

I have this dress that's been sitting in the back of my closet for years. I don't even know how long it's been in there. I'm pretty sure I lived in NH when I got it.

It's the Beacon colorblock navy dress. I got it from TJMaxx, back when we were juuuuust starting to see Lilly at TJM. Mom's friend Liz called her up one day and said "Carla!!! There's Lilly at the TJMaxx in Granby! I got a bunch of things for J and K [her high school aged daughters] and I put some stuff in Catherine's size on hold!!" Luckily I was coming home the next day, so mom and I ran over.

I got the Brielle and the Beacon, both were $59.99. They also had the Beacon in tan and cream (I do not wear tan, however- only as pants) in my size and I think they had some other, more interesting dress in a size I had no hope of fitting into.

Of course, I was still recovering from mono at this time, so I a very different size than I am now. We took both the Brielle and the Beacon. I did not love either, but I liked the sequins and neckline on the Brielle. And of course, mom's mantra: buy it if it's cheap, no matter what! Le sigh.

The Beacon was a size smaller than the Brielle (and technically the Beacon was my size and the Brielle one size up), but the Beacon was very roomy, while the Brielle was just kind of baggy. Eventually (last year), when I bought a dress on Rue La La that was too big and I needed it taken in, we took Brielle to Andrea, my most beloved seamstress. (small plug for her: she just opened a storefront on LaSalle Rd in West Hartford, CT. She's funny and kind of, as my mom would say, fresh, and she does lovely work. She's not cheap, but your expensive clothes deserve quality tailoring). Brielle does not actually nip in at the waist the way the picture above would have you believe, but thanks to Andrea, now mine does (a little). I love this as a winter dress- yes, it's sleeveless, but it's a rather heavy knit. I never, ever wear black dresses, but I wear this one, so conclude what you want from that.

But the Beacon? As I said, the Beacon was actually my size, and I had the Brielle taken in. Even so, the Beacon was just huge. It looked like maternity dresses from the 60s- you know, those big baggy muumuu-like things.
(side note: really? Is that what woman were really confined to while pregnant back then? Were Victorian mentalities, when women had to go into confinement lest they reveal anything that could hint at having had marital relations? I have a lot of complaints about maternity wear these days, but at least women don't have to hide the fact that they're growing a person)

Anyway. The Beacon fit me like the above picture. Needless to say, I did not wear the Beacon.

Until this summer, when I was looking through my closet for things to sell (both to make some extra money, and to make sure the hanging bar in my closet doesn't snap from the weight- this is a legitimate worry). I found the Beach, squished between a bunch of pants that don't fit and some skirts that would better suit a 22-year-old.

Do I sell it or keep it? It's hard for me to sell Lilly, especially Lilly that I could actually wear. Selling something I wore while skeletal in 2005 is easy because I know I'll never be that weight again (and if something happens and I am, hopefully my doctors will be a little more helpful and diagnose and fix me). But something I could actually wear? So I wore it.

Um yeah, I weigh more than I did when I bought it: it actually fits now. It's baggy, but it has a better silhouette now that I have more to fill it out. It's not the most flattering dress ever, but it's easy to wear- few dresses in my closet are easy to wear.

Now I just need to figure out what shoes other than McKims to pair with this dress to take me into fall. Like the Brielle, the Beacon is a very heavy knit, so the only thing to hold it back from colder weather would be that large cream-colored stripe. What do you all think, how late into fall will that work?

Also, I do love these solid and colorblock dresses that lend themselves rather well to a brightly colored printed murfee.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Results of the Endless Summer Sale

I told you all about shopping the sale, but not the results!

In the end, I received a murfee, a tablecloth, the Finn in navy, the Jillie in sea blue, 2 shirts for Clint, and a white Caroline cardigan.

But in the end of the end, the only dress I got was the Jillie. The Finn runs VERY large. Like, wow. Lately in everything I'm a solid large (with the exception of some shirts). So of course I was rather certain I should purchase the Finn in large. Alas, no! It was enormous. You can imagine my incredulousness and disappointment. However, I was able to find a new home for it, and the buyer received it in time to wear for a work presentation and said it was absolutely perfect for that, so that makes me feel much, much better. I may keep my eyes peeled for a size medium in navy, or I may just let it go...

Now, the Jillie. While the Finn runs big, the Jillie runs small. What's up with that, Lilly? Unfortunately Lilly has this tendency, which means it's nearly necessary to go to stores and try things on in person. I ordered a 14 in the Jillie, thinking because of it's style and the incredible price ($39), that it could make an awesome formal maternity dress with only minor alterations (namely, the lining- easy peasy!). I ordered a 14 because everyone says you just get bigger up top during pregnancy. And when it came? It's just a hair big. Roomy, I'd say. However, I thought it'd look horrendous on non-pregnant me, and it actually looks kind of cute. The kind of cute you'd pair a pretty cardigan or shawl with, though, the silhouette is still pretty terrible on the average girl.

Clint's stuff? The Jeff half zip fits nicely, but the gulf stream polo is huge. They're the SAME SIZE. I'm so frustrated.

But even so, I still love my Lilly. I got the Caroline cardigan using the $25 credit they gave people with canceled orders (my mom got one too, she lost out on the tie she'd ordered Dad- Dad may be relieved that this happened) and I've already worn it twice (see previous post!). I mostly got it because I got the Cormick dress in white and I want more shoulder coverage for DAR events.

As for mom, she bought practically every single murfee they had (not really, but almost!), as well as McKims and Shelly Jellies. She likes the Shellys and the way she talked about the McKims, I think they'll grow on her. Of course she has to take 2 sizes smaller than me (UGH I got Dad's feet) so she can't just pass them on to me if she changes her mind. :( She has taken some of my shoes though, the ones I wore in middle school when I was one size smaller than I am now, haha.

And fortunately, Lilly at discount stores (that I go nuts for and by everything I find in my size) is slowing down- my credit card needs a break!