Saturday, August 27, 2011

New England Hurricanes

We're about an hour from any coastline here (straight south is the Long Island Sound, straight east is cape cod, and southeast is Narragansett Bay), but we spent today preparing and then waiting for Hurricane Irene.

I'm no stranger to hurricanes, growing up in Hartford, CT, but it has been quite a while since we were worried about one. We didn't do all that much: all the outside stuff came in, we cleaned out the garage so my car could fit in it, we filled nalgene bottles with water, got out all flashlights and some candles, found the matches, but after that, we sat back and watched the weather channel. And waited.

And waited.

And then it was cocktail time. What better cocktail to have while waiting for the hurricane, than a hurricane?

New England Hurricane
serves 2
adapted from various websites, including wikipedia

1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup blueberry juice
1oz grenadine
2oz lime juice

Mix the ingredients together, pour over a highball glass (or Lilly Pulitzer tumbler) filled with ice. Enjoy, and hope that you've already battened down the hatches before cocktail time!

What's Baking? August: Celebrate Summer

Our August What's Baking? theme was chosen by Jade from The Mess Pot. Celebrate Summer is baking with things that remind you of summer, or that are in season. So of course I had to choose one of my favorite summer fruits, peaches.

I went to Tougas Farm on Thursday to pick peaches, and I was surprised by how crowded it was! Especially on a Thursday! But perhaps part of it was everyone hurrying to do it before the hurricane comes and destroys what's left. I planned to pick a peck of peaches, because I'm not so thrilled about canning this summer (no reason), but when I got there I picked a half bushel.

I felt I needed to bake something for the hurricane (i.e. something to eat if we lose power), and Clint's not a huge peach fan but I wanted something he might eat, too. Normally it'd be a no-brainer to bake a peach pie (YUM) or cobbler (also YUM), but I just didn't feel like it. So I looked around, and found a recipe for peach upside-down cake. I'd never think to use peaches in this, but they take really well to this recipe. I was also very clever and cooked up more peaches before adding the cake batter so that I had to eat them (well ok, that wasn't so much planning ahead as the pan just happening to be too crowded), and I honestly think I'd do step 1 as a quick dessert over pound cake or ice cream some day. The caramel sauce from the peaches also soaks into the cake nicely and gives it a delicious flavor.

Peach and Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

For the peach topping:
3 peaches, cut into wedges (12 wedges per peach) (I left the skin on)
3T butter
1/4 cup sugar

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1t vanilla
1/2 cup cream (I used fat free 1/2&1/2)
3/4 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1t baking powder
3/4t salt
1t lavender (I skipped, couldn't find my lavender! I know I have some)

Step 1, for the peach topping:
in a 10in cast iron skillet (I used my Le Creuset braiser), melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the sugar over, and stir around a bit and cook for 3min, until it starts to caramelize. Add the peaches and arrange in circles. I actually just dumped the peaches in, it was too hard with the spattering caramel when the cold peaches hit to arrange them, so I dumped them all in and then arranged them with the wooden spoon. Cook until they're soft, about 15min. Remove from heat.

Step 2, for the cake:
Cream together butter and sugar, for about 3 min, til fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and cream. Whisk together remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add in 2 batches to the cake batter.

Step 3, for assembly:
Drop spoonfuls of the cake batter over the peaches, then spread around with a spatula. Bake at 350F for... well, the original recipe said 20-22min. It took me about 40. Set the timer for 20 and keep checking.

Let the cake rest about 10 min, then run a knife along the edge, and invert on a serving plate.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The New Black Friday

I wasn't planning to post so much about Lilly this week, but it's been a very busy Lillyweek.

As I mentioned before, yesterday was the Endless Summer Sale that I'd been waiting for all year. Compared to last year's sale, this one started out much more smoothly- the site didn't crash, I didn't get my account frozen while trying to log back in during the site crash, ladies didn't post nasty messages about it on the Lilly facebook page (as if the people manning the facebook page are the code monkeys responsible for the site's less-than-stellar construction), and of course, the selection of sale items was incredible.

Enter TDE: The Dreaded Email.

The new site could handle all the shoppers, but the inventory wasn't updated as quickly as we shoppers would have hoped. Last night, many people were plagued with TDE. Even I got TDE. So, more nasty facebook posts and customer service emails and phone calls ensued.

To which I say,
Really? With all the problems we have in this world, global warming, rising fuel prices, and the old standbys, hunger and war, you're losing your head because you didn't get to buy a dress you wanted? I WISH that were my biggest problem.

Yes, I lost some stuff. I lost the Lulu
and the Stephanie
But you know what? They're dresses. Dresses are not absolutely necessary, especially ones you get on sale. They're exciting, definitely. Enjoyable, fun, lovely. But is a lost dress that you weren't charged for any worth really ripping a poor customer service rep a new one? Especially when everyone with a canceled order was given a free $25 off their next purchase?

Apparently I'm in the minority when I think not.

So Lilly Pulitzer, thank you for a very fun sale. Thank you for the new site, with its search by print option, that did not crash yesterday. Thank you for staying up all night the few days before to ensure that it would run smoothly. Most of all, thank you for the items we did get, for such low prices, and for offering such a huge variety.

I'm sad I lost those two dresses, but like I said, not the end of the world. There's still plenty to choose from! This morning I ended up ordering a Jonah in purple, perfect for fall, although I do have doubts about its fit

and I'm really considering a Dolly...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The biggest, most frantic day of the year.

And the most exciting!

No, it's not the last shopping day before Christmas, it's the annual Lilly online end-of-summer sale!
Along with thousands of other Lilly fans across the country (continent? world?), I am (im)patiently waiting for the sale to open. It's a bit chilly today, so I threw on the fleece I bought in last year's sale- as a kind of good luck charm, you might

Signature shops opened their sales at midnight last night, and I browsed all of them! I bought an orange crush Char top from The Pink Pelican, I already have two, so couldn't pass up another at half price, especially when it was only left in my size!


Oh my! I went to check and the sale was live. In 10 minutes I found, digitally grabbed and bought:
A Finn in Navy, $188 down to $64

A Lulu, originally $198, down to $49!
A Murfee, originally $98 down to $34!

And a tablecloth for $49!- I didn't even know they made tablecloths!!

Fastest money I ever spent...

None of these items were on my wish list, but I never dreamed that particular Lulu or a Finn would show up at all, and the Murfees started at $34. So this is very exciting! Now back to my normal day...


I went back for another round. Well, actually, 2 more rounds, but one is full of presents so I won't share it yet.

Someone on relilly mentioned the incredible steal of the Jillie, which I'd overlooked. A huge bargain?! Must go back!
Jillie, Originally $328, now $39!

Don't laugh, but I got this as a potential maternity dress. Hey, for that price?! I really do think the only way this'll look good is if I'm actually pregnant.

Other great buys I ended up skipping included:

Adalie Wrap Dress for $49
Main Line jeans for $49
Jonah Dress for $49

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Fashion Buffet

You know how when you go to a buffet at a restaurant, you pile up your plate with everything? It all looks so good, you just have to try each dish. And then you can't possibly eat it all, even half of it. That's what fall catalogs are like for me.

A few weeks ago, I went to E.A.Davis in Wellesley, MA. I was on my way to practice carillon at Wellesley College, my alma mater, and I just had to stop at one of my old favorite stores. As luck would have it, they were in the process of unpacking the new fall Lilly! Oh so exciting. I took armfuls of clothing into the dressing room. I tried them all on, and then I took armfuls more. And then I did it all again. I was in there so long, enjoying all the fun new prints and styles, that I completely forgot to feed the parking meter and got a ticket. oops! Luckily Wellesley's parking tickets are surprisingly low in price so it wasn't a huge deal, I mostly just felt stupid and irresponsible.

I tried on a number of dresses, but since I wasn't doing it for blogging purposes and solely for my own enjoyment, I can't remember each style I tried. Don't worry though, I'll go back again and keep better records!

Also, I didn't buy anything (well, anything of the fall line... I did buy a beautiful Shauna Embroidered, a dress I've been literally lusting after since it came out last spring, but I'm now regretting my purchase and am trying to sell it. Let me know if you're interested in a size 10 for $225!). This visit to the new fall styles was strictly for research purposes!

My absolute favorite for Fall 2011 is the Bianca ($268) (also called the Blanca on the same page, so I'm not sure which it really is).

This is a silk jersey, drapey necked, elbow-length sleeve dress with pockets. Pockets! Side note on pockets: when I was choosing bridesmaids' dresses for my wedding, the one we ended up with was an Ann Taylor dress (which I also bought for myself, haha). My girls were happy with it, and when they arrived, my friend M exclaimed over the pockets rather gleefully. And I thought to myself, oh M, seriously? But she's totally right. Pockets on a dress are so handy.

I've tried on the True Navy Dress Rehearsal print in this dress, and I declare that I'll buy it this season. Ideally I'll get it on sale, or when Lilly has a great GWP, but we'll see. It may depend on whether I get a job.

Now, dressing room photos are tricky. Most of the time, a dressing room is simply too small for a full-length photo, you just can't back up far enough. This time, having a big table in there (great for throwing clothes on, however) was the issue.

You can see some of the other goodies I pulled into the room. The Evie dress in pink tomato standing ovation is another lovely dress. ($188)
This version is woven cotton, but they also had a knit version in ring pop. ($188)

For whatever reason, I preferred the fit of the ring pop over standing ovation. Ring pop comes in SML and Standing Ovation in number sizes, and I found I was between sizes in standing ovation, but perfect in ring pop. How odd! Normally I'm between M and L and perfect in a number size. Ring pop will probably be more versatile for my wardrobe requirements, though, I need a lot of day dresses for DAR meetings.

I tried on a variety of knit tops, too. I unfortunately didn't love any of them. The Lexie ($40) is a very standard t shirt, a nice wardrobe staple with a good cut, if you're looking for that. I wasn't.

I love the boatneck t ($48) on the models, but I'm between sizes. Watch out for that! The woman helping me at the store says it's supposed to be a fitted shirt, but the M was extremely tight compared to the picture of the model, and the L was swimming on me. Bummer! I almost though the M was mislabeled as a S, or the L was really an XL.
And did I mention all these new fall styles were fresh out of the box? I was the first person to ever try them on- how often does that happen! It would have been so nice to buy one, like when you buy a new car that has 10 miles on it.

Also pictured on the dressing room table is a really interesting dress from spring (or summer? I can't keep it all straight!). I pulled it off the 40% off rack on a whim, thinking I'd hate it.
Blake, Originally $268, now on sale if you can find it in stock!

I actually liked it! Of course they only had it in a size larger than I'd need, and it still cost over $200, even on sale, but it was surprisingly pretty- and comfortable. I may put this on my to-find list...

Other popular dresses others are pointing me toward include:
The Adalie wrap dress, $158

The Cassie, $98
(but I'd think I'd prefer the Cassie top)

and the Claire, $258, which isn't new for 2011 but is still great for early fall.

I'm also on the hunt for a Blayney in Let's Get Gingky, although if I can't find one, I'll settle for one of the Fall 2011 prints!
I've found in at TJMaxx for $79.99 and recently on clearance for $59, but never in my size! Now that it's on clearance, I'm tempted to buy the wrong size and let my seamstress work her magic on it. It's a silk/cotton jersey, a fabric I'm afraid to work with myself.

Stay tuned for details from my next visit to the Lilly Buffet!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Let's change things up, shall we?

You've probably noticed that wamozart12 isn't cooking very much these days. It's strange, but I'm just not. I'm not inspired like I used to be- but then, I used to have these ridiculous chunks of down-time at work when I'd browse tastespotting and get inspired, and now that I'm not working, I'm actually doing things instead of killing time until the instrument's free or the shipment arrives or my boss gives me 5 minutes to discuss those confusing results.

Also, I'm sick of photography. Some people love it, they love photographing things and checking out different angles and building lightboxes. I hate that. I don't have the patience to set up a home-made or ridiculously expensive storebought lightbox to photograph a dish, and my poor husband was getting tired of eating food that'd already grown cold and congealed because of how long it takes to get a good picture. And don't even start with me on camera tripods. Seriously? A food blog is about food, not photography. But I know good pictures are what it takes to make a good food blog (and I definitely tend towards the ones with pretty pictures...), and so I say I'm happy with blogging for my own personal benefit- this blog is better than a box of recipe cards.

So while I'm not cooking, I've been doing other things. I'm going to share more about my crafting (knitting and sewing), and because it's been my big obsession this summer, fashion.

Not just any fashion, no, no. I am not a stylish girl, I mostly dress for comfort. But I'm also not one to wear all black because it's "slimming" (it may be slimming, but I'll look like a zombie), or jeans all the time, and may the lord above strike me down if I ever go out in public in pajama pants (I mean come on, we're not in college!). So what do I wear?

I wear Lilly.

I've been introduced to a number of blogs by Lilly fans. Some girls like to gush about their newest purchases. Some wear Lilly for a special occasion and like to share pictures. Some try to incorporate as much Lillyness into their lives as they possibly can. Some even strive to wear Lilly every single day and make a huge deal of it.

.... to which I say, honey, I've been doing that for years.

So I decided to tell you about it. My goal is to do a wamozart12 wears lilly update once a week, and I'll tell you what I wore and why I like it. I'll warn you, though: I am a normal person, which means I sometimes wear the same outfit twice. Horror of horrors! I know. But bear with me.

Let's start with today. Today I went tag saling. This is a favorite hobby of mine, but I don't often do it because it requires getting up, showered, dressed, with makeup applied and coffee made, to get out of the house around 9am on a Saturday. That just isn't likely to happen regularly. But today I needed to mail a package, and the post office of course is only open until noon, so I was very pleased to be able to add in some tag sales after errands.

Tag saling is very casual, so you don't need to think about what to wear. It was pretty warm (mid-80s by the time I left), so shorts were a must. I chose my relatively new Resort Bermuda shorts in grean bean, which are probably my favorite bottoms this summer. But they're such a bright green, sometimes I'm not sure what to pair on top. Generally I go with a pink top (despite possibly looking like a watermelon, Lilly has made pink and green such a classic couple that of course it'll work), so today I went with my Michelle ruffled polo. As usual, I paired my rose gold McKims and my sunglasses (style name unknown!). I suppose to complete the outfit, I should have carried my Lilly tote, but I've been using my Coach signature daisy bag all summer, and I'm generally loathe to switch handbags more than once a month (that's how you lose things!).

Now, I won't always photograph myself in my outfits. To be honest, sometimes I just look a mess, and I don't want that all over the internet! I'd rather show you stock photos of items than show you a lousy photo of me wearing it, just for the sake of showing a photo of myself (right, M?). Today's photo.... isn't great, but I need to tell you about what I'm standing next to! And I didn't think quickly enough to get the photo before we brought it in.
See my awesome new antique sewing table?!??!?! Oh LOVE. I've been trying to hunt one of these down for the longest time! I even found a couple in Windsor in June, but they were in lousy condition and a little more than I wanted to spend, so I passed them by. I got this one for only $40 (thanks to my superior haggling skillz- ok honestly, the guy said he'd take $50, so I paused a few moments and said, how about $40? And he said, yeah sure.) In case you don't know, back in the day, foot-pedaled sewing machines (before electric sewing machines existed, so yes, this is old), were built into a table that had a big foot pedal on the bottom, and the foot pedal was attached to a wheel that had a belt that ran up to the wheel on the sewing machine itself. And when not in use the sewing machine would tuck down into the table, and that flap on the left would fold over the machine in its hole so you could do something else on the table surface. My mom has had a sewing table like this for many, many years. She put a big wooden cutting board over the sewing machine hole so the flap on the left can stay folded out as more working surface. I'm not happy with my sewing table (a bar-height small table from when Ames was going out of business), so I'm thrilled to have this. My 1951 sewing machine will fit in pretty nicely with the vintage- of course this table is older than 1951, but it'll go better than say a 1969 table, right?

The sewing machine itself looks like it's in decent condition. There's no belt, but the machine itself is beautiful. I'll have to get a nice close-up. It's all etched and filigreed and prettified. I may have my sewing machine guy take a look at it sometime and see if it'd be fixable. It'd be cool to work on a human-powered sewing machine!

My thoughts on my outfit:
I love the bermudas. I don't do short shorts, my figure just doesn't look right in them. I'm SO glad bermudas have come back in style, because there really were a few years when I wore capris and long pants all summer. I bought a pair of patterned Resort Bermudas in May when Lilly had a great GWP (gift with purchase) deal and my mom went in on an order with me, and when I found these 40% off from a The Pink Door Memphis' website, of course I had to get them! I'll buy more if I can (I'd really love the Daffies print)
I'm not thrilled with this polo. It's cut very large, so I ended up going down a size and it's still comfortably loose, but I'm still not sold on the ruffles. And I have issues with collared shirts, they're just not comfortable. You're probably wondering why I bought it: it was $15 on clearance at TJMaxx. How could I not?! Plus I definitely love this shade of pink.
I bought the McKim flipflops from Rue La La in June, as a birthday present to myself. What really happened is I went to the high school graduation of my mom's friend's daughter (who happens to have gone to my high school), and this school is a very Lilly-lovin' school. Lilly Pulitzer (nee McKim) went there, class of '49. Mom's friend was wearing these shoes, and I decided right then they'd be great for summer. They can go casual, or they can go a little dressy, and what an easy way to dress down a sundress, for picnics and things. So when that sale went live, I rushed right to those and snatched them up! Good thing I did too, because they didn't last.
The sunglasses are a few years old now, another TJM purchase. My mom's friend (the one I just mentioned) found them and offered them to me before her own daughter. Awesome! I love the shape (you'll probably see them on my face instead of my head later), although they're not quite dark enough. They also don't stay on my head as well as my Coach sunglasses do, which means they don't make a good headband. Well, they're sunglasses, they're not supposed to be a headband.

I have one other outfit I want to share. I wore it a couple days ago, and with summer nearing its end I'm not sure how many more opportunities I'll have to wear it!

On Thursday, my shopping day, I wore:
My Jarvey Skort
in fresh picked patch

with a simple scoop neck, short sleeved pink Lilly shirt.

The shirt was an ebay purchase that ended up being a little more than I wanted to spend (around $15) but I've worn it so much that I'm glad I got it.

The skort was an interesting purchase.

I recently learned that I live 20 miles from the TJMaxx HQ. The stores within 40miles of HQ are known to receive better merchandise than other stores... and once I learned this, it explained so much. My local TJM is a gold mine of Lilly. It's incredible! One day I started finding Vineyard Vines as well as Lilly, and so I of course had to text one of my Lilly/VV-lovin' friends about all the amazing stuff, and I began to hunt for her size and my size. In one of my hunts, I found a Jarvey in my size stuck in with the size 2s. !!! I thought at first it was shorts, but then noticed it was a skort. Ew, a skort? Skorts are for old ladies. They're like the mom jeans of summer. Once I tried it on, though, I realized I might be wrong, skorts might be ok. I got it for $29.99 and I can't tell you how many times I've worn it. My opinion of skorts is totally reversed, I love them! So I'm very glad I found this one. I'd also never wear such a short skirt, but if it's a skort it's totally fine!

Fresh picked patch was a pattern in a Lilly Loves Green series Lilly put out in 2010, along with cream fraiche, add lemon and fresh catch toile. I don't know about the commonness of hard-to-find-ness of any of these prints, but I'm kind of dying to get my hands on some of the cream fraiche. I actually pulled over (a little recklessly, oops) at a vintage shop once because I saw a very similar strawberry print dress displayed outside the store. It ended up being a Vested Gentress vintage sundress, not Lilly (and I totally would have bought it if it had more a more reasonable price), so I'm still looking for strawberries.

I have many, many more exciting Lilly adventures to tell about. Many of them involve me going to TJMaxx because frankly, what else is there for an unemployed girl to do with her time? I spend all morning checking email, job openings, talking to my recruiter, and the afternoon is left for knitting and netflix. And frankly, Sliders is getting weird. I need a new show. To me, Lilly implies happiness, cheerfulness, and pretty things. And those are all things everyone needs more of in their life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Love-Hate Relationship with Fish Tacos

It's very easy to explain. Up until last week, I hated fish tacos. At first, I thought fish tacos were like normal tacos, with fish (i.e. a can of tuna) cooked up with the regular taco spices and cheese and tomatoes and lettuce. Can you blame me for thinking that's gross? Then I saw them on the food network once or twice, and saw that the add-ins were different, with lots of lime and cilantro. Well that's yummy, but then I thought the fish was like fish and chips fish, with a thick beer-battered breading. Still unappetizing.

Well, this past weekend my girls and I went to Maine for a long weekend, and at The Front Porch (warning: their website plays music) on Shore Rd in Ogunquit, I saw fish tacos. I was debating getting a lobster roll, or the caprese stack (although honestly, when in Maine, one must get seafood), and then I saw the fish tacos. When the waiter came, I ordered them. I don't know what made me do that; it might have been the sangria. Anyway, they came and they were ridiculous. The fish was perfectly cooked with a very, very light and thin crust of cornmeal and deliciousness (probably just the perfect ratio of salt:pepper:cornmeal) and the slaw was super limey with just enough cilantro, and there was this crazy chipotle aioli, the kind of thing that makes your eyes water and your nose run from the spice, but is still SO GOOD you can't stop smearing it all over the taco. All at once I couldn't believe I'd EVER hated fish tacos. Seriously? What was wrong with me?!

Side note: everything we had at the Front Porch was crazy good, especially the drinks. Going to Ogunquit? Stop in there for dinner. Many thanks to my cousin Rich for recommending it!

So I came home, I got the urge to cook, and the first thing I had the urge for was fish tacos. Mine weren't as good as at the Front Porch, but I'm still ready to make them again tonight!

Fish Tacos
serves 4-6
composed of:
fried fish
lime cilantro slaw
corn and bean salad

Fried Fish
no recipe, I made it up as I went

1lb of tilapia (3 filets)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4t cumin
1/4t chipotle powder
oil, for frying

Whisk together the cornmeal, salt and spices. Pat the fish mostly dry, cut into strips (I got 4 per filet) then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry 1-2 min on each side, until the cornmeal crust is crispy and the fish is opaque and flaky. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess oil.

Lime Cilantro Slaw
adapted from Cory Anthony's recipe

1/2 head purple cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 head white cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
1 carrot, grated
2T chopped cilantro
1-2T lime juice
dash of salt
1/2t chipotle powder

Mix all that together. Voila!

Corn and Bean Salsa
adapted from My Baking Addiction

3T balsamic vinegar
2t olive oil
1/2t salt
1/2t sugar
1/2t ground black pepper
1/2t cumin
1/2t chipotle powder
1/2t thyme
1/2t oregano
2T chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I used kidney)
2 cups corn kernels
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (I actually used 2t dried chopped jalapeno)

Whisk together the first ingredients through the oregano in a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to a larger bowl, stir/toss to combine, and then add in the liquids and stir/toss to coat evenly.

I made two versions, I made this without the beans, and then took half of it and added back the beans. Someone in our house doesn't like beans.

To assemble the fish tacos, place 2 pieces of fish in the middle of a tortilla, top with the corn salsa and the slaw, and enjoy. As you can see from my picture, I seriously overstuff my tacos.

Next time, I think I'll make some sort of chipotle mayo/aioli. I'm on the hunt for a good recipe.

ps. all the produce except the carrot was brought to you by my local farmer's market!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A new recipe for an old favorite

I would like to share my new favorite recipe for sangria.

Add sliced peaches.

Enjoy until you start moving unpredictably.

(you might think I'm kidding, but I'm kind of not.)