Obituary for a dog

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With heavy heart I regret to announce that our little Ivan passed away this evening. We hoped this moment would never come.

Ivan came into our lives about 8 years ago after being found on the street, supposedly hit by a car. Although he initially had lost the use of his hind legs, he never let that stop him, often doing a hand stand to go to the bathroom. Actually, this was the first thing I ever saw when we went to meet him at the shelter, and it was love at first site. Another couple had put a hold on him, and we hoped that their adoption would not come through, which, luckily enough for us did not. We gradually nursed him back to full health and with the way he ran around, you would never know he was ever hurt. We kept his name as an homage to the antagonist in Rocky … Ivan truly was that strong!

Ivan was my constant stitching buddy, always laying in my lap. When he wasn’t in my lap, he was in Tom’s. Or on a pillow. Or on (or burrowed into) a blanket. Or basking in the nearest sliver of sun. He was the beggar of beggars, and one could hardly resist once he started with his little dances. At night he would sleep under the covers, snuggled up next to me or Tom, but sometimes cross-ways, pushing me off the (king sized) bed.

When we came home from errands he could reputably be found laying on his bed of blankets on his back, waiting for a belly rub from us. He had the softest spot right on his neck that I loved to rub and kiss. He would stand on his hind legs and wrap his front “arms” around our necks to give us hugs. Ivan had quite an incomparable personality, which we will miss so very dearly.

Our hearts are broken. ‘Til we meet again, “Itty Bitty”.

TUSAL – July 2014

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As you can see I have been doing a lot of stitching, mostly in the form of confetti stitching, on my “mystery” project. I finally finished several THOUSAND confetti stitches, and finished the back stitching on the entire bottom half of the project. I only have two more very scant pages (maybe 10 full squares left?), so I am getting excited to move on to something new (one finished project calls for one new project!), or maybe just return to a WIP. My jar is year to date, also containing two dead highlighters.

Odds and Ends

Has anyone seen the Fall #Resort365 preview that Lilly Pulitzer linked to on Instagram? I LOVE the “Under the Palms” pattern. LOVE. Another blogger (Maryland Pink and Green) posted a few pictures on her FB profile from the look book, and it seems there will be a lot of jewel tones in the new line, especially vibrant greens, which are a great (and favorite) color for me. There will be a Beckett dress in emerald green (swoon) and potentially even in black (sign me up)! My favorite time of the year is definitely fall now that I am an adult, mostly because of the clothing choices. Is that reason enough? I think so. The Pink Pelican will have the line up on July 28th, and I assume Lilly Pulitzer will about that time, too.

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I got a  FitBit flex! I am positively obsessed with it. I love being able to track my activity level; it really helps me create self accountability. Another great benefit is being able to set a silent alarm to wake me up in the morning. Oftentimes I get up earlier than Tom, so it allows Tom the extra time to sleep without a loud alarm going off (this is why I got the flex, as opposed to one of the other models) I set an aggressive goal of 100 oz of water a day for myself, which is also tracked through my FitBit dashboard. The only disappointment I had is that there is no altimeter in my version. I would have liked to track flights of stairs because I do a lot of stairs every day, but it was more important to have the silent alarm. Mostly, knowing my activity level for a day helps me to push myself a little further than normal. David Sedaris wrote a funny piece for the New Yorker about his experience with the FitBit, and it rings true now that I have one myself. I am not beyond march or running in place to get extra badges or steps, or even just to stay ahead of my friends who also have a FitBit. 😇

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Afternoon (Book) Tea at the Grand America

GrandAmericaTeaMy friend Kami and I started a (Book) Tea once a month at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. We (Me, Kami, and Kami’s sister) pick a book to read during the month, and then meet at the Grand America to discuss the book.

Usually, the conversation devolves into how much cream Kami takes with her tea cooking conversations and how much we love food and cooking, but generally we go to enjoy each other’s company, and catch up about the last month.

As you can see they have an extensive tea menu, and the wait staff is great about always topping your tea pot off. They serve “Mighty Leaf” loose tea, which is delicious (coming from a person who has tasted tea bag tea and thought it tasted like dirty grass water).

You start with clotted cream with fresh berries, while they take your tea order. First course is finger sandwiches and scones with (more) clotted cream, lemon curd, and sieved strawberry jam. Second course are pastries all made on site, usually involving in season fruits. Of course everything is served on beautiful china, and a harpist plays for each session.

Go on an empty stomach, and put on a nice dress! It’s a great opportunity to do something special with the gals in your life.

Oh, and make a reservation — they are usually booked up in advance.

 

Afternoon Tea at the Grand America | 155 South Main St, Salt Lake City, UT

Daily, 1:00pm and 3:30 pm seatings | 801.258.6707

The Important of Details: A Lesson in Baking (or, why you should sift)

Whenever someone says to me “Oh, you’ve gone to too much trouble”, I always reply with a Julia Child quote “…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should”

For a long time I’ve been trying to make the perfect Sacher Torte, a fabulous chocolate-y dessert hailing from Vienna. Alas my cakes always turn out dry and never leaven. It occurred to me that it was because I wasn’t taking the care that I ought to have taken to attend to every small detail of the baking process.

Living in the Mountain West the dry air often creates a challenge when baking if you aren’t careful with your ingredients.

While I can’t find the cookbook at the moment for the recipe to add here, the moral of the story is don’t just stick your measuring cup into the flour jar to scoop out your flour. Well, maybe to start. Scoop it into a sieve over a piece of wax or parchment paper. Sift your flour until it is a powdery mound, and then spoon it into your measuring cup. Level it off with a knife, bench scraper, spatula, whatever. Once you have the amount you need, sift it one more time to make it nice and light.

And sieve your preserves too! That is more personal preference. Of course if you are baking it’s easier to spread, but it’s all the flavor without the chunks.

So here is the difference: Just scooping what I needed from the jar and leveling it yielded 5.2 oz of flour. Sifting it, and then spooning it into a measuring cup, and leveling it yielded 4.1 oz.

That is a big difference! When you are baking in an already dry environment, you don’t need more flour to dry it out and weigh it down more.

You know what? My end result was well worth the effort; it turned out just the way it should have, and served a reminder to never cut corners. I hope you will try this technique to achieve just the results you want, too!

Sacher Torte

 

 

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen

My husband and I are always on the look out for a new burger or pizza joint to try out. A great fan of the Wasatch Front Farmer’s Market, we had heard through their Facebook page that the vendor who made wood fire oven pizzas at the farmers market had just opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Draper.

Of course we had to try it.

My husband had heard that their meatball sliders were to die for, but we had no other context for the restaurant.

OAKI think there are definitely some pizza places that try to hard. Overly fussy pizzas with Alice Waters quotes in chalk on the wall. OAK is definitely not one of those places. Casual but elegant with elbow room to spare. Simple ingredients at their freshest, which always leads to the best results.

Can we just talk about the calamari for a moment? It’s really hard to get good calamari — calamari that hasn’t been overcooked to a rubber band consistency. OAK’s calamari was just divine. So tender, and so flavorful with that sauce they serve underneath it. Just a shade of heat to thrill your taste buds, but not so much that you are clamoring for a pitcher of water.

The meatball sliders were everything my husband had wanted them to be

And then there is pizza, if you even have room for it by the time you get it. The sides are meant for sharing, which we hadn’t anticipated, so we left with leftovers of our pizza. I ordered a white pizza, which you don’t typically find our west, being a New York staple. Most pizza places don’t get it right, losing the balance too much vs just enough cheese, but OAK’s was just right. Delicate, and not cloying, but still full of flavor.

The wait staff is great. Attentive without hovering. Very friendly, with fast service. And they will tempt you with a cookie in a cast iron pan swathed in vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and caramel. I don’t care how full you are – get one and share it.

Chef David Kimball’s OAK does not disappoint, and the price point is just right. You’ll find yourself a regular if you give it a try!

 

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen | 715 E 12300 S Draper, UT | 801.996.8155

Monday – Thursday 11am – 9pm | Friday, Saturday 11am – 10pm