A Busy Week

Well, this is a busy, busy week for us. We added a couple last-minute alterations to our schedule. We’re both knee-deep in silk, chiffon, and wool working on Sarah’s wedding dress and winter coat – post about our progress on that coming soon! Julia is training and covering for the stage manager for several performances of For the Boys, currently playing up at the Marriott. I am gearing up for a wedding on Saturday, in addition to my 45 hours of day job. To say we’re looking forward to Monday (which is our Saturday) is an understatement. In fact, I think we may both collapse in a giant heap by then.

But – things are happening! Julia will be the assistant stage manager on the next mainstage production at Marriott, which is a great step for her career; and we’re continuing to get inquiries and grow our business a little bit every day. We told you little while ago that we’d bought our first advertising over on A Practical Wedding and today out introduction post is up. Unlike many places on the internet, where advertising is just an image in a sidebar, Meg (the founder and editor) takes the time to get to know each vendor and then write a whole blog post about the business. In fact, it was her encouragement that led us to add wedding stage management to our fledgling business, in addition to the custom clothing work we began with. So, thanks Meg!

Here’s the post, if you’d like to go read it:

Crafty Broads on A Practical Wedding

And if you’re interested in custom clothing, have a garment that needs alteration, or you want a wedding stage manager, you can find all the details over on the Crafty Broads website.

We’ll see you back here, bleary-eyed, on Monday for one last catch-up post and then we will be back to our regular chatter, which means we better think of something amazing to cook pretty soon. Got any suggestions?

Live. Work. Eat. (Or The State of our Union.)

Ok, I am sorry about that punny title. A little. There hasn’t been a real post here in almost two weeks. For shame! (Nah, not really. This kind of writing should be done when one has something to say, not just because it’s time, right?) Anyway… When last we met, my car was full of bullet holes and life was really busy. Let’s catch up.

I’m told my car is no longer filled with holes (though one bullet may be stuck in there forever) and it’s being painted and re-assembled and I should have it back next week. I’ll note that Allstate has been speedy and helpful throughout, and the auto body shop calls me every few days to give me an update on the car.

We are still really, really busy.

Julia has been stitching away on costumes for Guys and Dolls at Theatre at the Center the past few weeks since Aladdin closed. She’s about to start training to cover the wardrobe track for For the Boys up at the Marriott, after which she’ll train to cover the stage manager for Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane. So – no days off for her until sometime after our upcoming trip to Portland. (Which we are so excited about! Julia has never been. My best friend lives there, and we’ll get to see her, yay! It’s going to be something like an actual vacation, woo!)

I had a ridiculously easy work week, with an extra long Labor Day weekend (I got Friday, Monday, and Tuesday off) which was followed by two days of work and this Friday off as well. I’m sorry, I’m really not trying to rub it in. Mainly, I say that because I got to spend most of those days off practicing being self-employed.

This morning we were talking about this blog. Julia feels like it is mine, all mine, because although way back when we started it, we actually wrote posts together and I typed “we” and “us” all the time, it somehow evolved into “I” and “me” and now you all know my writing voice and not hers. Totally true. I’m absolutely guilty of that. But. This was supposed to be OUR blog, not mine. So I’m hoping – WE’RE hoping – that in the future we’ll each write about half of the posts, and maybe sometimes we’ll even write together again. But probably not, because it turns out neither one of us especially likes to do that. And she made the excellent point that when we actually have time together, she would like to actually spend it with me, not writing a blog. (Please feel free to let Julia know in the comments that you want to hear from her too! And/or to send her a new computer and some extra hours in the day so that she is well-equipped to do so.)

Crafty Broads:
Here’s what I was doing when I had all that “free time”: setting up our accounting system, updating invoice and quote templates and actually using them to write up one of each, buying
our very first advertising ever on A Practical Wedding, doing some much-needed updates to the website, and working on a
couple of our sewing projects.

About the time of the last post, we took on a client who needed
alterations to her wedding dress and a little shrug to wear over it in
time for her wedding which is TOMORROW. Which is not a lot of time to
get things sewn when we’re both already working day jobs and are knee
deep in another big sewing project. I did the alterations and Julia made a beautiful silk shrug. Our client was very happy with the results. We’ll have a post on this project later this week, with pictures and everything.

We are less than a week away from the due date for our mockup of the wedding dress, bolero, and winter coat we are making. It is going to be so pretty. We are both extremely excited about this project. Hope to have some process pictures up on here or the Crafty Broads facebook page soon.

And, saving the best for last, Food:
Oh, boy, what have we been eating? Because of the business, we have not been cooking as much as usual. We have ordered in a few times and eaten out a few times. There goes our budget. Anyway, here are a couple things we’ve made at home lately that were pretty good:

Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks and Fava Beans – So we were at the grocery store together (a rare miracle these days), and we passed the fresh fava beans, and just had to have some because they looked so good. No plan in mind for how to use them, total impulse purchase, completely against the menu planning rules. Which is ok because we didn’t plan a menu at all that week anyway. Found this recipe and it was fantastic. It does take a bit of time, but it isn’t particularly difficult, and it is definitely worth the effort.

(from left: shaping the dough; making the marmalade; finished wrap)

White Cheddar and Bacon Piadina with Balsamic Fig and Onion Marmalade – This was the result of another impulse buy. The Figs. They looked SO GOOD. I am obsessed with figs when they are in season. Because they are awesome. We have more in our fridge right now, which are going to be drizzled with honey and served with hazelnut ice cream. Anyway – this recipe was another easy but somewhat time-consuming one. However, like the gnocchi, it was so worth it. We didn’t have brie on hand, so we substituted some white cheddar, which paired nicely. We also lacked arugula, but didn’t really miss it. This Italian flatbread sandwich was AMAZING. We could not save any for leftovers because it was too damn good.

Restaurant Review: Chalkboard

Let’s make this one a mostly wordless post, shall we? I’ll caption the photos so you know what we’re eating, but you don’t really need much description. (Please don’t take this as a sign that I’m about to become a regular Wordless Wednesday kind of girl. Cause I probably won’t.)

In short? The service was outstanding and the food was amazing. We will definitely be back to Chalkboard soon. Possibly for their Fried Chicken & All-You-Can-Drink Champagne Wednesday night special. Want to join us?

I attempt to make my hair look nice by drying it in pin curls. Result? It lies even flatter than when I do nothing. I redeem myself somewhat by wearing a shirt that Julia loves, putting on a skirt (no pockets! Oh, the sacrifices I make…), and going so far as to apply lip gloss.

Julia looks super cute in this skirt she literally made in the three hours before we walked out the door for dinner. She laments not having enough time to add… pockets. Which means it’s a night of purse-carrying for both of us. Well, one of us (me) – because we are good at sharing. Or, as we call it, “Will you carry the purse? I don’t want to.”

Private Dining. It’s what happens when you make your Friday night reservation at an old lady time like 5:30pm. Yep.
Finally using the toasting glasses we planned to use at our wedding. They are really, really nice. Also – heavy.
And? The bubbly was quite good, amazing since we generally find champagne to be too bitter for our tastes. [It was Pierre Delize blanc de blancs, if you’re wondering. We’re told it can be purchased locally at Lush. UPDATE: I was thrilled to discover it is also carried by our neighborhood grocery store, Devon Market (on Devon, just east of Clark St. in Rogers Park) – and for a very reasonable $9.99!]

Chicken Liver Pate, with Toasted Brioche and an assortment of complimentary flavors – white beans, onions, mustard, radish, olives.

Watermelon Salad with grapes, crème fraîche, and some kind of little flowers.

Seared Scallops with vanilla sauce and olives.

Duck breast with Tzatziki sauce and fries.

Hangar steak with white beans and pesto.

(who happen to be eating chocolate chip cookie dough eggroll with chocolate ice cream.)

How to Vacation When You’re Running A Side Business

[Well, I was going to write about the yummy things we ate this week, but turns out I want to write about what a vacation is like when you also are trying to start a business on the side.]

Oh, you guys, I am really trying to keep this blogging thing going, because I do enjoy it. But – when I get busy (which you know is often) it is hard for me to find the space in my brain to decide what to write about, and then get the chunk of time needed to actually write it. Some of you know I’m on vacation from yesterday through Sunday, and you might be thinking – of course she has time! And, yeah, I sort of do. The thing is, though, I think our little business is really starting to take off, and that has to be a priority.

So far on my “vacation”, I have:

  • Slept in until 7:30 or 8am!
  • Written & revised our custom garment contract
  • Worked on dress design sketches
  • Hashed out some details for another wedding, including scoring a great deal with a vendor
  • Set up a meeting with another potential client
  • Actually started the Great T-Shirt Project of 2010
  • Installed new operating system on my computer, and then new money software, and am currently in the midst of transferring all our data over from the old program and setting up our budget.
  • Cleaned the house.
  • Had happy hour with WhiskeyTime and some improvised Amaretto/Pear martinis. (ok, this part is like actual vacation.)
  • SPENT TIME WITH MY WIFE. (Who is being the sweetest lady ever by pretending I am really on vacation and planning a weekend of fancy dinners that she is cooking for me. Boy do I love her. Last night, we had Roasted Chicken with Spiced Figs. OMG. Yum. On Saturday, she is planning some awesome thing where she cooks whole fish. She is the best. Sorry to all the rest of you who don’t get to be married to her.)

Additional things I have scheduled to do on my vacation are:

  • Hit the fabric store for swatching and inspiration for our client’s wedding dress
  • Meet with the aforementioned potential client
  • Finish putting together sketches and estimate for the wedding dress
  • Flesh out all the details of the wedding coming up and distribute them to vendors
  • Maybe continue working on the Great T-Shirt Project of 2010 (which I guess I should write a post about, huh?)
  • Write a guest post for a wedding blog
  • Write a why having babies scared me before being a nanny vs. why they scare me now post for another blog
  • Attempt to write something of substance for this here blog, that is not about how busy I am, and thus will not bore you to tears like this post
  • CELEBRATE OUR ANNIVERSARY. Yeah, I know it was a month ago, and we did celebrate. But I think I mentioned we had been planning to go to a big fancy dinner only to find out that the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. So. We rescheduled our anniversary for ‘one of those upcoming weekends when we might have some time’ (HA!) and here it is. We’ve got a reservation at Chalkboard for Friday night, and I’m hopeful we will be able to schedule some massages tomorrow or Saturday as well. Yay!

And, let me say, I am NOT complaining. I love doing all these things. Not that I wouldn’t love just sitting at the beach all day, in some semblance of what I imagine normal people do on vacation – I would love that. But – the reason why we’re making this business happen is exactly because we LOVE doing these things and want to eventually do them full-time. Or at least enough of the time that we can pick and choose what shows or other work we want to do the rest of the time.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

Well, this weekend has been a busy one, and this is going to be a short post. Julia’s opening a show and also subbing in for another show, so she’ll have done eight shows over the last three days. I’ve been working hard on content and graphics for our Crafty Broads website. Tonight I’m meeting with some wonderful friends whose wedding I’ll be stage managing next month! Despite all these goings-on, we had Friday night off together and we’ll get to have a late dinner tonight too. And I managed to make a really tasty dinner last night:

Pork Tenderloin with Fig & Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Thought I’d share some of the ideas I’m tossing around over here.
(Note that none of this is live on the site yet, but hopefully will be up later this week.)

A few options for the home page:

This is the one I’m leaning towards.

I also like this one, but I think it may be too much color. If I go with this, it would only be on the home screen. Then I would use something more like the one above for all the pages within the website.

This one is a little cleaner without the background color in the buttons, but I think it may be too much white space.

I’d love to have your feedback in the comments!

Turkish Breakfast

Welcome to the next phase in our lives and this blog. I’m going to spend the rest of this week blogging about the crafty things we did for our wedding, and then I’ll stop talking about it unless you all ask for more. Because this isn’t a wedding blog. (If you need one of those, go here.)

As mentioned previously, our first year of marriage has flown right by, and we’re eating up the last bit of it tonight with a picnic on the beach where we exchanged our vows last summer. We’re having Turkish breakfast, which you might have noticed on the menu post yesterday. Julia said I should explain what the hell that is a little bit better, so here goes.

Two years ago, Julia had the amazing opportunity to travel to Turkey for a show she stage managed. She was gone for a week, and when she got home, she was obsessed with what they were fed for the first meal of each day. I wasn’t there, but here’s how I envision it.

In a grand, open-air room, a long table overflows with the yummiest things artfully arranged on antique metal serving trays.* On these lovely dishes one finds warm, crusty, buttery bread; a generous assortment of fine cheeses**; fresh tomatoes and cucumbers; some herbs, maybe oregano or dill; and ripe native olives. There are, perhaps, some salads and salamis to choose from as well.
You fill a plate with an assortment of these and lounge on overstuffed floor pillows next to a low table. The melody of a sitar player drifts in from the street below. A crisp Mediterranean breeze dances through an open window, swirling the aroma of dark, bold Turkish coffee around your head…***

Oh sorry. Got a little lost there. When we do it at home, it doesn’t have quite the same ambiance, but it is, nevertheless, oh so delicious. We slice a loaf of crusty bread, butter it, and warm it up. And then we stack up tomatoes, cucumber, cheese (we like Dubliner or a good aged cheddar particularly; feta is also lovely), and whatever fresh herbs we have, and sometimes a good salami, and then we eat it like an open-faced sandwich. And Julia eats olives with it, if I remember to buy them.

Quick and easy to prepare (unless you’re making the bread from scratch like I’m doing right now) yet surprisingly filling, Turkish breakfast can also be a great lunch or dinner and it travels pretty well too. Go get yourself some!

*Honey, if it was paper plates and catering trays, please, for the love, do not ever tell me so.
**Really, I’m completely sold once you mention the cheese.
***Seriously, baby, if it wasn’t as exotic and romantic and glorious as all this, I repeat, DO NOT EVER TELL ME SO.

Coming Soon: More Crafting!

Hi. Can you do something real quick for me? Look up at the top of the page. Do you see there, under the title, where it says, “eating our way through our first year of marriage”? Well. Julia and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Which means that year of eating will be up, and this blog is going to enter its second year. (Yeah, I know, I really haven’t been writing consistently for a year, and I didn’t start on our wedding day either, but the year of eating is up, and now we must starve. Or something.)

Never fear dear friends and people I’ve never met in Singapore (HI! You read every post! Who are you?) – the blog is not going anywhere. It’s just going to be a little bit different. For the better, I think. Starting next week, I will be blogging about anything and everything, which will certainly still include food, and is likely to include sewing and crafting and stage managing weddings and starting a small business and trying to grow plants on our porch in the crazy-ass weather we’ve been having and life in general. So. I hope you’re cool with that. And if you’re just here for the food… I totally get that. Check my blogroll for some excellent food-only reading.

I’ll be taking the rest of the weekend off blogging to celebrate (and also to stage manage Ms. Bunny’s wedding, more on that later, maybe) so this will be it until Wednesday probably. I know, how will you live without me?*

Have an excellent long weekend, eat and drink good things, and please come back next week to see if you still like my ramblings.

*You’ll be just fine. You did it for all those months when I wasn’t posting, didn’t you?

The Best Weekend

(This post should have been written on Monday. When it was fresh. But I didn’t do that because I didn’t feel like it, so I hope you don’t mind its tardiness. If you do, you don’t have to read it. But you should because there is lots of yummy food and I even remembered to take pictures.)

This past weekend, Julia FINALLY had some days off. And I don’t mean like… days off since last week, when she had days off like you do. I mean days off like damn, she opened two completely different show full of costumes she designed and made which opened within a month of each other, and for which she had to leave the show she had been running 8 shows a week on, including Saturdays & Sundays when we ordinarily see each other, which started in March(?). I mean days off as in I haven’t had a whole day off with my wife in at least three months. That kind of days off.

So we lazed around the house in our pajamas all weekend long doing nothing.

What I learned this weekend is that unlike three or four years ago when “doing nothing” meant ordering pizza, making pancakes from a just-add-water mix, and otherwise not really leaving the couch, “doing nothing” now apparently means mostly that, but instead of take out, we cook a lot of nice things…

Crispy Fish with Tomato, Corn, and Leek Sauté
Tuscan Lamb with Garlicky Tomato Sauce and Polenta

… and sometimes after consuming a bottle of wine, we decide we really want dessert so we might as well whip up a chocolate soufflé…

how to melt chocolate while drunk.
how to beat egg whites while drunk.

how to do a really half-assed job of folding beaten egg whites into melted chocolate… while drunk.

… and while it’s baking we have just enough time to do the dishes and change the sheets, and fight about how to make the bed properly and realize what a stupid fight we are having and make up just before the timer beeps, and then there is this:

how to eat a chocolate souffé while drunk? two spoons.

And lest you think that’s the laziest we get, a Sunday morning of “doing nothing” meant figuring out a new household budget, and then taking our pre-approved weekly amount to the farmers’ market so we could buy up a bunch of veggies and fresh cream and grass-fed bacon.

Eggs over Arugula-Mustard Salad with Fresh Bacon

Which became a delicious breakfast and then later, we made our favorite flavor of ice cream – strawberry basil – with all organic fresh from the market ingredients. Which is not pictured because I was eating it. Sorry.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Welcome APW Readers!

Just a quick post to say hello to the awesome ladies (& gents?) popping over from A Practical Wedding today. Welcome! I’m glad you’re here. Thought you might enjoy a brief summary of us and our blog.

Julia and I are theatre people. We both have lengthy backgrounds in stage management, and in more recent years we’ve also branched out into costuming. We met in 2006 at an opening night party for a show I was working on, became inseparable despite the fact that Julia started dating someone else, and eventually after relentless pursuit on my part, she realized what I already knew: that we were perfect for each other.

Julia and I got married just about a year ago and because we are crazy we didn’t like the options we could afford, we decided to make our dresses, the cake, and do all the invitation and website design ourselves. And I wrote our ceremony from scratch with a little help from a great writer and equally excellent friend. (If you all want I can post the ceremony text. A chunk of it is on APW this morning. Which is maybe why you’re here. But I digress…) It was awesome.

Around the time we were planning our wedding, we’d made an effort to start eating better and cooking more exciting food, so once the wedding madness was over, we started this blog to document our first year of marriage via the yummy things we were cooking and eating. You can read the very first post here.

Shortly thereafter, we decided to put our sewing and other creative skills to use and we started figuring out how to start a business doing the things we love. And thus, crafty broads was born. We are still figuring out exactly what we want to do, but for now we are focusing on custom clothing and corsets, and putting our stage management skills to good use offering sane wedding management. If you decide to check that link out, be warned: I haven’t finishes the website yet.

That’s enough rambling for today. Please poke around, stay for a while, comment if you feel so inclined, and have a great PRIDE week!

Inertia and Making it a Habit

I mentioned the other day that I had a lot more to say on this topic, so here goes. Obviously this is my point-of-view, maybe you all are much better at self-discipline than I am, but then again, maybe not.

It seems to me that the obstacle to EVERYTHING is inertia. (Sometimes known as procrastination.) You think to yourself: I will eat better, I will exercise more, I will actually sweep and mop the floors once in a blue moon so that I’m not secretly embarrassed when we have people over. Good intentions, these.


If you follow that up with “And I will start it first thing tomorrow!” – you never will. You have to do it now, or never. If you don’t start when you have the mental energy, you will never find the physical energy. I don’t have any advice on overcoming this, really, other than to say: just start. Start with something small, because once you get going that same law of physics applies – objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest.

For us, we started trying to eat better and the thing that helped us was signing up for fresh organic produce delivery every other week. [Chicago folks, we used Fresh Picks, and they are pretty awesome.] That forced us to eat more veggies in the first place, and also to try things we’d really never eaten before. Kale, swiss chard, parsnips, sunchokes. All delicious. Eventually, that morphed into more regular trips to the farmers’ market, eating less meat and more fish, spending more to get our animal products from farms who raise them humanely without hormones and antibiotics, and planning our meals. And as you may know, that (and our wedding) kind of led to this blog’s existence.

The same idea has, of late, helped me to get better about chores around the house. Because before, aside from laundry, half of the dishes, (wo)manning the grill, and cake/pastry making,* Julia did the bulk of the chores and I was not a very good partner in that regard. I sucked, if we’re being honest. I found I needed a system, a set schedule with deadlines to get things done. I’m using an app (Remember the Milk) on my iPhone (it can also be used via web/email), and I know it sounds lame, but when I see that stupid little red circle with the number of chores that are due, I’m motivated to do them in order to make that alert go away! To each his/her own, I suppose. My point being that it is, apparently, possible to turn into a person who does chores regularly (and consequently, a person who gets to sleep on pretty clean sheets and walk barefoot on the floor without turning her feet black) – you just need a system that works for you.

The kicker? Once everything is clean, I get annoyed much faster when it’s not and am developing an impulse to restore it to order immediately. I’m pretty sure Julia loves me more now that she doesn’t have to do everything.**

So. How do you deal with all the stupid stuff you have to get done so that you and your home are presentable?

*Yeah. I know that is not really a chore. Also, when I say laundry, I mean I put it through the washer and dryer and then bitched and moaned about how much I hate folding and putting it away, and then Julia probably folded and put it away.

**But we still need to resolve where to put dirty dishes when there is no more room in the dishwasher or it is full of clean ones. And yeah, I know that second situation is easily solved by putting the clean ones away… but you know… I’m sitting on the couch, typing this post… inertia.