Friday, September 19, 2014

quick-pickled peaches and strawberries

The first time I ever had pickled strawberries was at Seviche, a Latin restaurant here in Louisville, served with goat cheese and radishes. Tangy and almost spreadably soft, they were the opposite of what you normally think of a strawberry, but I've been craving them ever since. Since summer is coming to an end, I decided it would be the perfect time to pickle my favorite summer fruits. These pickles are stored in the fridge and are ready in just a couple of days. They are delicious with goat cheese on crusty bread or crackers with pepper, in salads with some of the pickling liquid as dressing, or on oatmeal, ice cream, or yogurt.

Quick-Pickled Peaches
makes about one 1-liter jar or two 1-pint jars

  7-8 ripe peaches
  2 cups sugar
  1 cup apple cider or white vinegar
  1/2 cup water
  2 cinnamon sticks

Fill a medium-sized bowl with water and a few handfuls of ice and set aside. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add peaches to saucepan and cook for 15-20 seconds, then transfer peaches to ice bath with slotted spoon. Peel peaches and cut into wedges. Add peaches and cinnamon sticks to a sterilized 1-liter or two 1-pint glass jars. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, and sugar over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.  When vinegar mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and pour into jar over peaches, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Let jar cool uncovered to room temperature. Cover with lid and store in the refrigerator. Let peaches sit for 2-3 days before opening. Peaches will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator. 

Quick-Pickled Strawberries
makes about one 1/2-liter jar or two 1/2-pint jars

  1/2 lb strawberries
  1 cup apple cider or white vinegar
  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  1/2 teaspoon of salt
  a few mint leaves
  1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

Thoroughly wash strawberries and remove tops. Cut strawberries in halves (thirds or quarters for larger berries). Add sliced strawberries, mint leaves, and peppercorns to a sterilized 1/2-liter jar or two 1/2-pint jars. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until sugar dissolves. When vinegar mixture comes to a boil, pour into jar over strawberries, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Let jar cool uncovered to room temperature. Cover with lids and store in the refrigerator. Let strawberries sit for 1-2 days before opening. Strawberries will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. 

Photos and text by Tamsen Anderson

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

et cetera

We had a bit of a lazy weekend around here, putting off our usual home-improvement projects in favor of some relaxation. We tried out some new recipes and pickled peaches and strawberries (recipe coming up later this week) with the windows wide open to enjoy the newly-cool weather.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

et cetera: antique shopping

Every couple months, Kathleen and I like to spend a day perusing consignment and thrift shops around town. This Sunday we visited Crazy Daisy Antique Mall and Mellwood Antiques & Interiors and spotted some great furniture, rugs, lighting, and accessories. Aside from Craigslist, Crazy Daisy is one of our favorite places to find furniture to refinish or reupholster. We also like to look through consignment and antique stores when we are in need of ideas or inspiration for home projects.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

august beauty favorites: danielle

While we were at the beach, our sister Danielle told us about the new, cleaned-up beauty routine she had been trying. We invited her to share her favorite products that she used in August here on the blog.

I’ve been working to clean up my beauty routine in the past several months. I already use eco-friendly cleaning products in our home, and I try to make conscious choices about food and exercise, so revamping my beauty routine was a logical next step.

To me, “clean” means products made with safer or healthier ingredients than those found in conventional beauty products. These are the ingredients I’m trying to avoid: parabens, sulfates, phthalates, polyethylene glycol/PEG, phenoxyethanol, BHA, metals, and “fragrance.” All of these ingredients, commonly found in conventional beauty products, have documented or potential health risks associated with their use. Additionally, I try to use beauty products that have not been tested on animals, and this is a standard upheld by many clean brands.

A little about me…
Age: 28
Skin: very sensitive, combination, prone to allergies and hormonal acne
Hair: long, fine, tangles easily, light brown, previously color-treated

And here are my current favorite clean beauty products:

Rahua Voluminous Shampoo is the best clean shampoo I’ve tried. Even with a great cut, my long straight hair has a tendency to look limp. This shampoo gives my hair shine and bounce, and it looks good whether I air dry or heat style. Though expensive, the bottle lasts a long time.

John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner is amazing. While it is supposed to be a deep conditioner, I actually use a small amount every time I wash my hair and leave it in briefly for light conditioning. The formula is moisturizing without being heavy, and I love the scent.

Blissoma Fresh Mild Rice Facial Cleanser leaves my sensitive skin clean without being stripped of moisture. Since I began using this cleanser, I have had very few breakouts. It is non-foaming with a creamy texture and a slight grit from the brown rice.

Blissoma Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum seems to tighten my pores and balance my skin. This serum is non-oily and has a matte finish once absorbed. While it has a rather lengthy ingredient list, it includes mostly herbs and has not caused me any irritation.

I tried some highly ineffective natural deodorants before purchasing Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. While it doesn’t perform quite like my beloved Secret Clinical Strength, Soapwalla actually leaves me fresh and reasonably dry, with no concern over the safety of its ingredients. This smooth deodorant cream comes in a round jar and is applied with your fingers.

W3LL People Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara was such a great find. This mascara gives my lashes length, thickness and a hint of curl. I have not experienced any flaking or clumping, although I have to be careful immediately after application as it does take about 90 seconds to dry on my lashes. I get some smudging around my eyes by the end of the day, but it is otherwise perfect.

As a spot treatment for the occasional blemish, I’ve been using tea tree oil. This is not a groundbreaking beauty product, but it certainly is effective. Even my husband has been reaching for tea tree oil instead of his benzoyl peroxide cream. Tea tree oil can be very harsh on the face if used full strength, so be sure to dilute it with a carrier such as water or jojoba oil before application.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

louisville love: guestroom records

Since opening their Louisville outpost on Frankfort Avenue in 2013, Guestroom Records has become an integral part of Louisville's music scene. Selling new and used records, CDs, and cassettes, Guestroom has thrived even as consumers rely on streaming services and digital downloads. Owners Travis Searle and Lisa Foster are keenly aware of how Guestroom has made it. For them, a good record store doesn't just sell records; a good record store engages their audience, supports local musicians, and fosters the communities--music, business, neighborhood--they belong to. Guestroom Records has been a fantastic addition to Louisville, so we were really pleased to sit down with Travis and Lisa and chat about all things Louisville, the return to records, and the community of local businesses they're proud to be a part of.

Tell us a little bit about opening up your first store in Oklahoma.

Travis: My business partner, Justin Sowers, and I legally opened in 2002 as a small distribution company. We pooled together $400 each and made an order and took it around to people's houses in a Rubbermaid tub.

Lisa: They still have the Rubbermaid tub in the bathroom at the Norman store, it’s pretty awesome.

Travis: We kind of just ordered what we were interested in and if people didn't want to buy what we had to sell than it would just be ours, which was cool with us. As it turned out, the stuff that we were interested in was the same kind of stuff that other people were looking for. So we would just take stuff around to people's houses, take whatever profit we made and make another order. We would do that once a month until it got to the point that we had too much stuff to actually carry with us. In the meantime, we would set up at shows and other places and sell. At the point when we had too much stuff to carry, we started doing monthly garage sales. We did that for about 6 months until someone from a local coffee shop and music venue told us about a space opening up next to them and we decided that it made perfect sense. So we opened the store in Norman in July of 2003, outgrew it in about 2 years, and moved to a store just around the corner about a block down the street in September of 2005. By 2007 we had gotten to the point where we had almost outgrown our second shop. We found a bargain on a place in Oklahoma City in kind of a cool area and decided to open up another location.

Lisa: At the time, they also had a lot of customers traveling from Oklahoma City to Norman, which is the nearby smaller college town. A lot of the customers were saying they wished there were a store in Oklahoma City around the same time they were starting to outgrow the space.

Travis: Yeah, we actually got 'Best Record Store in Oklahoma City' despite the fact that we were about 25 miles south of Oklahoma City, so it just made sense.

What inspired you to open your first record store?

Travis: I worked in a record store in high school for a couple of years. It wasn't a great record store and I always thought I could do it better and turns out I could (laughs). I got lucky when I met my friend and future business partner, Justin. Our ideas just really gelled on what we thought a record store could and should be. Between 2002 and 2003, every record store in Norman had shut down. Over a three month period, the city went from three record stores to zero and we just decided the time was right for us to do it.

Lisa: All the local stores were dying in Oklahoma at the time and the only ones left were these CD warehouses and bad chain stores.

So what was the local business scene like in Norman and Oklahoma City?

Lisa: As an outsider, what was really interesting to me about the Oklahoma City and Norman business scene is that the independent businesses there that make it are incredible local businesses. It's not really a culture that supports local business in the way that Louisville does, or even in some ways that Kentucky does, so there just aren't as many. But the ones that they have are incredible. That's what really struck me about Guestroom before I was part of it, was 'how is this tiny record store so cool in Norman, Oklahoma?' because I had been living in Austin before that. The independent business that are there are good, solid businesses that give a lot back to their community and continue to grow in that way. Oklahoma City has the largest land mass of any city in the country so it's very spread out which makes it more difficult to have a strong business culture. It's not like there's a Frankfort Avenue, or a Bardstown Road, or a NuLu.

Travis: It was a good place but it was never going to get as big and interesting and diverse as I wanted. The county, city and state laws made it difficult to open businesses unless you were independently wealthy.

Lisa, tell us about when you came into the picture.

Lisa: I was a professor at the University of Oklahoma. I moved to Norman in 2005 and I lived in Austin before that and worked at Waterloo Records. I had been in record stores before and I wrote about music and politics. The very first thing I did when I moved was find my local record store and that was Guestroom. We [Travis and I] didn't start dating until years later. It wasn't until we moved to Louisville that I started working full time with Guestroom. It was in part because we were trying to figure out what our next move was going to be as a couple. We had been talking about wanting to leave Oklahoma for a while and I was trying to figure out if I wanted to move to a place for another professor position or if we were going to put the store first. After two or three years of being on the job market and talking about it and really figuring out what was important to us, we decided that record stores were really where we wanted to focus.

What was it that brought you guys to Louisville?

Travis: Well, when we were on the job market, we kind of laid down some ground rules about different places where we didn’t want to move. And we didn’t want to move further west because we didn’t want to get away from Lisa’s family or from my family. And we wanted to live in a place where we wanted to live.

Lisa: That’s how this all started. Because for professors, the job market is such that most people never really get to decide where they want to live, they just have to take the job that’s offered to them, and that’s where they go. I did that once and I wound up in Oklahoma and that worked out great for me, but it was also really one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, to move someplace I didn’t want to go. So when we were considering moving, whether we were looking at a professor job or opening a new store, we had these criteria for the kinds of things that we wanted to do and the places that we wanted to live.

Travis: We wanted a place where we could eat well, where the cost of living wasn’t much higher than what we were used to, where we could have a car, and a place that had a good local business scene and a solid music scene and a number of venues. Where people liked the city where they lived.

Lisa: That was huge for me. When we visited Louisville, everywhere we went, we heard people talking about how much they love the city so much. We also wanted a place where there was a sense of community, and a city that had a more progressive culture.

Travis: It also didn’t hurt that we were coming through Kentucky multiple times a year to visit Lisa’s family and friends.

Lisa: It snuck up on us, to be honest. When I left Kentucky fourteen years ago, Louisville didn’t look like it does now. I was born in Louisville and my parents lived in Louisville, but I grew up in Springfield, Kentucky, right outside of Bardstown, and when I was five we moved to Campbellsville, which is where I graduated high school. It was actually friends of ours who live in Indiana who said, ‘When you guys talk about what you want, it seems like you should think about Louisville.’ So we just started exploring a little more every time we came through to visit my family.

Travis: And every time we came, we thought, ‘Man, this city is awesome.’

Lisa: In a lot of ways--I know this sounds super cheesy--but I really feel like it chose us, in a way. It wasn’t the first place I thought I wanted to go, I honestly didn’t think I wanted to move back to Kentucky. But it started to make so much sense.

ear X-tacy closed pretty close to the time you opened your Louisville store. Was that at all scary to you?

Lisa: I grew up with ear X-tacy so we watched that story a lot. It wasn't super scary to us because we saw it as part of a larger thing that was happening to record stores everywhere and not just this iconic, long-standing part of a community that was going under.

Travis: And at that time, CDs were king, there were no downloads or streaming services.

Lisa: Right, so we were able to see what was happening to ear X-tacy not as a community unable to support record stores but really as the industry shifting in a way that didn't serve that business.

What is it about vinyl and cassettes that have people buying them again? Do you all attribute your success to the fact that records have made a comeback?

Travis: Absolutely, 100 percent. If records hadn't made a comeback, stores like ours, and about 250 other stores across the country that started championing records six or seven years ago, would be very different or wouldn't exist.

Lisa: Vinyl culture, people wanting to buy vinyl again have saved independent record store culture. The question about what it is about vinyl is a big one, I think part of it's about sound, people like that sound. And it's also not something you usually listen to by yourself, it can be, but you can't walk around with a personal record player in your pocket. I think it's a post-digital response that people are having. You know, 'I don't want to download music and listen to it all by myself, I want to have a collection of something that I can play for other people, that I can hold, that I can collect and own.' I think that a lot of this started happening after those stories about not being able to pass down your iTunes collection to your kids started coming out. People were starting to have this question, you know, ‘I bought all these iTunes files, why can't I give them to someone?’ It also becomes a question of ownership.

Travis: I think that's how a lot of people in their early 20s and 30s are feeling about records at this point. I was born in 1980 and I remember going through my parents’ record collection when I was 9 or 10 years old before I knew anything about any of the bands in there and I remember being interested in what these artifacts were. I knew about cassettes, that was what I was buying stuff on.

Lisa: I certainly think nostalgia is part of it, with the cassette tapes what I love is that they're really cheap. You can walk out with 5 albums for 10 bucks that you can listen to in your car, and if it gets too hot or it wears out you got to hear it a couple times. I think cassettes are fascinating.

Travis: Having to flip something... it's a more involved and active way to listen to music. You can't just hit shuffle and hear whatever, you don't use a 5-disc CD changer and just hit play and see what comes on. And there's nothing wrong with that, either, if people want to listen to music I'm not going to complain.

Lisa: Over the summer, we did this Summer Cassingle Series and we were able to give them away with people's admission to the show. We had originally talked about doing 7 inches, but once we started doing the numbers we realized we would actually have to sell them. But with the tapes we could put Louisville bands on the Cassingles, have a show, give people the tapes, and it was a great way of actually circulating people's music.

Tell us a little bit about the stock. Is it very different from the other stores? Do you tailor it to local tastes? Your own tastes?

Lisa: We tailor it to our customer’s tastes. And since our customers are local I guess you could say we tailor it to local tastes. But we certainly pay attention to how much people buy some things and sometimes there’s a record here that would not have sold as well in Norman, and vice versa, and we definitely try to get what our customers want.

Travis: When I do my ordering I certainly take personal taste into account but our taste is so varied--we listen to everything. I do my buying just like I’m doing Christmas shopping: ‘Oh, I know someone who wants that, I know someone who wants that, I know six people who will want that.’ And I can look at the sales records and see how other things have sold and tailor it accordingly. We stock what we’re going to stock, and we stock what people come in looking to buy. As far as used stuff, it it’s cool we’re going to buy it.

Lisa: Used collections are really fascinating because the used stock in here is literally stuff that people walk in here with. So it really is what your audience is bringing to you. As for how it compares to the other stores… A friend from Oklahoma came in the store here and said--and I can’t think who it was but it’s my favorite thing--it was like another child of the same parent, where it’s clearly a different person, you know, it’s its own unique thing but it’s also from the same genetic fabric as what created those first stores. I think that’s a really good way to look at it, in terms of the aesthetics, in terms of the style, in terms of the stock.

Tell us about your in-store events.

Travis: We do a few of those. We can’t do too many; we have a lot on our plate with the other things we do, and we try to be considerate to the neighbors--we can’t have a big band in here being super loud.

Lisa: We’ve been able to do a few more things recently, especially acoustic. Dawn Landes was in here a few weeks ago, that was really great. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart did an all-acoustic set. And we did a DJ set that worked really well. We love in-store events though. They build a sense of community, they get people out to the store who haven’t been to the store before--that’s one thing I notice a lot, people will come in and say, “Wow, I didn’t even know this place was here,” but they heard about someone playing and came to check it out.

What are some of your other favorite local businesses?

Travis: Lots.

Lisa: That’s tricky.

Travis: Everything that Tyler Trotter does.

Lisa: We probably wouldn’t be here had we not stumbled upon the beer store, to be honest. We were looking for beer to take back to our friends in Oklahoma when we were driving through Louisville years ago and we walked in and we were like, “We don’t ever want to leave here.”

Travis: We love the Beer Store, Holy Grale, the Gralehaus. Astro Black and Fat Rabbit. Wild and Woolly.

Lisa: We love the Silver Dollar. We get a little bit of that Texas-Oklahoma culture there. We have awesome neighbors too. I can’t say enough things about Sean of Reynolds Grocery Company and Jessica at Sweet Surrender, and the guys at Hilltop have been great. We love this corner.

Travis: So many places. We could really go on for another hour. I like being an ambassador; it’s really fun to have people come into town and to show it all off.

Other favorites: The Fish House, Why Louisville, Please & Thank You, Flea Off Market, Nancy’s Bagels, Four Sisters.

Visit Guestroom Records at 1806 Frankfort Avenue. Their hours are 11 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday, and 1 pm to 6 pm on Sunday. Check them out on Facebook and on their website for news and events, and for more information about the Oklahoma City and Norman, OK stores.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

before + after: marble top dresser makeover

Kathleen and I found this great 1960s Distinctive by Stanley Furniture dresser on Craigslist a few weeks ago for only $75. It had a few dings and a laminate top that didn't match the finish of the wood, but we loved the style of the dresser and the cool little knobs. Plus, it was so well-made and otherwise in great condition, and the grain on the drawers and sides of the dresser was beautiful. We couldn't really refinish the top so we decided to indulge our marble obsession and cover the laminate with marble contact paper.

supplies used:

marble contact paper
Minwax oil-based wood stain in Honey
foam brushes
Minwax Wipe-On Poly in Clear Satin
cotton rags
Black & Decker Mouse Detail Sander
Diablo 80 and 120 grit sandpaper
Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Clear Gloss
Plaid Brass Liquid Leaf
1/2 inch paintbrush

Since the wood didn't have a lacquered finish, we decided not to strip it and went straight to the sanding. We removed the stain with 80-grit sandpaper and then used the 120-grit to smooth everything out.

After sanding, we applied the stain with foam brushes and wiped it off with paper towels after letting it soak in for a few seconds.

We let the stain dry for a few hours and then applied the wipe-on poly with rags. We applied a second coat after two hours and a third coat after another two hours.

We really loved the original hardware on the dresser and have had great success using liquid leaf on other metal projects so we gave the knobs and washers a good scrubbing, and then they got a quick makeover with 4 coats of brass-colored liquid leaf.

After the dresser and knobs had dried overnight, we applied the contact paper to the top. When we first pulled it out of the box, it honestly didn't look like much, but as soon as we stuck it down, it looked great. The paper came with a handy little tool that made the application very easy. We found it worked best to pull away just a few inches of the backing at a time and use the tool to push out the bubbles towards the unrolled paper. We worked with a few inches of overhang on each side so we didn't have to worry about pulling the paper up and repositioning if we got off track. Then we smoothed it against the edges, trimmed off the excess with a razor blade, and folded it under.

To finish the corners, we cut a diagonal slit between the front and side flap towards the corner, stuck the excess from the front flap to the side edge, and stuck the side flap over it. Then we straightened up the edge with a razor blade. We used the tool to tuck the side flap under the top of the dresser and sliced off the excess with a razor blade.

As far as refinishing furniture goes, this was the easiest project we've ever done. It only took us a weekend to complete and the finished product is exactly what we envisioned. The total cost was about $140 after supplies. The marble contact paper doesn't look real when you put your eyes a few inches from it and inspect the veins, but from a normal standing distance, it actually looks like a piece of marble. We're so pleased with the dresser, and we can't wait to share the total room makeover it's a part of!

tray- West Elm
carafe + glasses- CB2
marble paper- Paper Source
frame- Ikea
candleholders- tutorial here
sheepskin rug- Leatherhead