This year we had not one but two Pi Day celebrations. Both Sean and I were bringing in pies on March 13th for staff events, and then we had a Pathfinder Pi Day that Saturday (on Pi Day proper).
Which mean that on the night of the 12th, we made 3 pies in 2 hours.
First up was a grapefruit pie. As per usual I tried out a new recipe so had no idea how it would turn out.
But first, I dug out the numbers that I’d used on the mini pies from last year…
So I could make some fancy crusts!
The grapefruit pie is basically a custard pie. I was using a store-bought crust because 1) I’m kinda lazy and didn’t make a pie crust earlier in the week, and 2) I didn’t want to bring my own pie pan to work. Also I only have one pie pan.
It was an easy recipe. I toasted the numbers in a separate pan, and put them on top once the pie was done. The numbers were in for about 15 minutes, and really only needed 10. They were much browner than the crust but they were nicely crunchy, so a good balance against the custard.
The crust was dubiously pale. The recipe clearly said that it would be wobbly when it came out of the oven, but I was still a bit concerned that it hadn’t been in long enough.
No time to put it back in though, because we had to crank the heat up for pie number 2! This one’s called a Chocolate Midnight pie, and has some coffee liqueur and espresso powder in it to make the flavor even richer. Fortunately, we had some great coffee liqueur from our trip to St. George’s last month.
So excited for chocolate. Also, we used the mixer we got as a wedding present! Also excited to not mix by hand anymore. Or with my old-timey hand-cranked mixer.
This time I used a pre-made crust but in my own pie pan. So I thought I’d do my numbers a bit differently and put them around the edge instead of on the pie itself.
LOOK AT THAT PIE. Just look at it. So good.
It magically made its own crunchy top layer. Couldn’t wait to dig into this! It had to chill overnight, so it joined the grapefruit pie in the fridge. And as pie #2 came out of the oven, pie #3 went in! Sean made a lemon meringue!
It was really great to have a mixer to whip up the meringue, but we may have over-whipped it. This stuff was *thick* and didn’t really seal with the lemon layer underneath. Fortunately this didn’t make it any less tasty. He used a pre-made crumb crust because again 1) not a lot of time to make crusts and 2) didn’t want to worry about bringing a dish home from work.
Friday we brought the grapefruit and meringue pies to our respective staff parties. This is where I learned that I really should have kept that grapefruit pie in the oven longer…
Grapefruit soup! The pie clearly hadn’t set. It tasted *great*, creamy but tart and not too sugary, but was more of a grapefruit “sauce” to spread over some of the other goodies we had. I will definitely make it again sometime, and leave it in for another 15-20 minutes I think.
There are no photos of the chocolate pie on the day of because we devoured all of it in between fighting a particularly crafty wizard in our Pathfinder campaign. That one was definitely baked to perfection. The numbers didn’t quite stick to the crust though; I probably should have used egg whites or something to help seal it. Will make again without the numbers and not change a thing to the recipe.
Hope everyone else had a happy Pi Day!
I’ve been fortunate to have a few custom profile pictures made for me recently:
Fred Hicks designed this creepy card as part of a set for the developers of Don’t Turn Your Back, a new board game Evil Hat is putting out. The Kickstarter funded, and production is under way! It’s a super fun game, I’m looking forward to having it on my shelf.
(I took a selfie and tried to look “intense.” Did it work??)
This beauty by Claudia Cangini is based on a fancy Chick Flick headshot, and was included in a backer level on the Kickstarter for Night Witches. I played a few versions of the playtest and we just got the finished product in the mail! Can’t wait to play it again.
As a Christmas present to Sean, I arranged for a noir-style photoshoot with our friend and amazing photographer, Sam Willard.
Chick Flick has had a variety of group photos and headshots with Sam, including these lovely classic glam shots. So I thought it’d be fun for Sean and I do have some done in the style of film noir posters.
Sean even bought a new hat for the occasion!
You may not recognize it in black and white, but the first outfit I wore is the same from last year’s birthday party. I knew that hat would come in handy again!
Sean wore the same suit from the wedding (the only suit he owns, actually).
And I had a costume change! This is my dancing dress from the wedding. Glad I had reason to wear it again! It’s so cute, I really hope I can find more excuses to wear it in the future.
We had a great time at the photoshoot; it was hard to narrow it down to just a few pics. Can’t wait to frame some of these!
UPDATE: Our friend Eric Vogel was inspired to turn one of our photos into a dime novel!
We received some retouched photos from Magnolia Weddings, they look so good!
The delay on getting them was our fault; we’d simply forgotten to follow up about retouching until January. I also had every intention of sending out our thank-you cards in time for Valentine’s Day, but missed that deadline too.
Another shot of the whole wedding party, including our officiant Shaun. Shaun also “officiated” Sean’s proposal, so it seemed very fitting for him to also officiate our wedding.
Our happy blended families! My parents, Sean’s mother, and his little girls. To be honest I’m a bit leery of the term “step-mother,” since fairy tales have pretty much ruined its word association. We’re going with “bonus mom,” which I like much better.
Sean and his groomsmen, Eric and Alex, and groomswoman Kristin. Eric and Kristin were co-best men? Best Man and Best Woman? The wording is fuzzy, but regardless it was really great to have all of them as part of the wedding. They look killer in those suits. Hey, did you notice that their ties match those of the bridesmaids they escorted? We ordered the ties off Etsy which was a bit of a gamble but they ended up matching perfectly.
…And another shot of my gorgeous bridesmaids.
We timed the ceremony to end right about the start of the “golden hour” so we had lots of great light for photos. Fortunately it wasn’t even a grey November day, the rain from the day before had cleared everything up.
Do you like that banner? Thanks! I designed it! We had banners for the catering table, bar, photobooth, and then some for pictures. Maybe I could make big bucks selling them on Etsy. Or maybe not.
Now, to start on those thank-you cards!
And we’re back! On to part two of my long weekend (read part one here), as told through Twitter.
Last year, Sean made me a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy. But this year I asked for something a little more low-key.
Vanilla latte, poached egg, bacon, and an apple fritter the size of my face.
To walk it off, we went around Lake Merritt. It was beautiful, and still a little chilly, which was good because it’s always a longer walk than I expect it to be.
Beautiful views today. And the lake is pretty too. pic.twitter.com/EZZlHAnKVI
— Sean Nittner (@SeanNittner) February 15, 2015
Jennifer and I have celebrated our birthdays together for the past two years, and this year was no exception. Rather than either of us host, we decided to have a Birthdays, Beer, and Boardgames party at a lovely beer garden in Berkeley. Plus they have great food, so double score! And beer. Really, really big glasses of beer.
We also made each other cupcakes (in previous years we made cakes but these were much easier to eat outside). Jennifer requested a recipe she’d found on my Pinterest page for chocolate red wine cake. I gotta admit though, this was not my best recipe. The one I worked off of called for a LOT of flour and eggs. I should have checked around because there’s lots of variations online. Something about them didn’t smell quite right to me, but everyone else said they were great. I would definitely make it again, but from a different recipe.
Jennifer made some delicious pistachio honey cupcakes for me. So good.
We also played some fun games, but eventually the heat and sun had tired us all out.
We chilled at Jennifer’s for a bit, then Sean and I left to change and go to Sunday Night Swing. On third Sundays they have a big band playing!
I got my birthday jam along with other February babies, in which we all danced in the center of a big circle and others cut in. Lots of fun, and I got to dance with some amazing partners.
Finally, home, to rest.
And have more donuts.
But that’s not all! Monday we had the day off work, so after a somewhat frustrating brunch (long wait despite there being empty tables, well-intentioned but forgetful service, and sold out of champagne), I ran a game of Monsterhearts for some friends.
— Sean Nittner (@SeanNittner) February 17, 2015
And THAT was my birthday weekend.
My birthday fell on a Sunday this year, and also on President’s Day weekend. Sean and I had quite a full weekend lined up, so it felt like one big celebration.
I didn’t end up taking any pics with my camera, just my phone (and Sean’s phone), so I present to you my weekend as told through Twitter posts. Enjoy!
We started on Friday by going to a tasting at St George’s Spirits.
I immediately fell in love with a new gin — Botanivore. But we ended up going home with a bottle of coffee liqueur that Sean couldn’t do without. We enjoyed it later that very evening.
The next day was Valentine’s Day, so we decided to treat ourselves. We first went to Bittersweet for a very sweet breakfast.
Then I went to get my haircut. I love my salon, they’re so fancy and offer you water, tea, coffee, or even wine. But this morning they had mimosas!
And Valentine’s Day cookies.
Now, we HAD planned to go to the DMV after this, because my license was going to expire Sunday and I’d never gotten around to renewing it. What better time to have a new license photo then when you’ve just got a new haircut?
Except Saturdays are by appointment only and we didn’t have one. So, back to the fun!
We went to Toast to kill a little bit of time. Still very full from chocolate and bread and not quite ready for lunch, we had some brunch cocktails and appetizers instead.
Then when I went to get up to wash my hands, I came back to find a present waiting for me!
Sean had sprinted back to the car to get it and surprise me before I got back. (I’d already given him his present at Bittersweet — a replacement t-shirt for one he bought during our trip to Cork, but had unfortunately torn. Searched all over for that shirt online, too, and couldn’t find the same pattern & quality so finally emailed Hazel in Cork and asked her to go to that same t-shirt shop and see if they’d make it, because they made custom shirts and probably still had the design on file. And they did! So they did!
The gift weighed like a ton of rocks because it actually HAD a bunch of rocks in it. This terrarium had been on my wishlist for a while so I was very happy to get it.
Plus Sean is the best.
After chilling out at home for a while, we had an early dinner at Homeroom. So good, I didn’t even take pictures of the food.
And after THAT, we went into San Francisco to the Tonga Room. I’d never been, but I’d heard about it, and let me just say it is even more ridiculous than you could imagine.
Band. On a boat. In a pool. With rain.
Really good cocktails though.
And that was just Friday and Saturday! We’ll have to cover the actual birthday in a second post…
Yes, I made my own wedding dress. Hard to say why I came to that decision oh wait it’s because I couldn’t afford a store-bought dress.
Also I’m picky and had a particular look in mind, and didn’t want to suffer through stores trying to up-sell me on things I didn’t want.
So. The dress.
I am very quick to downplay that by saying that it was from a simple pattern, and still didn’t fit quite right, and I had to take it in for alterations, and on the day of the wedding I had the top safety-pinned to my bra because otherwise things would have gotten scandalous.
But obviously I’m also very proud of it.
I was very inspired by this photo, which I’d seen on a blog I regularly read:
I loved the lace, and I particularly loved the ribbon on the top. At first I totally thought that I could make this, but I couldn’t find a good pattern to mod off of, and eventually became more enamored with another idea:
Wow. That lining. This won out over lacy layers. It also seemed easier for me to find a basic pattern to use for the top.
So I decided to do a bit of both — a simple dress, bright colored lining, and the ribbons from the first dress.
I used a simple pattern from Vogue. It had everything — simple shape, high waist, train, and could be modified for sleeves the way I wanted.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked during the process. However, here’s a few along the way.
First of all, you gotta buy a lot of fabric. Like, a LOT of fabric. I scored a great deal on some lovely satin at a fabric store going out of business. I specifically wanted something creamy but not too ivory, and not the “clear” white that shines a little blue/purple in the light. Then after sweeping my floor a dozen times, I laid it all out in the living room to cut.
So, so much cutting. The skirt had 7 pieces.
Then the pinning. So, so much pinning. I also put a lot of fray-block on the edges, particularly the smaller pieces.
Thank goodness our dining room table was just the right size!
Then the sewing. This was honestly the fastest part of the whole thing, but it really doesn’t feel like you’re getting results until you’ve run it through the machine.
Btw, my machine broke down right towards the end and started snagging everything. Fortunately I borrowed a vastly superior machine from my friend Mary. (Happy ending to that story — it was an extra she’d been given from a friend and didn’t need, so I kept it and sold my old one at a garage sale for $20! Goodbye, old baby-blue machine from Sears. You served me well for many years, and almost made it through a wedding dress.)
So that all happened early in the year, making the outer skirt. Then I spent a lot of time going to every fabric store in the Bay Area (and also Seattle, when we went there for Go Play Northwest in June), looking for the perfect fabric for the lining. I also looked online a lot and ordered a bunch of samples, but was never quite happy. I really liked the batik from the inspiration photo, but couldn’t find anything in a pattern that big. I looked at a lot of florals, but ultimately decided it was the magenta color I liked the best.
Finally, on one last-ditch trip into San Francisco to Discount Fabrics, I found many yards of a red cotton with a textured pattern.
Fire-engine red, of course. Not quite what I was going for.
BUT the color showed through the back of the fabric, just a little bit, and was a pale pink. So I grabbed a bottle of magenta dye and a giant plastic tub and dyed it, with the help of Jennifer. We took turns stirring 9 yards of fabric with a large wooden pole. Then I washed it, and ironed the whole thing.
You can see the pinkish backside of the fabric versus the brick-red top. Perfect!
So here we go again. More cutting.
Here’s a tip — I taped my pattern to the fabric so it would stay put. Much easier than pinning, especially since I was re-using the same pattern for all the layers.
Once I had the top and bottom layers, I became concerned that the red might show through. So I bought some lining fabric. and made a middle layer. Yes, I cut and pinned and sewed three skirts. I did not take photos of the lining.
So then I had three layers. This skirt was getting really heavy!
I had to sew the lining and red fabric together before pinning and sewing to the satin, just because the three layers were sliding around so much. The seams especially were getting thick.
Which means ironing. So, so much ironing.
Ironing every seam, at least twice.
Finally it was top time.
I made a few practice ones out of plain cotton just to test the fit, as I was modifying it from the original pattern. In addition to lowering the back significantly, I attached ribbon to the top instead of completing the straps.
Not quite a perfect fit, but at that point I’d been working on this dress on and off for months, it was September, and I needed to bring it in for alterations as soon as possible. The top just didn’t lay right and I had no way of fitting it myself, and I also needed help putting in a bustle. I delivered it in two pieces, top and bottom, and after a couple of visits we got it looking okay.
Yay, it’s a dress!