Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet and Dandy

Sweet Gingham (Full)
One aspect of outfit design that I have yet to master is the art of accessorizing. While I have always had a modest collection of accessories, I never used to wear much jewelery because I felt that it competed too much with the rest of my outfit - I would frequently wear loud tops with ever louder tights so, in an effort to create some balance, I seldom pulled from my collection of quirky trinkets. My approach to accessories has changed as my style continues to evolve. As of now, I am making a decisive effort to incorporate more necklaces, brooches, and cuffs into my wardrobe however, after avoiding accessories for so long, I'm unsure of where to begin. The thought of pairing necklaces with dresses or, worse yet, wearing multiple items at once is simply overwhelming. Fortunately, one benefit of incorporating fashion as a regular feature on Malarkey Magoo is that it forces me to think more consciously about what I wear and, even if an outfit isn't perfectly composed the first go around, these photographs can serve as an invaluable springboard for style-centered reflection.
Sweet Gingham Duo
Sweet Gingham (Shoes)
I wore this dress for my Grandma's birthday party and, while I know that Grandma wasn't observing my outfit with a critical eye, I still felt unsure about the styling. As I was envisioning this outfit, I was torn between two different routes of inspiration - I was drawn to the notion of pairing this dress with overtly girly accessories however, if I swapped the bows for lilac boots and a scarf tied bandana-style, I thought I could pull off some sort of power puff cowgirl look. My boots at least made it on during the 'trying on' portion of the styling process but, ultimately, I settled on the more familiar girly look. While I do love how the pink shoes and over-sized straw hat to give off an air of and exceptionally saccharine and youthful form of femininity, I am unsure if the kitty cameo necklace was the right choice for this composition. Does it blend in too much with the bodice of the dress? Would a shorter necklace have been better and, if so, should I have chosen something delicate or one that would have made more of a statement? My necklace collection doesn't even include this many options! Of all the elements that seem to trigger my obsession, I just can't stop mulling over how these details can impact the overall look of an outfit and, at this rate, I'll either never leave the house or will end up photographing outfits a dozen times over until I reach some tangible form of perfection.
Sweet Gingham Duo, with Pockets!
Sweet Gingham (Close-Up)
A more comprehensive jewelry collection will certainly make pairing a bit easier but, in the meantime, I am going to try to shake my obsession with comprising perfect outfits. Much like how one can hardly hope to devise the perfect recipe for snickerdoodles since individuals have their preferences when it comes to the flavor and texture of cookies, it is nearly impossible to create a perfect outfit since there are so many ever-changing variable. Perhaps this outfit would have fit my image of perfection if I had worn a different necklace, however, what will I do when these shoes wear out? Will I just throw out the dress because it can never worn quite as well with other shoes? Of course not! If anything, I hope that I continue to experiment with fashion and to throw combinations together that are not completely in line with my sense of style because, ultimately, I want to my style to grow. It's incredible for me to observe how my style is evolving so quickly and I want to foster this growth for as long as possible. I am, in spite of fumbles and obsessive analysis, ready to accessorize!
Sweet Gingham (Full, again)
Nooworks Dress
Jennifer Moore Straw Hat
Lodispotto Shoes
Handmade Kitty Cameo Necklace (made by my Mom)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Upside-Down Summer Fruit Cobbler

One of the greatest recipes I ever found was discovered completely by accident. In the summertime, I do my best to take advantage of the bounty of produce available by making fruit desserts and I decided last year to make a grand cake for my grandma's 88th birthday. My plan was to make a glorious three-tiered Peach Melba Cake with Raspberry Cream from the book Sky High. Unfortunately, from the moment we started to bake this cake, it was a complete disaster - Tim and I intermediate bakers and, while I thought we were up to task to making something more complex, the paragraph-form instructions were quite difficult to follow and we finally gave up once our supplies were too warm to properly whip cream. I was quite discouraged because I wanted to make a cake worthy of such a milestone birthday but, nonetheless, we decided to press forward and to make use of our wealth of fruit. Fortunately, we found this cobbler recipe and it was just delightful - it's super easy to make, can be adapted to use whatever fruit you have on hand and, most importantly, it's insanely delicious. It was so delicious that I made it for my Grandma's 89th birthday this year. Best accident ever.
Upside-Down Cobbler
I have decided to call this an upside-down cobbler because, unlike traditional cobblers, the biscuit-like batter lines the bottom of the pan and the fruit is nestled on top. As it bakes, the batter occasionally peeks out from underneath the fruit and rises to the top and, just to make the experience evermore glorious, the batter almost appears to shimmer due to the generous sprinkling of raw sugar just before the cobbler enters the oven. The fruit is also extra-juicy since it's allowed to macerate while you make the batter. If you are in the mood to play around, I would recommend swapping any type of stone fruit or berries for those listed below - I imagine that nectarines and blueberries might be lovely and I'm sure that apricots, blackberries, or any of those more obscure berries could be substituted as well. It's just a luscious cobbler and I would highly recommend giving it a try on one of these last few lingering days of summer.

Upside-Down Summer Fruit Cobbler
(Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts)

1 tablespoon of butter for buttering the pan
Fruit Filling
1 1/2 pounds stone fruit, prepared (I usually get 2 pounds of fruit just to be safe)
1 dry pint berries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Special Supplies: 3 bowls (1 for the fruit, 1 for the flour mixture, and 1 big one for the mixed batter); 2-quart baking dish; and sifter.

1. Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
2. Peel the stone fruit (a link for peaches for how to peel peaches is here) and, of course, wash your berries!
3. Toss the stone fruit and berries with the sugar and salt in a bowl so that the juices will macerate (aka get super juicy) while you prepare the batter.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
5. Using either a handheld mixer with beaters, a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, OR the awesome power of your bare hands, cream the butter and sugar together for about 3 to 5 minutes until it's light and fluffy.
6. Grab your milk and flour mixture. Beginning and ending with the dry flour mixture, mix about a third of the flour with the butter and, when combined, then add and mix half of the milk. You will then add in and mix another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the milk, and then the final bit of the flour mixture. Scrape the side of the bowl occasionally to ensure that you make the most of the batter-y goodness.
7. Spread the batter evenly into the pan and then distribute the fruit over the top of the batter. Be sure to scrape in as much of the remaining juice from the fruit as possible! Sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over the top of the cobbler.
8. Bake in the bottom third of the oven for about 45 minutes and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Yum!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quantum Leap

Squiggle Dress (Full)
There are no artificial sweeteners sweet enough to sugarcoat how awful this week has been for me. As much as I would like to have a perpetually cheery disposition, I just can't put on a sunny facade when this week has felt like a seemingly endless parade of frustration and anxiety. It was so stressful at times that my brain felt like a lukewarm bowl of mashed potatoes. Upon reflecting upon my experiences once my brain felt a little less whipped, I kept thinking about the show Quantum Leap and how the protagonist Sam kept leaping through time to write the wrongs of the past. My trials this week could hardly compare to those depicted in the show, however, it was fun to mull over what I might do if I were such a time traveler. For instance, if I were able to leap through time and go back to the Sunday before this abysmal week, would my own holographic friend Admiral Al have given me abstract guidance about what I could have done to avoid certain calamity? Would he have reminded me to always butter the pan whenever I want to make cake worthy of presentation? Could he have given me a few hints about what trivial tasks will cause such consternation at work? I have never been much of one for regret or ruminating on what I could have done differently however, given the chance, it would have at least been nice to know on Sunday what I had in store for this week. Knowing is, after all, half the battle.
Squiggle Dress (Side)
One thing that I have been trying to do is to find healthy ways of reducing my anxiety and, as strange as it may be, wearing cohesive outfits is something the soothes me. While I do not think that I can articulate why exactly fashion has such a positive impact on my well-being, I just enjoy putting together outfits that feel like me and, the more often I'm out and about in an outfit that reflects my style, the happier I am. The outfit that I'm wearing here is one of my new favorites. On our honeymoon in San Francisco, Tim and I spent a lot of our time exploring different neighborhoods and I was lucky enough to find this dress in a shop that was on the southernmost edge of the Mission District. It was from a store that appeared to only sell reconstructed vintage clothing and every item was drool-worthy. Upon spying this dress and trying it on, I think that I primarily bought it because it was a different cut from most of the one-pieces I wear and I absolutely adored the squiggle design however, as I've worn it over the last year, I've just come to love its subtle details. The peter pan collar is just darling and, much to my surprise, this is the only dress I've worn thus far that looks good with a sweater layer on top. In the summer, I like to pair this piece with somewhat zany yet complimentary accessories - I prefer to select items that tie into the colors of the showpiece of an outfit and, in this instance, I love how the over-sized straw cloche and toucan purse create just the right amount of delightful wackiness. I love how this outfit feels totally like me and that makes me feel quite happy indeed.
Squiggle Dress (Back)
I think that one reason why outfits aide in reducing my anxiety is that they help me feel more, well, like me. In the past year and a half, I have dealt with such an incredible amount of stress that I feel like I have become disconnected from the things that matter to me. Outfits, as trivial as they may be, help me to feel more motivated to explore the world. As easy as it may be for me to lay around in a fog and watch Law and Order: SVU on on-demand for sixteen hours straight, a cohesive and fun outfit can serve as just enough inspiration to get me out of the house and enjoy experiencing the wonders of the city. It may take more than an outfit to shake this nagging anxiety but I like to think that they're bringing me at least a little bit closer to happiness. Here's to conquering anxiety, one outfit at at time.
Squiggle Dress (Close-Up)
Squiggle Dress (Ants)
Taxi CDC Squiggle Dress
Stripes Cloche
Pink Duchess Shoes
Vintage Purse

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Raspberry Lemon Sorbet

A Wife Too Happy
One would not think that a city like Seattle would have such an adoration for frozen sweets. While most of our days are marked my dreariness and we often seem to be caught in a perpetual drizzle, the unpleasant weather does not seemed to have deterred Seattlelites from our love of creamy cold desserts and a wealth of gourmet ice cream shops and gelaterias have sprung up all over town over the last few years. Some customers are so devoted that they’ll withstand freezing temperatures and torrential downpours in order to get a taste of such sweetness. As a couple that have found little success with making our own frozen delectables at home, my husband and I love to visit these shops whenever we’re off about town - I adore the floral and fruity flavors that can be found at Royal Grinders in Fremont, the Snickerdoodle ice cream at Bluebird is simply divine but, as of now, we enjoy the quirky flavors of Molly Moon’s most of all. The texture of their ice cream is just lovely and, while some of their flavor combinations are a bit too exotic for me, we almost always walk out of their shop with something tasty. Whenever Tim and I visit the Capitol Hill neighborhood, it does’t take long for one of us to find an excuse for an indulgent ice cream purchase and, not surprisingly, our trip to that part of two last Sunday was no exception.
Unhappy Husband
I heard that there was going to be a food-oriented street fair last Sunday and I knew right away that Tim and I had to stop by. According to the various articles and features for the event, the 12th Avenue Street Fair is primarily a celebration of all the local restaurants around 12th Avenue and Pike Street and the festival promised to feature a plethora of cheap samples from these eateries. My imagination immediately went into silly mode upon reading about this event. While I certainly had not expected it to be a bountiful feast worthy of Greek gods, I was hoping to find a modest cornucopia of delectable edibles from around the neighborhood and I dreamed of basking gleefully in a food-induced frenzy as if I was Homer Simpson in the Land of Chocolate. A cornucopia, however, it was not. Upon arriving at the scene of the fair, we were met by only a hodgepodge of booths and, unfortunately, the festival itself was only the length of one city block and the food that was there was far from appetizing. One restaurant, for instance, was only offering watermelon soup with prawns. As oddly alluring as such a combination may have been to local foodies, the notion of serving soup as some sort of portable street food seemed absolutely ludicrous to me. Who are these people that are brave or skilled enough to walk around and eat soup on the go? Of course, we did still eat a little bit - I had some tasty lavender shortbread and Tim reluctantly gobbled up a toothsome almond biscotti - but the event was far from a feast of plenty. It was a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, we often do find a way to turn our sadness into gladness and we used our disappointing experience as leverage to indulge in some sweet treats from Molly Moon’s.
Happy Husband
Tim and I, in a break for our usual routine, split a cone of raspberry lemon sorbet. While the sorbet flavors at Molly Moon’s often dabble too much in the weird zone for me (for instance, a lemon-ginger sorbet tasted a whole lot like fresh ginger and barely a bit like lemon) the raspberry lemon sorbet was utterly delicious. We ate it in Cal Anderson Park and enjoyed every moment. It was just delightful.
Happy Wife

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Beginning of the End

Fish Lips
 I have never been much of one for introductory posts.  As epic as I may want to appear, I often get bogged down by the details - for instance, in the mere drafting stages of this post, I became so utterly consumed by the notion of perfection that I revised my first paragraph nearly a dozen times before I abandoned it entirely.  My intention was to introduce myself, my history of nicknames, and link it all back to my rationale for starting this blog.  While I am sure that such an anecdote would have been a delightful little post, I am beginning to realize that I need to not worry so much about creating such impeccable entries because, frankly, I will never be able to finish a thought if I continue to hold myself to such exacting standards.  Malarkey Magoo is my new home for all my musings and, as imperfect as it may be, I just need to roll with it.
Joker Face
My name is Maggie but, in this realm, I just go by Magoo.  For my sixteenth birthday, my Mom bought me a ticket to see Whose Line is it Anyway? live at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle and I was seated right alongside the aisle on the main floor.  Participants at this show were routinely pulled from the audience by Drew Carey so that they could participate in improv games.  As an awkward and reserved teenager, I had absolutely no interest in being pulled up on stage since I have never been much of one to want to be in the spotlight and, of course, the thought of interacting with C-list celebrities in such a public setting was absolutely terrifying.  I remember thinking that, as long as I avoided making eye contact with Mr. Carey, I would be just fine.  Not surprisingly, my instincts betrayed me - the show had almost reached its conclusion and, on the last go around down my aisle, I had my eyes glued to the floor when I heard a booming voice say "I'm going to choose the person that looks the least interested..." That least interested person was, of course, me.  While being swiftly whisked onstage, Drew asked me if I had any hobbies or if there were any other activities I enjoyed (presumably to find a theme for their improv game) but, since I was too shocked to think of anything, I answered all of their questions with 'no'.  Surely this was quite the conundrum for the Whose Line is it Anyway? crew.  Nonetheless, they had to roll with it and two cast members ended up singing a dueling love opera about me with lyrics suggesting that I might seem boring, however, that there was definitely something interesting about me.  It was quite the hoot.  Upon reflecting on this event nearly a decade later, I have come to realize that some of these traits of my adolescence still hold true - I may not have one activity or thing that moves me, however, I am constantly inspired by the world around me and enjoy reflecting on it most of all.  Drew Carey and his crew may have been more intuitive than they ever could have realized.  
There are countless passions in my life and Malarkey Magoo will serve as an honest reflection of all my pursuits. While there may not be one subject or hobby that moves me most of all, I intend to form concrete thoughts about all things that inspire me here on this blog and I hope that, in embarking on this endeavor, I can loosen up just a bit and celebrate the wonders of life. It's quite easy for me to become paralyzed by anxiety and, frankly, I don't want to be that twitchy hot mess anymore. As trying as it may be for me to just decompress and relax, I hope that this blog will inspire me to take note of the whimsical and wonderful absurdities around me and, in the process, I hope that I become a bit more balanced. Here we go!