Happy Valentine’s Day (hold the heteronormativity)

Did you know that in Mexico (and throughout Latin America) Valentine’s Day is known as the Day of Love and Friendship? (Colombia also celebrates el Día del Amor y la Amistad, but it’s in September, for some reason? Colombianos, explain yourselves. ; )

It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, for obvious reasons: I love pink. I love hearts. And I love friendship. I actually always forget that it’s known as a super romantic ~couple’s holiday~ and I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated in a couple-y way. I also always forget that the color red is associated with Valentine’s Day, so clearly I live in my own valentine bubble!

heart cake 2015

I do like to celebrate by throwing a big party with my friends and making my home as pink as possible. This year Devin and I made it a dance party, featuring some of our friends’ favorite songs (we asked everyone to include their favorite dance song when they RSVP-ed). It ended up being really fun, so I decided it would be fun to share the playlist plus a few photos of our Valentine’s Day treats!

2014
This is from our first Love & Friendship party in 2014. You can tell Devin and I were feeling extra environmental because we made cupcakes without liners, and we dyed the icing pink using water that we used to boil beets. (Don’t worry, we’ve since learned to use frozen berries, haha.) Related: my cousin Caren and I tried to dye the snow in front of our apartment pink using the rest of the beet water, but it ended up looking more “crime scene” than “cute.” (OK, this caption ended up being way more embarrassing than I thought it would be.)
2015
In 2015, Devin surprised me by baking a bunch of heart-shaped cakes, and everyone got to decorate their own!
2017
This year I made punch for the first time, complete with an ice ring, which is just a fancy word for a big piece of ice you make in a bundt pan. I know it kind of looks like someone dropped a cake into the punch (aaah!), but if you don’t think about it too much or stare too hard, it’s kind of pretty, no?
…and here are the treats at the end of the night because I forgot to photograph them earlier. (That three-tiered stand was a gift from our friend Nabeel, and it is my favorite thing in the world : )

P.S. A few other Valentine’s Day posts: 2012 + 2015 + 2016

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Happy Valentine’s Day (hold the heteronormativity)

Notes on a Surprise Party

When I introduce Devin, I like to tell people that he’s from a hippie community. “No, like a real hippie community,” I clarify. I explain that his parents grow most of their own food, that people have names like Tree, Chamomile, and Forest––and oh yeah, Devin and his three best friends were all born at home and delivered by the same midwife.*

This year, the spouses of those four born-at-home hippies decided to surprise them with a birthday party. The midwife came. It was in the house where one of them was born. And––at the height of the party––the mothers did dramatic readings of their birth stories that bordered on performance art. (OK, the last one is a lie, but I wish I’d thought to suggest it.)

 

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The four born-at-home hippies with Tree, their midwife
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The party-planning spouses

At first, the surprise party seemed easy enough to orchestrate. All we had to do was get the guys to go home on the same weekend, have them show up at the same place at the same time, and keep it a secret until then. In the end, it was less “piece of cake” and more “learning experience.” I took some notes in case you’d like to learn from my mistakes!

1) Coordinating party plans from three different states can be really confusing. You’ll probably send a lot of text messages. If you don’t want your surprise target to get suspicious about said texting, change the names of your co-conspirators in your contact list. Otherwise, your partner may see your phone light up with a text from his best friend’s partner and say, “Hey! Look who sent you a text message!” thinking you’re going to tell him that they’re coming to visit or something, and instead you’ll get cagey and mumble that he shouldn’t look at your phone.

2) Related: figure out a plan so that your partner doesn’t talk to any of his best friends in the weeks leading up to their joint surprise party (and then report back because I still don’t know how to do this).

3) How do you explain coming home with 45 pounds of cheese? You can’t. Don’t do the party prep at your place––or figure out a workaround for party prep altogether. I recommend throwing your surprise party with people who don’t mind doing a potluck. Luckily, hippies are so down for potlucks (though really, “potluck” is an understatement. We had so many cakes that we hardly made a dent in the official birthday cake! It was like a cartoon banquet come to life.)

4) This might seem like backward advice, but trust me: you don’t want to be too good at hiding the surprise party. I was so focused on keeping the secret that Devin thought I wasn’t going to celebrate his birthday at all. And he planned his own party. Oops. Miraculously, he decided he wanted it to be a brunch at his parents’ house on the same day as the surprise party, which was a dinner, so we were able to do both (back-to-back!), but it was nerve-wracking for me and confusing for Devin. So confusing in fact that when everyone yelled, “Surprise!” Devin turned to me in a panic and said, “Do my parents know about this?” because he was worried they hadn’t been invited. (They had to wait until we left their house to drive to the party.)

brunch-party-group-photo
Devin’s morning party with our Madison friends (photo by our friend Kate)
dinner party group photo.jpeg
Devin’s evening party with his baby friends (and their babies!)

5) The saying “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead” definitely applies in this situation. Surprising four people is impossible! By the end of our party-planning sojourn, half of the birthday guys knew about the party, and you know what? They didn’t enjoy it any less than the dudes who didn’t know.

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Happy birthday, Devin, Jackson, James, and Morgan!


I’m honestly not sure if the moral of this story is that a party doesn’t have to be a surprise to be fun OR that now I know how to do better next time. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

*I told Tree, the midwife, that this is my favorite fun fact about Devin, and she asked me to note that she does not deliver babies. The way she sees it, the person giving birth does all the work. She’s just there to assist.  

Notes on a Surprise Party

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

This summer I visited a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and the first thing she said to me was, “How do you know ArchedEyebrow?,” which thrilled me because I love Bethany Rutter, and I think everyone should know her.

And since the internet told me that today is her birthday, I decided to answer that question for the world wide web.

bethany rutter

Bethany in front of the Brooklyn Museum, spring 2015

I met Bethany at a wedding, waiting in line for appetizers––they had these little food stations featuring different cuisines in addition to a seated dinner and multiple desserts. It was food heaven (or as I like to call it, heaven. Because if it’s true we get to create our own version of heaven, mine will consist of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, kitchens, and restaurants).

Back to the wedding buffet…

When I met Bethany, I was spending a lot of time with super cool women who unfortunately had terrible relationships with food (like a lot, if not most, women living in our patriarchal, body-hating society), so social eating situations made me apprehensive. (It’s hard for me to hear people make negative weight-related comments about food, especially when I’m about to eat, and all I want to do is enjoy it!) I didn’t realize how much I had come to expect fatphobic food talk before every meal until I heard Bethany exclaim, “This is delightful!”

We bonded over how excited we were to try everything, and honestly, that interaction was enough for me to love her. But that wasn’t all! She was also wearing a dress I still daydream about. And she was the wedding DJ. And she played ***Flawless by Beyoncé for me, so by the end of the wedding, I had a major friend crush.

She lives in London, so I wasn’t sure if I would get to see her again, but somehow we ended up going to see the Kara Walker exhibit in the Domino sugar factory before she flew home. All of the art was made of refined sugar and represented Black bodies, and at the exhibit, there were lots of non-Black people doing awful things to the sculptures (like taking photos in front of the art while making lewd or violent poses). Bethany took in the scene and said, “Someone should take pictures or make a video to expose all the racist things people are doing.”

I decided on the spot that we were destined to be friends, even if she did live across the Atlantic. (Later we learned Kara Walker had been filming us all along because she’s brilliant.)

It’s been two years since that dreamy wedding, and I’ve only found more reasons to love Bethany, including her fabulous fashion blog, her hilarious twitter, her sense of fun, and the way she doesn’t just stand with her arms crossed when she sees something unjust (see, for example, her “You Look Great!” campaign in response to one of the worst examples of fat-shaming harassment I’ve ever heard of).

edama me

arched sushi

Happy birthday, Bethany! I’m so glad you exist.

 

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

One of my favorite Madison bloggers, Tomissa Porath, often blogs about beer. I don’t know very much about beer, but when we became friends, I just had to invite her over for micheladas because, despite her extensive beer knowledge, she had never had one. (In case you haven’t either, a michelada is a beer cocktail from Mexico.)

Once I started to think about micheladas, I decided I had to make tacos, too! And then I got so focused on tacos, I forgot to buy the beer. Oops. Thankfully, I was able to call my friend Kate who saved the day and allowed us to have a balanced meal. ; )

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Tacos al Pastor
Recipe translated and adapted from Chef Oropeza.

If you’ve ever walked into a taco place, you’ve probably seen a big spinning orange piece of meat with pineapple at the top. This contraption is called a trompo (because it resembles a spinning top), and it is used to make my very favorite kind of taco. Unfortunately, restaurants almost never have a vegetarian version (the spinning meat is pork), but making them at home is really easy and you can use any meat or protein you like, so don’t despair!

My only ingredient note is that you’ll want to go to a Mexican grocery store to make sure you can find all the ingredients you need. My favorite in Madison is Mercado Marimar, which also makes fresh corn tortillas––a must for good tacos. As for special tools, you will need a blender or food processor.

Ingredients (makes 8-12 tacos)

(for the filling)
* 4 dried ancho chiles  

* 3 dried guajillo chilies

* 75 grams (roughly 2.5 oz.) achiote paste (3/4 small bar)

* 1 or 2 garlic cloves

* 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

* 3/4 cups orange juice

* 2 tablespoons canola oil

* generous pinch of salt pizca de sal

* generous pinch of black pepper

* 16 oz. OR 24 oz. of your preferred protein (my favorite is seitan) Note: if you are using a protein like tofu or seitan, make sure to check the drained weight on the package. For example, the packages of seitan I bought listed the total weight as 1 lb. 2 oz., but the drained weight was 8 oz. Make sure to drain your tofu or seitan! Otherwise, your tacos will be watery. The more protein you use, the less saucy they will be, but as long as you marinate it for a little longer, it should still be very flavorful.

* 1 package of corn tortillas (you need at least 12 tortillas; most will have about 30). I recommend buying freshly made tortillas if you can find a tortillería in your town because the taste difference is enormous.

(taco garnishes, served in separate little bowls to pass around)
* 2 cups chopped pineapple (if canned, drain)

* 1 onion, finely chopped

* ½ bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped taza de cilantro lavado, desinfectado y picado

* 10 key limes, halved OR 5 big limes, quartered (if you and your guests don’t usually eat a lot of lime, buy less)

* 1 small can (7 oz.) of your favorite Mexican salsa(s)––not the American kind––I recommend salsa verde from Herdez or La Costeña

Instructions

1. The first thing you want to do is prepare the dried chiles. Rub their exteriors with a kitchen rag to make sure there’s no dirt on them (there usually isn’t, but nothing is worse than gritty food). Run them under cold water. Cut off their stems (a pair of scissors works well for this). Then, cut a slit up the side of each chile and remove the seeds. Did you know seeds are what make chile peppers spicy? If you like spicy tacos, you can leave some seeds. Finally, place them in a bowl of medium-hot water to soften them for about ten minutes. They should feel plump and re-hydrated.


2. Next place the chiles, achiote paste, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, oil, salt, and pepper in the blender or food processor. Blend until you have a smooth sauce. This sauce is called an adobo.

3. Chop your meat or preferred protein into small pieces, and marinate it in the adobo. If you are using a smaller quantity of meat or vegetarian protein, 10 minutes should suffice. If you are using a larger quantity, marinate it for longer (~20 minutes).

4. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan (I used a cast-iron skillet), and cook your meat or protein thoroughly. I used medium-high heat and cooked the seitan until it was slightly crispy on the outside (about 10 minutes), but I don’t know anything about cooking meat, so cook it as you usually would. It should be really hot when you are done. Cover it and set it aside while you heat the tortillas.

5. There are lots of ways to heat tortillas, so you can choose the way that seems most practical to you. I recently learned that you can lightly moisten them and put them on a baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 minutes, flipping once at the 3-minute mark. To me, this is so much easier than heating them one or two at a time on the stove. Make sure you wrap up your stack of tortillas in a kitchen towel after you’ve warmed them. Place them in a basket with a lid or another container with a lid to make sure they stay hot.

6. Bring the tortillas, meat or protein, and all the garnishes to the table. This way everyone gets to make their own tacos
. Enjoy!


Michelada

Making a michelada is super easy, and since this recipe makes one drink at a time, it’s totally customizable. Experiment with your preferred quantities of sauces and lime juice to find your perfect blend!

Ingredients

* a light or dark beer of your choice (we had Corona and Negra Modelo)

* Salsa Maggi

* Valentina hot sauce

* 1 or 2 key limes or half of a big lime

* Tajín or rock salt for the rim of your glass (I recommend Tajín)

* a frozen glass, beer mug, or mason jar

* 2 little plates (at least slightly bigger than the mouth of your glass)

Instructions

1. Take one of your plates and moisten it with a little water.

2. On the other plate sprinkle a bit of Tajín or salt.

3. Rub the rim of your glass first in the plate with water and then in the plate with Tajín or salt.

4. Squeeze the lime into your glass.

5. Add ½ tablespoon of Valentina hot sauce and ½ tablespoon of salsa Maggi.

6. Pour the beer in the glass, and enjoy!

MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

This is the story of a happy birthday

This weekend I had my first birthday in Madison.

My friend Makeba flew in from New York, like the life-size present she is! She is a seasoned traveler, and this was her first trip to the Midwest, so you know I had show off all the good spots.

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We checked out the feminist bookstore, three coffee shops, two museums, one airy boutique, a steakhouse straight out of 1960, the State Capitol from every angle at every hour, a free yoga class overlooking the lake, and a store where you can sample absolutely everything!

We also walked on water.

Frozen water, but still! It takes a lot of courage to walk on a lake when you did not grow up doing this kind of thing.

Devin’s idea of reassuring us was to stomp on the ice as hard as he could right next to our feet. “See! It’s very frozen! Hey, look at that crack over there!” (Did you know you can have false symptoms of a heart attack?)

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We were also able to rescue some chairs that had been abandoned in the middle of the lake (but not before taking some cool pics).

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Last year Anda sent me the most beautiful gold sparkler candles in the shape of the numbers “2” and “6” and I rushed to use them on my birthday eve, before turning 27. (Numerous people later told me I could have waited until I turned 62. I hadn’t thought of that; otherwise, I might have!) By coincidence, our friend Kate gave me two chocolate pastries that were a perfect match.

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After the birthday eve blowing-out-of-candles (a new tradition I highly recommend), we went to Gib’s and saw almost everyone I know in Madison in one place. This might be the uncoolest thing to admit in writing, but I realized I have more friends here than I thought (when did that happen?), and it was super nice to see them all in one place!

Then, we went to a ‘90s vs. ‘00s music video dance party, and I learned that I am the only person I know who prefers the noughties to the nineties, at least musically. This is shocking to me. Doesn’t anyone remember Hey Ya? Paper Planes? The genesis of Young Money? Without which there would be no Nicki Minaj or Drake, and then where would we be??? I don’t even want to think about it.

One bright side of living far away from most people I know is that I got more phone calls, FaceTimes, and birthday packages than ever before. I just finished making a list of all the people I still need to thank or call back, and it is the nicest to-do list.

In conclusion, I like my birthday and I like you.

This is the story of a happy birthday

12.13.14

Yesterday afternoon I joined fifty to sixty thousand people in New York City to affirm that Black lives matter at the Millions March NYC. Later I joined fifty-leven girls to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Beyoncé by Beyoncé, the visual album (okay, so it was more like a dozen friends, not fifty-leven girls).

The march was incredibly important, but I don’t think I can do it justice here, except to say that I am inspired by the wimyn of color who are leading the peaceful protests and creative acts of civil disobedience. At the marches I vacillate between grieving for all the lost lives (here and in Mexico, my other home, which still lives under the reign of La Inseguridad) and being hopeful for the systemic change necessary to end structural racism and oppression. It is exhausting, and I know I am only able to hope because I’m not alone, and because the many people leading this movement are motivated by love.

It felt strange to protest and party on the same day, but I guess it’s like Emma Goldman said, “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.” Especially if you’re dancing to the first pop song to sample a speech on feminism as its second verse. That’s revolutionary in its own right, don’t you think? I think Emma G. would be down. Luckily my friends agreed and came over for a little party. Some of us dressed up like different characters from the videos, and we projected the whole visual album on a wall. We also ate snacks featured in the album (including the platinum edition songs):  sliders, kale, watermelon, Skittles, Blow Pops, cake by the pound… That part kind of felt like Día de Muertos. The whole night reminded me (for like the millionth time) how lucky I am to have friends who go along with my ridiculous ideas and don’t seem to mind that my guiding philosophy seems to be “A party without a theme is a party not worth planning.” (Sorry, Emma.)   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you think this sounds way fun (and it was), you should totally throw your own Beyoncé party and show me the pictures, please and thank you. I hope Beyoncé by Beyoncé can be our generation’s Dark Side of the Moon or whatever.

XO,
kristy

snaxxx

costumes

12.13.14

FRNDSGVNG MMXIV

On Sunday Devin and I hosted a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner. The food was great, but the best part was how many of our friends came with such short notice.

This is what our kitchen looked like before we started cooking. I think it might be the prettiest part of our apartment.
This is what our kitchen looked like before we started cooking. I think it might be the prettiest part of our apartment.
Our living room, ready for friends.
         Our living room, ready for friends.
Here's all the food that came out of the kitchen.
        Dining room table plus food!

About the food: I know Tofurky is controversial among vegetarians (not to mention everyone else!), but I am really partial to the way Devin makes it. He bastes, seasons, and roasts it with pride and precision. It is a whole production, much like baking a real bird might be, so it feels absolutely festive, and it tastes delicious, too! As for my contributions, I am most proud of helping make these rolls, little butternut squash tarts from a word-of-mouth recipe (not pictured), and my very favorite recipe for beets. I could go on and on about those beets with pomegranate and pistachios. At this point, I think I’ve made them for everyone I love.

And the best part...friends!
   Friends!

Fun fact: we met all but one of the friends pictured above in college, in Portland (Oregon, not Maine). How cool is it that we all live in Brooklyn now? It’s kind of mind-boggling, actually. (Lauren, who we met in New York through Tasha who knows her from high school, might as well be an honorary Portlander because she’s been hanging out with us for three years and counting.)  My advice for making friends when you move to New York is…don’t bother. Just bring all the friends you already have. ; )

In between dinner and dessert, we walked to Prospect Park, played American football by lamplight, and ran into a raccoon.

raccoon
      Can you find the raccoon? S/he’s peeking out at the base of the tree like “Are they gone yet?”

Then, we came home and had the most heavenly babka and pecan pie and many other treats I wish I were eating riiiight now.

The whole day was a good reminder for me that having to change your plans can turn out all right sometimes, especially if you have good friends who don’t mind changing theirs.

FRNDSGVNG MMXIV