Orange Juice, ETC

The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

Brown Paper Packages

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We are leaving on Sunday for our Christmas adventures so I have now moved on from the shopping stage to the wrapping stage of gift giving. For the most part I stick with “brown paper packages tied up with string” – birthday, wedding, Christmas… with the right ribbon, brown paper works for everything and keeping wrapping paper stocked is pretty simple.

I’m pretty sure I started using brown paper because my mom used it for Christmas gift wrapping at some point. I once described my mom’s file cabinet to a friend and she said (I paraphrase) “Your mom was ‘pinning’ in her file cabinet before the internet”. Its true. She had a file for vacation spots, a file for Christmas decorations, a file for clothes she wanted to make. You name it, she had a file full of pages torn out of magazines and quick sketches she made on the back of a check balance sheet. I would bet that one of them was a picture of a gift wrapped in brown paper.

As it turns out brown paper is not only easy, its classic. Here are some fun variations on brown paper I found on the new Pinterest if you are in need of some wrapping inspiration. Best of luck as you finish your shopping and get your packages ready for Christmas!

Sources listed left to right, top to bottom:

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Thrift Style: Holiday

Thrift-Style-Holiday

With all of the parties and get-togethers that happen around this time of year I thought it could be helpful to show that you don’t need to spend a million bucks to look great this holiday season. With a few exceptions, most of the items in this post have been thrifted. Shoes and accessories are exceptions for the most part but in each outfit, at least the shining star was a thrifted piece.

I have included prices on the thrifted items but it is fair to mention that some of these prices are estimates as it has been years since I purchased them. However, I am confident that my memory is within a few dollars of the price I actually paid.

This post was so much fun to style and shoot with Elias. In the end I found that the perfect holiday outfit is great, but what you REALLY need is a good tube of red lipstick (Mine is MAC – Ruby Woo)! I hope you enjoy and get out there to find an amazing deal for yourself!

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Blue Skirt $5: Purchased years ago at Bellevue LifeSpring Thrift Shop. I hemmed it up as it was below the knee when I bought it, making it the perfect little party skirt.

Styled with a silk tank purchased for $19 from the Nordstrom Rack and Irregular Choice heels from the sale section at Anthropologie.

Outfit Total:
$24 without shoes, under $100 with shoes.

Blue skirt also styled here.

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DIY Fur Collar $5: This outfit is almost entirely thrifted but the star of the show is the fur collar. A few years ago I did a DIY adding a ribbon to the fur collar I found at a thrift store (find the DIY here). This collar can be added to almost anything for an instant outfit upgrade!

The Pendleton denim shirt was purchased at Crossroads Trading Co. in Silver Lake for $15 and the skirt was another below the knee length find from Bellevue LifeSpring Thrift Shop for $5 that I hemmed. The shoes are from Target and the tights are Jcrew Factory.

Outfit Total: $25 without shoes, right about $50 with shoes and tights.

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Buffalo Plaid Flannel $1: The Flannel was a real steal of a deal, but my favorite part of this outfit is actually the boots. The last time I was in New York, we stopped into the Buffalo Exchange in Chelsea where I found these brand new Frye Boots for $99. I couldn’t find an exact match to these boots but after a quick comparison I would say that they were originally $300 to $500. The best part (aside from the awesome reptile texture) was the sticker on the sole of one boot that said “Vogue Closet”. They may have never actually been pulled for a photo shoot but it’s fun to think that they lived at Vogue before I took them home.

The rest of the outfit is also thrifted. The jeans were $5, again from Bellevue Lifespring, and the sweater was $6 form Value Village in Ballard, Seattle.

Outfit Total: $13 without boots boots, $113 with boots.

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Floral Tank $3: The floral tank is Nicole Miller and you cannot tell from the photo but it is actually a lightweight silk sweater material. I was thrilled to find such a great deal at Goodwill in the U-District, Seattle. The skirt was around $4 from Value Village in Ballard. Skirts similar to this are a dime a dozen, I also have one in Navy Blue. The heels were purchased full price several years ago, a perfect style by Sechelles.

Outfit Total: $7 without shoes, right about $107 with shoes.

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Red Blouse $1: As with the Buffalo Plaid above, this blouse was found at God’s Provision Thrift Shop (that name always cracks me up!) in Priest River, Idaho. The black jeans were also a thrift find, $6 from St. Vincent De Paul here in Long Beach. The leopard flats are old Zara, purchased on Sale for $29.

Outfit Total: $7 without shoes, $35 with shoes.

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Green Dress $1:
God’s Provision wins again! This dress was actually less than a dollar since they were having a bag sale and you could purchase a grocery bag full for $1, so we are talking small change on this one. The beautiful plaid scarf is borrowed from my sister (a piece of wool with finished edges courtesy of Mom), the tights are from Gap, and the boots (Madewell) were a gift.

Outfit Total:
About $10, minus the boots and scarf.

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Leather Skirt $12: This outfit is a bit of a stretch on the festive front but if you are going for an understated nod to red this works, and I just love the leather skirt. Purchased for $12 at Value Village in Ballard, it was the find of the year when I picked this up.

The necklace kind of steals the show here, I found it at a flea market in New york for $25. It is one of my favorites. The tank is H&M, and the heels are Target.

Outfit Total: Around $45 without shoes, around $75 total.

Leather skirt also styled here.

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Red Cardigan $6: There is nothing really special about this outfit except that it is entirely thrifted, and it seems like a good choice for game night with friends. The cardigan is from the Ballard Value Village, the jeans were $5 from Bellevue LifeSpring (seen above), and the flannel was around  $5 from the Goodwill on Capitol Hill (seattle).

The flats were thrown into the same $1 bag as the green dress from God’s Provision, so again we are talking small change.

Outfit Total:
Under $20, shoes and all.

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Black Dress $15: I got this dress in Seattle at a vintage shop called Red Light. It fit great but had a pretty significant tear up the slit that I was certain I could repair. Only about two years later I finally fixed the slit and it is good as new!

The gold shoes are the same style as the Seychelles seen above purchased on clearance at DSW for $15, I handmade the necklace myself.

Outfit Total: $30, shoes and all.

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Lace Tee $2: This shirt is HUGE (found at Value Village, Ballard)! I’m really not even sure why I tried it on or why I was even in that section… But one thing I have learned about thrift shopping is that you cant be afraid to try something on. If it has a good texture, a fun color, interesting trim, its worth trying on. Sometimes it looks just as bad on the body as it does on the hanger but I have been pleasantly surprised on more than one occasion.

The jeans are old J.Crew and the heels are Target.

Outfit Total: Under $100

Red-Dress-2

Red Dress $4: This dress is a great example of something that is scary on the hanger but completely lovely on the body. It fell past the knee when I purchased it but a quick hem made all the difference. What you can’t see here is the open back, which is amazing. This is one of my favorite thrift purchases, I have worn it over and over.

Again, the shoes are from Target (clearly I really like these suede shoes. They are so comfortable!).

Outfit Total: Right about $35.

Red dress also styled here.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Children

Childrens gift guide

Last but not least, the kid’s gift guide. I think shopping for kids is so much fun even though I have no children of my own. This is probably the area where you need the least help coming up with ideas but maybe you will find a couple here that you hadn’t though of. And yes, I’d take most of the items in this list as well.

Wooden Skwish $16Baby Moccasins $19.95Arctic Bear Blanket $145 Kitty Pouch $26Geometric Band-Aids $5Not Tired Tee $25.95Cheetah Necklace $26Puffin Classic Books $16Stacking Crayons $10Plush Dino $22.50 Flannel Tie $12The Not So Bald Bat $14Knitted Fox Tail $42 Floral Tee $25Construction Blocks $69 Plush Lemon $52 Spherical Music Box $90Super Hero Hat $22

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Holiday Gift Guide: Men

Womens gift guide

Now for my favorite men’s gifts this holiday season. Usually this one is a bit tricky for me but it came together pretty easily this year. To be honest, I want most of the items on this list as well as the Women’s!

Left to right, top to bottom.

Another Escape Magazine $12.39Backpack $179Playing Cards $15Moon Sticky Notes $6.65Key Chain $15 Winter Hat $18Insulated Growler $59Chocolate Bar $9.95Clay Pipe $36“Forgive Me” Lighter $40Bottle Opener $35Rectangular Flask $35Nike Shoes $100Baseball Cap $29Packable Duffel $29.99 Travel Bathroom Bag $65

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Holiday Gift Guide: Women

Womens gift guide

Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for women this holiday season. I always try to select a variety of gifts that would appeal to a wide age range but the end result is usually just a wishlist for myself! I hope it is helpful as you search for the perfect gift for the women in your life, and maybe something for yourself… Happy shopping!

Left to right, top to bottom. For the most part.

Golden State Sweatshirt $58Mittens $35Marble iphone Case $28 Blanket Scarf $65Avocado Planter $22Moon and Star Earrings $48Cactus Tote $95Marbled Mug $40Bobbi Pins $10Camp Staff Tee $48Quartz Necklace $77.31Pom Pom Hat $39.50Jansport Backpack $60Temporary Tattoos $5Resin Ring $58.82 (similar) • Diamond Box $15 Baggu Zip Pouch $8Vans Slip On $55

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Merry and Bright

Its officialy the holiday season and that means Christmas music (weather you like it or not)! I have compiled a playlist of our favorite Christmas albums that we will be playing this season and wanted to share it with you. What am I missing? I would love to hear your favorites!

As with many of my playlists, I think its best if you play it on shuffle.

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Joshua Tree, California: A Most Excellent Getaway Spot

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We found it odd. The way the chipmunk staggered woozily from the brush like the town drunk in a bad Western. Perhaps he’d nibbled his way into some camper’s stash of peyote. Maybe he was just a little dehydrated. But then we noticed the leg. It dragged lifeless behind him as he crossed the pathway and collapsed, tiny rib cage heaving, at the base of a small boulder.

I looked at Joseph, “Oh man, that’s sad. I wonder what happened to him. I hope some jerk camper didn’t slingshot him for fun.”

We took a few steps closer.

“I think maybe that’s a bite mark,” Joseph said, observing a small gash in the chipmunk’s left hindquarter. We watched as a crimson stain seeped through brown fur.

As the light in the little eyes grew dimmer, the ragged gasps for breath shallower, we looked at each other and knew:

“It has to be a rattlesnake.”

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Everyone needs a Most Excellent Getaway Spot Preferably Not More Than Three Hours Away (MEGS-PNMTTHA). Henceforth referred to as MEGS for the sake of brevity.

For most of my life my MEGS of choice was “The Place” – a rustic cabin on the Eastern side of Washington’s North Cascades, nestled amongst the pines just off a dusty gravel road within earshot of Lost River. It’s the kind of place where you wake to songbirds and pine squirrels to find bucks with velvet antlers off the back porch. For years this patch of forest and river bank has been my escape. A place of rest and restoration, and a vital point of connection to the natural world. Everyone needs a Most Excellent Getaway Spot.

Now, an ideal MEGS carefully blends several attributes into one location. The first of these is accessibility. Your place should be no more than four hours distance by car from your current residence. This is far enough to remove you from the distractions of normal life and makes it the perfect choice for long weekends, or mid-Friday getaways. Second, it must provide access to an outstanding natural area. It doesn’t have to be Yosemite, but it must bring you joy. It can be a lake, a river, an ocean, or a desert. The most important thing is that it be a little wilder, a little freer, and that it inspire you to be the same. It must also be peaceful. You should find yourself slowing down, unwinding, and breathing more deeply in the comfort of your MEGS. And finally, it should accommodate a group of 2-5 comfortably. The reason for this is simple: adventures are often best when shared.

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My first experience with Joshua Tree was at the age of 13 on a month-long road trip from Seattle to San Antonio and back. My parents piled enough camping gear, granola bars, and fruit snacks to supply a family of seven into our big black GMC van and we hit the road. It was the kind of youth-defining All-American road trip that sticks with you for the rest of your life, and while I have several vivid memories from it – shitting furiously, puking, shitting furiously again, then dry-heaving repeatedly over a decrepit toilet somewhere near the edge of the Grand Canyon being a particular gem – one of my favorites occurred in Joshua Tree.

Like most red-blooded American boys I was (am) obsessed with all things scaly. The capture and close examination of any fish, lizard, or snake representing the zenith of my youthful aspirations (an obsession I’m proud to say I’ve not entirely outgrown). I had in my possession at the time a copy of Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians which I pored over with the a religious fervor as the family van rumbled its way South. With each passing state – Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico – I noted the various reptiles that might be found and formulated grandiose plans for their capture.

Of all the reptiles in my book, none captured my imagination like the rattlesnake. Beautiful, deadly, bordering on mythical, there are few creatures an adventurous boy would rather encounter (from a safe distance at least).

On the return trip to Seattle, my parents took us West through New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Our stop in Joshua Tree was brief. More of a drive-through on our way to bigger better things (Disneyland! Yosemite!) than a proper visit. But I’ll never forget the rattlesnake.

It was my brother Joseph who spotted it first, coiled and sleek, in a deep cleft between two large boulders. We marveled wide-eyed from our perch atop the rocks, hearts thrilling with our proximity to coiled death. The snake was unconcerned, brow furrowed in a perpetual scowl, tongue gently flicking the desert air.

Our encounter lasted no more than 5 minutes. But the memory lingers still. For 21 years whenever someone mentions Joshua Tree, the image of that little rattlesnake pops into my head, as clear as the blue sky.

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Which brings us back to the demise of our drunken chipmunk.

“If it’s a rattlesnake, that means he was JUST bitten. Which means it must be nearby.”

Joseph and I glanced at each other and immediately began searching the surrounding rocks and desert shrubs for signs of the cold-blooded assassin. To no avail. After ten minutes we were ready to admit defeat, turning to head back to the main pathway, when I saw it.

It was a small Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake. No more than 2 or 3 feet in length. It emerged from the brush and probed its way methodically up and over a small boulder, delicately tasting the air for the scent of its fallen prey. As we watched in awe, I was struck by the sophistication of the snake’s design; perfectly equipped for its deadly task.

rattlesnake-fun-facts

For more Rattlesnake info visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Joseph and I quickly realized that it was going to take the snake at least another 15 minutes to sniff its way to the chipmunk, which had fallen alongside the main footpath. In the name of safety – both the snake’s and future hiker’s – we decided to intervene. Joseph scooped up the lifeless rodent with a pair of sticks and gently plopped it down a few feet from the snake which quickly located it and began the gruesome yet fascinating process of consuming it.

For the next twenty minutes I was 11 again. We watched with rapt attention as the rattlesnake sniffed the length of the chipmunk, located the head, unhinged its jaw and slowly, inch by inch, swallowed it whole. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed anything weirder, or more fascinating in nature.

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This remarkable encounter solidified what had become increasingly clear to me over three brilliant days in the high desert: I may have temporarily lost my Northwest MEGS, but until fate or good fortune finds me back amongst the pines Joshua Tree will make for a fine substitute.

If you live within driving distance, or if you’re road-tripping through Southern California, a night or two under the innumerable Joshua Tree stars will be well worth your time. Just make sure you come prepared.

A few quick tips on that note:

  1. Bring lots of water. This is the desert, there is no running water in the campgrounds. I’d recommend 1 gallon per person per day. That will probably be more than you need, but that’s OK.
  2. Bring portable shade. Joshua Tree is incredible during the first few hours of the day, and the last few. But during the high heat of midday it can be witheringly hot. We pack a large tarp which we string up wherever we can. Or you can look for shady slot canyons where you can get in a bit of bouldering in the cool shadows provided by the rocks.
  3. Bring lightweight breathable desert attire during the day, and a few warmer layers for the night. You’ll want as few clothes on as possible between 11-3 and you’ll probably want long pants and a warm jacket once the sun goes down.
  4. Bring appropriate footwear. Cacti, sharp rocks, and rattlesnakes abound in JT. This is not flip-flip country. Good sturdy tennis shoes or an appropriate outdoor shoe of some kind are a must.
  5. Bring firewood. There’s nothing better than roasting marshmallows or drinking beers by the fire beneath the starry night sky.
  6. Bring a camera. Desert sunsets are unforgettable. The harsh flat colors of the daytime retreat with the sun and a world awash in pastels – oranges, minty greens, purples, and blues – emerges from the dust.

Whatever city, state, or country you find yourself in, I encourage you to discover your own MEGS. Find yourself a little patch of forest, a favorite stream, or perhaps an entire mountain range, and make it yours. To quote the poet of The Sierra, John Muir,

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.

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These Are The Days

Cover

The problem with digital photos is that often people never get around to having them printed. Even though Elias and I primarily shoot film, we send it to the lab to be developed and receive digital photos in return. A few years ago I made a book of our photos using Blurb for Elias birthday gift. The book turned out beautifully and it was so much fun to see our pictures in print. We decided then that we would make a book every year so that some day we would have photo albums to look through as we do with our parents.

As it turns out, every year is a little ambitious, but two years later we have another book of memories. We maxed out the page limit Blurb offers with a 240 page hardcover book made up entirely of film photos. Blurb is the only online bookmaking site I have used but I cannot say enough about the quality. For both of our books we chose the linen hardcover with a dust jacket. Though I would prefer the dust jacket to be matte vs. glossy, I am sold on the linen hardcover. We have chosen the standard paper quality and though higher quality might be nice, we have not felt the need to buy up.

A couple of people have expressed interest in purchasing the book so we decided to make it available for sale to those who are interested. Please know that the cost of the book is strictly Blurb’s price, we make no profit off the sale of the book.

Purchase here.

Please feel free to view the book in its entirety below (its best if you view it BIG!).

E-Bluehat

Jesse

Hunt

Jtree-Camping

T-snow

Joseph

ghost

T-Sun

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Riding Comets Through Outer Space

Forgive us while we nerd out for a minute…

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A 4 image composite photo of Comet 67P taken by Rosetta’s NAVCAM.
Photo Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Ten years ago the European Space Agency (ESA) launched Rosetta, a spacecraft loaded with a small probe named Philae. Their purpose? To catch and land on Comet 67P, a mass of rock and ice the size of Mt. Fuji hurtling through space at over 84,000 MPH. On Wednesday, after a journey spanning a decade and covering a distance of over 3.5 Billion miles, they achieved their goal. Rosetta launched Philae, which successfully attached itself to the surface of the comet. And today I’m looking at pictures of Comet 67P on Flickr. What an incredible world we live in.

You may ask, “Who cares? Why does this even matter?”

And to that I just have to say, “YOU GUYS! HUMANS LANDED A SPACECRAFT ON A FREAKING COMET!!!”

Seriously though, I don’t have any big answers for you, but just stop for five minutes and think about the logistical marvel that humankind has just achieved. I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and awe at the achievement. And I will be looking forward to any new scientific discoveries that come as a result of this most impressive feat.

If you’d like some more specifics about the mission here’s an informative article from Vox that covers the big points: Why The Comet Landing Matters

Below are a few of my favorite photos from the mission, which are available on ESA’s Flickr. You can see the full set here.

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Rosetta mission selfie showing Comet 67P and one of Rosetta’s solar wings. Taken using Philae’s CIVA camera.
Photo Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

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A “Beauty Shot” of Comet 67P taken by Rosetta from a distance of 10km.
Photo Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

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A “Beauty Shot” of Comet 67P taken by Rosetta from a distance of 10km.
Photo Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

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Infographic summarising the milestones of Rosetta’s journey through the Solar System.
Photo Credit: ESA

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What’s For Dinner?

A few weeks ago I had a friend request a post with some of my favorite food blogs, so I’ve gathered a collection of the ones I return to over and over for dinner inspiration. I love to cook but in order for me to really be inspired, I need a gorgeous photo to draw me in. Each of these blogs are just as beautiful as they are delicious. In addition to the blogs, I highly recommend the cookbooks by each of these culinary artists.

Sprouted Kitchen

SPROUTED KITCHEN
The photos on Sprouted Kitchen are just as beautiful as the food itself. It is a husband/wife team, she does the cooking, he takes the photos. I always feel good about the food I make from Sprouted Kitchen. Their recipes use natural ingredients, creating food that is healthy without sacrificing any flavor. Sara and Hugh put out a cookbook in 2012 that is filled with clean lines and beautiful photos. I am still working through the recipes but every one I have tried has been one to repeat.

A few favorites:
Lentil Soup with Chipotle Yogurt
Apple and Smoked Mozzarella Mini Calizones
Crusted Butternut Squash
Lemongrass Tofu Bowl (with chicken!)
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chilli Beans

Orangette

ORANGETTE
My sister turned me on to Orangette years ago through cookies… the best cookie recipes ever. Not only do you get great recipes on Orangette, but you get a story as well. Molly Wizenberg now has two cookbooks, both are incredible. The read like a novel with recipes sprinkled throughout the chapters. If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, you do not want to miss the restaurant her husband opened in Ballard. Go to Delancey for pizza, and please stop next door at Essex (also owned by Molly and Brandon) for a drink before dinner.

A few favorites:
Boiled Kale with Fried Egg and Toast
Chilled Peaches in White Wine (We like to serve these with a bit of Mascarpone)
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Apricots and Espresso
Pasta with Fried Proscuitto (All time favorite!)
Red Wine-Mustard Vinaigrette

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JAMIE OLIVER
When I am looking for comfort food I turn to Jamie Oliver. Everything here is a hit but usually I am searching the soups and pastas. Sometimes when I make a meal Elias really loves he asks, “Is this Jamie?” because it’s so good, it just has to be. Again, you don’t want to miss the cookbooks. These are the kind you want to sit down with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine and flip through each page. The photos are great but really you just want to touch the paper… a smooth matte reminiscent of a newspaper crossed with a coffee table book.

I had some trouble finding our favorite Jamie Oliver recipes on the website. I usually just flip through my cookbooks for his recipes and it seems that some of them are not available on the website. I did some scrounging around though and found them in other places.
Fiery Dan Dan Noodles
Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes
Mini Shell Pasta with Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce
Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar

* Photos from each blog respectively.

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