Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 8 O'fest Moments of '08

Jenelle and I barely (and I mean B.A.R.E.L.Y.) survived 3 consecutive weekends of Oktoberfest. We both managed to work in the store (with extended hours), host out of town friends & family and get our O'fest on. It was amazing, memorable, record setting & exhausting.

Before we start stringing holiday lights, hanging the mistletoe and ordering gift boxes for the busy holiday shopping season we wanted to re-cap a few of the most amazing (and blog appropriate) moments of O'fest, as quoted by our friends.

Top 8 O'fest Moments of '08

"Taking blue shots with Mom Stevens and Blondie." Sarah Blackmon
The blue shot was courtesy of Donovan (I think that guy might work at Ducks and Drakes), and it took place after watching the OSU kills WSU game while savoring some amazing cheeses from Cheesemongers and a few bottles of wine.

"Getting to interact with so many people due to our sticker mandate." Jason Motland
The word "mandate" should actually be replaced with Guerrilla Warfare, Jason is too modest.

"Meeting the St. Pauli girl." Torrey Landgraf
No joke- this gal is paid to put her hair in braids and walk around the bar taking pics with people. Hmmm.... I kinda wonder if she does other forms of "modeling"- just look at how she stares into the camera with those eyes......

"Having a total "Sex And The City" moment (or at least what I think might be a Sex And The City moment) followed by a Can - Can dance." Cleary O'Farrell

I did a little research and found this pic. I concur.

"Getting Jarred to dance to polka music with me (the only time I can ever get him to dance is at weddings for one song)!" Jillian Derpack
You better start working on your rug cutting skills Jarred- because Very soon you two will have to dance the first dance as Mr & Mrs and all eyes will be on you.

"Getting a pic with THE original member of the Edelweiss band." Alison Wroe
At first we thought he might of been the Mayor, but after a few steins we came to realize he is part of a traveling Bavarian band called Edelweiss and he Lives for O'fest. Our kinda guy.

"Violating the Oktoberfest Mural (!!!TORREY!!!!)." Tracy Mitchell
Look very closely at the head of that little Bavarian girl to the left. Hint- That's not an eye ball.

"Feeding Staci Cheetos while she passed out." Brooke Prince
I don't usually like Cheetos.... but I was hungry and Brooke has such good aim.

Thanks to all our friends, family and customers for their support and lively spirits during our favorite festival all year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


By Brooke Prince

Fetish: any object, idea, activity etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion
We all have a fetish..I myself, have several..there are the usual chick fetishes:
Italian shoes, red wine, fashion magazines, chocolate, Italian men.

I have one that I have just recently been able to admit to myself that it is, indeed, a fetish.

Not a hobby, not a pastime, not just something I enjoy - but something I am obsessed with, I get withdrawals from if I don't do it - something that I fully believe to be part (there are many parts) of the essence of my being.

Cooking. That's, it. I love to cook, collect recipes, make-up new recipes, cook for people I love, etc. etc. So why am I not a professional chef? Because if a fetish were a career, it would no longer have appeal of being a fetish. Anyway, on to the main point here. I thought, to officially welcome Fall, I would share one of my utmost favorite, fail proof, flavorful and impressive to anyone with any sense of taste, recipes.
One rule though - when following a recipe, never quite follow it. Add mushrooms, change a spice - if you like capers, well, by all means - garnish liberally with capers. You get the idea - go crazy, it only gets better..and this dish is healthy enough to keep you in those skinny jeans all winter long (several amazing styles to be found @ ).

Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 pounds country-style spareribs (or pork shoulder or pork loin, cut into 1-inch-thick slices)2 medium onions, peeled and chopped2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 whole clove2 whole sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves (have for garnish, never underestimate the powers of a good garnishing) 1 pound bacon (slab is best), cut into 2-inch pieces1 large stalk celery, chopped (I personally hate celery, I don't get the point, but if you like it, by all means - add it in)1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste4 cups chicken broth1 cup white wine (then you can drink the rest while it cooks)1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juice
Mushrooms - I don't know how many, just a few handfuls of sliced mushrooms should do the trick.2 bay leaves2 (14-ounce) cans beans, drained and rinsed (I use white beans and kidney beans)Plenty of olive oil..plenty.2 cups coarse bread crumbs
(4) ½ thick slices of French Bread2 tablespoons chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place the spareribs/meat in a heavy pot with half the onion, half the minced garlic, and the thyme sprigs.
3. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. I bake for only an hour if I am using a boneless meat.
4. Remove the ribs; set aside.
5. In the same pot, over medium heat, brown the bacon.
6. Remove all but about 4 tablespoons of the fat and add the celery (gross), carrot, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and the remaining onion and garlic (minced and whole) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
7. Add the broth, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, and beans. Bring to a simmer, then add the cooked ribs.
8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the olive oil, bread crumbs, and parsley.
9. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the cassoulet and then arrange the sliced the bread around the perimeter of the pot and drizzle with olive oil.
10. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered, occasionally pressing the bread crumbs into the cassoulet to thicken it.
11. Let cool, garnish and serve with a winter greens salad and hearty red vino.

I encourage everyone to go home, tie on that apron (that just an apron- depending on who you are cooking for), pour a nice large glass of Malbec and prepare this recipe. I believe you will find this single dish could quite possible be the beginning of a cooking fetish for you too.... or at least you will have an amazingly tasty treat to dine off and share for the next week.
xoxo - enjoy

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Last Saturday Mapel had her (is my store a her? she is now) one year anniversary. It was exactly a year ago we nestled into our temporary retail spot on a Leavenworth side street.
Our closest friends came into town to help "christen" the store. Actually- I remember more steins than flutes- but you get the idea.

It's hard to believe Jenelle and I survived one year of retail. It's even harder to believe Jenelle has been able to tolerate me for so long, although I keep reminding her that we are in a contractual binding relationship.

While driving back to Seattle from Leavenworth last weekend I reflected on a few life lessons I've learned after owning my own boutique for a year.

-Can't Trust Contractors
Apologies in advance if your dad, husband, brother or lover is a contractor. I'm simply stating the facts. I should of known from the moment I was directly & publicly addressed as a "girl with a dress shop" it wasn't going to be good. Actually the real indicator I can't trust contractors was the moment Jenelle and I signed a lease for our location on Front Street with occupancy by August '07, extending to no later than October, then guaranteed by mid November, absolutely no later than December, ending up with occupancy February '08. Damn contractors.

-Unexpected Is To Be Expected
Retail is a fickle and unruly beast. You can try to diagnose and analyze it- but it's quite unexpected.

-It's Not Personal- It's Business
I realized real quick that I wasn't in business to be someones godmother- I was in business to succeed. It's not about feelings or patronage. Nothing is personal- it's business. Sorry if I sound a little too "dog eat dog". I'm actually really sweet- just ask my mom.

Simply said: If you drive a VW Jetta in a climate that has 10 new inches of snow every day you must have triple A. Fortunately my mom bought me 2 memberships (she forgot she got me the first one).
-Loyal Friends Become Evident
When you initiate an endeavor like launching your own business you very quickly and at times quite abruptly learn who your real friends are. There were days I forgot what month it was, what I had for lunch, and my mom's birthday. You get so consumed with all the work and stress you barely have time to maintain sanity. Your real friends understand that and support your lunacy. Thanks!!!!
Before composing this blog I spent some time perusing the internet- doing a bit of research on one year anniversaries. I discovered that the traditional one year anniversary gift is Paper.
Possibly the kinda that has a green'ish tint- roughly 6" x 2.5" in dimension. Mapel is happy to exchange anniversary gifts for fashionable apparel.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Unique Glimpse of Italy

By Jenelle Landgraf
Upon arriving in Italy, my husband declared that he spoke Italian. At first he just walked around saying "Ciao" and "Grazia". But then he bought a book called "I Speak Italian" and his language skills became more complicated.

So complicated, in fact, that he barely knew what he was saying. He would look up phrases, such as how to ask for directions, and begin his communication with the Italians. It would go really well until they started speaking back to him, in which he would reply "Mi dispiace, no parlate Italiano" and proceed to walk away. I don't know about you, but if someone walked up to me, asked how to get to the grocery store, in English, and when I replied with the directions, they said "Sorry, I don't speak English," and walked away, I would be kind of confused.

While Torrey was walking around confusing the people of Italy, I was focused on shopping. Oh, how I had dreamed of all the unique Italian boutiques. I would find brands and products that aren't easily accessible in the states, really unique European styles unlike anything I had come across before.

After quickly passing by the typical H&M, Esprit, and United Colours of Bennetton stores, I finally spotted an adorable boutique. I walked in and eyed a beautiful jacket, looked at the label - "Prada". Well, okay, that's fair - I mean this is Italy, so I should expect to see some Prada.

I'll switch my attention to shoes, where I'm sure to find styles unlike the typical ones in the states. And behold...

Melissa shoes and Havianas! What??? Don't get me wrong, I love these brands, but not only can I get them in the states, I see them everyday at Mapel.

Okay, time to take a break from shopping and check in on my Italian-speaking husband. Turns out he's been doing some shopping of his own. Rather than looking for unique shops, Torrey was more than delighted to find Italy's version of his FAVORITE store...
"Euro City". Yes, everything is just "uno euro".
After Torrey showed off his great euro store finds, I started thinking that maybe Italy does have more unique shopping to offer... I mean, where else can you buy a bottle opener, a bottle of wine, and a hand held wooden massager - all for just tre euro?