Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ebelskivers

I was going to blog about how I completely trashed our kitchen making Ebelskivers (oh wait - I am blogging about that) but I don't have the correct cable to get the photos off the camera. What the hell, I'll keep going...

I've been wanting to make ebelskivers for a couple of years now but I couldn't bring myself to buy the pan. The pan that does only one thing. Then I lucked into finding out about a sale and was able to get the pan for $20. I went for it.

This morning I made them for the first time and they were delicious. I'll definitely be making them again. I discovered that practice helps in making successful ebelskivers. Also that 5 on my electric stove is too hot and will burn them. One fun thing I did was use some of the pear compote I made last year as filling. I would have no idea what else to do with this compote otherwise to tell you the truth. I also used bittersweet chocolate chips in some and commercial strawberry-apricot jam. There were no losers. Pete and I decided that when making these it's a good idea to always make a few chocolate ones just for what the chemicals do to your head: chocolate adds a pleasant little caffein kick. Not that we didn't have coffee too. It was a very fun and satisfying breakfast.

There are a couple of slight drawbacks to making them though. The recipe is a bit utensil-intensive so there's quite a bit of clean-up. For example you need three bowls and two whisks in your set-up (if you don't use a mix - I haven't tried a mix) Also, they are the kind of thing that the person cooking them doesn't get to eat until after everyone else because they should be served immediately while they're hot. I ate most of mine standing up. I hate eating standing up. I don't hate it enough to not make more ebelskivers though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Photos From Last Week And Cookies

My mom and I are reflected in the convex mirror in my aunt's apartment while enjoying our breakfasts.

Here are the ladies before lunch. My mom's the light-haired one.
Both my mom and my aunt changed their shoes before we went. Mom wore real shoes and my cousin made my aunt wear shoes with a bit of red in them. It was a good choice. None of us were bumpkins.

My cousin is a wonderful photographer of people because she says truly funny things just before taking the photo.

And here are my shoes.
Cue the harp music and imagine clouds of red hearts and rose petals flying around. I love these shoes. I'm going to have to think of other places to wear them. They put me over six feet too, which I love. I'd happily be taller if I could be.

Here I am towering over my cousin's adorable daughter, Ryan.
She is so awesome.

Today I made the Chocolate Snowstorms from the Food Network pull-out booklet (actually, I got the recipe here because the booklet is in Cambridge and I'm not) and I have to say that they are de-friggin-licious and easy to make. I think I've already eaten six of them. The recipe made me about 50 cookies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookie Photos

I was just looking at my browsing history so I could find the link to the cookie recipe I used for this year's cookie exchange. Not only did it contain cookie recipes, it also contained my attempt at researching a new hand mixer. It made me chuckle to remember that day.

Below are the un-baked Chocolate Cherry Gooeys I made from the December Food Network magazine special pull-out booklet. Yields are not mentioned anywhere in the booklet. I had to make four dozen cookies. Fortunately the recipe produced almost sixty cookies so I was all set.

Here they are baked and dusted with powdered sugar for the sake of festivity:
On the left in the photo is the red bag of Lust Blanket yarn.

Finally, here's a shot of all the cookies I came home with:


Four dozen cookies seems like a lot to make when you're looking down the barrel of the Christmas gun. When I get the cookie plate home at the end of the night I always wish there were more than two of each kind though.

The Chocolate Cherry Gooeys were very easy to make (go for the drop cookie recipe - it takes fewer motions to make them) and very tasty. I wish I had some with me right now, come to think of it. I'll definitely try a few of the other recipes in that booklet too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

NYC

New York is a strange place. At first you get there and you see all these wild things, people, contradictions. Then the wildness doesn't stop and it starts to seem normal.

Tonight my mom, aunt and I had dinner at a restaurant called Taste. Philip Roth was at the next table with a friend. Later Nora Ephron and her husband came in with Tom Brokaw and his wife. By the end of the meal everything felt normal normal normal.

Which, ultimately, it was. My life is unchanged and famous people have to eat dinner too. Even intellectuals. I just don't normally see them do it.

My Aunt's Apartment

I am eating an honest-to-god New York bagel right now. There's nothing like it.

I could live in New York if I could live in my aunt's apartment. She's got a great view and even a little terrace. I could just sit and look out the window all day.

The only catch about my aunt's apartment is that, boy, is she a tidy person. Everything in here looks brand new. It looks as if someone cleans the inside of her refrigerator every day. It is sparkly. I was afraid to drop a sesame seed into the toaster oven. It's really nice and beautiful to stay here but my mom and I are terrified to make a mess!

We're getting over it though. I wonder how she does it and would it be possible to do at my house? Somehow I think I'm not willing to invest the time it would take because I probably wouldn't be able to do anything else besides clean.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Rainy Jumble


Today is a good day to take the T if you need to go anywhere.

I needed to go somewhere because my hand mixer died. That put a crimp in my cookie-making plan.

So I made a quick trip downtown to pick up a new one. I was almost blown off my feet crossing Copley Square. On the way home the rain was blowing so hard I couldn't see through my glasses. Also, there was a fantastic guitarist in the red line section of the Park Street station playing samba music and Christmas songs. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the tracks to give him some $. That man should be encouraged.

Now my first twenty cookies are cooling, the second twenty are baking and the last twenty are chilling in the fridge. I'm going to have to figure out a way to festify them though - as it is they look like brown blobs. Hello powdered sugar.

As for the dead mixer, I think I bought it at Bradlees in 1987 or something. It wasn't a spring chicken and it owed me nothing. My new mixer is red and has super powers. If that's not Christmassy I don't know what is.

And as for Pete, he's snowed in up in Vermont. They got over a foot up there. And Fay has the runs. So he's having a good day.

Unseasonable Growl

The last couple of posts illustrate my attempts at seasonal festivity. Unfortunately they've just been attempts. Mostly I'm really on a low-grade growl.

Yesterday we had to have our furnace replaced in the apartment. I spent many hours on the Lust Blanket while the men worked about a foot away from me. It took them all day and the apartment got pretty cold. They were good guys though. The worst part was when they had to use the PVC pipe cement and stunk the place up.

Today I'm making cookies for my sister-in-law, Kristen's, cookie exchange. Then I'm off to NYC for a holiday luncheon with my mom and some other relatives. Mom is coming out to visit her sister so I said I'd come down and meet her.

Because I'm traveling, Pete has Fay with him. It feels really strange not having her around. What's stranger is not having both of them around. I really miss having someone to check in with every forty-five minutes or so.

Oh my God? What if I'm imaginary? If a Mel's alone in an apartment does she exist?

This luncheon is kinda fancypants. We all used to go back in the '80's. It's a big buffet. In the olden days Ivana Trump was there. I haven't been since the early '90's. It used to be fun and festive. This year I'm intimidated. I don't want to be a bumpkin so I went shopping for some updates.

The shopping should have been fun but it wasn't exactly. The good news was that, thanks to Maya, I'm on the smaller side. I didn't know. The bad news is that now that I'm older I like nicer things which cost $$$$$. I don't really have $$$$$.

I did alright in the end. I got a pair of beautiful, classic shoes on sale and a dressy sweater coat that I can still wear when I'm 82. (Notice the rationalization? It wasn't cheap.) Those items will work well with things I already have and I don't think I'll be the bumpkin. I just wish I enjoyed it more.

If I play my cards right I'll have some photos of the lunch, and maybe the cookies, for later posts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More General Interest Than The Last Post

Is that the most festive cable box you've ever seen or what?!

I did a little Christmas decorating in the Cambridge apartment yesterday. Don't worry Pete - it's all cheap-o from Target and T.J. Maxx and not too much. Just a little something jolly, small and easy to store. I'm pretty proud of the "snow." It's marabou ribbon for gift wrapping.

We're not in one place for long around the holidays (or at any other time) but I had to do something.

Last year I began my Christmas tree collection, never imagining that weeks later we'd decide to sell the house. There's not much room for a tree in this tiny apartment. Of course as I'm writing that I'm spotting a space just to my right that might work... Hmmm...

This place needs some serious personalization. It's kind of getting me down. I'm going to try to do something less seasonal about that this week.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Secretly Really Into Makeup

November thirtieth, here you are again. It's the final day of NaBloPoMo and my final post for the month - unless I think of something better to say before midnight.

Looking back it doesn't seem as though I've had a single interesting thought all month. So in that vein I shall come clean about the latest Kool-Aid I've imbibed.

Yes, I love Bare Minerals foundation. I never thought it would happen to me. I've always been a "please God no foundation" type but everybody was making such a stink about the stuff I decided to try it. If you hit the link above you will go to the page on Sephora.com where they are selling the starter kit (while you're there you might want to pick up this, or this, or one of these as well - all bear the Mel stamp of approval - except the first one which I haven't tried and hope to get for Christmas because I'm a big dork and I believe everything I read in a product's advertising copy) This is also bound to be good. When I say "good" I mean "fun."

Okay, back to the topic at hand. This Bare Minerals stuff is great! First of all putting it on is a very calming ritual. It's powder - but not super-drying - so it isn't cold and gloopy and you don't have to worry that you're not spreading it evenly. You just dust it loosely all over your face with a big, fat, soft brush. If you want more coverage you do it again. If you have spots to cover you hit those with a dab of the touch-up brush. You can't apply it badly (though you might want some help choosing the color to use) First you do the base, then you do the blush (I often skip the blush as I tend to be ruddy in the first place), then you do the translucent top coat. It takes no time and you don't even have to look while you're doing it.

You can't feel it on and, by some miracle, it really stays on. One thing I always felt was humiliating about foundation was the way it could end up on a person's shirt collar - UGLY. This doesn't do that - though I can't say I've rubbed my face in my shirt to force it.

Not only that but it's got SPF 15 and it's completely unscented. Since all the ingredients are inert they won't give you a rash either. High frigging five!

At first I thought, "well this stuff's fine I guess" but I kept doing it because I liked the ritual and because it has sunblock. More recently though I've grown accustomed to having really good-looking skin. Maybe that's a bad thing. Maybe that makes me product dependent. Nah - I can live without the stuff. I am chocolate dependent though.

There are plenty of brands of mineral makeup out there. Some are super-hippie-crunchy-pure and some are fake. I haven't tried any of those. I just know Bare Escentuals. Typical. The department store brand. I'm so bourgeois.

Thus ends my third NaBloPoMo. Now I shall go celebrate my success with a martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. Unless I go pomegranate - in which case, really no olives.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving '09 Rundown


Spencer looking like a homicidal elf.

Fay's not vomiting (fingers crossed), the laundry is in the washing machine, Pete's gone up to Vermont, there are still some Thanksgiving left overs in the fridge. Things are winding down. Probably. So I have a little time to list the things I/we made for Thanksgiving.

In the photo above you can see the turkey breast and stuffing, the brussels sprouts (chopped and pan fried in butter and garlic), the maple-tangerine cranberry sauce and cauliflower with brown butter, pears, sage and nuts (almonds and pecans). Not yet at the table are the sweet potatoes (just roasted and mashed with butter), the pan-fried crushed potatoes, the gravy, Pete, Lisa and I.

The turkey was brined then had ginger herb butter stuffed under its skin and was roasted. The recipe called for juniper berries which I couldn't find so I just left them out. It was fine. The stuffing contained cranberries, nuts and oyster mushrooms. It (and any other of the above courses which contained nuts) was supposed to have hazelnuts in it but I didn't want to spend all day shelling them so I substituted a mixture of toasted almonds and pecans. Also fine.

I bought a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie.

The only preparation I did ahead was brine the turkey (which I highly recommend) make the herb butter and stuff the butter under the turkey skin. Everything else was done on the day. It was a full day of cooking but at a leisurely pace. The only snafu was that the turkey finished maybe half an hour before we thought it would.

Except for the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes which we wung (wow, that looks funny written out) and crushed potatoes (Martha Stewart) all the recipes were from the 2008 November issue of Fine Cooking magazine.

Thinking about it all is making me hungry. Since there were only four of us I halved the amounts in the recipes. Now I kinda wish I had more left overs. Oh well. Maybe I'll remember that for next year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Better

We cut short our Thanksgiving holiday trip to take Fay to her regular vet and as Pete predicted, Fay started feeling better on the way home.

Pete was nice enough to bring me a (delicious) hot dog when we were on the ferry and Fay showed some interest in it. Once we arrived on shore I got some boiled chicken and rice out of the cooler to see if she'd go for it and, heck yeah, she did and she wanted more.

So at this point she's pretty much back to normal (here comes the family in-joke:) after ruining Thanksgiving for everyone.
Sick Fay

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stinkin' Post

Fay is feeling lousy. She hasn't eaten any thing since yesterday at 6:30 AM. Yeah and okay, then she barfed before lunch and hasn't wanted to eat a damned thing since. She's also been lying around not moving much.

I took her to a well intentioned but not very thorough vet here. He gave her subcutaneous fluids and some stomach settling medicine. So far it hasn't helped that I can tell.

The folks at her regular vet said she'd need more thorough testing. So I think we'll be cutting this trip short.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shoes

It's another cheap-o post with a photo! Only it actually took a bit of time to compile and make this image. It's a whole lot of shoes that I'm unfortunately not going to buy for myself even though I like them.
The top row is from endless.com. The shoes with the grey backgrounds are from either neimanmarcus.com or Shopbop.com .

These, below, come from shopbop.com. The ones pictured with sock-like thingies come with the sock-like thingies. That's good (if you're into sock-like thingies) because they look like they'd be hard to find otherwise. Personally I don't know if I'd go for the s.l.t.'s. The grey suede ones don't have them but they still have the cool sculpted heel with metal accent.

And these are just silly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There Will Be Rude Language Herein

I am attempting to make chocolate chip cookies and I'm in something of a rage.

I had forgotten that the beach house kitchen is not set up for baking in any way. Well, okay, there's a hand mixer and a couple of spatulas but that's it.

First of all the mixing bowls SUCK. Some girlfriend-beating asshole chef* advised my parents on the mixing bowls. He probably had some chef thing about how baking is for wussies so the mixing bowls are great if you need to marinate a salmon or make a giant manly caesar salad but they're too shallow for mixing batters. I was creaming the butter and sugar together and butter and sugar were flying all over the kitchen.

I changed to a large-ish salad bowl to incorporate the eggs and dry ingredients. That was an improvement but still not ideal. However, I've mixed up the batter and cooked the first batch of cookies only to remember that we don't have any cooling racks.

Fortunately the top oven is broken so I can cool the cookies on the racks in there.

Did I mention that there's an incomplete set of dry measuring cups? I'm lucky that there are any dry measuring cups. I'm sure I bought them myself at one time.

Oh, and because I was thrown by the lack of a quarter-cup measuring cup I left out one cup of flour so the cookies are a bit on the flat side. That's okay, there's plenty of sugar (!) butter and chocolate in them so they still taste good.

Oh, and another thing. Our friend Spencer has arrived and he's trying to take a nap. I'm not sure he's been able to sleep at all given, for one thing, the incessant large-scale leaf blowing operation that was going on across the street. If it wasn't that it would probably be mowing or hedge trimming.

People here are NUTS about their landscaping. It's got to be Martha Stewart perfect at all times. Of course they don't do it themselves. They hire crews of men with power tools to do it. It is impossible to have any quiet at all during a weekday over the summer. This being a holiday the crews are in overdrive to get the yards ultraperfecto before tomorrow. Laser-sight those hedges guys! At least lasers are quiet.

Once the leaf blowing stopped some crazy bird started kicking up a ruckus in our rhododendron out front. It sounds odd but this bird was really pissed off and letting the whole neighborhood know. I went out to take a look and it settled down.

Then I started mixing the dough with the electric mixer. Fay took noisy offense. I had to put her in the car.

Mixing done, Fay back in the house, cookies dolloped on cookie sheets. Now the part I expected to be difficult. Fay hates the oven. Any oven. Time to put the cookies in the oven and it will take more minutes than I want to leave her in the car outside. Pete and I worked out an emergency system. He holds her and her ears while I open the oven door and move the cookies in and out. It kind of works but now she's riled and barking at any unusual sound.

We suck as hosts if you're trying to sleep but we do provide flawed cookies.

*My brother was friends with the girlfriend of the girlfriend-beating asshole chef back when my parents first bought this place. My brother didn't know about the girlfriend-beating until later, after the couple broke up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bohemian Rhapsody

Practically everyone I know on Facebook posted this so chances are you've seen it too but

it is really good.

Mild Griping

Yep, sorry, I've been getting away with posting photos for more of November than I'd like to acknowledge.

Not today though. Nope, today I'm going to ramble about something or other until I feel like I've fulfilled my posting commitment.

Pete, Fay and I are at my parents' beach house for Thanksgiving. The weather is okay. In the morning the ocean looks so beautiful. The skies are grey so the ocean is a range of shades of glittering graphite and steel. When the sun pokes through the clouds in some places the sea turns silver. It's a dazzling feast for the eyes.

I did most of the Thanksgiving marketing at the local fancy-pants market. I was pleased to be able to find a turkey breast at this late date. I plan to brine it tomorrow. I've brined chickens before and they really come out well.

Today I was going to make chocolate chip cookies. I even put two sticks of butter in my jacket pockets (wrapped) to help them soften more quickly. It kind of worked, I guess. They got a little softer on the outside. You just can't really rush butter.

Anyway, since this is the beach house and you never know who was here last or where they put anything after the last time they used it, it took me about twenty minutes to find the cookie sheets. Then I started going through the cabinets looking for things like flour and baking soda and vanilla. I found all those things but what we don't have here is sugar. Who ever heard of a house with no sugar in it? No White sugar, no brown sugar. There is some ancient Sweet and Low which there's no way in hell I'll ever use.

I guess it's good that I found out today. I still have a few things to pick up at the market, like celery and onions. I would have been pretty pissed to be in the thick of cooking and not have any sugar on hand.

I wonder what other rude awakenings I'm due for in the next couple of days?

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Honey And Clover"

I neglected to mention that the title sequence below goes to the anime/Japanese cartoon, "Honey and Clover" which you can watch on Hulu.

It tells the story of the lives and loves of a group of art students who all live in the same apartment building.

I Am Obsessed With This

Other countries do T.V. So much better than we do. This thing's nuts.


The music and the visuals are out of control. <3

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Dogs

I missed Zoey last night.

It was stressful having her around because I knew her owners must have been really worried about her and because Fay was always trying to pick fights with her. I was pretty much carrying Fay with me everywhere to keep the peace.

But there were some really great things about Zoey. For example she was affectionate. She'd sidle up to me and demand patting. When I stopped she'd beat her tail on the floor and shove her head into me so I'd pat her again. Fay, although she's a pug, is not affectionate. She wants food, not patting. Ear rubs are okay but only to a certain point. Then it's "hand over the grub."

I took Zoey out for a walk yesterday. She tore gleefully through the woods. It was a beautiful thing to see. Because of her illness Fay can't do that anymore. She doesn't do gleeful displays anymore. She enjoys barking at and chasing cars but that produces satisfaction for her, not glee. Maybe it's that Fay can't caper anymore. Maybe she does feel glee (like when she's eating) but she just doesn't prance like she used to. Maybe it's age. I don't know.

Watching a happy dog lifts your heart. Fay is happy but in a more complex way. That's part of her charm. Simple dog glee is just so accessible though.

Zoey was also accommodating. She realized that Fay was not going to let her sleep in our room so she padded off to the guest room where I'd laid out a bed for her. When I got up in the middle of the night to dispose of a Fay turd Zoey looked up at me from her bed, wagged her tail then put her head contentedly back down.

There's no way I'm saying that I like Zoey better than Fay.

Fay is my girl. She's the one I spend most of my time with. She's got a huge personality and is very interactive. When she wants something (which is usually) she'll let you know. She's bossy and demanding and hilarious. I guess I don't really think of her as a dog most of the time. I don't know what that would make her. She's Fay - her own thing.

Zoey was just easy and pleasant to have around so I missed her.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Visitor, Epilogue


Here she is, Zoey. She just left in a truck with her owner's son-in-law, Peter Prescott (not that Peter Prescott)

Last night I posted a found animal report on the local humane society Lost & Found blog. This morning I sent in a photo for them to post with my listing. A few minutes ago I checked the page to see if the photo had posted yet. It had, but to a lost animal report. The lost animal report that her owners had phoned in.

Technology proved helpful in this instance but not as quickly and easily as it did in that commercial for some smart phone or other.

So Zoey has gone home (she now lives not far from here on what we in these parts call the Lower Road. Pete, Fay and I live on the Upper Road)

I have to say that she is so much more polite and better behaved than a certain blob named Fay, who made my life more difficult by trying to get herself beaten up with her surliness and inhospitality.

What a load off! I'm gonna go eat something really good now. NACHOS!!!!

Who Are These People?


For God's sake we don't all live in California! What the hell is wrong with you people?!!!

Here's what my lawn looks like right now:

Real frost goes great with silvery sandals. Awesome.

And no, I am not wearing a wispy tank top with lace trim as a dress. It's 28 degrees!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Visitor

Today I have a visitor. Her name is Zoe and she's a dog. A dog from Oregon. Loose in my yard in Vermont.

I called the phone number on her tags and got the vet who spayed her and gave her her rabies shot. They told me her name and the name of her owner. They also called the number they have for the owner.

I googled the owner and I may have found something on Facebook, of all things. I sent someone with the same name as the owner a message on friggin' Facebook.

I still haven't heard anything but it's early yet I guess.

Back when it was daylight I was kind of hoping Zoe'd take off and head home on her own. Then it got dark and I heard a lot of howling coming from lots of different places. We do have coyotes out here. I looked to see if she'd gone. Nope. So I let her in.

She's is in great shape, nicely fed, pretty teeth and she's very nice. She's been brought up right: I'm eating my dinner right now and she's not paying any attention to me. No mooching from her, unlike some people we know. She's lying peacefully near my feet underneath the table.

Fay is sequestered upstairs. You know how she is around food. There'd be blood if she had her way.

I guess I'll watch Zoe tonight if I don't hear from the owner. I've got a call in to the animal control officer too. I guess we'll just have to wait and see now. Kind of not psyched.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Payback Time

My physical knocked the wind right out of my sails - and I'm really healthy! What the hell is my problem? I'm even excited that I'm up to date on my tetanus shot.

Fortunately my wonderful husband took care of me tonight. He let me take a nap then he made me a manhattan, a cheese plate, a fresh salad and reheated some left-overs for dinner (I LOVE left-overs) He also set a fire in the fireplace.

He's so dreamy!

Cold and Starry

Tonight was the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. We had clear skies in VT but I still missed it. I have to drive down to Brookline today for my annual physical so I went to bed kind of early, at 11.

Fay woke up at 5 AM. I took her out but there was nothing doing in the sky.

While I didn't see any meteors I did enjoy looking at the stars. It's so cool to think that if I could see the dimensions of what I was looking at it would be a sphere, a planet, a sun - an object so very far away in space and not just a point of light. I love to think that my little fleshy mortal eyeballs can see even a trace of something so far away.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back To Earth

Wasn't that last post pretty? I neglected to mention that once I got home and unloaded the car I had to clean heaps of mouse crap off the stove top. It's that time of year - they want to come in where it's warm now.

As for Sailors' Delight - YES! Sun sun sun all week! I'm hoping to sneak the last of my fall gardening duties in in the next couple of days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weather Report

The scenery on the drive up from Cambridge to Vermont was really beautiful tonight. A thick mist arose just as the sun was setting a beautiful orange red. I got a little flash back to Halloween as I passed the graveyard just outside of Keene, NH: soupy fog winding about the headstones. Spooooooky!

I hope that the adage, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight" holds true for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh Boo-Hoo.

Pete and I just got back from our former local, the Beacon Street Tavern. We had a lovely evening there as usual thanks to our pals Walshie and Dermott.

Everybody does not know our names there, just Walshie (the manager) and Dermott (the bartender/assistant manager) I don't want everybody to know my name. That would weird me out.

It's our former local because we moved.

We haven't found a new local in Cambridge yet. That's where the boo-hoo part comes in.

It's so great to have an easy place where you can go and have a drink, a decent meal and a nice trade of insults with the bartender. We haven't been out in our new neighborhood enough to find that yet.

I suppose we need to work harder at it. Boo-hoo.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Sorry NaBloPoMo Post



Here's my progress on the cabled knee socks that I started in July. If they weren't going to be knee socks I'd be done by now.

Of course I'm putting them aside now to work on the Lust Blanket.

Has anybody noticed that every episode of "House" is exactly like every other episode of "House"?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Got A Good One

President Obama walks through grave markers during a unannounced visit to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday. (AP)

I swiped this photo from today's WBUR e-newsletter.

It is so wonderful to have a President who thinks about the people who will be affected by his decisions. He understands that the lives of thousands of individuals are at stake. He wants to feel the weight of what his decision will be.

I am impressed.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Motifs So Far


Here's what I've got so far for the lust blanket. These have been made over the last several weeks. I'm not positive that all of these will end up in the final product but it's a start. I'm going to make a bunch more larger motifs and then assemble them together with crochet.

It's really fun to be able to try out new techniques and to see what all of these odd yarns I've always been curious about can do. I predict that there will be a lot more ruffles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Field Trip Part II


Yesterday I went to a YARN WAREHOUSE!!!!!!

I got all of this FRIGGIN' AMAZING YARN for super-duper cheap!!!!! Not only that but it was so fun to be in a yarn warehouse. It's something that fiber nuts dream about. I managed to keep my head though because I was on a mission: I needed materials for my newest art project, the Lust Blanket.

The Lust Blanket will be a freeform construction - my first attempt. You might think, "Freeform. No rules. Easy." That's not what I'm thinking. I'm finding it a little tricky to decide which method, which motif, which pattern, which color combo to try next. All the possibilities are blowing my mind.

I'll plow through though - the yarn is calling me...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Field Trip


I'm going on a field trip today so I made myself some lunch to take with me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pancake News


I made pumpkin pancakes this morning. Above is a shot of the stack I made for Fay.

Because I made them before I had even one sip of coffee I forgot to add the one egg that the recipe calls for. The pancakes are still good. They're a bit gluey and you don't get as many of them but they're not by any means a disappointment.

The reason I'm telling you this is that if you're out of eggs one morning but you still want a hearty breakfast you can still make these tasty pancakes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Think I Drank Too Much Coffee This Morning

This is how this year's INaBloPoMo seems to be working for me: I do a post early in the morning to get it over-with. Later in the day I think up something that seems better and I post that too. I hope I'm not over-posting. Sorry if it gets annoying. Feel free to skim.

The morning post for today is about Regular Exercise.

I recently found myself a copy of Wii Fit Plus. I wanted to get Wii Fit last year but it was sold out everywhere. Good enough I guess - I feel like I lucked into the update.

I haven't figured out how to get a good work out from it yet but it is really fun. Unfortunately it keeps telling me that I have physical retardation. I've always been uncoordinated but I never knew my balance was soooo bad. I manage not to fall down most days so I figured my balance was good enough. Not for Wii Fit Plus.

Most of the games are very balance-based. You have to keep your center of gravity within a certain zone to do well. It grades your yoga for God's sake! It's not enough to do the pose as well as you can without falling down. You have to be still as well to rack up the points. Points in yoga! How are you supposed to "accept yourself as you are" when they play the sad music at the end of a pose because you only got thirty points?

One thing I found out is that I'm a spazz. I didn't know. When things in a game start to go a little off I freak out and overcompensate. I always thought I was kind of laid back. Not when it comes to control of my body. Who knew? Probably everybody who knows me.

For a real workout I've been using "My Fitness Coach" which is the Wii version of "Yourself!Fitness." I love "Yourself!Fitness" as you can tell because I post about it all the time. The Wii version is not quite as good but it still delivers an excellent workout. I am good and sore most days and I keep going back for more because it works and it's not boring.

One helpful feature of getting regular exercise is that it inures you to discomfort. ("Inures." Like that? Crossword puzzle word) Exercising is a little uncomfortable while you're doing it but it needs to be done and you're busy doing it and you don't want to think about it too much so you keep going. Fine. No big deal.

This is good because later on, out in the non-exercise world, when you're in a situation where you are forced into discomfort you're used to it and you barely notice.

Did I go on enough? Sorry. It'll probably happen again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shots! (Not The Fun Kind)

Highway hypnosis. Fay and I drove from Vermont to Jamaica Plain (Boston) and back today so she could have her usual six-week check-up with the neurologist. We are both zombified and I just want to go to bed without any supper.

I'll have to power through though so I can try out the exciting new skill I learned today at the vet: how to prepare a hypodermic syringe for subcutaneous injection!

Fay's usual injectable medication now comes in a new formulation with no preservatives. They used to pre-load the syringes for me. Now I have to make it fresh myself. The neurologist's assistant showed me how to assemble and load a syringe today. Neato! And see - I can spell "syringe" correctly too!

I love a new skill! I wish it were karate or making a sea-worthy canoe out of rushes or dancing a tango or something else more exotic though. Maybe later. I'm not dead yet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More Fashion Advice

Since it's a rather gloomy day today I'm having some Frankenberry as a snack. Believe me, the pink color is far more intense in real life than it is on your monitor. Sometimes I wish my hair was that color.

And with that, here's some more opinionated fashion advice:

Another outfit to maybe think about not wearing. Thank you in-box.

Ugly Trend

These leggings are so ugly.
I have seen them out in the real world a couple of times. Only, thank God, on women under the age of twenty-five. They all had perfectly good figures and they all looked terrible in these leggings.

A man might disagree, I don't know. Maybe guys like the ten-ton-sausage-stuffed-in-latex look. Perhaps to them it screams S-E-X!!!! But if you're over twenty-five (and therefore expected to have some sense) and you want to look like you have some class, don't wear these.

Maybe if you're emaciated and trying to look like you aren't then they could work.

If you really must wear hideous leggings this style is surprisingly more flattering to the non-emaciated figure:

I saw a regular woman (probably in her thirties) wearing these the other day and, while really not to my taste, they were in fact flattering.

One more thing about leggings: wear a long top with them. Really, cover your butt and your crotch. I don't care what the other girls are doing. You'll thank me when you see photos of yourself a few years later. Or you'll wish you'd listened to me.

Yes, I do know this from experience.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Success

It was another very productive day of gardening for Michaela and me.
I sprayed organic herbicide on the weedy areas that Michaela had cleared with her brush cutter last week while she (again doing the hard part) covered what I'd sprayed with cardboard and then mulch.
So tidy! Take that, noxious weeds! This is a job that we'd been trying to get done for years but things kept preventing us. Things like flat tires on all the wheelbarrows or I didn't order mulch in time.

We also put in the garden arch that used to be in our (Pete and my) front garden in Brookline. It looks nice and straight. Wait till the wind blows. It wasn't a fine install. I just wanted to get it out from under the eaves of the house where it would get pounded by roof-shed snow.
Here's the view over the herb garden again. I hope you can tell that everything is much neater and we're starting to gain control over the areas that had been overwhelmed by weeds.

Now I just have to take some triangulated measurements, do a few scale drawings and figure out what new shrubs and plants I want to put where. I'd better get those measurements before the snow flies.

In other fascinating news, I had fun making dinner tonight.

On Monday evening Pete and I had a nice date at the restaurant of a local inn. Pete ordered the lamb shank. I knew something was wrong when he asked the waitress for a steak knife.

Let's just say his dinner was disappointing. But to me it presented an exciting challenge: could I take his left over lamb shank (and there was a lot of it) and make it good? I found out tonight.

The answer is yes! I think they forgot to braise the thing at the restaurant. I popped it into a saucepan full of sautéed onions, red wine, beef stock, a bit of tomato paste, salt, pepper, rosemary and bay leaf and simmered it all for a little over an hour. HAH HA HA HA! Success!

It needs potatoes though.

So now I'm looking around for some chocolate. I hope we have some somewhere because I am NOT making cupcakes tonight.

Some Things I've Learned Recently

Number one, when reading a blogger.com blog DO NOT EVER (unless you're looking for porn) hit the "next blog" button at the top of the page (conveniently located next to the "report abuse" button) Learned that the hard way.

Feel free to hit the "follow" button, especially if you're reading my blog.

Number two, (hee hee, number two! Ugh, sorry.) Maybelline bronzing powder, the cheapest brand I could find, is an excellent product.

I don't normally use bronzing powder because I'm Palefaced and Proud* (and curly hair proud too - no capitulating to the straight hair standard!) I needed it this week to go as Rachael Ray for Halloween. I was going to use a hint of orange makeup from the costume shop (her T.V. makeup always looks overly orangey to me) but there was no way I was going to pay $8.99 for a pan of orange makeup.

Maybelline to the rescue. I bought a nice, dark color that I thought would instantly look glaringly wrong on me. In fact, I had to really cake it on to make it look overdone.

Of course I was wearing a very dark brunette wig at the time. Maybe it would look wrong with my real coloring? Nope, I just tried it. You can barely tell. Maybe that's why it's cheaper - not enough expensive pigment. Anyway, I thought it was a good way to build up a "natural sun-kissed" look. Not what I wanted it for and not something I'm likely to use again, but there it is.

Number three, "mayhem" is a crime in California. According to Wikipedia, mayhem consists "of the intentional and wanton removal of a body part that would handicap a person's ability to defend himself in battle." Also, "the noun 'mayhem' and the verb 'maim' share the same root, the Old French 'mahaigne'" which I'm guessing means "to harm in some way."

New topic:
You may have noticed I'm posting more regularly. Well it's NaBloPoMo (which I still think should be called INaBloPoMo - International Blog Posting Month) I hope to continue the daily posting habit long after November as well. If I don't then how else will anyone know what I had for lunch or how my latest pair of socks are coming along (which you still don't know) or what I think about shoes?

*Don't feel that I'm anti-tan across the board and I'll hate you if you have more melanin than me and you use it. Tan or fake tan if you want. It's none of my business.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kabocha Success


Tonight I finally had success with kabocha.

I adapted a recipe from Washoku, by Elizabeth Andoh. To me, reading this cookbook is like going to a spa. Everything about it is really beautiful. I would have been very surprised and disappointed if the recipe had failed.

The original recipe calls for ground chicken which is cooked after the kabocha, in the same broth. Instead I just stopped the recipe at kabocha and skipped the chicken altogether. As a result now I also have some very tasty soup broth that I can use to make something else.

The resulting kabocha has a subtle and smoky taste and a texture similar to that of roasted chestnuts. I will definitely make this again.

So This Cow Walks In To A Bar...

Okay, he's drinking from his right nostril in this photo. He/she's (he is a cow) an ambidextrous drinker. Later I found out that this is someone I know. He didn't say hi to me because he didn't recognize me. Clearly I didn't recognize him either.

I was dressed as Rachael Ray:


Later he let me try his mask on:
Kind of bizarre.

Pete had a gig that night. Here he is with his scream mask on:
And here's the band playing "The Monster Mash"
Left to right:
Paul (cow) Kenny (medical zombie) Nate (Carmine Apice) Pete (strawberry wig) Erica (slug with pigtails) Jeff (the very top of his head in the waaaay back - he's a skunk) George (convict) and a girl I didn't meet. Last two photos by Michael Wagner.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ghosties

Spooky Ghostie cupcakes!
They are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World topped with seven-minute (more like twenty-minute) frosting from Epicurious.com. Seven-minute frosting contains egg whites so these are not vegan cupcakes.

The eyes are mini chocolate chips. It took me a minute to figure out that I should put the chips on point-side in.

Also, I was wearing my pumpkin-head wig for a time while making these. I don't have photographic proof. I ended up taking the wig off however because the hair would fall in my face and I couldn't see very well. I don't know how you people with hair can get anything done.

This was my first batch of seven-minute frosting. Like I said, it took more than seven minutes for the egg whites to whip to stiff peak stage. That's really not a deal-breaker for me though. This frosting is fun to play with - very fluffy. It's exactly what you want to use to fill a cupcake or layer cake. I definitely prefer it to buttercream. At our house the frosting hardened by the end of the night, the ghosts formed a crust of meringue but were still soft inside.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween '09

I love Halloween so much.

It's just wonderful to be in a bar and see a cow drinking through a straw that's stuck up it's left nostril.

Wouldn't it be cool if people felt free to wear costumes every day? You'd still have the element of serendipity because not everyone would wear a costume every day. You'd have normal people plus the occasional Bo Peep or pirate or skunk, etc. And any day you wanted you could be whatever you wanted to be.

I mean, anyone actually can dress as whatever they want as it is. Maybe not to work, but around the house, running errands, going to a ball game...

I've got more to say about this but I haven't thought it out yet - and I'm supposed to meet Pete at a craft fair, so I've got to go. More later.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Weather Is Cooperating

'Tis the season to be gloomy.



Our back yard at about 7:30 this morning.
The red squirrels, crows and blue jays are adding a mournful and creepy sound track as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Between the Chilaquiles and the Rice Balls

I'm feeling a tad self-hindering today. Instead of following through on that though I will post about what happened in the time between the Chilaquiles post and the Toasted Onigiri post.

Below is a "before" shot of our garden.

And after:

Below is a shot of the herb garden that I posted last month so you can compare it to this day's work.

Almost all reference points are gone! The lavender is still there but frost got the bright green verbena in the first photo.

Below is my great friend Michaela doing the dirty work with her brush cutter.

Michaela, in addition to being a fabulous person and a wonderful friend, is a professional gardener AND an artist AND a pilot AND she likes shoes AND she's fun to hang around and gab with. I was so lucky to be introduced to her when we moved up here and I found our garden completely overwhelming. Anything that is beautiful about my garden is because of her.

After all of her hard brush cutting and raking she took the wheelbarrow up to the mulch pile where she discovered The Thing from "The Fantastic Four" hiding under our tarp.


Impressive, no?

I will admit that I wasn't just there taking pictures. I was also digging up rocks and roots and weeding and moving things. Michaela did all that in addition to brush-cutting and raking and at least two times faster than I can. She is superior!

Thanks, Michaela, for your hard work and especially for your friendship.