Wednesday, April 27, 2005

the motherlode

apparently today is administrative professionals day. who knew? the bosspeople from my day job just came in here and gave me 6 bottles of FABULOUS-looking wine. oddly enough, i have never had any of these, which is something of a statistical improbability. the hippie and i, we drink us some wine, so it's cool to have all these new ones to try now--whoo hoo! the bosspeoples--they be cool.

i am a 50's housewife

it's funny how a cleaning product can actually change your life. last night i cleaned my bathroom with my brand new mr. clean magic reach scrubby thingy, and i think this might be the cleanest that room has been since the house was built in 1930-somehing. i have kylie to thank for this one--i was helping her clean the apartment she was moving out of last weekend, and she handed me one of these to use. it's a DREAM! it's like everything good about a swiffer and scrubbing bubbles and a scrub brush, all rolled into one thing. i bought one the next day. and as i was picking mine out, this other woman came into the grocery store and started looking at them, too. she goes--have you used one of these before? and yes, i sold her one. mr. clean should be sending me money for how much i have talked about this thing!

i know we are all liberated women here, and that we are glad to have the choices we have today and to be free to do what we want with our lives, yadda yadda yadda. but i swear, i think in my heart, i just want a clean house and a fabulous dinner on the table. oh, and to make stuff. i think most of the women i know feel this way too, at least some of the time.

and over the past several years, i have periodically had these bizarre, commercial-like conversations with so many of the women i know--we ALL seem to get off on a good cleaning product.

i have karen to thank for the scrubbing bubbles, sam for the mr. clean magic erasers and the oxy-clean, kimmie for the clorox wipes, jenn for the swiffer and the vanilla-lavender downy, and i just had a long conversation with emily about cold water tide (which sucks, by the way--stick with your plain old tide). in turn, i have sold many on these products as well as the dish soap from williams-sonoma, about which i am evangelical. i am also in love with my new lavender-rosemary dryer sheets from restoration hardware.

i also learned this past weekend from eric's vacuum that my vacuum cleaner sucks, and i now want a new one (a dirt devil one, bagless, with a hose long enough to reach the corners of my ceiling). heh--tina, who works across the hall from me is trying to win a free vacuum online as we speak--see? we are ALL 50's housewives is some ways...

i wish i was home cleaning.

Monday, April 25, 2005

countdown to the beach

time flies, man. hard to believe that there are only 26 days till we go to the beach. every year, my physics study group and i take a week and head to the beach together. we generally have between 5 and 12 people for this adventure--this year we have 9, including baby ella. we are renting half of this beach house you see here, called a tarheel east. (i think it's a stupid name, but then beach house names always seem to be...) i always really look forward to this trip--i get to cook all the time, walk on the beach with my hippie, hang out with old friends, go sailing, poke around in some shops, and eat a lot of really fresh seafood, so it's just about perfect for me. some of what i am anticipating this year:

sailing out to the cape lookout lighthouse with lookout cruises. these guys run a laid back cruise line with bunches of different options--twice we have gone on their sunset cruise, but i am hoping to do something a little different this year. they have a cruise out to the cape lookout national seashore, which includes a lunch catered by the beaufort grocery company--fabulous--and lots of shelling time. plus you sail by the lighthouse, which i have never seen.

eating at stardust in morehead city, easily my favorite restaurant in the state. i am hoping our favorite waitress, darla, is still there and that we can sit in the cubby area upstairs. they have the best food--it's sort of an upscale lowcountry dining experience with great attention to detail. the vegetables are more than half the show and are as fress as their daily catches. YUM!!!

mixing drinks with meredith. last year i didn't feel much like drinking, but i seem to be getting back into my groove. i have been drinking a lot of wine lately, but something about the beach makes me want the mai tai and well, anything with a bunch of fruit and umbrellas and flowers in it. hunks of pineapple and edible orchids and flamingo straws in my tiki glass. oh yes. maybe i will dig out those coconut cups we made a few years back--wonder where those are...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

unexpected riches

today i came home from work to find not one, but TWO packages waiting for me on the front porch. whoo hoo!

package #1 was from alyce and contained this fabulous beehouse teapot. i LOVE this company's teapots--they are designed for one person to use, and have a removable stainless steel infuser inside. the design is just beautiful, and as i am sure you know by now, i am SUCH a design whore! a totally unexpected and unnecessary gift, but i love it anyway! yay for a new teapot!

package #2 was from jo's puppy, vito, and contained an excellent new mix of music. i immediately threw it in the stereo and turned it up loud to listen to while doing some house-y stuff before the hippie got home from work. yay for new music! and now, to work on vito's secret surprise...

add to all this the new yarn i bought today to start my crumpets project, and this is indeed a day full of goodness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

tea and crumpets

i just joined my first knit-along online. i am going to (attempt to) make this little dress you see here, a pattern called crumpets, from libby baker (available over at i think that, instead of an actual dress, i am going to make a top like the one wendy made--i like the idea of being able to pair this with some jeans for the active little girlfriend. now i just need to figure out what size to make, what yarn to use, where to get beads, and how to do that weird picot cast on. whew! i am a little scared of this thing, but also totally excited to try it! you guys think good thoughts for me and pray i don't totally snafu it. i probably won't get started on this till the weekend, but watch for updates (slow ones as this is going to take me a while!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

tales of woe and moments of dumbassery

let's just call yesterday a shitty day. it started with a nightmare (literally), and ended with a fight. not a good day. the evening was a VAST improvement, as i declared it a fuckit evening, and dragged the hippie out for some fried oysters and beer. you tell me what fried oysters and beer can't fix? especially when you can walk to them and especially when you have a fantastic and extremely Southern waiter. when the hippie was done, the waiter did not ask him if everything had been to his satisfaction--he said, and i quote, "hey brother, you get enough?" god how i love the South sometimes.

this morning, i had another nightmare about my friend kimmie's wedding. in this one, i forgot my shoes and my dress, and came to the church with nothing but a make-up bag. i went back home, grabbed everything, only to put it all on to realize that the skirt was about 5 inches too long and the top was too tight to zip up. imagine the panic. and then to add to my woe, my toes were sporting a blazing red rather than the sedate french pedicure kimmie has specified for this event. i literally woke up in a panic. so of course i got up immediately and put everything on to make sure it was all just a dream, and wonder of wonders, the whole thing fits better than it ever has before--the waistband on that skirt is actually kind of LOOSE! this, folks, is a miracle! i DO need some larger boobs for this top i will be wearing, but luckily i can fake that with a few pieces of well-placed underwear.

as for the dumbassery, that also took place this morning as we stopped for a muffin on the way to work. i locked the keys in the car. with the car running. moron. and the hippie was all pissed, and i was all feeling stupid, and it sucked. thank god for brian who bailed us out. the hippie now has the spare key in his pocket in case of future stupid tricks like this one. yes, it has happened before...

Friday, April 15, 2005

herbs for the cooking

yesterday, the hippie's mother asked me to write her a little list of the fresh herbs i use--i had no idea i actually used so many until i started writing. and in the end, i came up with a list i thought might be worth sharing. mind you, i don't know a ton about growing these bad boys, and in fact, killed a lot of them off last summer, but here are the herbs i regularly use in the kitchen, in order of how often i use them, with notes:
  • thyme: english thyme is my favorite. i use this with everything from stews to eggs to herb stuffing for poultry to rubs for roasts to lima beans.
  • rosemary: italian or tuscan blue are my favorite varieties. get the bushy kind, not the creepy kind. i use this much like thyme. it's also great with lamb and on baked salmon.
  • basil: LOVES the sun! the more you clip it, the more it will leaf out. excellent on sandwiches as well as in anything italian of course. indispensible in thai food, too.
  • garlic: grows well alongside roses, believe it or not. it will keep aphids off the roses and the rose roots give off gasses that benefit it.
  • mint: spreads like wildfire and can't be killed. excellent for mint juleps, the hippie's favorite summer afternoon libation. also good in lemonade and tea. i sometimes use it to garnish desserts, too.
  • oregano: obvious italian/greek food uses, but also good to make herbed mayo for sandwiches and for dipping artichoke leaves into. greek oregano is better than italian in my opinion.
  • cilantro: a must-have for salsa and for black beans and many mexican and southwestern dishes.
  • sage: EASY to kill! silver tastes better than purple. great in sweet soups like butternut squash and carrot.
  • marjoram: somewhat delicate, but great with steamed or glazed carrots.
  • chives: great with potatoes, cheesey things (like mac & cheese), and mixed into butter and spread onto fresh bread. YUM!
  • sorrell: good in light summer soups and with eggs. very delicate flavor.
  • dill: sour cream and dill potato salad is fabulous. many uses, but a little goes a long way.
  • parsley: use this in just about anything for color and a mild flavoring. i like it in potato salads and in soups and in spaghetti sauce.
  • fennel: IF you like licorice, which i do NOT, but this is a big, cool looking plant that will come back on its own every year. people like to eat the whole bulb, sliced longways and pan seared or grilled.
  • lavender: i have not cooked with this yet, but i have plans; i have a recipe for a beautiful chocolate and lavender cake I want to try. and even if you don't cook with it, you can dry it for yummy smelling sachets.
this makes me want to try another potted herb garden this year, but maybe this time i will read up a bit more first.

one good tip i got last summer--for fresh tasting herbs int he winter, take what you have left at the end of summer, chop it up, and then put them into ice cube trays. put a little water on them and freeze them into ice cubes. when you are making stew or spaghetti sauce in decempber, just throw in a few cubes, and voilá.

if you guys have any suggestions for stuff to do with herbs, please pass them along.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

bee bottle

i have this little antique glass honey bottle i bought at the flea market for two dollars one saturday long ago--it originally held a copious 4 oz. of honey, and it has a little beehive embossed on the front. i keep it on the sill of the window that separates my kitchen from the sunroom/cat room/work room/back porch that's off the kitchen, along with other various small bottles and vases and my sad african violet that will obviously never bloom again. every spring and summer and fall, i walk through my yard and pick tiny bouquets for the bee bottle from the myriad of blooming and growing things that were planted and shown the love by the original owner of the house. this is this year's first bee bottle, and i was so happy with how pretty it is that i decided to share it. yay for spring! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

visiting alyce

as you know, i was in boston this past weekend with alyce and her little family. adam, her new little baby, is a beauty. this picture is how i found him when i arrived--sleeping peacefully under baby blanket #2, HIS baby blanket. i admit i was unbelievably pleased with this--i didn't realize how happy i would be to find something i knitted in use this way, but man is it satisfying!

the visit was just awesome--i have not spent that much time with alyce since we lived in new york together years ago. you forget just how much you love a person. and i feel like i helped her and rick and the baby somewhat. they are of course going through the adjustments every new set of parents faces. the first months seem both fabulous and oh so hard. anyway--it was just great to hang out, help out, and get a baby fix all at the same time. plus, while at alyce's, i finished up a scarf, whipped up a baby hat for adam, and made quite a bit of progress on baby blanket #3.

i also ended up with an afternoon free to spend with the sam, which was a HUGE and unexpected treat. it was a GORGEOUS day. we got to have brunch outside, shop a little (i bought a new pink raffia hat for the beach and ALMOST bought a fabulous lamp, but talked myself out of it, which may mean i am growing up at last...), and even stop for tea before heading back to alyce's.

all in all, a great long weekend.

i have to leave you with one more picture of the baby--i took this one with my treo sunday morning while messaging the hippie as adam was napping on my lap in a rocking chair. did i mention that i love my treo? oh, and don't think that this baby is always so sedate and quiet as these pictures here indicate--he is sometimes more like a wild animal even though there is usually a calm after the storm. :)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

thoughts on new york

when you fly from points South to boston at night, if you sit on the left side of the plane, you get an amazing view of new york. i used to do this nearly every other week for work, but i had almost forgotten about it.

last night i looked up from knitting on the plane just in time to see it--beautiful as always in spite of the dark places where the world trade center used to be... the street grid so clear from the sky that i could easily count up to the blocks where i once lived and worked. remembering the pasta maker and the cheese guy and the movie theater and the fabulous thai restaurant in my old 'hood. remembering my day to day life with alyce and my shopping excursions with rita. remembering when i was paid to paint and create all day... a part of me will always miss new york.

then again, sitting in the airport last night waiting for my own flight, i found myself surrounded by a group of new york businessmen with big expanse account and even bigger senses of entitlement. they were all screaming at the airline personnel, as though that would cause their plane to arrive more quickly--wasted energy. and after the plane was past the city, i remembered that i was blocking out how lonely it often was and how my boss was so frustrating and the time my apartment was robbed... these things make me glad to be gone.

that is the nature of new york--love and hate in equal measure.

and no--no desire to move back, but yes--think about it almost every single day.

note: the above post brought to you courtesy of my new treo. :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

boston calling

tomorrow i go to boston to see alyce and rick and baby adam. i am so excited i just can't stand it! it has been years and years since i have had whole days to spend with alyce. my plan is to clean her bathroom and make lots of dinners and hang out and knit and talk to alyce while she snuggles with her baby and i fold all the laundry. i hate it when people go see a new mother and just hold the baby the whole time and don't do any of the work!!! but i digress...

i decided that since i was going to see alyce tomorrow, this was a perfect time to share some pictures of the baby blankets i have been working on. this one is baby blanket #2, which alyce already has. (the baby has, in fact, already had his way with it, and it has been washed multiple times.) i am about 1/2 way through another one just like it. as soon as i finish (hopefully this weekend), it will get stuffed into a box and mailed away with the balrog t-shirt and hat. :)

and for kicks (and becasue i love the color), i am including a detail of baby blanket #1, the first one i made, and in fact, the second project i started after the knitting class jenn and i took last fall. this one is in custody of ella, the baby of jeff and carrie, and it, too, is taking a baby beating. this is as it should be. fyi to my fellow knitters, this blanket is a simple 4 x 5 basket weave with a 6 stitch garter edging. at 72 sts wide, it takes 5 balls of paton's melody, which i recommend ordering online from the yarn exchange. i have had some GREAT experiences with this company, and they priority mail everything for just 5 bucks. whoo hoo!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

makin' some sparkly stuff

my friend kimmie is getting married at the end of this month, and i am in the wedding. like most brides, kimmie wanted to get some nice little earrings for her bridemaids for the wedding, and she came to me for a consultation. the dresses are purple with silver and clear crystal embroidery around the neckline, and the earrings are the only jewelry we will be wearing. most of us will have out hair up or blown out straight, so we decided that something dangly but small involving clear crystals was the way to go--not necessarily easy to find. further, one bridesmaid doesn't have pierced ears, so that was presenting a whole other challenge.

anyway--after many emails back and forth about this, i ended up volunteering to whip up something for her this weekend, and here it is. (apologies for the blinding bright spot on the wooden ruler i stupidly chose to put next to the earrings.) these are sterling silver with austrian crystals from swarovski. you can't tell from this picture, but the smaller crystal is the exact color of the dresses, which was just good luck. i am pretty happy with how these came out, so i thought i would share. all in all--this was pretty cool to do. it's been about 10 years since i made any jewelry to speak of, so i had forgotten how much fun it is! i whipped out 8 pairs of these yesterday, and managed to only break one crystal. i went and got a replacement today, so i just have one more earring to go. and then i will get back to kntting. whoo hoo!