Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't you just hate people?

I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to post today - my last day of February posting. How wrong!

First, I just finished #31 - Three Came to Ville Marie, and I was pretty into it. It was good in a historical fiction kind of way.

So, I'll move on now to 32/73 The Fall of a Titan by Igour Gouzenko (1954).

But here's why I hate people. I had ordered a travel book for our upcoming trip to Seattle. A dumb little $11 book. I also ordered another book - a nice book about beautiful houses. This second book ensured my free Amazon shipping.

When I tracked the package on UPS it said they left it at the front door. After our lamps were left at the front door and nobody stole them, I wasn't worried about my books. Why should I? Who steals books?

When I came home there was an ugly fat man standing in the doorway. He was a mover, moving one of my neighbors out. He was gross and leery, so I quickly looked around for sign of my Amazon box, or a note from the UPS man saying where he left it - like they had done with the lamps. But there was nothing and I moved quickly upstairs away from the ugly fat man. Outside the apartment door: no sign of package. Weird, and slightly concerning. So, I waited about 20 minutes, and decided to go back downstairs to look for my box.  There, lying on the floor in the vestibule was the house book. Sitting there, no box, on the floor. Someone had opened my package. One of the movers came downstairs at the point and asked if I was looking for my book, and I said yes, I had found one but there should have been two books. He said he found the empty box and threw it into the basement (why the basement? Why not the garbage?) He fetched the box, but there was no sign of book #2! He said maybe it was in the garbage out front, or maybe one of the other movers had seen it. But then, an even uglier mover with a greasy braided rat-tail came down the stairs and said things to me and leered, so I went back upstairs to hide.

Who would open my box? Who would take one book? A travel book! Are they going to Seattle too? WTF? I was afraid of the leering movers after that, so I called UPS and filed a claim. They were nice, and apologized - they are not supposed to leave packages at the front door of apartment buildings. After the movers finished and drove away, I went and peeked in the garbage for any sign of my book, the packaging, the invoice - any sign. I wasn't going dumpster-diving though, and I didn't find anything. So I have given up. I hope UPS takes responsibility. So angry-fying!

Alright, well. This is the 28th post of February, and while I didn't always post every day, I made up for it. And you know what? I enjoyed more frequent posting! So, I am going to attempt to keep it up. Not every day, maybe not on the weekends, but something more regular than once a week.

I'm pretty sure it was the movers. I mean, they are in and out of buildings and can easily help themselves to packages and never be seen again. My neighbors are nice people, and not the sort to open other people's packages and steal from them.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The end of a lazy weekend...

I already miss the weekend.

And the sun shined!

Today is really a beautiful day. So sunny, and warm (February-warm, that is - not like, June-warm). H. and I had some errands to run - a trip to the halal butcher, a stop at Starbucks, a pop into the grocery store - so we decided to do this via a leisurely walk in Bay Ridge.

First we walked over and enjoyed some coffee. My first iced-coffee of 2011. It was lovely. Are you glad to hear it?

Here is where things truly get exciting: we discovered a wonderful store. On some previous solo adventure, I had noticed the Balady Halal Market in 5th Ave. It looked big, and nice, and exciting. So, on our way to our regular butcher we nipped in. What a wonderland of Middle Eastern delights. So well stocked! So organized! So clean! SO MANY SPICES. We only picked up a few things, including tons of pita bread (one fancy kind, three bags of normal kind at $1.19/bag), some mango chutney, some red grape vinegar, some yucky pickled peppers for H. At $12, it was a pretty good deal!

And that was all good.

We didn't buy any meat there - although it looked nice and they had a good selection of pre-packaged meats that looked good. However, I found it suspicious that the butcher wasn't busy. There was nobody buying meat, whereas our usual butcher a few blocks away is always packed full of Turkish ladies buying hundreds of dollars of meat (no joke!), or local restaurant owners buying their meat for the day. That is a good sign to me, that popularity.

Something else weird about this market - they don't have the delicious Turkish cookies that I love love LOOOOOVE.
If you ever see these, buy them. I've eaten 14 today, at least.

Well. So, red grape vinegar. I've never used this. I'm assuming it is the same as red wine vinegar.

And I'm going to be using it to make Greek salad for our lunches this week. Future salad:

I have never added radishes to Greek Salad before, but it has been recommended. By whom? The internet. I'm not terribly keen on radishes, truth be told, but like eggplants, I think they're really pretty:

I forgot to buy feta cheese though. Ugh! So angry! Rage blackout angry! I could either go back out, or be feta-free for tomorrow. And I'm feeling pretty lazy, so I'm probably not going to go out and get it tonight.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One of those days...

Ever have one (or two) of those days when you just can't be bothered to post, even when you promised a post every day for a month? That's today (and yesterday). So, enjoy this awesome bookcase animation.

By Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Did I ever show you these?

A few years ago when I was in Bethlehem, PA for Musikfest I dropped by the Moravian church bazaar to look at some much-coveted junk, and I hit the jackpot. I got these awesome dishes.

But, then add an entire dinner and serving set and multiply that by ten.

(we haven't done the dishes in a day or two, so this doesn't even relay how many dishes we have).

I bought this lovely set for $20! It was truly one of my happiest purchases ever. A little internet searching told me that this is the Knowles Forsythia pattern from the early 1950s. The lady at the church where I bought them encouraged me to instead purchase a more "modern" set of hideousness from the 70s, but I loved these on first sight. What a score!

Here is Izzy trying to get into the photo shoot.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No, but really...

I'm totally going to buy this Charley Harper poster. If H. has a problem with that, I'll put it in my office.

I realized that one could describe my style as "Canadiana", which is freaky. But who isn't into the Arctic?? I ask you? It is fascinating. And who doesn't have mulitple pictures of dogsledders in their living room?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spirit Animals

I'm not joking when I say that we are running out of wall space for all my posters and prints. The ones I obsessively buy. Wall to picture ratio is tight! But still I browse websites like Poster Cabaret. Yesterday I stumbled on a poster I kind of feel like I have to own.

This is The Crab and the Fox by Eleanor Grosch. Why do I have to have it, besides that I just like it? Because crabs and foxes are totally my spirit animals! No, not really. What do spirit animals do? And what would it mean if mine were two creatures with a propensity for eating garbage and dead stuff? For being cranky and sneaky? I guess that is a bit like me, but the truth is that I like crabs and foxes simply because they both rhyme with names I have or have had, and so I feel close to them. Like, if I were cartoonified I would be called Crabby Fox. Because that's pretty close to my real name. Or my original name, before I got married. So, I want this poster. Crabby Fox.

I also want every single Charley Harper poster they sell. But one day, when I win the lottery and decide to blow lots of money on a Charley Harper print, its going to be on this one which is called "Love From Above" and costs a mere $1,700.

Sigh. It's so sweet. I would put it in my theoretical nursery in my imaginary house in the Hudson Valley. Because everything about the picture is sweet - even that its called "Love From Above". Sigh.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home alone with my thoughts and my cat

I had one goal today - to go out and buy some sponges. I have had the day off for Presidents Day (though H. had to work). I decided to walk to the local Duane Reade to pick up some sponges. Sponges and ONLY sponges. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. I picked up some necessary items, like a Swiffer and some nail polish in a rather horrifying color.


A weird thing today at the Duane Reade. If you're unfamiliar with the DR, its a local drugstore chain in NYC. DR employees tend to be surly. I remember one of the ladies at a Duane Reade near an old office who scared the bejeezus out of me, had a hair-do that was pineapple-esque, cross-eyed and one day (I kid you not) wore a neon green mesh shirt and neon bra to work. Appropriate! You see, this is the charm of the DR - the surliness, the fear. Anyway, the local Duane Reade in Sunset Park has abnormally friendly employees. They are really nice, and really cheery, and from what I can tell are good at their jobs. And the store is nice and well-stocked and well-organized. Its really abnormal, but nice! Anyway, I have only been to the Sunset Park DR maybe 5 times ever, because its about 6 blocks away, and I have a Duane Reade across the street from work. Anyhou, this is becoming a very long story. The point is that they are friendly, and yet I never go there.

Today I went, picked up my very necessary items, and as I was paying I told the cashier that I didn't need any bags. She told me she remembered that from the other times I've been in! How crazy is that? I've only been there like 5 times in the past year! Am I the only person who brings re-usable bags? I don't believe myself to be memorable. Anyway, in the end, that was a really boring story.

Last night I made the black bean burgers for our lunches this week. I believe that I have perfected the recipe. As commenters at Epicurious recommend, if you let the beans dry for 30 minutes or so, they stick together better. I also made a special chipotle hot sauce/greek yogurt spread for them. I used greek yogurt because my sour cream had gone off, but sour cream would have been better.

H. also outdid himself by making some tandoori-style chicken (without the tandoor). He roasted them in their juices in the Le Creuset, like so:

And then put them in the broiler for a few minutes. The result was a-mazing.

These photos are really not appealing. I need to learn how to take photos of food.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gratuitous Izzy photos, under the guise of upholstery-talk

When I re-upholster my pink chair, will Izzy still love it?

He looks so nice in pink.

It matches his tongue.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Two again today - because I didn't post yesterday!

I know I didn't write yesterday. Very naughty, so I'm making up for it now.

I've been 32 for one week now. Your birthday really is your "new year", isn't it? So, I've decided to make a new year resolution for my thirty-second year! I'm going to learn something. And I don't mean no book-learnin'.

As much as I love to read about other people's DIY, I don't ever do it myself. Never. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how. So, I have decided that before I turn 33, I am going to learn how to sew! Yay me!

I don't mean that I am going to make my own clothes. I'm thinking that I could make a cushion. Or even hem my own pants, maybe! That would be a pretty good thing to know. Now that I've admitted my resolution here, I'll have to go through with it.

I've been looking at the many short sewing classes that are offered at various venues around the city, and I think this will be my route. I mean, I could buy myself a sewing machine and teach myself - but I won't. I probably would buy the machine, try once, and give up. I know me. And so, wish me luck. I will keep you updated on my progress! And then I'll hem your pants! (that's a threat)

Nothing is more alarming than discovering that at one time, perhaps, your parents were quite hip

As I have mentioned a million times, I read a lot of design blogs and home blogs, and I love when they feature tours of nice homes. I have noticed a number of pieces that keep popping up in these fabulously hip and fashion-abled homes that are things that my parents have. These mid-century things, which are so hip now, again (and I admit my own attraction to the mid-century style). Things they have always had, just there. Things I have thought are weird. It makes me realize that once upon a time, my own parents were hip.

Exhibit A: Lisa Larson lion:

I grew up with this weird lion, with its big head and smile. I have wondered why do my parents have this weird, big-headed lion? It isn't like the other tchotkes my parents have. I think it must have been a gift. I can't imagine my mom admiring a big-headed lion and deciding to buy it. I see them on ebay for sale, and I saw one featured in a stylish person's home.

Exhibit B: Thonet rocking chair:

I'm not sure my parents have a real Thonet rocking chair, it may be a knock-off. It looks like this, though. I pointed out to my mom that her rocking chair is hip, as seen in blogs, and she says that if I had a car I could take it and put it in the nursery when I have my house in Peekskill. Maybe I will. I should keep that email where she said I could take it, in case one day she tries to deny me. This chair takes up so much space though, which I guess a lot of rocking chairs do. I'm not even sure I have had a seat on it in the last 15 years - right now its primary purpose is to hold my clothes when I go home, since it sits in my bedroom at home.

Exhibit C: Kaj Franck mushroom bowl:

People on the internet go crazy trying to buy these. My mom's fancy mushroom bowl sits under her sink at the cottage. She is so hip that she doesn't care.

Don't worry, mom, I'm not coming to take your hip things. Except the rocking chair, maybe, one day. Its actually other weird mid-century things in your house that I like best, and unfortunately I don't have photos.

Imagine Item 1: The weird/creepy owl incense burner.

I have never seen my parents burn incense. Should I be suspicious that my parents ever wanted to burn incense? Were that that kind of hip? I suppose that if you were to burn incense in this owl, smoke would billow out of its eye-holes, and also out of its angry sharp teeth. Doesn't this thing sound awesome? It totally is.

Imagine Item 2: The antelope chair.

Low-sitting, wood-frame and leather. I have never found a photo of a chair that's like their chair, but imagine the chair love-child of these two other chairs:

Is it really called the antelope chair? I don't know, I've always thought it was called that. It is leather, but I doubt antelope leather. Too bad Miles has scratched it all to hell, maybe he thought he was killing an antelope.

Well, mom and dad, congratulations on having such good taste 40ish years ago! Who knew you had it in you? So, what time should I come with the U-haul? I kid! Except about the rocking chair - you said I could take it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Now I Have to Get Married Again

The people that bring us Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters have released a line of wedding gowns. They are really nice, and pretty cheap, and I told H. we have to get married again.

If I were to wear a long one, it would be the Ethereal Monarch Gown, like so:

But I'm partial to short ones.

The Pinwheel Tea Dress:

And the Fondant Tea Dress:

But they are all quite lovely. They also have nice hair accessories, but I thought my hand-made one from Tessa Kim on Etsy was the awesomest, and it was pretty inexpensive in the grand scheme of birdcage veils.

Sigh. Now everyone should get married. The shop is here:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hm. So.

Twice in one night! Well, I know the book post was boring. And, I didn't post on Saturday. But I'm thinking/coveting/plotting.

I got myself a quote to re-upholster the pink chair we got at the local junk shop. To refresh your memory:

And, its gonna cost a lot of money. I haven't told H. yet, because he's going to say I'm crazy. But, this isn't about to happen very soon, and its good to know about how much it will cost. They also told me how much fabric I'd need if I wanted to buy my own - 7 yards. So, that pretty much cancels out that lovely fabric I had previously admired, which would cost about your first born child x 7. I've been browsing some of the Ikea fabrics, which are dirt cheap, for something similar to that other fabrics (the one woven with diamonds, apparently). Some possibilities:

The top one (grey)?
Is this one too much?

This one would be funny:
Or, something simple. Like, a velvety fabric (right now its velvety), like the Crate & Barrel "Clara Chair" that I love:

 Decisions. None of the patterned ones would go with the curtains.


Last night I began #31 - Three Came to Ville Marie (1941) by Alan Sullivan. Weirdly, the font in this book is VERY LARGE, and I think if anyone on the subway were to look over my shoulder at what I was reading, they would think I'm reading a large print book. Or a children's book.

I was worried that I would never get this book, because for months the only copy available seemed to be a used one on Amazon Marketplace for over $300! However, my enterprising mother (or Santa) found some print on demand version in England for a more reasonable price.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I have in my hands a small box of chocolate bunnies.

Not really! But I do have a plane ticket for our upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest! So many exclamation marks! We leave April 1!

H. and I are going to Vancouver and Seattle in April. This is our big trip this year. No, its not Venice, but its still going to be fab. H. will be attending a conference in Vancouver, and I'll be wandering around. I haven't been to Vancouver in 15 years!

We'll be in Vancouver for just 3 days before getting on the Amtrak down to Seattle to visit our various loved ones who have moved out there over the years. It will be nice to see them. But you know what my NUMBER 1 SEATTLE PRIORITY is?

Hell, yes.

I'm insisting that we visit Snoqualmie Falls, and other locations that were feature in/as Twin Peaks. Yes, yes, yes. The greatest television show ever created.

Some of this.

Maybe not so much of this.

This will be me and H. enjoying some coffee.

Extremely looking forward to this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lucky in Love

I've never really cared about Valentine's Day. It's too close to my birthday for me to reasonably demand more presents, attention and adoration. But I did decide that I wanted to make something special for my husband (the one who - last V. Day - made me watch Schindler's List and then shaved himself a mustache and paraded it around Sunset Park).

I made this Penne, Spinach, Shrimp, Tomato and Basil recipe, picked up some nice ciabatta bread and bought his favorite chocolate sorbet. The recipe was really easy, fast and yummy (we added red pepper flakes and chili for a little bite). Am I wife of the year? Yes, probably. Too bad he's coming down with a cold and is lying under a blanket and won't eat his sorbet.

I was out last night, and busy cooking this feast this evening, so I'm not sure when I'm going to make our lunches for the week. For tomorrow, H. is staying home and he can finish off the rest of his Valentine's Day pasta. I might make something easy like egg salad.

Hey - right now the movie Rachel, Rachel (directed by Paul Newman!) is on TCM. This movie is based on Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God. How timely! I'll watch it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gosh, Sorry!

You may have noticed that I didn't write yesterday, which means I've failed my attempt to post every day in February. In my own defense, I was busy. It was my birthday and I was quite busy. Let me tell you what I was up to.

1. Opening Presents.

First thing I opened my presents from H. and my parents. All were awesome, and I was very happy. Let me show you some highlights!

H. gave me two books. First Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Life and Work by James Macaulay.

Once upon a time I spent a year in Glasgow as an exchange student, and like anyone with any sense, fell in love with Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His beautiful buildings and style are all highlights of the city, and this book is a really lovely tribute to his style. Gorgeous.

H. also gave me a wonderful and unusual book he discovered himself: Nox by Anne Carson. Hard to describe, so I'll just let Publisher's Weekly do that:
Starred Review. In order to discuss Carson's latest work—a foldout, Jacob's ladder collage of letters, photographs, and poetry, all housed in a beautiful box—one must first address its resistance to being addressed. Rather, what Carson does (and with furious precision) is impress upon us her grief over a life she cannot recapture—for Carson, this life is her brother's, for whom this collection is both an elegy and a history. What results is a work of astonishing candor, in which Carson manages to define the elegy anew by exploring the lacunae of her brother's life. It is when you are asking about something, she writes, that you realize you have survived it, and so you must carry it, or fashion it into a thing that carries itself. Carson accomplishes just that, creating a physical record of a life in the form of a book that allows its fragments to carry her brother's absence. To call this art object extraordinary—more than a book, it's a reproduction of a scroll Carson made by hand—would be to understate. What Carson has given us is an act of devotion of such integrity that it carries its grief on its back.

From my parents, who allegedly believe I am some kind of Imelda Marcos shoe-hoarder, some cool gold shoes.

What happened next??

2. H. and I Cook Up a Storm!

In preparation for our party, H. and I made some tasty treats for our friends, and they all were a huge success.

H. made some seekh kebabs and chicken tikka bites. Both were fantastic and received rave reviews.

I made the zucchini fritters that I had made for our lunches a few weeks ago, and also a really delicious cauliflower dip that I had never made or eaten before. It was EXCELLENT. Next time you have a party, you should try it! Everyone loved it, even H. who doesn't like cheese, and even me who is suspicious of cauliflower. here is the recipe, from Whole Foods:

It even gets its own link-line.

I'm sorry I didn't take photos of what I made, I was slightly distracted by festivities.

I also went out in the morning to pick up my Brooklyn Blackout cake from Ladybird Bakery in Park Slope. As I mentioned before, this was the cake we had at our wedding, and it was as good yesterday as it was back on that day. Unbelievable. I'm not exaggerating when I say that everyone who ate that cake was astounded by its perfection. It is the king of cakes. It is quite, probably, the best cake I've ever eaten in my entire life. Here's a description, "A three level dark chocolate cake, layered with chocolate pudding, frosted with fudge and finished with chocolate cake crumbs." Are you dying of jealousy? Here's a photo (we added the berries):

3. The Party

Of course, I had nothing to dread about having a party. My friends came, they ate, they had fun. They brought presents! I love presents, and I love all the gifts that they very kindly brought. I'm just going to highlight two of the lovely things that I'm particularly heart-warmed by, because they were both made by my very talented friends.

I love, and was moved, even, to be given art by my talented photographer friend, Mike.

I'll be hanging that in a place of distinction before the end of today.

And then, in a different crafty vein, I was given a bottle of my friend JMB's home brew, which I look forward to enjoying sometime soon while slumped on my couch (my natural position).

Well, maybe now you understand why I didn't find time to write yesterday. As I sign off, let me share a photo of our two cutest party guests.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Today I began #31 - The Roaring Girl (1995) by Greg Hollingshead.

You remember those big piles of books I brought back from Toronto back in October, and then more after Christmas? I've probably only got 5 left unread, which means I'll have to start trying to find cheap copies for others on my list soon. The Roaring Girl is a book of short stories, as are a few others that I have on my shelf right now (that I haven't read yet). I've said it before, but I've never been a big fan of short story collections. I always feel like they're too short to get fully engrossed in the act of reading the book. So, I've purposefully been putting these ones off.

Anyway. I'm really looking forward to my party on Saturday - as well as totally dreading it. I always think that having a party is going to be a good idea, and then I start to convince myself that nobody is going to come. Neurotic, I know.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

With Baited Breath!

This morning I turned on my computer and immediately checked the status of my lamps. Still stuck in Secaucus? No! In Brooklyn! Out for delivery! Finally!

Our UPS delivery sometimes comes after 6pm, when we're home - but sometimes it comes before 6pm, and we get a sad notice from UPS that they'll try again. I couldn't bear the thought of waiting any longer, so all day I tracked my packages, refreshing the tracking screen every five minutes to make sure they were still on their way. So tense! As the day moved along, and my packages were still on the truck, I grew ever more nervous that UPS might attempt a delivery before we got home from work. Refresh, refresh, refresh! 4:30 - delivery made! What? They left my boxes at the door. Scary! This is not the kind of neighborhood where you leave a package (or two) at the front door! Lordy lord. I left work at 5:01, anxious to rescue my lamps from a pack of lamp thieves. This is what I believe the teenagers do these days - steal lamps. Tension!

I got home in record time, but H. beat me here, and he found a note on the front door that said "basement". Nice, UPS. They had cleverly hidden my lamps at the door to the basement, and H. found them there safe and sound. My lamps are here!

We unpacked our lamps and carefully placed them in their new homes, only to realize that we had no light bulbs. Deary, deary me. I hopped across the street, and being a good girl, bought some energy-saving light bulbs. Have you seen these things? They're awful! They produce a hospital-like glow. I'm sorry, Planet Earth, I cannot have these. For today though, I have them.

For your enjoyment: owl lamp in action:

Ugly glow!

Here's another with no ugly glow:

Oh, owl lamp - you do not disappoint (even if your light bulb does).

Above the owl lamp you can see part 2 of my Ikea shenanigans. I recently had a couple photos from our honeymoon blown up, and put them in Ikea frames. For all the prints and things we have up, we don't have any photos of our adventures. We're happy with the how they turned out.

In case you want a better view of the photos, they are these:

If I had more wall space I'd blow up some photos from Turkey, too. One day! When we have our house...

Back to lamps. Here is lamp number two:

Happiness is having your lamps arrive. Finally. I'll be even more happy when I buy normal light bulbs.
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