Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good Choices

I've been reading a book this week that I want to send to everyone in this country. I especially recommend it to all of you bread-baking, tomato sauce-canning, home brewers. It is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I tried to read The Poisonwood Bible once but I just couldn't get into it. This is way better. She and her family moved to Appalachia and lived for one year (and beyond) on local food, mostly what they grew themselves. The one caveat I have is DO NOT read this on an empty stomach or with an empty larder. It may also induce a desire to run out and buy canning equipment and get thoughts about where one could build a bread oven.
It is also part of an interesting synergy I've experienced in the past two weeks.
It began with the sauerkraut. Shortly after I started my batch I decided that it would be great to join a CSA (community supported agriculture). There is one in my neighborhood but the shares are large, much too large for one person. Also, the pick-up is on a weekday between 4 and 7. I could not be certain of getting there on time every week. But the internet was there for me and I found a CSA directory. Turns out there are more than a dozen CSA's in New York City. There is one right by my work. It has smaller shares and is also organic. I found out about it just in time to take advantage of the early bird price. Now I began to think that what I needed was some other fermentation recipes. This led me to a book called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. He lives on a commune in Tennessee. The book has not only pickling but recipes for miso, tempeh, cheese, wine, cider, beer, and lots of other things. All the wonderful stuff made by happy microbes. This in turn led me to another book, this one on home cheese making by Ricki Carroll. Some cheeses require extra equipment like a press but soft cheeses like mozzarella and mascarpone just need some extra ingredients. While I was happily imagining home made mozzarella and mead I got an email from the CSA. It was a notice of a workshop on fermentation given by - of course- Sandor Katz. And the very next day I reached a chapter in the Kingsolver book on her cheese making which she learned from Ricki Carroll's book. I have taken all of this to be a sign that I am headed in the right direction, at least food-wise. It would be nice to have a garden too but I must proceed one step at time.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's a Crock

It has come to my attention that it's been 21 days since I last posted. I did not mean this to happen, really. It's not that I didn't know that December is almost half over, I think I just thought I had posted since November 23rd. You would think that at the very least I would have wanted to tell you about my lovely Thanksgivings (I had two, one on the day and one on Saturday). I made pumpkin cheesecake for the first one and some pear bruschetta for the second. But that ship has clearly sailed. Time to move on.

What have I been doing that has been so distracting? Well, I must say I haven't really been doing very much. Mostly I've been looking forward to my upcoming vacation. I'm taking Christmas week off. That hasn't happened since I was in college. The whole week of Christmas. It makes me feel beatific just thinking of it. I can bake in a leisurely manner rather than cramming it all into one weekend. I can go to the Cloisters and see the Christmas display they have there. I can decorate my apartment and finish the holiday knitting. Have I mentioned that I cannot wait until next Friday? I can't. And yet there are several loose ends I must tie up at work before then. But I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow.

I've also been making sauerkraut. Really. From purple cabbage. I won't bore you with the process that led me to buy a Harsch Crock. (If you have interest in pickling your own veggies I suggest googling it.) It wasn't strictly necessary, you can make sauerkraut in a plastic bucket, but it appealed to me both aesthetically and practically.

Here is the crock. It's kind of big and kind of heavy but it is admirably suited to its job.

And here is the kraut.

Kind of mild this time. I think I will add some spices next batch. Or just leave it fermenting for longer. I'm also going to do a whole head, ungrated. There is a Yugoslav dish called Sarma. It involves wrapping some beef and or lamb with onions and some other things in sour cabbage leaves and then braising. I haven't had it in forever since you cannot find whole sour cabbage leaves. My grandmother always made her own. Now I can too. Then I might do some pickled beets.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Embracing the Season

Lisa has posted about her Thanksgiving dinner plans. I got hungry just reading it. Thank goodness there is garlic roasting the oven for my afternoon snack. Her post reminded me that the holidays are well and truly here and I am just beginning to feel it.

I used to work in retail. When you work in retail the holidays can never sneak up on you. They're larger than life,taking over everything from the buying to the merchandising to the music in the store cd player. Even so, Christmas was always my favorite time. Usually when I say this people peer at me, wondering if the experience didn't leave me several cards short of a full deck. Perhaps I am delusional, suffering from PTSD. And it is true, it is exhausting and at times maddening. But I know a few others who work in retail who will back me up, Christmas has advantages. For one thing, people are in a hurry. They've got a dozen gifts to buy, including that secret Santa gift for the new girl in the office, and they do not have time to dilly dally. They want to get a gift and get out. This means they will not torture the sales staff with endless questions about the product. They may not even really know what they're buying. There are those of us (you know who you are) who hunt far and wide for the perfect gift. We are in the minority. As countless yard sales and thrift stores can tell, most people just want to buy something. If it's big or jeweled or requires lots of batteries, all the better. All of this is a plus to the overworked sales person. They are only required to ring it up and bag it and maybe to wrap it but at least they don't have to really sell it.

The other advantage to the holidays is how quickly the days go. There is no time for boredom. You arrive in the morning and before you know it the day has passed, hustled along in a storm of tissue and bags and little gift cards. It is a little worrisome to find a solid week of your life gone without you really noticing but it is only once a year. For two solid months the sales person's constant enemy, ennui, is held at bay. Of course it will be back with a vengeance in January, the doldrums of retail. But for now, days pass quickly and there is no need to find odd little projects to fill the time between shoppers, no need to clean the tops of shelves and endlessly fold and refold the sweaters. For now there is some excitement, a feeling of optimism in the air as retail gallops into the black.

I know, predictions are dire. John Q Public is not going to be spending this year. Gifts will be curtailed, dinners shortened, vacation plans put off. And it will probably be like that, mostly. Retail will be down this year, stores will make deeper cuts in prices, kids will not get everything on their list in spite of managing to clean their rooms at least once this year. But it is still a season of optimism. You just can't help yourself when faced with gold ribbons and colored lights and carolers in the street. Not to mention bowls of wassail punch. And this year we have the Inauguration to look forward to. It is right that we should feel this way, right that the Yule should bring hope as the days begin to lengthen. It's what we need now, not doomsday predictions but acknowledgment that we are still here, that we have breath and life and dear friends and family. So try not to worry too much, let the best of the season fill you with hope and joy. (And wassail punch.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Slow

We're suffering from shock here in New York. We went from 60 degrees to 30 degrees pretty much overnight. And yet, people are still crawling along the sidewalks, stopping in bottlenecks, and generally getting in the way of those of us who want to get somewhere without our feet freezing to the sidewalk. I've been lobbying for a pedestrian passing lane for a while now. Everyone who wants to stroll, stop for no reason at all, and - most especially - talk on their cell phone can stay on the right. The rest of us will be quite happy to leave them in their daze as we go by at a civilized pace. I've never had a lot of patience. (No, it's true, I can accept it.) But I usually manage to present a patient front. Except when walking somewhere. I simply cannot abide people who wander about, seemingly unaware of their surroundings, most notably me, as I try to get past them while they weave about on the sidewalk. There is a special circle in Hell for such people, right below those who stand on the down escalator and above those who after reaching the cash register run back to grab some item (or 3) that they forgot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Did It

Okay, who else wants to run down the street yelling WOO HOO!?
Some people in my neighborhood did just that last night.
After the 2000 election I stopped watching the results come in. I watch something frivolous instead. This time I was about to turn off the TV and go to bed when I decided just to take a peek. It was 11:04pm and they were announcing that Barack Obama had won. But even if I had not changed the channel I would have known, for a moment later fireworks went off on the street and people were shouting and laughing. Here in Manhattan 85% of us voted for Obama so I fully expect to see lots of people smiling all day, patting each other on the back and feeling a sense of optimism for the first time in a long time. I know the road ahead is rough but for the moment I choose to embrace this heady feeling of joy and hope.

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness, may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, may all beings never be parted from freedom's true joy, may all beings live in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.-Buddhist prayer

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Perfect Fall

The last two days have been simply gorgeous, the kind of days that make you so glad just to be alive. Cool crisp air, clear skies, and golden sunlight. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fiber and Foliage

This weekend I went up to Dutchess County to visit my folks and to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. The festival has been held every year since 1972. It began as a place for sheep farmers to buy and sell stock and fleeces. I don't know what the fair was like before the recent surge in knitters but now it is a mob scene. Last year the fair had 12,000 visitors on Saturday alone. I love to go and see all the yarns and the animals and all the wonderful crafts but I can only stay for so long before the crowds begin to drive me a little crazy. It's like Macy's on Christmas Eve.
Here's just a few people, some clutching their new fiber.


And Alpaca!
Alpaca have a reputation for not liking people but these guys were quite friendly

On Sunday we visited Clermont, an estate on the Hudson River. It was built by Robert R. Livingston, a man with an impressive resume including being one of the fiver writers of The Declaration of Independence and Chancellor of the State of New York. He was also the partner of Robert Fulton and helped him build the first steamboat. At first they called it The Steamboat (since it was the only one). Later they changed the name to Clermont.
The estate is beautiful and the house is very pretty and much smaller than many other Hudson estates.

This is actually the back of the house though it may have been the most used entrance since it faces the river.

One of the lions seems very sad. I have no idea why since this is the view he gets to look at every day.

Not too shabby. I think I could manage if I lived there. I'll have to go back in the spring when all the lilacs are in bloom.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Owls in the Forest

I know, a post two days in a row. Don't get used to it.
I thought you'd like to see the finished owl pillow. I made some attempts to carry the owls to the other side but nothing really worked so I left the trees as they were. Here is the finished pillow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


As some of you know, my cousin became pregnant this year. It's a little bizarre since I remember when she was born and now she's having her own baby. Anyway, she gave birth on September 16 to a little girl. I haven't seen her yet but I suspect she's pretty cute. Her mom has always been cute and the dad looks like someone out of a Rat Pack movie. She had this giant baby shower back in August. I may be biased but I think my gift was the best (though this photo does not do him justice).

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Ok people, it's opinion time. I know you will not fail me.
Here's the deal. I am making a pillow cover with some plain linen. I've embroidered some trees on it. I was intending to fill in the lines with more embroidery but now I'm not sure. I'm thinking I might like to just leave the outline. The other side of the pillow has a different fabric, very minimalist and linear. Look for yourself and tell me what you think. (pardon the sad lighting)

Trees in outline.


Other fabric.

Detail. Isn't he cute?

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Fall

It's been a while hasn't it? In fact, it's been so long that I had no idea the Blogger Dashboard had changed. It's not that I didn't compose any blog posts. I did, in the park or on the train on the way to work. But when I got back to my computer it just didn't seem necessary to actually type them in and click Publish Post. But what of you, gentle readers? Had I forgotten you, abandoned you to pointless speculation about the state of my life? Not at all, your entertainment is as religion to me. After all, if even I could not see the point of writing the post why would you find it diverting? Perhaps I was unduly critical of those posts, light frothy pieces about my trip to the aquarium and my ramblings through Prospect Park. But no matter, we are moving on, into the fall.
Of course, we do have pictures.

The Boat House at Prospect Park

Weird Octopus Sculpture at Prospect Park Zoo

The Dog Beach

The Lawn Zamboni

Monday, June 23, 2008


At the Farmers' Market, man on a cell phone:

Yeah, they've got vegetables and shit...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nothing At All

Can you believe it's almost the summer solstice? We're almost halfway through the year. It doesn't seem possible. I don't know why I should find that hard to believe. You'd think I'd be used to time passing by now. We all know that time is subjective. Some days take forever and others pass in the blink of an eye. I wonder if people in centuries past got together and complained about how fast the year was passing. Or is time passing faster for us now that each day is scheduled and programmed and timed to the last minute? I feel odd, even slightly guilty, if I just sit around doing nothing on the weekends. As if I am required to use my time well, as if it were just plain wrong to allow an idle day to pass. I suspect that that is an old guilt. Certainly my grandmother always had some work to do, at the very least she would read a book or a magazine. She never just sat for a whole day doing nothing. It's too bad. I think we could all benefit from doing nothing every now and then. Just sitting for a few hours doing nothing but thinking or day dreaming or seeing figures in the clouds as they pass overhead.

Now I know that all of you have busy schedules. Work and kids and school and chores and and and and and and and.... But won't you join me in a couple hours of doing nothing? Even just one hour. No books, no tv, no internet, no music, no other people, just you and your own thoughts. Pick a day, any day, any time and have a comfortable seat. In your garden if you have one, or in the park, or in your living room and just let the time go by. Savor it, like a fine glass of wine. I think you'll like it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The End of an Institution

There is a marvelous restaurant here in New York called Florent. It's a kind of funky French bistro living in an old diner. For years its been a home to all sorts of different people. But now it's closing. The rent is set to jump sky high and Florent has decided he must close.
Two friends of mine went for dinner there the other day, sad that it would probably be the last time. As they sat at the bar one said to the other "I bet there isn't a single person in here who voted for George Bush." A man sitting next to them at the bar raised his hand. He had voted for Bush and intended to vote for McCain though he thought McCain too old. He also said that he and his wife loved France, went every year until this year because the Euro was too expensive. My friends forebore from saying "and who's fault is that?". One of my friends expressed surprise that a Republican would come to a restaurant frequented by many people on the edges of mainstream society. The man said he didn't care what others might do privately. My friends attributed this largesse to the frequent visits to France. They ended up having a nice little talk in spite of their differences.. This is the power of truly good food.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garden Gone

There used to be this cute little garden on a street a few blocks from me. It was tended by the tenants of the adjacent apartment building. Do you remember Lisa, it was on the corner of Seaman and Payson? Well, they tore it out and built a new building. It's not even a pretty building. It's just a big brick box. See?

No character. I bet the neighboring buildings are really pissed. Here they are, classy pre-war charmers and now they've got this dull new kid on the block mucking up the scenery. And it seems that people seem to agree. It's been complete for at least 2 months now and there don't seem to be any tenants. I remember many years ago a similar thing happened where I lived in Queens. Someone built 2 houses on this little strip of land that people took their dogs to. We called it Dog Island. The two houses were so close they were almost touching with no yards to speak of and they had no interesting features at all. Eventually people moved in but always wondered what it was like living there. Would it ever feel private, would it ever feel like home? This new building on Seaman is just the same, stuck on like an after thought. I'll never understand the need to fill every last little nook and cranny. There must be better ways to make money.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sewing Class

I don't know about you, but I have been finding it harder and harder to shop for clothes. It seems like all the stores have the same trendy stuff and it's either sweatshop cheap or really overpriced. I have found a few independent stores (mostly in the East Village and on the Lower East Side) that have some cool stuff but those places tend to be out of my price range. Being a crafty type the solution seems obvious. I must learn to sew my own clothes. I'm not going to get crazy mind, I won't be sewing my own jeans or t-shirts, but skirts and dresses and little summer tops. These are the hardest to find. So I have made a start with a wrap-around skirt.

Of course the cats want to help.

It's difficult to sew without opposable thumbs

Mostly they provide moral support and occasional comic relief.

It took me most of the day since I made several mistakes and had to go back. But now that I've done it once the next one will go quicker.

I think it came out pretty well. Not too bad for my first piece of clothing.

I'm thinking I should make one in corduroy too.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Book Shelf

Hello again. I apologize for my recent absence. I simply have not wanted to turn on the computer unless it was absolutely necessary. I realize that for some, blogging is absolutely necessary, but not for me. At least not in the last three weeks.

Anyway, there hasn't been too much excitement around here but I did get a new bookshelf. I decided to splurge a little and then it turned out it was on sale! Kismet. Obviously I was meant to have this bookcase. Isn't it beautiful?
It's mahogany. I love the drawers, they can be opened from either side. I got it at From the Source. (I also got the duck there last summer.) They have all sorts of cool furniture and these fabulous coat trees - really, trees. I rearranged the apartment to accommodate my new arrival and it feels pretty good. More like a real home somehow. Before, the furniture was pressed up against the walls. It gave me lots of floor space but I think it felt a little dorm-like. Now, even though there is less floor space, it feels better. The next task is to get a nice flat long piece of wood to create a work table. Maple would be nice.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tightening Up

Did you know that Barnes & Noble has a new return policy? I discovered it today when I attempted to return something with a gift receipt. The new policy is: 14 days and you must have a receipt, period. This includes gifts with gift receipts though apparently they may let those go for 30 days at the managers' discretion. I do understand only 14 days for money back and I understand no returns for items without a receipt but those with a gift receipt? What will they do at Christmas? Will they enforce it or will there be special rules for the season? I don't know about you, but that eliminates the only reason I have for shopping at the mega store. I liked buying gifts there because returns were so easy for the giftee. Now I would much rather go to an independent bookstore or buy from wishlists on Amazon. It seems that many stores have tightened their policies, presumably to curb costs, but it may backfire. Though I suppose that nothing will really stop the consumption machine in this country. I do hope that this results in more people going to the little stores instead.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vanilla and many many more...

I went to the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden this past weekend. It was fabulous. If you live in New York you should go, quick, before it's over this weekend. And if you can go in the middle of the week when there's fewer people, all the better. I love plants and flowers in general and orchids are particularly amazing. There are about 24,000 species of orchid on the World Orchid Checklist (including the Vanilla Orchid) and about 800 names are added every year. Many of these are hybrids created by growers. If I was rich I would absolutely have an orchid greenhouse.I got this picture from the NYBG website since I didn't take any pictures at the show. I just wanted to look. But many people were taking pictures, with big cameras, with small digitals, with their phones. I think some people saw the whole show through the lens of their camera. I think that's a shame. I think they lost something in their zeal to capture the image. Better to really see them and smell them and then buy some post cards at the gift shop. You can also buy an orchid. Some species (like the moth orchid that you see for sale everywhere) are not too hard to care for. The folks in the shop can help you pick out the right one for you. I don't get enough light in my apartment which is probably a good thing as I would have walked out with several.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Pretty Stuff

While I was browsing around the web recently I discovered a little company that makes underwear, artisanal underwear if you will. It's called The Candi Factory and is located in Canada. They cost more than I usually pay for underwear but I think it's worth it.
They've got great designs for both women and men. They are also very comfy. Go buy a pair or two. You know the cute underwear makes you feel good.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Little Bit of Bribery

I know, it's been almost two weeks since I posted. Frankly, I haven't really had anything to say. Really. Yes, it's hard to believe. You may even want to note it down somewhere and wave it at me when I'm in full stream later.

Today I ran across an article in the Times that may be of interest to the Worst Mamas Ever. It seems the New York school system is not above bribery to get those crucial No Child Left Behind scores. Some schools have been paying out money to kids who do well on tests. Apparently this relieves the stigma of doing well in class and lifts high scores into the realm of cool. Though it is still not as cool to get an A as it is to be the star basketball player. (Someone should probably point out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are a lot richer than Michael Jordan.) The teachers get a bonus too since why should only the kids get their palms greased for good performance. It's not surprising that someone should have thought of it. After all, school funding is based on test scores, an arrangement that is not really any different. I did find myself wondering if this has caused the invention of even better methods of cheating. And it begs all the same questions as funding based on performance. What happens if the incentives are taken away? Do the scores go back to their abysmal level? It also doesn't seem to be an encouragement for kids to go to college. Though admittedly, pointing out that doing well in school can lead to a better paying job doesn't appear to work either. I suspect it will be years before we know how it all works out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I've been feeling a bit lazy this week so in lieu of riveting prose I give you.... kitties.

Matched Set

Happiness is a Paper Bag

On a completely different note, while I was listening to the radio this morning the announcer began extolling the virtues of a concert performance and he used the phrase "leather-skinned timpani". But for a moment I thought he said leather-skinned Tiffany. Very different.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I had intended to excuse my recent lack of blogging by telling you about the nasty and seemingly endless cold I've had. I was going to go on a bit about my insatiable need for sleep and the constant pressure in my head. Then I read Lisa's blog. Enough said.

So instead I'm going to write about St. Valentine. There doesn't seem to be one clear story about him. He might be one of 3 different people by that name. Most stories end with him being beheaded on February 14 for defying authority in one way or another. In one case he supposedly defied an Imperial edict that forbade marriage for young men (they needed them for the army)by continuing to perform said marriages. That may be how he ended up the patron saint of engaged couples. So how did we go from a beheading to roses, padded boxes filled with chocolate, and bankruptcy inducing jewelry? There's different theories about that too. One claims it was that favorite Christian pastime, convert the masses by converting the holiday. In mid-February Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a festival designed to remove evil spirits and promote health and fertility. You can imagine what they got up to in those sacred groves. So the Christians stuck a saint on the day and made it about engagement and marriage. As for who started all the cards and flowers, I blame the Victorians. After all, they were the ones that started the rituals that turned Christmas from a religious holiday into something more closely resembling a feeding frenzy. By the time Hallmark arrived on the scene there was no going back. I've never been fond of Valentine's Day. It seems designed to make people feel either left out or inadequate about their gift giving skills. I admit, I like getting flowers but I'd prefer them for no reason at all. Chocolate is a constant in my life and I really have no need for pricey jewelry. My sister once gave me a great Valentine's Day card that had a little basket-full of removable hearts. That's the good stuff. I might buy myself a present today, to show my care of myself. In fact, I vote we do our own converting and make Valentine's about honoring our own selves. The man died for his own principles. And as the Bard said, "Self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting."

Monday, February 04, 2008

'Tis the Season

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, the day 24 states vote in the Primaries. Appropriately, is also Mardi Gras, aka Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Tuesday. This day was meant as the last hurrah before the season of Lent. It was also the day when you were supposed to go to confession and be shriven (i.e. receive absolution). All of this seems very much in line with the campaign trail. Get in your last licks against your opponents and beg the constituency for their blessing.

I am technically from a Christian family but we never practiced any faith. Occasionally we'd go to church on Xmas eve for the candlelight service (I liked the singing of carols) but that was about it. And yet, I've always liked the idea of Lent. Not in a self-mortifying, give-something-up-to-do-penance kind of way but in a self-examining kind of way. So this year I'm giving up pessimism for Lent. That's right, I'm going to eschew negative thinking for 40 days. Any dark, pessimistic thoughts will be summarily dismissed. I suspect this will be harder even than giving up chocolate.

'Tis the Season

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, the day we here in the Northeast vote in the Primaries. Appropriately, is also Mardi Gras, aka Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Tuesday. This day was meant as the last hurrah before the season of Lent. It was also the day when you were supposed to go to confession and be shriven (i.e. receive absolution). All of this seems very much in line with the campaign trail. Get in your last licks against your opponents and beg the constituency for their blessing.

I am technically from a Christian family but we never practiced any faith. Occasionally we'd go to church on Xmas eve for the candlelight service (I liked the singing of carols) but that was about it. And yet, I've always liked the idea of Lent. Not in a self-mortifying, give-something-up-to-do-penance kind of way but in a self-examining kind of way. So this year I'm giving up pessimism for Lent. That's right, I'm going to eschew negative thinking for 40 days. Any dark, pessimistic thoughts will be summarily dismissed. I suspect this will be harder even than giving up chocolate.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Forgot...

I didn't tell you about the dress form. For several years I had a dress form in my entryway. It always startled first time visitors. But then the form's owner came back from California and I had to give it back. I thought about replacing her (I'd begun to think of it as her) but professional dress forms are expensive. I couldn't really justify it since I am not a professional dressmaker and she would be purely for display. I briefly considered getting a suit of armor for the spot but those are even more expensive and harder to come by.

Then recently I began to do a little sewing. Nothing fancy, but it did revive my interest in a form. I searched the web for quite some time and I found Rox Studio. They're here, in New York, in Jamaica Queens, and they sell forms for much less than most places. They also have display forms and those are really reasonable. So that's what I got. Technically, it's a coat form. The measurements are a little off - her shoulders are too narrow and she has no butt at all- but as Karen commented, she's toile! And she was only $70 with her stand. (I'm thinking of buying a second form that has better measurements. It uses the same stand so I can swap them if I am actually sewing.) For display she's just perfect, ready to startle anyone who comes through the door. I might have to make her a red dress.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Stuff

It's been ten days since I last posted. I didn't mean to abandon you for so long but my work has been a little crazy the last couple of weeks. I certainly wasn't going to blog about work but there was nothing else in my head. But it's almost over. I hope.

Anyway. I did do something fun on Saturday. I went to see a movie at MoMA and then I went to Macy's and bought two coats. Yes two. They were on sale.

(Forgive the quality of the pictures, I was a little distracted.)

The first is for the winter. It's down filled and warm with a nice hood and plenty of pockets. You'd like it Lisa. It's brown. I normally don't go for stuffed coats but this one is quite nice.

The second is for spring and then fall. It's wool but the fit is very slim and I can't wear a sweater under it. But it's a really cool green color with a fun lining. It called to me from across the floor. So I bought it. Did I mention it was on sale? Via Spiga on sale. What more can one ask for?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Bit of the Past

When I was little I would go to Yugoslavia every summer to visit my grandmother. One of my favorite things about these visits were the linen sheets I got to sleep on. Have you ever slept on linen sheets? No? I advise you to go out and get some for yourself. There's nothing better for summer nights. Cool and crisp, light as air, they feel wonderful on a warm night. My grandmother's sheets were part of her trousseau, her initials embroidered on the corners. I've always lamented the loss of those sheets, her aprons, and handkerchiefs (not to mention her cookbook). I was here in the States when she passed away and others were in charge of wrapping up her life. I never returned to Belgrade after that so they were lost. I regret that and can only do my best to care for my own things as well as she did for hers.

This weekend I stopped in at a little junk shop here in the neighborhood. There's always something interesting to look at. China, vintage clothes, old photographs, books, and costume jewelry. This time there was a drawer full of white linen sheets. The real thing, they even have initials embroidered on them (E.S.). I immediately bought a set. They're not easy to have, they need to be ironed to be presentable but it is so worth it. I washed them this morning and ironed them with some lavender water. I can't wait for summer.

Nick likes the linen sheets too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's only Thursday. It had already been a long week on Tuesday. There's something going around, some kind of nasty malaise. The symptoms (in varying combinations) are extreme fatigue, sore throat, headache, dizziness and the conviction that standing up and walking around would be really ill-advised. Several people at my job have it (as apparently does Lars) and it sent those of us still standing on a quest to find substitutes. A Herculean task. It's also put me way behind on my normal work and left me cranky and out of sorts. And yet there are things for which to be grateful. Most importantly, I haven't gotten whatever it is. I refuse. It is simply right out. And we did succeed in finding all the subs we needed so no classes had to be canceled and the understudies did an excellent job.

In order to counter the miasma I bought myself a book. It's called "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" by Simon Hopkinson. This is not a book for the abstemious. And it should not be read on an empty stomach. It is part recipe book and part essay. The description of a meal at a Welsh restaurant called The Walnut Tree is enough to bring a tear to the eye and cause immediate salivation. I fully intend to use it this weekend. I will report back.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


As has been noted elsewhere, it's the time of year for resolutions. Normally I don't make any, but this year I have. I don't know about you, but I've always had trouble expressing my wants, even to myself. I'm not talking about the little stuff. I can easily say "I want a second slice of cake" or "I want a new pair of shoes". I'm talking about the bigger stuff. Those wants that come up in the middle of a sleepless night. The ones that are not logical, that seem strange, or force us to look at things we'd rather leave lying deep in the bottom of the closet. I grew up in a slightly WASP-y, Protestant Work Ethic kind of household but I think that my reluctance to name these wants was born in me. The environment didn't help of course. Not that I was discouraged from dreaming or wanting but I wasn't encouraged either. Mostly I was left to my own devices. I can understand that. I'm a solitary, self-contained sort of person. I'm sure I didn't invite interference of any kind. I still don't. But now I know it. My resolution is to start naming my wants. And I'm going to start right here, right now.

I want to have a real connection to another person.
I want to not worry so much.
I want to be more open with my friends.
I want to laugh more.
I want to live with a feeling of abundance rather than scarcity.
I want to be healthy and strong.
I want to trust myself.
I want to be excited by the coming day when I wake in the morning.
I want to see possibilities rather than obstacles.
I want to love and be loved and really feel it, like a fire.
I want to know that some bit of the world is a better place for my having been here.
I want to have work that I love to do.
I want to not be concerned with what other people think of me.
I want to be unafraid of confrontation.
I want to be willing to relinquish control.
I want to cry less often.
I want to feel joy.
I want to have faith.

Religion was not part of my growing up. We went to the occasional Christmas service but there was no ritual in my life past the daily chores. I was never taught to pray and I think that maybe I missed out. Prayer is asking for something. It doesn't have to be to a God, you may be asking it of the universe or of yourself. But you are asking, giving voice to desire. And saying something aloud does make it more real. Everything said and done under the living sky is remembered.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Memory Lane in Living Color

This year we all got a very special gift. My aunt scanned the family photos and put them on a DVD. Hold on, don't panic. I'm not going to share them all with you. But there are just a few that I thought you might find amusing.Here's me at age 8 with our dog Xanadu. No, she was not named after the movie but after the land in the Coleridge poem Kubla Khan. She's about 2 years old here and she already has a litter of puppies behind her.
And here I am at 10 with a friend. Shades of attitude to come.

Now, some of you out there have heard the story of The Suit. We made a suit for my cousin M for Christmas. He was very particular about his clothes and we never felt that we could get it right so we went all the way in the other direction. We made a suit out of the horrible 1970's curtains that we had. These things were serious, made out of fabric you could use for a bomb shelter . We turned them into a 3 piece suit complete with puke green lining on the vest, big orange buttons and tie. He was certainly surprised. (Yes, I did erase his face. He'd would not like it all over the internet in this outfit.)

Fabulous isn't it? Later my brother in law took to wearing it when he lectured on the 60's.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Finishing Off The Holiday

It's been quite some time since I posted. I got a little distracted. If I've spoken to you since Christmas I've probably gone on at some length about the horror that was the holiday baking. I will not go into it any further. Suffice it to say that I'm taking a little baking break.
But I did want to post the last of the pictures. They came out pretty well.

You may remember I mentioned making Meringue Mushrooms. I'm not a meringue fan but they are pretty darn cute.

Here they are, piped onto a sheet. Stems and tops. Once they are baked the pointy bits on the stems get trimmed off so they can get glued to the tops with melted chocolate.

In order to make them look more mushroomy I dusted them with cocoa.

And here they are, all put together. They're like fairytale mushrooms. Can't you just see the gnomes and pixies hiding amongst them?

Last, but not least, we have this little guy. He was Lindsay's present. That girl has a thing for knits. He's very soft and yet completely washable.