Saturday, December 27, 2008

Frivolity and festivities.

Quickie recap before I go into a food coma:

Matt and I had our own private Christmas where I got to give him his t-shirt and sweater (not exciting) and his CDs (total triumph, as he loved them all and couldn't believe I found them for him). He got to give me my slippers and wallet and a couple of things I asked for.

We also opened the stuff from my family and I am pretty excited about some of it. I got a pair of Felco pruners that I have been wanting forever, and I can't wait for some decent weather to try them out! Got the calendar of kid pictures from my sister and a Work Mate from my dad (I was hoping for a sander but this looks pretty useful in the tool/garage category). I also got some books I am pleased about - Three Men in a Boat (not to mention the dog), The Judgement of Paris (about the rise of Impressionism), and a Dave Lieberman cookbook (I like that guy's style, I have another of his books and it is great). It was quite a haul, so it was good we did it separately from the presents with the in-laws or it would have been out of control. I tipped my parents off so they got him music DVDs and sheet music he has been wanting, so he did pretty darn well too.

Wednesday night was cioppino night at Matt's parents house and a late night church gig for the Christmas Eve service. Nice and festive with singing and lighting candles. I then went home and passed out.

Thursday, Xmas morning started around 10:30. I made a dutch baby and some bacon and put out fruit and pastries and whipped cream. We opened presents and spent most of the morning watching my little niece open each of her presents and want to play with it instead of opening more presents. The biggest hits were a little Golden book version of Finding Nemo (she calls him Meemo) and a ball with puppies on it. Possibly both from the Dollar store. So much for my fancy book, I thought it would be a hit because it's about a little dog. But Meemo is the man of the hour.

Everybody came back for Christmas dinner - traditional turkey with everything, and an apple pie for dessert. I passed out around 11. In-laws are nice and friends will always bring a dish, but I need to get these people trained to do dishes!

Friday was the epic couch quest. We went to five furniture stores in the morning, most of them were empty and every one was having a super sale. Matt and I disagreed extensively on how much we were willing to sacrifice comfort for looks, and vice versa. This was misery so we broke for lunch. We went to three more stores after lunch before finally reaching success at the La-Z-Boy store. We got a couch that is relatively clean-lined and attractive, but the sneaky part of it is, it has built-in recliners that you would never know are there. It is reasonably priced after the Christmas blow-out deal we got and we can sell the old one for a couple hundred bucks. When it shows up I will post a picture. It was slightly more than we wanted to spend but the quality was clearly much higher and we both love it, which is an accomplishment in itself. Friday night friends stopped by and we watched Casino Royale and had leftovers and did nothing on the couch, and that was plenty.

Today I snuck off to do a surgical strike on the sales at the fancy mall on the far side of town. I returned/exchanged a couple of things and then found a pair of pants and some pillow covers for the old throw pillows that are going to go on the new couch. All on super sale and really nice quality. Also checked out some of the ornaments and the star I was coveting on the Potterybarn website. They were kind of junky so I was glad I forbore from splurging on them before the holidays (I didn't even get them on sale). I can find a star next Christmas. There's no rush.

And tonight was hot pot at my sister-in-law's house. It's a little bit like fondue but you don't cook stuff in straight oil, it's an oily, very spicy broth. You do meat and noodles and mushrooms and potatoes and fish balls and then you dip them in a sesame paste sauce and it is AWESOME.

So now I have to go tip over into my food coma. And possibly never shop again. Or eat.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feeling Festive.

So this is my first tree. Not bad, I say (although it does seem a bit hard to see in the photo). Some of the ornaments were from my grandmother, others from my sister, others from the Cost Plus sale rack (a very good deal). Lights and garlands are from a holiday-obsessed friend with spares. You can't really tell, but the lights are all red. So I call it the Satan tree. It works for now but eventually I would like LED lights that are colored, they don't use much energy and I grew up with colored lights so this solid color thing is new to me. Also it looks like I will be waiting until the after Christmas sales to get a star. Because the star needs to be right. Can't stick just anything up there. So I can be patient. A little bit patient. At least I have a tree, and it's a very nice tree. Especially for my first tree of my very own.

Here is my unqualified success of a Christmas amaryllis. People ask me if it's fake, it is so unbelievably awesome. If you look closely the flowers look like they have glitter on them. That's right, my flowers sparkle. No joke. It is awesome.

The past couple of days have really put me in the Christmas spirit. Thursday my band went and played Christmas carols at old folks homes, we did sing-alongs and whatnot and they seemed very pleased to see us. Then Friday night we crashed a cookie exchange and ate a bunch of free Christmas cookies. Saturday we drove to California for a family Christmas party. These guys are professionals. Every square inch of the house is decorated and there are things that light up and sing and blink and do all sorts of stuff. So it is inspiring and also brings me down to earth a bit. I am not in Sandy's league. She is the decorating queen and there is no need for me to go to that extent (unless I want to, of course). And not for my first Christmas.

And tonight was band practice for our Christmas eve church gig, we get to do all the nice songs that people don't know the words to (no Rudolph this time). So I am feeling properly festive now!

AND, remember how I was saying I needed people to be festive with? My in-laws are less festive than I am so it has boiled down to them doing Christmas eve dinner with family and friends, me doing Christmas morning with only family and then me also doing Christmas dinner with family and friends. That means breakfast for six (I get to make my Dutch Baby after all!) and dinner for 10 (turkey and apple pie, nice and traditional and not too fancy). I'll probably post more about the meal later, with recipes and probably not pictures (I forget to take them when cooking projects are occurring).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review Time!

My sister took me to see Australia last night as a thank you for babysitting Saturday night. And mostly because she really wanted an excuse to see it. Now I have to say, I am a Baz Luhrmann fan, I loved Moulin Rouge and have finally realized I need to own Strictly Ballroom. It is very much a Luhrmann film, he has a very distinctive style and there are elements that I would probably not tolerate from any other director, but here they have an element of familiarity that makes them acceptable. It is basically two movies, an epic adventure of underdog ranchers racing to get a herd of cattle across a particularly nasty stretch of Australia, followed by a war movie with a bit of race relations included as miss Kidman is trying to adopt a 1/2 Aboriginal child who the local whites want sent to the mission to "breed the black out of 'em" (apparently standard operating procedure until the early 70's, he threw a little historical bit in there too). So basically, as I am a Luhrmann fan, I loved his love letter to OZ and tolerated his quirks (and NK's stiff face) because it was a gorgeous film of epic proportions and I didn't mind that it was nearly three hours long because it was DARN good in the end.

Also, I'm glad I saw it on a big screen, and now I want to go to Australia.

Review #2: Flashman, by George MacDOnald Fraser, the first in The Flashman Papers, a humorous retelling of the epic adventures of a total cad in the late 1830's-early 1840's. This was a heck of a read, I finished it in two days because I wanted to know what happened. However, old Flashy is a hell of a character to follow, I probably will end up taking a break before reading another one of these. It is a hell of a story starting with his getting kicked out of school and joining the military, to his being sent to first India and then Afghanistan where he has some pretty spectacular adventures and ends up perpetually profiting (not intentionally) from the misery and/or heroism of others. Basically he gets his ass saved a lot and a lot of acclaim for his nonexistent heroics. This makes for a fantastic story but after a while I got kind of sick of him as a character (although there is a clever little twist at the ending which I loved). Basically, I enjoyed the heck out of it but I need to read some palate cleansers before I start on the next one (and there are several more).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am terrible at titles.

So hmm. This was quite a weekend. The Christmas party Friday night was not as planned, but ended up being lovely anyways. Lots of people came but some of them were over an hour early, which changed the vibe a bit. The people who came, all brought food, and a lot of the random people I was worried about Matt inviting didn't show, so I ended up with more food than I started with. This is complicated only because it seems to be predominantly cookies or dips. All good stuff, but still, not exactly the easiest stuff to use up. We missed some people but some of the more dramatic people didn't show up too so in general it was a happy crowd.

We made cider, and it was a huge success. Basically we bought a bunch of Knudsen's Cider and Spice apple juice and poured it in one of those big coffee-maker carafe things with a spigot on the front. The we poured in some apple brandy. It was perfect. Also, self-serve. I just had to refill periodically. Still have some of both left...

Being up until 2:30 Friday night led to a day of complete unproductivity yesterday - slept in WAY later than I usually do and pretty much just watched Dr. Who on the couch until about 5, and then went to my sister's to babysit (I am such a nice sister, and my nephew is pretty entertaining/adorable to boot).

Today, I went to the library and got my first batch of new books that I put on hold - we begin with the first Flashman novel, The Moonstone (Collins), Jane Eyre, and Bel Canto (Patchett). The next hold list includes (so far) The Master and Margarita, and Devil in the White City. The local library has a great website where you can not only reserve and renew books online, the hold has a date function so basically I can say "put this book on hold for me, but not for two weeks", so nothing new comes in until I put a dent in the current pile. This is definitely a good start on the new book bandwagon (although I still need some decent fluff for bathtub reading). Thanks everyone for all your great suggestions!

I also broke down and ordered some stuff from the J Crew sale, which I am trying to avoid doing. So here's hoping! It was too good of a deal and some of my favorite shirts were down to $7 a pop so I am crossing my fingers because I also ordered a sweater, and they are so nice but the sizing varies annoyingly. So I've got my fingers crossed.

And it is supposed to snow tonight. I do like snow, I just hope the drive to work tomorrow a.m. isn't too nasty.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking for suggestions...

I had a really nice coffee date with my buddy Victor last night. We hung out at the coffee shop until it closed and then went and got a margarita (Matt had band practice at the house). He is a movie buff so we spent a lot of time discussing movies, books, and his screenplay, among other things. This helped me realize something:

I need something to read. I have been alternating between reading classics, and reading fluff. This is partially because I have had bad luck with the last few classics I have picked and needed some fluff to get the bad taste out of my head. I LOVE to read but I am getting pickier in my old age and I need some fresh stuff now.

Here's a sampler for context:

one of my favorite books of ALL TIME is the Count of Monte Cristo. It is so fascinatingly complex and interwoven but the characters are so well drawn and I have never rooted for a disturbed semi-hero like I root for Edmond Dantes every time I read this book. Which is about once a year now.

Also in this annual re-read category is Cold Comfort Farm (also possibly Kate Beckinsale's best movie ever, this translated surprisingly well to the screen and was brilliantly cast - I love you Joanna Lumley!), a clever little 1930's satire.

Another in this annual re-read category is American Gods. I grew up obsessed with world mythologies and this book is a smorgasbord of some of the best bits, shoehorned into an epic story of, not good vs. evil, but old gods (Loki, Thor and Anubis, among others) vs. new gods (manifestations of modern life and things like technology - media, the internet).

A possible new addition to this category that bridges the classic/fluff designations is Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day. I thought this was adorable and I loved the writing. This is the kind of fluff I am looking for now.

I am looking for something new. It doesn't have to immediately join the annual re-read list but of the last couple of books I have read there have been a couple that I just put down as I decided they weren't worth my time to finish.

The last couple of classics I have read were The Scarlet Letter and Vanity Fair. Of TSL I have to say I enjoyed the language because I am a Hawthorne fan, but I wanted to punch every single character. That book does not translate well into the modern era for me. Vanity Fair started out ok, but similar to TSL, I lost patience with the complete lack of sympathetic characters (Becky Sharp starts out as interesting, at least, but just turns into a repeating caricature, and I just stopped caring about Amelia by the end, she is really a damp sock of a character). I think I need to stay away from writers who got paid by the word for a while.

Jane Eyre has been heartily recommended but it keeps being checked out when I go to the library. Instead I read all of the Jasper Fforde novels starting with the Eyre Affair and was highly amused. But he hasn't written much since then and I need some suggestions! Anyone, anyone?

P.S. now I can't remember who blogged it, but per someone's great review I think I am getting Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) for Christmas...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday listening post.

Talk about aging fucking gracefully. I was channel surfing the other night and mocking the AMAs (American Music Awards). Then they brought out Annie Lennox. Talk about class. That woman is amazing. She is an activist that I can get behind (I'm looking at you, Bono). And a brilliant musician. With the Eurythmics or solo, I love that woman. She is who the girls of today should be looking up to. Miley Cyrus, this is what you should be aspiring to, not Britney or Madonna-dom.

At the AMAs, showing how it's done. NOT lip syncing, not using AutoTune (the program that most popsters use to make sure they're singing in tune and without heart/soul).

This one won't embed. But it is awesome too. Spend some time on youtube - the woman does amazing videos, and embedding seems to be turned off on most of them. Sigh.

This is a Bob Marley song.

Even when she's singing "I need a man" she still is less demeaning to women than those little chickie-poos that I do my damndest to avoid in modern pop. How does she do it? I would post about twenty videos on here if I could but I hate piling up a bunch of links.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lunchtime update

So the Christmas plan is still in flux. We will be here, but have two invites for Christmas Day dinner and no plans for Christmas morning. I am guessing we will crash the brother and sister-in-law's so we can see the wee one open her presents. I am volunteering for Christmas Eve dinner, which is not a Lucchesi tradition so I'm not derailing any plans. But what I WANT is people to cook for on Christmas morning so I can make a (Farnady tradition) Dutch Baby. Sigh.

The plan (well, my plan) is to go get a tree this weekend. We have friends with lots of spare lights and garlands and the in-laws think they have a tree stand we can use. This cuts down quite a bit on the decorating $$. I picked up some ornaments while I was home for Thanksgiving and inherited some from my grandmother when she heard I was going to have a tree for the first time. So all I need is a tree and a star (doesn't that sound like a song lyric? or maybe all I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by).

I want to get the decorating done this weekend because we are having a Christmas party next weekend! Can you tell that I like feeding people? I wish I could invite you all! Among other things, I will be attempting to make mulled wine and these just because they are gorgeous.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shake it up

So we went home for the long Thanksgiving weekend to spend it with my family. It ended up being unusually stressful, and the upshot is, we will be spending Christmas with Matt's family this year (it was his turn anyways). This is a very brief version of what is really an excessively long and drama-filled weekend. I am over the family drama for a while. I love my sisters a lot but we just didn't have fun with them this time. We're going to go down for New Year's and spend that with my parents and my grandmother, but major holidays with ALL the family and ALL the kids and dogs are just a little bit overwhelming right now.

I have never spent a Christmas away from my family before. I can do this. But what I can't quite deal with is, my mom always decorated like crazy every year, so even when I was living on my own in the past, we never decorated and we never had a tree, we just went there and it was always all festive. That is SO going to change this year. I don't want to spend Christmas somewhere if it isn't Christmasy. I was using our holiday party as an excuse to decorate a little bit, but now I am not kidding around.

The current goal is to not spend exorbitant amounts of money on holiday decor. But I need lights, and a tree stand, and a wreath, and a star, and more ornaments (I have a tiny stash accumulating so this is a less desperate need). And by need, I mean really really want. I want my house to feel like Christmas if I'm not going to go somewhere else this year.

So next weekend, we get us a tree. After that, we shall see. The holiday party is in two weeks, and I am wild-guessing that we will have at least 25-30 people here for that. Pictures will ensue, if I get this stuff all going like I want to...

Monday, November 24, 2008

public service announcement

So my sister was talking up this documentary her friend helped make. My parents went to SF to see it and raved about it. I wasn't around at the time so I didn't see it.

It was on PBS tonight. It was one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever seen. It is called The Rape of Europa and documents the theft and recovery of a massive amount of Europe's great art during World War II. Hitler was a frustrated artist, and spent huge amounts of time and money "collecting" art in all forms. It became de rigeur for his underlings to collect art as well so people like Hermman Goering also ended up having massive collections of priceless art of all genres and media. Thousands of people hid art treasures or walled them up to hide them from the Nazis. The Louvre was evacuated by common people who just wanted to save the treasures of their country. They have an interview with a lady whose parents were curators and got assigned to evacuate and protect the Mona Lisa. She lived with the Mona Lisa. Normal people all over Europe were risking their lives to hide these things. There were people who bricked walls around Michelangelo's David to protect it from bombs. There was a whole section of the US military devoted to protecting these treasures during WWII, and recovering the lost art and restoring it to its rightful places/owners after the war, The Monuments Men. It was uplifting, just to see the extents that people went to during such horrible times to protect these national treasures of art.

So all I have to say is, watch it if you can. PBS premiered it tonight and hopefully they will show it again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A random list

I went to an operetta tonight. Thus, an excuse for dressing up, and a good outfit to boot! I usually feel sheepish dressing up, as I roll with a crowd that will ask me why I am so dressed up if I wear anything other than jeans. Tonight, I didn't care. I dressed up for Gilbert and Sullivan, dammit. And I bet they appreciated it.

So I have this adorable black wrap dress with a strange cream dot pattern-y thing going on. I never wear it because it is adorable due to it being the perfect cut for my body, and that is not a warm one. However, tonight I found that my one nice v-neck sweater (teal) looks really good with it, as do my favorite gray ribbed tights. That, my friends, is a lot of look for me. No jeans or anything. With red lips and new awesome dangly earrings. Adventurous, one might even call it. For me, at least.

The verdict:

I LOVE dressing up. I need more excuses to do it.

Thus, a random list of reasons and/or excuses to dress up:

for attending ANY musical event, of any caliber above, say, middle school level.

because my legs look about 8 miles long in gray ribbed tights.

for any performance I am personally in, because just because most of my band is retirees doesn't mean I have to dress like them (long story), AND because I am a part of the unsung minority of female tuba players and I'll be damned if I took up the tuba just to be ignored!

because I like the positive attention I get for making an effort. It's not just male attention, making the effort makes me feel positive about myself so I am more outgoing and it means I have a good time.

because the weather is good. Or bad. I can look sartorially splendid in a serious wool coat and dramatic scarf on a wet day. I can look good in a dramatic scarf ANY day. I am a scarf person and I need to share this with the world.

because I need to get out of the rut of feeling self-conscious just for dressing nice, nobody is making me wear a skirt instead of baggy cargo pants but they shouldn't care if I do.

for long walks by the river (yes, I live by the river, and it makes me feel like I should own a dog just so I could walk it there. Instead, I would like to dress picturesquely while strolling among the fallen leaves).

because it is totally not frivolous to feel that I am presenting myself positively and my appearance is part of that.

because my friends are mostly male and while it is good to be one of the guys, it doesn't have to mean I dress like one of the guys. I am not a guy. REALLY. I spent too many years in my childhood with bad haircuts being mistaken for a boy. I am over that. Not, as in, I have recovered, because I haven't. I am OVER it as in I am ready for it to not happen ever again.

because it is a little bit silly for me to read so many fashion blogs and not put a little bit of their advice into practice/because if such erudite and well-written ladies can be stylish while they do it, so can I! obligatory link to one of my current fave cosmopolitan (not like the magazine) and mildly fashion-y blogs here. There are so many smart and well-written blogs by fashionable women out there that I have no reason to feel silly for dressing up/taking some time over my appearance (also the list idea was from there too).

because all these silly prohibitions aren't being put on me by others. They are mine. And I don't want them. I walk out the door in a red skirt thinking, "is this too loud?" and people walking by will think, if anything, "that girl is wearing a red skirt". Not, "how dare she wear that skirt with those thighs!" And if they do, why do I care? I don't need a little Trinny or Susannah sitting in my head telling me what not to wear.

AND I need more reasons/excuses. Anyone? Anyone?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Help! I need advice, or possibly just proofreaders.

If you were reading a newsletter from your local co-op (this presumes you to be probably a hippie and possibly vegetarian, or vegan), would this be a recipe you would consider? I am wondering if I overdid it with all of the asides but I think they're useful instructions, I might just need to rephrase them a little.

Vegetarian Stuffed Winter Squash

I did this with a big yellow squash, I have also tried it with smaller squash like acorn squash and you could probably do two smaller squash with this amount of stuffing.

1 large squash
4 slices interesting bread (I used the garden wheat from House of Bread and got rave reviews, it does have small slices though, if your loaf is bigger cut down on the bread)
1 sm. handful sage leaves (8-10 leaves, torn up)
1 c. shredded hard cheese (I have used parmesan and, in a pinch, provolone)
½ c. pine nuts (toasted, if you like)
1 sm. jar artichoke hearts
2 c. sliced mushrooms
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
Salt, pepper and spices to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half with a very big knife (this is the hardest part of the recipe, I promise), or in quarters if it is really big. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds like you’re going to carve a pumpkin. Drizzle with oil and stick in the oven (cut side down) on an oiled sheet pan for ½ hour or until it starts to get soft and a little brown around the edges.

Sautee the mushrooms with the garlic and onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, this is where I add a dash of Italian spices as well.

Slice the artichoke hearts so they are less chunky.

In a clean bowl, whisk the two eggs together with a fork.

In a food processor, pulse the bread one slice at a time until crumbly. Add the sage leaves and shredded cheese so they get well incorporated. Don’t pulse the bread too much, you don’t want it to be totally breadcrumbs, just good and chunky. Pour into a large bowl. Mix in the cooked mushrooms, the toasted pine nuts and the sliced artichoke hearts until incorporated. Then drizzle the egg over the top and mix it in until everything is well coated and sticky. One last dash of salt and pepper and you’re ready to go!

Remove the squash from the oven and invert on the same sheet pan. Use a spoon to pack it with the stuffing mixture (don’t worry if a little bit spills, that just means it gets a little extra crispy). Return to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until the stuffing starts to get golden brown.

Serve warm. A spoon is useful for getting out all the nice soft juicy squash innards, they go well with the slightly crispy stuffing.

I will attempt to include a suitably mouth-watering picture, but I thought it would be nice because most of the ingredients are available at the co-op (except the bread I mention is from a local bakery). Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, November 14, 2008

WT? Or not.

So as much as I like tagging along and doing questionnaires and being a part of the group, I am realizing that maybe my wardrobe doesn't need a ton of therapy at the moment. I get motivated to make piles and sort things and realize, I just did that pretty recently, and the stuff that's waiting to get replaced is just going to stay waiting while I suck it up and wear what I've got for a while. I like shopping. A lot. And this is just another excuse to shop. My wardrobe is not in bad shape, it's just a little dull. I've got a relatively clean closet and a pared-down list of what I am looking for in the long run. So I am going to be a bum and bow out on this one.

Although, I have to say, I did find a nice big problem-solver:

I wore this to my crazy vegan dinner and got so many compliments that I didn't sweat the entire rest of my outfit. Clearly big honking jewelry is the way to go for me. The new problem is, I went back and she posted another one. And I love it too. Darnit.

Monday, November 10, 2008


So I have to say, I really love cooking. My entire family thinks I'm weird. I like being able to put out a nice spread on a big table and impress a bunch of people who don't have any interest in being domestic (a good chunk of my relatives seem surprised that I use the oven EVER, let alone on a weekly basis). I like being a host and having my house full of people having a good time with good food. SO I basically decided I didn't want to do anything productive this Sunday so I invited the (local) family over for Sunday turkey dinner. This involved at least 4 trips to the store to make:

1 bowl of Italian bean dip for appetizers (WAY more awesome than it sounds)
1 not-too-big turkey
1 dish "stuffing" with mushrooms, pine nuts and artichoke hearts
1 spinach and red bell pepper salad with candied walnuts (easy to make!) and gorgonzola
1 dish roasted yams (savory, no marshmallows or syrup, garlic and sage instead)

Relatives brought mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple-rhubarb crumble, and ice cream. And a pair of two-year-olds who chased each other in circles around the living room during the entire meal. It was awesome. AND, unlike Thanksgiving, I have leftovers. I am going to try and make some stock out of the turkey carcass, we'll see how that goes. And possibly turkey enchiladas. There were 8 adults, and I have decided that is the maximum reasonable dinner party size for my house.

I am also still pondering my theoretical kitchen renovation, because if we ever really want to do it, now is a good time - I am still flexible at work and it is way easier to get people to work since the construction industry has slowed down so much. I am just debating because I REALLY want to rip out the stupid breakfast bar. People say "Oh, you'll lose all that counter/storage space" but it will really open up the flow of the house. The bar sticks out to about two feet from the oven so whenever people are over they are ALWAYS standing at the end of the bar when I need to get in the oven. And the area at the opposite end of the bar - against the wall, becomes a no-man's land of crappy storage. Stuff gets stuck there but it isn't useful and it's hard to reach. That would become usable working space, and there would be a cabinet under it so that would be equivalent to about 2/3 of the storage that I would be losing under the bar area. AND there wouldn't always be giant barstools in the way whenever you're walking by the dining room table.

Oh, and that. We would eat at the table, instead of the bar. I HATE eating at the bar. I want to sit down and be out of the cooking area and be able to eat like a grown up, dammit. A girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WT Week 1 (part 2)


1. Who is your candidate for "best dressed," real or fictional?

Today? As per the link below(also where I swiped the picture from), Michelle Obama. Striking but always occasion-appropriate, and half of the time it's J Crew. Mostly I just love J Crew. And how she looks so pulled together even when she is dressed casually. Really, I don't have a lot of style icons because I am just not up on that stuff.

2. Is there anyone you're tempted to see as a style icon, but you'd never dare dress that way?
Cate Blanchett. She dresses totally insanely from what I have seen, but she rocks it so hard it's difficult for me not to admire her and want to dress like her. Just, you know, not insane.
3. What is your favorite garment/outfit ever?
I got the softest black zip cardigan from Banana last winter - it was part cashmere so it was super soft and nice and long so I didn't get a draft at the top of my pants. Sadly, it wore terribly and pilled like crazy. It didn't make it a year, I finally put it in the donate pile after the third time I had to mend the elbows.
4. What is your current favorite garment?
My flare-leg corduroys. I am a big girl, I look good in flares. I don't care if they're not On Trend. I was desperate and actually paid full price for two pairs (grr) and still love them both anyways.
5. What would you wear if you could wear absolutely anything?

That damn falling-apart black sweater from Banana. SO SOFT. Or my gorgeous black cocktail dress that makes me look like Audrey Hepburn. Not a lot of stuff makes me look petite and gamine. This dress is magic. Too bad I have no reason to wear it until maybe New Year's Eve.
6. What would your favorite store be, if money were no object?
Probably similar to where I shop now, just not the sale section. Say, Banana, J Crew and Boden.
7. Do you have a favorite store now?
Gap/Banana sale rack/J Crew sale rack. J crew has the softest tee shirts (sorry, AA, your service is too crappy) and Banana has the best cut of pants for my heinie. Gap fills in everything else.
8. What's your best fashion faux-pas story, now that the scars have healed?
Let me think about this one. Clothes just haven't been that important in my life so I don't have any biggies.

How You Live & the People Around You

1. If there were a uniform for where you spend most of your time, what would it be?

Jeans, fleece and a tee shirt. And cute sneakers. No nice clothes at work, you don't want to get acid on them.
2. If there were a uniform for where you spend your leisure, what would it be?
Cords, a sweater and a scarf. And cute sneakers. I'm so not a heels girl. Skirts in summer. Still not with heels. Heels mean it has to be a real occasion (or Halloween).
3. What do you like best about the prevailing style where you are?
It's weather- and work-appropriate. People dress for the real world here. At least, the people I'm around.
4. What frustrates you?
I would like to wear cuter/more interesting stuff to work, but I don't actually want to risk stuff I'm fond of or that was expensive (well, expensive to me).
5. Is there another place (one you've lived, visited, heard about, whatever) that better captures your idea of style?
I loved Portland. It was way more interesting and quirky. If I moved back there, I would probably start dyeing my hair again. I can be quirky in Reno because I am the minority. Does that make sense?
6. Construct a quick pie chart of the occasions for which you dress.
Soon, I promise.

Your Wardrobe

1. In three bullet points, what is the problem with your wardrobe?

Boring, lacks a definable style and weak on accessories.
2. If your wardrobe could speak, what would it say is the problem?
"Zzzzzzzz. Wait, what, you want to get dressed? Go wear the same stuff you wore the rest of the week, and leave me alone."
3. What one thing do you want your wardrobe to do more of?
Have a little more zing. I need a twist of lime in this drink, bartender.
4. What do you want people to say about your look?
That I am put-together and snazzy. As opposed to dull, haphazard, and ill-fitting.

WT Week 1 (part 1)

Agenda: Week 1

Bones: Get completely caught up on laundry you can do yourself.

Done. I have a weird love for laundry so I tend to not get behind. At all. Ever.

Breath: Choose one garment, pair of shoes, accessory, make-up item, skin-care product, or hair-care product that will ultimately belong in the Torture Device, Velveteen Rabbit, or Mystery of the Lost Shopping Trip category and make it go away now instead of waiting for its special week. If you think it best to start a donation bag or turn your old clothes into rags, do that thing -- just get something de-accessioned.
Waiting on this one: I am teetering on the edge of taking a couple of my nicest pieces of clothing that admittedly don't fit well and hardly get worn to a consignment store. But they were both expensive and I loved them when I got them and they will be tough to replace. One is an adorable blue houndstooth coat and the other is my interview suit. Neither is in the budget for replacing this go-round. They are in the spare closet to be contemplated. Out of MY closet is as good as it's going to get, right now.

Heart: Do something pampering for yourself.
Tonight: bubble bath. 'Nuff said.

Head: Find a source of clothing pictures that you enjoy looking at. It need not be a fashion magazine or current catalog. Old movies, Old Masters... doesn't matter. The idea is to immerse yourself in elements that nourish your personal style, regardless of whether the nice buyers at the nice stores are on the same page.
Working on it. Here is a blog completely devoted to analyzing our next first lady's style and fashion choices. She would not be a bad person to emulate. She's tall and has broad shoulders (skinnier than me though) and I love her casual wear style and the way she wears cardigans with everything. Makes me want to try and wear more belts. I will keep looking, but this is a current fave.

Coming tomorrow, the interview!

Yes, we did.

Let's see if we can keep this up. We elected him, now we gotta back him up. He's getting handed a shitty deck of cards and he'll need all the help he can get. We can't expect everything to suddenly be all better. However, our standing internationally just went WAY UP. Maybe we can get some of that respect back, and keep it.

(expect a WT post this evening, Wende's getting it rolling...)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Not a bad H'ween last night, I wish I had pictures. I wasn't a mad scientist, just a cranky one. I had a lab coat and my Tina Fey glasses and a bun with a pencil through it. I consider it totally respectable for the complete lack of effort it took. Forgot my camera though, of course.

Reno likes holidays. Downtown is much more walking friendly in non-casino areas than it used to be, so most holidays are an occasion for a bar crawl (including Xmas AND Easter). H'ween means it just becomes the Zombie Bar Crawl. It's very social even if you're not a zombie. We just strolled around a lot and people-watched, mostly. But right around midnight, one of the local bbq joints pulled up right outside the bar we were in with a little trailer. Out of which they were selling ribs and pulled pork. All I can say is that is GENIUS.

And I saw at least two McCains and three Sarah Palins. Both of the McCains were dead and one of the Palins was a zombie. No Democrats though, not even a Lieberman or anything. I totally don't count the little kid trick-or-treating in his normal clothing with a Bill Clinton mask on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Reposted from a while ago, I have to say i love a good mockumentary. Not interested in Michael Moore-type expose stuff though, thanks.

I just got an old movie of Craig Ferguson (my late show boyfriend) as a gay Scottish hairdresser who gets an invite to the world hairdressing championship in LA and brings his own documentary team to chronicle his rise to stardom, before arriving and finding out he was invited to be an audience member, not a competitor. That does sound like a bit of ridiculous in a nutshell, but works, due to the awesomeness that is CF.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On not getting the joke (this is a serious one).

Matt and I went and saw Bill Maher's movie Religulous this evening. Our friends told us it was hilarious. Matt thought it was hilarious.

I thought it was one of the most depressing things I have ever seen.

Let's start with a disclaimer. I am not religious. I am very not religious. But I have friends who are religious and I have basically stopped discussing religion with them. I respect their right to believe things that I don't believe (I also have friends who go jogging every day, and are vegans, also things I respect but don't believe in). But this movie was Bill Maher's excuse to pull a "Borat", and I found it just as disrespectful. It scares me that people think the end of the world is preordained and the Rapture is their reward for doing what the Bible says to. But I don't want to watch Bill Maher telling these people to their face that they are wrong and stupid and ignorant. I don't think that is funny. I believe that they are entitled to their opinions, and as much as I would prefer that they spent more time trying to protect the Earth while they're still on it rather than use it up since they're not going to be needing it much longer, I am not going to sit there and laugh at them.

Maybe it's because I am a very non confrontational person. I hate discussing politics with people, too. I just don't think I am going to change their minds. And I don't think Bill Maher is going to change anyone's mind with this movie. It verges on masturbatory, the way he lectures on how religion is the cause of all of our problems and we will never make it as a species unless we give up religion and learn to doubt. That's great, Bill, for you. I don't particularly dislike the guy, but I can't imagine that this movie will change any minds on the subject of religion - if you're not into religion, you're going to be entertained, but if you are devout at all, there is no way he will change your mind. He doesn't have a reasonable rational convincing discourse with most of the people he talks to - he just badgers them and mocks them. What does that accomplish? I guess it made him twenty bucks off of me and Matt going to see his movie.

The most positive impression I got out of this whole movie was when he was interviewing the Vatican astronomer. I wish I could find a clip - the guy was great, the most reasonable person in the whole movie. Possibly the only one who flat out said, no, you can't take it all literally, we've got to take all of this with a grain of salt. And he works for the Vatican. They need more guys like him. So does everywhere else. The saddest part for me was the interviews with the Muslim clerics discussing how their religion was about peace interspersed with the news footage of the crowds calling for the death of Salman RUshdie for writing the Satanic Verses/the crowds rioting over the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed/the interview with the Muslim woman talking about her misinterpreted religion on the spot where Theo van Gogh was murdered (won't go into that).

In all, he made Christians look like buffoons and Muslims look like murderers. Scientologists and Mormons were just made to look nuts. He went pretty easy on the Jews though. Hmm. Take-home message for me? Yeah, I just plain don't like Bill Maher.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

The ultimate what to wear:

To this? I wish I could get all the art from the invitation on here.


Two Vegan Caribbean Chefs will be meeting up in Reno, on November 8th for a Caribbean cook-off providing a very special “VIP” Dinner for Reggae Music aficionados and friends and YOU ARE INVITED!

What: Hors d’oeuvres, 4-course authentic Latin/Caribbean Vegan Meal
plus dessert, organic wine and music!

Music: Spinning by DJ Anthony “The PostmOn” Postman and a live acoustic set
by The Mark Sexton Band performing their new reggae singles “Hold On” and “Used To Do”

Plus! The evening will be taped for a trailer for a Reality Caribbean Cooking Show!
Produced by CJ of Sequoia Digital Promotions

Chef Mayra, aka “Dr. Flavor” from Las Vegas trained in the culinary arts has been in the “healthy eating and cooking” industry for over 11 years. She has certifications in Sports nutrition, Macrobiotic cooking, Vegan and Vegetarian, Holistic, and Feng Shui cuisine. She started her career as a cook by learning and experimenting with many recipes from France, Caribbean, Southern, Cajun and West Africa.

Chef Kimba the RastaMan: Owner of Roots-N-Kulchah Company, Sacramento, CA Chef Kimba, who from a young boy growing up in St. Croix embraced cooking and also the Rasta belief that “Ital is vital.” “We as children Of Jah (God) must eat to live and not to die”. So we as Rasta say we don’t entertain “deadas” (food that represents death). Our cuisines are nourishing and does not leave you feeling stuffed and weighed down. Come experience the very true essence of the Rasta/Caribbean Culture. Ital food for the mind body and soul! “Tasting is believing”.


This sounds totally goofy to me. I edited out the identifying info, but WTF do you wear to a fancy reggae dinner party? I don't have any formal tie-dye. Matt really wants to take me (his words specifically). Heck, maybe it'll give me some more stuff to check off on that meme. And Reality Caribbean Cooking Show? Feng shui cuisine? Seriously? If we were in LA I would expect a celebrity to show up and get Punkd.

Memeity Meme

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred (from here):

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison (does elk count?)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi (Iprefer pakoras)
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (only the oil)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (meh)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas (never again, oh the pain)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I can't find the strikethrough command - not if you paid me)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (at a Basque restaurant - it was delicious!)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (um, strike that one too - not that adventurous)
43. Phaal (strike it, it might kill me - NO tolerance for spicy curries here)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (strike it, eew)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (strike this one too, I hate gin)
58. Beer above 8% ABV (round here, they call that barley wine, I believe)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (um, I think not so much with the dirt, I got that out of my system when I was 5)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (I have always been SO curious about this stuff)
69. Fried plantain (it was soggy, so sad)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho (made it, it came out WAY too garlicky and I don't say that often)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (these are lovely, Matt wanted to have them at our wedding but it would have been way too much $$$)
81. Tom yum (correctly named. Yum)
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (had to try it once, now I know, and I don't think I'd ever order it again)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (meh)
89. Horse (I might be too weirded out by that one, but hey, if I can eat a bunny once, why not a horsie?)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab (awesome if properly done)
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish (just ok)
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (yum!)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta (I can NOT cook this to save my life. Yummy tho)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

That's 42, not bad so far. There's not much I wouldn't try except super spicies (I'm guessing the Scotch Bonnet pepper?). I'll usually try anything weird once - in Italy I had arrosto piccione (roast pigeon) and it was lovely, and at a very nice restaurant in Reno I had skate and it was meh.

Who am I tagging? Anybody who wants to, I want to know everyone's hundred!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sigh (again).

It gets depressing every once in a while to be looking at shoes online and realize that everything in my size is either orthopedic or lucite. Apparently you don't get feet my size until you're 75. Or a drag queen.Can you blame me for loving these? There couldn't be a more impractical shoe to fall in love with in October, as I wouldn't be able to wear them until probably April. Le sigh. That does mean they're on sale, though. Le double sigh.

On another, mildly less frivolous note, I got my beloved little Honda back from the shop today and the brakes feel so nice and cushy now (bonus points for not squealing anymore, too). That and a 5,000 mile service and winterize, means I should SO not be looking at impractical sandals anyways. Le triple sigh.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sigh. (and Yum!)

Major success on the using-up-the-zucchini front - here are some YUMMY muffins!
  • 2/3 c. oil
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t/ pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
Grease muffin cups and preheat oven to 375°.

Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, honey and vanilla.

Combine the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; add to the wet ingredients; stirring until blended. Fold in the shredded zucchini.

Fill muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

This recipe originally called for two kinds of sugar instead of sugar and honey - the extra liquid makes the muffin tops spread out a little while cooking but I didn't want to try and adjust the levels of baking soda/powder (that always intimidates me). However, the tops are my favorite part anyways and they come out so amazingly moist and delicious it is definitely not a problem.

However, I did a nice big round of clean-up in the backyard and got my raised beds all prepped for spring planting. And man, was that depressing. Now they are all cleaned up and ready and neat looking, and I have to wait until MAY to plant anything in them. Sigh.

I also did my good deed for the month (possibly the year), as our friends were cleaning out their massive garage and I went over and helped them so they wouldn't make it on the news for domestic abuse. They have a four-car garage and love to collect stuff. We ended up with a pile of garbage and a pile of donations both bigger than a mini-van.

So today, I did NOTHING. And that's ok by me.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Last Christmas, my sister wanted to get her kid a bendable robot. Instead, she got a figurine of the robot Bender from Futurama (a cartoon from the guy who wrote the Simpsons). The Bender figurine comes carrying its own martini glass and shaker, if I recall correctly.
I am on an apple bender. I finally went down to the new Whole Foods on the far side of town and they had honeycrisp apples. I am trying to keep it down to 2 a day. These apples are ridiculously good. I mean RI DIC U LOUS.

My point is, I highly recommend them if you happen to spot them somewhere. Seriously.

Also, I should not be allowed in Whole Foods without a shopping list. Budgetary trouble will surely ensue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


No more watching the debate for me. I am starting to yell at the tv screen and at some point I may end up pulling an Elvis*. Right now I am yelling from another room at the tv in the living room. Maybe it is time for a bath. With earplugs.

*apparently not apocryphal story about him shooting out the picture tube when he didn't like what he saw...

Front yard project pictures (finally!)

Welcome to my place. It is brick, and generic, in a little tract house neighborhood. And that's pretty much ok by me. However, it did have about a billion square feet of lawn. Thus...

This is now ALL THE LAWN WE HAVE. That is big. Or, more accurately, small. It is enough to sit on or for someone small to kick a soccer ball on or for someone furry to roll around on. That is plenty for me. Although the barrel on the right is not going to stay. In the spring when we reseed, that corner is going to get the rocks removed and get seeded like the rest of the lawn, we get enough grass growing in the rocks anyways, I figure.
This side used to be all lawn too. That was a lot of lawn. I don't know when to take pictures here since it is either too sunny or too dark, so this is it for now. The junipers are fine, they'll never die so they can stay. The tree is my new baby, I love it! The rest is decomposed granite (somewhere between gravel and sand) and it acts like a mulch for keeping weeds down. In the spring I will be planting hardy, attractive shrubs here and it will look much nicer. For now though, it's tidy. It also keeps going - there is another tree on the right there and there was MORE LAWN. All DG now, thank goodness.

Here is a close-up of the edging on the lawn side. This used to be full of rocks (see top R corner of pic) and they were suffocating my shrubs. So maybe now these guys have a fighting chance. That is the DG around them now, I think it looks really nice and clean here, especially compared to those nasty spider-filled rocks (ew).
This is my path, just so the other side isn't completely boring all winter (just mostly boring). Future plans include Russian sage, more barberry, some of that low-growing juniper, and maybe some big tufty grasses for contrast. With some rudbeckias and echinacea for color. So I call this a good start, for now. And it snowed last weekend, so that will have to do. Until about April, probably. At least it looks neat and tidy now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back! And The End.

So I had a fun weekend at home hanging out with my family, and I did some fun cooking because I had HELPERS. I just have to get them to do it again at Christmas. I also did a spot of shopping, buying some nice basic tees in bright colors on a walk with my sisters and some delicious honey and jam from the Farmer's Market.

And The End. While I was gone, we had a good, hard freeze. So, no more green beans, no more fresh stuff from the garden. Sniff. I've still got stuff to do out there though, hopefully next weekend won't be raining or anything because now I need to cut down my teepees covered in frozen beanstalks and pull the other stuff that froze (and in some cases, note which ones did freeze and don't plant them again) and mulch shrubs and do all the tidying up that my garden still needs. I've got my fingers crossed for decent weather, it's been in the 20's at night the last few days and they got quite a bit of snow while I was gone (it didn't stick, thank goodness). I'm just glad the last of my decomposed granite pile isn't frozen solid, I need to get it into the beds before it gets covered in snow or something. There isn't much left, at least, a couple hours and I could have it all taken care of. I just need a couple of sunny hours...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All over the place

I am so all over the place.

1. Yard Yard Yard. I have been doing all sorts of stuff to my yard and not taking pictures of it. My tomatoes are still green and it is supposed to freeze tomorrow night. This means I need to cut them and put them in a paper bag in the kitchen and see if they will ripen there. Matt killed 2/3 of my front lawn and I replaced it with decomposed granite and a tree. I am trimming up the bed at the edge of the remaining lawn with more decomposed granite but it means I have to take out the rocks that are squashing my shrubs and take out the landscape fabric that is smothering the shrubs but not the weeds (of course). So most of it is done, my shrubs are hopefully going to perk up and my tree will be all happy. And I will take pictures. I had to do it all quick though because it is supposed to freeze soon and I don't want to be doing any planting too close to a freeze. In the spring I will hook up a drip system and put in some more shrubs on the side with no lawn so it will match the shrubs around the lawn side. Whoof.

2. Wardrobe angst. I lack basics but my wardrobe is still boring me to death. How does that work? I naturally gravitate away from anything with bright color or pattern, so I have no idea how to fix this situation. I am trying to train myself to buy stuff in colors other than black, navy and gray but I haven't purchased anything since I came up with this strategy so I have no clue how effective it will be. I did a clean-out of stuff that is ill-fitting or falling apart so now I guess I will just have to walk around naked until I get this resolved ;) The question is, do I stock up on basics and fall asleep looking in my closet, or buy one or two stylishly quirky items and skate along with a dearth of t-shirts for a few months? That, and who decided that everything right now has to have puffy sleeves? I am not twelve, and I do not need to look any more like a linebacker than I already do, thank you very much.

3. Weekend trips. Last weekend we spent with friends in the Nevada City area. It was brilliant. We got out of Reno and were somewhere we had no commitments, had a couple of gorgeous walks (not quite hikes) in lovely beginning-of-fall weather (drizzly, sunny, turning leaves etc.) and a superfantastic dinner in a random Italian joint in Grass Valley that turned out to be totally delicious.

3.1... However, this weekend I am going home to visit my family. This did not used to stress me out. Howeever, we are having a baby shower Saturday night for my sister, and that means at least for small children present on four different schedules (as in "No, we can't do that, it's naptime" so we have to sit around and be quiet). And people who come home and think, "Aah family, that means free babysitters". Which leads to my mom chasing kids around (doting grandma is ok with that) and me doing all the cooking. Words have been spoken to the effect of "It's ok if she is the only one helping Mom, she doesn't have kids". I didn't sign up for that, sorry. Words WILL be spoken between Mom and me to the effect of, "If nobody helps us cook, we're passing the hat and making them all pitch in for takeout". Visits home USED to be fun. Now this is what is up. Last trip we tried to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Three separate groups of parents chasing around kids and me trying to keep the groups in contact (not a small aquarium) and ending up not seeing anything I wanted to see. Le sigh. Matt is not coming with, either, so being the singleton for the weekend means I get to sleep in the basement. Le double sigh.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Curses! (frivolous interlude)

I am getting tired of Anthropologie. They have these gorgeous sweaters that I totally want and they never go on sale! Who can pay this much for a sweater when you have no idea what the quality is? Or, ever? They are the sweaters of my dreams, and they are so hard to find - they aren't cropped, they have long sleeves and they aren't totally boring. This is why my wardrobe is totally boring. Interesting clothes are either too expensive, or not made in my size. Sigh. Good collar, interesting buttons, green, what else could I ask for? Maybe not being $200!

I am so tired there is no way I will be posting properly tonight. I did a six-hour stint in the yard yesterday and was so tired I had to take a shower sitting down. Today, I cleverly did a four-hour stint in the a.m. before it got hot, and then took a break for lunch and a nap, and then did another two hours in the evening. Not much of a weekend, but I did a number on that yard! Pictures when I've finished fussing over the little picky bits.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle!

I am posting this from my new apple-green lappy. I swear, my life is lived in shades of chartreuse. Further updates once I get this thing all set up (as in, after I get my butt back to work all afternoon, waah). And get the mouse to work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The REAL most wonderful time of the year.

In Nevada, I think fall is the nicest time of the year. It's still nice and warm in the daytime, and cool and crisp in the evenings, but not too cold to still get some work done in the yard. It'll only be getting colder, so in a belated inspiration from here, these are some of my favorite things about the cooler weather:
  • I get to take a break from the yard. I love it, but it is getting too cold to work out there for hours every evening and now I can bust out my sewing machine and start thinking about Xmas presents... (no, I'm not that organized, I only said thinking about).

  • It's tea weather again. Time to bust out the electric kettle and up my peppermint tea consumption by about 4 cups/day. I only drink peppermint or chamomile at home, and peppermint is my daytime favorite.
  • Netflix. Need I say more? Ok, cozy blanket, couch, cup of tea, nice movie (probably British, with Matt in the background squealing "Oh Mister Darcy!" in his best Monty Python little old lady voice)

  • Sweaters and scarves. I love me some woolly knitwear. Summer is nice and all but I never feel fully dressed without a large obnoxious scarf and I have been busting them out again for the first time this past week. I have a HUGE scarf collection and I'm always excited to get to use it!
  • More inside time in general. I am a major nester and there are always projects to be done - things to be painted or refinished or something.

  • Also, winter cooking. Breads, roasted things, stews, warm hearty things that don't require the barbecue. I am a bit of a reluctant Q'er, especially as it gets cooler, I just don't have the patience to babysit a piece of meat when I could just be sticking it in the oven. And my oven is so awesome that I use it all the time (it DOESN'T heat the house up, despite what Matt says, that's why we got a new one and it works great).

  • Holidays. Soon, but not too soon. I like just thinking about them for now, and making little mental plans and lists for what I am going to make for people.
I will miss the gardening triumphs, but it was COLD this morning. And it is getting dark way earlier already. So I will have to say goodbye soon, but not quite yet...

What is your favorite season, everybody?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why won't you go in my sidebar?!

So it seems like everyone has a little flickr thing in their sidebar. Not me. However, I just did a little update of my photos on flickr so here they are. I need to take some new garden pictures, hopefully there will be a "Garden - Fall" section in there sometime tomorrow. Until then, it's what I got. I need to do better with organizing my photos (maybe that should be a new resolution? or maybe I'll start with working on not hating my camera because I have no photography skills - it's not the camera's fault all my pictures suck).

Friday, September 19, 2008

All quiet on the ... wait, where am I?

Nothing too exciting of late, but I have to share a couple of gardening triumphs:

1. I made Matt his favorite green-bean based Thai dish for dinner the other night. With green beans I harvested the same day from my own backyard. Verdict: awesome.

2. I found out who is making all the little divots in my planting beds. And I guess it's a triumph for my aim of getting more wildlife into my garden, because it is what seems like a bajillion tiny quail! I wish I could get a picture of them in situ, but they are skittish. I have one bed where nothing is taking off and I might have to go put a couple of supportive rocks around my more wimpy plants, but still, yay quail! Verdict: moderately awesome, plants will just have to cope.This weekend I am trying to get Matt to drive to Nevada City with me, we've got friends down there and it should be a really pretty trip right now. I might also read up on some quail habitat, to see if I can encourage them to stick with other parts of my yard where the plants are less wimpy (although that may be why they like it there, it's not so crowded) and see if there are any good seed-bearing grasses or something I can plant for them to nosh on...

"The majority of their diet in California consists of Filaree, Turkeymullein, Barley, Clover, Lupine, Burclover, Deervetch, Oak, Poison oak, Star thistle and Pigweed." from here. Now I just have to see which of those will survive up here/are not totally nasty. I like wildlife and wildflowers, but I draw the line at planting invasives or stuff I am allergic to.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Too awesome not to share.

Via this lovely lady.

NObody expects the Alaskan politician!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Two short ones before I go.

My husband heard an interview with David Lee Roth after they took away his radio show (he was filling in for Howard Stern for a while), where they asked him if he was angry that they were kicking him off the air. His response was something to the effect of "Normally I would only be up this early if I was paying cabfare for the stripper". Not that I approve of that, but I do appreciate some authenticity. I went to their reunion tour show in Reno and they tear shit up. They do not phone it in and they do not sound the same as they did 20 years ago, but they sound damn good. This is how I want my rock stars to dress. I bet even money that this man does not have a stylist. And I hope I look that good when I am 50. Although maybe not with that haircut.

Also, my mom gave me some of her old Weight Watchers cookbooks and things, so I am trying to give their portion control system a shot. Further updates as events warrant. I don't eat badly, but I do like to snack...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Post: Spotted!

This weekend my parents were here (again, long story) and my dad helped me build three big raised beds (I get to build the fourth on my own, cue ominous music). But the point is, I planted a weedy little salvia this spring and last week I finally moved the viburnum plant that it is overtaking, it's about three feet tall AND wide, if not more. And my parents were over with my sister and the kiddo and we were all having breakfast on my back patio (a triumph in itself considering how my backyard used to be, plus, scones!), and we saw a hummingbird come to the giant salvia! Twice! I wish I had a camera! Hopefully all my new agastaches and purple salvias will mean more hummers next summer! Along with the honeysuckle that I need to convince up my fence... pictures soon! I promise!

Friday, September 5, 2008


4. One tomatillo plant is more than enough. They root wherever a branch touches the ground, they climb the asparagus, they hang outside the fence, they topple the zinnias. Like Sarah Palin, they look delicate, but are overweeningly ambitious, given their limited usefulness.

Along with a lot of other great garden advice, from here.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Someone asked me last night why I just write about what I do, instead of why I do it. So here goes. I didn't start a blog so I could preach, just so I could talk about the things that I enjoy, but I do talk about my garden quite a bit, so it's probably worth explaining the goals I have for my garden and why I have them.

I have always loved gardening, when I was a little girl I spent every weekend with my grandmother and we would always work in her yard. When I got to college, I realized that was something I wanted to continue, so I focused on the available botany courses. It was a small school, so my degree is in Biology. My Master's is in Environmental Science because it was convenient to the research I wanted to do, which was also plant-related. Basically I like knowing what stuff is and what it is related to, I wish taxonomy wasn't going out of style because I love being able to look at an article that talks about Bearberry as a good drought-tolerant plant and know that they mean Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. But that is not where the jobs are. I have been working in a soils lab for the last two years, and today I have an interview in a different soils lab to see if it would be a better place for me to be. Who knew? I want to get back to plants eventually, but this is just a job. That's why I have a garden.

I also have a garden so I can do something about the problems I see in the world. Not on a huge dramatic scale, but on a scale where I feel like I am making a little bit of a difference, in my own small way. I am trying to bring bees and wildlife to my backyard. I am even starting to contemplate talking to my neighbors about the chemicals they use on their lawns (lots of them have kids, or pets) because I would like to have less chemicals in the environment where I am spending more and more time. A big part of this is because of the bees. Bee populations worldwide are dropping rapidly, and we have no clue how dependent we are on them as pollinators. My bees are not agressive, I leave them alone and they leave me alone, but SO many plant species are dependent on them for reproduction. Basically, without pollination, there would be no plants, which means no animal life ON EARTH. And bees are a huge part of that. Non-native honeybees (a good invader) are suffering from a decline known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD):

"In the winter of 2006-2007, beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90% of their hives, with similar declines evident in feral populations. Among the factors known to be involved are competition from aggressive Africanized bees (the so-called "killer bees"), parasitic varroa and traccheal mites, Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), widespread insecticide use, and habitat destruction. Honeybees pollinate more than 130 crop plants alone in the United States, and are credited with adding more than $15 billion annually to crop values, so their sudden and dramatic decline is a very serious issue likely to cause serious repercussions in crop values and the price of food around the world." From here.

So I am trying to bring bees back to my garden. I love my garden, and so far, so do the bees. I have lavender, catmint, salvia, common, purple and Mexican sage, penstemon, coreopsis, centranthus and rosemary, (among others), all of which are supposed to be attractive to bees. And so far they are. But I want MORE. So after I get back from my trip out of town this weekend, I have a shopping list for shrubs to go with the new batch of bee-friendly perennials I just ordered (hence the pictures). I have been ripping out a big patch of ivy along the path in the backyard, and the pictures you see here are of what is going to be going in where the ivy was.The big shrubs will be more smoke bush and viburnum (berries to attract birds) as well as a couple of big Russian sages (also for the bees). I'm starting to get to the part of the yard I can see from my kitchen window so I am excited about having it not be a pile of leaves and ivy any more. I can't wait to get back from my trip (and I haven't even left yet)! So I will stop for now so I can go pack and get ready for my interview. But I really just want to be in my garden!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Too cool! English accents around the world.

The Texas one makes me think of Jodie Foster. The California/Seattle ones make me think of me. I want to know what she really sounds like, since I don't think that Hepburn at the end is it.

from here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Belated Weekend Update (but with pictures!)

What a busy last few days!

Thursday night was the Beck show, the opener was a guy called Devendra Barnhardt (sp?) so I wandered around outside and talked to people, and Beck put on a good show. Unfortunately, it was at a casino, so it ended early (all casino shows end early so you can go gamble more). It was fun, but I think seeing him once was enough. He did quite a bit of stuff off of his new album, and I really liked it, but he only did one song from my favorite album :(

Friday my parents came to town and we had a graduation party for me! It was awesome, so fun and not super crazy but I got to talk to everybody and most of my committee came and one of my coworkers brought a bottle of her own wine and it was the best wine I have had in a long time! I got given a potted plant, AND a gift card to the nice nursery to spend on more plants, AND my main advisor gave me a gift card for my favorite bookstore! It's perfect, because my future plans mainly include spending time reading, and working in the garden. Also, "helpful brother-in-law", whom you may remember from past posts, has an even more helpful brother, who was not able to make it to the party. He 's the one who helped cart all the gravel in my backyard to make the patio... anyways, he sent along a congrats-type card with an IOU for four hours of yard work. That is HUGE! That covers a lot of digging that I was not looking forward to doing...

Saturday I took my parents to the car museum (surprisingly cool!) and then we went to my nephew's birthday party at the park. And that was plenty.

Sunday I had a church gig with my quintet and my parents came and sat at the back and listened, and then we met my sister and Matt and helpful b-i-l at the hotel my parents were staying at for a super nice lunch. They had to hit the road after that but it was nice to hang out (and lunch was spectacular)!

And... another project is almost done! My laundry room is painted, and the shelf is hung. It's a bit high, but we're tall so the future owners can deal with it. Here's the shelf with a weird washed-out shot of the paint color. I have a poster for that left-hand wall waiting for a frame.Here's a better shot of the opposite wall, with my pretty fruit label and useful drying rack, and the leaves for the dining room table, which need a better home now that my laundry room is all purty.
And here's the final project: a new coat of paint, and new handles and hinges for this big, dumb, ugly cabinet. It is too useful, so it would be a bit unreasonable to rip it out just for being ugly. So clean white paint and nice shiny modern hardware is the last step. And a better spot for the vacuum, too.
Meanwhile, the backyard is going gangbusters! My beans could have used taller teepees, they are falling off, but they are starting to bloom so I am excited! Not that I know what they are, they were from helpful b-i-l again, so he might have to ID them if I ever get some bean pods. Or I will just be eating some interesting chili soon. On the bottom left there is barely visible the bed of rocks that I am very much looking forward to having help digging from helpful b-i-l's giant burly brother. Here you can see where I have been working on the bed. I ripped out about half of the ivy so far, and most of the rose bush. There are still some roots to get, and the rest of the ivy, but it is good dirt and not too rocky so I will be able to get some more shrubbery in there when it cools off a bit more. And farther out past the rest of the ivy, you can see the other half of my backyard - the neglected empty desert, with a bit of flagstone, and some more digging to be done... I want to plant some lower-water stuff out here so I don't have to keep running hoses all over, and hopefully some stuff that will attract more birds. It's a work in progress.