Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's That Time...

Yes, it's party day! I still have to make one last batch of cookies but otherwise everything is under control (or so I keep telling myself). I am going to the Farmer's Market this a.m. too if I am organized enough, just to have some vegetables for this week. Also their pomegranates are about eighty times better than any from the store.

Other than that, this house is probably as clean as it's been since we moved in. Nothing like a party to get us to actually put stuff away!

With any luck I will update this post with pictures tonight....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Party Planning

So there are a few benefits to getting up in the dark. One is, now that I'm adjusted, having time to run all kinds of errands and things at the end of the day. This week I successfully attended two yoga classes, made unusually good banana bread, went to the library, got a haircut, and went to Costco, all things I would have failed at in the first months of this job. So that's good. I am almost stocked up for the holiday party, so this weekend I can start making candy.

Except, this weekend I have three parties and a concert. Argh! The concert was this afternoon, and it was fun, if not totally stylish:

Pit Black

I had to add a little bling to save myself from dying of boredom. But I do love playing good Christmas music!

The parties are ALL on Sunday. The first one is my next-door neighbor's 90th birthday, followed by my best friend's gingerbread house making party. And then we are going to dinner in Berkeley for my sister's birthday. So it is going to be a tight schedule.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Better Homes And...

So I got to have a little time to myself to be domestic this weekend. So I whipped up a batch of granola loosely based on this recipe for easy breakfasts (for Matt, I have eggs every day before work because otherwise I am starving by 10am). This batch used agave nectar, applesauce and molasses as sweeteners/stickifiers and I think the recipe is honey, applesauce and brown rice syrup. So let's just say it is very loosely based. Like, the measurements are the same but the actual contents aren't always.
And a pot of spicy curry coconut carrot soup. Which is perfect with some buttery toast on a rainy day. It is rich and sweet and spicy and warms you up inside. This is even more loosely based on any kind of recipe, I just looked at a couple of carrot soup recipes and then made this instead. It is a hit, as orange gruel goes. 
And I am starting to organize my thoughts and recipes for our holiday party. I am trying to figure out a reasonable time to have it based on the fact that people down here a. live farther apart and b. have crazy schedules. So I am trying to figure out if I should just have a Sunday afternoon open house and people can come have snacks and cider and hang out instead of having a Saturday night rager where people mix their own cocktails in pint glasses (ah, Reno).

Would my bloggy friends theoretically come to a Sunday afternoon cocktail/housewarming/holiday open house? Or should it be Saturday afternoon since that's less weird for a party day?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Movie Tidbit

This is fully in the category of Movies I Want To See Just To LOOK At. Although it actually does look quite entertaining. But those sets! Those costumes! Julia Roberts finally letting out her inner evil queen! Now it's just getting Matt to go. Oh well. Maybe it's a girls' night type of film. Although this is the same director that just released The Immortals, maybe I can do a quid pro quo deal if I go see that with him (but it looks SO violent). Quandary.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roundup/Update/Just Some Stuff

I need to blog about more stuff, clearly! Sorry about that. The tree guy came out yesterday and he is going to take out our front trees (dying, badly pruned, etc.) and we have to go through the rigamarole with the city to replace the street tree... it literally took MONTHS to get the permit to take it out when it is obviously dying. Here's the fun part: if a branch falls on somebody, it's our fault, if it lifts up the sidewalk it's our problem, but we need their permission to do anything to/about it or they will ticket us. And we have to replace it with the same kind of tree. The plus is that there is a nonprofit that will give us a free tree but we have to go to some sort of class in order to get it so now we just want to get it over with ASAP. Then we can replace it and start fussing with the actual front yard instead (I plan on a minimum of one fruit tree).

Also, we are going to a show this weekend! It is a group Matt loves, the guitar player was a child prodigy that stuck around and the mandolin player has been playing hippie music since Jerry Garcia was around and now they play jazz and gypsy jazz together. It is at a cool club in Jack London Square and we are going to get all dolled up and go early and have dinner there (if you eat there they will reserve you seats, otherwise you have to wait in line outside for hours and then other people have already gotten seats reserved for them, it's a complete scam but at least the food is good).

And I get to dress up instead of wearing khakis and a polo shirt like the rest of the week...

Edited to add: Aarean at The Color Issue is having ANOTHER giveaway. Please don't go enter, I want to win ;)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Tonight was a lovely Halloween. We stayed in and drank wine with friends and gave candy to little kids and made them all tell us what their costumes were. Yes, we're those people. And tiny kids dressed as superheroes and fairy princesses ruled the neighborhood. The leftovers will be abandoned at work tomorrow for other people (Whoppers and Almond Joy, we are keeping the leftover Twix and Heath bars).

And I have clearly been listening to the radio too much while driving around for work. Because right now I am irritated at the pop music industry and their need for maudlin love songs (ahem, paging miss Adele?) There are more things to sing about than luuuurve. Which is why I have to post this new Florence and the Machine video. She is one of the only things I am hearing on the radio right now that I am excited about at a Neko Case level. As in, I think she is as talented and as weird and I am excited that she is on the radio as much as she is. And this new video is awesome.

Also, pretty!

The other favorites of mine that I can't believe are getting as much radio play as they are are The Black Keys. If you're going to sing about love, this is the way to do it.

They have such a good, gritty sound and that drummer makes me want to dance! What are you listening to right now that you are excited about?

The other thing I am loving right now is a blues musician named Rory Gallagher. Sometimes Matt will say, "oh, you should listen to this, you'll like this" and be completely correct and it will be somebody I never would have known about otherwise. So this is the song on repeat on my iPod this week:

Monday, October 24, 2011

God I Am Terrible At Titles

Had a nice weekend with my dad, my mom is in Utah visiting her granddaughters and Matt is in Reno checking on the house. We hung my mailbox (finally!) and got plants for both our yards. And then last night my neighbors were throwing away camellia bushes because they were mislabeled white/full sun when they were really pink and didn't care for sun at all. Which sounds like most of my yard. So those are going in back hopefully after work today.

Also, I have a job interview today! Cross your fingers for me, it's a soils job similar to one I had in Reno for FOUR YEARS so I am optimistic. Based on info from a friend that works there it would mean some annoying office politics but it would be work that I am good at, plus a salary, benefits and a 10 MINUTE COMMUTE.


And since I miss Matt:

I love Peter Gabriel. Also my husband.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hi Again

So it seems like this is a once-a-week blog lately. That's about how exciting my life is right now. If one of these other jobs pans out and I suddenly get a normal sleep schedule and a normal commute I could see going back to three or four posts a week but I am just not doing projects like I have been in the past.

I come home, do some laundry, clean up the kitchen and take a shower. Then I have dinner and fall asleep, usually to reruns of The Big Bang Theory. My garden projects are in limbo until we decide what to do. And the house is getting painted, one bit at a time, but it is all neutral colors or colors that don't show up on my camera (mad photography skills here).

I hope to get some projects taken care of this weekend and have some pictures to show for it. I just pulled my squash plants out and about half of my tomatoes as it has gotten wet so they are just sad and sloppy now. So once I finish cleaning up out there I want to redo the foundation plantings around where the veggies will go again in spring. Roses, lavender, gaura and loropetalum are the current front-runners as this is only a moderately sunny area and I want to keep the back comparatively more traditional. I have fantasies of dogwoods and rhododendrons for the full shade...

The front, I have other ideas for. We are waiting for a permit to take out the street tree and once that is out we are taking out the sad fruitless mulberry too. And the lawn. It is going to be a big project. And a decent amount of it hinges on what I can get the landlord to fund. There is a nonprofit that will replace the street tree but I want to replace the mulberry with a (very fruiting) navel orange, with a Western Redbud on the side. Currently it is 90% lawn with a couple of small beds up against the house that I have mostly filled with succulents. I want to do a nice mix of low-water stuff like ceanothus and more lavender with succulents. I have some volunteer agaves in pots that will be going in, and the "fence" between our yard and the neighbors is made of yuccas and I want to break that up a little bit and clump them around other places in the yard so they don't look completely random over there (ha).

And I just wanted to share a cute new blog I found, The Color Issue, it is full of fun inspiration  (just what I need right now as the holidays loom).

Pictures soon, I promise!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Was Over It, But Now I'm REALLY Over It

Years ago I saw the Keep Calm poster somewhere and ordered one from Barter Books. I actually took it down because I got so sick of it, and stopped reading a snotty decor blog after she started printing her own and selling them with no effort to give Barter Books any kind of credit. Somebody in the UK has also started doing this, but they have also attempted to sue Barter Books to stop 'em from selling the posters. Crazy? Yes. But there has also been a decent writeup of the whole story, here. And I have decided that I really like The Hairpin. I think it was what was kind of going for, but it doesn't piss me off. And my new favorite decor blog is here. Any new favorites, ladies?

I am trying to pay off some stuff so I am between projects and not doing much exciting stuff right now but I am sure reading a lot! Gotta love the library! And whoever got me hooked on Ngaio Marsh, thanks again! By rights, my house should probably be cleaner, based on what I am reading about everyone else doing ;) Maybe this weekend...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moving Slowly

These 6-2:30 hours are not working well for me. I came home today and took a two hour nap. I need to get applying to jobs instead of watching The Big Bang Theory in reruns.

But I will say, I went to an amazing concert Saturday night. CAKE has an email list and if you are on it and were in the Bay Area you got access to tickets to what basically amounted to a private show on the San Francisco Belle on a cruise around the bay. And for the same price they are playing next month at the Fox theater with two other bands. Who I don't care about. So this was the show for me!

It was an interesting show - they played a lot of their new album and very few of their biggest hits. And the crowd knew all the words to every song! And it was some good people-watching, one of the first shows I have been to since moving back to the Bay Area and a very stereotypical SF-looking crowd (as opposed to the last show I saw, which was Prince).

Also I came home with a limited-edition letterpress poster from the show! Now I just have to figure out where it can go in my house...

And in garden news (someday there will be pictures) I think my tomatoes are going to be a failure. Too much water. They are finally ripening now and the ones that got hit by the lawn sprinklers are weirdly squishy while not being ripe enough to pull off of the vines yet. My expectations are not high. The one tiny bush that didn't get hit by the sprinklers at all is half their size and is successfully producing awesome tomatoes, interestingly enough.

Musical interlude (not CAKE):

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breaking The Blog Silence (Ooh That Sounds So Serious)

So the truth is, my job is less than "all that". It is a good starter job, but overall, there are a lot of things I don't love. The hours right now are making me an antisocial non-blogging lame-o, but hopefully those will change in a couple of weeks. And I am trying to decide if the job is making me feel racist, or if the people I am seeing are really just the racists. I work with plants. It is a maintenance job. Thus, the three people that have trained me so far have all been Hispanic. Very nice and good at their jobs too. Now we work with plants, so people come and ask us plant questions (somebody asked me a cleaning question my first week but he was a total douche so I just said "I'm not a cleaning lady, I just do plants"). Whenever somebody white or Asian has a plant question, they ask me. I think it's fairly clear that I'm the trainee, but maybe not. Whenever we are dealing with demanding little ladies who want their plants Just So, they tell me. However, whenever some other maintenance person in the area or secretary we have a question for happens to be Hispanic, it's like I don't exist because I can't talk to them in Spanish. Is this weird? Or do I just need to be practical and learn some Spanish?

In the "good stuff going on", Matt is meeting people and being social. He has been a shut-in ever since the accident except for when Reno friends visit, so this is really exciting. He is starting to really enjoy his job and is staying late tonight for a blues jam (because all the guys there are into blues jams, apparently). Tomorrow night he is off to the city to see a show with a buddy. I had to get on his schedule for date night Friday night! No idea what we will do, but it will be together, and sans guitars.

And I am getting lots of food for my plant obsession! Today I brought home some leftovers that can't be reused, three bromeliads and three phalaenopsis orchids that are still mostly blooming. They sell "color bowls" and the color has to be kept up-to-date and while with the bigger foliage plants they can often be reused, the color really can't be. So free purple orchids for me! It is still to be seen what will survive in this house... my current orchids have been blooming for a month and a half now and my grandmother used to keep her cymbidium orchids outdoors so I am tempted to try doing the same with these fellas when they are not in bloom.

AND I am fantasizing about what to do with these paychecks I am going to be getting! Note the key word, fantasizing. Apparently fall means neutrals and navy for my imaginary living room.

Living Room Update

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Work It!

So today I got my first paycheck since October. It was a relief. The job is not my favorite, I am epically overqualified but until I find something that uses all my skills it is sure better than nothing. I get to go to malls and offices and model homes and all different places like that and take care of the plants. We bring new orchids when the old ones are done blooming and make sure everything is pretty and healthy and shiny. So I get to drive to all different places and meet new people every day and be active and busy and walking around a lot. And now I don't have to apply to the cheesy $10/hour Part Time Administrative Assistant jobs just so I can feel like I am making an effort. I am making an effort, so I can just apply to cool lab jobs and eventually I will find the right one.

But I don't love getting up at 6:15 every morning when Matt gets to sleep in. Waah. He also may have talked himself into a job at a super fancy boutique local guitar shop. I don't know how he does it, he just has a knack. I need to get him to work some of his mojo on my lab cover letters.

Also, here are some pretty pictures from my last Friday at Filoli with my mom before I rejoined the working world. It was apparently my day for peachy flowers. Isn't that last zinnia amazing with the color gradient? I couldn't do justice to most of the dahlias and roses but I am sure getting tempted to plant some! I am mostly all low-water and pro-natives but they sure are purty. Such inner turmoil!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recommendation Roundup

So I have been collecting recommendations for authors on the lines of Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey. Last week I went to the library and got a stack of books for my trip. So here is the short version:

Ngaio Marsh - Final Curtain
I had never heard of her stuff, and I really enjoyed this one. Very thorough on the characterization and there were fun and sympathetic characters while the plot wasn't totally implausible. I will be looking for more of her stuff. It may not be representative, as the first half is told from the perspective of the Detective-Inspector's wife and I don't know if she ever shows up again, but she is a particularly enjoyable character.

Margery Allingham - Black Plumes
This was the darkest in tone and there was a complete dearth of sympathetic characters. It was a little dated, but my real problem was there were just too many miserable, uninteresting or unbelievable people and I thought the twist at the end was a little too out-of-the-blue. I may try a different one before I write her off completely, but so far I have to say she may just not be my style. 

Patricia Wentworth - The Ivory Dagger
I am trying not to hold it against her that in her first book that I grabbed, the butler did it. But there were well-drawn characters and an interesting story and I liked the combo of Miss Silver and Inspector Abbott. It is a little fluffier than the others and everyone ends up happily ever after (other than the murderer, and the murder-ee) but not too twee to be enjoyable.

Alan Bradley - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Flavia de Luce started out as an irritating character, but she has definitely grown on me. As a modern comparison to these older writers, this stood up well. It is similar in tone, and the overly descriptive writing sometimes gets wearing, but the characters are written well enough for me to give the next book a shot.

And now my mom wants to give me some Simenon. We'll see how he stacks up. 

Also, as a logophile, I am trying to arrest the decline of my vocabulary as I get farther away from all of my English classes. Here are the new words I collected from the most recent batch:

rubicund - of a reddish color; ruddy; rosy

epergne - a large table centerpiece consisting of a frame with extended arms or branches supporting holders, as for flowers, fruit, or sweetmeats

verjuice - the acid juice of unripe grapes, apples, or crab apples, formerly much used in making sauces, etc.

tumulus - the mound of earth placed over a tomb

All definitions from here. Not the most useful batch this time, but enjoyable all the same. And spellcheck hates them all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So Far, So Good

We went back to Reno this week. It was interesting. We called the renter and left him a message telling him we were coming by the house the next day. This is reasonable as the lease only requires 24 hours notice. Then apparently he sat on his phone and called me with his butt, as I was treated to part of a conversation between him and one of his kids explaining that someone had better be there, and if nobody was there we were likely to open the doors of their rooms and see the litter box.

There is no cat on the lease.

Then he actually called me and we had a nice chat about the state of the garden and the sprinklers. We told him we wanted to come check on the yard etc. and Matt wanted to change the air filter in the A/C and the water filter under the kitchen sink. He was gone camping all weekend with the dog, but conveniently, there would be a kid there.

So we go.

The house is pristine. You couldn't tell there was a dog living there, let alone a cat. It looks like they shampooed the carpets that week. In fact, it looks like they just moved in and WE shampooed the carpets last week.

Keep in mind, this is a single dad with two sons, a dog and a theoretical cat. And our cream-colored carpet. And they have been living there since April.

I think we scored in the renter department. It's so nice when something goes really really right. Also, they seem to be aware of what is going on in the garden. There looked like there had been a hurried cleanup but when he said on the phone that the sprinklers were all working, he knew what he was talking about. And there was a weird wet spring with a lot of late snow and most of the plants survived (which is awesome, considering we turned the sprinklers on in April too). So I did some pruning and cleanup so they wouldn't have to, and so if they did they could tell the weeds from the ground covers.

But the doors to the kids rooms were both shut. I think we will cross our fingers and try to keep away from the gift horse's mouth for now.
Also, somebody made Ikea instructions on how to build your own TARDIS. I love it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And I Don't Even Like Nirvana

Some people say electric cellos are cheating. I say, as long as they don't have pedals and effects, I am still in. Also, shaggy lead cello dude? You are adorable.

Normally I hate cover bands. But I love me some cello rock, apparently. That Welcome to the Jungle vid cracks me up.

And just for some cred. This is also gorgeous. And not a pop song. At least, not from this century.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rereading Elderly British Mystery Novels Is Good For The Vocabulary

pertinacity - persistence

intransigent - uncompromising, inflexible

infra dig - below one's dignity

compunction - guilt, moral scruple felt after doing something bad

callow - inexperienced, immature

serried - crowded or pressed together, esp. in rows

The last two I was shaky on but the first four I flat out went and looked up. I had a much better vocabulary when I was in school. Somehow Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey go together well. Some research shows that they were born three years apart and Sayers only had a couple of years head start on the mystery novel writing game, I wonder why I always assumed Tey was of a later era? Maybe Lord Peter will just never be a modern character to me. It may also be his trappings of old-fashioned English aristocracy. There is nothing old-fashioned about Inspector Grant, and I am almost as fond of him as I am of Lord Peter.

Any other fun brainy mystery-writing ladies I should be reading? Also, is it interesting or just a sign of their times that both of these ladies had male protagonists to solve their mysteries? Barring Miss Climpson, of course.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


This has been a better week for outings and not spending too much money. Hakone Gardens is five bucks but sometimes that is a totally justifiable expense.
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. I recommend clicking to embiggen. It is worth it.
Apparently the oldest Japanese gardens in the western hemisphere, Hakone is in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains and let me tell you, I love their bamboo forest. This place is inspiring me to work in my yard, as unrelated as that may seem. Might have to plant some bamboo... in a pot. No room for a forest here!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cooking Fail

I guess it wasn't a total failure, as the soup was salvageable, but this was my downfall:

I got suckered at the new Farmer's Market last weekend into getting something weird out of sheer curiosity. It's bitter melon, and I soaked it in ice water and de-seeded it and put it in a nice soup and picked a piece out to taste and almost spit it out. So I guess the ice water did nothing to decrease the bitterness and I am just a wuss. I picked every single slice out of that soup and now I am going to go enjoy it.

I finally made stock today out of the turkey carcass in my freezer, so it has turkey, carrots, noodles, bok choy and ginger. And I think that will be just fine. We have been having a really mild July all of a sudden so I figure I need to make soup while I can get away with it. It was this or lentil soup, which I will post a recipe for soon because now it is my favorite new soup.

Also, Tuesday's apricot jam came out a little bit too liquid, but overall it was nice. Now I just need to get a lot more apricots. I decreased the sugar so I could taste the fruit more, so it didn't set quite as much. But it's tasty, and will stay on a PB&J, so I don't care. Although apparently I shouldn't go late to Farmer's Market and get the smushy ones for cheap, because they have less pectin and my jam will be even runnier. It's nice to be worrying about small stuff for a while instead of big stuff, let me tell you.

And the bitter melon failure? Cost all of $0.45. So I think I'll be able to cope.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back In the Saddle Again?

Sorry for the radio silence over here, the main occupation for a while has been calling insurance companies, taking Matt to doctor's appointments and changing his dressings. But things have started to settle down and I am getting back to the job applications and garden projects. And this week I have some cooking adventures to ramble on about!
I have under my belt this week an excellent batch of vegetarian chili, my first-ever batch of apricot jam and tonight, a harbinger of the zucchini overwhelmedness to come; fritters.
 They are always a hit but this time there was the added joy of roasted red pepper "aioli". Yes, I stuck a bunch of mayo in a blender with garlic and roasted red peppers. And it was SO GOOD.
 Matt likes his with a shot of Tapatio but they don't even need it.
He wants more but the next zucchini project will probably be muffins, just to mix things up. Also, it is a Barefoot Contessa recipe so they are fried in a mix of oil and butter and there is only so much of that we really need.

I went on his hike with him for the first time today since we've moved here. When we got here I just pointed him at the local trail and said "go". And today I finally did it with him. It took about 2.5 hours round trip and based on the crappy map on the county website, I think we went around 10 miles. So that hopefully made up for some of the fritters.

I am feeling needy based on everyone's prettifying posts and I am debating the merits of spending my $$ on a haircut vs. an eyebrow wax vs. makeup vs. clothes. Odds are I would normally not be doing any of these things anytime soon but my grandmother's memorial is coming up and I am going to need to look respectable at the cemetery (just family) and the reception (friends and neighbors and people I went to preschool with). And for lots of photographs. So I am thinking I will start with a haircut and see how things progress from there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Many Thanks

It has been a crappy couple of weeks, thanks so much for all the well wishes everyone! Tomorrow Matt finally gets his first surgery so we are crossing our fingers that we have been doing everything right and it will be the first of very few surgeries that he needs.

The crappy bit is that he was scheduled to have it LAST Tuesday, but Monday when we were taking care of all the pre-op tests (he has an exciting medical history that makes doctors want LOTS of tests before they poke him) I was told at 9:30 that he was good to go and that the hospital and the insurance company were on the same page and everything was hunky-dory. That afternoon I got another call saying that the hospital was out of network and we were welcome to get the surgery done if we were prepared to pay cash-ola for the whole shebang. While currently both not employed. BUT INSURED. This seems to defeat the purpose of insurance.

So I spent an excessive amount of time on the phone and got a doctor who was in our network, and down the street. However, long story short, we met with him on Thursday and hated him, but scheduled another pre-op appointment for today because we thought he was our best option. And got home to a letter from the hospital saying the surgery at the hospital was totally approved and we should go do that. So I call the insurance and they say "yeah, go for it, why didn't you get that done Tuesday?" and when I call the hospital to schedule it they say "no, you're not approved, you can't schedule anything". So there were many hours on the phone and not yelling but repeat phone calls to see if somebody else could transfer me somewhere more useful instead of to the lady who works from 6:30 to 3 when I am calling at 3:15.

Who works from 6:30 to 3 when they are supposed to be helping people in the same time zone?

Anyways, things are getting sorted, surgeries with the nice doctor will be covered, well wishes are appreciated, and I promise there will be pictures soon of my adorable office (as soon as it is no longer covered in insurance papers on every surface) and the most attractive fabric I have ever found and been forced to buy even though I am scared to cut and/or sew it because it is SO GORGEOUS. Hopefully I will be functional enough as a human being to get back to the projects before any more of them accumulate. I also have four neglected tomato plants that need to get in the ground1

It has been a Caps Lock last couple of weeks. Hope everyone's June is going well now that it is almost half over. Yeesh.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

To Top It All Off

I flipped my car. Amazingly, there were no bones broken, I am sore but ok and Matt needs skin grafts on the back of his head because he got a bunch of window glass in the back of his head. We found a used Jetta with side curtain air bags so I don't have to freak out about side windows any more. We thought it was the sunroof but that is in one piece. Go figure. 

 Take home message? Don't rush, there is always time to get where you need to go. And I would totally get a Legend again if it had side air bags. This little car saved our butts. And most of the rest of us.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Bad Weekend

My grandmother died Saturday night. She was a HUGE part of my life. She was the only person that ever sent me mail, I always had to have stamps and stationery on hand just for responding to her letters. She would mail me any little clipping or picture that made me think of her, and in college when I was on my own for the first time I loved getting weird little things in my mailbox. When I was in college she would call and leave messages and my roommates would never be able to understand what she said, they'd just say "We think somebody called for you." When she called the house and Matt answered the phone she would just say "Where is she?" They had whole conversations about me and how grumpy I get and whenever I would be visiting her for too long she would send me home to Matt "so he doesn't divorce you."

When I was little I was jealous of all the other kids who had babysitters because she was my only babysitter for my entire childhood. I didn't realize how good I had it. We would walk to the park and she would hang out with all the moms while I played. Every weekend my parents would drop me off at her house and she would feed me totally unhealthy Hungarian food on Saturday night and we would watch old musicals on PBS and play card games. Then I would take a bath in her bathtub and sleep in her sparest spare room. In the morning I would go wake her up and she would make me eggs and bacon while I watched old Adam West Batman reruns on TV. Then we would go work in her yard all day. I mowed her lawn (the way it was supposed to be done) and planted and dug things up under her eagle-eyed supervision. I was never allowed to touch the azaleas. The fuchsias looked like little ballerinas and the camellias were the size of a baseball. The jade plants were bigger than I was. I didn't know anyone else with a garden like hers.

In junior high and high school she came to all my track meets, basketball games and concerts. She was my biggest fan. Even in college she managed to see one of my concerts. We had big family dinner at her house every Christmas Eve, and every Easter. This year we had Easter at her house again with the whole family for the first time in at least five years. I worked my butt off and she had a great time (so did everybody else, I'm told). We sat around and my sisters looked through all her old furniture and rugs and everybody took whatever they could fit in their cars. She loved seeing us with her stuff, knowing who was going to use what where.

In the last couple of years we tried to organize ourselves so everybody talked to her at least twice a week. She loved it. Whenever you called her she gave you the latest gossip on everybody else. She got all the news first and she would make sure everybody knew whether you were going to a concert this weekend or just planting a shrub. She was 104. When she moved into the nursing home last year my dad got her a cell phone. It was her lifeline. She racked up a HUGE phone bill. She had people calling her from Hungary, from the East Coast, from all over the place. And she called us all the time. In the last three months of me living here, she was never without that phone. In the hospital when she was too tired to talk I would tuck her in with her phone by her pillow and my sisters would call her and talk at her just so she could hear their voices.

Now I live in her house. I had to rearrange all the furniture and repaint the entire place so it wouldn't be weird. And I can prune the azaleas. But I'd rather have her here. The nursing home is two blocks away and it is so strange not having to stop there on my way home any more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Totally Out Of Title Inspiration.

So I am back. And pictures of the painted room will have to wait until the a.m. when it is light. But I just got back from a weirdly mixed/nice family trip. My family flew to Phoenix from our respective cities of residence, and then all got in one car (an Armada, and the back seat is NOT comfortable, I wish I got carsick so I could always get to sit shotgun) and drove to Prescott (say it with me, Pres-KIT), Arizona. It is a cute little town about two hours north of Phoenix and man, was that a long drive. I am the baby and my three sisters and I and my parents, sans partners or children, all went there for my grandfather's memorial.
We stayed in the historic and wacky Hassayampa Inn, and my oldest sister and I ended up getting a suite with a parlor. The parlor had its own door! We walked down the hall and our door was one down from the end of the hall and I looked at the door at the end and said "I wonder who gets the Parlor?" and then we walked into our room and they were connected. So nobody had as nice of a room as we did and we totally rubbed it in. But then everybody hung out there anyways.The memorial was very low-key, we just had a nice room with a slideshow and pictures of him and people stood around and told stories about my grandad. And then we went and hung out at the hotel bar. 

I'd totally stay there again if I could be sure we didn't get one of the even wackier rooms. But it was awesome when people came to get us and we invited them in via the parlor door. Also, my aunt who got to clean out my grandad's house let us look through a whole pile of his mom's jewelry that she didn't know what to do with, so I wore one of her necklaces to the memorial. It was a very odd vibe but we all had a really nice time in the end. 

And just to make sure I looked decent (and because I haven't found anywhere to get a cheap haircut yet), I got my brows done before we left. It's more expensive down here, but they also "fixed" my makeup afterwards, a.k.a. gave me a whole new face of stuff and tried to sell me on lash and brow tinting. I love a face of new stuff, but lash and brow tinting completely creeps me out so that was a little annoying. I am still totally tempted by the purple mascara, believe it or not. The brow stuff really fills in and tidies up my brows nicely and the mascara, cliche as it sounds, really made my eyes pop. The tinted moisturizer was nice, but I couldn't really tell if it was any better than the stuff I normally use. And the blush was horrible and dark and shiny and looked really bad. I mostly just thought it would fill out the little image roundup I've got going on.
Benefit Cosmetics : makeup : box o' powder
$28 -

Benefit Cosmetics : makeup : foundation
$30 -

Benefit Cosmetics : makeup : eyes & brows
$30 -

Benefit Cosmetics : makeup : mascara
$19 -

And the obligatory packing rundown. 
J Crew vneck sweater
$88 -

J Crew vintage top
$80 -

Short cardigan
$60 -

Old Navy sheer top
$13 -

Banana Republic jeans
$67 -

GAP bootcut pants
$60 -

$49 -

Gap short
$40 -

$35 -

Indigo by clark

Privo slip shoes
$50 -

Kenneth Jay Lane stamped jewelry
195 GBP -

$120 -

Privo Gali at
$70 -

Of course, these are all the Polyvore equivalents, the real deal had a lot more purple and a lot less J. Crew. It fit perfectly in the MLC though. The Patagonia Maximum Legal Carryon is perfect for a nice weekend trip. And it makes roaming the airports much easier when all you have is a big soft backpack with no frame.

I will take office pictures as soon as it isn't the middle of the night. And then we can discuss how the heck I am supposed to "finish" in here other than spending a bunch of $$$.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Biting The Bullet

I am painting my office. The same color as most of the rest of the house. For now. It may change but right now I am starting to get the feeling that anything that is decent and clean-looking will be more restful to the eye than the array of big swatches of colors that I don't like. Sigh.

Pictures will be forthcoming.

Also, I love this website and I realized, I must share it with my fellow logophiles!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Miss Cookbook Got Me Thinking

What are some of the weirdest things you have ever eaten? We went to Teske's Germania Saturday night and I got wild boar goulash. It was delicious.

I like trying something unusual on a menu. Especially if somebody else is buying ;) If I can't get it at an average grocery store, I am probably 30% more likely to try it at a restaurant. That may not mean I'll get it ever again though.

Rabbit and duck were both eh, I don't think I'd try them again. There is always the cute factor with those - as a proper Disney-watching American female, can I eat ducks and bunnies without a twinge of guilt? Yes, once. But I probably won't do it again. Venison, boar and elk I would all definitely try again. Pigeon? Sure, it's just all dark meat. I like dark meat. But skate? Terrible texture. Who thought that was a good idea? Apparently me AND a fancy restaurant. Boy were we all wrong.

What are some unusual dishes you never expected to try? And did you like them?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Your Saturday Night Entertainment

I love this site. We are taking my dad here for his birthday dinner tonight. I may paint my office tomorrow. But first we are having muffins and frittata for Mother's day brunch. And I'm done. Is a pre-dinner nap not the done thing? Because I feel like I will need the energy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Swear I Am Still Here

Thus, a To-Do list to keep me in action in my poor little office:
Choose paint color
Paint walls
Continue to empty closet (this is the closet of DOOM right now, let me tell you)
Get rid of unwanted stuff so there is room to breathe (I am torn between making the effort to sell stuff and being lazy and donating it)
Edit out tiny things (Alana turned me onto this lovely blog and I am enamored of this post on editing)

I am not so in need of adding things (unless adding another closet is an option) so I am just working on subtracting. I put a pair of big nice throw pillows on Craigslist and am trying to decide if that is weird and if I should just donate them. They are nice though, and barely used at all.

And I finally found a band that I can go watch with both my parents and Matt. Hell hath possibly frozen over.

Matt loves the guitarist and I luuuurve the bass player. And I think everybody loves the fiddler, she is hilarious.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Yet another project. The front of the house has siding on the bottom half of it and a bed that runs along it, and until recently it had a big hedge of crazy plumbago that crawls into the siding and under the house and the contractor hates it and the exterminator hates it and the landlord hates it. So it got ripped out and now I get to paint the siding and dig out the roots and replant the bed.
 from here.

This is our awesome focal plant. It is a smoke bush, which normally comes in dark purple. That was my original idea, but the landlord convinced me it wouldn't show up enough, and this one plant happened to be on display at the nursery. The siding is the bottom half of the wall and it is dark green. So now I have a lime green smoke bush and some phormiums to accent it that should also show up well.
from here

And a nice variety of wacky succulents to underplant with. A good low-water, full-sun combo. But it meant today I repainted the bottom half of the wall (the bit with siding) and then put up new house numbers. Before I could do any planting. And sadly, the old house numbers were almost invisibly small, because they were actual metal and not metal-colored plastic like my new ones (twice as big though and actually visible from the street). But of course I broke one installing it so now I have to return it and get a new one (right now it is held together with black electrical tape). I wish I could get metal ones again but I doubt they'd be in the budget.

Plants down here are much more exciting. Succulents are annuals in Nevada because they freeze solid with the first snow. Here, not so much. There will be real After pictures on this one, I promise.

Update: here they are!
 Freshly painted green bits and no hedge.
 Ta MotherF'ing Dah.
 After all that buildup, this looks pretty tame. But it was a beast to dig out the stupid roots from that hedge. And that agave on the right really fought back. The succulents (other than the awesome greeny-purple one in the middle) were hand-me-downs from my sister, and the smoke tree and phormiums were purchased by the landlord (on the principle that, even if we don't stay, he gets to keep them so he might as well fork over), and those agaves were stealthily growing in my backyard. So now they get their moment in the sun. I don't even know why they were in the backyard, they were behind a shrub so you couldn't even see them. 

So, anyways. Ta Dah!