Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Love You Mommy!

4 generations, Mom is the little girl
This is Mother's Day weekend and also my Mom's Birthday.  When I was growing up it made perfect sense that her birthday was at the same time as Mother's Day, because that's what she was. It is also easy to remember.  But it must be hard to have them run together.  So, I celebrate Mom as a mom on Mother's day but I hope she knows I also celebrate her as a wonderful woman and whole person on her Birthday.

Mom taught me tons of stuff but mostly to tell a good story and add a little drama to everyday life.  It certainly makes things more interesting.  She is also an excellent singer. 

Me and Mom, it's the '70s don't judge.
Several years ago we went to Italy and that was so much fun because we got to act like friends too and see new things together. We went with her friends and they welcomed me to the gang and it was strange at first to be hanging out like that but also very cool. 

I don't get many chances to do that living so far away from her and I miss hanging out.  Happy Birthday Mom and thanks for being my Mom (and Steve's, I guess).

Monday, March 14, 2011

When You are Worried About the Future, Redecorate Your Living Room

Yeah, so I have been a little nervous lately for a variety of reasons I will not go into here. Needless to say I had to channel that somewhere and my mind kept coming back to my living room. I found myself spending countless hours searching the Internet for area rugs and throw pillows. I hated my area rug. It was wrinkled in several places and I could never straighten it. I was over it. I also had some pictures I never did get framed 4 years after saving a place for them behind the couch. The new chairs seemed to be insulted, having to sit in this half completed mess of a room. If I can't get my life together at least I can finish my living room.

So I finally framed the pictures and replaced the rug. The rug was a tough one since the chairs had such a loud pattern. I wanted my living room to be grown up but also quirky and fun so no classic oriental pattern would do. Last, the room is very small because I live in a small apartment because the east coast is expensive, yo. I discovered shag rugs and decided maybe texture was a better solution that pattern. I thought about it for several weeks and had to decide if I really was the person that was going to buy a gold shag rug. But in the end I decided I was, I was indeed that person. Does gold shag say grown up but still quirky? I think it does. Or maybe I will hate it in a few months. Hope not.

I still have to replace those horrible pillows. I have several picked out on Etsy. What do you think? (Ed. note: Mark tried to fix my wonky formatting on these pics but then he got frustrated and I got a lecture about how to upload pics which I was not in the mood for so they remain wonky)

Penmanship Pillow

Saturday, July 31, 2010

in which i yammer on about music

Wow, guess its been a long time since I even looked at this blog. So today I decided to refresh the whole thing and start again. As you can see I used some of the newfangled templates and such. It looks so good, I just blew your mind.

Last night hubby and myself took a little stroll in our neighborhood to get some take out from Kabob Hut. I would go there for the name alone but luckily the food is tasty too. We forgot it was Friday and Fridays in the summer mean some sort of block party/outdoor concert thing with tons of people and randomness. Mark does not like people so large numbers of them in close proximity make him nervous. Unfortunately, right in front of the Hut was the live band so it was loud and super crowded. As we approached the band began to play the classic 90’s 4 Non Blondes hit, “What’s Up” and the singer appeared to be a middle aged soccer mom type. Interesting.

We escaped without incident but it did get me to thinking about music. I have been listening to more since I gave up my car and use my ipod while I walk everywhere. Listening to music while walking around town does kind of feel like you are in your own movie. Also people look at you funny if you try to sing along, so maybe you should avoid that. I listen to a lot of old stuff from my youth because I don’t really follow new music and I know that makes me old.

I am missing a good chunk of my college music because most of it was on tape, usually copied from a friend. After several moves I eventually I threw out the bag of tapes I had. My taste in music hasn’t changed too much since high school but in college when I was a little more angry and a little more political I did tend to listen to some harder stuff. When Mark and I first met I introduced him to Consolidated with the album Business of Punishment and it became one of his favorites. But we have lost that one twice, once when he let someone borrow the tape and again when we bought the CD and I think we left it in the Kia after the car was totaled.

In high school I was way into The Smiths (and Morrissey, Bona Drag is especially good), The Cure, anything British like Cloudcuckooland by the Lightning Seeds. Senior year I became interested in singing and therefore great albums to sing to like Carole King’s Tapestry and James Taylor. In college I discovered Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Throwing Muses, Veruca Salt, The Fastbacks, The Sundays and tons more. Also, for the record, Courtney Love is amazing and if you have not seen her new Behind the Music episode you should do it immediately. I need that new album.

Since college it has been harder to keep up with new music that I truly like. I mean, I could if I took the time I guess but I just never did. I began listening to a lot more standards and jazz classics. Mark and I would have once a week candlelight dinner at home with martinis and classic ladies of Jazz. I also have a strange obsession with Doris Day.

Overall I am more of a lyric person than a music person so if the lyrics are good or I can sing to it I like it. I especially like witty or clever lyrics. Lately I have been listening to Pandora to try and get new music I like. It’s working. My favorite new band is The Bird and the Bee. They did an entire album of Hall and Oates covers. ‘Nough said. I actually only have Ray Guns are Not the Future which I highly recommend. Pandora also introduced me to my new theme song, The Dollyrots song “Because I’m Awesome”. And so is this blog. Rock on.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


So, We just had back-to-back blizzards, have you heard? It's kinda newsworthy. I've only lived here 3 years but it seems like we get very little snow here. I like that.

Last Friday the BIG STORM was coming so we got out of work early and everyone was freaking out. I had gone to the grocery store the night before to stock up and it was super crowded with everyone buying essentials like hot cocoa and cheese doodles. Friday night we kept waiting for the snow and making fun and being a little disappointed because it didn't seem to be coming. Then it started. Mark was so excited he could barely sleep and kept jumping up to see what it looked like NOW.

The snow kept coming all day and it was very pretty and exciting and we were all settled in. Mark decided to go outside and check it out and I took a picture for fun and we laughed. That night Mark was playing fetch with the cat (it's true she loves to play but doesn't often bring the rubber band all the way back) He jumped up to pick the band off the floor and stubbed his toe. It hurt. A lot. But you have to remember that Mark complains about every little injury so his reaction was not necessarily indicative of the actual level of injury. I told him to quit bellyaching unless it starts to bruise. Well, it did, two toes and part of the foot, quite black and blue. He may actually have broken a toe. He called his Mom, the nurse, and we taped it up as per instructions. Snow storm not seeming so fun now.

Sunday we decided to try and dig ourselves out. But we didn't plan on that part. We had no snow shovel or shovel of any kind. I had a rubber broom (as seen on TV) that I never use because its not as cool as it seemed on TV. I also had a plastic dust pan. We took those things outside and Mark tried to push the snow off the car and I used the pan to shovel around the car. That lasted about a minute. My dust pan broke. We gave up. Nothing is open to purchase shovels. We went back inside. I started to feel trapped because in fact I was and that did not make me happy. We began bickering. But, thinking work would definitely be canceled and we would at least have a day off made us feel better. And it was, no work for us, suckers!

Monday I walked over to the hardware store (conveniently just across the street but even then I had to walk in the road because sidewalks no longer exist). They only had kid's size snow shovels. It's still better than what we started with so I bought it and trudged home. Mark and I took turns with the shovel even though he had to shove his broken toe into shoes and socks to do it. It took almost 5 hours to dig out the porch, sidewalk, and car. While Mark finished I took the car to the store to just get out and pick up a few things. I locked the door. Neither of us had our phones. Mark was locked out until I got back. He was not happy. That night we watched the news and learned about SNOWPOCALYPSE II: It's Not Funny Anymore. It was coming Tuesday night and all day Wednesday. Tuesday work was canceled and we might be out the rest of the week. You take the good with the bad I guess. at least I bought toilet paper at the store, and hummus. We got mail for the first time on Tuesday and I asked Mark if the postman was resentful to be trudging through the snow just to bring me a Rhode Island Novelties catalog.

Tuesday and Wednesday are a blur of boredom, local news alerts, Advil and pain. Pain in my arms, back and legs from shoveling all that snow. I am probably quite out of shape. The short shovel handle doesn't help either. I got very upset Wednesday when Days of Our Lives was cut in favor of constant snow news. Look - the governor is speaking, he says snow=bad stay off roads. Look - the mayor is speaking, snow=bad, stay off roads. GOT IT. Mark and I were not getting along, feeling very trapped, had a fight about rationing hummus. Mark's toe still hurts.

Thursday dawns and I am still in pain. Mark says we should shovel. I say no. Mark says if we have to work on Friday we need to shovel the car out. I say we are not going to work Friday and I don't feel like it. Mark's work announced they are closed through Sunday, hurrah! My work announced they will be open Friday, UGH. It's 4:00 and we have not started shoveling. I look outside and the snow fairies (or actual paid apartment groundskeepers) shoveled a narrow path from our front door to the street so there is something. We go out to shovel the car. It only took 2 hours this time.

I did go to work Friday. Roads are narrow with 10 foot walls of snow on either side and downtown snow is everywhere. But it was good to get out of the house. And talk to people. Mark's toe looks a lot better too. Friday the postman delivered my new InStyle magazine. My weekend was looking up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Favorite Holiday Traditions

I really love the holidays. It's weird because I am not christian and therefore don't "believe," but I do respect tradition and family and memories of holidays past. I also see my Protestant upbringing as part of my cultural heritage and the stories told through that religious tradition as the mythical stories I find most culturally familiar. So, it does not bother me to hear songs and messages about Jesus and the Bible; I think about them the same way I would think about Greek or Native American myths except that these are more familiar and somehow comforting.

In fact, as much as I did not enjoy church services most of the year, I really loved them on Christmas eve when the lights were low and we held candles and sang songs. It felt peaceful, the one time each year that we all just got quiet and spoke of peace and love. To me, that is what the holiday season is about.

I love the songs of Christmas because I love music, and I especially love singing. I do it secretly and only at home but when my voice meshes perfectly with a song and I know all of the words I feel so peaceful and joyful. In my household growing up both my parents loved music. My father, as a collector of music, always had the right song for any occasion and kept the music constantly playing in the house. My mother is a singer, always singing and encouraging all of us to join in and participate in the music. They probably have hundreds of Christmas albums, some better than others. Last year it was Donny Osmond, which I have to say I could live without. In my house I only have about 4 albums but I keep them playing on my ipod daily throughout December. I especially like to play them while cooking dinner and singing along. Mark does sometimes join in because, why not? We like to sing songs about our cat or with our cat's name in them so they can get pretty silly. We like to in invent the best new lyrics and crack each other up. We are playing the Christmas edition of that game now.

I love really bad Lifetime or Oxygen holiday movies. I watch them on the weekends and get excited to see the new ones or old ones I missed somehow. I can waste hours on this, but they help to put me in the mood and pass the time while I make crafts or write holiday cards. I am also encouraged to see that some of my old TV friends are finding new work, even if it is once a year. This is a tradition Mark especially hates. But he already thinks I have bad taste in TV.

I love baking for the holidays. I sometimes run out of time so I don't do it every year, but there is something about homemade holiday treats as gifts or to share with co-workers and friends. It reminds me of my Grandma's house and the endless variety of cookies she would have on hand. This year I made my grandmother's Snowball cookies, my mother's Chocolate Drop cookies, my aunt's Almond Rocca and my newest recipe, pumpkin cookies with white chocolate chips. Mark also requested Snicker doodles, which are not technically holiday cookies but whatevs.

I love holiday cards. I love choosing them and spend a lot of time on it. I choose several different styles each year and sit down to pick the perfect card for each family on my list. Bet you didn't know I put such thought into it? I think it's fun. I get this from my mom who would go out the day after Christmas to buy holiday cards half-off and she would buy A TON. We had a special cabinet at home that was bursting with boxes of holiday cards, way more than she needed in any given year. I wonder if she is still slogging through her back-stash? She also writes a letter every year. Letters are controversial, which surprised me when I discovered it as an adult. I thought it was just what you do. Sitting down to reflect on your year and how it changed you or didn't or what you learned about life and yourself. Even if you don't send the letter, I recommend you write one as a way to reflect on each year and live a little more thoughtfully. Or you could just brag. I will read anything.

I love buying presents, because I love shopping, and researching and researching shopping. I spend several weeks looking at all of my options and thinking about the person and what they would like. I narrow it down; I first decide what gifts I will make and what I will buy and have to choose carefully in order to have time to make everything. This year I did not and had to purchase a last minute gift which I hate because there is no time for researching. Sometimes I choose poorly and after the holidays I wake from my stupor and think What was I THINKING? but will probably keep making those mistakes in different ways for different people each year. Sorry in advance.

To me, the best parts of Christmas are the weeks leading up to it with the planning and projects and dreaming. So, I wish you much Peace and Joy this holiday season, whatever you celebrate, whatever your cultural or religious (or both) traditions. They all connect us to those we love and remind us to live in peace and respect for all of the parts of this season that each of us enjoy most.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cosmic Cauliflower

We interrupt this holiday season with a post about the last share of produce from One Straw Farm. It was about 3 weeks ago that we got our final produce before the long dark winter of frozen veggies. This lovely gem appeared on my kitchen counter. Mark explained that it is called cosmic cauliflower and is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. We eyed it suspiciously for about a week until we ran low on any other veggies and it started to look it's age. We had to decide to eat it or throw it away. Both options had their merits because, look at it! It was scary. I am not normally wasteful so I decided one night to cook it up. I didn't tell Mark because I thought it should be a surprise so he didn't have time to object. We had already tried purple cauliflower and it was not as good as the original so this could go either way.

I cooked it up the way I cook most cauliflower or broccoli with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I had to kind of slice it up and it crumbled quite a bit in the pan. But, it was good, it did taste like both cauliflower and broccoli which is weird but not bad. Mark was a little nervous when he saw it but agreed that it was OK. I still don't know why you can't just eat one or the other but it looks cool at least.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Handmade Holidays

I bring this up a lot but I realize it might be helpful to have some tools you can use to make this holiday handmade! I took the handmade pledge 3 years ago and have been pretty faithful with it. You can take the pledge here. I make some gifts and buy some gifts but most is indeed handmade. Including the soap I buy every year from the Officina Profumo Farmaciadi Santa Maria Novella those monks have been hand-crafting soaps for about 400 years!

Last year I made a scarf and some coasters for my brother, a stocking for my cousin's baby and some homemade ornaments. I also hand embroidered some handkerchiefs for my Dad and made a set of place-mats and napkins for my sister-in-law. I purchased quite a few handmade gifts including grocery bags, a hubcap clock, and reusable dryer sachets and natural handmade laundry soap all online from Etsy. I went to several handmade holiday markets to buy more stuff and save on shipping. I got a printed jersey scarf, printed kitchen towels, and I think some more soap. If you send out yearly holiday greetings, don't forget you can get those handmade too! Last year I got all my cards fromEtsy and hope to do it again this week (is it already too late?).

This year I plan to do a little more purchasing and less making myself because I was a little overwhelmed last year and when the sewing machine refuses to cooperate and you have literally hours to get a project done and in the mail it can be a bit stressful. There are so many wonderful handmade goods out there you are sure to find something perfect for everyone on your list. I really recommend going to some local craft fairs to meet the crafters in person and see everything in real life. Who knows, you might find a friend or a bargain or pick up a new skill.

If you are in the Baltimore area check out Holiday Heap on December 5

If you are in the Seattle area check out Urban Craft Uprising also on December 5

If you are anywhere else (and I would be surprised but hey) there is a complete list of upcoming craft fairs Here.

CRAFT magazine has a great blog and podcast series with some tutorials and fee patterns for a variety of crafts. That's how I found the stocking pattern last year. And if I have time I might make these cute felt holiday trees for my dining room table.

This year has been all about improving my cooking skills and since that is a craft too I am thinking of making some cookie holiday gifts. I just discovered a recipe for pumpkin spice cookies with white chocolate chips that are the bomb-dot-com!

No matter what, a handmade holiday is sooo much better than fighting the traffic at the mall. It helps keep the Joy and Peace in the holiday season.