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I Have Needs

11 Aug

Am I really the only one who feels totally overcaffeinated when the IKEA catalog shows up in July?  How about Restoration Hardware?  Or even just little ol’ Crate & Barrel?  I find it hard to believe that I’m alone here.  When he asks why I bother dog-earing the pages, I tell him that I’m just “getting ideas” for things like… paint color?  How to arrange the furniture, maybe?  I’ve never actually looked for these things in a yummy new catalog.  I’m sure I could get these ideas from the great staging they do, but what I actually see is gorgeous furniture that I need.  Wait, want.  I get those two mixed up a lot…  To understand how much I truly do not need furniture, you should know that until a few weeks ago, we owned five sofas.  Five.  This does not count upholstered chairs, of which we have at least that many.  I think I’ve mentioned that it’s a big, uncleanable house.  Holds a lot of sofas.  Davenports, if you prefer.

When we were cleaning up after our big shindig this weekend, we were looking around the house with a little bit of a critical eye, and he was telling me a few of the features he “hates” about the place.  We got on the subject of ceiling fans and other fixtures.  I have mixed feelings about ceiling fans.  I think they’re not the most beautiful design element available, but I love the option of moving the air around via something other than my expensive-to-run and highly-inefficient air conditioner.  There are two in the house, and sometimes we run them even though they’re in rooms we never use.  It’s our theory that the air circulates beyond those little rooms… but who knows.  We’re contemplating replacing one of the builder-standard gaudy “chandeliers” in the main room with a ceiling fan, but it is my opinion that it should be a non-hideous one, or it’s not really worth it.  Read: expensive.  That was pretty much immediately pointed out to me, but I quickly moved on to the next idea I had.  Take the gaudy “chandelier” in the kitchen and paint it red.  The question is whether I could swap out the glass “shades” for something that would be a little less 2001.
I saw this on Shabbie Chic Home‘s Etsy site and realized I might be able to make something cool…

And how cool would it be to have mason jar shades?  Okay, maybe a little much on an entire chandelier.  But I like the idea!  And cool of BootsNGus to recycle vintage jars this way.  I love that they tell me it will remind me of catching fireflies as a kid.  Agh!  Suckered again.

I don’t tend to rush out and buy housewares.  My bigger impulse issue is clothing, as my job is fashion conscious and it’s easy to justify.  I neeeed this dress.  Wait, is that justifying or whining?  Either way.  And maybe there’s a little truth my claim that the wardrobe needs constant updating, but I can still shop the closet.  I can turn wide leg pants into skinnies.  I can take that dumpy old jacket and have it cropped and tailored.  That’s usually cheaper than a new outfit!  And I can paint the things in my house that are ugly until they are bearable.  I have a hunch that the busy-ness epidemic and the consumption epidemic are close cousins.  I’ll be trying to consume less without adjusting my schedule at all.  Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

Ya Gotta Have Friends…

29 Jul


My friends are the greatest!

They tell me when I’m good at stuff.  Occasionally, they tell me when I’m not so good at stuff.  Example: “You should maybe consider taking your life in a different direction.”  They tell me when I look great, and when I’ve strayed from the looks that I look great in.  Example: I now own two of the currently-trendy belted Hefty bag dresses.  One maxi, one mini.  Friend J has insinuated that while I look fine in them, I should not add to my collection.  No matter how comfy they are.  Her (and my) better half hates them entirely, but we all have fat days.  This lady illustrates that you don’t have to have a fat day to wear this dress.

Sometimes, your friends will pretend that you don’t bother them when you totally do.  Example: Friend N (see also: Husband) pretended this morning that we weren’t leaving the house 15 minutes late.  He sat at the breakfast table, staring into space, as I rushed around trying to get out the door.  He then claimed that he “hadn’t noticed the time” and marveled at how “the last 10 minutes go by so quickly!”  I think he was grinding his teeth, but it was nice of him just the same.

Sometimes, your friends remind you to do the things that make you happy.  Friend K, who is 11 months pregnant, is getting impatient with my lack of writing.  She sent me a message at 4am today that I should get to writin’ because she is bored and can’t move/sleep/sit still/function.  Or something to that effect.  So here I am, 12 hours later, writing!  Hi K, hope you’re staying cool.  You should really schedule your last trimesters for the cold snaps.

Sometimes, your friends help you buy things.  In college, Friend B and I shared joint custody of a pair of purple velvet pants.  No, really, they were cool…  Friend KS and I currently share joint custody of a set of sweet recipe cards from the 70s that have cocktails on one side and appetizers on the other, complete with awesome photos.

Sometimes, they challenge you to try new things!  Or new old things.  Like crocheting.  Is that even a word?  I’ve tried knitting… I’m okay at it.  Crocheting is easier, I think.  Friend J just asked if I could show her how.  Right now, I could not, but I was just thinking about trying it again after reading Friend K’s post about it.  So I think I’ll re-examine my yarn collection and crochet hook, figure it out, and teach Friend J.  Think about it… I get to do something challenging (figuring it out), something creative (making something fuzzy), and something that adds to one of my many great friendships (teaching Friend J)!  I think I’ll try this cute flower, it looks like a good first project…

I can barely keep track of my great friends, but they seem to always still be there when I resurface from my long work weeks.  Maybe it’s because of my keen fashion sense… or my cocktail-making skills.

On The Lam

14 Jul

I’ve turned to a life of crime.

It’s Day Four of my Week of Selfishness.  Fun in the kitchen on Day One, some quiet writing time (and a super fun meeting) on Day Two, and a lovely brunch on Day Three.  Today’s mission?  Pot some herbs.  I had no way of knowing it would take such a dark turn.

I don’t always do my homework before I start a project.  Usually I do my homework somewhere near the beginning of the project, so that’s something, but I tend to shop for supplies and THEN take stock of what I need.  This invariably results in either having more than I need, or not enough.  In this case, it was not enough.  This is partly due to my efforts lately to not buy things I don’t need (I know, right?).  So for my little planting project, I did not buy a trowel.  I found that a half-cup measuring spoon did the transfer of dirt from bag to pot just fine.  That was the best outcome of my self-restraint.

A few days ago, I bought three herb plants – basil, cilantro, and mint.  Those are the ones I use most frequently in cocktails, so I thought I’d start there.  I didn’t buy any pots.  I had one from my days in an office that used to hold one of those viney plants everyone had on their file cabinets.  The kind that is poisonous to a cat?  I thought I’d put the mint in that one, as it’s a pretty and expensive pot, and I will keep the mint inside.  Check.  I knew that there were some pots in the pile of Her Things that remains in the garage, but it turned out there was only one in the size I need.  Soooo… I went back out this morning to find a third pot.  Found a cute/cheap fat blue guy in pretty short order.  Done and done.  When I got back home, I decided to google “how to pot herbs.”  Yeah, I could’ve done that before I started any of this, but I didn’t.  Don’t tell my dad.

This is where things start to go downhill.  Step One was to put my pebbles in the bottom of the pot.  Pebbles???  You may remember that I’m trying to Buy Less (I know, right?), so I start thinking of things that could act as pebbles.  The purpose of them is to create better drainage, so I just need some objects that will hold their shape when wet and under a pile of dirt.  Next scene: cut to me crouched under my deck.  In the rain.  In sweats.  Filling the front of my sweatshirt with the river rocks my homeowners association uses to edge the landscaping.  Actually, it’s probably included my association dues…

This is what I made off with.  If anyone asks, you haven’t seen me.

I cut a grocery bag to make a work space instead of a mess.  Someone tell my dad!  Pots and black market rocks lined up and ready to go.

Next, with my trusty half-cup measure, I put a little potting soil on top.  (I couldn’t find organic potting soil, only organic garden soil.  I don’t know enough to know if they are interchangeable, but I assumed they make both for a reason.  Anyone know where to find organic potting soil?)  I peeled the compostable “pots” off of my plants and we sorted out where everyone was going to live.

Mint went into my old favorite Smith & Hawken pot.

Basil went into the fat blue pot, and cilantro into the found pot from the pile of Her Things.  I wonder if that one will die first… Basil and cilantro are drinking buddies out in the rain today.  They look like they’re having a pretty good time.

I’ll let them settle in and hang some window treatments, and maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll whip up some salsa and a mojito… and a margherita pizza.

 

I don’t mean to brag…

13 Jun

I baked a cake this weekend.  From scratch.  If you spend any time around me, you probably already know this, as I obsessed about it for about 5 days before it even happened.  The victims?  The ladies of book club.  Let me share a little bit about the experience…

I own several cute aprons – at least two of them involve polka dots.  But somewhere in my mind, I have aprons categorized as “retro” or “obsolete” or some other category that deems them unnecessary when I’m cooking.  So when Act I of this cake-baking adventure found me promptly covered in flour, I decided I will start using aprons more often.  Some other things I learned through this experience: parchment paper should come pre-cut in rounds.  Minor pain in the arse cutting circles out of parchment paper.  Also, non-nonstick cake pans are better, because the batter needs something to “grip” while it “climbs” the side of the pan.  Thanks to my pastry-chef-friend E.  Did you know that nonstick cake pans cause the cake to brown more on the edges?  Neither did I.  Did you also know that some recipes call for 9″ rounds, and some call for 8″ rounds?  Who came up with THAT system?  For now, I have 3 stick 9″ pans.  Let me know if you need to borrow them.

The cake was great.  I have a hard time dividing things “in half,” apparently, so when it came time to spread the filling between the layers, there may have been some jamming of lemon curd between two already-set layers.  Turns out it tastes okay even if you rough it up a little bit in the process.

I also made sangria (for my regular friends) and fruit punch (for my pregnant friends).  I didn’t try the non-alcoholic version – what? – but someone asked for the recipe so it must have been okay.  The sangria comes from Emeril and can be found here, and the regular punch was cran-pomegranate, a squeeze of lime, a bottle of San Pellegrino, and some other stuff.  I also made some caramelized onion dip in an effort to get rid of the Greek yogurt in my fridge.  My mom suggested I add some ground chipotle to it, so I did, and it was good.  I like it both ways!

Tonight I grilled some salmon, and managed not to screw it up.  Turning it over was nearly as terrifying as baking a cake, but it worked out.  Look out, I seem to be on a roll.  Next up: souffle!  That was a little culinary humor, I’m not actually dumb enough to try making a souffle.

I know you’re probably already feeling bad about yourself, what with all that I’ve gotten done this weekend, but there’s more.  I managed ALL OF THIS, and also found time to go shopping!  I know!  In a futile search for the Perfect Summer Frock, I bought one dress that he loves (I was ambivalent, it is above the knee and fitted – there is no room for gluttony in this thing), and one that I think he would prefer I never even saw.  It hits me somewhere below the ankle, is blousy-but-belted, and I could probably fit two of my closest friends or several racks of ribs in there with me.  It’s a “maxi dress.”  The best invention of the 21st century, I think.  I am certain that men everywhere are organizing a campaign against them, but ladies, they are genius.  Throw on some flip flops and some bangles and it’s practically evening wear.  Now I just need to get to work and make some jewelry to go with these new friends of mine…