16 November 2007

how you know you just got back from Italy

Lots of people add water to the coffee we make at home. We like a nice strong cup! But this morning, I actually pulled the machine out to check the amount of grounds in the filter...and on the way in to work after simultaneously taking sips, we agreed: it tastes like water!

14 August 2007

fantastic onomastics

I've always been interested in names and name meanings. And the blessing that is the Internet opens up so many new possibilities for research and perusal.

One very good site is Behind The Name. I like their meanings (which I think are largely accurate), and the Related Names feature, which shows nicknames, root names, and names from other languages/places that share the same meaning.

Laura Wattenburg has created some of the most highly addicting sites ever to exist. Her Name Voyager could keep me occupied for hours. And the Baby Name Blog, in which she shares her latest revelations, is equally as enticing for the reader comments following each post. Laura has also partnered with the people at Nymbler to create a name generator based on your preferences and her analysis of styles and trends.

And just today, I found the Name Nerds, who have done great work with Celtic name translations, and who are currently conducting their own Middle Name Survey. Have a go!

i do not think it means what you think it means

Ingredients list: Wheat flour, Milk, Eggs, Sugar, Vegetable Margarine, Baking Power [sic], Salt

All power and no cheese does not a quesadilla make.

09 August 2007

adventures in accents

I think I know what happened here:

"Just run down the street and have a sign made!"

02 August 2007

but will he get along with my new hippo?

"Chocoholic squirrel steals treats from shop"

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Finnish squirrel with a sweet tooth heads to a Finnish grocery shop at least twice a day to steal "Kinder Surprise" chocolate-shelled eggs.

"I named it the Kinder-squirrel, after the treats. It always goes after them, other sweets do not seem to interest it as much," the manager of the store in Jyvaskyla, central Finland, told Reuters.

The confectionary, which is intended for children, has a toy inside.

"It removes the foil carefully, eats the chocolate and leaves the store with the toy," Irene Lindroos said.

Unfortunately, the bushy-tailed thief does not clean up after itself, but leaves the wrappers behind, she added.

Squirrels have a well deserved reputation for being clever and adaptable animals. Many a home owner has seen the small rodents raiding their supposedly "squirrel-proof" bird feeders.


It eats the chocolate and keeps the toys! I should hope my future children will be this smart!

this is about the cutest thing I've ever seen!

Now I totally want a hippopotamus for Christmas.

30 July 2007

what we eat

I find this really fascinating: A list of America's top grossing restaurants. And just for fun, here are their menus.

1) Tao Las Vegas Restaurant & Nightclub, Las Vegas
2) Tavern on the Green, New York City
3) Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach
4) Tao Asian Bistro, New York City
5) Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC
6) Gibsons Bar Steakhouse, Chicago
7) Bob Chinn's Crab House, Wheeling, Illinois
8) miX in Las Vegas, Las Vegas
9) Fulton's Crab House, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
10) "21" Club, New York City

Such different foods and such a range of price points. And now I'm hungry.

25 July 2007

reading between zee lines

"A black day for the Tour de France"

excerpt from the International Herald Tribune

GOURETTE, France: Let no one mistake it: This was one of the blackest days in the 104-year history of the Tour de France.

Less than 24 hours after Alexandre Vinokourov, and his team, were thrown off the Tour, the mood was grim as the riders lined up in Orthez in southwestern France for the start of the 16th of 20 daily stages on Wednesday.

Dozens demonstrated their anger over repeated doping scandals by staging a silent protest.

The Associated Press reported that some fans booed the leader, Michael Rasmussen, himself under suspicion.

And the French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its Web site that cycling officials would announce later Wednesday that another rider had failed a doping test, after the 11th stage on July 19.


There is a DAILY French paper just about SPORTS? Do we even have that here?

I really don't know what to think with all this doping nonsense. I do believe that part of the problem stems from the (literally) Olympic shift away from amateur athletes to people who, even if not all professionals in the Michael Jordan sense, train and compete in their sport on a year-round basis. And maybe the shift was critical to the continuation of the Olympics, but I see doping as a side-effect of the push to be the best at only one particular thing.

I say all of this, of course, from my own perspective as a globally-competitive...mmm...shoe-buyer.

also, I hear the queen of england has some major jewelry

This headline is from Yahoo! Entertainment News:

"Oprah tops list of highest paid TV stars"


Can we have a conversation about what NEWS means?

"News" is that I watched the Victoria Bechkam special last week, and -- guess what?! She's funny! She actually seems nice (despite the perpetual wearing of six-inch heels that would lead us to think otherwise). And I particularly enjoyed her use of the word "major." (Though I do think that if I and anyone else on this side of the pond are going to use it, we will have to imitate her accent...MAY-jah...and wear big sunglasses, but I've been doing that anyway.)

22 July 2007

a message to my fellow fans

In case anyone is waiting to call or communicate: I'm done.

And in case anyone else is not, I'm not saying a word.

19 July 2007

pleasingly palatable

Last summer, when I visited the farmer's market, I procured pounds of peaches, and posted the cobbler recipe.

This summer, I remembered to take pictures!

For you, my pretty...

veddy tasty

If you happen to be the general vicinity of western Virginia while it's happening, I highly recommend you stop by the Green Valley Book Fair. We went while on vacation last summer, and made a detour on a trip home earlier this month. It's rather like Barnes & Noble for dimes on the dollar. This time I picked up, among other things, a copy of The Best American Recipes 2001-2002. The cover snagged me right away.

Though many recipes look very promising, I tried this one first:

Blueberry Bannock Scone
from Martha Stewart Living
by cooks Hannah Milman and Susan Spungen

makes one nine-inch scone; serves 8

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly sprinkle a 14x16 baking sheet with flour, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, pecans, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and two tablespoons of the sugar.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until it has the consistency of small crumbs.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and one of the eggs. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened. The dough will be quite wet and sticky; work it as little as possible.

Divide the dough in half and shape one piece into a nine-inch circle on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the blueberries evenly over the circle and sprinkle with two tablespoons of the sugar. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, form a nine-inch circle from the remaining dough, and gently slide it onto the berries. With the backside of a knife, score the top into eight wedges.

Beat the remaining egg with the water and lightly brush the egg was over the top of the scone. Sprinkle with the remaining one tablespoon sugar.

Bake until the scone is golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When cool, cut into wedges and serve.

I followed those last directions (cut into wedges and serve) before I remembered to take a picture.

My modifications:
- I used 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat flour
- I put a piece of parchment paper on the sheet pan (to make it easier to move the scone to the cooling rack)
- I did not use a separate egg for the egg wash. I just kept the container that had held the buttermilk and the one beaten egg, added a little water, and brushed away. (You can also brush with milk instead.)
- I think it would be pretty easy to make this wheat-free. Bob's Red Mill has a great gluten-free flour. Be sure to add 1 tsp of xanthum gum to balance things out. As for the wheat germ, you might need a few more pecans or tablespoons of the gluten-free four to get the mixture to the right consistency.

Won't you have just a tiny bite?

18 July 2007

summer and the whistlestop cafe

We went blueberry picking a few weekends ago, and picked up a few other things at the farmer's market affilated with the patch. (Well, patch is rather a misnomer, since this place also does blackberries, strawberries, apples, Christmas trees...) Among the prizes at the market was a green tomato, ripe for frying!

I thought I should serve the fried goodness with something healthy, so I paired it with baked tilapia with lemon olive oil and tarragon. Being just a tad hungry by the time I got things done, I forgot to take a picture right away. Oops!

I'm not sure why I got it in my head that I wanted a Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade to go with it, but I did and there began a rather enormous recipe search. In the end, no one recipe sounded just right. There were some things I thought that the remoulade should not have (ketchup!) and some that it should (horseradish and cayenne).

I'm pleased to say that my homebrew turned out to be pretty tasty! We had it on the fried green tomatoes, but I think it would also work well on chicken, sausages, steak, eggs (if you like it spicy), maybe anything but ice cream.

CurlyHairDay's Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade

1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend away to achieve desired consistency. Done!

The only thing I didn't add that I will next time is Worchestershire sauce. I think a dash of its spicy, smoky, salty flavor would be delicious. Maybe start with 1/2 tsp and taste.

I like a smooth remoulade, with dots of the herbs. I also like it thick...you could add a touch more lemon juice or olive oil if you'd like it to be more of a sauce. There's not very much of any one thing in here, but then, I'm not sure anyone needs jars and jars of remoulade...well, maybe...

08 July 2007

Mexican Second Breakfast

Maybe this is what we should do with movies -- rewrite the script to make it work with the original action! (See the original dance below.)

it's called "Mexican Breakfast!"

29 June 2007

people I'm adding to my list of friends/desert island comrades

Dorothy Parker, who suggested her epitaph read, "Excuse my dust."

Oscar de la Renta, "If you want to establish an international presence you can't do so from New York. You need the consecration of Paris."

Nigella Lawson, "I'm not someone who's endlessly patient and wonderful."

what? me? shoot you?

Wed Jun 27, 12:17 PM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida man awoke with a severe headache and asked his wife to drive him to a hospital, where doctors found a bullet lodged behind his right ear, sheriff's deputies said.
"The nurse looked at him and said, 'It appears that you've been shot,'" the Fort Pierce Tribune quoted St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara as saying. "And he said, 'No way.'"

The wife, April Moylan, fled the emergency room when the bullet was discovered but later told deputies she had accidentally shot her husband as he slept early on Tuesday. She was jailed on a weapons violation charge while deputies pursued additional charges.

The husband, 45-year-old Michael Moylan, woke up with a head pain so severe he suspected he was having an aneurysm and asked his wife to take him to the emergency room, deputies said.

They arrested the wife after obtaining a search warrant and finding a gun and bloody rags in the couple's home near the Atlantic coastal town of Port St. Lucie. The husband was hospitalized in stable condition.

Their headline:
Florida man's headache mystery solved by a bullet

My headline:
Man asks doctors to reverse diagnosis, prefers aneurysm

19 June 2007

Y'aint from around here, are ye?

Quite a lot of people, upon meeting me, ask where I'm from, and are somewhat surprised when I say North Carolina. I am an avowed user of the word "y'all" but evidently, the "y'all"s and "ma'am"s and such are overshadowed...

How about you? What kind of accent do you have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

19 April 2007

further affirmation of my individuality

My mother will be so pleased (by the affirmation, not the color)!

You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

04 April 2007

old married lady

We just had our second wedding anniversary! I alternate between incredulity that we've been married for that long already and amazement that we haven't been together for twenty...or is it thirty?...years somehow. Either way, my sweet husband sent me a bouquet of calla lilies - my very favorite flower - and I have been swooning over them (the husband and the flowers) all week.

I come by my interest/obsession in flowers naturally. My mother is a woman who has in her yard a rose bush that belonged to her great aunt, not to mention hundreds, literally hundreds, of lilies that were originally in her mother's yard. I feel like all those women are looking over my shoulder every time I admire a flower.

Incidentally, these are amazing flowers. By the time calla lilies make it to market, much less your door, that little piece at the top of the spathe is almost always gone. And every one of these flowers is still wholly intact! I wish I knew the name for that little squiggle...anyone?

Huge thank-yous to B and C for, respectively, lending me the camera and recommending your wedding florist!

Also, please note the dining room walls! Though we might have a few touch-ups in our future, I think it's FINALLY done! For the record, the paint is C-2, which is lovely to work with, and the color is "Lavish" (of course).

While I'm at it with reminiscing and what an old friend used to call "shouts-out":

That lovely gathering of blossoms is my bridal bouquet. Of course I'd met with the florist several times, discussed specifics, brought in pictures, everything you do...but every bride wants something different and it can be incredibly difficult to voice your "floral vision," even if you have my botanical genetics. When Jo, the florist, handed me this bouquet on my wedding day, I said, sincerely, "It is perfect." And she said, in the voice of a fairy godmother, "Of course it is darling, it is supposed to be."

Also, I hadn't wanted to be terribly obsessive with planning, so I didn't mention that I really wanted the groom's boutonniere to be made in the traditional way, which is to say with a flower removed from the bride's bouquet. (I mean, no one would even know.) But I noticed later that day as I kept adoring the flowers that that was exactly what Jo had done. Of course. Please note that this website does not fully showcase her talent.

The photograph was taken by Diane Hughes, whose brilliant work is overshadowed only by her entirely wonderful personality. I will always be grateful to her for being the person who gracefully and skillfully captured our wedding day. I'm not going to post more pictures of the wedding here, because, well, as one of my friends noted when she got her proofs, "Now I have 200 pictures of myself!" But trust me, Diane is magical. And an extra little dose of magic is always a good thing!

outta my head

Spring Fever + Stuck At My Desk = An Even More Peripatetic* Brain Than Usual!

Should I be worried that there is a smear of mustard on the inside of the wrapper of my Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich, especially given that mustard is not a standard condiment on that particular sandwich?

mrawf mrawf mrawf what? can't hear you. too busy. spicy goooood.


I got a haircut today! I love getting my hair cut. Love the girl who cuts my hair - she let me expand my horizons with her copy of US Weekly today! Love that the salon is on U Street. Love that I ride the bus to get there. Have I done a post about how different the bus is from the Metro? WAY DIFFERENT.
1. No biggie if you don't have your fare ready when you get on. Just sort it out and step back up front.
2. You can ask questions! Most drivers will answer them!
3. People talk! And not just to themselves, but to each other!
4. Lots of people say thank you to the driver as they exit the bus. Maybe the Metro train drivers wouldn't slam so many people in the doors if we had an opportunity to make them feel a little more appreciated.


must keep eating. more in a minute. for now, amuse yourselves with Peeps for Passover


*I did not know about that second "t"!

26 March 2007

pull up a chair and sit a spell

Yesterday I did something I have never done before: I, as the occupant of my very own home, made a pitcher of tea. One would think that this accomplishment would be minimized by this fierce triple-whammy:

1. I am from the South: North Carolina to be precise. Tea is not an afterthought in North Carolina. There was tea, there is tea, there will always be tea. Of course, you can have water or Coke if that's what you'd like this time, but really, what goes better beside a barbeque plate at Wednesday night supper than tea?

2. My parents are from the Deep South: Mississippi and Alabama. Tea is in my genes.

3. I've been making tea from the time I could boil water. My mother might realize she forgot to put on the kettle for the EXTRA pitcher of tea when company was coming. Or the regular pitcher might be running low...I have made gallons -- tankers -- full of tea.

Yet, even with all this, it was a momentous occasion.

Perhaps I should step in here for any readers who do not share my blessed ancestors: by "tea" I mean "iced tea."

Please do not ask if it is sweet.

Also, for reference, the best tea in the world, hands down, is made by my Aunt Mae. She told me her recipe once, and if you've ever made simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar), you get the idea. In the interest of avoiding, oh, diabetes, I thought I might better should come up with my own basic formula to fill the pitcher.

4 tea bags
4 cups hot water
(Brew for 15-20 minutes)
1/2 cup sugar
(Stir until dissolved)
4 cups ice
(Stir in one cup at a time)

Simple! Achingly easy. But such a milestone for me. And I am pleased to say that I was not alone in seeing it as one:

When my lovely husband got home from an errand yesterday afternoon I said, "I made tea!" He looked down (after many two-cups-of-mint-tea winter evenings for his wife), saw my glass and said, "Iced tea! WOW!"

I think this means I'm a grown-up now.

Call me when you pour yourself a glass. I'll be on the front porch.

P.S. Extra credit for anyone who didn't have to reread "might better should" to catch my drift.

20 March 2007

the only thing missing is Libby Mae Brown

Unfortunately, I haven't made it to a single meeting of the DC Stitch 'n Bitch group yet. But I have been enjoying the emails that fly around. A few weeks ago, Laura posted a link to an excellent video on You Tube. If you knit, crochet, or just generally enjoy Christopher Guest movies, have a look:

13 March 2007

maybe it's the commercialization of art

Or maybe Supply got up one morning and read the message boards and said, "Hey! I can answer the post by that Demand person!"

Not that I'm admitting demanding tendencies.

Or that it was me or anything.

But seriously, have you seen that show?! Didn't you want her clothes?!

Well now you can have it all.

Next: Mary Louise Parker, let's be friends. Come over for coffee. How do you do all that with your hair?

12 March 2007

way better than a pinata

This, my friends, is a chandelier made entirely of gummi bears:

Good use of candy!

The artist must have gotten any patience I should have been born with. And a good dose of logic. I probably would have tried to make a chocolate chandelier and ended up stuck in a (delicous) puddle in the dining room.

06 March 2007

past the land of twirly-swirly gumdrops

I have been handling the accounting side of the business all day at work today and I feel like I'm going blind. Why is it that numbers sometimes just simply do not add up? And more importantly, how do some people do this ALL DAY EVERY DAY?! It can't be healthy. I will now escape by emptying my brain of all the other thoughts that have be swirling around all day...

What's for dinner? I think macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi. Found some frozen at Harris Teeter last night and thought it sounded good. And easy. With what? salad -- ooh! I still have beets. Beet salad. And what else...not in the mood for rice...pasta doesn't seem right...maybe potatoes.

Speaking of Harris Teeter, I should really do a whole post on that grocery store. As my sister put it after having purchased some undesirable onions from another store recently, "They made me feel like it was my fault! I mean, at Harris Teeter, they APOLOGIZE for that sort of thing." This is what happens when you grow up in Charlotte and get spoiled by the store that happens to be down the street. I mean, I even know the cheese lady at my Harris Teeter. She gives me recipes.

I don't mean to leave Trader Joe's out of this, because I love them too and their stores are wonderful. The only downside there is that they don't have everything. What they surely see as the upside, though, is that their products are so cheap and nearly universally so fantastic that I will try anything they sell on a whim. Did you know they are the nation's largest retailer of brie?

I read everything. Including those little signs in the Trader Joe's cheese section.

...must remember to email sister for soup recipe...

I need a manicure. I keep breaking my nails and they look all raggedy! I need a pedicure worse.

I need to go home and do LAUNDRY. So glamorous. Or at least I will be once I'm wearing clean clothes.

05 March 2007

those Celts, good at all kinds of knots.

Just weeks before Christmas, my lovely husband mentioned that he'd like to have a hand-knitted scarf. I know -- married to a knitter and he tells her weeks before Christmas! Drop the hints in June! But I did decide I had a chance of pulling it off before Valentine's Day, so I started hunting down a pattern.

A pattern? For a scarf? Exactly why I felt like I had to explain, when I asked for one in the Alexandria yarn store, that I wasn't crazy, I just wanted to try cables. They mentioned something I'd just come across on the internet, so I decided to give that a try.

As with basically all of my knitting/crochet/craft projects, something went wrong the first time. The yarn I'd chosen was less subtley variegated than I'd thought, and with the cable pattern, the effect was rather dizzying.

So I went to my favorite DC yarn store and tried again, this time with great success. Thank you, Blue Sky Alpacas for your lovely yarn. Really, I could almost eat it. All you want to do is nuzzle into it until you fall asleep (perhaps its only detriment as a craft ingredient).

The pattern, which I thoroughly enjoyed working, is actually a very simple one. It's called the Irish Hiking Scarf, and I believe credit is due to Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn.

The color is slightly less rosy than in the above picture. It's technically natural medium tan. And as for the weight and warmth, it is just perfect for a scarf and for this pattern (at least as I knit it on 4.25 needles). My Stitch 'n Bitch book has an amusing little note in it that says something like, "Warning: do not make a sweater out of pure alpaca! It is too warm!" And I can see how that would be true, especially if, like us, you don't live in the Yukon Territory.

Here's the finished project - in a rare moment when it was not being worn! I'm told it's very cozy. :)

And now I'm off to join the knitalong!

23 February 2007

so what are you trying to say?

conversation about the climbers on Mt. Hood rescued this week

SmallBean: I hope something like that never happens to me.

me: Me too.

SmallBean: I think your odds are lower.

20 February 2007

je t'empris

A good friend of mine recently moved across the country. Not only is she nice, she has a slightly wicked sense of humor...also, she likes shoes...and France. (I miss her very much.)

She recently emailed me to ask for a recipe, and as I was getting ready to email it, I realized that I get requests for this particular recipe all the time (because who doesn't want to eat chocolate for breakfast?!). Birds, meet stone:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (may use 1/2 cup more, but bars become crumbly)
1 (6 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Add vanilla. In a seperate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to egg mixture. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Cool and cut into squares.

*I use 1/2 regular flour and 1/2 whole wheat. No one will even notice.
*I like Bob's Red Mill Extra-Thick Rolled Oats. You can pretty much buy them anywhere now (certainly at Harris Teeter) and they're not expensive ($2-$3 a bag). Store them in the freezer and they'll last forever!
*Go ahead and add 1/2 cup chopped nuts (we like pecans or walnuts) before baking. Protein and crunch!
*Feel free to double the recipe and bake in larger pan. (Do check your baking time! If they're spread thinly, they might need only five more mintues.)
*These puppies freeze very well (cut them first).
*Of course substitutions for the chocolate are fine. Dark chocolate chips are yummy in this. Superdark chocolate, however, might best be saved for something with fewer competing flavors and textures.

Full Credit: This recipe first appeared in a 1978 issue of Women's Day. I know this because my mother is in the admirable habit of recording such things and she did so not only on the card in her recipe box, but also on this page in my recipe book. I'm sure she modified it somewhat (probably less sugar? more oatmeal?) and I have done the same (pinch of salt, slightly less oatmeal). In any case, I think we should begin planning now for the Breakfast Bars' Thirtieth Birthday Party. There will be so many attendees!

chocolate & spinach*

Many moons ago, I was reading Coquette's blog and learning of her upcoming move. She mentioned that she would soon be living closer to her fellow-blogger-friend. It just so happened that at that time, Stefanie was pondering the origins of all things 'a la Florentine.'

As you see, Stefanie was not only cooking up something very delicious-looking, she was also hosting a little contest. And I cannot resist a contest...after all, I grew up in a house where you would hear:

our mother: "You won!"
one of us: "What did I win?!?!"
our mother: "THE PRIZE!"
one of us: "Yeah!!!"

(Of course friends and visiting relatives always want to know what "the prize" is. The prize is WINNING, silly.)

So, I wrote to Stefanie and told her what I'd heard as the word on the street. And I won! And there was a REAL prize this time: chocolate. French chocolate. Fancy French chocolate. Here is the picture I managed to take with my cameraphone:

Of course Stefanie's gift was actually far more generous -- a whole bar, in fact -- but it was too pretty/too yummy/too tempting -- to photograph whole.

And so a belated merci to Stefanie...with whom I evidently have even more in common than a love for chocolate & spinach..I just read something else on her blog about a knitting pattern that we both are using! More on that soon.

*with a nod to Mlle Dusoulier's yummy blog and forthcoming book.

14 February 2007

crafty people, those knitters

I've been knitting a lot lately. It's one of my favorite hobbies and such a great use of time, especially time spent cuddled up on the couch. I'm hoping to do a few posts on my projects soon, but given our cameralessness, this requires a little more time than usual. In the meantime, given my recent yarn fervour, I've come across several things that I thought I'd share:

The obvious thing to do.

The not so obvious . Interesting that the sweater is the least-offensive part of the outfit.

The ethical dilemma .

The practical .

The mmm...whimsical . Seriously. If you need to knit so badly that you will just keep going after all the scarves and sweaters and hats and mittens and socks and headbands and legwarmers, (and prosthetics!) and knit a WOMB? That's devotion to your craft.

08 February 2007

what can we learn from this?

Did you read about the Thai woman who got on the wrong bus and returned home TWENTY FIVE YEARS LATER?

Here's the article on Yahoo.

This woman's experience is so sad and so miserable to me that I find myself searching for the silver lining...maybe I can at least learn something, right?

- It's okay to ask questions.

- It can be dangerous to fall asleep or not pay attention while traveling. (This means you, iPod listeners on the Metro!)

- Traveling in countries where you do not speak the language is a hard-earned skill, which, even once acquired, requires great persistance (not to mention guts) to maintain.

- Also, I haven't talked about it on the blog yet, but it's one of my most cherished beliefs that public transportation makes for much better stories. If this woman had been driving her car/cart, we wouldn't be shocked...or feel as much sympathy, I bet. We'd just wonder why on earth she didn't turn around. But there's something so very humanzing about getting on the wrong bus, or the right bus in the wrong direction.

- Take more money then you think you'll need.

07 February 2007

the pigs are just floating now and then, not flying. you have to wait for the flying.

Me, to boss: Can I borrow your base-12 calculator?

Boss: WHAT?!

Me: Your base-12 calculator.

Boss: OH! I thought you said my baseball calculator!

01 February 2007

some things you just shouldn't do

My mother has a rule, "Never say anything you don't want someone to visualize." This is an exceptionally good policy which, if you can manage to stick to it, can prevent all sorts of embarrassing situations.

I would like to name a new rule today: "Some things you just shouldn't do, even if you look going doing it." I'm beginning to think that we should make a little handbook of just these two rules and mail them, free of charge, to all current celebrities.

The first person on our mailing list wil be Sienna Miller. Who decided recently that tights + granny panties = sassy outerwear.

No, my dear Ms. Miller, they do not. And please see the new rule above -- I do not mean to imply that this...ermmm...choice of...ermmmm....clothing...was unflattering on you. In fact you have quite the slim figure and, as such, the...ermmm...outfit...was not revolting in the sense that YOU made it unattractive. But may I humbly suggest that Aphrodite herself would look a bit ridiculous sporting this combination.

I know that Madonna has worn such things, but in concert, and therefore, as far as I'm concerned, as a costume. (Besides, it's just totally a different outfit. AND SHE'S MADONNA.) I'm sure someone in Paris would contradict me, saying that this idea is the New Wonderful. Well, they were wrong about the Eiffel Tower at first, too.

Interestingly, I was drawn to this photo by the headline: Style Queen Sienna Sparks Big Pants Frenzy in UK! Not realizing I was clicking on a link to a British publication, I was thinking of some heavy wide-leg pants I saw in runway photos months ago. Alas, in this case, such a garment would have been referred to as "trousers." Imagine my surprise.

29 January 2007

countdown to the scholarship competition

Are you ready?!?! What do you mean, "for what?" Tonight is the Miss America pageant! It moved to CMT a few years ago, which caused me to miss every single promo, thus remaining unaware of the date entirely. Don't let this happen to you.

Some people are confused by my (and my sister's) enthusiasm for the pageant. After all, I was never a pageant queen (I can be really nice, but not for that long at a stretch, and I have a feeling the "handlers" and I wouldn't get along) and I don't have teased hair (not since 9th...okay 10th...grade, anyway). So for the curious, I will list some of the fine reasons for tuning in this evening:

- We don't just watch, we rank. You have to be there from the beginning, because the introductions, cheesy as they are, are your chance to list your top ten. Keep in mind, Mississippi always makes it (as well she should); Miss America is, statistically speaking, never tall (and rarely a redhead); and frozen = not chosen, the smile's gotta be real.

- Evidently, pageant-watching runs in the Howell Family, as our cousin Landon live-blogged the Miss America telecast last year.

- Chris Matthews is a judge. I'm guessing given his *ahem* terrible toughness, he's going to turn out to be totally bewildered by the searing gaze of these driven women.

- It's cheaper than the $95.24 ticket to watch it live in Vegas.

- Miss Tennessee's name is BLAIRE PANCAKE! Really! (What more do you need to know?)

22 January 2007

i'll call them Agatha!

Why do stores name their pants? It seems like this started happening a few years ago, but now everywhere I look, rather than reaching for something in my size, I need to find Marisa or Julie first, and I don't mean the sales ladies. Also, which marketing genius decides which name goes with which pant? The associations don't seem relevant to me...no one's named a high-waisted, full-leg, flowy pant after Katharine Hepburn , neither have they named any clothes after Edith Head (and that's is really silly, since if they did, I would buy them IMMEDIATELY and I'm sure that's true for other people too).

And another thing about this naming business: I feel like we seem to be having a full-scale, retail-wide grammatical breakdown, because no one seems to remember that PANTS ARE PLURAL. I'm not saying I know why, I'm just saying that if you meet a foreign person and teach them the word "pant" instead, you will be doing them a grave disservice. So let's not be confusing and silly about this. Just hand me my Edith Head Party Dress and I'll be on my way.

16 January 2007

are you sensitive to the smell of bitter almonds?

For a month now, an article entitled "Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying" has been one of the top ten most emailed articles on the New York Times website. Though not at all silly, the questions do seem rather "early-relationship" to me, and the fact that so many people seem interested in them reminds me of our group premarital counseling, during which we learned that some couples had not discussed whether or not they wanted to have children (much less if so, when). Going about things this way does not seem to be a good way of maintaining a friendship, much less avoiding a divorce lawyer.

(If this article applies to you, don't panic, but for heaven's sake, please start talking. Once you're done with these questions, imagine your fiance is an alien and explain your planet to him. Discuss his every interruption or confusion, as these are basic matters on which you need not necessarily agree, but absolutely must communicate. Do not get married until you reach the critical balance of having asked all the questions you can think of and being entirely sure you haven't thought of everything you want to know about this person.)

While we were engaged, I was frequently the recipient of totally unsolicited yet fascinating marriage advice. "Focus on his needs. If he's happy, you'll be happy," was an intriguing suggestion, but not highly regarded (as my readers may imagine). On the other hand, I think one of the best ideas was, "Make sure this is the person you could happily have dinner with every night of your life." Well that's it exactly, isn't it? Someone with whom you are comfortable...about whom you could never learn enough...with whom every situation, from Wednesday night pizza to a complicated formal dinner, is more wonderful. That's happiness.

03 January 2007

how about some information pleeeeeeeeeease

My car is dear to me. It is a black 1996 Nissan Sentra with a manual transmission and more than 130,000 miles on it. And while I have, of course, loaned my car to former roommates for trips to the grocery store, etc. and I have been a passenger while someone drove for an hour or two, I pretty much drove each of those miles myself. The Sentra and I, we know each other. Well. Hence I love her even with her peculiarities, which include a radio which does not always display the station. (The lack of working air conditioning is quite another matter.)

Tonight I made a quick run to Trader Joe's, which is just a few minutes away...not a long trip, but long enough to turn on the radio. When I got in the car, a particular song was playing, and while it's not exactly what I'd call a "favorite," it is one of the very few songs to which I know all the lyrics...and so, rather than flip to NPR and catch something useful or stimulating, I stayed on the undisplayed station and rocked out to Paula Abdul.

You know you love it too.