Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Flowers

Sunday morning cold. Yesterday's surprise snowstorm (to us at the flower shop who toil on without benefit of constant weather updates) is still piled up on the ground. The nicest part of the snowstorm was when we drove down our plowed (quel surprise) street and discovered a neighbor had shoveled both our driveway and a path to our door. And then Tini brought us Thai food for dinner and "Julie and Julia" to watch. Our life is good, very, very good.

When I leave the shop on Saturday I always grab a handful of flowers. By then I'm so tired I just want a few stems of something simple. Maybe a few roses, this time of year a flowering branch (cherry this week) and some spring things. I usually stick them in a water glass and fall into the bath. Sunday morning I put them in vases. An odd assortment of vases, may I say, some vintage coke bottles, a basalmic vinegar bottle and this week some que cute 1 shot tequilla bottles we begged from a New Years Eve party. A strange vessel for a non drinker but too cute not to keep. Tho' I must say cleaning them out on New Years Day was a experience I'm glad I don't have every morning.

Now breakfast and then grocery shopping. I dare anyone to watch "Julie and Julia" and not feel the need to cook something fabulous instantly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pokie Picks A Book

Re: previous post. Everybody and I mean everybody reads at my house.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Perfect Day For Bananafish

What a perfect title. Rest In Peace J.D. Salinger. The bathtub scene in Franny And Zooey made me laugh out loud, every time I read it. Holden Caulfield's little sister Phoebe. Goddamn Phoebe I loved her. I loved Salinger. We didn't read him in school. I went to Catholic schools, not at all liberal or progressive. I was about as self destructive as Holden Caulfield and managed both an expulsion from boarding school myself, and one from all girls Catholic college too.

Reading saved my life. My grandmother taught me to read when I was 3. I read Gone With The Wind in 4th or 6th grade. What ever grade it was, the nuns did not approve. I was always in trouble, never studying, always a mouth on me, but boy could I read. Books showed me there was a larger world out there, different kinds of people, everybody didn't wear a uniform. I wore one for 12 years.

A big thank you to all the authors who opened doors to different rooms for me, who led me down different paths than the ones I was shown. Who provided a much needed escape hatch. Who continue to enrich my life every day. Let's hear it for the written word.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Simple Things

Today Soul Aperture blog is sending 1.00 to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti for every blog that lists the simple things that make their souls sing.
Let me count the ways:

Sunshine. A summer day in June. Being at home cooking during a rain
or snow storm. Windows wide open with birds singing and a breeze blowing.
Discovering a new author who has written lots of books. Rereading a favorite
book. An iced grande skim latte, especially one drunk with friends all talking a
mile a minute. Laughing at work. Working in the garden. The first
snowdrop, lily of the valley, smell of lilac, fruit tree blossoms. Taking a cool
shower after many hot hours weeding. Feeding friends and family. Being fed
by friends and family. Finding a new blog that speaks to my heart. Exercising
my heart muscles. Loving, living every moment of my life, feeling gratitude.

From the garden: ripe tomatoes, juicy raspberries, fresh basil, the first fig.

At work: a sharp knife, fresh flowers, a beautiful arrangement by a coworker.

At home: flannel sheets in the winter, cool cotton in the summer, a cup of tea, walking barefoot on clean floors.

I'm Not A Modernist. Dammit.

I can't help it. I page through magazine after magazine. I read blog after blog. I love contemporary spaces, neutral colors, the perfect chair, painting, blackboard wall. Then, there I am, in a consignment shop on Sunday loving a little wingback chair. Only 25" wide, in a colorway I can't identify but I know will work with the couch. On Tuesday afternoon, after a tough 2 hours ordering the Valentine's Day flowers with my boss, I give in. Call the shop, it's closed, but the owner will meet us there. My boss and I rush over and collect chair. Triumphantly bring it home. All dreams of uncluttered living are put to rest.
It's here, it works, I am not a modernist. Fine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Morning Tears

As if it's not hard enough to leave your warm cozy house for work, this is the face I have to see. The "are you really going to leave me all alone AGAIN?" face. And the sound track is sighs, big puppy sighs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Morning

In all honesty, my morning has mostly consisted of walking the dog and cleaning. Neither photo or blog worthy, tho' my kitchen floor looks great! But it's 60 degrees out ( I don't know why..) so the doors are open, the quince blossoms indoors are opening and I just had a delicious breakfast parfait.

I found the granola recipe on The Little House In The City. I skipped the coconut, not a big fan, and used sliced almonds, too lazy to chop. I only had almonds so I doubled the amount. Best granola ever, especially served in one of German girl's Heinrich china dishes. I ate the granola with yogurt and some surprisingly good blueberries.

And even though we haven't hung one thing on the newly painted walls, here is a shot of the two blues. I love the way they meet in the corners. I feel like I'm floating in here. Back down to earth, time to vacuum.

I just saw that The Little House In The City updated her granola recipe using olive oil in place of the butter. I used the butter. I probably will again.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not A Creature Was Stirring

Note to self: stop naming your picture files such obscure names. "Still January", what does that mean and what pics are in there? Where is the picture of the cat asleep on the bed that I want to pair with the picture of the dog sleeping on the couch?

As always, a silent Sunday morning here, I'm trying to be quiet but downloading pictures, icing lattes, letting the cat in and out, in and out and quietly cursing while searching for pics isn't exactly silent. And nothing is worse than opening a new blog with music in it.
Please don't do that.
Or post a warning.

Now that I have previewed the photos of the animals sleeping I am much happier. It's 8:41 and I will go read till 9:00, then wake up the troops. The day awaits, grocery shopping, a coffee, maybe some thrifting and something delicious for dinner, oh and football. And my morning check to see if the snowdrops have opened. You'll know as soon as I do.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bits And Pieces

When German girl moved in in 2006, she brought a 1993 black Toyota pickup named Sam, books, clothes and carved wooden jewelry boxes. These turned out to contain rocks. Favorite rocks from her travels. Also some shells, feathers and assorted nature minutia. The Lab came later. When the two of them are taking a walk on Roosevelt Island, here in Arlington, on the Potomac, they return with much more than an appetite. Old bottles (intact or in pieces) fossils, an arrowhead, rocks, hunks of coal, bone shards come too. And then I try to find a place to put them, this is a small house. Just when I fill a jar, a bowl or a shelf, they go on another walk and I rethink my strategy. Oh, and she collects old swords, too. She's a fencer. We need an addition.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food and Flowers

Today was a sunny, springlike day. When I walked into work the shop and coolers were filled with flowers. The Tuesday order box was filled with lots of work and my iced grande skim latte was on the work table along with a new mystery one of my bosses had just finished. Nice, very nice,

What really made my heart sing though was the basket and box and bags full of food. Last week, after we had all made our heartfelt donations to Haiti, we decided to act locally. We started a food drive for the Arlington Pantry. It feeds over a 1000 families a week and was feeling the pinch of the post holidays. We made signs and sent out emails to our mailing list. By 9:10 the next morning, the first customer was there with bags of food. 3 days later and the food keeps coming. And my smile keeps growing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home Again

Sitting in the freshly painted room (s). I don't have shades up at the windows, or paintings hung on the walls. There is a ladder standing in the corner and specks of paint on the wood floors. But I have a candle burning, a white peony and 2 camellia buds about to burst into bloom. The bookshelves are filled and two of German girl's drawings sit on a shelf. It's beginning to feel like home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hearts and Pork Cutlets

I love our new paint colors. We are very tired, we are very merry. We painted every night till 12:00, slept till 7:00,went to work , then did it all again. My eyes are closing but my heart is rejoicing. I love change, visual, not change I can't control. We just pulled the painters cloth off the furniture and unfortunately that has not changed. The battered vintage leather chair is still that, The cat scratches are still imbedded in the couch arms. The rugs are old and tattered and it all looks wonderful.

We ate full dinners and drank copious amounts of tea. A favorite dinner here is Katsudon. I have a little scrap of paper torn from the New York Times years ago with a foolproof recipe. Even a bleary eyed painter can prepare it. I'm too tired to post a recipe, so I'll give you a taste with a picture. And a piece of my heart to German girl who slaved away day and night on this project.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reward Yourself Chicken

It was almost fun to go back to work today, arranging flowers is not as difficult as painting. Plus there's the pay issue. The paint we've selected for our living /dining room is by a Canadian company C2. The colors are fabulous, the paint is as green as they can make it, so let's do the math: eco friendly paint + beautiful colors = high cost. O Canada. Tonight's reward is a favorite pasta dish with fettuccine and chicken.

You take a little, fat organic chicken, slather it with garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper and some crushed red peppers. Roast at 450 for 15 minutes, then about 1 hour and 15 or 20 minutes at 375. While chicken is roasting, finely chop onion, garlic , and a shallot or two, saute in olive oil, when they are soft , add a handful of cleaned and sliced mushrooms. When mushrooms start to soften, take off the burner. When chicken is ready, put the fettuccine in already boiling water and now comes the fun part. While the pasta is cooking, as quickly as you can, tear the chicken from the bones, shredding or cutting into pieces, include the skin. pour all cooking juices from pan into the sauteed vegetables, add a litle chicken stock or a splash of white wine. when pasta is cooked, place in big dish, add the chicken, then the sauce. toss all together, add fresh parsley, rosemary if it's not too cold to go outside and pick it, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, toss again. Eat. Then open up some of that $$$ paint and get back to work!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Painting Chronicles Part II

Damn. The worst thing about the painting project is that we disconnected the internet, thus forcing me to work unceasingly all day yesterday. We've connected this morning because life goes on and the mortgage does need to be payed. So before we go back to caveman mode, here are a few pictures of our life, starting with a bowl of the delicious baked oatmeal we had this morning. Then the living/dining room in all its emptiness. Such a small space, so much plastering and sanding. Then, the piece de resistence: our roommate's bedroom, looking like a junk shop, full of furniture, bed entirely covered in books. God I hope he doesn'y come home from Cali early. Think German girl is gonna pull the plug. I'm falling.......

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Painting Chronicles

2010, new messes indeed. I'm a bit of a keep it neat freak," always ready for the photographer" a friend of mine says. But on this Sunday morning, I've lost control. The furniture is in the middle of the floor covered in drop cloths, I've barely manage to make room to sit and read the Sunday Times, there are random piles of books and hats and jewelry, and the book cases still need to be unloaded and piled....where? Luckily our roommate HeMan is off to L.A. for the week, so i imagine his room will become the holding tank for books and the rest of the dining room. I'm not sure where we'll be eating tho, cause all the living room plants are on the kitchen table. But as i'm writing i'm loading up on espresso and my engines are rolling and ready to hit the highway. First the gym, then the living room. Together we're better, wish me luck!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pot Roast and Painting


I was just taking a minute reading other blogs bemoaning the post party blues. The holidays are over and all we're left with is January. Here it's cold and blustery. The flower shop is slow, not as great a selection of spring flowers I had hoped to find when I returned on Tuesday. But at home we're carrying on ,still having dinner parties. Last night was a good bye to our favorite college students who are off to Ohio till April. I made pot roast, they made indescribably good oatmeal/chocolate/butterscotch cookies and brought french sea salt caramels from one's semester abroad in France. The cookies were so beautiful, we all split one for an appetizer. The pot roast was browned and braised, egg noodles (store bought not our own this time) cooked and a salad tossed. we ate and gossiped and laughed and ignored the plaster blotched walls surrounding us. When they return it will be spring, the walls will be painted and the the garden will rise again.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Meatball

I should not be writing this. We're painting our living room and German Girl is plastering the wall under the front window. Looks like we're shooting a page for Anthropologie's March catalogue, the wall is all crumbly and distressed. The other wall looks sad and lonely without its photos and paintings, plus you can see how many holes I made to hang such few artworks.

Anyway, i'm supposed to be cooking a pot roast for dinner tomorrow. We're not going to let a little thing like a totally wrecked living/dining room get in the way of a dinner party. I'm going to brown it and braise it and fill the house with mouthwatering odors and hopefully keep German Girl on task. Last night we had German spaghetti and meatballs. Both meat and sauce are flavored with paprika and nutmeg, milk is added to the tomato sauce and there is even a dash of nutmeg on the pasta. What looks alike but tastes totally different? This dish. Delish. Off to the kitchen with me before I get asked what I'm doing. 'Cause this sure isn't painting or cooking, it is dillydallying at it's finest.

P.S. One correction, since this dish was prepared by Herself, she mentions that the tomato sauce is roux based, hence the addition of milk.

Monday, January 4, 2010

As I Live, I Learn

This is what I have learned from friends who actually know how to bake: springform pans come in different sizes, so if you use a 12" when a 9" is called for your cake will be flatter. Oh, and the room temperature of butter is not determined by when you are ready for it, but when it is ready for you. Check! And even if your cake is referred to as a pizza, if there is no "pizza" left, it was successful!

Sunday here was unbelievably cold and windy. A day to take down the tree, watch football and make pasta. I needed egg noodles for the goulash i had made on Saturday and was reluctant to leave the house . Out came the cookbooks and the Atlas pasta machine for the first time in about 10 years. Tho' not quite as easy a dough to work as the recipe claimed, the noodles were delicious and i felt quite the Little House On The Prairie cook.

I go back to work tomorrow. My work week runs thru Tuesday through Saturday. One more day of lounging about reading blogs. The wind has died down so we will venture out to the gym , maybe lunch and to pick out some paint for the living room. New year, new messes!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Hate To Bake ( and I'm not kidding)

Wasn't i just talking about patience? And my lack of it? And I decided to bake a cake? The recipe was in last month's House Beautiful, from New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. It's his mother's apple cake recipe, apparently they always had one cake in the refrigerator and another in the freezer, in case they had unexpected guests. Whatever. I'm no baker to begin with. A chef, yes, I can dice and slice and saute and braise with the best of them. I used to be a sous chef. I trained in French and Italian kitchens. But, I'm no baker. Still, It's Tini's birthday, she baked an apple cake last night, but her dog ate it. Sung to a country western tune. Anyhoo, I peeled and cored, creamed butter and sugar, tho' how butter creamed with white And brown sugar is supposed to turn a lemon color is a mystery to me. I couldn't pour the batter in the pan, i had to scrape it out 'cause it was mostly stuck to the beaters, on my floor, and all over the jeans I was going to wear tonight. Now the cake is cooling, the floor is washed, I have a slight headache. For better or worse picture to come. Until then, photo courtesy of House Beautiful.