Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Across The Great Divide

Until this past week I haven't given what I eat much thought.

Well of course I think about what I'm going to cook, as in hmm, that butternut squash has been here for a while now, what am I going to do with it?

Or someone tells me what they had for dinner last night and I'm immediately inspired to make it too.

And please don't even mention pizza to me because I want some right now..

My food is influenced by many countries and many parts of this country.

It almost always starts with a base of onions and garlic, usually something spicy, Thai chili peppers, jalapenos, dried anchos, recently chipolte peppers in adobo sauce.

Then there are herbs and spices, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cumin always cumin, smoked paprika is a recent favorite, freshly ground pepper, moderate amounts of salt, a few crushed red pepper flakes.

There is a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, a handful of herbs, maybe some toasted pine nuts.

I'm in the grain groove. Farro, love my bulgar, nutty brown rice, toasted quinoa, all are welcome  here.

Oh and beans, dried or canned, beans are always a highlight.

Not too much animal protein, but eggs and cheese make weekly appearances.

None of this seems unusual to me or maybe to you.

But when I'm suddenly living with a womanchild from France my eating habits seem downright eccentric.

Since Elle has appeared I've made Hoppin' John, ( an aside, I make up my own recipe but his is pretty damn close and his prose makes mine seem seem to be written by Shakespeare) roasted beets served a variety of ways,including a  salad with ruby grapefruit, avocado and goat cheese.

I've had whole wheat tortillas filled with kale and hot pepper cheese, chicken tortilla soup and couscous with butternut squash and garbanzo beans stew.

I always offer, she always looks and says no thank you.

Except the soup, who says no to chicken tortilla soup except a vegetarian?

I feel like a caricature of an American, especially when I dash off to the gym on a Sunday.

In the eyes of a Frenchwoman I'm "sporty". And f you know me just a little bit this is not a word that springs to mind.

But  vive la difference as Gus would say.

And I look forward to this weekends' promised baking.

(after all I can always work it off at the gym!)


P.S, totally not trying to sound snarky here, just wondering if I'm a product of too many blog food trends:-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No Regrets

Oh mes amis,
Day after day of freezing winds and snow.

Nothing to do, nowhere to go.

I've read the NYT (Sunday, old news) and a book or two.

 And clearly, Je suis en train d'apprendre le francais..
I even ventured outside with Jane to move the snow around????
Such strange things she does.
Leave it, I told her, come inside, it will do fine by itself.
So she came inside and moved furniture around.
Bored, bored, bored...
Oh, there's Lucy.
 What's up pussycat?
Well that was invigorating.

I feel more like myself.

Time for a little cat nap and then I'll catch the 9:00PM viewing of Jules And Jim.

Bonne nuit.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Finally the long and arduous hunt for a new roommate has come to an end.

S-man left big shoes to fill. And no one was coming close.

Sure there were some people that sounded interesting ,like the 23rd old from LA who was coming to do an internship at a magazine in Arlington. I googled him, he made the first of his 3 films at age 16.

Too cool for me.

The man who works for the Taiwanese government. Umm, maybe not.

Everyone had a different story, but like Goldilocks, I felt none of them were just right.

Then along came Elle.

French, 22 years old,  with 6 month internship in DC,  a footfall (American) fanatic, the 49ers unfortunately for her and she loves to bake.

We're talking French pastries. Macaroons, tartes, crepes, butter cremes,gateaus.

Well, that's what we talked about over dinner tonight....

Within hours of moving in, her room was decorated, her groceries were stashed away and she was happily nestled in her room working away on her computer.

Last night at dinner we were discussing social media and I told her I blog.

What do you blog about she asked. Well, I thought, you're up next.

The cats are vaguely interested but they're not making a commitment yet.

Wait till they get a mouthful of  eclair.

xo J

P.S. And a big thank all  to of you who opened up and shared their pictures and stories on As You Were. I loved the intimate glimpses into your lives.

We'll be doing this again. Once a month?

Can you tell what I'm like in person? The "come on guys let's put on a play" type.

Yup. That's me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

As We Were January 2014

Fire Island, late 1990's, early 2000?

Tony and I.

Not much of a back story here, just another summer vacation with Larry.

Reading, grilling, laughing, the occasional acrimonious game of Scrabble.

There would have been raucous lunches on the deck, naps on the beach afterwards.

 I would have been the first one up in the morning and armed with an iced coffee I'd patrol the beach, eyes downcast looking for beach glass.

Larry and Tony would go for a run and I'd do Yoga by waters edge.

Dinner was always eaten by candlelight.

Sleep came early.

All this loveliness aside, the reason I selected this picture?

It's the only time in my life, on film or in person where I appear to have breasts.

No wonder I'm smirking. Document that!

Friday, January 17, 2014

As You Were

There's a new game in town.

We'll call it " As You Were".

I'll set up Mr. Linky, you find an old picture of yourself and voila!

There we'll be.

Then and now.

You can tell a story if you like.

Or let the picture tell the story.

Requires no trips to the garden or flower shop.

Doesn't matter if it's snowing or sizzling.

It's  a trip down memory lane.

You game?

Next Monday?

Lucy and Gus will start us off, with a couple of pics from their younger days.

Their " Most Wanted" poster from the ASPCA.

Look at them being all sweet and innocent.

My first picture might be when I was just a kitten too.

Work my way up to hellion.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Share My Swag

I thought you would like to see the tiny beautiful things a florist gets to bring home at the end of the day.

A dozen eggs from a local grower. A dozen tulips hot off the presses.

And a beautiful little succulent container potted up by my co worker Betty.

How much did I love it? 

I paid for it, that's how much.

Well I paid for the eggs too, $3.50, but the tulips were a grab and go.
Kind of a floral equivalent of a staff meal.

And just when I though I had gotten everything good out of the bag, I turned around and spied this treasure. 

Value? Priceless.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Flowers In The House Of Food And Felines: January 2014

It was that kind of day.

You know how one thing leads to another?

As long as I had flowers, I thought, I might as well have a dinner party.

I have a new neighbor and she and her father, who faithfully drives down from New Jersey almost every week to help her with the reno, need to be fed.

And fed well.  They've taken up floors, pulled down walls, rewired, enlarged the bathroom, stripped and painted the doors and planted a few trees in their spare time.

He has a rotator cuff tear ( well who doesn't), lucky for her, in his left arm, from the time the 800lb bathtub crashed down on him as they were attempting to remove it.

Yet, he keeps working.  At least until his surgery on January 21st.

So I shopped, cooked, cleaned and put some flowers about. Albeit in a more simple fashion than usual.

White anemones in the back bedroom, still unoccupied except by the cats.

  And in my bedroom, a bottle of poppies.
 They help me to have a

The dining room smells heavenly with jasmine, narcissus, lilac, bits of lavender and rosemary from my garden ( who knew) white parrot tulips plus one white poppy.

And do you remember how I always like to have a little something-something on my kitchen windowsill to enhance dish washing?

 I got distraction and then some.
A row of double narcissus, fragrant and creamy

And a visit from the neighborhood peeping tom.

We'll all be coming around to visit you.

Don't draw your shades.

You never know where we'll pop up!

xo J

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Circle Game

Hey, pssst, it's Gus.

Guess what? Lucy and I got a present!!

Jane brought the box inside assuming it was for her but oh no, it said Lucy and Gus.

That's us!
 And there was a note. 

With a fancy crest on it. Clearly from royalty, our true family.

And tools for Jane, because the royal family knows she wouldn't have extra batteries and a tiny screwdriver hanging around.

So true.

We were so excited, Jane put it together before she even took off her vest, scarf or wellies.

It only took two tries before she got the batteries in properly. 

( How hard is it to see the + sign I ask you)

But the amazing thing is she did get it working and we played and played and played.

If anybody could tell us how to rotate Jane's video so you don't have to tilt your head to the side to watch it, I would post that too.

We are poetry in motion Lucy and I.

Pure poetry.

Thank you Susan. we love it and we love you.

We don't love your little dogs though.


P.S. It says batteries to be installed by adult only. Is this the same adult that's supposed to be in the kitchen with Jane when she bakes? hahahaha

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back To The Future

Or rather right this minute.

I ask you in all seriousness, how appreciative do you have to be when they bring you a mouse?

I know they haven't been able to go out for days. Even Gus knows when too cold is too cold.

But tonight they hit the great outdoors.

And except for Lucy's victory lap around the house ( minus mouse I can assure you) they're staying out and hunting.

I guess they're worried I'm running out of provisions without S-Man and his almost daily runs to the grocery store?

Rest assured there's plenty of food for everyone here, fresh for me and canned for the hunters.

There's also a trickle of early spring flowers coming into the house. Tulips in the living room, ranunculus in the dining room, a big, fat white rose in the kitchen.

Which brings me to my next question. And I think we all know where I'm going with this.

Flowers? In the house? Next Monday?

You in?

Surely we can all grab a handful of daffodils or a potted primrose and spread some joy.

Dark and cold days outside, flowers, light and a sweet potato in the oven inside.

Sound good?

P.S. we can post an old picture of ourselves in the post for extra bonus points and Lucy says she'll throw in a mouse.....
PPS. I'm back to tell you there's a second mouse by the back door. I'm trapped and will be unable to leave my house.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

And The Answer Is....

Well I'm not so sure about the shoe or the perm.

But I do know that's ex husband #2 on the left and soon to be #3 on the right.

Talk about one big happy family.

And I'm pretty sure my then friend and hairdresser Linda, who looked so much like me we were often mistaken for one another in the bars, took the picture.

So, I'm betting she had come to do my hair and stayed to join the party.

I love the 80's.

Through all the hair styles, colors and let's just say it, relationships, I had one constant in my life, my BF Ian.

We met in a restaurant where I was a sous chef and he was waiting tables while going to law school.

The minute he sauntered into the kitchen and turned those electric blue eyes my way, I was a goner.

I fed him anything he wanted when ever he wanted it, and he wanted food all the time. Expensive food, it's a wonder I kept my job.

In turn he persuaded his partner Larry to include me and _____ in their vacation plans. Summers on Nantucket or Fire island, Christmas in Palm Springs or San Francisco once Ian moved there.

My company was always what he asked for as a present.

We could talk Ian and I. And laugh. Then talk some more. No one has ever made me laugh as much, or as often.

Here we are on Fire Island, July 1989.

Every year in July we arrived at the old farmhouse to celebrate Larry's birthday. I would bring via car, ferry and a little red wagon, a box of roses, each year adding another.

Ian would bring himself. And we had a big old party.

There was feasting, swimming, and music. And pies. There were always pies.

In the mid 90's the shining star that was Ian was extinguished.

Larry and I continue on. Fire Island, Italy, NYC, hell he even comes to Virginia.

We hold each others' history in our hearts.

And know you know a bit more of mine.

Thanks for bearing with me as I ventured down memory lane.

Next post I'll return to 2014. Promise.

xo J

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snowed In? Let's Play A Game!

Yes I know I grew up in Michigan, but I'm not a snow/ice kind of woman.

And I realize I live in Virginia, not any of the  M states like Massachusetts, Maine or Minnesota, states that really got buried under this storm but still we had wind gusts of 45-50 MPH, winds chills  below zero and I do take a bus to work.

I was tempted to call in cold but having finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed over the holiday break, I thought I should get on with it. I was not in the Sierras after all, just walking to the corner.....

So I layered. Leggings under jeans, a long sleeve t shirt under a flannel shirt under a wool sweater under a down vest under a down coat. Accessorized with fur lined boots, a wool scarf, a wool hat knit by my neighbor Nelda, and of course gloves and sunglasses.

I tried to take a picture to show you but in it I look like a very grim sausage wearing sunglasses.

Clearly I survived and to reward myself for my bravery I cleaned out a box from the attic and found more pictures.

 Now let's play what is this wrong with this picture?

  1.  I am brunette.
  2. I am holding a shoe.
  3. Have I even been married to either of these men?
  4. Why is the one on the right so angelically happy?
  5. Why is the one on the left fixing my hair?
  6. I have body in my hair. Did I have a perm?
  7. What year was this?
 We have all been here before.

Haven't we?

Your turn. Show me some history. Thus shall January fly by.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On This, The First Day Of The New Year

Inspired by Janet, I resumed my clearing out spree, hitting the dresser in the bedroom.

I had already taken down the outside lights and greens, stripped the tree of what little the cats had left, vacuumed and done minimal rearranging.

Without it's trimmings my house looks almost Shaker like in its new found sobriety..

I love it.

Though I look forward to returning to work tomorrow and bringing home some flowers.

In the bottom of one drawer, buried under a pile of old receipts and broken necklaces, I found a picture, freed from its frame and slightly crumpled.

But there we were, my friend Larry and Tony and myself, sitting on a terrace in Capri, relaxing before dinner.

It was Larry's birthday and for reasons only known to the gods, he had taken my then partner Tony and myself with him on a two week trip to Italy.

We spent the first week in Capri.

    Those were the days my friends.