Sunday, March 27, 2011


Robb and I love our plants so much that we sleep with them. Not that way, you sickos! What I mean to imply is that our bedroom is the sunniest room in the house, so it tends to be where most of our plants live. And right around this time of year, our sunny bedroom becomes the incubator for our seedlings...all those veggies, flowers and herbs that will, in approximately 8 weeks time, be transferred out to our garden to become the lush greenery of our backyard retreat. (Ooh...I just got a tingle writing that sentence.) To add to the perfection of our bedroom greenhouse, our plant growing contraption sits on top of a very cute covered radiator that's just next to a westward-facing window. Steamy radiator plus indirect light = kick ass plantlet locale.
And as you can see, the plantlets are totally digging their home. We planted them just one week ago, and they are already shooting out of their hard little shells.
 The tricolor cherry tomatoes are like, what's up?
 The basil is like, Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!!!
 And the thyme is contemplating, as a community, how thrilled they are to be alive.
Now, you're probably wondering how I know which plantlet is which. After all, there are no popsicle sticks with a varietal name sharpied on it sticking out of each cell! Well, this year, Robb and I decided to get really fancy and make a chart. See how fancy it is? That's right, we used our counting skills and felt tip markers to keep track of what we planted where, and then we taped it to the wall next to the plants. Instant cheat sheet! We are so smart I can't believe it sometimes!
I am not, however, smart enough to know how to spell broccoli without spell check.(See where I tried to make the two "l"s look like one "l"?)
As a final testament to the awesomeness of our bedroom greenhouse, I give you a sneak peek of (drum roll please)...the pepper plants that we dug up from our yard last fall and that have been living in our bedroom windows! They are ALIVE! It's crazy. I really did not think that they were gonna make it. No joke, they have looked like ass all winter long...constantly dried out, a sort of sticky residue on them, not exactly "pretty." (What must the neighbors think? We have no shame.) But in actuality, it seems that the pepper plants went into a sort of hibernation. Just this last week, though, they have started to develop these bright green leaves and the pigment is retuning to their stalks. It's a miracle! So, the verdict is this: occasionally, you can mess with nature and not lose. (I say that fully recognizing, however, that we have no evidence that these puppies will bear fruit. We shall see...oh yes, we shall see.)

But for now, how about we go ahead and just be happy about life. Eh?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Winter Rage Issues and Springtime Turbans

Have I mentioned yet that I'm a complainer? And that, at heart, I am a very impatient person? Oh yeah, I am totally one of those people who tries to play it off like I could wait allllll day long...but inside, I can feel the rage coursing through me when I am made to wait. Luckily, this is usually confined to things like printer jams (why do you always jam when I'M printing?) and slow walkers (hurry UP, sidewalk hog!). But in life, when dealing with actual loved ones, coworkers, nature, and acts of God, I do try to find patience. I really do. Last Friday's warm weather, however, nearly killed my spirit. The balmy air and sockless weather sent me into a spring-tizzy, only to be let down by slugs of soft snow plops falling on my umbrella on Monday. How can it be that on Friday evening I was drinking Pinot Grigio in the backyard of Spuyten Duyvil in 70 degree weather!? And on Monday morning...snow?

In the photo above, this is me with a restrained look of rage on my face. Do you see it? The tightened lips that are sort of trying to smile, the pinched brows, the tense shoulders, the death grip on the railing. If my glasses were off, you could see the goddamnit in my eyes. This is me on Sunday afternoon, annoyed that the trees are still bare and that I'm cold and spring did not actually come to stay. OK, to be honest, I was also annoyed because I was waiting for someone who was late meeting me for brunch and I was HUNGRY.

But look a little more closely. What's that you see? Why it's a springtime turban wrapped around my angry little noggin! Just like the tree nubbins I mentioned in the previous post, these turbans are a little teeny tiny sign that spring is almost (ALMOST) here.
Here's the deal--I absolutely love my wintertime crocheted turbans, but soon enough (I have to believe) it will be too warm to wear them. And if the rest of the fashionable world thinks like me, and I think they do, then us fashionable ladies are not done with the turban silhouette! In fact, we're just getting started! And so I thought to myself, how can I wear a turban all year round? The answer: a kerchief-like turban made out of fabric.

The three shown above are prototypes...I am in the process of perfecting the springtime turban. In fact, I really need to meet with my local girlfriends to have a springtime turban focus group. Here are some things I need to know: do you like double-layer fabric or single? Do the printed fabrics look too babyish or are they vintage chic? Would you like to wear a fabric flower on the side of your head? If so, should it be closer to your ear or your temple? (For anyone living in NYC who would like to participate in this focus group, let me know! And for those of you checking in long distance, leave comments so I can hear your thoughts, too!)

I hope to perfect my recipe and have these up for sale in the Etsy shop in the next few weeks, just in time for you to tie your hair back for an Easter barbecue.
But what is it that I'm really trying to say here? I guess it's this: I'm finding my own little ways to work through my March rage issues and fabricate patience where there isn't much left. I am, in fact, looking out the window, a little sun on my face, wearing my goddamn springtime turban. And soon, I hope you will, too!

(Also, when I said "fabricate" a few sentences back, I didn't mean to make a pun. Pretty good, though, right?)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Butter Dish of Love

Favorite Thing About Blogging: Being my own boss. No one tells me what to say, when to say it, or how to shape my words. I can't ask for much more.
--Grace Bonney, creator of Design*Sponge, in an interview in Anthology magazine

I read this interview with Grace Bonney on the subway yesterday as I was going home, and I thought yeah! That is precisely what is so great about having a blog. No one can tell me that writing a blog post about a broken butter dish is dumb. Or that it's weird to take a photo of the butterdish in front of a cute Anthroplogie tea towel, with a bottle of Gorilla Glue beside it and Darth Vader mounted atop the dish. And so, as a celebration of the freedom that comes with having one's own blog, this is how I'm kicking things off.

There is, of course, a backstory.

Last weekend, I broke Robb's butter dish. For approximately the next 12 years, we will still have things that are "mine" and are "yours." We try to share, we really do, but until the very last pre-marital dish breaks, the modern brown ceramics are his, and the yellow plaid vintage set is mine. If you break your own dish, you have no one to blame but yourself. But when you break the other's dish, that's not so good. Alas, in a blurred moment of omelet making last Saturday, I managed to reach for a spatula, which knocked over a bottle of olive oil, which crashed down onto the butter dish and whacked it in half. I felt TERRIBLE.

To fix things, literally, I got out the gorilla glue later that day and managed to put the two pieces together. Robb walked into the kitchen as I was doing this and we started talking about how the butter dish wasn't all that great anyway--in fact, it really needed a handle. Anytime you picked up the lid to get at the butter, you'd inevitably get butter on the side of the dish or on your hand, and then the whole thing would become a big slick ceramic mess. Literally, butter fingers. (In fact, it's amazing that that is not how the butter dish broke!) Since we had the glue out anyway, Robb and I started digging around in our "long drawer" for possible toppers. (Now, we know that most people would call it a "junk drawer," but we love the weird stuff that's in our "long drawer"...fake mustaches, atomic fireballs, clothespins, Darth Vader...not junk!). It was between the clothespin and Darth Vader, but we weren't quite sure we wanted to commit Darth to a life of butter-dish toppery. I mean, once you glue him on, that's it! His versatility is GONE. We had several clothespins to spare, however. Plus it has a nice grip on the sides.

And now that the glue is dried, it's good and strong. See! We are not fooling around.

I feel that the story of the broken butter dish is one of true teamwork. Robb and I took lemons and made lemonade. Or rather, we took a kind of ugly butter dish and made it weird. But also functional. Anyway, it's a love story. Hence the tea towel backdrop.

And now for something really random, because it's my blog and I don't care! Here are some photos I took of trees. I feel like I should explain for the readers in California.

Dear Readers in California,
On the east coast, we have this thing called winter. During winter, all of the leaves fall off of the trees. (Ok, you know that, I'm being condescending now.) What you might not know is that, before the leaves grow back in the spring, these weird little nubbins grow on all of the branches. These nubbins will, in a few weeks, turn into buds, and the buds will turn into flowers, and then the air will smell wondrous and drunk with possibility and your skin will feel prettier and you won't feel so pissy, and then the leaves come in. So though it may feel cold like wintry death outside right now on the east coast, these nubbins are how the trees tell us that they are also sick of winter and that it will soon be spring. And when winter is over, that is the best feeling in the world. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Turbans with Elton John Sunglasses

Don't talk to me...I'm too hungover.
So I'm still making turbans. And I have to admit, my February turbans are kicking January's turbans' butts. Not to play favorites or anything...I would NEVER do that with craft projects. (OK, yeah, I totally would...especially because not everything I make is cute. What? It's not like they're my children!) 

I started out my turban headband exploration in January with knitting--worked in a long strip, the knitted turbans have ribbed edges that snugly fit your noggin. I tie the strip in a knot to make the classic turban silhouette, and then seam the edges together to put the whole thing in the round. Simple, cute, fun. I like it. 

A knitted turban on a wintry day
But then last month, a coworker showed me her storebought turban she'd purchased years ago, never to find another one again. Desperate for a replacement (this thing had apparently been worn to death), she commissioned a new one from me. Though it was...crocheted! Something I know how to do but really don't do very often. Crochet produces a rather thick, textured fabric, and I always kind of prefer the look and feel of smooth knit stitches. But for a headband? Why the hell not! Crochet made perfect sense. So I whipped one up in a couple of hours and handed it off to my coworker, who was quite happy to now have two of her all-time favorite headband. And so I made for my b-day gals, Julie and Nicole, and another went to Anna last week, and then my coworker ordered another, and I have been crocheting up a storm since then. Usually while watching Chopped All-Stars, sitting on my derriere at home.

These things have been flying out of my house so fast, in fact, that I haven't even had a chance to photograph them. So a couple mornings ago, I woke before work and decided to take some photos, OF MYSELF, like a total nerd, just so I can get these puppies listed on Etsy. What did I learn from this photoshoot? If you are over 30, you should never take a close-up photo of your face in full sunlight within the first hour of being awake. Or maybe ever. Which is why I pulled out the Elton John sunglasses, which blissfully cover approximately 70% of my face.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road...
Needless to say, only one of the headband turbans made it up to Etsy, and the rest of the photos have been burned. These ones I found to be hilarious--good examples of how a turban headband can make you look like a glamorous hungover divorcee, or like a boho hippie begrudgingly watching the sunrise. The choice is yours! Though I do highly recommend large glasses and a slightly annoyed attitude. It helps the overall look.

All of that being said, if you want one of these amazing crocheted turbans--which I can make in any color of the rainbow--just write a comment or send me an email or something. It'll be a few days at least before I can muster up the courage to attempt another photo shoot, so if you "need" one now, we can make it happen. Promise!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yuck or Yes

I am, in pretty much no way shape or form, a fashionista. But I do enjoy poking my head into the fashion world now and then, seeing whether wide leg or skinny jeans are "in" this second (trick question: they are both always in), or what fabulous dress Dior sent down the runway that I would never have occasion to wear. I also love looking at "on the street" style fashion reports, though I'm often disconcerted by the sameness of what people are wearing. In fact, a few times in my life,  I have outright decided to ignore a fashion trend altogether in protest of its overuse. (I'm looking at you pointy flats; pink pea coats; ponchos; jewel tones; snake skin anything; metallics.) But really, all of this fashion gawking just boils down to two words: yuck or yes.*

And so today, here are my offerings for you--neither of which fall into the "overworn" category--taken from New York Magazine's The Cut slideshow: The 29 Most Stylish People at Paris Fashion Week, Part 1.

Yuck, I would never wear this two-faced get-up in a million years.

Yes, I would wear this today. And possibly 5 years ago. And possibly 5 years into the future.

Well, that was brief, fun, and had pretty much nothing to do with knitting, craft, or DIY. But it did remind me to go home and dig out my suede leather coat with fringe that makes me feel like Ariel from Footloose!

*The author of this blog would like to restate that she is in no way a fashion expert. The opinions of "yuck" or "yes" stated here are personal opinions, and the author maintains the right to change said opinions at any time, including tomorrow (though, to be frank, that is unlikely).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Morgan's Banana and Eva's Carrot

This week, I have been told by zillions of people (or like seven people) that I should post the recipes I used for my Tiny Cakes. So, with pleasure, I have typed them up here for your enjoyment. Note that I'm giving measurements appropriate for Tiny Cakes--not a whole cake!  If you want a whole cake, you might have to do a little math. 
The first recipe is from Morgan, who baked this banana bread for me a few years back that blew my mind. For the record, I don't even really like bananas. They're like my 12th favorite fruit. So it says a lot that this has become a fave. I loved her banana bread so much that I asked her to bake it for me for my 30th birthday and smother it with chocolate. Which she did. In the photo to the left, she is attempting to hide my cake while she puts candles in it.

And here, I am feeding her cake. Happy b-day, me! I seem to recall that Robb was worried all of the cake would be gone by the end of the night, so he took a slice of cake and put it in the end table drawer in his living room. (Which, thankfully, we found the next day.)

The recipe comes from a book called Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry. I've adapted the recipe to make 4 Tiny Cakes, but if you want to make more, just use your multiplication skills. (This is one-third of the original recipe):

The Ultimate Banana Bread! (Tiny Cakes Edition)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 of an egg (I suggest beating the egg then eyeballing a third)
3/4 tablespoon milk
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 squares of chocolate

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat remaining ingredients until smooth; stir in flour mixture until well mixed. Pour into greased and floured ramekins. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then place a chocolate square on top of each Tiny Cake. Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Spread chocolate evenly over the top. Cool before eating if you want.

The next recipe comes from notorious Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria! The most recent issue of People Magazine fell into my hot little hands last week, and I came home and decided to give Eva's carrot cake recipe a whirl. If you don't know this, by the way, Eva owns restaurants and writes cookbooks. In fact, she has recently released a new cookbook called Eva's Kitchen. See the things you can learn in People Magazine?

I halved the recipe for Eva's carrot cake, which will make about 6 Tiny Cakes. Note that even a half recipe of the cream cheese frosting makes A LOT of frosting. All this week I have been eating the leftovers by the spoonful straight out of the fridge. I ain't too proud.

Mom's Carrot Cake (Tiny Cakes Edition)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots (about 2 or 3 carrots)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 6 ramekins. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Then in another bowl, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and just stir until blended. Add carrots in small amounts, folding them in. Pour into the ramekins and bake until they're lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean (about 25-30 minutes.) Cool in the ramekins for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the cakes to take them out. Cool them on racks, then frost with cream cheese frosting. You can top them with pecans if you want, but I didn't. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 lb powdered sugar (or less, if you don't want it too sweet)
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, blending between each addition. Mix in the vanilla and beat until very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tiny Cakes

I've been into Tiny Cakes lately. Not cupcakes, mind you...there's no muffin tin with paper liners happening in my household. I'm talking about Tiny Cakes. In fact, I'm so into them right now that I'm going to capitalize Tiny Cakes throughout this post.

So why am I making Tiny Cakes? The answer is easy. If I make a whole cake, we will eat a whole cake. And by "we" I mean me and Robb. On a Wednesday night. For no reason.

And what are Tiny Cakes? They are just like real cakes except that they are baked in tiny greased-and-floured ramekins.

And how did I start making Tiny Cakes? Well, it all begin two weeks ago with a single rotting banana. It was left over from our week of detoxing...both Robb and I were so sick of "whole foods" and "fruits" that the second the detox was over, any healthy food in our house was immediately ignored and went into various states of decay. (As a dear friend described our behavior after the detox, "commence retox.") I looked at this sad, brown banana and didn't think trash--I thought BANANA BREAD! I got out my friend Morgan's amazing recipe for the best banana bread ever and realized it called for three or four bananas and I only had one. That's fine by me, I thought...I'll just make a third of a recipe. Which was exactly what I did. I then poured the batter into four little greased-n-floured ramekins and baked them up. In the last ten minutes of baking, I put a little square of chocolate on each one, which got soft and gooey in the oven. I smoothed out the chocolate over the top and Robb and I ate them right out of the ramekin. Perfecto! And the best part was, we could only eat two Tiny Cakes a piece. Not an entire sheet cake (like we've been known to do.)

The following weekend, I decided to make Tiny Carrot Cake--Eva Longoria's carrot cake from People Magazine to be specific. Sounds kinda skanky, but it was so delicious!! I whipped up a half recipe, which was way more than enough. For this one, I decided  to remove the cakes from their ramekins and frost them on the sides with cream cheese frosting, too. I'm not a great froster (can you tell?) so my frosting is "impressionistic," only going about half way down the sides.
But really, isn't this a fun way keep yourself from eating an entire cake? Tiny Cakes!! I'm sure Eva will tweet about me and the trend will spread like wildfire throughout the tabloids.