Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year

It's snowing! I love how quiet my neighborhood gets when it snows. I padded out to the coffee shop on the corner this morning and found that my typical New Year's Eve reflectiveness had kicked in. Out of nowhere I remembered New Year's Eve 1999/2000, which I spent on Long Island at a party full of monied strangers, feeling a bit like Gatsby. I remembered wandering out to the beach with my friend, Katrina, and wondering what the next ten years would be like. And squealing over the idea of 2010 and where our lives would be. She predicted that she would be married. I didn't know what to expect. I had just returned from San Francisco, with no sense of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. The world seemed so big then and I felt so rootless.

Ten years later and the world still feels big. But less prohibitively so. And there are times when I still have no idea what I want to do. But I no longer question who I am. And I've stopped feeling rootless. And Trina is married, with a beautiful little girl, no less!

BB and I are ringing in the year at a small party in Cambridge with close, wonderful friends. There won't be a beach, but it's a relief not to feel like Gatsby.

Have a joyful evening, my lovelies, and a very happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

100 Posts and a Party

It seems only right to ring in the 100th post by celebrating another small victory. I finally (and I mean finally) threw a Christmas cocktail party. This is something that I've wanted to do since I moved into my first solo apartment. It happened to coincide with our first big snowstorm of the year, but I think that only made it more charming. I tried to do the whole thing Barefoot Contessa style, with a balance of store bought and homemade treats and a lot of atmosphere.

I made a sweets platter on a simple, white cake tray. I picked up some quality peppermint bark, a few clementine, some stollen and baked up a few of the Chez Panisse cookies. And the savory snacks came in the form of a cheese tray, a bowl of marinated olives and a small pyramid of arincini.

I even broke out the old $1 silver platter to use as a cocktail tray.

There were a lot of twinkly lights and no shortage of champagne, but more importantly the company was delightful. I should do this every year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wedding Pictures

I know it's been kind of a wedding free zone here for the past few weeks, but I received my wedding pictures today so please indulge me.

Here's one of my favorites:

It's my flower girl and I right before the ceremony begins. I think she looks like one of Degas' dancers.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Love with a Scarf

As I've mentioned previously, my knitting mojo is back. I'm finishing a Christmas hat for BB's Mom's partner. The baby blankets are moving right along. And I know that I need to remain focused to finish these projects up in time. But all I can think about is this:

*photo from The Purl Bee

The Lovely Leaves Scarf (orange) from The Purl Bee. It looks so cozy and beautiful. I want to start making one right away in a fabulous jewel toned yarn. But I know only too well that more than three knitting projects is the path to darkness. Must use will power... Must not start new project...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Truffles and Spice

Had two hits on my hands this week with Ms. Ina Garten's Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter and the Chez Panisse Gingersnaps that have taken the blogosphere by storm.

*photo from the Kitchn

The beauty of the gingersnaps is that the recipe makes a log of dough that you keep in the freezer. So you can slice off a few cookies to bake whenever you feel like them.

And the tagliarelle with truffles was just ridiculously luxurious. I had a glass of champagne in a tall, elegant flute while I was cooking it and felt like some sort of kitchen celebrity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but I made one last year. 2008 was such a rotten year for me from start to finish that I resolved to drink more champagne in 2009. That way, even if '09 was equally crappy, at least I'd have gotten some champagne out of the deal.

As it turned out, 2009 was a very nice year for me. I married BB, did some traveling, tackled family situations that I never believed I would have the strength to face and was lucky enough to find them resolvable. I think that part of what made 2009 so enjoyable was that I did manage to celebrate small (and large) accomplishments. And I did drink more champagne.

In 2010, I'm going to focus on quality. Which is not to say that it's all about purchasing things of quality, although that is a part of it. I am going to try to focus on the quality of what I'm putting in to my body and mind. I've gotten a bit intellectually lazy and want to challenge myself. I want to try to eat sustainable food of a certain quality. I want my behavior towards others to be of a certain quality. I want the work I produce to be of a high standard of quality.

So you heard it here first, people. Quality is the watchword for 2010. Cheers!

Dictator Cards

There's a great post in the NYT The Moment today about a grand idea, dictator cards. Get them at Dictator Goods, just in time for Christmas!

Stalin and Nero are my favorite. Words I never thought I'd say...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Disappointing Latkes & an Epic Journey

BB is back! And to celebrate his return, we visited the Everybody Loves Latkes celebration in Harvard Square. I've waited for three years to go to this darn thing and it was terrible. I waited in the rain and was served a vegetable pakora, which I can have any old time, and a store bought frozen potato pancake. A very weak showing Harvard Square.

After the crushing latke disappointment, I was feeling a bit restless and picked up my copy of Ulysses. Each time I read it is a bit of an undertaking. It's generally not something I do lightly, but perhaps it should be. Because it is a pleasure to read for pleasure. Who knew? "If you treat it like a bubble, it acts like a bubble" proves itself true again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Off

I have a proper day off today and I'm using it to get myself and the house cute for BB's return tomorrow. I have to confess that while I've been improving the bathroom, the rest of the apartment has fallen by the wayside. It's strewn with Christmas gifts, boxes and books.

My Porthault towels arrived yesterday, and they look absolutely perfect when mixed with my white towels. The add that missing touch of sweetness and humor. I love the single heart pattern so much that I'd like to order a pair of the pillowcases, but I'm not sure how much of that print one small home can take. I was thinking that instead, maybe I should go with these John Robshaw cases and just get one single heart boudoir pillow.

Still too girly? I'm not sure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

J Crew Nails

While doing some Christmas shopping at J Crew, I picked up a bottle of Essie Eternal Optimist.

It's a bit darker than the picture would have you believe and really clean and natural looking. I had forgotten that J. Crew was getting into the make-up game, but appreciate their doing the vetting for me. As previously mentioned, I'm terrible at picking out cosmetics.

In much more exciting news, BB is returning home several days early! He's been traveling for work and I want to get the apartment looking cozy for his return. I think I'm going to pick up some evergreen boughs and holly on the way home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiny Hearts Aplenty

No dice on the Nina Campbell bath accessories. Fortunately, I can achieve a similar effect with these oh-so-affordable Porthault Bath Sheets.

They're actually $200 a pop. Yikes! I have to confess that I ordered two of their (less expensive) hand towels in this pattern. Maybe one day when I'm fabulously wealthy, I'll purchase the big boys.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So Far Away

The bathroom revamp is still going strong. I've decided that pink walls may be to much, but that, with all of the dark gray, the room needs a little sweetening. I think that one or two pieces from Nina Campbell's heart bathroom accesories would be perfect, but I can't find anyplace in the U.S. to buy them!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bathroom Revamp

Bathroom sprucing up is underway. I picked up this West Elm Teak Bath Stool for a song. It's already on sale and they only had the floor model left, so I negotiated.

It's small enough to add some much needed storage to the room while still leaving us room to function. I also picked up two really streamlined, lidded glass jars to hold soaps, etc. Then I broke out some of our new white towels from my bridal shower.

The room is really coming along, but I really think it needs a little color. I'm thinking a very pale pink. Something like this family:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fan Girl Part Two

I think I'm on a roll. I snagged two more Domino back issues today, November and December 2005. I find myself wondering whether magazines from 2005 will be as enjoyable as the newer issues. But who am I kidding? I still reread my 2006 issues with the greatest pleasure.

I'll have to only read a little each night and make these three issues last.

On the I, Claudius front, I've finished the book and the first disk of the TV show. As you may have guessed, things are not going well for poor Claudius.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Domino Fan Girl Dance of Joy

Last year, our mailman decided it was a great idea to leave people's magazines thrown all over our foyer, rather than putting them in our mailboxes. Consequently, there was a fair bit of magazine thievery. I don't believe that it was all intentional. As the magazines were consistently scattered about, people may have believed that they belonged to people who had moved out of the building or just didn't want them. Regardless, the whole situation made me lose a few 2008 issues of Domino. Grrr. And I was just getting around to ordering back issues when the magazine sadly closed.

I've tried bidding on old issues on Ebay, but I always loose. (I'm a bad Ebay-er. I don't pay enough attention to the end bid times.) But today the Ebay gods smiled on me and I actually won the November 2008 issue.

Hooray! I'm going to nerd out when it arrives, just like I used to when it was delivered on the regular.

Talking Paintings

Falling firmly in the "Why have I never seen anything like this before?" category today are J. Richel's Talking Paintings.

As much as I enjoy them, I could never have one in my home. I would just make it sing Habanera from Carmen or declaim, "Farts, Farts, Farts!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seasonal Scents

Yesterday Rita Konig's The Moment dispatch was about the scents of the season. And it got me thinking about my holiday decorating plans, including the olfactory ones.

I think that I'll pick up a Diptyque Pomander candle:

and a Diptyque Roasted Chestnut candle:

The Vie Luxe St. Moritz candle that Ms. Konig recommends is lovely, but I have such an attachment to Diptyque that I just can't bring myself to try it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I, Claudius

I took I, Claudius out of the library last week on a lark and am now obsessed. I cannot put it down. As soon as I finish it, I'll need to rent the TV series.

I hope that I can handle the hairstyles:

And this handsome devil:

And Caligula. Yikes!

Monday, November 30, 2009

One Crumble to Rule Them All

The Apple-Blackberry Crumble was delicious.

I wound up using Ina Garten's Old Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe, minus 1 tablespoon of lemon and plus 2 pints of glorious blackberries. Don't believe the reviews on the recipe site that claim the crisp is too tart. Those people must have a serious sweet tooth.

Although there were seven pies for fourteen people at BB's Mom's for Thanksgiving, my crumble went the fastest. This is me coming clean about my ugly competitive baking streak.

And, in other news, now I want to write a musical called Seven Pies for Fourteen People.

The Coffee is Back

While BB and I were home over Thanksgiving, we picked up our final round of wedding presents, that had been mailed to my Mom's house. And among them was the new coffee maker that we've been waiting for. Our old coffee maker passed away about a month ago and we've been suffering through the wretched brew from my old french press. (The french press is not at fault. BB and I both are just terrible with it. We never get the proportions right.)

Our new beauty had her inaugural run this morning and it was absolutely delightful. She's been given a place of honor on top of the refrigerator and BB has taken to polishing her like a Ferrari.

We also picked up a shower curtain that looks like this:

So the great bathroom renovation has begun! I think BB is just relieved that I didn't go with the zebra shower curtain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Travel Plan

I am counting the hours until we leave for Thanksgiving. Although I can't say I love the Boston to Philly traffic, I do love a good road trip with BB.

I need to swing by the library tonight and pick up one of the Harry Potter audiobooks. Listening to Harry on the road has become something of a holiday tradition for us. And even though we've heard them all many times over at this point, I think the trip would seem lacking if we went without.

My 5 pronged plan of attack for comfortable Thanksgiving travel this year:
1. Harry Potter audiobook

2. Bagel chips and cream cheese from Zaftigs

3. Knitting - The scarf that I started in Florence, for when traffic comes to a standstill. (I never knit in a moving car. I've heard horror stories.)

4. The most comfortable shoes in the world - I picked up these Camper boots while I was in Rome.

5. A very early start time! - BB & I have never been able to pull this off before. We usually leave at around 8pm. I'm so excited to leave while it's light out!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Safe travels and a very joyous holiday to you all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

BookLooks: Winter Holiday

I finished reading Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome, the fourth book in the Swallows and Amazons series, this weekend. And I was so pleased with the whole thing that I decided to make it the focus of my second BookLooks.

The Amazon's picks:
8. L Flag - $25
9. Jolly Roger Flag - $13.99
12. Ribbed Cashmere Hat - $48
13. Cableknit Beanie - $19.50

The Swallow's picks:
2. Spyglass Telescope - $24.98
3. Aran Isle Hat - $38
4. Merino Trapper Hat - $45
5. Red Tea Kettle - $28.39
6. Blue Cups - $6.95
7. Antique Brass Pocket Compass - $9.95

The D's picks:
1. Faux Fur Trapper Hat - $29.50
10. Ladies Figure Skates - $27.99
11. Ultimate Flyer - $99.99

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cook the Books: Wind in the Willows

Although a selection of glorious picnics, fry-ups and teas tantalize the reader throughout The Wind in the Willows, the meal that always stands out for me is the bubble-and-squeak that the jailer's daughter serves Mr. Toad.

"Now, cheer up, Toad,' she said, coaxingly, on entering, `and sit up and dry your eyes and be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a bit of dinner. See, I've brought you some of mine, hot from the oven!'

It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, and its fragrance filled the narrow cell. The penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate thing as he had imagined." -Chapter 8

I should be very clear that what I'm about to suggest is in no way a proper bubble-and-squeak. In fact, bubble-and-squeak purists will likely be scandalized. In fact, they'll definitely be scandalized. Consider yourself warned.

I'm New York girl. At the age where most children beg for candy, I begged for noodle kugel. When most children were inhaling french fries, I was eating knishes. So when bubble-and-squeak was first explained to me as being a fried mixture of cabbage and potato by my Mother's very good friend (who hails from County Sligo), the image it conjured was distinctly... kosher.

I know in my head that what the jailer's daughter served Mr. Toad between two plates was probably not made with hot pink pickled cabbage, but you'll never convince my heart.

Lime Street's Catskills Bubble-and-Squeak
1 Cup Pickled Red Cabbage
1 Cup Mashed Potatoes, cold
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tsp Sour Cream (optional)

1. Add chilled potatoes, cabbage, salt and pepper in a bowl and blend with your hands until the mixture is well combined.

2. Add the olive oil to a non-stick skillet and place over medium-high heat.

3. While the oil is heating, form the potato/cabbage mixture into four evenly sized patties and dust both sides of each patty with a small portion of flour.

4. Once the oil is shimmering, place the patties in the pan and cook for roughly five minutes on each side, until the onside of the patties are crisp and golden brown.

I enjoy my Catskill's Bubble-and-Squeak with a dollop of sour cream, but that's entirely your call. May it have the same restorative powers for you as it did for Mr. Toad!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BookLooks: Wind in the Willows

As my Wind in the Willows mania is reaching a fever pitch, I've decided that the first BookLooks should be in it's honor.

Mr. Toad's Magnificent Selections:
1. Ford Bar Decanter - $38
2. Pair of Noblest Frogs Bookends - $45

Mole's Picks:
3. Cornish Blue Teapot - $50
4. Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch - $12

Badger's Picks:
5. Lion Door Knocker - $53
6. Embroidered Velvet Slippers - $650
9. Kensington Leather Loveseat - $3180

Rat's Picks:
7. Sterling Cocktail Pitcher and Spoon - Engraved with an "R", naturally.
8. Oar Wall Decor - $163

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BookLooks and Cook the Books

Bookish girl that I am, I've decided to introduce two new semi-regular features, BookLooks and Cook the Books. BookLooks, as you may have guessed, is a selection of items for your home and person, inspired by beloved books. Cook the Books is an exploration of recipes for standout food and beverages from those same books. They're intended to function in tandem and hopefully bring me a little closer to my childhood dream of being able to walk right into my books. (Kind of like Gumby and Pokey.)

Apple-Blackberry Crisp

We're heading to BB's home in Philly for Thanksgiving and I've been mulling over what to bring. We'll bring wine, flowers, etc, but I really feel that it's important to bring something homemade. And the magic words that keep springing to mind are apple-blackberry crisp. I've never actually made one before. Nor have I had apples and blackberries in the same dish. So I hope this isn't a trainwreck.

I think I'm going to tinker with recipes this weekend. I like the looks of this one and this one, but am actually most tempted by Ina Garten's Old Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe. I may just modify it by adding blackberries and a little more sugar.

I'm sure BB will be absolutely heartbroken about having to sample so many crisps, crumbles and buckles. What a trooper!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr. Toad Mania Continues

Our Wind in the Willows love knows no bounds. BB and I have spent the last few evenings watching the first season of the Wind in the Willows TV show.

This may actually be my favorite media incarnation of Wind in the Willows, as it adapts chapters of the book that generally don't get any screen time, like Wayfarers All and Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Truthfully, though, this show had me at Mole's Cousin.

Hold On Your Heart

Today, I'm looking for something to change my life.

What I've found are these sneakers.

Life changing? No. But they do make me smile.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let Us Not Be Disconcerted

*by Julianna Swaney

I would like to hang this next to my bed.

The Corduroy Appreciation Club

Please do yourself a favor and check out the NYT The Moment entry about the Corduroy Appreciation Club. It's making my morning.

I also recommend going the extra mile and checking out the official CAC website.

I hesitate to admit this in the same breath, as it were. But BB is staunchly anti-corduroy. He thinks it feels like wrinkly, been-in-the water-too-long hands. I want to tell him about the CAC, but I'm afraid he'll start some sort of opposing organization.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wind in the Willows

So after sitting through the somewhat disappointing Pythonesque Wind in the Willows last weekend, I felt compelled to Netflix the 2006 Masterpiece Theater version.

I think it's superior in every way, but one. Eric Idle makes an excellent Ratty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I picked up a few boxes of Sofia Blanc de Blanc minis this weekend in preparation for the holidays.

I know they're a little silly. But they look awfully cute in a silver ice bucket at parties. And they fit perfectly in that stupid soda can holder in my refrigerator.

A Round of Applause

For these scoop gloves from Topshop...

I'm really digging them. Unfortunately, my yearly Topshop fix is at their Harajuku store. And this year my schedule won't allow me to tag along with BB to Tokyo. So no scoop gloves for me. I know, I know, poor baby...

Monday, November 9, 2009


The first night that BB & I were in Rome for our honeymoon, the temperature plummeted. And as we strolled through the city wearing just about every article of clothing we'd packed, we bought a paper cone of roasted chestnuts to keep our hands warmed. There's something about the smell of roasting chestnuts that makes me immediately feel festive. Maybe I equate it with holiday trips to New York as a child.

Maybe Rome wasn't actually more convivial for those four days, but it certainly felt that way. I think I'm going to try roasting chestnuts in the oven this week, to try to recapture some of that.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Abundance of (Literary) Riches

At long last, the new main branch of the Cambridge Library is open! BB and I visited it on Sunday and it is absolutely gorgeous. It's the library of my dreams. Actually, the library of my dreams in the one from Harry Potter, natch. But it's a very close second.

And after all of my previous grousing about the difficulty of finding the Swallows and Amazons locally, I found all twelve books at the Curious George Bookstore on Saturday. Why I never thought to look there before I'll never know. But I picked up the third and fourth books and I'm happy as a lark.

What else happened this weekend? We ate a really tremendous breakfast at one of my new favorite places, the City Girl Cafe. We built a fort in the living room. We bought a vacuum. And we saw this crazy movie at the Brattle: