Friday, April 30, 2010


Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I'm resurrecting a fairly ancient and surely-presumed-forgotten blog topic. Remember this quilt? Oh riiiight, that quilt, the one I'll hopefully be presenting to my friend Alexis in (yipe) two weeks? Well, sweet jebus, it's almost done.

Today, I finished the top, and spent fifteen hot and steamy minutes ironing the darn thing. It is, incidentally, massive. I didn't even measure it before I went to the store and bought queen size batting for it. Assuming, you know, that queen size would be big enough. Because assuming is always a wise idea. Suffice to say, I will be returning to the store this evening to purchase king size batting.

This being my first full-size quilt, I'd like to share what I've learned so far.

1) Assuming you will have enough fabric in your stash is a bad idea.

2) Assuming the project can be knocked off in three months is a bad idea.

3) Assuming that sewing many, many 129-inch-long seams will be fun is a bad idea.

4) I'm not sure I'm going to undertake a full-size quilt again in my lifetime.

That said, it is rewarding to look at my happy, sprawling creation and think about all the tiny bits and clips and trimmings and stitches that went into it, that helped it become happy and sprawling. Maybe this is what raising a child feels like? You count your gray hairs and your crow's feet, take a look at their college graduation picture and decide it was worth it, after all.

Tomorrow, I make the binding. This "child" hasn't quite "graduated" yet. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I'm Wearing: Dream dress

Dress: vintage, yard-saled
Sweatercoat: Anthropologie
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Modcloth
Earrings: Anthropologie

This dress was the first piece of vintage clothing I ever owned. It was Memorial Day weekend last year, Patrick was playing at a festival, I was staying home and doing things he loathed and despised. Like, for example, going to yard sales.

There was a whole rack of vintage clothes at one of the sales, most of the pieces between $1 and $5. It was, to put it lightly, an improbable and long-held fantasy of mine come true.

I took this one off the hanger and stuffed it in my bag, feeling certain it would fit, feeling certain I could mend the small tear in the bust, feeling like a lucky little shit for walking away with it for a buck.

This dress was some accomplished seamstress' work of art. Inside, there's no tag, no label, no overlocked seam allowances. This was handmade, and well, by someone with a fancy occasion to go to who needed a pretty dress. It makes me think of Marie's Sewing Kit, the one I wrote about back in December, and the sort of masterpieces that must've spun their way out of her sewing machine, in all their princess-seamed, covered-buckled splendor.

Oh, the stories it tells.

Monday, April 26, 2010

First of the year

It began Sunday night. For weeks I'd been watching those carefully planted rows getting bigger, greener. A few days ago, I strolled out to my cold frame and decided it was time to put something homegrown on our weekly meal plan: pizza with sun dried tomatoes and fresh arugala. Fresh, homegrown arugala.

This is the beginning of the best season: the garden season. The fresh and local eating season. The season of plucky lettuces, and ripe tomatoes, and zeppelin-sized zucchini. Nothing beats that self-sustaining feeling, the rewards that come with providing for our meals, the gifts from the garden.

I need to throw in a quick pitch for arugala: it is easier than mold to grow. Easier than hair, maybe, if that metaphor works better for you. If you've ever found yourself the slightest bit fascinated with the idea of growing something for yourself, start here. Arugala grows like an absolute weed, because a weed is pretty much what it is. This crop of mine, planted in the frigid optimism of a March thaw, took about five weeks from seed to salad. The closer we get to the summer solstice, the faster things grow: the next row of arugala I sow will be ready in three weeks. It's a never-ending wonder, this world of seeds and damp dirt.

Our meal was pizza with sundried tomato pesto, feta, and fresh arugala. My favorite pizza crust recipe can be found here. My go-to sundried tomato pesto recipe is here. This tomato-arugala-feta combination works with fresh tomatoes, as well. You can stay tuned for that one in August, when I have not just fresh arugala in my garden, but tomatoes, too.
I can't wait for that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I'm Wearing: Viva la thrift

Dress: Modcloth
Cardigan: Thrifted
Tights: ?
Scarf: Thrifted
Shoes: Thrifted
Earrings: Anthropologie

I bought this dress as a late-birthday-present to myself, just after Christmas, and I've been having a hard time wearing it. I love it: the length, the gauzy-ness, the poppies... (I'm a sucker for poppies). I ended up pretty pleased with this outfit, though. The dark stockings and scarf keep everything from looking washed-out, a good thing.

Posting the run-down of this outfit has really made me notice how much of a thrift store junkie I am. It rocks. I scored this cardigan (and another just like it, in white) at a yard sale last May for $1.50 each. The shoes (and I never find shoes!) were at Salvation Army's half-off day two weeks ago, for two bucks. The scarf, I believe, was four or five dollars at an upper-end thrift store in Ithaca. Yee doggies.

Anyone have any great thrift scores to share? What's the best, most exciting, most ridiculous deal/item/story you have related to thrifting or yard saling? I bet there's some good ones...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New friends

I decided this weekend that what my life really needed was a vintage radio and an old antique table fan. It was time, I guess, because when I spotted them sitting together in my favorite antique store, it didn't take long for me to make friends. I'm not sure where they're going to end up, but for now I like them here, splashed with sun on the kitchen table, a most dapper and congenial duo.

Monday, April 19, 2010


This was what Patrick spotted from our porch on Friday afternoon. A very fat, wet, somewhat remorseful-looking woodchuck, sitting in our trap. Ha, ha, ha.

I haven't talked much about the woodchuck here, because I like this blog to be my happy place. Woodchucks do not make me happy. They eat my garden. They arouse purely murderous thoughts in my mind. Remember last summer's garden? The lush perfection of mid-June? Well, that was before the woodchuck showed up, and quickly mowed the broccoli down to shaggy green stumps.

This year I wised up, and I bought me a trap. I'd seen him once already, amid the bright sunshine of a precocious March day, and Patrick's heckling calls of, "Oh look, oh, isn't he cute?! Your friend the woodchuck is back!" (I swear, nothing has tested our relationship more than this animal, which my vegetarian husband wants to name, befriend, and celebrate, and which I want to behead.)

With this creature, this Rodent Antichrist on the loose, I knew it was only a matter of time before I came home from work, made a cup of tea, went out to visit my seedlings, only to behold... a desolate clear-cut where my lettuces and pea plant once stood. I knew time was short. I set the trap, and I waited.

Nothing. Nothing, for two whole weeks. Everything I've read online says that these guys are dopes, suckers for anything appealing to their voracious gut. Last Thursday evening, I replaced a shriveled, soggy carrot with a crisp fresh one.

And this was too much to resist for Patrick's friend and my arch-enemy. The trap's metal doors slammed shut, and the varmint's broccoli-thieving days were over. We boxed him up and happily escorted him across the river, to a water tower surrounded by frowsy fields and vinyl-sided McMansions. If he eats those peoples' gardens, he will likely drive them to a comparable blind rage. But they'll simply have to do what I did: wise up, and get a trap.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gadzooks! A recipe!

I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I posted a recipe here. I'm not sure what my excuse is-- like all other things, my passion for food comes and goes inexplicably and without fanfare-- which isn't to say that I've lost my passion. It's just that lately, with autumn's rich bounty well behind us, and the first green leaves of spring still ahead, my cooking exploits are more focused on getting rid of the things I canned/froze too much of last season. Not glamorous or blog-worthy, not in the least. And not terribly exciting, given that the most abundant leftover ingredient from last season is block after grayish block of frozen eggplant. Eeew. You don't even want to comprehend the number of variations on ratatouille that have come out of my kitchen this winter.

But anyway. Yes. On to the recipe.

This came about for two reasons: 1) I had the heels of about four different loaves of bread languishing in the fridge, and 2) I love me a good cheesy eggy comforting plate of food like none other. I started with my Favorite Bread Pudding of All Time, (which is unabashedly an autumn recipe), and began tinkering. Here's the end result.

Asparagus and Sundried Tomato Bread Pudding

7 large eggs
1 1/2 cups skim milk
6 tbsp wine (I used red, which turned the eggs and milk an alarming purplish gray, but don't worry, the effect is temporary.)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
10 cups cubed stale crusty bread

1/2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup asparagus, cut into inch-long pieces

8 oz grated cheddar cheese

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl, whisking thoroughly to make sure the eggs are incorporated. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and generously oil a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic and sundried tomatoes. Throw in a half a cup of water and put a lid on the pan, letting the tomatoes steam and rehydrate a little. After they're softened a bit, take them out and chop them up and throw them back in the pan with the asparagus. Let cook, covered, for another five minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the eggy bread cubes to your baking dish. Spread them out over the bottom. Add half the tomato-asparagus mixture, and top with half the grated cheese. Repeat the layers of bread-vegetables-cheese once more, cover the pan with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool five minutes, cut into squares, and serve. Serves 6.

There. I did it. I posted a recipe again after about a six-month hiatus. You know what else I haven't done in awhile?
Ahhh, there. That feels better.

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