Friday, May 30, 2008

the blue and gold

Another mad dash to Delaware today. This time for something a little more celebratory--doctoral hooding convocation and commencement exercises. Four years, 300+ pages, eleven conferences, three sort-of-kind-of-pubs, three grad assistantships, one fellowship, one teaching semester, and thousands of commuter miles later, I get the bright blue gown with velvet bars and a fancy cap and hood. Oh yeah, and a piece of paper with fancy writing with three important words: Doctor of Philosophy.

Many of my favorite persons are going to be there, I'm looking forward to it! See you here on Monday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


It's all about the little things...

Coffee shop with wifi.

Circles and squares.

An authentic NYC bagel.

Brownstones, gardens, and exquisite ironwork.

Flipping the script as a stay-at-home dad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

livin' the good life

Yesterday I had a meeting for work in Manhattan. Coincidentally, the boyfriend had meetings in Brooklyn today. Thus, I'm working remotely from the borough today, trolling for coffee shops with wireless. I'll also be hitting up some of the fine boutiques in the 'hood and hopefully land in Prospect Park this afternoon for some policy analysis in the Long Meadow. Got to love the laptop livin'.

Last night after dinner we wandered a bit and I noticed a Brooklyn Industries just up the street from the hotel. Definitely liking this on sale:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

etsy love

drikab weekender

Don't you need another bag?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

competing interest

Forgot to mention that my main competition for the sewing is my backyard garden.

The soil is horrible. Cigarette butts, broken beer bottles, plastic bags, and more get turned over with every shovelful of dirt. My allergies are in a perpetual state of rebellion with each fistful of weeds that I extract from the tangled mess.

And yet, I am seriously enamored with this space. There are two other tenants in the house, but no one seems to even glance back there, much less dig in. Maybe I'm the crazy one.

So here it is, the space that is competing with all my other tasks. This is the biggest garden I've personally taken on. Community gardens have partners. The little space on Ashland Street was tiny by comparison. The 540B plots were a bit larger. Blue Elm is going to be the best by far I think. Tomorrow RJR is going to help me rough in a patio area. Ok, he is going to rough in a patio and I'll be planting more seeds and tearing out more weeds to shape in a space for wildflowers along the back fence. Some of my plants were grown from seeds, others were purchased at the South Wedge farmers market, and others are cuttings/transplants from my mom's garden.

The "garden" in March.

Ready to go into the ground.

The garden now.

Herb garden outside of the fence: dill, spearmint, orange mint, sage, sweet basil, purple basil, thai basil, marjoram, thyme, orange thyme, lavender, oregano, parsley...will keep adding if I can--love the herbs!

Cucumber hills.

The compost bin in full effect.

Instructions for the design found here in a book I got at a thrift store.

Tomorrow the peppers and tomatoes are going in!

get sewing

Less than a month from this weekend, I'll be selling 540B items at Art on Lark, a local arts festival. Yikes! I have barely any inventory! This weekend was blocked off for restocking. The fabric stash has a number of options. Yet, I have such a rough time diving in and cutting it up. Not to mention, when I'm away from my machine for awhile it takes me some attempts to get back in the groove.

Here's to finishing off at least 5 sets of coasters today and getting some bags cut out, if not assembled.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

catching up...

Bit of a delay on posting my own pics because I had misplaced the cord to my camera. But, after some searching, I located it and can now share some lovely tulips from the Albany Tulip Festival weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Wherever you are this weekend, hope you are enjoying the official start of the summer season and remembering the fallen...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

quarters and kristi yamaguchi

The washer in my building is broken. I don't like going into the scary basement to begin with, but free is better than any bright and shiny laundromat I know so I soldier on. Now, however, I'm looking at some weeks (or even months knowing my landlady) before I'll be plunging into the dank subterranean universe. Instead, I'll be hanging out at one of the many 24 hour laundromats in the neighborhood.

A side benefit of this twist in domestic routine is the observation of American pop-culture. Until last night, I had never seen Dancing with the Stars. Apparently I picked a good night to put my feet up on the laundry cart to watch. There was a free style dance, some strip tease that one of the judges said reminded him of watching centerfolds, and a lot of bedazzled costumes. Wow. And then, the grand moment when Kristi Yamaguchi took home the title. I guess that's what its called. Didn't seem to be any money attached to the winning position.

I took the wet clothes home to hang about the apartment. My dining room/office area looks like a garage sale. Soon I'm going to be hanging them on the line on the porch, still a bit too cold for that last night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

movie minute : : my blueberry nights

Hoping to catch a film showing this weekend. On tap at our local indy theater (Spectrum 8): My Blueberry Nights.

The IMDB description says:
"Acclaimed music star Norah Jones plays a sensual, alluring young woman who sets out on an unforgettable journey of discovery in pursuit of true love. In heartbreakingly beautiful locations and classic Route 66 atmospheric diners, Wong Kar Wai's (In The Mood For Love, 2046) captivating heroine encounters a series of enigmatic characters that help her on her quest. The first English language film from this acclaimed director features an all-star cast that includes Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, and Natalie Portman."

Seems promising.

Monday, May 19, 2008

summer reading

I need to start a list of summer reading goals. Ok, maybe not goals, perhaps targets or ideas is a better way to put it. I want to read more fiction. I need book suggestions. My first pick is Unaccustomed Earth by the ever amazing Jhumpa Lahiri.

After that, the next nine spots are empty. I'll be on a train, in a plane, and in the park. Any suggestions of what to take along?

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Today we are celebrating my brother's graduation!
2004-2008 Roberts Wesleyan College
Major: all things business and finance, future capitalist of America

Thursday, May 15, 2008

no cheese no milk

I am not fundamentally opposed to these dairy products, but my body sure is. Thanks though to the raging trend of being vegan, I've been able to find new and exciting ways to work around this culinary road block. In addition, one of my dearest friends has drank the kool-aid and so now I have even more reason to prepare vegan delights!

Over at Angry Chicken I've learned a new approach for cooking and preparing brown rice that comes from this cookbook. All spare funds in May and June are supposed to be held for London...this is tempting though.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

farmers market lovin'

As is often the case, I am on the road again. This week I've set up at my firm's Rochester branch for meetings all week. Staying with the family and enjoying the local haunts. The Southwedge neighborhood remains one of my favorite places--of all time. I've used this 'hood as my model when looking for housing in Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Albany. While coming pretty close in each city, there is no other neighborhood that combines these dynamics in just the same way.

Tomorrow I'll be headed over to the farmers market, a new addition since I moved away in 2003. Check it out Thursdays 4-8PM!

Monday, May 12, 2008


The Tulip Festival was fantastic. Who knew there were that many people in the Capital Region?! Brunch went off with only one meltdown--my Herb Potato Asparagus Frittata had some trouble getting flipped over and landed in an messy eggy heap, but was salvaged in time for the meal.

Saturday evening I showed my dad the wonders of Pandora Radio. He's a fan of country music (while I am not), so we had some fun reviewing what's available. The only problem is that I have my Pandora account linked to Facebook and as soon as we started listening to "Carrie Underwood Radio" my Facebook page started looking like I had lost my musical center. Cascaded like dominoes. There was my profile page just spilling over with un-hipster like music selections.

Last night RJR and I assembled my new compost set up out back. Very excited about this process. Yard photos to come soon!

Friday, May 9, 2008

recipe update

I just finished off my lunch and wanted to jump on the computer to share this little tid bit. Take some of the leftover brown rice pilaf from Wednesday's post, add 2/3 cup of organic chicken broth, microwave for lunch--viola! Savory soup!

Yeah, I'm proud of my little discovery...and so ready to buy brown rice in bulk this week at the co-op. Have you seen the rising prices for rice? Need to stock up now so that even in the fall I'm rockin' huge batches of brown rice pilaf and soup.

Realistically, this pilaf to soup concoction would work with many of my other pilaf combinations:
- Carrot, orange, cumin with pistachios
- Tomato and dill with pepitas
- Dried cherries with almonds
- Dried cranberries with pecans

friday feature: albany tulip fest

Lots of activity in the capital this weekend for Tulip Fest. I road (yes--on the bike :) through Washington Park on my way home from the Sheridan Prep Community Garden project and marveled at the tulips in bloom, the well manicured greens of the park, and the bright alarming whiteness of persons revealing skin for the first time this season. If I were in Philly, I'd have broken through that barrier sometime in April, usually at the Cherry Blossom Festival, but this year the emergence from sweaters, scarves, and swaths of layers has been much slower. If you see some seriously white legs flashing in the noonday sun tomorrow, don't panic, its just me trying to transition into sun dress season.

The festival line up begins this evening with a special music and art combination over at the Washington Park Lake near the boathouse. According to a newspaper article, "The city will celebrate its 60th Tulip Festival in May with a dramatic art installation floating in Washington Park Lake that will have at its center a 15-foot-tall steel tulip emerging from a burning sculpture. The event, called "Night Fire," is a joint effort among the city, local artists and businesses, national and regional underwriters and an Oscar-winning pyrotechnics engineer."

In addition, "Fish's structure will burn down over a period of about two hours to fully reveal Kroeger's steel tulip, which will be 14 to 15 feet tall. It is being designed and built in consultation with Gary Zeller, an internationally recognized scientist and consultant with environmentally sensitive expertise in fields as varied as prosthetics, green-building technologies and pyrotechnics for film, TV and live entertainment. He received an Academy Award in 1989 for inventing Zel Jel, a protective thermal barrier that has become the industry standard for use in stunts involving fire and explosions."

Sounds exciting, huh? Plus, my parents are here for the festival weekend, which includes a family brunch with the boyfriend's clan and Mother's day festivities. Hug your mom this weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

green and clean

Received this article today from the National Gardening Association, very helpful and a great reminder that I don't need to spend big money on expensive green cleaning products (except maybe Meyer's cause they have the Geranium scent :)

"Kitchen Cupboard Cleaners"

We Americans are clean freaks! Look under any sink and you'll see an arsenal of cleaning products for every room and piece of furniture in the house. Household cleaners are loaded with chemicals, some strong enough that they come with warnings. Now, open your pantry. See that bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda? You might not know it, but those two ingredients are all you need to tackle most of the tough jobs in your house. Many other excellent cleaning ingredients are also right under your nose, such as lemon juice, olive oil, and ketchup. Yes, even ketchup.

Here are some homemade cleaners I have tried with excellent results:

In the Kitchen
Microwaves and stovetops: Spray with full-strength vinegar. Allow it to sit for about ten minutes on tough, baked-on stains, then simply wipe away.

Stinky drains: Vinegar combined with baking soda makes a wonderful cleaner and deodorizer. Shake a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing it down with a potful of boiling water. If you have a garbage disposal, follow with half a lemon to keep the whole system smelling sweet. Or perhaps you'd prefer a spot of tea? Brew some tea and add lemon and ice. Pour the mixture down the drain and turn on the disposal.

Scuff marks on floors: Use a gum eraser.

Pots and pans:
Copper — Use ketchup. It really works! Spread a thin layer on copper. Let sit a minute or two and wipe away the tarnish. Repeat as necessary for stubborn stains. Then rinse and polish.
Brass — Try rubbing on a bit of Worcestershire sauce.
Silver — Soak item in a quart of warm water mixed with one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, and a piece of aluminum foil.

Furniture polish alternative: Combine one-fourth cup white distilled vinegar and one tablespoon olive oil. Mist on and buff off. The vinegar cleans and deodorizes while the oil conditions the wood. (Be flexible with oil; if wood seems to need more, add it. However, too much oil leaves a greasy residue.)

Toilets — Pour 1 cup distilled white vinegar into the bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes, brush, and flush. Or try mixing 1 cup of borax, 1/2 cup of lemon juice or vinegar, and 1/2 cup of baking soda for a bowl cleaner and disinfectant.

Sink cleaners — Spray white vinegar over surface, sprinkle on some baking soda, and scrub away.

Showerheads — Scrub away lime deposits by submerging the showerhead into a bowl of boiling water mixed with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if necessary.
Air fresheners — apply 10 to 20 drops of essential oils to the inside of the toilet paper roll.

Try club soda straight up! Cleans grease and grime. Or, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar.

Stinky Shoes: Mix one part baking soda with two parts cornstarch; add a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus, lemon, or tea tree oil. Sprinkle powder in shoes and allow to sit overnight. Shake out and take a whiff!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

urban gardening

Photo: Fabrizio Costantini for the New York Times

Swell article in the NYTimes today about one of my favorite urban dimensions--gardens in the concrete jungle.


Last night I had such a lovely little dinner party. Good friends, good wine, good food. I remember when I first started cooking entire meals (when I was ten) and could never get the timing right. Now I'm older and wiser and realize that as long as there is something to munch on and wine flowing, you can keep the hungry guests at bay while you coordinate all the items and emerge from the kitchen with seemingly no stress or chaos. Another trick is to have everything baking simultaneously with little attention needed in the process.

Here is one of my favorite examples of a grain dish that can cook right along with your meat or veggie dish. Yesterday I served this with roast pork loin that had been cooked on a bed of apples and butternut squash. I adapted this recipe from a Williams-Sonoma recipe to suit the contents of my pantry.

Baked Brown Rice Pilaf

4 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. canola oil

1 large shallot, minced

2 cups short-grain brown rice

1 bay leaf

2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme,

sea salt


2 T slivered sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup mix of sunflower seeds, pepitas, slivered almonds (toasted) or pecans or some other crunchy nut (Trader Joe's Such & Such mix works perfectly)

1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 T dry)

Preheat an oven to 375°F. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the stock to a simmer.

In a heavy 2-qt. flameproof casserole over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, the sea salt and the pepper. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove, stir in sun dried tomatoes, return to oven to bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, for another 25 minutes. Removing the cover the last 10 minutes of baking gives the top layer a nice toasty crunch.

Remove from the oven. Remove and discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs, if used. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the nut mix and parsley. Serve hot or warm. Serves 8 to 10.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

photo trade

(photos from Photo Trade contributors)

The Photo Trade is a new website/blog/concept I'm loving...think I saw the link on Wiksten. Fresh, lovely photos capturing May this month. For March there was a green theme, ah, my favorite. I've yet to set myself up with a flickr account, but this might entice me. That and getting new batteries for the camera. Yes, I'll stop mentioning that here now. Promise.

Monday, May 5, 2008

more biking

(my view on the ride, taken with the ever blurry and increasingly weak cameraphone)

Saturday was a busy workday out in Little Falls, so Sunday was our fun day. After the sky cleared, we hit the streets for a pleasant ride along the Hudson River. There were scores of small boats in the river with fisherpersons happily enjoying the spring day. I like the nature within the city aspect of trails like these, particularly as they demonstrate the need for public parks funding.

For a non-athletic, sit-at-a-computer-all-day-and-write person, I felt sufficiently sporty after the ride with mud splatters up my pants and my back. And, as usual, I managed to gouge up my shins while walking the bike out of the apartment and while navigating the sidewalk.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

lists and more lists

I need to do bills. I need to do laundry. I need to edit the dissertation one last time before turning it into a PDF. I...have lists everywhere. Post-its to myself. That are apparently even drawing notice from persons who frequent my home. The not doing of the lists has gotten so bad that my boyfriend just wrote a check for me with his checkbook since I am out of checks. And in truth, have been out of checks for almost a month now. There is a bright pink post-it on my computer, right here, where I sit to do the bills, that says, "ORDER checks!" in my scrawling penwomanship.

Friday, May 2, 2008

friday feature : : butterfly garden

(photo by Chrisser from Flickr)

Today I'm helping a school teacher friend of mine plan a butterfly garden near the school grounds. Getting connected to community activities in the Capital District has been tougher than I expected. This project should be great entry point for this process. Looking forward to being in the dirt.