Friday, August 29, 2008

singular moment in history

From Hillary's run for the White House to the Obama speech last night and now McCain's Vice Presidential pick of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska for his running mate, we are observing a singular moment in history. Equality, dignity, humanity, patience, long suffering, forbearance, persistence, and courage are playing out on a global stage and Americans are invited to participate.

Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: "It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men (and women!), to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances." For every woman who could not vote before 1920, for the toil of civil rights, for glass ceilings, and brave faces--please, please, register to vote if you are not already--and stand up on November 4th and show us what ideas you stand behind. The circumstances, barriers, and blockades are slowly and doggedly being removed. Now is the call to action.

Election resources and info here:

Faithful Citizenship

Rock the Vote

New York State Catholic Conference

League of Women Voters

Thursday, August 28, 2008

how much can you love tomatoes?

Apparently enough to blog about them several times and to delight in an entire book on Heirloom varieties!

New book here features gorgeous color photos and plenty of recipes. Although, I would argue that the tomato is best enjoyed still warm from the sun, right off the vine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

thirty days of birthday

While I was quiet last week, my thirty days of birthday came to an end. What is that you ask? Thirty days of presents for one of each of my thirty years of being present on this earth. From my parents, the people who singlehandedly invented the term "birthday observed." Birthday observed is the day you celebrate the birthday if it falls on a day when we cannot all be together for festivities. Example, my birthdays in Philadelphia would sometimes be almost retreats where I would wander the city, eat my favorite treats, visit my fountain, etc. That would never do for the fam--it should be a lively affair with food, presents, and some sort of social gathering. Hence, the institution of birthday observed when I would be up in Rochester. I've introduced this concept to the boyfriend and he thinks it is a ploy for more attention to be lavished on the already confident and somewhat overly indulgent. Could be. Do you really want to debate more presents and cake though? I mean seriously.

This year's trip to London was my major birthday present, both from my parents and to myself. Actually, from RJR as well, our trip to Helmsley part of the two weeks of birthday. And there was the grand roof terrace event. Also the birthday tea at the Kensington Gardens Orangery. Well, my mom couldn't be satisfied with just those. Soon my mailbox has been overflowing with tiny gifts labeled for each day. I am receiving them at work so the joy has been multiplied. I wait to open the small packages until I'm particularly frustrated with my limited proficiency in Excel or some outlandish issue to open that day's gift--offering me a five minute respite from workland.

Well, the days have come to an end and now I have thirty lovely items to pack up and carry to my new home--wherever that ends up is some of what I received:

1) tea strainer for loose tea
2) English breakfast tea
3) lime tea
4) envelopes
5) colored paper for making cards
6) small colored envelopes to match cards
7) Pride and Prejudice
8) Emma
9) scented soap
10) dish towels
11) house cleaning items
12) ladle
13) serving spoon
14) thread
15) more thread
16) a tin for thread
17) grapefruit spoons
18) small bags for herbs...

and the rest is lovely too, only sitting at my desk I cannot recall numbers 19-30. Wow, losing memory at 30, grand!

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


A few new to add to my blog roll:

The talented Laura, a fellow art student from RWC days.

D.M. Stith, new MFA student and indy musician, also from RWC.

Bread and Honey, hmmm, delicious.

Sugar City Journal
--two sister in laws cover a lot of sewing, design, and life.

Monday, August 25, 2008

on the road

Not much to report on the apartment front. I've been crazy busy with work and then hosted S all weekend where we had many grand adventures in and around the capital district. We watched that indy documentary Helvetica! Very cool! Also Mad Men episodes. We cooked. We went to Saratoga. We spent a day in Troy. And now I'm off to a client meeting and it is 5:40AM! More later...

Monday, August 18, 2008

quiet week... dwell.urban, but not in the rest of my life. I will be taking this week off from posting to make some time for other things...turns out my landlord is not just selling the building I live in, but it has gone into foreclosure. And, she and her husband have moved into the basement. Yes, the basement. It is a dirt floor, black mold growing, wall crumbling pit and they are living there with no plumbing or appliances. Rock bottom, I think that is what this is called. Any guesses as to where my security deposit is or any of the rent money I've been sending their way for months?

So, where does that leave me? Looking for a new apartment. Not even six months after moving into this one. Probably won't be around to see the rest of my vegetables harvested or to appreciate the work we put into getting that darn heater to finally produce heat this spring. I'm angry and frustrated and hurt and weary. Weary of moving from place to place, weary of packing and unpacking and trying to find a place where I fit.

It also means that I'm busy looking for a new home online and going to see apartments at night. I'll be spending every extra minute enjoying what of the porch life I can salvage from this summer before moving on, no guarantees to get that set up again.

See you on the 24th.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I hijacked the boyfriend's netlix account to order this film. Typography design girl coming out here. Waiting with anticipation!

all things art nouveau and arts & crafts

The boyfriend and I are both major fans of the art nouveau and arts & crafts styles. Going to London kicked that passion into overdrive. At the stunning Victoria and Albert Museum we had a chat with a security guard who pointed us toward several small exhibits in the galleries, some we might even have looked past had we not been carefully guided to their locations. Upon returning, we visited a Stickley exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.

I've long appreciated the work of William Morris, but have only recently returned to his pattern books for inspiration. It is supposed to be a long rainy weekend, I might just find myself back at my watercolors and ink rendering an adaptation of Morris' poppy print. Or, finding ways to use these lovely FREE downloads from Briar Press.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

best of summer : : five

One perfect tomato.

Summer harvest from my own hard work in a small plot in a city backyard. Pictured here against white sketch paper so I could draw it all afternoon!

See more blogger's harvests here: jessieknits and madebyrachel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

best of summer : : four

Summer reading. Last night I dove into Unaccustomed Earth and I am loving it. I'm also in the middle of an annual reading of Pride and Prejudice and a collection of short stories by Truman Capote. On the plane back from London I read Sense and Sensibility and Brideshead Revisited again upon return--all inspired by our visit. Long novels and lazy days are perfect summer delights.

Poetry, however, has often felt to me to be consumed in winter and autumn. That being said, this Rilke poem translates a summer walk into a Winslow Homer style landscape painting.

Along the Sun-Drenched Roadside

Along the sun-drenched roadside, from the great
hollow half-tree trunk, which for generations
has been a trough, renewing in itself
an inch or two of rain, I satisfy
my thirst: taking the water's pristine coolness
into my whole body through my wrists.
Drinking would be too powerful, too clear;
but this unhurried gesture of restraint
fills my whole consciousness with shining water.

Thus, if you came, I could be satisfied
to let my hand rest lightly, for a moment,
lightly, upon your shoulder or your breast.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, August 11, 2008

best of summer : : three

Birthdays and Feast Days. This "best of summer" does not entirely apply to everyone, but it does represent a highlight for me!

I'm a summer baby. This means two things, 1) my mom endured awful summer heat and humidity during her last weeks of pregnancy, and 2) because of my late July birth, I get to celebrate my birthday in the season of pool parties, visits to the beach, ice cream cakes (before I became dairy free), outdoor concerts, and birthdays on the road. I have celebrated my birthday in Italy twice, London this summer, Vermont, Ontario, and all across the United States.

In addition, it is in August, today in fact, that I celebrate the Feast of St. Clare, the saint I chose for my confirmation when I converted to Catholicism in the Spring of 2005. I had visited St. Clare's birthplace in Assisi in 2003 and became convinced that her path was one I desired to follow or emulate in some form. Clare's call was to the poor and to lead amongst men in the reforms of the Church. A close companion of St. Francis, she was involved not only in his work and contemplation, but that of her own with a group of women who gathered around her.

An icon of St. Clare painted by famed Sienese artist Simone Martini.

Clare's cathedral in Assisi, Italy. It is difficult to tell from this photo, but in person the pink marble that comprises the structure is breathtaking.


One of my bestest pals, J, has her fantastic photos from an April trip to Assisi posted here, visit and see more of Santa Chiara's hill-top medieval city. Including this one:

Friday, August 8, 2008

best of summer : : two

Farmers Markets. Farmer's Markets. Farmers' Markets.

However you choose to punctuate it, I'm completely enamored with this best of summer showing. Every city I've lived in has had their summer and autumn market--practically as reliable as the solstice and equinox in terms of charting the seasons. Albany is no different. Wednesdays and Fridays there is a small market at the Empire State Plaza. Whole grain breads, veggies, fruits, plants, and tempting baked goods. Thursday there is a market down by the Hudson River near the SUNY headquarters.

Yesterday I purchased plums, sweet corn, tomatoes, beets (has anyone seen this?), and bulk basil for making another batch of pesto (my poor plants at home look like they've barely survived an epidemic since I made pesto last week :) Ok, I also sampled the wares from the Adirondack Fudge guy and ended up walking away with a peanut butter chocolate square for RJR.

While I wait for my own zucchini to grow to size, the farmers market has plenty to spare. Wednesday's New York Times profiles what sounds like a fantastic restaurant in Nice and shared the chef's recipe for Zucchini Stuffed With Marco’s Pistou:

Adapted from La Zucca Magica, Nice

Time: About 45 minutes
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup mixed herbs, like borage, mint, rosemary, sage, lavender
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for baking
8 zucchini, preferably round
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor or, if you have time and patience, a mortar and pestle, mix together herbs, garlic, cheese, salt and oil. Herbs should be chopped, not puréed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

2. Wash and trim zucchini, then remove top third (or so) of each; if you are using the more typical long zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out as much of the insides as is practical, then chop the insides with the removed slice and combine with the pesto. Salt the zucchini shells.

3. Stuff shells with pesto mixture and put in an oiled baking dish; drizzle more oil over top and sprinkle with pine nuts. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until zucchini are very tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

best of summer : : one

You can feel it right? The ripening of cucumbers on the vine, the misty mornings in the mountains, the thunderous afternoon rainstorms, and the creeping heat that prickles the back of your neck. Summer.

Whether it is summer in the city, at the shore, or in the mountains, something magical about these long days. Unfortunately, this is the first summer in nearly 6 years where I have been cooped up inside--now in a windowless office, blah. So many of my graduate summers were spent sitting at a sidewalk cafe making sense of yet another journal article or frantically racing to the next dissertation interview. One summer was trolling through the cool library stacks drinking in the smell of aging books while figuring out how I would write my own. In Philadelphia, the summers seemed to last into November--at least the weather did. Drives to the beach in October! Shells, sand, beach smells in your pores for days...

So this summer might not be so grand, but it has been lovely. What I trade in not being able to order my day by the sun and stars, I've gained in appreciating the porch life, the long weekend, and the PAID vacation. I cannot tell you how awesome it was to be sitting drinking tea in London and making money while I was at it. I guess that is what the degree is for after all...

In today's best of summer post, I'm showing you two pics from the outdoor show I went to last night with friends--KT Tunstall at the Empire State Plaza. The whole day was a food festival with flavors from around the world and right in our backyard while the evening was live bands and the headliner closing it out.


Perfect weather for it, perfect big sky moments. Great conversation. Walking home in a sort of glorious daze that this is your life, the life worth living... The best of summer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

revisted redeux

Lots of buzz about the new film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. I have read Waugh's masterwork that contains themes of grace, redemption, faith, love, art and beauty and seen the 1981 eleven hour BBC mini-series adaptation. Then, only three weeks ago, I found myself on the estate that was featured in both the mini-series and the new film--Castle Howard.

The sweeping vistas of this family home are incredible and the unique architectural forms are magnificent, something that the new film exquisitely captures! Much like Charles Ryder's character, I visited the estate as an artist and was captivated by what I saw in person. From the gardens to the interior sculpture to the weathered outbuildings, there was a sense of superb craftspersonship (men or women?!) and interpretation of the landscape.

Even if you have no interest in seeing the film for its literary merits (or, like the boyfriend, you take issue with the adaptation's failure to fully grasp the Catholic themes), you might just fall in love with the fashion, the landscapes, the architecture, and the opulence of a time long gone.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

independent readers and sellers

Check this! I love the design campaign promoting independent booksellers. I'm happy to see a collective organizing campaign around this idea. On their site you can search for local sellers, read reviews of recent releases, sign a petition supporting local sellers, and spread the word on your own website with web banners.

Monday, August 4, 2008

tea with you

The British propensity for tea is legendary. I cannot say that I've completely rejected my daily cups of java for the lighter fare, but I did enjoy a variety of teas and tea service while abroad. Scones have long been a favorite of mine and so, while traveling, I simply indulged that taste more often!

My mom and sister-in-law took me to the Orangery in Kensington Gardens for my birthday, celebrated with a high tea. This spread shows just how perfect an afternoon can be with a good cup and a berry meringue. I tried to locate the tea I had that day, hibiscus rose hip. Little luck, but did find something comparable at Harrod's later that week. Certainly has satiated my appetite for the flavor many a morning these last few days. And, I've been using my thrifted tea pot to boot!

Friday, August 1, 2008

work week wow

Five eleven-thirteen hour days this week for work and several hundred miles across the state. Good stuff, just exhausting. I'm going to hole up with television series' on DVD (yeah for Mad Men!) tonight and sleep in. Might even get to an art gallery showing. Hope you are up to some good things this well and be safe. I'll be back Monday with a few more London pics and then kick off a best of summer posts, can you say Sangria? More recipes, photos, and delightful links to the best of blogland.