5 Things of Interest – The Anthropologie Edition

•July 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have a secret desire to be Lorelai Gilmore. If you ever watched Gilmore Girls you know her fashion is a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and girly girl — if you know me you might see why I want to be here — that and she is gorgeous and tall.

And I am sure Lorelai Gilmore, fictional character that she is, shops at Anthropplogie. I am in love with the store. I am so in love in fact that when I receive a gift card for Anthropologie I end up holding on to it for months as I dream of the many things I could spend it on. The following are the current things that have caught my eye.

1. Sun Garden Loungers

Who doesn’t love cute pajamas? These are so adorable, so much so I might wear them to the grocery without embarrassment.

2. Waving Grains Pumps

These look comfortable and cute. I would need to find something to match the yellow.

3. Magpie Chandelier

I love how this is something that looks fancy until you look closer and realize its made of common items. So fun.

4. Secret Treasure Dress

This dress is so 1940 and a gorgeous green. I would love to wear this on a weekend.

5. Josef Wingback Chair, Pink Shell

This chair combines the very traditional style with a pattern that is so modern. I love the colors are deep and rich and would be a perfect focal point chair.

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Sunday’s Song: Thumbnails – Morcheeba

•July 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Surprising development as I shuffle deeper into my 30’s, I am falling hard for downbeat electronica. Who knew that would happen? It certainly wasn’t in the pamphlet I received about getting old from the AARP.

I am drawn to this song because of it’s lack of vocals. I stay with it because of its combination of high bell like sounds and low always grinding type sounds. The marriage of these sounds makes it interesting instead of lulling me into a raver coma.

It’s like a club song grew up and slowed down a little. It inspires me to put on cute heels and hit an ultra lounge for a drink I can’t pronounce. Or perhaps just sip some tea on a Sunday morning and contemplate getting older. Either or.

The constant rythm in it also keeps it lively and yet “downbeat” or mellow.

Myspace player of Thumbnails

Adventures in Ice Cream Making

•July 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am not obsessed with sweet. In fact, if I had to choose, 8 out of 10 times, I’d probably choose some sort of savory food over a sweet treat. I am pretty sure this is hereditary. My dad loved salt and my older sister has an unnatural love of salt (she salts her pizza…seriously), so I have to think my craving for savory is in my genes. However, if I am to partake in sweetness I prefer the frozen yumminess of ice cream (frozen yogurt, gelato, and sorbet are also acceptable).

Despite my love of cooking, I could not make my beloved ice cream because I did not have an ice cream maker. I refused to buy one because I loath unitaskers in the kitchen. Unitaskers are those kitchen gadgets and tools that serve a very specialized task. Usually a unitasker is used once or twice and then banished to some high cupboard or back closet never to be taken out again until said location is purged.

Why did I break down and get one? I can’t say my feeling on unitaskers has changed. Nor have I removed ice cream makers from the unitasker category. I got one as a treat. I have birthday money and as I searched for something to spend it on, I kept falling on extremely practical items. Things that no one would ever give me for my birthday because they would be the saddest birthday gifts ever. However, an ice cream maker is not at all a sad gift. It is quiet joyous in fact. And my birthday money covered it perfectly.

My downfall has arrived.
So the Cuisnart Ice Cream Maker joined my kitchen. Ice cream making has been a lot of fun. I thought it would be difficult but really the hardest part is patience while the custard churns away in the maker.

My first batch of ice cream was vanilla. I know making vanilla sounds so pointless but I figured I should start with a basic before I tried experimenting. The vanilla was really good. Not sure it was any better than if I had run to the store and bought some but it was good. And my main taste tester, Mr. Read had no complaints.

My second batch, I branched out to a little to Guiness-Chocolate Ice Cream. It was this kind of recipe that had lead to my desire for an ice cream maker. You can’t find these kind of flavors at the store (usually). I was a little nervous about this recipe because I don’t drink Guiness so I had no idea if I would enjoy it in ice cream. It was awesome! It added just the right amount of savory to contrast with the chocolate. I felt like this recipe was actually easier than vanilla. The vanilla ice cream required an hour of infusing the cream with vanilla bean. The Guiness-chocolate was ready to go very quickly. Mr. Read was in love with this flavor.

I have been relying on David Lebovitz to guide me through the last two batches of ice cream. I suppose who better?

My next planned batch I am really stretching since I can’t find a recipe that perfect captures what I want. I am planning on making a lemon-vanilla ice cream with a blueberry swirl. What?! I know it sounds good doesn’t it?

I intend to use a bon apetit recipe for Lemon Ice Cream for the base. And then add in a homemade blueberry sauce once in the maker.

Next up after that is likely Green Tea per the desperate request of my main taste tester. Then perhaps pineapple. And then I am curious to try to make a vegan ice cream using coconut milk perhaps.

I guess if there was ever a time to buy a silly unitasker ice cream maker, its the summer time. Yum!

5 things of Interest

•June 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

1. Hasselback Potatoes

I love potatoes so all things potatoey interest me. I am planning on making these in the very near future with some steak. I hope they turn out as yummy as they look.

2. Olive Oil Strawberry Shortcake at Baking Bites

Another recipe that caught my eye. Perfect timing too. I think this will be a good recipe for 4th of July.

3. Scribbler Too

This is a strange java based (I think) drawing program that makes kind of eeriy sketch like drawings. Even if you aren’t artistically apt this program makes you look like a skilled modern artist.

4. Momofuku for 2

A blog about a girl cooking through the Momofuku (an NYC restaurant) cookbook. The recipes are not necessarily to my taste but her food photography is amazing.

5. braided colorstrand bracelet by Madewell

I love this bracelet because it looks fancy and casual at the same time. I love items you could throw on with jeans to dress them up or pair with a dress to make yourself look less formal. I am tempted to buy this but I so rarely wear bracelets since I have  tiny wrists (to off set non-tiny parts of me I suppose) and so I end up fussing with bracelets more than enjoying how they look.

On Fad Diets

•June 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Apparently being a woman in these modern times means I am required to obsess about my weight. I have to be honest, I am not sure I am really on board with this ideal. I do believe in living healthy. I get up at ungodly hours so I can roll to the gym as often as possible. I forego French fries as often as I can resist. I look at myself in the mirror and pinch the skin that hangs over a pair of pants that are too tight.

I do not take part in fad diets. Fad diets seem to be the pinnacle of weight obsession. As a woman, I am apparently not concerned enough about my weight until I am participating in some masochistic fad diet. Whenever I am in a gathering of women with food, it seems that the topic of the latest diet comes up. Women swap fad diets like recipes. Try “The Master Cleanse” (drinking a combination of maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper for a week and nothing else). Try the Grapefruit Diet. Try the only eating foods that start with ‘A’ diet (I made this one up).

I find myself remaining quiet during these conversations because I am on no such diet. In fact, I do not consider myself to be on any diet with a capital ‘D’ inside my diet consists of attempting to make healthy choices and also watching my caloric intake.  If I go out to dinner, I know I should get the side salad instead of the fries. We all know that right? French fries have no value to your body other than triggering all those pleasure centers in your brain.

Now, I am not saying my method is the best. I am not as thin as I would necessarily like. Nor am I currently at a medically healthy weight. I am working on it.

To me, if there were fad ways to strength my will power, I might seek those out. Willpower is my downfall because if my will power were stronger (which machine at the gym should I do to strengthen my willpower) I would resist the French fries, the ice cream, and all the other delicious things that are 900 calories without any actual health benefit.

I think this is why other women try fad diets so often. Not because they can’t see how silly these diets are but the diets seem like a fix. We don’t know how to fix our willpower, so we try to circumvent it. “If I only allow myself fruit for every meal for a week, I’ll lose weight and I only have to work my will power for a week.”

As the American Heart Association page for their “No-Fad Diet” states, “No magic formula will trim away extra pounds and keep them off. Gimmicks and get-thin-quick schemes don’t work. That’s why, over the long haul, fad diets are not the answer.” (AHA No-Fad Diet Site)

In the end we are only fooling ourselves with these diets and potentially making ourselves unhealthy at the same time. And yet… it seems to continue on.

Honestly, I don’t believe the problem is that women are dumb and don’t know what they are trying are fad diets and probably won’t work. I think it is they ignore their common sense in favor of hope. Hope that there is magic and we don’t have to slog through each day, resisting the French fries of the world and choosing broccoli instead. Hope that we can just take one week out of our lives and get to the weight we want to be, fit into those skinny jeans.

However, if you aren’t sure if the diet you are on is a fad diet, here are some clues:

1)   The promise of a quick fix.

2)   Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen.

3)   Claims that sound too good to be true.

4)   Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex medical study.

5)   Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.

6)   Lists of “good” and “bad” foods

7)   Recommendations made to help sell a product.

8)   Recommendations based on studies published without review of other researchers.

9)   Recommendations from studies that ignore the differences between individuals or groups.

10)                   Eliminates 1 or more food group.

(WebMD – Fad Diets: Claims, Characteristics, and Pit-Falls)

Ladies, I plead with you to give up this obsession with fad diets. You deprive yourself and then make yourself feel guilty for eating something that tastes good. By doing this you give food more power over you than it should. By building food up in your mind by deprivation you make it more likely you will over indulge when your will power gives out (and it will give out, none of us are immune). We know what is healthy; we know what we should eat. That is all we need to know.

If you really need guidelines, check out the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan. It’s simple, easy and commonsense

On Father’s Day

•June 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

My dad was not the kind of dad written about in Father’s Day cards. He didn’t golf. He didn’t fish. He didn’t wear polo shirts. This made Father’s Day rough, especially because his birthday was in extreme close proximity. He had actually been born on a Father’s Day. When asked what he wanted for Father’s Day, he usually requested socks. He did not wear interesting socks either. He had a very specific preference for thin, black socks. This did not make for interesting gift giving options. In fact, it didn’t give my sister and I many options at all.

I recall lots of homemade coupons to wash and clean his car when we were kids. Also lots and lots of ties. So many more ties than even a man who wore ties every day to work probably needed. Even still, he looked at each tie and said he liked it. Whether we got him a goofy tie which was not his style or a simple stripped tie, he always said he liked the tie. On rare Father’s Day our mom would buy something for us to give him for his main hobby, stamp collecting. This was usually a very boring looking book. My dad would open it and his eyes would light up and he would immediately thumb through the book. He would even read aloud despite the fact that we had no interest whatsoever. It was Father’s Day, we humored him.

Once my dad retired, the gift giving became even more difficult as his tie wearing reduced drastically.

And then my dad lost his eye sight through a strange series of events that starts with pigeons. We switched from books to books on tape. It was unbelievable hard but not because I didn’t know what to get him for Father’s Day. It was hard to see my dad who loved reading, watching tv and organizing his stamps, not be able to see any of things he loved. It was heart breaking actually.

I wish I remembered the last Father’s Day I had with my dad more clearly. I was 21. I recall a fancy dinner out with my whole family at some point during that month that was supposed to be a kind of joint birthday/mother’s day/father’s day celebration. I have no idea what I got him for that last Father’s Day. Or if I even spent Father’s Day with him. I might have been busy, off seeing friends as I had just returned home for the summer from college. I didn’t know it was even close to the last Father’s Day. It was before he started to have health problems. Before we even knew something was amiss. Before all the tests. Before the results. It was just another Father’s Day. Nothing special.

I hope that even though I didn’t know it was the last, it was a good Father’s Day for him. Even though I can’t remember it, I hope it felt special. I hope he knew he was a great dad. Even though he wasn’t the father written about on Father’s Day cards, I hope he knew he was the perfect dad to me.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Even though you never golfed, fished or wore a polo shirt, you taught me so much and always made me feel loved. And I love you too.

Album of the Week: Hadestown By Anais Mitchell

•June 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I reviewed a single song from this album a while back. And I still really love that song in particular but am in love with the whole album. I bought it last weekend and I have probably listened to the full album 20 to 30 times. Keep in mind I can’t listen to music most of my week days due to work so this means I have listened to it  in my car, almost every second I have been in my car in the last week. I am listening to it right now because it has been a few hours since I listened to it.

It’s a folk opera based on the myth of Orpheus myth but set in a kind of generic depression era. Kindly of timely considering the current economic situation.  Though it is basically a musical, each song is well crafted and can stand alone, like any good album.

Every artist that sings on the album are amazing and perfect for their roles. Greg Brown has a deep, thick voice that gives me the shivers. And he of course plays Hades. And Anais Mitchell plays Eurydice. In the myth, Eurydice dies, but in Hadestown she chooses to go to Hadestown to escape poverty. Her voice is so beautiful, in the happier songs, her voice is so light that I feel like I am floating. But in the said songs her voice had have such bittersweetness it breaks my heart.

Even the lyrics are perfect. And admittedly catchy — yes, you caught me I sing along in the car!

The songs are folk but definitely sound modern. Even if you are are a theater geek like me, I think you can enjoy them.

Give a test listen!

Hadestown Website

Amazon’s Page for Hadestown