Archive for June, 2011

mine is a fickle garden

June 27, 2011


As the silhouettes of my herbs gaze sorrowfully at me from the windowsill, I have noticed a particularly spry weed amid the mostly wilting cilantro. Turns out the plant flowered under my nose, which might explain its rather disheveled mien of late. The rest of the herbs are offering little encouragement on the sidelines; each looks weary in its own right. Somehow I continue managing to water them too much or too little … or perhaps they’re just averse to the tap.


My tomato plant, on the other hand, is exploding. The suckers are growing faster than I can pinch them off. While it’s still a ways away from showing fruit, it’s a delight to tend to; if my herbs are grimacing, my tomato plant is beaming.

But I’ll fight for your, herbs, Mother Nature help me, I will. I just might pass on the cilantro next season. Really, I barely even use it. Barely.


a very on off-season

June 26, 2011

There’s something to say about off-season travel. Though named for their summer skin, the Green Mountains are utterly desolate in mid-June compared with the winter months. More nature for us!

The highlights of last weekend, in a few nutshells:

We did a little hiking, and B rode his very first ski lift (a perfect precursor to teaching him to ski this coming winter) …

The innkeepers even packed us a picnic lunch!

… a little wading …

… quite a bit of lounging and drinking …

… some very good eating …

roast duck ::drool::

… a little antique perusing (because what’s a trip to a rural town without it?) …

why didn't i buy this?

… and the views, the views …

Here’s hoping this escape will hold me over until the annual trip abroad come September. Next up: a busy, busy July.

… right after some birthday festivities this week!

superiority in motion

June 22, 2011

On the list of things that employed folks look forward to daily, commuting generally will not rank among the top three. or five. In fact, whether it be sitting in an hour of standstill traffic or enduring suffocating crowds, for most, it wouldn’t rank at all. Sure we’ve mastered the art of self-soothing with music or reading, but put simply, this is not an animal we’d miss extinct.

Or so I thought—until last week. NY Waterways has begun promoting its East River ferry service between Brooklyn and Manhattan with two free weeks of use. Lucky me, one of its Brooklyn stops is a short walk from my apartment, and one Manhattan stop drops me a quick bus ride away from my work. So one sunny morning, I gave it a go.

Not quite the view underground.

The dock would benefit from some cheerful a signage. “Welcome to your best commute EVER” perhaps?

Perk #362: No traffic.

Pulling away from the dock.

Like leaping across a trickling creek (but a little more windy).

I’ve since attempted it a few more times and … let’s just say my first trip was a lucky one. Plenty of complaints have arisen since this promotional period started. But for a sunny day, a special occasion (like an upcoming birthday…?), or to dull the pain of not having summer Fridays, the $4 fare beginning next week may be well worth it.

agricultural sustenance

June 21, 2011

High costs, large portions, and delivery technicalities have generally forced me to eschew the CSA bandwagon. Finally, though, I’ve found a perfect match. Local Roots NYC offers a sort of à la carte CSA, divvying up participation by food group and shares—enough to make participation affordable—and letting me collect the goods in a relatively convenient location in Brooklyn.

Local Roots offers full and half shares for fruit, veggies, bread, eggs, and even duck; the organization splits the season into two “sessions” in case the typical 5- to 6-month CSA program is too much of a commitment. For my first CSA experience, I went the failsafe route: a half-share of fruits for the fella and me. There is nary a fruit I don’t eat, so I figured I’d never find myself stumped with whatever awaited me for pickup. And it comes to about $11 per week.

I picked up my first share this week: 2 quarts of bright, plump strawberries. Store versions are incomparable: these berries are so juicy, so sweet, that I’m utterly delighted from the outset. It’s like a weekly gift to myself (and B) for the rest of the summer.

absence makes the home grow dusty

June 20, 2011

Swept away for the weekend on a lovely getaway to Vermont, I returned last night to an apartment with no internet, a party raging next door and my herbs looking a bit worse for wear. Thank goodness for travel.

An escape from the city was getting a bit overdue, so a trip with the fella to an adorable B&B in West Dover, Vermont, felt exceedingly necessary—and entirely welcome. (Not to mention it came at the end of a week of huge deadlines at work.) We snagged this all-inclusive trip on LivingSocial Escapes for a steal, and the experience pretty much solidified our future plans to fit in more of these weekend diversions.

I’d like to say I felt completely refreshed on our return home, but I wanted nothing more than to lie down, do nothing, and fall asleep. But sometimes getting away from the dwelling is the best reminder of how much you love it—my anxiety to get away was replaced by my appreciation to be back. Not for its pristine decor, or perfect neighbors (though the raging kindly stopped very soon after we got home), or even a solid internet connection—but just for feeling at home.

batten down the hatches, he’s got a hammer and nails

June 13, 2011

You will not find DIY innovation in these here parts. Past posts are clearly indicative of my skill level. As for the fella—let’s just say, having been raised to keep his nose in the books, B has the delicate hands of an aristocrat. So when I exclaim that recently he installed a freestanding shelf in the living room, my enthusiasm comes without a tinge of irony. Baby steps love company.

So I beam with pride over his bravery in entering the world of handymanship. Speaking of ships, more exciting is the reason for the shelf: B’s (much more crafty) grandfather once had a hobby of building model ships. No Legos, no plastic—just maddening precision and patience, piecing together matchstick-size planks and weaving yards and yards of string. Three such ships remain in B’s family’s possession; one most recently bestowed to us for repair and subsequent pageantry.

One mast had broken, a few of the strings had tangled, and other details had torn free from their adhesive restraints. B picked up some hobby glue/concrete, I fetched my tweezers, and we set to work.

I recall squealing incessantly on seeing such minute details, down to the helm, cannons and spyglasses adorning this antique.

I was especially thrilled to have found a reason to use the iHandy Level iPhone app. (Fun fact: Our living room slopes several degrees upward in the northwestern corner.)

We both found ourselves dangerously tempted to build our own model ship someday. This will probably lead to me buying a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of a pirate ship and calling it a day.


June 11, 2011

“Jewelry. Lots of jewelry.” This was the fella’s first comment when I asked him to join me for the annual Renegade Craft Fair, to which I swore that while, yes, 80 percent of the goods will be lady-oriented, we might yet find some more art and decor for our many walls.

The fair comes traipsing through town this most unfortunate of wet weekends. Attendance didn’t seem terribly affected despite the continuous drizzle, punctuated by abrupt downpours and even more abrupt outpourings from booth tents whose tops would swell, collecting water until overwhelmed and spilling their contents on unsuspecting victims below.

Indeed, posters and dude-friendly stuff abounded, from bike accessories to messenger bags, to draw B’s attention while I browsed necklaces and niece-worthy gifts.

Lo and behold, we did encounter two agreeable homey shops: makers of moutaineer-style, pendulum-regulated cuckoo clocks, and a terrarium shop whose owners hand-blow the glass containers (and offer classes!). To my surprise, B was completely engrossed by the little moss gardens, very likely unaware of their existence before today.

Of course I came away with a little treat (below) from RagTrader Vintage; weather permitting, tomorrow may end with a new clock or terrarium on display in the living room. Until then, I’ll muse over the potential contents of this little locket.

and then things began to take shape

June 10, 2011

After my niece was born, my whole family gushed about how much she looked like her parents. Sort of. Right there—that face. Wait, no—there. One might also note that she resembled a squishy, wriggling pink alien, or any other bumbling hairless creature, and wouldn’t have been far off.

My mother more reasonably commented that you begin to catch a true glimpse of how a little person will turn out only after their second birthday or so. Now that that little peach is a ripe two and a half years old, I am all the more astonished how she really looks like my sister, and her dad. Shaping up just so.

These thoughts sprang to mind when I checked on my little seedlings the other day. I’d planted a matchstick stuffed with various herb seeds, having no idea when I’d know what I was getting, rather anticipating the surprise. I had no idea I’d see them take the distinct forms of their parents so soon. Yet there it is: a little nursery of parsley, cilantro, and basil. Just so.

the bare-wall burden

June 8, 2011

Sleek, white, unmarked walls confront a coarse tesselation of speckled red hues in here. The contrast is jarring, and the towering ceilings beckon the illusion that these competing facades are physically leaning inward with hostility. Or the walls are sloped. It’s an old building; either premise is tenable.

The undoing of any contentious relationship is most successfully achieved with the presence of a shared enemy. Fearing, with this knowledge, that the walls might yet collapse on me, I chose a more favorable option for all parties: tear down these proverbial walls by dressing them up. Put plainly, these vast, contrasting canvases needed some art.

I’ve been anticipating the moment when I have enough complementary pieces to craft an art cluster/gallery/collage. It was one of the first grueling challenges I braved when we finally located the hammer and nails (though I let the fella do the wall damage).

What makes this collection even more satisfying is how well these pieces work together considering the copious sources. The bike comes from B’s past trip to Amsterdam; the tiny ceramic tile is from my travels to Greece. I rescued this piece and its partner from a Salvation Army in Los Angeles when B and I were visiting his brother almost two years ago. We argued over who found them first (me) and who’d get to keep them (me); of course, that argument is now moot.

We’ve turned to Etsy for adorning other nooks of the apartment. The latest purchase is a trio of illustrations (still in need of frames) that B found from artist Judy Kaufmann. Adorable renditions of famous figures in art, science, and film; we picked out Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, and Charlie Chaplin—the latter, somewhat erroneously: We’d been deliberating between Bowie and Lennon and I had previously mentioned wanting Chaplin, but we figured three different fields would make a nice balance. After all that he accidentally asked for Chaplin. Ah well.)

Surely these gentlemen are up for the challenge of wall-soothing. Each print includes a quotation that I find elevates the utter preciousness of the illustrations.

And home wouldn’t feel complete or quite right without a few homespun pieces.

I printed a few dozen photos, to mix and match and swap out when I got bored. Funny enough, it took a few weeks before I realized that the six I have hanging now were all from outings and adventures with the fella. When I shared this realization, he somewhat sadly replied, “I thought you did that on purpose.” At least my subconscious is romantic.

I like to think the walls have softened their glares and deflated their stature with the splashes of color and life we’ve added to them. Though we still have room for a few more additions. Just to be safe.

did i forget to mention

June 5, 2011

amid all the hubbub (and this very pleasant weekend), i failed to mention what a delightful weekend that last one was.

I took my first trip of the season to the beach …

I had my very first lobster roll, at the new Greenpoint Lobster Joint (excuse the low-light low quality, objects were yummier than they appear) …

B bought a mini grill and we threw an impromptu barbecue in the backyard …

And then the party continued on to a bar—the very one we just moved away from living above. The backyard renovation is still underway but I have to admit it has the air of a secret garden, though the actual concept of Oriental harbor trading post is just about as accurate as well …

The ladder resting horizontally on the beams made for some fun makeshift monkey bars …

Natural detailing …

… meets intentional detailing …

Even the dirt ground got a rugged facelift.