Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning

Today I started off my weekend by getting up early, doing a yoga video, and making a smoothie for breakfast. Then I ended up going to a cute restaurant around the corner for a decadent brunch of guacamole and chorizo eggs benedict, french toast, and cafe au lait. I toted my camera along for a few pictures of the neighborhood on the way.

It was a perfect Saturday blend of healthiness and indulgence. So how was your morning?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Pet Project

Some facts about Millie, shamelessly inspired by the ongoing series that can be found here.

Sometimes Pickle, for reasons unknown even to myself, and sometime Millushka, if I'm feeling Slavic. On the flip side, I've been trying to figure out what the full name is that Millie's short for. So far I think it's Mildred. She responds to that more than Millicent.

3-ish. But mistaken for a puppy on a daily basis.

How did she come into my life?
I told the full story here.

What's the best thing about having my pooch?
Everything! The funny things she does, the snuggling, the way her personality has emerged in the time that I've had her...

What's her personality like?
I'd say she's sweet and smart, ladylike but down to earth (not above extended bouts of loud snoring).

What are her favorite local pit stops?
She's a bit of a star at the dog friendly coffee shop down the street. She also always enjoys stopping and investigating near the doors of dry cleaners or near people who are getting in and out of parked cars.

Does Millie have a splurge food?
Anything she can naughtily grab off the street.

If Millie had a human voice, whose would it sound like?
It's not technically human, but I'm pretty sure she would sound exactly like Clarice, Rudolph's girlfriend in the animated Christmas special. And I hope she would use it to tell me all about her life before I got her. It's a mystery I'm dying to know!

And to prove I'm not that much of a self-centered pet parent, here are two more cuties, Millie's "cousins"- Petey, a beagle mix...

...and Bauer, a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Would Zelda Wear

If you don't already know that I love anything even remotely evocative of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his time, well, then this is probably your first visit to my blog. When I saw these art deco inspired pieces from JCrew's collaboration with the designer Lulu Frost, I immediately imagined them being worn by women in the 1920s and 30s.

I especially love the tassel necklace and the charm bracelet. Here's hoping these go on sale someday. And by sale, I mean a really, really big sale. They're a bit pricey!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Kids at the Jersey Shore

I may not have the most impartial opinion of Rosie and Skate, seeing as I know the author from taking several writing workshops that she's taught, but I don't think I'm being unduly influenced by acquaintance when I say that it's a beautifully written YA novel.

Rosie and Skate are two teenage sisters living in the fictional and charmingly named seaside town of Little Mermaid, New Jersey and dealing with the problems caused by their alcoholic father. Rosie is shy and hopeful, while Skate is bold and sure of herself. The characters are wonderfully drawn to reveal the very different inner worlds of these two sisters. The setting is perfectly captured, too, which I know for a fact because it's based on my home turf. From start to finish, the entire novel evokes the "locals" mood of off-season at the Jersey Shore. Which, of course, is the real Jersey Shore.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sugar Rush

The arrival of Easter yesterday meant that I'm once again allowed to eat sweets!

I took advantage by sampling some Reese's eggs, chocolate covered jellies, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, chocolate peanut butter bunnies, and Hersey's chocolate eggs. Now I think I need do another sweets-free week to detox from all that. Once I finish the Reese's, of course.

So happy belated Easter. I hope the Easter Beagle was good to you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Love and Summer

Love and Summer by William Trevor had been on my To Read list, although I have no recollection of how or why I put it on there. Reading it made me impressed with my past good taste, though, because it's a lovely little book, just a touch too long to be called a novella.

Set in a tiny Irish village, it tells the story of Ellie, a young farm wife who married the employer she was sent to work for after being raised in a convent orphanage, and Florian, the out-of-town photographer she falls in love with one summer. The lives and troubles of Ellie's husband and other townspeople come into play and ultimately determine the outcome of a decision that Ellie faces at the end of the summer. It's a quiet story that starts out slow and, although the pace only ever quickens by a minuscule amount, still manages to grow on you. A lot of importance is placed on what is not said between characters in the book, or on things that are said in scenes that the reader doesn't get to see. The writing manages to be simple and straightforward yet also somewhat lyrical, in a way that really evokes the other time and place of this village, and that reminded me a bit of the wonderful Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Freshly Squeezed

The oranges have been so sweet and delicious lately that the other day, when I found myself with a bowlful of more than I could eat, I decided to finally try out the juicer attachment on my food processor.

I sliced up a couple and started juicing away, feeling like Ina Garten (minus the friend preparing a flower arrangement in another room).

It wasn't yielding as much juice as I expected, so I added a couple more oranges. When I finally had enough for a nice little glass I took a sip...

...and it was kind of gross! Not exactly pulpy, but thick. More like orange puree than orange juice. So disappointing, and a waste of otherwise good oranges. Has anyone else tried this? Is there a trick that I'm missing?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bucolic Plague

As its multiple subtitles suggest, The Bucolic Plague is both an unconventional memoir and the story of how two Manhattanites became gentleman farmers. Josh Kilmer-Purcell's previous memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, was the first book I read with my book club about two years ago. That told the story of the author's early days in New York, when he worked at an ad agency by day, performed as a drag queen by night, got into a destructive relationship with a drug dealer, and developed a drinking problem.

While the subject matter of that book was by turns shocking, harrowing, and depressing, the author's voice remained completely funny throughout. I was excited to encounter it again in more pleasant circumstances- the story of how he and his partner buy an historic mansion and farm in upstate New York and try to turn it into a livelihood for themselves. Adding complications to their struggles in farming is the fact that Kilmer-Purcell's partner, Brent, is a doctor who works as the wellness expert for Martha Stewart Living. Martha's perfectionism and the threat of a weekend visit from her loom over the story as a constant, vaguely malevolent presence in their lives.

The final praise I can give this book is that it passed the Laugh Out Loud on the Subway Test (which, as it turns out, is actually less embarrassing than the Laugh Out Loud While Trying to Eat a Wrap in Your Company's Cafeteria Test).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Puppy Love

The other day, Leslie told me about an Etsy shop that sells pendants made out of an imprint of your dog's nose.

It made me ask myself: Am I that much of an obsessed pet parent to actually wear Millie's nose around my neck? The answer: Yes. However, I'm not obsessed enough to pay $140 for it!

I searched around Etsy a bit and found another shop that, in a similar but less expensive vein, creates silver hearts stamped with your pet's paw print.

Now all Millie would need is a tag for her collar with my fingerprint on it and we'd be all set.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Might Like Zombies

I finally found a book about zombies that I liked. Not that I'm an expert in the genre. I've read exactly two other zombie books since they became one of the trendy topics in fiction- the boring and bland Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and World War Z, which I just couldn't get into. I wasn't really looking for another one when a freebie copy of Warm Bodies came my way.

In the world of this book, the zombies have no memories or feelings of their own, but can briefly experience those of the humans that they eat. When the main character, a zombie named R, eats a teenage boy, the memories he experiences cause him to start regaining his humanity. With moments of unexpectedly lovely writing, the story was well written with a good plot and interesting characters. It's a vivid book that left me with a new found appreciation for the zombie craze.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gettting Exotic

My cooking triumph over the weekend was African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans. It was completely delicious. The potatoes and beans get some spice from green chilies, red peppers, and some ground ginger, and creamy peanut butter swirled in at the very end adds an incredible rich depth.

If I'm being honest, though, the name is really the most exotic thing about this recipe. Aside from the work of peeling and chopping a the potatoes, you basically just add a bunch of common ingredients to a pot and leave it alone to simmer. I got the recipe from JenLovesKev and, following her serving suggestion, made some cornbread to go with it. So good...this is definitely a new favorite.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Half a Life

The two main reasons why I read Half a Life by Darin Strauss are 1) I got a free galley copy and 2) it was short. Strauss is the author of several other novels, such as Chang and Eng, which I haven't read. This book is a memoir about his life starting from age eighteen (half the age he was when he wrote this) when, while driving with friends, he accidentally struck and killed one of his classmates with his car.

The book explores the ways in which the accident becomes a constant shadow that follows him throughout the rest of his life. As Strauss talks about his feelings in the days, months, and years that follow, he constantly pauses to acknowledge that he knows he's being inherently selfish by focusing on himself instead of on the accident victim. Just when, as a reader, you start to get weary of this constant apologizing, he pauses to acknowledge the fact that he's aware he's over-apologizing. All of this serves as a multi-layered peek into his thoughts and, ultimately, makes him a very sympathetic narrator. There are some truly beautiful moments of writing, too. My motives in picking up this book may not have been very lofty, but I'm glad I did. I may even try to read some of the author's fiction in the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Gatsby Day

On this day in 1925, The Great Gatsby was first published. It looks good for eighty-six.

The other day I read that Ben Affleck is rumored to be in talks to play Tom Buchanan in the upcoming Baz Lurhmann adaptation. I've never been so excited to potentially see Ben Affleck in a movie. I think he would make the perfect Tom to Carey Mulligan's Daisy and Leonardo DiCaprio's Gatsby. I'm not so sure about Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, though. Yes, Nick is the outsider and, in some ways, the innocent in the novel, but Tobey Maguire just seems a bit too...wishy washy?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Well, What Do You Know...

JCrew has a blog! And I only just found out about it.

I know, I know, it's really just a marketing ploy on their part, but it's JCrew, so of course they managed to put together a blog that I really like. I think it may become a regular read for me.

And check out their Pet Project posts. Millie says that she wants me to do one of her on this blog. We'll see...what Millie wants, Millie usually gets.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Elegant Snack

A recent Saturday found me making a recipe for raspberry oat muffins from my current favorite cookbook. The muffins, which had the secret ingredients of brown sugar and applesauce, were delicious and made even better by serving them with tea and a ricotta/ Greek yogurt/ cinnamon/ honey spread.

What can I say? I have very classy and refined snacking habits.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Mitfords

As if you couldn't already tell, I'm in the middle of a Mitford obsession and it's only gotten stronger after reading The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family. Essentially a group biography, it focuses on the six Mitford sisters- Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Decca, and Debo- and spans the whole of the twentieth century, with all of the extraordinary events of their lives set against the historical and political backdrop of the times.

Nancy was the sister I had previously known the most about, but in a way she's one of the least interesting of the brood, as least as covered here. The others did notable and scandalous things like survive an attempted suicide, befriend Hitler, marry an English Duke, and runaway to America to work for the Communist party, join the Civil Rights movement, and become close friends with Maya Angelou- with all of the usual marriages, births, divorces, and affairs happening in between. The author covers an amazing amount of ground and goes into meticulous detail about her subjects, but manages to juggle everything and nimbly jump from sister to sister in a very engaging way. I know that the topic (and the hefty page count) may not make this a book for everyone, but I think I can say that it's the best biography I've ever read.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Betty, Joan, and Peggy Doodles

One of my favorite Etsy shops, which I've posted about before, is Flapperdoodle. The artist, Kate Gabrielle, creates charming, irreverent prints and stationary that feature the adventures of three 1920's flappers. Now she's jumped ahead a few decades and done this Mad Men inspired print of Betty, Joan, and Peggy.

Love it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Playing Photographer

I'm in the market for a new camera. Strike that- not a new camera, just a camera. One that's not part of my phone. I'm not sure if I want to make the full commitment and get a DSLR, or just stick with a higher end point-and-shoot. I borrowed my dad's camera (one of the latter) to play around with for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I took some shots of a few of my favorite little things around my apartment.

And speaking of amateur photography, that last picture is my "award winning" photo. I took it sometime during high school or early college and it actually won a photo contest that some local magazine ran. I can't even remember how or why I entered, but I do remember that part of the prize was that the photo was displayed for a year in the office of a local soil conservation group. A pretty big deal, I know. Who knows what's next for me if I get a nice camera? I can only aspire to see my work hanging in another minor public office someday.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Embellished Stories

These book covers have been making the rounds of various blogs over the past few days, but I couldn't resist posting them again myself. I'm already a big fan of the Penguin Classics Editions, and now they've managed to top themselves with these embroidered covers created by artist Jillian Tamaki.

I hope I can get my hands on one of those copies of Emma when they come out later this year.


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