Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chafing Dish

I love the Alameda Antiques Fair (aka Alameda Flea Market).  It’s massive, and I’ve never made it through the whole thing in one day, but it’s such great fun wandering around, up and down the aisles looking at treasures and oddities.  The last visit proved quite victorious…I ended up with some fantastic ornaments (I was told that estate sales are a great place to find these as well) and a gorgeous chafing dish.

This is no ordinary chafing dish.  This baby is practically in mint condition, with canisters for holding oil and wicks that twist upward to be lit and two pyrex dishes to hold a myriad of delightful dishes I just can’t wait to make.  Time to have a party, eh?

In this picture, you can see the little oil-holders below.
So pretty.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Does anyone know what kind of bugs these are?  They infested my poor planty (which totally needs a new pot, btw – I think it’s way too big for the one it’s in).  I don’t think this plant likes being outside too much, but I didn’t know where to put it in the house.  Maybe it’ll be happier when I re-pot it.  Poor planty.

Anyway, I came outside one day and noticed this infestation.  I didn’t know what to do, so I put one of the moth killer things next to the plant.  That killed all the bugs (though some are dead but still attached to the stem), but I don’t really know what to do.

I wish someone would just come over and fix all my plant problems for me.  I feel a little overwhelmed.

It’s a good thing I don’t have pets.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Making a Mantle

Ever since we moved in, I’ve wanted our fireplace to have a mantle.  I was envisioning candles and photographs and stockings and besides, the fireplace felt a little naked without one.  I knew we’d have to build one, and I knew it wouldn’t be too difficult, but we just never got around to it (what with the boxes still to be unpacked and all).  Finally, on the same day we got our Christmas tree, we purchased the supplies and mantled the heck out of our fireplace.  And I love it.

We bought a piece of wood at Urban Ore, a salvage yard/warehouse that is just full of all kinds of crazy stuff.  I don’t know what this piece of wood used to be, but it was the perfect size and shape for our project.  And it set us back $2.  Another $1 for two L-shaped brackets, and we were on our way to Mantle Victory! 

When we installed the mantle, we noticed that the wood was just a little warped, but a quick screw through the top in the center pretty much straightened it out.  The left side still slants ever so slightly forward, but not so much as to make things slide off, and really, I’m ok with a little imperfection.

Now the mantle is decorated for the holidays, with lights and faux-berries.  I’ll probably leave the candles up there all year round, and I’d like to add a few pictures too. 

The Crate and Barrel version. 
Mine is almost as awesome.

Right now, I’m kind of (really) excited to have created my own version of this picture.  I almost bought those candleholders until I reminded myself that we had some very similar ones already. Ours were much cheaper ($1.99 for the tall ones and $0.99 for the small ones), and since they have dots instead of snowflakes, they’re less seasonal – booya!)

I'm proud of our handiwork.  Mantle!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look, I made a hat

Starting on a hat..
Finishing a hat...
Look, I made a hat...
Where there never was a hat

Oh Sondheim, you're always there for me with an appropriate quotation.  Even when it really doesn't have much to do with what I'm actually saying.

A while ago, I mentioned that I was knitting a hat for Patternworks’ Chemo Cap donation project.  It was a new pattern for me, and while it wasn’t super difficult, there were aspects that required some thinking (I had forgotten some ribbing details, like whether to start with a knit or a purl stitch at the beginning of each row…I really need to remember that better). I thought I’d share some pictures, because I think it turned out really well.

The hat.  I really like how the border looks a little knobbly.

They say when you make something by hand, you're supposed
to leave a mistake.  This shows God (or something) that you
don't think you're perfect. I think. I just made a mistake and
didn't know how to fix it. Plus, a little error brings the handmade,
humanelement to it, right?
Love the way it looks from the top.

I even think it looks cool inside out.

All ready to send!  And yes, I sent it on time!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Plant Killer

they look ok from here...
I know I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world, but I never realized I was such a plant killer.  When we moved into this condo, I had grand plans of a patio garden – especially when the landlords left us three large pots and a huge bag of mulch.  Things started off well enough, my zucchini seeds grew into little sprouts, and my squash starter from Whole Foods seemed happy.  I bought tomato cages to help support the droopy tomato plants that had grown on their own after seeds fell from an upstairs neighbor long before we moved in.  I planted basil and a collection of other herbs in the window box my dad got me over a year ago.  Things were looking good.

And then…not so much.  The zucchini grew so quickly that it overcrowded the pot, and slowly died.  Whether this is due to the salt-air from the lake nearby, my lack of confidence in my pruning abilities (I probably should have uprooted a few of the plants to give them more space), or the fact that zucchini probably would rather be in the ground than in a pot, I do not know.  But the plants are sad.  I would come home from work to find them droopy in the heat, though they’d perk right back up again with some water and shade.  The leaves started to succumb to the fuzzy mold, though I sprayed them with edible-plant-specific antifungal spray.  The flowers bloomed in beautiful abundance only to wither and die without ever yielding squash.  I should have just plucked the blossoms and eaten them (stuffed with goat cheese) when I had the chance.
yum yum yum

They looked totally fine (albeit a little crowded) at this point!
The other plants didn’t fare so well either.  The squash I purchase as a starter also fell victim to the fuzz mold, though it did bear one tiny squash (which I never picked and ate because I was hoping it would continue to grow.  It didn’t.  It died).  The tomato vines withered, though I can’t tell if they are actually worse than they were before I got involved, or if it’s just more noticeable now that the vines are on display instead of hanging over the edge of the pot. The lemon tree seems to be doing ok, and the garden center lady at OSH said I shouldn’t have to re-plant it until next season (which is also when it will supposedly bear fruit). 

I don’t know why I’ve failed so heartily at this.  I always thought I was a good gardener, though I’m not sure where this confidence came from, as I’ve never actually had a garden of my own.  Perhaps it’s because as a child, I spent so many happy weekend days at the local nursery.  We would look at the model train set, wander through the beautiful, fragrant rows of flowers, take solace in the misty greenhouse on hot days, and of course, eat salty popcorn – they had one of those awesome vintage-y popcorn machines, and the popcorn was free (this was beyond thrilling to me as a kid).  We would usually go home with a flat or two of flowers and spend a few hours planting them in the yard.  I loved this weekend activity, and because of this, I suppose I just naively thought I had a green thumb.  Alas.

Perhaps growing food is different from growing flowers, and perhaps this spring, I’ll try my hand at flowers instead.  For now, I welcome any advice or tips you might have for my struggling “garden”.  Here are a ton of pictures.

zucchini plant. overcrowded?
you can see hints of the fuzzy mildew stuff.

sad, droopy leaves

but they totally perk right back up!
sad fuzzy mold on my squash starter. though it did grow a bit.

tiniest squash ever.


so so sad.

womp womp womp

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmastime is Here

Merry Christmas!  My Christmas (and late Chanukkah) gift to you is six straight days of new posts!  They're all scheduled and ready to go, so enjoy! See ya next year!

We are a multi-holiday household
 I’ve already talked about the Chanukkah side of this holiday season, so now it’s time for a little Christmas.  Since it's Christmas Day. Because we have nice, high ceilings in our new place, we could get a large tree this year.  Totally awesome.

Our tree is 7 feet tall, and we purchased it at Whole Foods (yeah, ok, but we heard the trees were better than the ones at the lot, and they smelled great, and Whole Foods is 4 blocks from apartment which meant less distance to drive with a tree tied to the roof of my car). 

I recently bought a remote control for the lights, so now we don’t have to crawl around behind the tree to turn the lights off at night, which means no more knocking ornaments and tinsel off the tree.  It also means I can turn the lights on and off from the couch.  Not that I’ve done that.  That would be silly.  Of course.

We also hung stockings (by the chimney with care), though I don’t know if St. Nicholas will be coming by our place this year, since we’ll be in Washington.  They look festive, anyway.

As I’ve done for the last two years, I got out the materials to make a wreath and didn’t make one.  Once I get out the wreath frame and the wire, I realize how much work it will take to turn the spare branches (discarded from the bottom of the tree when putting it in the stand) into a wreath.  Also, what do you do about the branches drying out?  Do you spray them with water occasionally? Do they just last without water?  So many questions!  Perhaps next year I’ll make one out of fabric scraps or felt or something.  That seems like it could be fun (and long-lasting).  Maybe I should have a wreath-making party...oooh, crafty ideas!

I love the warm and coziness of this time of year.  Making a fire, cuddling up on the couch, drinking hot cider.  Turning off all the lights and looking at the tree as it shimmers and twinkles.  Unwrapping the ornaments and remembering where they came from and smelling the tree.  Oh yes, I am a tree-smeller.  And I do love Christmas music.  Even the ones about Jesus and all that – I’m not big on the religious aspect (the whole “I’m Jewish” thing), but the music is so pretty.  And there’s nothing like a little Bing Crosby to fill a girl with holiday cheer.

Here's a slideshow of our Christmas’s all so delightful, isn’t it?

PS: here's a picture of the tree at Will's parents' house. I think it's 9 feet tall.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


It can be spelled in many ways, but I prefer the one that uses as many letters as possible.  While this really isn’t a major Jewish holiday, it gives Jewish American kids something to celebrate this time of year.  Though I envied my friends with their Christmas trees and lights, I have fond memories of lighting the menorah and making latkes while listening to Chanukah at Home (only the best CD ever for this time of year…probably not as great without the nostalgia though, fair warning).  This post is rather late, almost a month after the holiday has passed, but I’d still like to share my holiday with you.

Now, I have some very strong feelings about the use of the word “holiday” this time of year, because in general, I feel like “holiday” is just a PC way to say “Christmas,” and I really think that if you mean Christmas you should just say it.  This blogger says it better than I did (here here here here and here).  I’ve always loved Christmas, even though I didn’t celebrate it until Will and I started dating (hey Jews – want to settle that Christmas Envy? Date a goy!), and it always felt so hollow when people wished me Happy Holidays with a card that featured a jolly guy in a red suit (uh, hi. Santa doesn’t come to my house. Thanks for rubbing it in).  It’s not that I wanted them to wish me a Merry Christmas, because I knew that wasn’t my holiday, but there just didn’t really seem like a good way for a little Jew girl to be involved with the mainstream commercialism of Christmastime (though The Nutcracker has been a big part of December for me for as long as I can remember).  As much as I wanted the tree and the Santa and all that, I knew that just wasn’t our thing.  And while I know the non-Jewish people try, the Happy Hanukah wishes that come weeks after the holiday has ended just reinforce that nobody knows what to do with a Jew at Christmastime.  Especially since Chanukkah comes at a different time each year (dang Jewish calendar, so confusing).  So I sang the carols and ate candy canes, because this time of year is all about the Joy of the Season for most people, and I like to be swept up in the festivity.  But I don’t forget where I come from.

Though I happily celebrate both holidays these days, I do love Chanukkah (what’s not to love about the Festival of Light and the story of the Maccabees’ miraculous victory over Antiochus’ army?), and I’ve amassed a little collection of decorations…dreidels and a star of david made of Popsicle sticks and the like.  This year, I got a few more and had a lovely time decorating the apartment. Five days after Thanksgiving.  Oy. 

Don’t know how Jews decorate for the holidays?  There’s no standard, like a Christmas tree and stockings, but these are the types of decorations I grew up with, so this is how I do it.  Enjoy!  And don’t worry; you’ll see pictures of our Christmas decorations too.

Please ignore (or note) the pumpkins.  Yes, our Fall decor was
still up when we hung the Chanukkah banner. Granted, it was
only 5 days after Thanksgiving.
The first night of Chanukkah, using up the
candles I bought in Israel three years ago.
The last night of Chanukkah.  Note that by
this point, we had gotten rid of the pumpkins.
hanging foil dreidel - there's also one made of
tissue paper.

Our attempt to make something fried during Chanukkah.
We were going for meatballs.  They ended up becoming
mashed-and-fried-meat because we don't know how to fry meat.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Do: Procrastinate

Why is it that even when I make a lovely little to do list, I still put things off until the last minute? This weekend, I wrote my to do list up on the order to guilt myself into doing things quickly, I suppose.  Here's what's left, with commentary!

  • pack for Washington - I tried to start this tonight, I really did.  I packed the suitcase of gifts (the largest suitcase we own, which is now almost entirely filled with presents) and even had to wrap a few (which meant organizing my new ribbon container - yes).  I started to get my clothes out to pack, but first I had to fold and put away the two loads of laundry I did last night.  And then I was tired.  And indecisive, because it was already after 11pm.  So, as always, I will be packing the night before I leave (and not getting home until around 10:30 or so because I'm going to the theatre tomorrow night).
  • write 20SB blog exchange post (by the 20th! aah!) - Fortunately (or unfortunately), my blog exchange partner is also running behind schedule.  We decided to do our exchange tomorrow instead of today.  Have I finished (or started) it yet?  What do you think?  I think I know what I'm doing tomorrow least I know what I'm writing about.
  • write pipelined blog posts (you know what you are - maybe from the plane) - yeah, this will likely be done from the plane. I'm guessing my flight won't have wifi, but maybe I can upload my pictures, select the ones I want, and write posts up in Word to be copy-pasted at a later time. Or I'll fall asleep on the plane. Ideally, I'd like to write them all and schedule them to post every few days while I'm out of town.  Wouldn't it be funny if my most regular posting happened while I was out of town?  Har de har har hilarious.  But seriously, there are at least 5 in the pipeline.  (and PS how cool is scheduling posts? For example, I am writing this at 11:54pm, but it will be posted tomorrow morning, so y'all don't think I'm a loon staying up late writing about how I'm procrastinating. Oh wait, blew my cover.  Oh well. I love scheduling posts, and I do it often.  When I actually write posts, that is.  And we've come full circle.  Sort of.)
  • put away bedding from a sleepover a week ago - I put away the sheets and pillow, and forgot that the comforter was sitting next to me on the couch.  Oh, hi comforter. How are you?  I'll bring it into the bedroom with me when I get up.  I promise.  

On the upside, I bought a remote control for the Christmas tree lights, so now I don't have to crawl around behind the tree to turn the lights on and off!  Win!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...for making lists

Ok, folks.  You know what's coming.  I still have 5 blog posts in the pipeline, more photos to upload than I care to count, and an amount of things to do that make me start to get that my-chest-is-a-little-tight feeling.  So, it's time for the blog post listing the things I need to so that I feel like I have a little control over the situation.  Heeeere we go!

  • shop for 1.5 presents
  • wrap 2.5 presents
  • laundry: 2 loads
  • play with friends' baby and decorate gingerbread cookies
  • pack for Washington
  • find someone to drive me to the airport at 9am on Wednesday?
  • write 20SB blog exchange post (by the 20th! aah!)
  • write pipelined blog posts (you know what you are - maybe from the plane)
  • put away bedding from a sleepover a week ago
  • put away dishes, clean up kitchen
  • figure out what to do with a quart of 2% milk (won't have time to use it before I leave)
Now it's time to eat some pudding!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rainboots' Law

I have this theory.  Basically, it states that while I am wearing rainboots, it shall not rain.  Seriously.  I am not kidding about this.  The weather report says that it is currently raining and has been all day.  Not true.  Why?  Because I decided to put on my rainboots this morning.  This happens every time there is a rain prediction - I wear my galoshes and water fails to fall from the sky.  Even when, like today, there is a 60% chance of rain.  But should I choose to ignore the 30% chance of rain and wear sneakers?  You better believe it will pour.

I know it will start raining again as soon as I change into my party shoes for the company holiday party tonight.  Because that is Rainboots' Law.

Side note: I discovered a tear in my left boot when I got to work today.  Does this mean I have an excuse to get a new pair?  You know, in case it's supposed to rain?

yes, that is a bit of pink fuzzy sock under there.


Ed note: 2:59pm.  

It started raining about 10 minutes ago.  Did I call that or what?

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Winner!

A hearty congratulations goes out to Cath Curtis (a truly beautiful writer - and woman), who is the winner of my most recent drawing for a $30 CSNStores gift certificate!  Congrats, Cath!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I know I'm a little late for Thanksgiving, but tonight I've been thinking about gratitude and how thankful I am for so many things in my life.  I am in a joyous little mood tonight, so I thought I'd share.

  • Having the luxury to do laundry for free in our when I am facing a pile of laundry that looks like this, and suddenly it's after 11pm, I can just say, "Oh what the hell? I'll leave those clothes in the dryer until the morning."  (PS I used to be so crazy type A that I would not be able to sleep until they were all out, folded and put away. I am getting better at not caring so much.)
  • Lighting my menorah with candles I bought in Israel three years ago, even though this year I'll use them up.  Using a menorah that was handed down to me by my aunt.
  • Friendships that don't age, and friendships that withstand the test of "will we be friends in real life?".  A few months ago, I reconnected with a friend from high school, and it was like no time had passed.  We're both a little older, a little wiser and all that, but getting together with her made me very happy that we're living in the same city again.  Over Thanksgiving, A Serious Girl and I had an epic 3 hour lunch at an awesome little British pub down the street from our parents' houses.  We grew up in the same town, went to the same high school (though not at the same time), and yet we were meeting in person for the first time (well, ok, except for an awkward introduction after a play in high school, which we each remember differently).  Connected through a beloved teacher's incredible email update list, we became fast friends and pen pals, and we got along so swimmingly last week that we even forgot to take a photo for posterity. And then this week, I reconnected with three friends whom I hadn't seen in years. Three.  In one week.  I love them all, and it was just so lovely to pick up right where we left off.  This was a long bullet point, but seriously, my heart is happy.
  • Homemade soup.  Thanks Jacqui; I finally made it.  I can't find it on your blog right now, but it's the one with the spinach and artichokes and tortellini and white beans and oh my goodness it was delicious.  There are leftovers galore, too.  
  • The feeling I get when I come home from work with an unusual amount of energy and decide to wrap presents,  clean the house, start laundry, and make soup from scratch.  I feel very lucky that these types of activities relax me, and that coming home and nesting gives me such a sense of calm and happiness.  
  • Having cuts on my fingers from diving into some ridiculously good crab last night.  It's such a silly thing to complain about that I can't even do it. I have two painful slices on my thumbs, which I got when I devised a brilliant tactic for getting crab meat out of the legs: pressing down firmly with both thumbs until the shell snapped open.  Hey, it worked.  And it was so worth it.
  • A great new job with great coworkers.  I can honestly say that I am proud of the work my team is doing and that I enjoy going to work every day.  I am excited about the work that I'm doing, and I feel like I've found a really good fit.  It feels...good.
  • Random luck...I've won two blog contests in the last couple of weeks: a basket of kitchen gadgets and accessories from Food on the Table, and an XBox 360 with a Kinect gaming console and a racing game from Dooce (and I actually know one of the other winners!).  I mean, what?  When did I become Miss Luck all of a sudden?  I feel like I should buy a lotto ticket.
  • Sharing a home with the guy I love.  Last night, we opened our first Chanukkah presents and lit the candles together, and this weekend we'll get our Christmas tree.  He's learned the blessing to say while we light the candles, and we're pulling our advent calendar out of the holiday decoration bin.  I love combining our family traditions and being home together, and I just feel incredibly lucky. 
Ok, sappy time is over.  I have so many things I want to write about that I literally have placeholder posts waiting to be written.  I could complain about not having time, but really, I'm lucky that I have been having such a wonderfully full life lately.  Insert happy sigh here.  Time to curl up with Harry Potter (I'm re-reading book 7) for a little bit before I fall asleep.

Don't forget to enter the latest giveaway to win $30 from CSNStores (y'all know I love them) before the weekend is over!