Friday, May 31, 2013

A Roundup of Cuteness

Here's a roundup of various things I've snapped in the last few months that didn't make it into any other post. What do they have in common? Cuteness!

A sleeveless blouse I saw in Anthropologie. It needs a good ironing, but I love the polka dots with tails--or are they balloons?--and the stand-up ruffled collar:

This little girl is a French Bulldog/Boston Terrier cross I met at my local Starbucks. She has the most unusual eyes--palest blue and midnight blue, in a splotchy formation:

Her owner's favorite drink is iced coffee with cream. She loves it so much, she named the little dog "Starbucks"!

The Hubby runs on weekend mornings. He was still in his running gear one recent Saturday when I caught  all three pugs, waiting in rapt silence for some treat he was chopping up to be handed out:

Bundled-up baby fruit bats. What could be cuter than this?:

 photo: Luke Marsden/Newspix/Rex USA

Okay, some might say this is scary-looking. But to me, Pao Pao in a full-on yawn is cute:

This one makes me crack up every time:

 photo: (I think?)

 And yes, I've showed Ernie before. He's the three-year-old rescued pug I met in Boston last week. But I just can't get over his patriotic duds, his hilarious downturned mouth,  and his gourd-shaped body above his eensy-teensy feet:

Last, it's a berry. Just a photo of a strawberry on my jeans-clad knee. But, I dunno, it strikes me as ridiculously cute:

Have a happy Friday, folks.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Junk-Shop Irish Lead Crystal

I was poking around my local Goodwill a few months ago, looking for ... whatever (sometimes it pays to keep an open mind). This little creamer-and-sugar-bowl set caught my eye:

It looked well made, so I flipped it over to see if I could find a maker's mark. Sure enough, there it was: can you see it? It says "Galway"--a well known Irish manufacturer of fine crystal.

For some reason, I didn't even notice the sticker on the side of each piece until after I turned them upside down. Ha!

I already have a crystal sugar-and-creamer set that I love. So I filled this set with some candies...

...and then gave them to Lovely Daughter #1 as a little "just-because" gift.

And they cost me less than $8, for the two of them! Junking and crystal and a bargain and a gift for somebody I love. It doesn't get much better than that!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boston, Fast and Furious

Over Memorial Day weekend, The Hubby and I went to Boston for a fast visit with Lovely Daughter #2. We bought her a few gifts for her birthday, which arrives in a few days. These cool cream-and-black Ray-Ban glasses were the biggest part of the gift:

Looking sharp, Sweetie!

We had a great time eating out. I especially loved the cannoli in the North End, the city's Italian neighborhood. We also had a great time eating in. Here's a brunch we made, with fresh cherries and strawberries, home-made scones with Craisins, scrambled eggs, and home-made pancakes:

We walked and walked and walked. (Boston is a very walker-friendly town.) We crawled all over the North End and Beacon Hill and the Freedom Trail and ran into a silly sign on the campus of MIT:

I achieved my wish of visiting the bridge with the Smoot markings on it. Don't know about Smoots? Go here for the full story:

Of course my Pug Radar was in full effect. This is "Ernie," a three-year-old rescue pug. While I talked with one of his owners about his dog, Lovely Daughter #2 talked with the other and found out that both owners graduated from Harvard Divinity School, about 10 or 15 years ago. They even knew some of her professors. Small world!

LD#2 and I did a lot of window shopping. As usual, I was on the prowl for All Things Polka Dot. I found these lovely napkins at Anthropologie:

Ah! Another pug. This one is "Doughnut," an adorable three-month-old we met while he was cavorting on the Boston Commons with his family:

It was a fun, fast trip. On the way from LAX back to our car, I got to meet one last cutie-pie dog. This is "Buddy," a French Bulldog. He sat on my lap for the 10-minute ride from airport to parking lot:

A great time was had by all. We'll be back, Boston, in the fall. There's at least one cannolo with my name on it...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Caramelized Onion and Fresh Tomato Tart

Today I harvested the first of this season's tomatoes. These are "Mr. Stripey." They are a little bigger than a golf ball when ripe, and have faint orange stripes running down their red skins. They have an intense, classic tomato-y flavor:

To celebrate the first harvest, I made a Pate Brisee, based on Martha Stewart's recipe. I blind-baked the tart shell (that means, baking it first with no filling in it), then I layered in some caramelized onions. Over the onions I scattered thin shavings of Manchego cheese and little clumps of Pt. Reyes Blue, a sharp cheese with a bit of bite. I quartered the tomatoes and placed them in concentric circles. Over them, I shaved a bit of Parmeggiano-Reggiano, using a microplane:

Then I put the tart back in the oven and baked it until the tomatoes were soft and the tart crust was beginning to deepen to a dark gold:

Right before serving, I added a generous handful of roughly chopped basil, fresh from my garden:

Oh, man. It tastes like Summer. Bring it on!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quick Tuna Fish Upgrade

Lovely Daughter #1 is madly studying for her Step One exam, which all med students take at the end of their second year of schooling. I've been shoving yummy, prepared food under her nose and into her fridge so that she can concentrate on studying, not cooking.

Recently I did a quick upgrade of your classic tuna fish sandwich for her and her Med School Bestie. I started with a really good, pole-caught tuna and some fresh dill:

I added some of these babies. Sea-salt capers. Wow, they're good! To reduce their saltiness a bit, I simply rubbed off some of the salt before throwing them in the bowl:

I used a garlicky aioli sauce instead of mayonnaise:

But really, either is yummy:

And that's it! Tuna, capers, fresh dill, and mayo or a mayo-like substitute. In a sandwich or on a cracker, this is a delicious upgrade from the old school-lunch classic:

Now, back to the books, future doctors of America!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Growing Herbs, and Blue on Blue

My mother was a masterful gardener. She used to say, "Find out where something wants to grow, and then plant lots of it there." It's a good system. It makes you look like you really have a green thumb, when all you've done is just figure out where plants are happiest.

I''ve only grown herbs for two seasons, but I've made a few discoveries. First, I need LOTS of basil and LOTS of mint for the pastas and iced tea I consume all summer. (Here's Won Ton, showing off my newest purchase of basil (left) and mint (right)):

I've learned that mint is an aggressive grower. It needs to be corralled in a pot or by some system that will keep it in check. (If you just plop it in the ground, it will send runners out for yards and pop up in the most annoying places.) I grow my mint in a huge turquoise pot. The variety I grew last year, "Kentucky Colonel," didn't completely die out. Here are some behbeh sprouts, making a comeback around the edges of said pot:

I'm going to put the new mint in the center, where last year's plant has all died out.

I've learned that rosemary is quirky. Here's a Very Unhappy Rosemary plant, that started dying almost from the day I put it in a pot:

But right next to it is a Very Happy Rosemary, in the same kind of pot:

What is the difference? I'm sure I don't know.

I've learned that while I can grow basil in a pot, it REALLY likes growing in between tomato plants:

 Mr. Baby Basil, happy as a clam.

And it does NOT like growing all by its lonesome, four feet away from said tomato plants:

 Mr. Bitty Basil Plant is NOT a happy camper.

I've also learned that, when I see a bushy blue delphinium at the garden shop that literally makes me stop in my tracks and say, "AH!," that plant needs to come home with me.

Where shall I place it? It looks terrific sitting on the arm of my Adirondack chair, but that makes it hard to sit there:

It looks lovely tucked amongst the blue pots of herbs:

But maybe I'll put it in the ground near my turquoise bird bath:

I hope it thrives there. Mom would approve of the blue-on-blue, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fluffing a China Hutch

Back in March, I found this china hutch tossed out in an alley. I dragged it home and then it sat in my kitchen area for several months. It needed a good cleaning and a little TLC:

It was pretty filthy, and this was the only knob it had:

I thought I would paint it a different color, but after hanging out with it, I realized the soft foggy gray color, with an undertone of blue-green, is just perfect. (It helped that a photographer neighbor with an impeccable eye saw it and said, "I wouldn't change a thing!")

Yesterday the handyman came and bolted it to the studs in the wall (we live in Earthquake Country). He also installed these classic knobs I bought at Anthropologie. I love 'em:

I used a hand-held vacuum to pull up most of the dust and dirt hiding in the corners. Then a cotton-tipped swab. Then a dampened rag. Finally, I broke out the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and there was STILL plenty of grime clinging to the surfaces:

Eeeuw! Those magic little sponges really work, people.

The inside of the open cabinet door (photo above) has different shades of paint swabbed on it. Maybe the former owner was thinking about painting and gave up? I will probably paint the interior a beautiful turquoise.

Here's a closeup of the grimy sponge:

Then I began "fluffing." What should I put on all those surfaces? This was what I did last March, just as an experiment, when I first dragged the hutch home:

 Except if I keep a cake plate with meringues on top, I'm going to way 340 pounds very soon. So I tried thisaway:

And thataway, but it ended up looking just the same:

And one-more-time-away, and clearly I am not making headway:

*Sigh.* I stink at fluffing.

I'm going to consult my decorating magazines and slavishly reproduce something I find in them.

Interior Decorating Self Confidence: I gots it.



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