Monday, March 31, 2008

totally strange...

so, sometime in the week before you left, i placed an order for guessed it...scrapping supplies, on ScrapInStyleTV, a scrapbooking community and commercial website, and for all i know, a t.v. show in some market other than the one where i reside. so, finally, today, a rather long time later, i received the package.

in between some of the cellophane envelopes of pretty papers, i found a stack of emails and printouts of orders. the orders themselves were not there, only the things i ordered were in the package. i decided, good-hearted person that i am, that i would send a mail to SiSTV and let them know about these mails, in case it meant that there were half a dozen people out there who hadn't received their orders from a month or more ago.

i stated pretty clearly in my email that i had these mails and order printouts and thought it was clear that the orders themselves weren't in my package. i get back a mail, from the guy whose name was on the outlook printouts in my package, apologizing, but also pointing the finger at his packing people. and asking me to send the stuff back to them, including the mails. now, in my original message, i had provided order numbers on the orders, so i would think that their records would be able to lead them to the correct orders.

i wrote back, stating a bit more clearly that i didn't have the actual orders, just these emails and that i had let them know because i wanted them to be sure their other customers had received their products. i said i'd thought they could probably find them from the order numbers, but that i would scan and send them if they thought that was necessary. i also mentioned to this guy, after he had laid the blame on his packing people, that the name on the printouts was his. incidentally, the email exchange with another customer that was in my package was the same--really accusatory towards the packing people. i found it a little unprofessional.

he emails back, saying that yes, indeed, he could find the orders from the numbers and that i didn't need to scan or send. then he actually said he had detected the "blame finger" pointed at him in my response, but that it couldn't be him as he was in a wheelchair and he'd never packed a thing as long as he'd worked for SiSTV. too much information!

i sent back a message, saying i was sorry it seemed like i was blaming him. what i had been trying to do from the beginning was to go out of my way to provide them with information and that part of the information at my disposal was that his name was the one on the print-outs. if he was looking for who to blame (which he seemed to be), then i was providing him with information for his investigation.

perhaps i should just chalk it up to the weirdness of email, but it got so weird that i'm not sure i'll ever order anything there again....

of course, just today, i decided that i have enough scrapping supplies to do me for a good long while and that i'll just stick with my kits for now. so maybe this just solidifies that.

things are looking up

things are looking up a little bit, since the mailman came with my march kit from the dozens.

it has some of the coolest papers i've seen yet..with monkeys and owls and a little deer. so perhaps when i get home from all of the errands, i will manage to make something fun. there's even fabric--pink checked and scattered with really cute green apples. i think i might make a little bag out of it for my pretty sparkly bobby pins that i got in the philippines. traveling in the bottom of my makeup bag is a bit hard them.

it is strange, but i am feeling an urge to sew of late. just what i need, another project out and cluttering the table!!

strangely uninspired

i think it might be the time change, but i'm draggin' today. i also ate a bad shawarma yesterday and my stomach still isn't right. that should teach me not to eat toxic things like that on the weekend.

to do today (updated at 12:46 p.m.):
  1. post office - pick up a package from "international" (they're so informative, those Post Danmark people) and mail letter to MQ (DONE)
  2. groceries - netto (i will be smarter in my grocery shopping this month) (DONE)
  3. pick up sabin (about to be DONE)
  4. go to jens hage's house to get a drawing for my team event next week
  5. create a couple of invoices
  6. draw something
  7. art journal page
  8. make something
  9. work on story campaign plan (DONE, but not finished)
  10. write email to richard (DONE)

to do this week:

  1. meet with the girls from the old training team
  2. pack
  3. go to barcelona for long weekend

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shopper's High

Yesterday, I had an unbelievably good day. I'm a little concerned about that good day, because it might have been due to Shopper's High that it was so fantastic. I got my long overdue hair cut and colored. As usual, my hair girl is fantastic. She does exactly what I ask and introduces me to fabulous new ideas. I had her finish off my newly layered hair with a proper styling. She used a curling iron and some magic sprays on my hair to make it seem like I was wearing a damn wig. I left there feeling like a new woman.

I had someone cancel an appointment after my time at the hair salon. So I had two more hours to occupy. I drove past the mall on my way to a car wash. And I thought about the Estee Lauder counter inside Von Maur. And I thought about horrible condition of my aging face and how not well my skin has weathered the last year. The last year of by life, by the way, was particularly adventurous. I traveled over 2 oceans 9 times, went through two address changes, picked up an interest in cooking, read 17 books and smoked a shisha.

The woman behind the Estee counter couldn't believe her good fortune. I arrived with nice hair, but a feeble attempt at proper make-up. I asked her to re-do my face for the evening. And with the promise of smooth and radiant and glowing, younger skin, I bought a good portion of the crap she used on my face. Gotta love the always interest-free credit at the Von Maur!

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Day

Thanks, sis, for posting the pictures of my table. Yes, I put silverware out there after the pix were snapped.

Glad to hear you're enjoying Oslo. Also glad to hear that you'd like me to come and visit when you move there. Shouldn't you be careful, though, with those open invitations? I did just spend the entire winter with your family in Denmark. I think Husband has had enough of Wife #2.

This week, I've been deeply impacted by a news story from Iowa City. A teacher I worked with a decade ago while studying elementary education at the University of Iowa was killed along with the rest of her family. I won't elaborate on the horrible nature of the whole story, you can read about that yourself. But I spent my morning today behaving strangely, I believe, as a result of thinking so much about that teacher. I logged in to the Cedar Rapids Community School District website and filled out some job applications. I'm in a place right now where something part-time might suit me. I can see dipping my toe back into a school just to see if it might feel okay this time. I applied for teacher assistant things, even though I'm technically overqualified. I can see myself working in a Title I room with 4 or 5 students at a time. I'd love to teach reading strategies to young kids... just not 28 of them at one time. I'm not sure classroom teaching was ever a good idea for me. So we'll see what comes of those applications. I might have a difficult time explaining why I ran so far far away from the elementary schools after I graduated. I s'pose I could show them a picture of a coupla kids and some nice activity in my passport.

a splendid table indeed

how cool are those square plates on the dark table? very cool. and they look awesome with the møn rocks. it's a shame the taper candles are so hard to come by. don't those people understand hygge? you can't have hygge without taper candles. and red wine. :-)
i hope you're gonna put some silverware on there.
anyway. great table. which i had to post, because you don't seem to.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Splendid Table

While browsing Barnes & Noble the other day, the cookbook section, I noticed a book called The Splendid Table. I though, "Huh, it's not just a show on NPR." So I've got this new table, some little brown placemats to try to protect it, and the nifty new dishes from Target. I got out my rocks from Møn's Klint and at long last found a taper candle to go in it. Seriously, a taper candle. How hard are they to find? HARD! Target had peach colored, scented ones, in a box of two. I wanted the big brick of taper candles one gets from Ikea. Again, I stopped at Pier 1 and found the candles, though not in such a big brick. And I rushed home to complete my own Splendid Table.

I've done just a bit of cooking since getting back to the US a month ago. And now I truly have my kitchen put together and ready to use. If only someone would finish eating this huge pot of chicken & noodles.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

a new blog

so i discovered a wonderful new blog because the wonderful owner of the blog posted a very nice comment on my own blog yesterday, which led me to hers (click title above to go to it, but do read this first..). which is, i suppose, what this whole blogsophere thing is's taken me awhile to get that.

so anyway, on this blog, she is talking about how she and her spouse are paring down their more simply and sustainably. and while i so fervently admire that very, very much, i am at the same time torn. because i love being GOLD (and checking in first and leaving the plane first and having my luggage come off the belt first and i love those luggage tags they send me). and i totally adore gadgets. and i just got a brand new laptop today and ordered a new smartphone (HTC S730) and i long, positively LONG for an iPhone or at least an iPod touch (and that's in addition to my half a dozen other iPods). and if we think back to only the past week, where i nearly died without the internet (which is HUGE, by the way), then we have to wonder how it is that i will ever find the will to pare down. especially when there's etsy and the mailman brings things to me directly at my door.

but, despite all that, somewhere in me is the DESIRE (if not the will) to do so. so, i order organic and try to buy produce that's as local as possible (one does tire of parsnips and carrots and grotty old apples in the winter in denmark, so it's hard). and i can easily do without t.v. please, come and take my t.v. it's a ginormous (is that how that's spelled?) old philips anyway and takes up far too much space in comparison to the sleek, lovely little flat screens of today..but i DIGRESS....

i could do without t.v. and in fact, most of the time i do. except when morse is on on saturday nights. he's pretty cool. for a dead guy. and frankly, who needs t.v. when one can hang out in front of the internet (have i mentioned that it's HUGE?)...but i do WANT to be better. really i do.

just don't take my juicer. if i'm going to live a simple life, i need to be able to juice my local beets.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

i'm wired again

the TDC guy was here today. it took him over an hour (because he had to run a new line up the house and drill through the actual bricks which comprise the house), but i'm online again, baby! just in time to go to oslo for the week. where i will also be online, since i'm at the radisson and they have wireless.

what is strange is that i haven't been glued to the computer since i came online. i've been doing other things! like dishes and laundry and packing and putting away clean clothes and gathering my papers that i'll need in oslo. perhaps the time away did me some good!

i'm taking half a suitcase of artsy supplies with me to oslo. is that mental? the idea of being all alone in a hotel room without glue and pretty paper and rub-ons and stamps just didn't sound good. so, i made a small, portable box of goodies to take along and packed my art journal. i'll see what effect it has on the creativity to create from a hotel room.

so post about something other than boogers while i'm gone this time, will ya?

Monday, March 24, 2008

other people’s mail

this was was from march 21-

i have a thing about other people opening my mail. they simply shouldn’t do it. just like someone else shouldn’t rifle through my purse. if you want something from my purse, i’ll find it for you, you are not to go digging for it yourself. it’s the same with mail. if it’s got my name on it, that means it’s for me and i should be the one to open it. if i choose to leave it sitting there for a week before i open it, so be it, but leave it alone!

i can understand your disappointment and anger yesterday that the computer you carefully packaged and sent to dad was opened by someone other than him. and i have trouble understanding it. why would anyone open something that wasn’t addressed to them? even if they knew what it was and who it was from? that’s simply wrong. it wasn’t as if it was a new computer for the E’prise that was simply addressed to dad, but was for the business. i just don’t get it. i don’t understand the thinking behind opening something not addressed to oneself. i cannot make it make sense in my head.

after all the work you went to to ensure that dad could unpack and start up his new laptop himself, i totally understand that you were furious that he didn’t get to do it. thank goodness mom was able to put it all back so that he could, at least partially, get the experience of getting it going himself. and it sounds like he was able to get it going and even look up some scores on ESPN from his very own living room chair. and that’s what it was all about, so it seems the package opening incident will become just an unfortunate, but minor incident on the road to dad’s computer independence.

favorite fish in coconut milk

here's that recipe for the fish in coconut milk that you requested..

sauté in a pan with ½ butter/½ olive oil:
3 sliced leeks (4 if they’re small)
3-4 medium carrots, grated
1 zucchini, grated

i highly recommend using leeks as opposed to regular onions, tho’ it would work with regular onions. leeks just have a mild sweetness that goes almost buttery when they’re sautéed and that can’t be beat.

meanwhile, oil a pan using olive oil and a paper towel and lay your fish in the bottom of the pan. our favorite is a flat fish—“rødspætter” (red spotty one)—but any white fish will do—cod, trout, red snapper, talapio (sp?). i’ve also made it with salmon, but think there are better recipes for salmon. walleye would be very nice done like this.

pour the leek-carrot-zucchini mixture over it. dump a can of coconut milk over it (a big one, not like the little ones from fakta). if it doesn’t cover it, ok to fill with water (despite what husband says). tastier to fill it with cream. stick it in the oven 20-30 min at 325°F (depends on how thick your fish filets are and how hot your oven).

while it’s baking, boil some rice. use double the amount of liquid as you have of rice. thus, if you have 1 cup rice, use 2 cups liquid. i use coconut milk to give the rice a creaminess and a nutty sweetness that matches the fish dish. here, i use one of the small cans, plus the same can refilled with water twice. that gives enough liquid to cook the rice perfectly.

cooking outside – take 2

from march 20--

it’s supposed to snow like crazy tonight and all day tomorrow. the first real winter we’ll have had this winter. but, today, it’s really quite pleasant out and i’ve been cooking outside again on the old stove outside the back door. this time, it was a batch of chili. not too hot. i can add chiu chow to my own bowl to make it hot and this way the kids’ll eat it. i’ve been adding wood all day to keep it simmering. and it’s going to be delicious this evening for supper.

julie’s chili recipe

2 medium onions, diced
4 fat cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 small chilis (fresh or dried—mine used to be fresh, but were now dry)
1 zucchini, grated
2 medium carrots, grated
good glug of olive oil

sauté until the onions start to soften and go clear

500 grams ground beef (that’s a pound to you)
1 beef bouillon cube
1 generous T of paprika
2 fresh bay leaves (i picked them off the bush)
salt & pepper

then, remove it all from the pan and add the ground beef to brown it.

add the onion mixture back to the ground beef once it’s browned.

2 cans of chopped tomatoes (mine had basil & oregano in them already)
1 can of beans (i used organic borlotti beans, since i don’t like kidney beans, but any beans you like would do—i’d have used black beans if i’d had them)

simmer several hours.

add one bar of 70% organic (of course) dark chocolate for richness, shortly before serving. this doesn’t really make it taste chocolately, it just gives it a rich depth that it otherwise lacks.

can (and probably should) be served over rice. you can offer yummies for people to add themselves...chopped red onion, pumpkin seeds, a dollop of creme fraiche (sour cream), grated cheese (that prima donna with the salty crystals in it would be great), just whatever you have and whatever sounds good. some diced avocado, perhaps?

i’m getting hungry, just writing this!!

and it’ll taste even better for having been cooked outside. i’m sure of it.

organic boxes delivered to the door

written in word on march 20--while i was without internet...

why is it that my weekly delivery from årstiderne (translated as “the times of the year” or perhaps “the seasons,” if i wanted to be poetic and not so literal) makes me so happy? anyway, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, it’s those people who deliver us a box of organic produce every week. lately, i’ve been ordering additional olive oil, bulgur, risotto rice, organic coconut milk. this week, i ordered the fish box...which is full of absolutely lovely fresh mackerel filets. deboned. you don’t see those in the grocery store and my saturday fish guy never has them. and they brought them straight to my door in a handy little styrofoam box filled with ice to keep them fresh. they also brought a box with a freshly-slaughtered lamb and a delicately-spicy hard lamb sausage—from their own lambs. for easter. and for my birthday. i’m making the leg of lamb (which is beautiful and has never been frozen) for my birthday dinner. there was fresh rosemary in the box this week too, so it’ll be absolutely perfect with it. and ab is coming. ab loves lamb.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When Someone Hands You a Booger

If someone ever hands you a booger, you have to ask yourself:
* Whose nose did this booger come from?
* Why is this person giving ME this booger?
* Do I really want the booger to wind up on the window of my new car?
* Since the booger has come from someone I made, is it really my responsibility to dispose of it?

And then you find yourself wondering what to do with someone else's booger.

Dad's computer

Perhaps you read your email today. I sent Dad a "welcome to the world wide web" mail, I copied you on it. I spoke with him earlier today about its expected arrival tomorrow. I want him to be the one who opens the box. I packed it carefully for him, complete with color-coded PostIt Note instructions. I labeled the spot where the power cord plugs in, I labeled the button that turns the machine on. I'm quite excited about welcoming Dad online. I understand he's quite tickled, too. I just hope he doesn't have any trouble with the touch pad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

keep blogging

i am sadly without my own ISP for the next week (it's too painful to explain), so i will expect you to keep up this blog. i can read it, but i can't seem to sign in and post to it from the it's up to you. blog on baby!

Little Boys reading and writing

Today I brought my fish home from my office that I abandoned last September. I couldn't believe the fish was still alive and my old friends begged me to take him home. I did and then I promptly gave him fresh water and clean rocks. The boys spotted him right away when they got here. He was overfed and touched several times. Finn spent quite a while making faces at him through the curvy glass. Owen announced while I was putting labels on Dad's laptop, that he was naming the fish "Do Do." A couple of hours later, I noticed one of the Post It labels was placed on the fish tank. In green crayon, it read "Do Do West." My boy knows how to write. Owen also suggested that we tape lots of faces to the fish tank so the fish can see them. That way, Do Do can communicate to us his mood anytime, just by swimming near the happy face or the sad face or the angry face.

We read our usual pile of books when it was bedtime. Tonight, we featured the airplane books we took with us on our airplane ride a couple of weeks ago. One of them is quite easy, though it features words like, "pilot" and "cockpit" and "seatbelts" and "suitcases" and "control tower." To my amazement, Owen read nearly all of that book completely unassisted. Even more to my amazement was Finn correcting Owen's occasional mistake.

These are examples of the kind of growth that happened while I was gone. Both boys can open the doors to my car, climb in and buckle themselves in. Finn is pretty proud of that, he knows it's a big help to me that he can do with no help.

Happy First Lost Tooth Saint Patrick's Day!

Banner day for the girl in the green furry boots. Owen finally lost that first tooth. He's now got the jack-o-lantern smile made famous by his cousin, Sabin. What a relief it is, too, because that tooth was barely hanging on. He would hardly wiggle it, because I think he was a little afraid of it falling out. It is awful to think about... your teeth falling out.

Oh, and the furry boots. I wore them along with the matching jacket to the Starbucks interview. She asked me if I had any questions for her. I flipped my notebook page and saw that all my questions had been answered and she mentioned the dress code. I said, "Isn't it green furry boots?" She smiled and described the black or white collared top, khaki or black pants and black or brown shoes. No perfume, no nail polish, no body piercings and hair pulled back. It was a pleasant image to me, the though of serving food makes one think of coming home smelling like a french fry. Not me man, just the lovely aroma of rich coffee.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Before you write your cookbook...

You'll want me to cook everything in it. You forgot to tell me when to put the bacon in! I need all the steps, man.

Hey, I made that dish then. It's simply bubbling on the stove right now, so I don't have the report just yet. I didn't throw it in the oven as I'm not too sure about the rubberish handles on my big pot. I'll need a nice pot like your orange ones if I'm going to keep making your dishes. By the way, I'm really hungry for the white fish with leeks and coconut milk. Have you posted the recipe for that dish? I'll need it next, though the leftovers I'll have after tonight will last me 2 or 3 days.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

nigel slater's coq au riesling

olive oil
streaky bacon or pancetta, diced
2 small-medium onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 joints of free range chicken on the bone (i bought a package of legs and a package of thighs)
1 "packse" of small brown mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on their size)
1 bottle of riesling (or other dry white wine)
1 pint of cream
3 T chopped parsley

that's the original recipe. however, the one in the picture is a bit different. i am an advocate of throwing in what you have around the house. what looks like potatoes in the picture below are actually a few jerusalem artichokes, because we got them in our box and aren't that fond of them otherwise, but they took on the flavor of the wine "soup" and were delicious in here. i didn't have any bacon and so left it out--that was ok, but it is yummy with the smokiness of bacon. i also added a vegetable bouillon cube for saltiness and flavor because it seemed a little bland (probably because i was missing bacon and didn't manage to find organic chicken).

you sauteé up the onions and garlic 'til they are soft. throw in the chicken pieces and brown them. then, pour the wine over it 'til they're covered (i used not quite a whole bottle). throw in the mushrooms and the jerusalem artichokes (or potatoes or whatever) and let it simmer away for at least an hour and preferably 2+). when i make it inside, i put it in the oven on 150 (that's probably around 275 to you). you put the cream in towards the end, tho' i don't imagine it would hurt if you did it earlier. you can sprinkle the parsley over it when you serve it, but it's not really necessary. i threw in a few sage leaves because i have them in the garden. that was good. and i steamed the asparagus on top for the last 10-15 minutes. that was also heavenly.

it can't go wrong. if you don't put potatoes IN it, you could bake a potato and serve it with that. ours yesterday was very much like soup and we ate it out of bowls, but that sauce would be very good over a baked potato.

good luck. we're eating our leftovers tonight. it's going to taste even better.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

why is it...

...that food cooked outdoors just seems to taste better?

i'm making nigel's coq au reisling on the rusty old stove that's outside the back door today.

i cooked the entire dish out there. i only diced onions and cut mushrooms in the house, but cooked it all while standing outside. of course, the dish, which requires hours of slow simmering, lends itself perfectly to cooking outside in the heavy le cruset pot. it's picturesque, it smells heavenly and it's just so great to be outdoors! this is going to be delicious!

especially since i had this inspired idea, to steam asparagus on the top right before we ate. we sat outside and ate it out of bowls while sitting near the stove, as it started to get dark. i should have posted this on the other blog because it was definitely a moment of perfect clarity.

sabin's first video

sabin made this short video on her new pink LG "chocolate" KG800 phone today. it features far having a nap and a view of my painting. it is accompanied by heavy breathing because sabin has quite a bad cold. she doesn't say anything during the film. and strangely, the film is rotated right, so you might want to lay your head on your right shoulder for proper viewing. thankfully, the video is short.

this is sabin's phone:

I watch for the ads

This guy is a marketing genius, but it all started with a really high-end vacuum that Target carries.

Why the ads work:
He's a hot dude with a funny accent (gets our attention)
He talks to The People on their level (brings up the hand drying on the "trousers.")
He's not trying to sell a hand dryer, he's cementing his vacuum cleaner marketing with some really fantastic branding.

Friday, March 14, 2008

buy, read and USE these books

i'm reading this one right now. it will definitely help break through those self-inflicted barriers to creativity.

this one is a journal to fill in. she's got great journal prompts for lists and all kinds of things. and it's all messy and lovely. it will get you thinking and writing. go to barnes and noble immediately and get them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

supplies and more supplies

check out these earrings. we so have to get us some of that silver clay stuff. that is your mission. i've looked for it here and don't know where to source it.

i feel a rant coming on

strange. i've had a lovely day. so, why should i feel a need to rant about something? maybe because i didn't sleep well last night. the tarp covering the windows to the addition was flapping in the wind. sabin was wimpering and tossing and turning her feverish body in bed next to me. so although it's been a fine day, i feel like ranting.

it's triggered by the ridiculousness of all the coaching and management training that's out there these days. whole sections of newspapers devoted to it. just like all the headlines regarding stress. this stuff is stressing us out. we're made to believe we can't communicate. we can't manage. we can't lead. but weren't people doing those things, successfully, in companies for years? why do we need some lame neuro-linguistic programming to help us read someone's body language? just use your HUMAN NATURE! use your intuition! use your COMMON SENSE!! what has happened to common sense? people have become completely afraid to use it. i fear it's going to totally disappear. become extinct. like the dinosaurs. only no fossil trace will be left behind.

and i guess that's what leaves me wanting to rant....

1/3 battery life

I managed to leave the power cord for my Mac in Mom & Dad's living room. What will I do when I have a totally dead computer?

Sabin told me about the ballet. She's so adorable. I miss her very much!

My boys asked me last week, "Mom, why did you want girls?" (gulp!) "What makes you say that? I didn't want any silly girls, I wanted stinky, noisy boys and guess what I got!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

astute comment

sabin went to the ballet today with her class. when i asked her how it was, she said, "they never said a single word at all." i said, "that's how ballet is."

While in Platte

Today I made our childhood home a wifi hotspot.

I washed my tiny Toyota (it was warm and sunny.)

I went on a 3 mile bike ride with Mom.

I had a beer at Kuip's with Dad.

We went out to Jim and Mary's and played two games of "Tell."

I went on a walk all over Platte with Cousin Gizzy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

even better than a crumpler

imagine this enveloping your mac. it's even better than a crumpler. and available here. it's very pretty. i'll get one when i get my mac. unless i get a desktop mac, in which case it won't really need a case.

i know what i will make

there are quite a lot of "scarflettes" on etsy. i think it's basically a project for people who are learning to knit and want to see something finished. people like me, actually. i'm going to make one. in fact, i think maybe i already DID make one. if i could just remember how to bind off...

some inspiration:

caribbean storm scarflette by TheLuluBean

sand and surf scarflette by lilybirddesigns

and in case you didn't want to knit. here's one from malam in paris

i could do this. i'm always wearing a scarf. i would use these! i don't need to be able to purl in order to make one. and i could use some of my lovely yarn!

why is there...

...a new version of iTunes every few days? i swear i'm prompted to update every time i open the damn thing...

Monday, March 10, 2008

i forgot how much i love these

brian andreas' story people. they're something we've collected over the years at iowa artisans gallery. they're wonderful. right now, they're boxed away, so i don't see them on a daily basis as i once did. i found his website today. here are just two samples that remind me why i love his work so much. these are the next two that i want. no, the next two i NEED.

real reason

i feel he totally captures a moment. perhaps even a moment of perfect clarity (probably i should have posted this one over there). in any case. they speak to me. they're wonderful. and we must expand our collection. the next time we're in iowa city.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sinna's Famous Bread

...with the proper humidity holes.

you will have to get a measuring cup that shows the metric.

6 dl warm water (believe this is a little more than 2 cups)
25 grams yeast (she says this is half a packet in sweden--i'd use a whole one for good measure in the US, might be wussy yeast)
2 tsp. salt
1,3 dl bread flour (i think she means kilos here--so that's 2+ pounds of flour)

mix it together, let it rise at least 2 hours. knead it again and put it on the baking sheet. let it "rest" 15 minutes, then bake it at 250-275 (that's C and it's a pretty hot oven) for 15 minutes. then, turn down the heat to 150 C and bake another 30-40 minutes--you'll know it's done when it's hard and crispy on the underside--you can tell if you knock on it.

i don't think you can go wrong with this.

good luck.

A Disappointment of Breads

I've been missing the bøller I ate regularly in Denmark. Those soft, chewy wonderful little guys you pop in the toaster. They're great with peanut butter or apricot preserves. That yummy sandwich we made, the ham salad with slices of avocado and then a nice, crunchy layer of sea salt on top. Perfect. But they're best simply slathered in soft butter. Gobble the two halves and then contemplate having another.

I bought some bag of mini-loaves of bread at Target. They have a bakery, the bag looked like it might contain some nice soft bread. It was awful. I had one sandwich made from that bread and then threw the rest out.

I went to Hy Vee today, a better bakery. I got some tried and true sweet french loaf that I used to make Cubano sandwiches from. I had a bit of it and remembered why I liked it. But it's just... so. Much. Bread. I also picked up a little bag of "bøller" looking guys there, called "snowflake rolls." They're completely caked on the outside with flour. Not a nice feeling in the mouth. The bread inside isn't terrible, but it's just so lacking in character. Not exactly dry, but the little holes that are supposed to hold a bit of humidity in bread... they're microscopic in this bread. Not in a good way. It's like th uptight people mixed the dough too much.

Can't you get me that recipe that Sinna used at Christmas in Sweden? Now THAT bread had character. And proper humidity holes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My new HDTV

It makes me feel like I just got a new prescription and new contacts. HD is pretty.

Speaking of the new television, I must report that soap operas in this country have taken a strange turn. They're filmed with handheld cameras. There's a lot of irritating zooming in and out and bouncing around. It's the same people on the soap though, Lily, Alan Stenbeck, Beth Raines, Barbara on that other one.

The commercials on tv strike me as funny now. Americans like their medications and their diet programs. They also like extreme disinfection. I just saw a spot for a toilet bowl cleaner bragging that it kills bacteria down into the "s drain." According to the graphic, that's the part of the drain that's not visible because it's past the hole you look into. My question is, who needs those germs to die? Are they posing a serious threat to anyone? This country is seriously uptight.

good story!

i don't have as good a story as your furniture-buying adventure. i've just been out, checking out the retail scene in oslo. oslo is pretty in its downtown. strangely, tho' it must be smaller, it feels more metropolitan than copenhagen. i has a bit of a feel of glasgow, which i mean as a compliment (tho' it could be interpreted otherwise). i wandered into a small knitting shop and wandered out again WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING. yes, it was a small miracle. i found a juice bar where i fixed my jonesing withdrawal from my juicer. whew. i wandered into a bookstore where they had the best selection of moleskine journals that i've seen, well, ever. i bought a really cool one that's small like my fave kind, but that is 60 pages all connected, like an accordion. i'm going to make one long, art journal picture, based on what i see on trains and planes. i'm inspired by the jennifer new book on journals. i also bought a small moleskine that you can do storyboards on the pages, because they have the squares for it all built-in. so, oslo passed the moleskine test, for sure.

then, i wandered along and found a store called norway design where they had a fabulous paper section--lots of pretty papers (from which i restrained). and when i say fabulous, i mean FABULOUS!! i bought small red envelopes. i think i'll use them to make invitations to our housewarming party (when it's finally done). i'll say, "small envelope, big party" or something like that. i also bought some cool pens. they're markers, but seem like they will work like paintbrushes. looking forward to trying them out in the art journal.

well, it's time to go to dinner. you still haven't posted any disney stories and pix, so get it on while you wait for your furniture.

Furniture Stores in Iowa

When I left Iowa last fall, I threw out my awful kitchen table and chairs. Actually, I set them near a dumpster and they were snatched up by some unfortunate soul who musta been really needy. I knew that when I arrived back here, I'd need to go in search of a new, improved dining table and chairs.

Yesterday was the big day. I started out at Wild Bills, where they sell scratch & dent stuff that's often really quite nice. I was waited on by a charming young black kid will two brilliant rows of golden teeth. Wild Bill didn't have anything appealing, so I decided to move on.

Next stop was Room Makers where upon arrival, I was greeted by a man worse-looking than Newman on Seinfeld. I knew I had to leave when I looked at his face and noticed a freshly picked zit that had been bleeding and then wiped carelessly across the whole cheek. Nothing worthwhile there in the way of tables, so it was again time to get the hell out.

I went back downtown to Smulekoff's. Steve and Angel just purchased some giant sectional sofa there and had a glowing report about the nice selection. There was a receptionist who greeted me and when I told her what I was looking for, she kindly directed me to the 3rd and 4th floors of their store. I pushed the button on the slowest elevator in the world and waited. I stepped onto the elevator and realized that there was a nerdy little salesman with a clipboard and a wandering eye escorting me to the tables. How sweet. He hopped on the elevator with me and asked me about the weather outside. We just departed a section of the store that was lined with huge windows to the outside. I pointed them out and laughed at his silly inquiry only to question myself. Perhaps he's a blind furniture salesman, with that bad eye!

Upon arrival on the 4th floor, he pointed me in the direction of some awful, glossy and curvy dark wood tables with 4 and 5 leaves and ornately carved chairs. I asked for lighter colors and cleaner lines and was shown to a new floor of the store. Indeed, there were lighter colors of wood, but this was the section the featured bedroom furniture. I politely looked around for a bit and then asked, "The tables?" "Oh my," replied the nerdy little possibly-blind clipboard man, "I somehow got on bedroom furniture!" Yes, you did. Dork.

We found a few pathetic tables that didn't interest me. I looked at him apologetically and told him I didn't fancy anything in the store. The Brits have such a nice word, I thought I'd borrow it. I got back into my car having only used about 11 minutes of the 30 I'd paid for. It's when I sobbed to myself, "I want ILVA!" Cedar Rapids has so little to offer at a time like this.

Determined to find my table, I went to Pier 1 Imports. "Made in Italy" says the box my table came in. If I could just find my SD card reader, I'd post a picture here. My nifty new Marimekko-style dishes look just super on the new table. It makes me want to cook something! If only I had my pans...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

do we need these?

an (you guessed it) etsy shop called miss purl is selling these little beauties. they're "stitch markers." i don't really know what that is. but aren't they pretty? which stitches do you suppose we would like to mark? and why? should we order some so we have them when we find out.

or is there just the tiniest possiblity that we should really learn to knit first?

speaking of stuff that can make you happy... wouldn't necessarily think that a tea towel could do it, but it seems that this one from cape town graphic designer heather moore's skinny la minx would make me quite happy. the bird design is called "eep," because she says that's the noise she thinks this bird would make. isn't that happy? i'm so getting some of these for my new kitchen. they'll match the red retro smeg and look super with the "købmandsdisk" that's going to form the basis of the kitchen island. plus, i think they'll make me smile when i see them. and that's really what it's all about it, isn't it? whether your home can make you smile. it can if you fill it with things you love. like slender, willowy, serene mermaids and cheerful tea towels.

Serenity Now

I was just now thinking that things can't get worse. My apartment isn't just how I wanted it to be. My movers have backed out of tomorrow's appointment due to extreme ice and snow. And here I sit in an empty apartment. Okay, I've got my luggage and a new kitchen table and a neighbor's wifi to steal. That's all just great. Still, I'm pissy because something didn't go the way it was planned.

And then I saw my little silver mermaid on my bedroom ledge. And everything was all better. The mermaid is calm and serene and can take any curve balls Life throws her way. If she can do that, I can too.

Stuff really can make you happy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tuesday To Do List

Shopping -
* kitchen table
* bar stools/high chairs
* dishes
* bath towels
* hangers
* desk
* hand soap

Errands -
* Change address with Hills Bank & deposit $5 check from doctor's office dated 11/04/07
* Order utilities (gas, electric, water)
* Fetch Steve's snow shovel to clear patio for movers tomorrow
* Shower and change clothes at Steve's

Things to Bitch to Landlord about -
* wobbly toilet
* missing garage door opener (aren't I paying for a garage?)
* bathroom sink drain (not draining)
* dirty crap hanging from ceiling - ceiling needing paint
* laundry door not opening
* laundry detergent spill in laundry closet

Notes -
* Stay away from apartment while threat of running into stalker painter Carlos is high

finny should watch this one

to be inspired for his art journal! very cool technique in the middle with blowing paint around with a straw. he'd love that!

there's another artist on you tube called elphyrafire who is doing some cool suzi blu-esque videos, only with less actual showing her art and more of her talking about stuff (in a wacky, suzi-kinda way). some of the links i wanted to put up were disabled, so that's why i'm just telling you about it. watch her "balance" one. she uses yael naim, oops, i mean feist. one of those apple ad people.

Monday, March 3, 2008

where i am...

i'm spending two last days around the house. on a detox and self-imposed internet diet. i actually made myself stay away from the computer for a big bulk of the day today. on wednesday, i fly to oslo to start my new job. i'm both enjoying my last days around the house and looking forward to leaving it on a regular basis again.

and where are you today? flying back from florida? i look forward to a long series of postings about your trip. including pix. or at least put your pix on facebook.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

ok, i'm an etsy junky now

...but at least i'm only looking and not going nuts ordering (unless you count scrapbook journaling tags, which we won't). check out these totally cute earrings! adorable.
we so must get our act together and make something that we can sell on etsy.

Walt Disney Exhaustion

Went today to Magic Kingdom with Owen and Finn. Rode on Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, A Buzz Lightyear laser tag kind of ride, some Indy Car ride and we played on a slashpad style playground. Got drenched and had to buy new, dry t-shirts, pirate swords and the requisite Mickey ears. I'm quite sure there are funny things to report from our day today, but I'm totally knackered. Keeping a journal handy to jot down the funny things just isn't realistic while chasing two spirited boys, ages 5 and 6 around a 400 acre amusement part.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

these are so cute!

i would have said "we likey," but i've been banned...these are called "yarnicles" and i found them on etsy. rivulette craft has a bunch of cute things along this line.