*Lyrics from Heavy Feet by Local Natives. I listened to their newest album, Hummingbird, on repeat for three days straight, and then I took a break so I wouldn’t ruin it for myself. You all know I love them. This song is why. Plus, read on, and you’ll see why these words resonated for this post.
You see, a few Christmases ago, my younger sister gave me a print of a Kandinsky painting she spied that reminded her of my love for blurry dots. I actually and sincerely love that side-effect of having poor distance vision, that blurring of all the edges and background that happens in movies, the way that light turns into semi-transparent glowing orbs that sparkle and move when you blink. It’s really just poor vision, but I find it beautiful (and one of the reasons I don’t want Lasik). It took us years – quite literally two actual years – to muster up the effort to go and have it professionally framed. It was an odd size, and also a really high quality print – no cheap frame would do. But, once we did have it framed, we decided it would be the major inspiration point for our color scheme and vibe at The Pied.
*Lyrics from You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me as sung by Me’Shell N’degeOcello. I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz on Pandora lately and this soulful version just delighted me. If you dig her voice, perhaps you’ll like her latest offering, Pour une âme souveraine – A Dedication to Nina Simone.
So, the change of season has begun. I know we just had a major blizzard in the Northeast just a few weeks ago, and more snow and cold weather are on the forecast, but the sun is shining longer every day, and I am starting to notice the change – the spring fever – amongst my fellow man. The other day, the temperature reached the low 50s here in NYC, so I was able to run outside. Delightful. On my way back from the run, meandering through throngs of sunshine- and warmth-starved Brooklynites, the streets were buzzing with street vendors selling their wares, with t-shirt and shorts clad hipsters, and flower markets bursting with post-Valentine’s Day overflow stock. Naturally, I was eager to get mine, to capture just a breath of spring, so I put in a request with the husband for a mass of cheerful flowers.
He brought me three bunches of yellow tulips. read on…
*Lyrics from Coldplay‘s first single, Yellow, off their first album, Parachutes. Don’t you miss old Coldplay? Don’t get me wrong, I still love Chris Martin’s voice, and they’re clearly talented, but, well, maybe I shouldn’t like the same band that my 9 year-old niece thinks is great (‘OMG, I LOVE them!’). Maybe I’ll just remember when…
Speaking of ‘remembering when,’ remember when I moved into my pied-à-terre and I was all ‘we’re going to do this fast because we must’? Yeah, well, turns out, not so fast. Some things went really quickly – e.g., choosing and applying paint colors, buying a sofa and mattress, getting some cabinetry for the kitchen – while other things moved much slower – e.g., accessorizing, figuring out where to put things, getting a table for the TV, hanging art. All along, however, there was the dream to reupholster a little vintage chair I had originally purchased for my tiny mom (the chair felt a little lower than today’s chairs, and she’s shrimpy short) and move it to the apartment. We have limited floor space, and limited doorway and hallway space (see: the bed debacle), and this petite chair that wasn’t going to work for my mom seemed perfect. All we had to do was choose a fabric.
Chirp, chirp, chirp. Choosing a fabric. One would think it would be easy. As it turns out, not easy at all. It took months. And months. As a matter of fact, when the upholsterer finally came to pick up the chair (they pick up!) and get started on it, the whole process only took about a week. He had a slot open up in his schedule, and just powered through it. So, we were the hold-up on this one. No one else to blame but ourselves.
*Lyrics from All Our Wonder by Memoryhouse off their album The Slideshow Effect. I stumbled upon these guys during another Spotify adventure and wound up really liking them. Give them a listen. What else have you go going on?
Back by popular demand, here’s another installment of Kitchen Monthly! Ok, maybe not popular demand. But, if my instagram feed is to be believed, you guys love to look at baked things, and probably want to know how you, too, can live my fabulous life. (If you can’t tell where the sarcasm is in that statement, well, perhaps you should just run along.)
It’s no secret that I love to bake. And, it’s no secret that I love my kitchen. At home, that is. The one at the rental pied-à-terre? Well, it’s functional. And by functional I mean that it takes me two hours to make soup. Ok, maybe it always takes me that long, but it feels like things take even longer. The stove/range is an apartment-sized 20″ and the counter space, while improved greatly by the addition of some IKEA cabinets and a length of countertop, is still limited. And there is no dishwasher. And we have a limited number of things like bowls, utensils, muffin trays, etc. At the house we pretty much have enough cookware, etc., to host a meal for a dozen comfortably. Here, we have enough for two, or three (and lately that’s been three as one of my sisters is staying with us in our tiny flat – for now.)
*Lyrics from Don Henley‘s ‘adult contemporary hit’ from 1989 called New York Minute. It was literally playing in my head immediately as we encountered just how small our pied-a-terre really was. And as we learned the hard way just how quick your brain must be to survive rapid and abrupt changes in plans. (And how quickly we learned that crap songs from the late 80s will stay in your brain for.ev.er. whether you like it or not.)
So, remember way back when (I’m sure you won’t) to when I mentioned that I was hunting for a new bed? That was years ago, and I never stopped looking, just never found one worth writing about. The bed we’ve been, erm, enjoying for lo’ these past nearly 7 years is in fine shape, and totally decent. Not broken, not rickety, not smashed up or damaged in any way. It’s just not, well, sexy, or scintillating, or luxurious. I guess you’d say it’s more of a handsome bed – which is all well and good – but I was craving more than just handsome. So I kept on looking.
Then we semi-moved to NYC to our little pied-à-terre, and everything changed. We put our house on the market, we downsized to a just-barely-big-enough space, and the bed hunting, well, it just fell by the wayside. That is, until I spied the Vanguard Brea bed on sale from Horchow. Don’t ask me how I first saw it – likely Pinterest or some such place – but when I did, I knew it had all the properties I was looking for. Upholstered and tufted? Check. Nailhead trim? Check (even though this was not in the list of needs for Jeff). Neutral enough to live through several bedroom designs (we’re not looking for a short-term piece of furniture here), headboard tall and elegant enough to make the bed feel like a nest and a respite from daily life woes, and sturdy enough to last many, many years. It had it all. And it was on sale. We jumped at it, and in an attempt to be efficient we thought we should have the bed delivered to The Pied rather than the house. We figured we’d save on having to haul the bed back and forth , plus it would give us a touch of richness in our bare bones apartment. We thought we were geniuses.
We were so very wrong. read on…
*Lyrics from All I Do Is Dream of You from Singin’ in the Rain. Easily my favorite musical, and my go-to for an enjoyable bit of movie watching (especially when recuperating from several minor ailments). Plus, the lyrics can easily go non-romantic when you think about painting. Which I constantly do.
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely out of my mind, bonkers, needing to paint something. Anything. I was like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain running around yelling, ‘Gotta paint!’ Seriously, it was becoming a problem. So I pulled out a small canvas I’d gotten on sale ages ago at Michael’s, and just went for it. We had limited time – had to get the house ready for a showing, and had to prepare to head back to the pied-à-terre – so I just barreled through. Crashed through my burning desire to build something, to witness that change, and to have something (besides muffins, brownies, or cookies) to show for it.
Rough draft. I think that’s what I’ll call it. read on…
*Lyrics from Lavender Diamond‘s song I Don’t Recall from their 2012 album Incorruptible Heart. This song captures the melancholy, introspection, and grief that this time of year brings up in many of us. It’s not all Black Friday tramplings, and Cyber Monday identity thefts, you know. Some of us care about more than that. 😉 Ok, and I miss the doggie.
The diminishing sunlight, the chilling temperatures, the influx of cold and flu season, the pressure of holiday hoopla, the inevitable changing of the calendar (and in my case, aging, as my birthday falls in late November) all makes for a reflective and challenging time of year. It’s when we all take stock of who we are, what we’ve done, what we haven’t, and why. It’s when we try to express our love for our friends and family in impossibly small increments of time, with gifts that cannot measure the gratitude we have for each other, with traditions that sometimes don’t mean much, but feel supremely important in our near hibernative states (let’s not forget that cold and flu season is gearing up, too). With all this pressure to look forward and backward simultaneously, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and a bit, well, unprepared.
That’s why I’m making a list. Not of gifts, not of groceries, not of resolutions, but of simple tasks to keep my brain (and spirit) moving forward. Not selling the house this year was a time-consuming setback, more emotionally than anything, but I’m refusing to let that keep me down. My list will include minor upkeep on the house, mini-projects to keep my creativity flowing, and simple tasks (like hanging art, changing paint colors, or clearing out junk drawers) to remind me that even when the big things don’t go as you’d hoped, you can still accomplish little things that will bring you joy. I’m after you, joy. You can’t escape me. I’ll grab ahold of you whether you like it or not.
*Lyrics from a new single from my favorite (and yours, right? right?) Local Natives called Breakers. Needless to say, I’m in love. And now await their upcoming album (called Hummingbird) release in January with bated breath. Ok, not fully bated, just, well, I can’t wait. But I will.
And now it’s time for our next installment of Kitchen Monthly… better late than never?
You know, I never much considered the bean. I mean, who thinks about beans? They’re just beans, right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. I’ve discovered, and have perhaps squandered years of bean enjoyment, that real beans are so very, very different from those in a can. And so, so much better.
It started with a summertime cookout. Jeff and I were tired of the ol’ burgers n’dogs routine, and wanted to make something special. Plus, we were trying to shed some pounds, and keep on our running/training schedule, so including some fiber, and some fresher ingredients seemed appropriate. We arrived at a grilled taco, with slow-cooked pork shoulder (or butt, who knows?), fresh salsa, guacamole, and a black bean side dish. We figured, for those who don’t want the meat, we’ll have a suitable alternative. And for those that do, well, black beans have anti-oxidants, right? They’re good for you!
Simply put: they were outstanding. The pork came out well (we tried it a few times throughout the summer with varying degrees of success), and the salsa was a hit. But the beans – the beans! – were out of sight, man. Seriously, just black beans (about two cups?), soaked (about 4 hours, but could be done overnight) and simmered (about 1 1/2 hours? or until tender), seasoned with a generous amount of salt (to taste) a teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander, a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and one chipotle in adobo, chopped. That’s it. But the bean, that’s the part that’s magical. They bring their own flavor.
*Lyrics from When I Fall In Love as sung by (gulp) Celine Dion. I know, I know! It’s sort of cheesy (ok, a LOT cheesy), but, well, I’m a romantic, and a sap. And I started out with a different song in mind, but something in the lyrics of this one spoke to the nature of the vows that were given (not taken). And the video is wretched, and has nothing at all to do with the loveliness that was this past weekend. But the Doris Day version seemed too sad… and not what I wanted. Oy, ok. Just, insert your own tune, but know that you cannot fall without giving yourself to the fall. You cannot receive the love, you must give it. That’s how it works. Ok, moving on.
So, I have several blog posts written, just waiting for pictures. Which will be taken when things get a little more finished, or when I get back in the habit of photographing things as I go along. I’ve been a little rushed, and a little overwhelmed of late, what with having the house on the market, also trying to home-ify our pied-à-terre, all that bouncing back and forth, packing and unpacking, and then making a trip to lovely northern California for Jeff’s cousin’s wedding (more packing, and unpacking). We may not have shown you our wall paint selections for the flat yet, or have any news to report regarding the sale of our home, but we did manage to take pictures of our trip, and it was spectacularly lovely.
*Lyrics from Eleanor Friedberger‘s I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight from her album Last Summer. I haven’t decided as yet if I’ll purchase this one – it’s one of those albums I enjoy, but not sure if it’s because it’s in the background of the other things I’m doing. Anywho, check her/it out as you see fit. Carry on.
So, just when you thought we were done improving our current house, well, we took a hard look at the calendar, the side porch, and realized (much to our collective chagrin) that it needed a fresh coat of stain before the winter season. Ugh. First, ugh for having to think about winter already! Second, ugh for having to do another labor-intensive project during a time when our house is meant to stay show-ready. Last, ugh for the onslaught of back-breaking projects that we had to undertake in the span of days. Ugh, then blerg.