Thursday, January 31, 2008

In the Kitchen with Phineas

Or Why I will Never be Skinny

Phineas is great in the kitchen. And on Tuesday night I was reminded just how much I enjoy cooking with him. In fact, I'm a bit surprised that I haven't dedicated any posts to cooking yet.

Anyway, here is Tuesday night's dinner: Homemade Pappardelli and Meaty-Bones Sauce with roasted broccoli. Now, before you jump to conclusions, we do not eat like this every night. This was over the top. For both of us, cooking is a way of demonstrating our love, and I was in need of some tlc this week.

Meaty-Bones Sauce is a ragu - beef bones (soup bones), browned and then braised with red wine, crushed tomato, onion, garlic and whatever herbs or spices you like. When the meat is falling off the bones, remove it from the pot, shred it and then put it back in. Voila!

Basic pasta dough is just flour, eggs, olive oil and a pinch of salt. We rolled it out with a pasta machine and then cut it into long strips.

The broccoli is so delicious that it deserves its own post...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


That is the number of steps I walked yesterday according to my new (replacement) pedometer. I'm disappointed, although it should probably be about 1000 steps higher since I forgot to put it back on after my yoga class.

Many walking clubs use 10,000 steps as a goal for what could be considered an "active" lifestyle, which is a great goal. But I think that what I will do is figure out how much I generally walk in a day and then walk and additional 2000-3000 steps.

I've already racked up 5618 steps today. Let's hope I don't lose this pedometer!

Monday, January 28, 2008

To Do List

I have a growing list of projects, which is great! Here they are in no particular order.
  1. Clutch purse for Calliope
  2. Water bottle tote for Mom
  3. Easy/flowy summer linen pants for yours truly
  4. Wide leg/sarong capri's or pants for Polyhymnia (for her bday)

The clutch is by far my most ambitious project to date. Not only will I have to learn how to install a zipper and create and attach a ruffle, but all the measurements are going to have to be exact if the pieces and various pockets are to line up correctly. There isn't a lot of room for error.

I started yesterday by ironing the fabric and cutting out all the pieces. Wish me luck.

Hugger Mugger

I recently bought a new yoga mat. This would be my 4th yoga mat in about 1 year. Apparently I am the princess and the pea. But I have finally found the mat for me - an incredibly thick, very grippy Hugger Mugger mat that has quickly become my knees' best friend.

The one and only flaw with the mat is that, because of its 1/4 inch of glorious knee protecting thickness, it rolls up larger than the standard mat and so doesn't fit into a yoga mat bag. But because of my new status as a Domestic Godesss (heh heh heh), this was no problem.

I used a home decor weight fabric that MS gave me a few months ago to create this custom-sized yoga mat bag from a pattern by Lotta Jansdotter.

I tested the bag out on Friday and it was great! This is the first project that combines two of my obsessions - yoga and sewing.

Friday, January 25, 2008


So Phineas awoke one Saturday morning to find me ripping apart a pair of trousers that were too big at the waist.

My real motivation for learning to sew was the high price of paying my local seamstress, Helen the Dressmaker, to tailor suits and dresses so that they fit on top. Somehow I ended up with a much smaller top and waist than bottom.

My first alteration job - a sheath dress which was huge on top - now fits. It used to look more like a potato sack, but now because of the miracle of darts, it's more sleek.

And the trousers are now 4 inches smaller at the waist than they once were. They're not perfect - the pockets don't lay totally flat - but overall the altered version is a clear improvement over the baggy version.

I'd like to get better at tailoring clothing but there doesn't seem to be any book or guide specifically about altering already finished clothes. But every time I look thru my closet something seems to need a little tuck or slight change. And at this point I'm worried that I will end up with a Humpty Dumpty project on my hands - once I take it apart, I might not be able to put it back together again!

My New Doctor is a Neurotic Hypochondriac

This is not a bad thing. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac myself.

I visited a travel medicine specialist as I will be going to Asia for the first time in April. We decided that I needed 5 vaccinations in order to survive the trip (see, hypochondriac): flu, Tdap (tetinus), Hep A and Typhoid Fever (both food-borne), and Hep B (good for my iron issues).

Here's why I say neurotic: this is the schedule he wrote on a post-it so I remember to take 1 dose of typhoid every other day for 7 days (ie: 4 doses total).

We also discussed drinking water and jet lag, as well as malaria, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. We visited the CDC's web page on travel to Taiwan and discussed Avian flu. I was sternly warned not to touch any dead ducks I might find at the side of the road. He did not even crack a smile when I said "I'll be sure to write that down." Speaking of writing down, I now have a yellow card itemizing all my vaccinations specially designed to fit in my passport. Just for future reference.

Now this might sound a bit crazy, but I am very seriously thinking of making him my GP. With him worrying so much about my health, I think I would worry less. Oh, and he is a fan of email. Does your doctor respond to 1 am emails about your vaccinations? I don't think so. See, neurotic hypochondriac.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Thing about my Mother-In-Law

Or Sleep Mask: Redux

So, I just finished making a new and improved sleep mask to replace the one that met a bad end on Christmas Eve. Here's what happened: my mother-in-law gave the sachets and sleep mask that I made for my new sister-in-law (who was not there) to her friend Betty, who she had invited over on Christmas Eve. No, she did not ask me in advance if this would be ok or if I had extras.

Shocked. Horrified. Livid. I'm not sure any of those words adequately expresses my range of emotions as this transpired across the room in slow motion. Who does that? Who?

She "thought it would be ok" since she "didn't see a name on the bag". (You know, because Santa brings extra gifts with no names on them. Gifts that aren't for anyone specific. Like a Christmas wild card. That kind of gift.)

Coincidentally, my sister-in-law had ordered a gift for me that was on back-order, which made me feel somewhat better about not having a gift for her, and we had a laugh over the whole thing.

The thing about my mother-in-law is that I really don't believe there was any malice intended or thought that she might be doing something wrong. She just has no filter. And you can't argue with a person like that without driving yourself nuts. Because, at the end of the day, she just doesn't get it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Four Eyes

It's official: I need glasses. Further proof that the Machines Hate Me.

My (new) eye doctor says that my recent vision problems are likely caused by long hours spent staring at a monitor (like I am doing right now, at this very second).

MS, I need serious help picking out frames. It once took me 18 months to pick out sunglasses.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christmas Mayhem Revisted

Just in case you missed the live mayhem this year at Clan Headquarters.

NB: Small child in photo for scale.
NB2: More than half the gifts were already open at this point.

Post-Holiday Sewing Binge II

Part 2: Hers
Uuuuugggg! Thwarted again! I encountered the same problem with the low rise waist that I met with Phineas' pajama bottoms.

But I think the flaw must be the pattern. It was sized for a smal
l, and included instructions to size it up to M, L, etc. However, all this changed was the width of the pants, making them wider from the outside of the waist down to the ankle. It didn't alter the crotch or the rise. I think that is the problem in the end - just not enough wiggle room in the butt and crotch, but enormously wide legs. I mean, I know that they are supposed to be "wide-legged" pants, but really, I look like a samurai in 'em.

That said, I'm rather pleased with myself. Look at the (miles of) fun trim I added near the hem at the (elephantine) ankles:

I think that this project may be "done" only in the way that my skirt was "done". In other words, I will probably rip out the seams and redo the project after consulting with my sewing bible on how to taper the legs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sequins and Stardust

How did I wind up with such creative friends? And entrepreneurial, too.

While you and I were home watching reruns, Magenta Sequins and Stardust River were building/launching their creative empires. There must be more hours in the day where they live.

I wanted to post some kind of tribute to the two of them but was stumped for ideas. However, I think that they will be tickled to know that when I googled "Sequins and Stardust" the first 3 entries are:
  • A review of a Vegas showgirls show
  • A kids craft shop
  • A Ziggy Stardust on-line costume gallery
Hmmmm, costumes with feathers and sequins mixed with a dash of hot glue gun fun. In a strange way, this is definitly fitting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Post-Holiday Sewing Binge

Part 1: His
After all my Christmas crafting for others, I decided to make something for myself and Phineas as my next project. My goal is to learn one new sewing skill for each project.

Project: Unisex, Wide-Leg, Draw String PJ Bottoms (one for me, one for him)

New Skill:
learn how to make a button hole

Trouble began before I even cut out the pattern. Phineas decided that he needed to have pj's with a fly rather than just a pull on pant. As he put it, "I'm a boy. And boys have needs, too... Oh, and could the waist have elastic in addition to the draw string."

New Skill #2: men's fly
I took an old pair of his boxer shorts that had been retired to try my hand at reverse engineering.

Assembly: Figuring out how to assemble the crotch with the fly alteration was tricky. However, I feel that the experience did strengthen my relationship with my seam ripper. We are now on a first name basis, me and Jack.

The rest of the assembly went well, even the button hole, which was pretty easy after a few tests tries. The waist, a nice, wide waistband with both elastic and drawstring, came out particularly well. See, I am a domestic goddess.

The reveal: It was time for Phineas to try on the pj's for a final time so I could decide how much to hem. But when he put them on, it was not a good scene. Somehow the pj's came out with a very low-rise waist... wedgie-inducing and totally worthy of a plumber! Uggers! The alterations must have affected the rise!

Back to the workshop: I had to rip out and redo my beautiful waistband so that it was much narrower. But now the button holes are too low to thread the drawstring thru. So, now the pj's have an elastic waist and 2 decorative button holes.

The re-reveal: Better. But because of the low-rise issue and fly alterations, there just is not enough room in the butt and the pj's don't sit well. Oh well. Phineas seems happy with them nontheless, and mine should hopefully go more smoothly.

What I learned: Do not monkey around with the pattern until I know what the #$@&*# I am doing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Machines Hate Me

This has not been a good week for me, technologically speaking.

On Sunday, my cell phone fell out of my carry-on bag on an airplane. By the time I realized it, my phone was on it's way to Atlanta. And then yesterday, shortly after step number 3707, I lost my new pedometer. It fell off of the waistband of my pants in a NYC taxicab.

Microchips just do not like to be owned by me; they flee from my presence. If my laptop could grow legs, I'm certain it would run away. Both my phone and my pedometer saw a chance to liberate themselves and took it. I hope they find good homes.

Sigh. OK, I promise that my next post will be back to crafting.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


That is the # of steps I took yesterday, according to my new pedometer.

Rather than making resolutions to get fit or lose weight, I decided to buy myself new toys that would encourage me to do those very things. (I also bought a yoga mat.) I definitely felt encouraged to walk more and take the stairs since someone was counting.

In general, the recommended target is 10,000 steps a day. But this is a bit vague to me. Am I supposed to include the 4146 steps I took on the elliptical trainer yesterday, or was that cheating? I don't know.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Word of the Day: Kuidaore

kuidaore - a Japanese word meaning roughly "to eat oneself bankrupt"

It's absurd that this word only entered my vocabulary this week. Kuidaore - the word, if not the concept - originated in Osaka, a city known for its excellent food and the locals' enjoyment of eating and drinking.

Having just arrived home after 48 hours in New Orleans, I can say with certainty that this same spirit is alive and kickin' in the Crescent City. As usual, Phineas had sniffed out the local favorite spots and, after two days of wild disregard for New Year's resolutions, we basically rolled our way home this morning.

Here's Phineas contemplating what to order next on Bourbon Street.

While we didn't quite bankrupt ourselves, it wasn't for lack of effort. My favorite indulgences included 25-cent martinis at Commander's Palace, amazingly crisp fried boudin at Cochon, fried crab claws at Casamento's, and quail stuffed with chicken and brie (the chef's own riff on turducken) at the Bistro at Maison du Ville. I think the only vegetable we saw all weekend was the pickled okra garnish in the Bloody Marys at Napoleon House.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Five Muses

In Greek mythology, the Muses are a sisterhood of goddesses who embody the arts and inspire the creative process with their grace. This is my sisterhood of goddesses, the we of my life:

Calliope – she of beautiful speech or voice. The eldest and most distinguished of the muses. Muse of eloquence and epic or heroic poetry. Calliope is the mother of Orpheus and Linus.

Clio – the glorious one. Muse of history.

Polyhymnia – the singer of hymns. Muse of sacred hymn, oratory, lyric, singing and rhetoric.

Terpischore – she who delights in dance. Muse of choral song and dance.

Erato – the amorous one. Muse of lyric poetry, particularly love and erotic poetry, marriage songs and mimicry.

Disclaimer: Muses, because I know you so well, let me say it now... there shall be no complaining and no trading of muse names. You are stuck with the name you were given. (he he he)