Saturday, June 28, 2008

Driven to distraction

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have FALLEN IN LOVE.


My I present my true love - leather and canvas spectators with no less than a 4.5 inch heel.
As I like to call them - ExPats Spats.

Can you not envision yourself descending from a Gipsy Moth in these?
Smoking C to Cs in a sand storm whipped by the ghibli or aajej?
Walking into Shepheard's for a stiff drink and a tryst with your lover?
Perfect for a holiday or a lifetime in Paris on the Nile.

It has been long time since a shoe or any other bit of fashion has conjured up such a rich fantasy, but here it is, and I am content to let it wash over me... like the sea spray that dampens my finger waves as I stand on the bow of a Cunard Steamship. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I park in a garage at work. I like to take the spots at the corners and back in like a well-greased eel. It pleases me to negotiate this bit of choreography.

It's challenging - but not too challenging - at 8:30 am, except this morning when I heard that sickening "crunch."

There are pilasters that stick out about 8 inches - normally they simply add to the challenge of understanding your existence in a three dimensional space.
Today - they clawed my car.

I've had my car 2.2 years...
I should have expected a ding, a gash, a loss of paint at some point.

My last car looked like it had seen a war zone. I ran it through parking lot arms, took it off-road in Arizona to get to a trail-head, got it stuck in April mud in rural Ohio. It was broken into FOUR TIMES. It got sideswiped by a City of Cleveland snowplow - the mirror destroyed, the hubcap in a pile of snow 2 blocks down and tremendous gash along the side. The lock on the passenger side dangled like a sad broken limb until one day, it fell off.

So I was glad to get a new car. I pretty, unspoiled car.


Nothing lasts forever...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dead weight

Revenge is often best served in a failed pas de deux.


No pics yet - but I'm working on a new sorbet...

Honey lavender (first draft)
2 cups H20
3/4 cups honey
2 Tbsp dried Lavender buds

Heat honey and H20 to dissolve honey.
Add lavender (I added some lemon verbena, too).
A note about the lavender - I had some dried on hand that is considered edible, and I'm unsure as to the edibility of say - fresh lavender from the garden... I wonder if all the recipes I read that mentioned "food grade lavender" were to try and keep one from raiding the potpourri jar - I'll look into it, but I'm guessing fresh lavender is fine. 
A wee sprinkling of salt.
Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to sit (10-ish minutes)

Strain all the bits out.

Mix in 2 Tbsp lemon juice & 2 Tbsp vodka.

Refrigerate until cool and let the ice cream maker do what it does best.

Fingers crossed (I'm at the "Remove from heat" step and my kitchen smells divine...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


This morning I stumbled upon something in magazine.

"Do something that scares me so much that overcoming my fear of it will change me."

Now I just have to figure out which of my many, many fears I'm going to tackle first...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ice Cream!

Obviously, I'm on some sort of manic cooking jag - and it's only going to get worse as more foods arrive on the vine. Last night, in addition to the pesto and boursin, I made my favorite summer ice cream, chocolate mint.

I used the basic Martha Stewart recipe, but instead of adding vanilla, I steep chocolate mint at the creme anglais stage overnight and add 3 oz dark chocolate, 3 oz milk chocolate & a Tbsp cocoa at the custard stage.

Steeping the mint...

Wait.. 8... EIGHT yolks?

Finished base, ready to freeze.

Tonight I was staring at my strawberries trying to figure out what to do. I was thinking about a pie with custard, but ran out of eggs since Martha requested EIGHT (seriously, Martha...). I though about jam, but lack the containers. I really like the simplicity of fresh strawberries with a bit of balsamic vinegrette drizzled over, so I went looking for a recipe and found this one. I added a bit more honey than they call for and added a tetch of salt and pepper, since the flavor is a bit more complex than just sweet.

Finished base, ready to freeze.

The Cuisinart is getting a HELL of a workout this week. Flavors I still want to do this summer: lavender, lemon verbena, salted caramel, mint, chocolate orange, watermelon and come fall, I make a MEAN concord grape sorbet.

Other suggestions are appreciated!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More local food

It's early in the season, but my herbs are doing well with all the rain and sun.
I decided it was time to gather and create.

From the garden (clockwise from upper left): thyme, basil, rosemary, chives, with sage at the center.

Many thanks to Mulberry Creek Herb Farm for all the organic herbs over the years. If you like a mini-road trip, don't miss their Herb Fair this weekend - with a Tuscan theme.

I thought boursin cheese would be a good result from what I had on hand - I use it in salads (with the strawberries) or slather it on toasty bread.

I mixed equal parts goat and cream cheese, then added chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

A bunch of spicy-smelling, earthy, clove-y basil.

I put the basil in the food processor with olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic and a bit of parmesean cheese...

I can't wait to have it over pasta tomorrow night...

Monday, June 16, 2008

How's that for fresh and local

From the community garden behind my house...

Sweet and fresh and delicious!

I'm quite pleased with the garden - it's really bringing the neighbors together in a shared space.

Sometimes it's nice to go about your business next to someone going about theirs - separate, but in a sort of shared rhythm.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

P the C

Parade the Circle was this weekend -
Here are some pix, click to enlarge...

Last minute building...

Bee Guy...

Recycled Fairy Princesses...

As always - kids on Steggie...

The Ghostly Freighter....

check out for a more comprehensive display of images...

Here's a bit of video of the Finale...

To bed! I'm exhausted and sun-burned and a little drunk...


Friday, June 13, 2008


It just NEVER gets old.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

cool and weird

I can't believe that it's 2008 and ovulation has JUST been captured on film.

It's jewel-colored and surreal and beautiful in a fairly graphic way.

gross and weird

the person in the next office is listening to music with a heavy bass beat.
but it's muted.
and inconsistent.

so when i hear it in the background, it sounds exactly like when lucy prepares to puke up a hairball.

I just asked and the song was Barbie Girl.

I should have known...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

a decade ago

i was living in arizona and taking day trips to sedona to listen to coyotes howl and lose myself in a vortex.

UPDATE: about the vortexes - nope, never believed in them - but they have a huge following out there. my theory was that the natural element there is so big and imposing that the awe you can't help but feel was mistaken for a mystic experience.

"vortex? no, that's just humbling insignificance. you, human, are just a small part of a very very big world."

Objective mirror

sometimes i wish
i could step outside myself
and see
what everyone else sees
so could have a better idea
of what road
to turn down

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!

32 years later and I'm still distrustful of carrots...

... and entranced by fowl.

... have I told you about the time I learned to hypnotize a chicken...?
Another time - somewhere a bottle of Hendricks is singing its siren song to me.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I love a good storm

Tonight I got to watch an evening storm roll in over Lake Erie - an otherworldly and powerful experience, if you've ever had it.
My parents used to put me in the car and drive to Lakeview Beach to watch storms blow in from the safety of the giant Olds.
We'd make popcorn and drive to the North End of Kelley's Island to watch lightning and waves.
I love the feeling the sound of thunder, the momentary brilliance of lightning and the power of driving rain.

Watching a storm blow in is like watching a artist struck with inspired madness.
You get light blocked and focused, reflected and diffused.

You get THIS

Click to enlarge image.

2:30 a.m. - Chirp

Me and fire alarms, we do NOT get along.
When I first moved into my place, I turned them off because steam from a hot shower, cooking, or any and everything set those bastards off.
Fast forward to 2005 and an electric fire.
I now have a hardwired system that seems intent on driving me crazy.

If I forget for a minute to turn on the exhaust when I'm toasting spices for an indian dish or opening a hot oven...
leading me to hit the exhaust switch, run into bedroom (where the sensor lives) and quickly fan around it on while standing on my bed with a manila file folder or plate.
A little annoying, but training me to hit the exhaust switch.

Lately though, its been chirping - just once - now and then - for no good goddamned reason.
It's not battery powered (although it does had a battery backup... hmmm...) so it's not letting me know its low.. is it?
It seems to happen at night - at first I thought it was a dream, but then I heard it again while conscious. It's what woke me up tonight - and it happened when there were those big thunderstorms a few days ago.

Theory: Bedroom micro-climate.
I have next to no cross-ventilation in my apartment.
Like most old homes, the air stifles and sits.
So I have an AC unit in the bedroom along with a fan on low to keep the room what some have deemed "meat-locker cold."
I promise you it is not, but I wonder if the heat in the attic fighting the cold in the room have any effect. Or maybe I'm simply searching for answers to the maddeningly inconsistent unexplainable chirps.

All I know is that every time I hear it - it reaches into my body and wreaks an unimaginable panic in my soul - I hope it's merely a weak backup battery - but it's a lithium battery - like all good unstable things, it requires a healthy dose of lithium to keep it going - but I digress....
I'm unsure of the size or power - and I have no idea how to disconnect it long enough to replace without going deaf. I'm guessing this one's for the landlords.

By WHY only at night?
I was in here ALL AFTERNOON knitting and watching Arrested Development on Hulu - Nuthin'.
2 frickin' a.m. and *CHIRP*

... maybe it's me.

New Year's Eve this year I stayed at a friend's whose alarms kept chirping... even with freshly changed batteries... and again I say "Hmmmmm....."

3 a.m. - I'm going back to bed - who's got bets on a 4:30 chirp?

UPDATE: 7 a.m. - thank goodness it was at a reasonable hour - let me tell you it gets me UP and OUT OF BED.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Modern Love

This makes me sad.

I'm glad that we're moving outside the confines of traditional relationships, but sad about some of the ways we're going about it.

Maybe this leads to greater independence, or maybe a world of hurt.

I can't tell.

Garden Proud

I've been working on a perennial garden in my backyard for a couple of years.
I used to stick with herbs and veggies, but they proved too high maintenance since I tend to spend a number of weekends away from home. We're trying the community garden thing again behind the Neighborhood Family Practice, so I hope my veggies will be safe there from slugs and aggressively growing things that cast too much shade and crowd out my tomatoes (ahem... weird clematis in my plot... planted by resource hogging neighbor... ahem).

I started the perennials two years ago when garden centers were having spectacular sales in early fall, I just planted some lilies here, some ground cover there - not really following a plan. I added spring bulbs, which were a nice surprise in April, and the greens fill in.

This year, I pulled a number of things from my parents house, including: hostas, ferns and Sweet Woodruff (Myrtle came along for a ride).

Despite (or maybe because of) their constant need for attention, I still do herbs: basil, rosemary, oregano, lemon verbena and chocolate mint (for homemade ice cream). To keep the slugs at bay, I started hanging pots on the fence
because slugs + basil = great sadness.

To satisfy my need for color, I do annuals in window boxes off my back porch and pots next to the door - if only to make me and the postal workers smile.

It's nice to have a little color and green in the backyard - and I admit that I am more of an active-get-my-hands-dirty gardener than a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-fruits-of-my-labor gardener.

Someday I'll go outside and knit in the sun...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ms. Stilgenblogger lives for a day

A day OFF.
A whole day to do whatever I want.
And a weekday to boot.
Not a holiday.
Or a Saturday.
Nary a throng to fight.

I LOVE the decadence of a weekday off.
I used to take them more when I free-lanced, in fact, I almost preferred to work on weekends and play during the week.
Who knew Trader Joe's could exist without lines?
Or that you could park close to Target?

So today I took a day...

I did laundry!
I gardened!
I met a friend and bought 6 months worth of bath supplies from Lush.
I bought perfume!
I tried on Gladiator sandals!
We had mojitos outside and got pleasantly tipsy - at 2pm!
The coupe de grace was the pedicure - 30 minutes of foot-buffing-InStyle-reading heaven...
I went back to the friend's house and learned how work a lace pattern for a cami I'm starting.
Then I met up with some of my Master's degree program friends at Fairmount Wine Bar for Happy Hour, followed swiftly by knitting at the Coventry Phoenix.
We hadn't had dinner, so we made our way to the new pan-asian place Tree... Tree... Tree something.
Very good - affordable, somewhere on the continuum between Pacific East and grocery sushi.

All in all, the kind of day I love - busy, interesting, good food, good company and a general sense of calm and well-being.

Next time... a trip to Huntington beach for swimming and Honey Hut ice cream.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lorain has the best sunsets

Almost every time I say I'm from Lorain, I get a knowing nod or wince. But I'm a huge fan of the city, and I agree that it's seen better days - but it was truly a sacrificial lamb to industry.

The waterfront was used for manufacturing and ports, the residents trained to do work that went away with outsourcing and a city center abandoned when the highway ended up 5 miles south.

But it has an amazing housing stock, beautiful beaches, walkability and the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen - often viewed from the bow of a boat.

To get a better understanding, click the picture to enlarge.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Kimono sweater for a baby-to-be

My oldest and dearest friend is expecting, so I've been knitting up some wee garments and blankets and such.

I found this pattern online, but changed it up for a worsted weight wool and size 10 needles.
I chose a wool/acrylic blend so she can wash it as often as she needs to.

I still need to i-cord the ties, but otherwise, its done.

Baby clothes are fab project because they take so little time and material, but result in a HUGE sense of accomplishment.


This weekend I helped my dad split hostas that had become root bound in pots. I thought it was interesting how intrigued I am by these plants. Fifteen years ago, I would have ignored these plants totally. I used to love petunias for their ruffles and color - but they seem somehow garish to me now.

Rootbound hosta

I know I'm getting older because I find the subtle recurring beauty of a variegated hosta preferable to the temporary and riotous flush of annuals.

Splitting hostas

I brought back a number of options to plant and share: Elephant Ear (large leaves), Antioch (green and white variegated), Golden Tiara (medium green with light green variegated edges) and this lovely blue hosta that's got dainty leaves and the color of a blue spruce.

Ok, ok... so I make chicken clothes

...and write grant requests.