Blogging about a variety of things I enjoy. Also peddling my wares at Thicket and Thistle on Etsy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

a family meal

Two weeks ago my family made a last-minute trip to New York to visit my ailing great aunt.  My siblings and I arrived late Friday but knowing the next day would be spent in a nursing home, with the bagpipes from the parade drifting on the breeze through the window and a drunken mess of a city to bid us adieu upon our departure that evening, we decided to make a rather mad dash down to Momofuku Noodle Bar.  This place has been on my NY bucket list for XX years; I don't even know.  Were my expectations high - yes.  Was it everything I'd dreamed of - um, yeah.  We toasted our great aunt and dug in; pictorial review below.  Some of the photos, taken with my phone, are a bit blurry due to the fact that I had to take them just faster than we ate, which was really fast.

We'll take one of each.  If not three.

Eat me!

The bun, rendered translucent by the grease of the pork belly, reminds me of Homer Simpson's one-time reverse diet, where a sandwich wrapper had to be see-through enough to confuse a flying bird in order for him to eat it.

I didn't have any of the oysters but I heard they were delish.

Not only was it after midnight on a Friday (technically Saturday) so we could eat meat but the chicken wings, for the purposes of my Lenten resolution, were not *technically* fried as they were crisped by their own sizzling fat.  The rice balls were starchy goodness, like savory rice candy.

Splitting soup is hard to do.

I mean, just...yes.  A group favorite.

The remains of chaos.

 The beet-lime soft-serve was refreshing but I was the only one really eating it because everyone else was distracted by these:

Cake batter balls could probably solve many of the world's problems.

Monday, March 5, 2012

less is more

Returning to the wall sculpture theme, my sister has been coveting these C. Jere brass urchin sculptures available through Jonathan Adler.  A cluster would look muy cool on a dining room wall.

Apologies for the mini photo!

Thanks to Martha Stewart for calling my attention to these significantly less expensive imitations, available on Jayson Home in three sizes.

It appears these have fewer needles than C. Jere's but the price is aaalllright.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

how to get your downton fix in the off-season

About an episode into Downton Abbey Season 2, which I raced through on the PBS website last week before they took it down, it struck me--suddenly yet belatedly--that the Granthams are really just the next iteration of the Forsytes, which sated the reading, listening, and viewing public's voyeurism throughout the 20th Century.

Shortly after landing my first job out of college, one of my coworkers encouraged me to make use of my new Netflix account by renting The Forsyte Saga, a British miniseries about the comings and goings of a grand family and all of their exaggerated drama (i.e., the everything-that-can-go-wrong-does storyline that we see in Downton and, let's be honest, daytime soaps).  New to the Netflix thing back then, I dutifully ordered it and made my somewhat painful way through each of the discs in the evenings, eventually hooking even my dad, who generally eschewed tv shows and movies.  At the end of it, I thought, moly, that was barely tolerable.  The acting was laughable, being done in that stylized, halting, 1960s way and the only thing that got my dad and me through it was sheer wonder at how truly awful it was.  We wondered what all the fuss was about.

Well, come to find out, I'd ordered the wrong one.  My coworker's review was based on the 2002 version--in living color!--which, coming full circle, I plan to add to my instant queue now that I, along with the rest of the world, have to wait 10-ish months until Downton Season 3.  The Forsyte Saga may not compare with Julian Fellowes's production but it cannot be worse that its 1967 BBC made-for-tv predecessor.  Which means it will do quite nicely until we find out what the Roaring Twenties bring to Downton.

Monday, February 27, 2012

minty fresh

I'm obsessed with this guy's mint pea coat, logged by's The Cut in Milan.  Given the pastels dotting street style looks at the Fall 2012 RTW shows--at least in London and Milan--I hope J.Crew or somebody makes me a wool car coat in this exact shade with those exact buttons and that exact collar for fall.  Leave it to an Italian man, not even walking in a show, to catch my eye.

I must have mint on my mind.  A few weeks ago I tried David Lebovitz's ice cream recipe using fresh leaves and 'twas delish.  (Is it me or is the warm, creamy soup better than the frozen version of itself?  Kind of like brownie batter and cookie dough.)


a stylish reason to pour yourself a drink

I recently purchased four sets of some delightfully colorful Kate Spade Prize Ball coasters.  One for me, one each for three lucky friends to be determined.  Might as well stock up.

Then I found these preppy canine coasters from Rifle Paper Co.  They're practically begging (pun intended) to be scooped up (partly intended).

I was lucky enough to receive Rifle's pale pink telephone message pad for Valentine's Day.  It makes me feel fancy and would be the perfect thing to track RSVPs for my excuse-to-use-these-cool-new-coasters party.

Friday, February 17, 2012

road trip soundtrack

Last weekend I discovered that the perfect song for driving the country roads back from Charlottesville is First Aid Kit's "Emmylou". 

For two reasons other than it being a really great song that undulates with the hills of the road.  One:  I love Emmylou Harris, specifically for her album with Mark Knopfler, which I had the pleasure of seeing them perform in concert and consistently listen to during car rides (and their song "This Is Us" was the last song played at our wedding reception.  It's the perfect last dance, if you ask me).  Two:  I'm indebted to these sisters because I actually heard their Fleet Foxes cover before I'd ever heard the Fleet Foxes.

Flippin' Swedes, teaching us how to be cool all the time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day

Wee little sugar cookies, sprinkled and lemon glazed and packed in a turquoise Fortnum & Mason tin.  They made the perfect book club contribution a few weeks ago and if I weren't so lazy I'd make a gingerbread version today.

Monday, February 6, 2012

if I had a little lamb

I don't consider myself to be much of an animal person but a BABY animal person, yes.  A certain someone promised to get me a puppy sometime in the next ten years and the prospect makes me squeal like a baby pig with excitement.

Photographer Sharon Montrose feeds the dream with her beautiful, crisp studio images of giraffe, pig, tiger, and monkey pups (technical term), available on 20x200 (whose redesign is a little annoying, to be honest).  I received her baby lamb photo as a present last year.

I love him, his earnest innocence, and the very slightly blurred wisp of his tail.  If lambs stayed small forever, I might actually skip the puppy, but I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ikat, you kat

As we're all well aware, ikat is hot, hot, hot.  The tribal effect lends an element of authenticity and an aged patina to new-world spaces and the limitless colors and patterns makes each piece seem unique.  I especially love these high-gloss, neon silk pillow covers from Material Recovery.  This ikat is steroidal.

Monday, January 23, 2012

wall flowers

I bought one of these ceramic wall tiles from Element Clay Studio for my sister for Christmas, hoping that one day I can afford to give her a couple more to create a set.  They come in micro tiles, which I purchased, as well as larger 9" squares.  They are both soft and stark, detailed and simple.  Heather's glazed bowls are pretty swell, too.

And what do you know, Dilly Pad, another Etsy seller featured on their front page yesterday, sells similar wares but in less abstract (i.e., floral) forms and with the option of a glossy finish (and, ahem, a bit less expensive).

So pretty and unique. unique as anything can be anymore.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

a few finds

I love this upgraded yet laid-back leather butterfly chair from CB2.  It would be mega cool sitting atop a flokati rug in a teenager's bedroom.

A perfectly acceptable alternative, and at $200 less, is this Urban Outfitters version.

Also adore this uber literal trash pail, which I think I found via somewhere else but now I can't remember. A plain galvanized steel bucket would work, too, and when you think about it, the handle is genius practicality.

plum is yum

A simple snack of my favorite plum chutney, cream cheese, and Carr's. I buy a few jars of chutney every year at the Appleton Farm stand at my high school's Christmas bazaar. Chutney is one of those things that sounds so rewarding to make but I know I'm never going to. I'm fine with sticking with small-batch, local (they're based in Middleburg, VA), and commercial. At some point I'll have to try Virginia Chutney Co.'s version, too. The makers were featured in the Washington Post last August and the article really paints such a quaint picture of chutney-making. Sounds like a plum life.

daily servings of fruit

After an enormous, heart rate-accelerating, food coma-inducing meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant (all I had was a taco with beans and rice...and at least a pound of chips with salsa and queso and guac...and a margarita), the whole family went home for dessert made from scratch by my brother. We should have just cut to the chase and skipped dinner - that's how delicious dessert was. Check it: Lime Pie: Not to be confused with Key Lime Pie. I might prefer regular limes. They lent a slightly tangier bite, especially as my brother had included their zest in the custard. So, so good and refreshing. You know what they say - a slice a day keeps the scurvy away. Banana Cream Pie with Bourbon Caramel Sauce: He hadn't had quite enough time to let it set but I loved its ooziness. We decided it would be perfect in ramekins as a sort of miniature trifle. I have to admit, I drizzled some of the leftover sauce onto my finger, straight from the saucepan, several times. The graham crust and whipped cream for both pies were homemade, too. Funfetti Cookies: Last and decidedly least, my contribution. The kids loved them, of course, but they were plebeian amongst the desserts that actually took time and thought and effort. It's probably for the best that I stick to simpler, boxed sweets. The last and only time I tried to make crack pie, this is what happened: Speaking of pie, this place recently opened in Georgetown. I have yet to go but I think my brother could give them a run for their money.

Friday, January 20, 2012

viaje al sur

La Creperie, Key West, Florida
December 2010
The lady sitting behind us while we ate banana and lime juice crepes asked for a glass of wine with her breakfast. Either she has a problem or she's a really cool lady. 

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West, Florida
December 2010
We went unprepared for beach-going so we strolled the grounds instead.

Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida
December 2010
Home of the best damned pina colada-rum runner combo I've ever had.

All photos by me. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

a review

I literally just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. Excellent stuff, even if I'm more than a year behind the publishing date. A note up front: It's funny how e-readers draw out books. Mine turned the already lengthy bound version (496 pages) into 947 e-pages, including the preface and epilogue. Frankly, I feel doubly proud of myself, having flicked my finger across twice as many pages as hard copy readers did. Talk about endurance. The content and writing carried me through to the end quite quickly, though, and it was an incredibly worthwhile read. It not only focuses on the Pacific arena in WWII, which I personally believe is often overlooked in favor of the European one, it literally drills down to the quotidian lives of actual soldiers, with their specific roles, ailments, memories, which are, usually necessarily, generalized and summed up in history textbooks. Upon reading Laura Hillenbrand's acknowledgements and bio, I was prompted to Google her referenced illness and learned that she has suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since college. For a book that clearly was researched meticulously and basically is an enormous string of facts and figures layered atop Louie Zamperini's life, it's striking that an author who is home-bound had the energy to do it all. Here's another stat I find bewildering and a testament to its reach and relevance: Unbroken has 2,049 Amazon reviews and counting. Well-deserved, in my book. And last but not least, Louie Zamperini is one precious old man. He'll probably get himself into trouble in Heaven for playfully pilfering angels' wings but it won't really matter because he's Louie Zamperini.