Monthly Archives: April 2009

Another Postcard from California: Mari Balls, Part II

From JH:

my mother's use of mari balls

my mother's use of mari balls

Do you remember the Japanese mari balls that I’m currently using as curtain ties in my dressing room? Have a look at how my mom has made use of them––she’s strug them in twos from an antique game rack alongside weathered temple bells. The contrast between the bright, bouyant mari balls and the heavy bells is so beautiful, I think.  And I love the idea of mounting the rack over a built-in bookshelf. It’s so unexpected. Plus, nothing is permanent here. It can all be changed so easily!

clever use of a game rack

the full installation

 

my mother's mari up close

my mother's mari up close

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Filed under Gift Ideas, Reimagining, Simple Syrup

A Room with a View

From DW:

my morning view

my morning view

I think that what you see the moment you open your eyes is crucial to the way your day could go. Undeniably, some people are more sensitive than others to their environment (my mother generously calls it “my environmental awareness;” the truth is, I like things spare). You may not even realize how something in your space is affecting you until you fix it!

I did a little bedroom revamp recently and I have been amazed by its effect on my mood. Above is what I now wake up to in the morning. The Felix Gonzalez-Torres  photocopy was a freebie from the Venice Biennale. The rug is from Nest.

Here’s what had to happen:

filling cracks in wall with joint compond

filling cracks in wall with joint compound

Looking at the cracks in the walls every day was starting to get to me, so I filled them in with joint compound and painted the entire room Benjamin Moore’s Oyster.

my  bedroom window before caulking

my bedroom window before caulking

I also replaced the cruddy window sill with a new piece of wood. I nailed it down, sealed the cracks with caulk, and painted it white––huge difference.                                                     

window after caulking

window after caulking

The window is still old and a little wonky, but so much cleaner-looking.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, On the Cheap, Raw Materials

Postcard from California

From JH:

the lemon tree in the backyard

the lemon tree in my family's backyard

I’ll be back in a week! xxJH

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Filed under Simple Syrup

The Growth of a Garden: Part 3

From JH:

the greenhouse

the greenhouse

 

It’s Saturday! There’s been a lot of progress this week. The tomatoes are much higher than they were last weekend, and their stems have grown a very soft fuzz. The arugula and tennis ball lettuces continue to hold (I’m not exactly sure how the tennis ball lettuces will work their way into their namesake’s tightly-wound balls, but I trust they’ll find their way). The cayenne pepper sprouted (!). All but two reluctant pellets (mustard habañero peppers) are showing some signs of life. 

 

cayenne peppers

cayenne peppers and arugula (right)

 

tommy toe tomatoes

austin red pear tomatoes

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gardening, The Growth of a Garden

Try This: Framing Wallpaper

From JH:

osborne & little in my living room

osborne & little in my living room

Here’s how it happened: I wanted to wall-paper the protruding wall behind the couch. JB did not. I thought it would bring the necessary grandeur to the otherwise ordinary space (in fact, I would have wall-papered the entire room if he’d allowed it, but, baby steps). He thought it’d be money wasted because we wouldn’t be able to take the wall with us when we eventually moved (we rent; he had a point). But then I fell so hard for Osborne & Little’s “Savernake” (after the English forest) that I bought a roll, anyways. One month later, it was still stashed in my clothes closet, waiting for…what? My purchase of an apartment? Not going to happen anytime soon. I had to start thinking…

Then I remembered the many (17) frames I had stored in the basement (left-overs from my single-girl apartment in Manhattan; I’d covered my kitchen walls in pages from Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosity). What if I framed wallpaper in pieces? Would it bother me if the pattern didn’t line up perfectly? I wouldn’t know until I tried. Above is the end result. I actually like that the print is a bit off; it’s much less stuffy that way, but the point is still clear. And the best part is––I can change it when I get tired of it! $100-or-so for one roll of new wallpaper is a small price to pay for a look-changer. If I had my way I might switch the brown-and-white out for the lavender version of the same print in the spring:

osborne & little "savernake"

osborne & little "savernake"

Next up: Reupholstering that couch! Stay tuned…

TIP: To hang pictures in perfectly aligned collages, use a Black&Decker laser level. I owe JB for that one.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, On the Cheap, Reimagining

Hard-Boiled: The Truth About Eggs

From DW:

the ellusive egg

the elusive egg

  I grew up in a restaurant kitchen, and I have worked in several.  

I consider myself an intuitive, if lazy cook. I do not have the careful patience of JH and JB (my sous vide was disastrous),  but  I am comfortable and familiar with recipes and can improvise with ease.

This weekend  however, I decided to make devilled eggs for SS as a nod to Greek Easter, and because, frankly, I thought it would be a cinch.

The truth be told, my confidence drained…I can’t boil an egg. When it came time to peel, the shells did not come away easily and the whites broke away with the peel. After a little research, I learned a few things that are probably common knowledge:

Julia Child’s Egg Technique:

Immerse uncooked eggs in pot of tepid water, put pot onto simmer, not boil, simmer for 6-7 minutes, turn off burner and allow eggs to sit 17 minutes. Plunge eggs in a cold ice water bath for a few minutes.

Pour out ice water.

If you can leave them eggs in fridge overnight or for a few days, do. Fresh eggs are the hardest to peel!

Put eggs in a pot and roll the eggs around so the shells are shattered.

Peel eggs under running cold water , slice in half lengthwise with a sharp, concise knife.

If yolks are gooey at all, you cannot devil (yolk won’t mix with mayo and it becomes rubbery) but, they are still delicious simply, with sesame oil and salt.

Here are some easy devilled egg recipes.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, On the Cheap

Plant a Tree

From JH:

rice hull japanese maple kit

rice hull japanese maple kit

In celebration of Earth Day: A biodegradable Rice Hull Gardens tree-starting kit from Potting Shed Creations. It has everything you need to grow a Japanese Maple.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gardening, Gift Ideas