July 31, 2009

And the Living Is Busy

photo by lady_Lalaith

Friends: I am moving next week, and loosing my internet this week. Coupled with lots of work, I am taking a quick break from this blog. A blog vacation; a blog-ation!

I'll be back mid-august...so don't desert me. I hope to be premiering a few things then too, including a lunch diary, reviews of my summer reading, some fun stuff about jams, and hopefully some updates to the look of the blog!

I *will* continue to post on Little Lamb Books, so check it out. I'll be reviewing some great favorites, and some new discoveries too!

See you in August.

Everything I need to know about Wagner

I learned from Looney Tunes...

July 30, 2009

Quote: Ruskin

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a litle worse and sell a little cheaper and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.

--John Ruskin

July 29, 2009

Which Will

Which will you go for?
Which will you love?
Which will you choose from?
From the stars above

Which will you answer?
Which will you call?
Which will you take for
For your one and all?

And tell me now
Which will you love the best?

Which do you dance for?
Which makes you shine?
Which will you choose now?
If you won’t choose mine

Which will you hope for?
Which can it be?
Which will you take now?
If you won’t take me

And tell me now
Which will you love the best?

(Which Will, by Nick Drake.)

July 28, 2009

Flickr Meme

For the record, I hate (hate!) that "Flickr" is missing its "e". I don't understand it at all, and I don't like it at all. This is the major reason why I have not used flickr much--I'm holding out.

But this is a fun idea for a meme, and I need pretty things to look at today. I altered the questions from the original meme, because some were lame or incongruous. One, for example, was "What is you favorite word?" When your favorite word is "wonder" and you have to show a picture, how do you avoid the wonder bread sign, or the wonder wheel sign. I don't love the word "bread" or "wheel"--just wonder. (Of course, after I wrote all that, I found the above photo...)
Anyway, I changed some questions, deleted others. I hope you like these photos. Some are really self-explanatory. Others, not so much. I do like them all...

what is your name?

Originally uploaded by LawrenceOP

what is you favorite food?

Originally uploaded by DisneyMike

where do you live?

Originally uploaded by Dan_DC

what is your favorite color?

Originally uploaded by -BurningRubber-

who is your favorite disney princess?

Originally uploaded by mystixsf_721
(Ok, she's not a princess. But she is my favorite...)

favorite drink?

Originally uploaded by quinn.anya

dream vacation?

Originally posted by lady.lalaith

favorite dessert?

Originally uploaded by Vico Gallo

dream job?

Originally uploaded by deeeeaaaan

what do you love most in life?

Originally uploaded by ksmecwan

what do you dream about?

Originally uploaded by Uncle-Kick-Kick

July 27, 2009

Random Shopping Lists

I've said this before...but, I really want a scooter. Really.

Also, this paperclip holder is SO CUTE. I can't handle it. I think it might be too cute for any real utility, but I just love it.

Finally: There's a summer sale at Chronicle Books. Which means I can finally restock my cookbook collection.

Quote: Katherine Anne Porter

I'm reading a collection of short stories by Katherine Anne Porter, as part of my American summer, and in the introductions she said this, which I thought was marvellous look into the emotional and literary process of a writer:
"Holiday" represents one of my prolonged struggles, not with questions of form or style, but my own moral and emotional collision with a human situation I was too young to cope with at the time it occurred; yet the story haunted me for years and I made three separate versions, with a certain spot in all three where the thing went off track. So I put it away, and it disappeared also, and I forgot it. It rose from one of my boxes of papers, after a quarter of a century, and I sat down in great excitement to read all three versions. I saw at once the first was the right one, and as for the vexing questions which had stopped me short long ago, it has in the course of living settled itself so slowly and deeply and secretly I wondered why I had ever been distressed by it.

July 23, 2009

My Friend Eric Is Awesome

Can't wait for this. Eric went to Columbia to make a film about two brothers. Here's the extra footage and some commentary.

Also, his sister made a driving saftey film (below). I think it is really well done. I know I cried because their brother really was killed by a drunk driver, but there is also something really universal about this. Every death by drunk driving affects a whole string of people seemingly unrelated. "The Other Driver" is very good, so vote for it here.

July 22, 2009

My Other Favorite British Actor

Lets me talk to you a little bit about that word "favorite." I have lots of favorites. Anyone who knows me knows that I'll say "This is the best ever" for 15 different kinds of raspberry jam. And I'm not being dishonest--I really mean it--just with a list of qualifications. Tackle Box is the best ever (seafood in DC for under $20 a plate).

When I do use the word favorite, I really mean favorite. Something I love utterly and completely with no reservations. When it comes to art, artists, actors, writers, etc. this means that I love every piece of their work that I've ever seen, but not that their work is at the top of my list otherwise. That is, Brideshead Revisited is my favorite book, but Graham Greene is my favorite novelist. Perhaps this is a tenuous distinction. Perhaps not. I'm just telling you what I mean.

For a long time there was only one actor I could definitely call a favorite: Michael Caine. I have never seen a performance of his that I didn't love; even in films I do not like, I still marvelled at his performance (Sleuth). I also like that he never shies away from a "small" part; as far as I am concerned, he is the reason to watch Batman Begins, The Dark Night, and The Prestige--though his role is smaller in each and the other performances are very fine. (Let's also just say, for the record, his best performance really is in The Quiet American.)

I think, though, that Bill Nighy is about to inherit the mantle "favorite." So far, everything I have seen him in has been brilliant. Wry and sassy on the surface, but tough as nails underneath, he is incredibly versatile. He can be the inadequate but charming father in I Capture the Castle, the washed-up cocky pop-star in Love Actually and the fearless smart-ass newspaper publisher in State of Play and not miss a beat.

Long a fixture in British cinema, Nighy is only recently becoming a recognizable face to American movie-goers, thanks in a large part to his role as the villain Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. He's won numerous BAFTAs, and a Golden Globe. And his performance in Love Actually merited the "Peter Sellers Award for Comedy" in 2003. And now, rumors confirmed, he is gaining the single highest honor for a British Actor alive today: he is joining the cast of the last two Harry Potter films as Rufus Scrimgeour, the new head of the Ministry of Magic.

He's going to be awesome in it...I'm certain. Oh, did I mention he's married to Diana Quick. And I just love those dark and awkward eye glasses...

July 21, 2009

Moroccan Tomato Soup

It's beastly and muggy here in DC--the first really bad week we've had in a while. It makes my head spin. So, as soon as I get to the farmers market and pick up some newly ripe tomatoes, I'll be making this Moroccan Tomato Soup (chilled, but hot too...with cayenne and cilantro):
5 medium cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
2 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/4 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
4 stalks celery, diced.

1. In a small saucepan, stir together the garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne and olive oil. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with a large disk. Stir in the cooked spice mixture, the cilantro, vinegar, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, celery and 2 tablespoons water. Add more salt as desired. Refrigerate until cold. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Serves 4.
Nota Bene: If you don't have a food mill, you can use an immersion blender, or an upright blender--but gently.

July 20, 2009

Fly Me To The Moon!

You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that today is the 40th Anniversary of the Lunar landing. My father likes to rail against the space program as one of the most ludicrous and worthless wastes of money of the federal government, but then he is also completely gripped every time he watches Apollo 13.

I don't mind the space program at all, personally. It has lost a lot of its magic, though I wonder if part of that is just bad marketing. Just because we can imagine entire worlds other than ours, doesn't mean that the universe we live in is less mystical.

All the same, I forget about the heavens a lot. Living in a city, rare is the night where I can see the moon, let alone stars and constellations. My porch balcony faces due north, but only very late at night can I make out the North Star and little dipper. When we lived in Napa, from our driveway we could see the dog star, Orion, and the monthly zodiac. Those stars were my friends, and I would finally feel home when I would climb out of the car, after a full day and a 6 hour flight, and look up to the sky, before climbing the steps to the house.

Man has always had a relationship with the heavens. The ancients names the constellations and planets after their stars, and came to understand our world through them. That still stands today. So long as we keep looking to the unknown heavens with a sense of wonder, we are able to understand both how small we are in comparison, but also how great we are, in that God made all this for our enjoyment, health, happiness and wonder.

Which makes this film, fourth in a series (1, 2, 3) of stirring commercials, all the more powerful. What is the point of all this exploration, after all, if it doesn't cause us to contemplate the variety and glory of life which we've been given.

(HT:American Papist)

July 19, 2009

Good Advice

when you lie on the beach in the shade of a fabulous umbrella, and you fall asleep, make sure you've put sunscreen on the soles of your feet. sunburn on your toes is pretty darn painful.

July 17, 2009

Meatless Meals: Elsewhere

I'm lazy this week (though I do have a few recipes stored up...) so I thought I'd let others do the talkin this week:

1) Atlantic Monthly's food coverage is actually pretty good. For examples, check out this article (with recipe) about the blold and delicious bluefish. Then stop by Tackle Box and have some of their wood-grilled bluefish. Perfect.

2) Corn hasn't hit the markets here yet, but when it does, I will for sure be making some of this beautiful corn, avocado, and tomato salad (pictured above). From Sunset Magazine.

3) On my list of things to accomplish this summer: master a pizza dough recipe. So I can make this, and this, and this.

4) There is a growing trend in food magazines to do the eco-friendly thing, and cut down consumption of meat by going vegetarian for one day a week. Now the trend is becoming an organized movement, with a website, AND Wikipedia page. The bloggers for their website have even commented on one of my posts. So I say, for the record, that I don't eat meat of fridays for religious reasons, and I won't be switching to monday for some political reason either. I'm not doing this because it is chic. I'm doing it as a sacrifice for the unborn and for the health of the church. But, isn't it interesting, that an ancient custom of the Church happens to be good for the Earth too. I promise, this isn't the first time.

Ok. I'm off the soapbox. Lets go eat.

Anna is 21!

I think it is much more fun celebrating other people's 21st birthday than your own. There are all these false expectations about your own. Anyway, my sister Anna is 21. Which is awesome. And here's a German "Anna" Cocktail (afterdinner, herb-based) just for her (and fittingly, it is her favorite color!):

4 Dash Angostura-Bitters
2 jigger Cognac
4 jigger Chartreuse grĂ¼n

Add over ice to a shaker. Strain, and serve in highballs.

(Now, Anna, you can really say: "No more for me thanks, I'm driving.")

July 16, 2009

Let There Be Cuckoo's!

I love Nat King Cole, and I love this song. He had more style than anyone--just watch him play:

July 15, 2009

July 14, 2009

Poem of the Week: Evelyn Underhill

I COME in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set My Feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell, in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
In your strait garden plot I come to flower:
About your porch My Vine
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Waits, at the threshold, Love’s appointed hour.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yea! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprize
Of motherhood—
There doth My Godhead rest.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit My stature to your need.
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead—
As man, to speak with man—
Till by such art
I shall achieve My Immemorial Plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.

--Evelyn Underhill

July 13, 2009

What I Did on Saturday:

“To God who has so abundantly blessed the church through the Dominican Order; may the Order of Preachers, under the mantle of the Mother of God, continue to flourish in fraternal love purified in obedience to the truth.”
--Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P.

(HT: Whispers)

call me baby driver

I've been exploring pandora recently. I like it, but I find it pretty annoying at times. It cannot grasp the subtelty of my tastes. I love Gillian Welch, but I don't like many other female bluegrass acts, especially not Lucinda Williams, or Allison Kraus. (Ok, ok, I do like Kraus, but only sometimes, preferably live, when she's sings roots music, and certainly not on crappy computer speakers that make her voice shrill.)

It got me thinking about my favorite music, and artists, and I would like to spend a moment sharing with you how much I love love love love Simon and Garfunkel. It's really too bad that the only song that gets played is Mrs. Robinson. It's also pretty sad that Simon and Garfunkel broke up after only 5 studio albums. Because neither of them is good enough without the other.

Simon was a fantastic songwriter. From the carefree Feelin' Groovy (yes, 2dannyc89, it IS the happiest song on Earth) to the poetic Dangling Conversation to the powerful and timely Sounds of Silence--Simon could write anything. Inspried by folk music and gospel (their first albumfeatures three religious/gospel tunes, including a lovely 2 part Benedictus.) And Garfunkel had the voice--what a voice! They complimented each other perfectly, and brought out the best in each other.

I could never pick a favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. I tend to like the deeper tracks best: Baby Driver, At the Zoo, Bleeker Street, Punky's Dilema (best opening line ever). But I also love Feelin' Groovy and Homeward Bound was the first rock song I ever loved.

Simon & Garfunkel have the (to me, perfect) blend of rock and folk influences. I was thrilled, then, to discover this demo recording of them singing my favorite folk ballad, Barbara Allen:

Lovely. Love you S&G. I'm glad you got back together for a while so I could see you in concert, even if you voice cracked a little.

If you care/are interested, these are my Pandora Stations:
1) Catch the Wind: britsh and american folk-rock, featuring Nick Drake, Ray LaMontagne, and Gillian Welch. And anything with the word "Sunshine" in it.
2) 'Round Midnight: features instrumental jazz, especially the piano.
3) Ave Maris Stella: gregorian chant and early pholphony
4) Modern Classical: based on Ralph Vaughn Williams' Fantastia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis--I'm still working on this one.

July 10, 2009

Meatless Meals: Tomato Tart

The title says it all: "Oh. My. Gah." This Tomato tart with garlic and basil crust from a new favorite food blog Ezra Pound Cake (hahahaha) looks utterly divine, and I am determined to make it as soon as the heirlooms arrive in the market. Get the recipe here.

July 09, 2009

Partly Cloudy

It's made the rounds already, but this pixar short is lovely. And so is the Anchoress' tie in with Caritas in Veritate.

Speaking of C in V, here's some commentary from Catholic World Report. I haven't read it, nor the encyclical, so I can't say anything more yet.

And, for the record, I think I love this Pixar Short even more than Luxo, Jr.

Faces of the City: Metro edition

40 something, in a blue striped shirt, dark tie, no jacket. He was chuckling to himself, and I caught sight of a Pixar short playing on his iPod. I'm glad I'm not the only one laughing out loud on the metro.

* * *
Top of the escalator, hang a left. There you'll meet a man and a woman, in a full on "first kiss as Man and Wife" style embrace, complete with a dog on a leash trying to get away, and her left foot swept up into the air. They were older, actually...not some young brash kids. And that made it kind of cute.

July 08, 2009


Dear Trader Joe's:

I would gladly lay down my life for you in gratitude for your chocolate covered blueberries.

Yours, ever,
Margaret Perry

July 06, 2009

Prayers for Honduras

So many things are going on in this world that need prayers--its always hard to keep track and prioritize. I honestly haven't been paying much attention to what's been going on in Honduras, but this morning I realized I should be, because I have a good friend there. Miss Byers is volunteering for a Franciscian Mission in Comayauga, Honduras, building a children's library. She is a remarkable woman, and I was not at all surprised to hear she has decided to stay in Honduras in spite of the turmoil.

Emily sent out an email requesting prayers, and I can only spread the word. Here is a Novena to Mary for the help of Christians, which I encourage you all to pray.

Emily is able to update her blog, so if you want to keep abreast of what's going on from the perspective of a missionary, visit the blog often. You can also leave messages for the missionaries in the comment box of this post.

St. Therese of Liseux, pray for us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

(Photo from Emily's Honduras Flckr Stream)

July 05, 2009

The Fourth

Washington's 4th of July Fireworks display was really this beautiful. Even from 3 miles away, on the 16th floor of an Arlington High Rise.

July 03, 2009

I can't believe

I spent my entire life not liking olives and pistachios.

I wonder if I'll feel the same way about blue cheese and pickles one day.

Meatless Meals: Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Oh my word. I don't like Red Lobster, but their commercials make me crave seafood so badly. Recently, I have been pursuing the perfect piece of shrimp. I happened to find it at Bodega, but, as I described the rice was even better. But it didn't really satiate the craving--or maybe it just accentuated it--so the other day Miss Hale came over and I made this delicious almost-no-cook salad. It is perfect for a drippingly hot summer day. This serves 2 as a full meal.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad:

1/2 lb cooked and deveined medium size shrimp (if frozen, thaw)
4 cups Arugula or Watercress
3 tbl grated parmesean or pecorino
3 scallions, sliced
3 tbl good quality pitted olives, coarsely chopped
juice of 1/2 large lemon, or 1 small lemon, or 1 1/2 limes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Heat some olive oil in a skillet with salt and pepper over medium heat, and throw in the shrimp to heat and brown a little.

Meanwhile, squeeze the lemon into the bottom of your serving salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and pour in the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking. (Ratio for dressings: 1 part acid to 2 part oil.) Add the arugula, scallions, olives and cheese, and toss till leaves are coated with the dressing.

When the shrimp is heated and a little browned (no more than 3 minutes, again on medium heat), take it off the heat. Seperate the salad into two bowls, and top with the shrimp. Finally, cut the avocado in half and, with a teaspoon, scoop out rounds of flesh scattering them on top of the salad, one half avocado per serving.

Serve with fresh bread. Serves 2 as full meal or 4 as starter or side salad

July 02, 2009

Bodega + Founding Farmers

Recently, with a guest in town and my great Aunt's birthday, I had a chance to do some fine dining. Or semi-fine dining, depending on the experience.

Friday night I finally made it to Bodega, a tapas restaurant in Georgetown. I had been hearing about it for months from Mr. Newton, and finally made it there, with him and some other friends. It was a delight. Mr. Newton ordered for us, which was charming, and he knew his way around the menu, so everything was perfect. Best of all was my main plate, a saffron infused rice with grilled shrimp. The shrimp was delicious, but the rice was truly some of the best rice I've ever had in my life. I could only bear to give away one bite.

Saturday's dinner was not as thrilling. Taking my Aunt out for her 77th birthday, to dinner and Madeleine Peyroux. I wanted a special night for her, so I took her to Founding Farmers, which I heard amazing things about. From first impression to last, it was a disappointment. Upon entering the restaurant, you are met with a wall of pickles (ok, kinda cool), and a staircase. You don't really know where to turn, and there isn't any easy space to sit down and wait for a table. We had a reservation, so we were seated quickly, but it was terribly noisy, and they seated us in the busiest part of the restaurant, behind the bar. My poor aunt couldn't hear a thing.

The menus looked amazing, but the food and drinks were a huge disappointment. Our waiter was rarely available to answer questions. My Aunt loves scotch, and when she ordered one, calling my Aunt "dear" in the most patronizing way, he said "we have lots of scotch." but didn't elaborate further. They were out of anything decent, but instead of suggesting a small craft distillery, or offering the list of available scotch he stood patiently by as she fumbled, and ordered a Cutty Shark. I was about ready to walk out then. My "finely and personally crafted (no substitutions please)" mixed drink tasted like an Izze Soda.

The food was good, I'll admit. The "Bacon Lollies," brown sugar + cinnamon glazed thick slab bacon, was not as amazing as it sounds--it was almost a sweet Jerky, but not as flavourful. My chicken salad was delicious--roasted chicken, blueberries and golden beets, cherry tomatoes, and crisp lettuce. And my Aunt's "straw and hay" pasta--peas, asparagus, bacon, cream sauce--was super yummy, though her portion could have served 4 comfortably.

We waited another 10 minutes for the check, which then was wrong--twice charged for the good scotch that they were out of--and when we finally got out of there I was pretty upset. I might try it again. I was so disappointed, because I have to admit, if I ever ran a restaurant, it would have this menu, with this detailed attention to the glories of American cuisine. But I won't be heading back anytime soon.

July 01, 2009

Wednesday Shopping: Little Miss Handmade

I have a strict rule when it comes to babies. I only buy books. I have only broken this rule and handful of times, usually because something was so ridiculously cute I could not resist. I have this rule for two simple reasons: 1) I like books best and have, if I may say so, pretty good taste and 2) if I didn't limit myself I would buy these adorable children EVERYTHING. And, I'll tell you, I was sorely tempted to break my rules over the past few days as I discovered some truly delightful things on Etsy. So here's a special Wednesday Shopping, brought to you by desperate mothers everywhere.

1) StickyTiki's Babushka Wall Decals may just make an appearance in my own home...

2) What child doesn't need Llama Slippers, I ask you? From Scandeez

3) Much like popping packing bubbles, plush toys that make crinkle noises are incredibly cathartic, even for adults. Why not get a cute one with Elephants. If elephants aren't your thing Shop Spotted Elephant has many more.

4) It's never too early to start teaching a child about art and perspective. This mobile does both, inspired by the cutouts of Matisse.

5) These vibrant silk-screen prints will class up any nursery. Jen Hewett also has Turtle, Giraffe, and Otter, as well as the adorable Sheep.

(P.S. Ladies and Gentlemen, and my faithful readers who have been with me from the beginning, this is my 500th post!)

Delightful (Nonna)

The Sartorialist