December 04, 2007

Sarah: Tool of the Week

When I went to Seattle most recently, Marci and I spent some time wandering around Sephora. One thing I tried and loved was

FOUNDATION PRIMER

There are many different kinds and brands, but each one blends weightlessly into your skin, making it feel even, soft, and smooth. The idea is that you put this primer on before any other makeup and it creates a smooth base. It made my skin feel amazing and glowy, and I'm so sad I was too broke to buy any.

Sarah: Swag

You guys know how I love free stuff, right? That's why I jumped at the chance to enter this contest. Yes, there is little chance that you or I would win, but the prizes are excellent. Go enter!

December 05, 2007

Sarah: Christmas Haiku

I wrote this for Jeremy's challenge. You should hop on over there and write a haiku also. It's fun!

Song for a Greedy Child
I made my list but
I don't think you checked it twice.
Where's the rest of it?

Something else I learned today: If you buy this Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer dvd, it includes a bonus Destiny's Child music video that appears to be in stop-motion animation. Was your mind blown like mine?

December 06, 2007

Sarah: A Message from Finals Week

Here's a good, underused word for you:
inure: to accustom to accept something undesirable
I am currently inured to my unkempt apartment.

My friends must inure my appearance this week.

Yeesh. Please take a moment to enjoy my headband that I believe I bought in the 7th grade, my PowerPuff Girls t-shirt from the 12th grade, and the makeup that is most obviously not on my face. This is the look of self-imposed exile as I study for my final. On the positive side, my dad painted that painting behind me. Those are rows of crop in a field. The painting has warm happy colors and I love it as the focal point of my living room.

I just noticed that my dry winter hands bled on my laptop keyboard. It's all class and grace around these parts. My beloved computer, pre-carnage:

Ah, G4. No one can display villanelles quite like you.

At least I have my Christmas tree to keep me company.

Most of the ornaments are hand-me-downs from my grandma. The gifts each proudly bear tags crafted by Marta.

Now it's back to the grindstone for me. I'm currently writing an essay about this poem:

Villanelle by William Empson

It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.
Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

What later purge from this deep toxin cures?
What kindness now could the old salve renew?
It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.

The infection slept (custom or change inures)
And when pain's secondary phase was due
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

How safe I felt, whom memory assures,
Rich that your grace safely by heart I knew.
It is the pain, it is the pain, endures.

My stare drank deep beauty that still allures
My heart pumps yet the poison draught of you.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

You are still kind whom the same shape immures
Kind and beyond adieu. We miss our cue.
It is the pain, it is the pain, edures.
Poise of my hands reminded me of yours.

December 07, 2007

Sarah: Self Motivation

After classes are over on Monday, I will:
- remove the chipped nail polish pathetically clinging to my fingertips and give myself a new manicure and pedicure.
- get to work on my ornaments. I have lots of ideas!
- actually shave both legs on the same day, rather than one calf or the other. Seriously, I am not up to my usual glamour standards (not that they're usually very high anyway).
- rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. I think I've found a solution to the "where the heck does one store a yoga ball in a tiny apartment" dilemma.
- get to work on the ever-lengthening list of recipes I want to try.
- finish some projects to put up in our etsy shop.
- catch up on personal email correspondence.
- get out of the "clean laundry pile, dirty laundry pile" mentality that I fall into when I'm busy.
- smell my niece's delicious baby head. I miss her.
- blog with pictures.
- fill at least one big bag of stuff to donate to goodwill. Why? Because it's Christmas time, and I have too much stuff.

Okay, now I better get back to work so that I'll be ready to enjoy the things I'd rather be doing than studying!

December 08, 2007

Sarah: Poetry

I love the first stanza especially.

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
by Adrienne Rich

My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the failure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus that said:
my bleeding is under control.

A red plant in a cemetery of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.

December 09, 2007

Sarah: Gifted

There's a story, almost a parable, of how Marcel Duchamp suspended a book of Euclidian geometry by a string outside his window for several months and in all kinds of weather, and then presented the result to his sister as a birthday present, and of course as an art object. A lovely idea. Almost a philosophical gesture, a kind of ironic critique of Euclid by the elements.
Charles Simic, Negative Capability and Its Children

Nice idea, Duchamp, but it can't hold a candle to what my brother gave me for my birthday last summer. I think this picture really captures the class and elegance of that gift:

And what a happy birthday it was.

December 11, 2007

Sarah: Quick Holiday Craft

Yesterday, fueled by adrenaline, caffeine, and one hour of sleep, I found myself feeling restless. Already at the craft store getting ornament supplies, I picked up a styrofoam wreath form.
When I got home, I cut several strips from some green coordinating fabric I had laying around from a previous project.

Then I just ironed the raw edges under and went crazy with the hot glue gun. If you try this project at home, learn from my mistakes: Hot glue will dissolve your styrofoam. While this may be a Fun With Science! moment, it will also make little craters in your wreath. Did I switch to one of the many other adhesives in my apartment at any given moment? No, because I will never give. If you insist upon using hot glue, apply the glue to the fabric, then press the glued fabric to the styrofoam. This dissolves it much less. Oh, and if you're clumsy by nature? You will burn off your fingertips. You always do.

Those dots on the bottom right side of the wreath are a few pushpins I purloined from my bulletin board. The wreath was just a little too plain. I tried to add a simple bow with my red ribbon, but my bow tying skills were not up to the task.

This project cost me about $4.50 and 20 minutes. Totally worth it!

Sorry the pictures are so fuzzy. I'm still sticking it out with only my camera phone. Hint hint, Santa!

December 12, 2007

Sarah: Noggin'

Jeremy encouraged his friends to each post a favorite holiday recipe, and my mind was swimming with possibilities. After all, my mom is a legendary great cook, so the holidays offer a dizzying array of delicious items coming from her kitchen.

One recipe that I think is different than a dozen others you might already have, is my mom's homemade eggnog. This isn't a boozey concoction, so you may have to look elsewhere if that's your sort of thing, but this is one tasty, foamy drink, and the only eggnog that I like.

Mom's Eggnog, recipe serves six people

Separate 6 eggs. Beat the yolks until thick and lemon colored and beat the whites until they make peaks, but not until they are dry.

Whip a half pint of whipping cream with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Fold these three mixtures together gently.

Add about 4 cups milk (mom says any combination of 2%, whole, or half and half that you want), another teaspoon of vanilla, a little nutmeg, and sugar until sweet (start with about 3 tablespoons and then more as needed.). You'll want to mix the milk mixture with the fluffy stuff, but only til they're about evenly distributed. You don't want to lose all of the air that you blended into the eggs and whipped cream.

Top with a little more nutmeg. Lemon zest also tastes good on top. Serve.

December 13, 2007

Sarah: Come Over for Tea and Cookies!

Christmas time inevitably makes me feel like baking, and now that school is over until January, I have a bit more free time on my hands. Last night I got started on my recipes-to-try list and made these dainty little cookies. They so so easy to make and end up sweet, light, and crunchy-yet-soft, and would go perfectly with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. I want to bundle up with a little plate of these cookies, a steaming mug of something tasty, and a friend to either watch a Christmas movie or just talk. I think these are a great cookie for parties because they're bite-size and pretty.

Russian Tea Cakes/Mexican Wedding Cakes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, hazelnuts or other nuts, toasted and finely ground (if using hazelnuts, wrap in a dishtowel while still warm and roll about until most of the brown skins come off. I used pecans.)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional, but cinnamon makes everything better, wouldn't you agree?)

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then nuts. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using, in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.

Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)

Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

Makes about 4 dozen. (Or so they claim. My batch probably made about 3 dozen, but that's still plenty!)

December 14, 2007

Lisa: Can I fluff your pillows?

All of Sarah's holiday domesticity reminded me to post about the pillows I made for our living room. Blake and I gave each other two leather armchairs for Christmas this year, and I wanted to celebrate finally having adult furniture with the addition of some pretty new throw pillows. Nice-looking throw pillows are surprisingly expensive, but I thought I could make some on the cheap using the upholstery fabric I had left over from making my needle case. $75 worth of pillow forms and fancy trims later, I got all the pieces cut out and ready to sew. Four simple seams, right? Zip, zip, zip zip, turn it inside out and stitch it up, right? Well, sort of. It is really tricky to hold the trim tight enough against the zipper foot and keep all the layers lined up straight. If I were doing this again, I'd sew the trim onto the right side of one of the pieces of fabric first, like my mom suggested.

Here are the finished pillows:

[ETA: These pictures looked fine on my monitor at home, but on my work computer they're super dark. I'll try to take some more with all the lights on!]

December 15, 2007

Lisa: A Satisfied Ewe

1) I hate the word 'ewe.' I don't know why, exactly. I think it's picturing the spelling of the word while I say it, since I don't have an aversion to saying 'you.' It's just so completely NOT spelled phonetically. It is saying, "Just try to sound me out, young reader! I am ready to trick you, HAHAHAHA!"

Whatever, shut up. It's distracting.

2) I appreciate a good pun as much as the next person. Puns in product and/or business names can be clever, incorporating multiple relevant meanings. But a pun for no reason is just using the WRONG WORD.

Case in point:

Mutton is not on the menu, and this restaurant's clientele does not include sheep. So...why? And this is just gratuitous:

That said, their Navajo Tacos are tasty.

December 16, 2007

Sarah: Tagged

If you're still putting the finishing touches on your Christmas gifts, I would suggest that you consider using these gift tags at Angry Chicken. I've needed each of these tags at least once in my gift-giving life, and they're free to simply print and use on your own. Enjoy!

December 18, 2007

Sarah: I was interviewed

by Jeremy and you can read it here if you're interested.

And no, I don't consider myself an internet celebrity. I just consider Jeremy very nice.

December 20, 2007

Lisa: another man's treasure

I can never resist the seasonal aisle in the grocery store, mostly because of atrocities like this:

Yes, you are reading that right. Holiday. Hip-hop. Doberman. Who dances and raps Jingle Bells. Who twists and moves to the groove. Thank goodness I am not the first person to document this. I'm not sure why this toy is so specific--why is it not enough just to be a holiday doberman? Or a hip-hop doberman? Or a holiday hip-hop...person? The good news is that if you are in the dog-owning hip-hop-blasting christian kitschy-animatronic-singing-toy-loving demographic this product targets, the Holiday Hip-Hop Doberman can be yours for only $14.99. Brought to you by your friendly neighborhood grocer!

Lisa: Free Rice

If you enjoy...

a) Word games
b) The self-satisfaction that comes with having a higher vocabulary level than other people
c) Wasting time at work
d) Ending world hunger
e) Flashbacks to the ever-increasing-difficulty structure of the GRE exam
OR
f) All of the above

...then you should go play FreeRice. They give 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program for every word you get right.

(Thanks, Shifted Librarian!)

December 22, 2007

Lisa: Muffuletta

This year, the girls exchanged gifts at Jason's Deli, a chain that prominently features the muffaletta on its menu. No one in our group wanted to order the muffaletta, because we didn't know what it was (and no one wanted to ask what it was, for fear of looking dumb). Also, we couldn't bear to involve ourselves in a dialogue including the words "whole, half, or quarter muff."

Thanks to Wikipedia, I can now report that the muffaletta is a huge sandwich defined by its bread (a round, foccacia-type bread, not a muffin or English muffin as some of us guessed) and by the presence of a spread made of olives.

In other Jason's menu news, a Po'Boy is a sub sandwich made on a baguette, and "Spud au Broc" joins "Moons Over My Hammy" and its compatriots in the category of "menu items too embarassing to order by name."

Sarah: Home for the Holidays

Quotes from my awesome parents:

Mom: Are you a nappy-headed ho?

Dad: Don't squeeze the jugs too hard. *Snicker*

December 24, 2007

Sarah: Early Edition

Friends,
Fate has selected me to right the wrongs of today, by presenting me with Wednesday's newspaper at the grocery store checkout. It is Monday, so I have 48 hours to change the headline "Fountain Green Council hears about county detective again, remains non-committal" to something more exciting. Or at least more concise.

December 25, 2007

Sarah: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

December 26, 2007

Sarah: Your Slip is Showing

Note to self: Though it may amusingly remind you of a previous slipping experience, slipping and falling flat on my back in the middle of my horrifically icey driveway while carrying a cast-iron pot and a set of knives (safe!) was not the most pleasant way to end my Christmas vacation. It was, however, a very effective way to get a bruise that covers the majority of my elbow.

Lisa: a stake of truth

Blake: (Science talk)
Lisa: ...
Blake: Sorry for being a wonder killer.
Lisa: You're like a non-wonder killer. You kill the wonder I wasn't even wondering about.
Blake: I'm like a vampire slayer, but my stake is the truth!
Lisa: HA! Aw, I wish you could kill vampires with the truth. (Voices) "You use too much hair gel." "Aaah! I'm melting!"

December 28, 2007

Sarah: The Perils of Dating

This made me laugh. And also made me glad that I don't own a papizan chair. Have a good weekend, I'm going home to rethink the items currently displayed on my fridge.
Warning: There are one or two bad words in that link. Click at your own risk.

December 31, 2007

Lisa: chocolate chip cookies

As part of the splurge that precedes every good diet, I made chocolate chip cookies. Not just ANY chocolate chip cookies, mind you--these cookies from Gourmet on Epicurious, found via Super Eggplant. These cookies are by far the best I have ever made. They are big, chewy without being too thin or raw, and completely delicious. Blake ate three, which is saying something considering his usual abhorrence of sweets. The recipe is kind of finicky (yes, I actually measured out 1 3/4 tablespoons of an egg), but I followed every step except for flattening the mounds of dough with a moistened palm. Gross, right? Anyway, they spread out just fine on their own. [Recipe after the jump in case that link ever dies.]

Thanks, Sarah, for your help--and for the use of your hand mixer after mine ingested its own power button. On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know how to get melted butter out of clothing? Washing it in cold just makes little butter balls on the surface, and I'm afraid hot will just melt it back in again.

For those of you who are much more domestically advanced than I am (and I don't kid myself, that is probably most people), regular chocolate chip cookies might seem too elementary. To you I give Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze. You're welcome.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gourmet | October 2003
Adapted from Carla Rollins

Active time: 35 min Start to finish: 2 hr

Servings: Makes about 28 large (4 1/2-inch) cookies.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 oz)

Preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.

Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.

Cooks' note:

Cooled cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.