Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Pattern Venture

I have a complicated relationship to patterns. In my design work, I use them often (and with gusto!). In my personal life (clothes, home decor), not so much. Thank goodness for all the windows in my home, because I seem to only decorate in dark tones. “Like an English library,” I say to Dan, explaining away the Victorian swooning sofa and dead flowers I insist on keeping.

The truth is, dark colors make me feel safe. If you found a photo of me from 1993, the heyday of my sartorial deviance, you would see a dazzle combination of prints: florals on polka dots, with jauntily striped ankle socks thrown in. The nineties were a confusing time for us all.

As I get older, I find myself most comfortable in the muted and monochromatic. Patterns can feel dated, like my school pictures. But one can also go too far. I looked around our den the other day and found that every single thing in it was a shade of brown or black. A shaggy rug the color of an aged bear’s hide. Wooden coffee table. Even the lampshades are black. So I’m on a search for a bright burst of color for this room, for starters. A printed rug? Curtains? Here are some prints I’ve been eying. The only requirement is that they go well with black.

prints

One: Hackney and Co. | Two: The Needle Shop | Three: Eloise Renouf | Four: Dear Pumpernickel

Travel Daydreams

I’m lucky to be flying to sunnier climes this coming month (once to Texas for business–more on that soon–then down to Florida for fun), but even so, it’s been awhile since we’ve taken a long trip together, just the two of us. For nostalgia’s sake, I combed through some of our favorite snapshots from previous vacations.

Our honeymoon in Italy. So many beautiful sunbathers.photo of coastline in Italy

A lazy stay in South Carolina.photo of flowers in South Carolina

San Francisco, city of my heart.photo of San Francisco's Painted Ladies

Mexico, land of fiery sunsets and perfect breakfast tacos.photo of sunset in Mexico

 

A bubbles-filled trip to Napa for the New Year.photo of Napa Valley vineyard

Out of the Ditch

This weekend, we did a bit of a stupid thing. There was a blizzard in Cleveland, yet we decided it would be okay to drive to Columbus. A trip that would have usually taken two and a half hours took a full six hours. Somewhere in the middle, we may have been waiting for a tow truck in a white-out. One of us may have had to pee on the side of the road, nearly falling into a bank of snow in the process.

But then it was over, we were safe and warm with one hyper dog jumping on our laps, a pizza party to attend, and a few rousing rounds of bowling to cap the night. The moment we got back into our own home in Cleveland, I began chopping vegetables. I got out the thyme and the Bisquick (we DID after all go through an ordeal, I reasoned). And while Dan shoveled a mountain of snow from our drive, I made the ultimate of all comforting food: chicken and dumplings.

photo of chicken and dumpling soup

My recipe–if you can call it that–isn’t gourmet. It isn’t traditional (I used Bisquick, I should remind you). It was just one of those rib-stickingly good meals you need every once in awhile. Soft vegetables, creamy sauce, shredded chicken. We’re having it again tonight, and we’ll likely make another batch before spring hits. All great adventures should end so well.

Weekend Eggs

I call these weekend eggs, because they require patience and a measure of laziness. You need the following:

  • a late morning in which the snow has piled just enough to make the neighborhood diner seem worlds too far away,
  • flannel pajamas you’ve had since high school, with or without a tiny tell-tale hole in the hip,
  • and a cup of hot coffee or tea, prepared in advance and poured in your favorite wide-lipped mug.

These are fussy eggs, but worth it. The product is a decadent palmful of creamy, custardy goodness. And a palmful, along with a buttered English muffin, is really all you need.

photo of creamy and delicious eggs

Weekend Eggs   serves 2

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pat butter (I use half a tablespoon, but only because I’m dieting. You can use a whole tablespoon and it will be delicious.)
  • 1 cup baby spinach (optional)
  • S & P to taste

Melt your butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it’s foamy, swirl it around the pan and bring the heat to the lowest setting. Beat the eggs with milk, salt, and pepper, then add to the pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally as you see solids forming. During the last couple minutes of cooking, throw in your spinach and let it wilt while mixing it in with the eggs.

*Fair warning: your skillet will need some soaking afterwards. These eggs tend to stick in mine.

A Library Trip

black and white photo of bookshelf

Working from home, I don’t get out as much as I used to. It’s a regrettable, though unavoidable part of freelance life. So, during these chilly days of January, I’ve been making an effort to walk more, to capture a bit of that fleeting sun before it vanishes. I also seem to be reading faster, flying through books, then putting more on reserve at the library.

After my lunch, I pull on my snow boots, which keep my feet toasty even when there is no snow, and a hat (which I rarely wear except in extreme circumstances), and walk fifteen minutes to our nearest library. Growing up, nothing was more exciting  than a trip to the library–stacks of books, bright posters, those great little bean bags they’d toss on the floor for the kids. It was nice to feel that anticipation again. One day, while it was particularly cold, I found that the library was closed for another twenty minutes. New hours. I sat on a bench and waited.

In the course of those few minutes, many people walked by. They looked to me to explain the new hours. I shrugged, pointing them to the  sign on the door. Everyone was very disgruntled, and for some reason, that seemed a little funny to me.

One woman huffed. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t have time for this.”

Another man found ulterior motives. “They’re just doing this so they can lay people off.”

My favorite, an elderly gentleman with earmuffs, became agitated and said to me, “Well, I’M going to wait in the car.”

I, shivering on my bench, wondered if that was a force of habit. It felt like something he said often to his wife, jiggling his keys at the doorway of a Macy’s. Then the library opened and flooded with readers. It was warm and well lit, and I gathered my books on reserve, adding a few more for good measure. As I was leaving, I heard someone say, “These new hours. Did anyone even bother to ask US first?”