Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Roses for Governor!

We spent a couple of hours this morning without power.  It has been absurdly windy -- which always manages to knock out the power for a bit.  It was nicely timed, though, as I had just pulled the scones out of the oven.  I hate to say it, but having our scones ruined (i.e. not cooked) could have potentially wrecked my whole day.  Maybe even my week.  I mean, really.

After our lovely breakfast, and feeling the house begin to grow gradually colder, Emilia and I decided to bundle ourselves up and go out to clean up some of the havoc that the wind caused.  Leaves, fir needles, pine cones, and broken branches were everywhere.  After we were at it for a bit (and by 'we', I actually mean 'me'), Emilia looked up at the roof and declared she saw something.  'What's that?' she asked, pointing at the steam pouring out from one of the ducts.  The power was back on!  I quickly ran in to re-start the dishwasher and the dryer before we lost power again, and as I did so, I could hear Governor standing over one of the heat vents crying.  Talk about pathetic.

It's always the same with him.  The heat comes on and he bolts to his favorite place, and then makes the most pathetic groaning noises until one of us covers him up with his blanket.  The little guy likes to be warm.  In fact, we typically refer to him as our Miami Terrier because there is no way he could stand Boston.  It gets frigging freezing there, after all.  I don't know how he can stand it, though -- all that dry heat blasting him in the face.  Emilia was just over a year old when she started quoting me, er, I mean, she started saying -- of her own accord, 'I can't breath in this house!,' every time the heat came on.  Yes, she would occasionally switch to, 'I can't walk in this house!'  (Don't look at me -- I've no idea where she gets it.)

Anyway, as I went to cover the little bugger up on his bed before heading back out into the storm, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the sweater my mom knit for him.  She was just doing the finishing touches on it while we were all in Oregon, and all I have to say is that it is perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  It is a cozy, warm, and very thick wool.  And it fits him better than any jacket we've ever found for him.  Lucky for him, his new sweater is covered with stripes -- and not roses.  And it is absolutely marvelous that his Uncle Sugar has one to match. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Wet Feet and Brilliant Sunshine

Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig,
A shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep*

Rule #1 -- If you happen to find yourself wandering around the coast of Oregon, and then quickly pause to have a family picture taken, might I suggest not turning your back on the water as you do so?  Otherwise, you may find yourself with water up to your tush, and then proceed to spend the next couple of days jamming your mother's hairdryer into everyone's boots.

What is it about the ocean, though? It is one of those places that always, without fail, settles me down. And I believe that it is fairly safe to say that I could stay there for hour upon hour and be alright. Well, so long as we have snacks and all the other accoutrements, that is. Because, let's face it.  There is also something about the ocean that always, without fail, makes me hungry.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In the Red

Every morning it's the same thing.  I stand in the bathroom pulling my makeup bag out of the cabinet, and Emilia comes rushing in behind me.  She whizzes right past, bends down to grab her stool, scoots up to the mirror, declaring all the while, 'I need some makeup on, too!'

While I stand there putting a nice shellac on my face, Emilia digs into my bag and pulls out eyeshadow, eyelash curler, and mascara.  She knows not to touch my concealer, because no matter how many times she tells me that she has dark circles under her eyes, I don't believe her.  And she is also not supposed to be touching my mascara, but she is convinced that the tube that came with Lancรดme's free gift a few weeks ago belongs to none other than herself.  Ordinarily she likes to apply it right to the middle of her forehead, along with whatever eyeshadow or pencil she can get ahold of before I yank it all away.

The last thing we do, though, as I am putting it all away, is apply our lipstick.  She stands there with a tube of Chanel Glossimer, and whips the wand out like it's nobody's business.  While I, on the other hand, resort to my treasure trove that is well out of her reach.  I may be missing many products in my beauty regiment, but lipstick is certainly not one of them.  I do love me some fancy lipstick.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Lampshades, Vintage Patterns, and Buttonholes

As it turns out, all that fabric I bought a few years ago, thinking I was going to redecorate the entire house with homemade lampshades, was not the silliest thing I've ever done.  Because even though I've still not managed one shade (you try it, then tell me it isn't tricky!), I have made one rather splendid little dress for Miss Emilia.  The look on her face was quite something when I showed it to her, too.  'Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!'  It's like she thinks I am her own personal Coco Chanel.  ('She makes pretty dresses!')  And she has taken to calling it a Mary Poppins dress, despite the fact that I'm quite certain Mary Poppins would not be caught dead in it**.  However, we are currently in the throws of making a Mary Poppins costume for Halloween for the girl, so she has decided that it is practically the same as what Mary wears during 'Step in Time'.  (It's not even a little bit similar.  But who am I to judge?)

Anyway, we are after the Nanny costume -- not the Jolly Holiday one.  And we are making quite a bit of progress, too.  I've made the skirt already and I am planning to make the jacket with my mom while we're all on the Oregon Coast next week.  After that, we'll just need a hat (no luck with that as of yet -- although I have determined it to be in the style of the pork pie), an umbrella with a parrot on the end, a white shirt with a red ribbon/tie, and a carpet bag.  Simple enough.  However, something tells me that I am way above my skill level with this jacket.

I have recently discovered Etsy, and the great big world of vintage patterns.  I found a pattern from 1962 for a child's jacket that is sort of in the manner of Mary Poppins.  And while I was at it, I found a lovely dress pattern from 1952 for a cocktail dress -- for me.  I'm determined to teach myself to sew, and I've already got the fabric for the dress, too.  So, we'll see.  (I suppose that I ought to disclose that the pattern used for Emilia's little dress is not vintage, and it isn't from Etsy.  It is Oliver + S, and I ordered it straight from their site.  They have the most gorgeous childrens' patterns I've ever seen.  Just looking at them will make anyone want to start sewing.) 

However, before I start thinking about cocktail dresses, I'd better get this jacket done.  I've looked at the directions for the pattern, and they don't exactly look self-explanatory.  I've noticed that much of my sewing skills seem to be based on instinct (namely because most patterns seem to think one already has an inkling of what one is doing while in front of a sewing machine -- ha!).  Just before I sat down to wing-it with buttonholes this afternoon, I had to sit and look at the Rock & Republics I was currently sporting, to see if I could figure it out.  I did!  Not much to it, really.  Skinny zig-zags in a stenciled loop.  And I did it twice for good measure.  Hopefully the thing doesn't come to pieces in the wash, but if so, I won't cry too much.  After all, the fabric was actually meant to be a lampshade.  Once upon a time.

**I'm fairly certain that Coco Chanel would not be caught dead in it either.  How very rude, don't you think?  Especially considering how much she is adored around this household.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do Not Fear the Marmite! (Otherwise Entitled: Spaghetti with Marmite)

Marmite has fascinated me for years.  What can I say?  I'm obviously not British, so I did not grow up eating the stuff.  But I am someone who has a tendency to pay attention to all things British.  That is why when I heard ages ago that there is a spread ... that comes in a jar ... that is a yeast extract ... filled with B vitamins ... and considered so wholesome that children of all ages should be eating it up ... I paid attention.  But really.  Yeast extract?  Pardon me while I gag.

I remember I even sent an email to my Scottish friend, Polly, asking her all about it.  'What is this Marmite and Vegemite stuff I keep hearing about?'  To which she responded, 'It's nasty and I don't think you'd like it.'  Well, alright then, enough said. 

But then it started appearing in all the grocery stores in the area: Whole Foods, QFC, Metropolitan Market, and the like.  And as I walked through one of those stores with Emilia a month or so ago, I couldn't help but be drawn in -- that jar is quite attractive.  It just looks so marvelously British that I can't help but like it.  So, naturally, we bought a jar.  And then I put it in the pantry and proceeded to stare it down -- every time I opened the door.  Hmmm, what is one to do with the stuff anyway?  Because I'll tell you right now -- smearing it on a piece of toast in the morning does not sound appetizing.  At all.  Not even a little bit.

Lo and behold Nigella's new cookbook came in the mail a week or so ago (I reallyreallyreally must stop doing the pre-order on new cookbooks before our checking account explodes), and as I sat thumbing through the pages, I saw it: Spaghetti with Marmite.  The recipe comes complete with pictures of children eating it up and everything.  And, according to Nigella (who is so gorgeous it makes me downright irritable), she has never met a child who does not like it.  Sold!

It's now a week or so later and I've already made it twice.  The first time was when Michael was out of town and I wanted to test it out on Emilia.  Do you know, I cooked this up and served it alongside roasted cauliflower and sauteed kale (because that is what we had in the fridge)?  Emilia ate every bite.  (Gasp!)  And then she asked for more.  So did I.  And when I pulled the jar out a few days ago to make it again, Emilia saw it on the counter and said, 'Mama cooking Marmite!  Yummy!'

I'm not sure if this means that the girl is a fellow Anglophile, or if she just has a taste for Marmite. Either way, I'm content.