Wednesday, March 28, 2012


One of the many things I enjoy about the blogging community is the small neighborhood it seems to mimic. If the Internet is the motherland that spawned us, bloggers might be her progeny: diverse, dispersed far and wide, sharing few but meaningful characteristics. Despite our faces being obscured and our language being digital, bloggers are people too. And people will do what people do. We find familiarity. We seek companionship. We value camaraderie. Visit a favorite blog then and it will be no surprise that the same names keep popping up over and over. When Joy the Baker shared the Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake, like Ms. Lady Next Door inviting us to a coffee klatch, we were pleased. What else would we do but give it a try in our very own kitchens? The next time we gathered around the next kitchen table, we'd share another slice, or a story about when we made it, who we passed it on to, what happened when it failed. Whether it thrilled us (chewthefat) or disappointed (thedesertabode) there was comfort in the sharing. My choices were poor (sugar crust? really?) and the next day there was some regret. Yet I can't stay away (big chocolate chunks do me in everytime). Oh ladies, why does he do me like that?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Let me clue you into what happened this week. On Monday I smashed my computer (long story - not pretty). On Tuesday I searched my iPhone Best Buy app and in about 10 minutes chose and bought a new 17" laptop. On Wednesday I worked late, bought a jar of pimento-stuffed green olives and drank too many martinis (2 to be exact because I am - like - old). On Thursday I left work early, put the top down ('cause it was perfect weather in New York) and drove to the mall to pick up my new computer. Friday I had another martini (because after all those olives were still in the fridge), took a nap, got up at midnight and stayed up until 3 rebuilding my computer. On Saturday I stumbled to the kitchen desperate for a cup of coffee and something to soak up the last bits of vodka in my belly. By the way isn't it amazing how coffee can practically make itself when you are half asleep and completely uncoordinated because you haven't had coffee but you have had booze? Anyway - horror of horrors - no bread! Well, moldy bread. Nothing else. But guess what was in the cupboard? Pancakes. Or the dry part of a recipe for cornmeal pancakes I made a few weeks ago. I had stuck a big ol' label on the jar advising me that I would need to add 1/2 an egg, 1/2 a cup of buttermilk and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract to make the pancakes appear. Well I'm not sure how you measure half an egg and I didn't have any buttermilk. So once again, I improvised. I thought I totally messed it up when I added apple cider vinegar to the mix because I read that's how you make buttermilk. I think they meant white vinegar. But I didn't have that either. It seemed really wrong smelling vinegar in the pancakes but what the heck. I also had some ricotta cheese and I wondered if that would fluff up the pancakes so I added a few tablespoons. The batter got a little thin so I added in some more cornmeal and flour. Then, when I put the vinegar back in the cupboard, I saw the coconut. Let me tell you if you haven't yet discovered the large flake, unsweetened coconut chips they sell in the health food store you-don't-know-what-you-are-missing! Wow! These pancakes are amazing if I do say so myself. I guess the cornmeal and faux buttermilk make for a yummy crispy outer layer. The coconut bits are like little flavor bombs in there. Of course pure maple syrup and lots of butter never hurt. Crisp bacon adds a nice salty counterpoint. Yum. YUM. Super YUM.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It's summer in New York. It was a long hard winter here, and I for one am glad it's over! What! Okay that was all just a total lie but OMG it has been pretty much as ca-razy as that. Last year the winter was so bad that everyone here in big ole bad New Yawk cried about it constantly. This year you couldn't find a snowflake if your life depended on it. The coldest days barely reached 25 and the ones that did were few and far between. Now we've moved right into summer with multiple days this month more than 30 degrees above normal! The daffodils are in full bloom, the magnolias are open, the pollen is flying - the planet's going to hell in a hand basket. God help us this summer. There were plenty of vistas like this the past week...the earliest of spring flowering trees glowing against the brown and gray late winter landscape. This one, which my Moms always called a Japanese azalea, caught my eye. The color is more toward purple than pink which is a bit unusual. When I finally pulled the colors for my "paint" swatches I realized these are some of the colors I am flirting with for a mini bedroom refresh. My own late winter landscape - the colors that go on the bed after the red Christmas linens go away - are currently wedgewood blue and chocolate brown. They make for a really soothing and restful environment with the cafe au lait walls and matching silk drapes, but a little "last season" if you will. So I was thinking of switching out the blues for violets, dusky plum and muddled boisenberry. I considered this when I moved in - long before Benjamin Moore came up with their Violet Twilight ;o). But I went more conservative. Much like my approach to fashion - I seem to embrace each trend after I've seen it for a year or 2 - just as everyone else is moving on! That's okay. I'll go with tried and true over cutting edge most every day of the week!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I guess this is my month to be You-Tubing (insert groan here). Yah I've been blog-hopping again. My girl Tracy over at Shutterbean posted a link to this video in one of her highly entertaining "I Love Lists Friday" - um - lists awhile back. I am all up in this video's business for it has all the can't fail elements I adore: good old fashioned stop-motion animation, charming music, whimsy and lovely books, fun books, quirky books. It reminds me of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks falling in love over books, business and Christmas in New York; Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins' book-based bittersweet transcontinental flirtation; Hugh Grant without Julia Roberts, trying to convince us he can relate to being a geeky bookshop owner. Type. Great name, great logo, great little movie.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Keep Calm

My mind works in strange ways. I saw a link to this video. I ended up planning a fantasy trip to England. This is great stuff. Everybody has seen this graphic, yes? I knew it was an historic piece but I did not know any more about its quirky past. The story of "Keep Calm and Carry On" is an interesting one, fully tied to this intriguing used book store in some remote-ish corner of the UK. Watch this admittedly promotional video and try to tell me you aren't still smitten! Behold Barter Books' ravishing building, all gorgeous brick and ironwork, period detailing and grand gestures. Revel in the row upon row, stack upon stack, crammed with paperbacks, hardbacks, journals and texts. Drink in the elegance of the original tea rooms and imagine sipping from a steaming cup with some lovely sweet on the side while leafing through a finely illustrated manuscript. Try not to be overwhelmed by the old train station's majestic main hall, the charming model train chugging throughout the shop, the new-school-meets-old-school neon accented walls. It seems a place to behold in a town to be savored in a country to be coveted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Wow - talk about the prettiest colors coming from nature! Crazy huh? All of a sudden I seem to really like the color blue. Or more accurately turquoise-aqua-teal blue. Martha Stewart called it 'Vintage Map' when I painted my guestroom 4 years ago. Benjamin Moore seems to think it is 'True Blue" though I respectfully disagree. In any event it is the color found in the darling little ceramic berry cartons from Anthropologie that I have been coveting. Paired with these jewel-like fruit colors - granny smith green, lemon rind, citrusy orange - and accented with the deepest teal of my new pots' shadowed recesses, well it's an energizing palette suited to the first evening this year that we in New York benefit from the extended brightness of Daylight Savings Time. Oh and by the way - I call that clear and oh-so-sparkling shade of blue 'Tiffany' but maybe that's just me (wink wink).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Facts of Life

Fact: change sucks. Alright I don't totally believe that. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it kinda ticks you off. So Benjamin Moore's Color Preview did away with their little dot swatches. You can see them in earlier posts below. Cute right? Now check out the post from March 7th. The bar of colors at the bottom? Yeah it's nice. It's a bit more classy. But it doesn't really say "paint" now does it? So I am thinking it's time for a little blog redesign. I love the look of creaturecomforts blog. And I sorta like katiespencilbox. I guess sometimes change IS good - an opportunity to try something maybe you wouldn't have thought of before. Maybe the kick in the pants you need to embrace a little change for yourself. Keep an eye here. Let's see what I can come up with. In the meantime: enjoy some healthy and delicious waffles, Hudson Valley style: saute apple slices in butter...add a few tablespoons of honey to farmer's cheese...toast up a waffle...assemble all on a plate...add some pure New York State maple syrup and a few dashes of cinnamon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Love You, Martha

Even though we are first generation Italian-Americans I grew up with meat-n-potatoes for dinner, Fritos after school and Devil Dogs for dessert. Oh, our Christmas and Easter celebrations were as much like Settimo's - my grandmothers' hometown - as the family could manage. And Nonni's and Nonno's house was always filled with magazines, foods, and photos from the "Old Country". But Mom and Dad were fully Americanized and so were we. I had friends whose parents held closer to the traditions and each of them had their own specialty: homemade tomato sauce "put up" in big batches every fall; honey-glazed pyramids of miniature fried dough balls, decorated with sprinkles; handmade pizza with basil and fresh mozzarella that neither looked nor tasted like anything from our grocers' freezer. Yet it wasn't until years after I had ventured out on my own and exhausted all the fast food and "to-go" options that I became drawn to the possibility of freshly made pizza. Occasionally I'd pick up an intriguingly soft and spongy package of dough from the refrigerator case but invariably I would end up with a rock-hard sheet of nothing resembling that tantalizing crust an authentic Italian pizza should have. Enter Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart! She (or rather her myriad of writers, editors, cooks and stylists) showed me how to take that plausible substitute for homemade dough, gently caress and coax it into a cast iron pan, carefully subject it to just the right amount of open flame and controlled heat to yield an amazing and delicious, crisp and tender, faux wood-fired pizza - like a love letter from the land of my forefathers and foremothers.