Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

I can honestly say it was a really nice and long weekend around here.  And it was hot!  I guess we're in for the same summer as last year: 95 degrees and humid all day/everyday until the end of September.  Totally bizarre. And unnecessary.  Ron came home early on Friday, which (whether or not he believes it) pleases the Fluffs very much.

 Despite the crazy heat, we managed to lounge around quite a bit--the Fluffs are so pleased that it's warm enough to spend long hours on the back deck again. (Just in case you haven't caught on, most of this posting is about the Fluffs.)

Pearl loves my lounge chair almost as much as me.  She doesn't love it as much when Penny shares it with her, but she actually managed to tolerate sharing for nearly half an hour. An impressive record in this house.

Can you find Penny?

On Saturday, we finally managed to get all of our summer plants in their pots. We have two cherry tomatoes and one San Marzano tomato, and then the typical herbs you would find on any patio. I'm always shocked by how quickly this stuff takes off--I like to think it's because the back deck roasts during the day under the sun.  Maybe it's that Mediterranean-type solar infusion that gets all those little plants going?

Penny with the plant Ron gave me for Easter

On Monday night, Ron made pizzas on the new pizza stone for the grill (early anniversary gift from moi--I guess there's no point in waiting until late July for something that could be used all summer).  And you can see in that last photo that he made me a cranberry pink drink of some kind--very good.  The Fluffs and I are headed out back for our morning deck session, but I will not be using my lounge chair today ... the Fluffs won't be using it either:

Crummy photo taken from my upstairs window
My sister broke the chair!  omg, I laughed so hard: I'm basically the only person who uses this chair, so I'm very aware that the fabric had started to rip from the middle of the frame. There's basically ONE safe place for a person's rear end, and Leslie had sat down on the very bottom of the chair (not it). When I told her "No no no! You need to move back--" BAM--she fell right through before I could say, "You need to GET UP and move back here." Luckily, the pizza slices that flew up in the air and landed on her shirt didn't stain ... and she didn't get hurt either. Of course I have a photo of the whole incident, but she made me swear it wouldn't show up here!

So now I'm off to Kmart to buy a new one!  Isn't it great that it feels like Monday, but really it's TUESDAY??

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Pearly Girly!

My oldest furry child turns three today.  I can't believe Pearl is three, because if Pearl is three then that means that Ron and I have been married almost three years.

Ron and I bumped into Pearl sort of unexpectedly.  My childhood cat, Bamboo, passed away on July 15th right before I was supposed to get married. A few days after Bamboo was gone, Ron and I were sitting around my mom's kitchen table and my mom saw an ad for a kitten in the paper. The kitten was a ragdoll, and I had been interested in ragdolls since people with bad allergies tend to do well with them.  We called the number in the ad, and an hour later we were driving to this little old lady's house twenty minutes away.  Apparently this lone kitten had had siblings, but she was the last one picked out of the bunch.  It was an easy decision: She would be our first cat!  Our wedding took place the following Saturday, we went on our honeymoon, and after barely opening our eyes our first morning back we called to ask if we could pick up the kitten.  What's better than throwing a big party and then going on a great vacation? Doing all that AND bringing home a kitten!

August 2008

August 2008--"What a cute little nugget!" as my friend Annie said.

Today (someone's not pleased)
As it turns out, my husband is no more or less allergic to ragdolls than other cats. Oh well.  But we have two because Pearl always looked so devastated when I would leave for work. So I decided she needed a sister, and it was the following summer that we brought Penny (her actual sister) home.  What would we do without the Fluffs? I don't even want to think about a world (or a house) without Fluffs!

Happy Birthday Prr Grr!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The peonies are here!  I wait 51 weeks every year for THIS week.  Three years ago, I bought a peony plant on a whim and plunked it out front in place of a sad looking purply chrysanthemum.  I was only too happy to yank that sucker out and replace it with something I hoped would be less pathetic and more pretty.  Each year, this peony has doubled in size--this year, it's officially to the point that it looks a little too full and too big in our tiny, miniscule planting area.  When I bought this plant, I couldn't really tell what color the blooms would be--I was hoping for pale pink or bright pink, but not white.  I lucked out, and each year I have peony bush full of large blush pink blooms.  Blooming week is here, 51 weeks in the making! Gotta love that.

I have a whole bunch lined up on the window sill above my kitchen sink.  I love the way this shade of pink complements almost any shade of blue ...

... and nearly any shade of green.  I don't really have any vases. I mostly use empty jam jars and small drinking glasses for cut flowers.

I brought these over to my mom's house and she picked this green footed vessel for hers.  She also used one of those wire flower arranger-things (I'm sure these have a technical name?) to keep the blooms in place.  I have nearly 40 stems all over my house in various glasses, and all of the blossoms are just starting to slightly wilt. I'm doing what I can to re-cut the stems and replace the water, but it's always hard to accept the ephemerality of these things. I guess it's that characteristic that makes flowers flowers.

It's also blowing my mind right now that it's 4:20pm on a weekday and Oprah is NOT on.  It's like living in bizarro world or something.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dina's baby blanket

My friend Mark is one of my most FAVORITE people on the entire planet.  What can I say? He is so damn smart and so damn NICE.  He's nice to everybody! (Really, how many people do you know like that?) Plus, he gave me my first real job that didn't involve folding sweaters or ringing up people who wanted to buy stuff.  When I interviewed with him for an internship at a regional magazine, I had no idea that he would become one of my most favorite people AND that I would one day be invited to his future wife's first baby shower.  For the record, it should be noted that Dina is as cool, smart, and nice as Mark.

I worked for Mark for five summers starting after my sophomore year of college, and it was during the second summer that I caught on to him going to New England pretty frequently to visit "a friend."  Of course, the "friend" was a "GIRLfriend" who turned out to be Dina.  Dina later moved back to this area, and the two of them were married a few months after Ron and I were married.  Earlier this year in January, Mark randomly called me while we were trading emails and asked, "Did you see the last email I sent? I just hit the Send button. Did you see it?"  I kept refreshing my in-box while talking to him, but the email wasn't showing up.  So finally he said, "Ok: the email says, 'Dina is PREGNANT!!'" Poor Mark, because I promptly screamed into the phone.  I went from shouting, "Oh my God!! Are you kidding??!!" to sobbing, "Oh my God!! You're not kidding!!" all while Mark laughed at my total bipolar emotional reflex to his phone call.

Speed forward one semester (one and half trimesters!) and odd months later, Dina's surprise shower was upon me and of course I had committed to a handmade baby gift: a crocheted baby blanket.  I was BEYOND determined to finish this because I had started a pink one in the beginning of the year for my friend Amy ... and I didn't finish it in time for her shower.  She did get a blanket, but it was store-bought and not what I really wanted to give.  I started Dina's blanket in March and did the bulk of it in April before the end-of-semester storm.  However, I worked down to the wire, finishing nearly half of it in the 48 hours before the event itself. But, I finished it!

I went with white because Mark and Dina have no idea if the baby is a boy or girl, and Dina's preferred color is white upstairs in her house. I figured it was the best bet. The pattern I used called for 78 rows of those Vs that you see, but I think I capped out at 65 or 66. It was pretty big without the remaining 12 rows, and once I did the edging and finished the whole thing, it's not clear to me that I would've had enough yarn anyway.

I had planned on doing a shell pattern all around the edge, but my mom showed me this reverse single crochet stitch at the last second and I decided to go with that.  It created this simple, twisting rope pattern around the edge and I think it will be nice for a boy or girl. Sometimes the shell pattern can be really feminine even when you don't mean it (or need it) to be that way.

And I made personalized gift tags for it with washing instructions.  I just couldn't believe that I finished it! I hate saying this, but a part of me is just so used to procrastination beating me in so many battles.  Now I just need to go back and work on the unfinished pink one in my drawer.  Someone else will be having a girl at some point!

Penny's Bday

And, I would also like to note (three days late--such a bad momma) that my youngest furry child turned TWO on Sunday 5/22.

Penny's first day at home, July 2009
Of course, dads are more fun--Aug 2009
With a bday tiara ... from Burger King. Because Ron thought of it and it was free.

Happy Birthday Pen Pen Pennington!!!


I had no idea on May 10 that I wouldn't get back around to posting until 5/25.  Not very consistent.  I've had plenty of time to post I guess, but it's not like I've been sitting around either.  No sooner did I finish grading exams for the spring semester, I had to prep for the summer semester and my biggest job interview thus far the day before attending commencement.  Commencement was a whirlwind, a very happy one I should add, and we (ie, TU class of 2011) lucked out with some of the best weather North Philly has EVER seen (it doesn't happen often, unfortunately).  I found out the day after graduation that I didn't get the aforementioned job, which would've been a major game changer in my life, and it took me at least four days just to STOP agonizing over it.  It's all done and over with now, but it was a pretty painful four days.  But, I do have a ton of graduation photos--next to wedding photos, there's nothing better than graduation photos.

Rare campus gorgeousness

Before the ceremony ... am I a bad person if I say that this photo totally sums up our marriage? Me: skeptical.  Him: "Who cares? It's all good!"

Officially Mr. and Dr.
With Erin
The WHOLE Fam! PLUS one of my favorite profs ever, Laura, in the back row.

With my sister and my mom. Please note the hot shoes. I did NOT trip in them walking across the stage.

With my grandparents
I am so pleased that my grandmother made it to my ceremony.  She never would've missed it for anything, but it's still a relief that nothing prevented her from being there.  You know, I spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at the beautiful beast that is The United States of America: there's a lot of stuff about our culture that I simply don't like, and on bad days I alternately try to a) avoid the stuff I don't like, b) politely dismiss it, and c) flat out call it for the crap that it is. But on days like this, it's sorta nice to be able to say, "Yes, I am the quintessential American story: My ancestors came here during the 19th century on some crappy ocean vessel with no money in their pockets and no education to rely on.  They couldn't speak English when they came here, and they worked as coal miners, poultry farmers, housecleaners, and waitresses in the hope that the generation following them would have more security, financially and otherwise.  And, not only did I get the chance to go to college--at a school that pretty much refused to admit women until 1968--but I have officially received 'the highest possible degree in the liberal arts.'"  It's completely crazy. Stuff like that should (rationally) be fiction. I guess it just doesn't get more American than that. What can I say? It was a great day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Molly's apron

Last Saturday, my friend Molly enjoyed a surprise bridal shower. It turns out that I was unable to go, but I managed to finish her gift on time anyway.  I bought some fabric many months ago with Molly in mind: Many Fridays during the summer, we drive over to Kennett Square to go the Friday afternoon farmers (farmers'? farmer's?) market with Molly and her fiance Dan. (Technically, I knew Dan before Molly--Dan and I grew up in the same neighborhood.)  Molly's FAVORITE thing to buy at the market is farm fresh eggs.  She talks about them non-stop. I still haven't bought any despite her insistence.  Maybe I need to do that this summer. So here's the fabric I bought:

I knew I wanted to use it to make an apron, and I waited (of course) until the night before the shower to start it. To my surprise, I took me about two hours which isn't too bad.  You're supposed to use two inch wide grosgrain ribbon for the waist tie, and I did buy satin ribbon, but I ended up making my own ribbon out of the fabric itself.  I just wasn't crazy about using the satin ribbon for this.  Leslie modeled the final product for me.

Feeling a bit inspired by Mad Men, she's holding both a tea pot and a bottle of tequila.  (WWBDD? What Would Betty Draper Do?)  Can you see the detailing along the bottom?  The fringe was my own touch. There's supposed to be a pocket, but I left that out this time.

Awful picture--the white of the details is washed out by the flash.

 I had just enough pom pom fringe--I had maybe three inches left over. The rick rack was used at the last minute--I had it sitting around with my extra fabrics and thought it might be a nice touch.

You're supposed to ruffle the top of the apron, but pleating was the best I could do.  Not sure if there's too much of a difference.  Also note: Leslie took time to simultaneously model the shoes I bought for Commencement on Thursday:

Less than $20 (the shoes, that is). Can't beat it with a stick. So now I have to make my way over to Molly's house this week and drop off her apron and the rest of her gift.  I can't believe I got this right on the first try.  Do you know how that NEVER happens???

BTW, an update on the Mother's Day pillow: Erin's mom says, "The sampler you used for the pillow is called 'The Chase' sampler.  It was a reproduction stamped cross stitch kit from the 1970s.  My cousin actually made one back then, and I wanted to make one as well.  You can Google 'The Chase sampler' and find out more about it.  I see that one sold on ebay in February for $99.00!" Isn't that crazy?  Thanks Susie!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Pillow

On Thursday night, I thought it would be a good idea to start my mom's gift for Mother's Day.  This project began during the first week of March: My mom visited this huge consignment shop in Frazer, and she told me she found a beautiful piece of embroidery, but it was framed in this ugly frame and just sitting in a corner of this massive store. So the very next day I went to the store and walked all around the place until I found it.  I brought it home, Ron broke it out of the super cheap plastic frame and I set it aside to turn it into a pillow.  My mom had said that she was really only interested in the bottom portion of the work (sorry in advance for the lousy flash pictures--I took all of these really late at night):

It's really, really lovely ... so I felt a little bad cutting it in half with scissors. BUT the fact is that some old lady spent a year or more working on this and her ungrateful kids put it in a hideous ugly frame and later gave it away to a freakin consignment shop for some stranger to buy it. I knew when I was finished with it, it would finally be getting the respect it deserved.

Sometimes it's really hard with fringe.  In this picture it was 1am or 130am, and I was just PRAYING that when I flipped the thing inside out, my work would be perfect.

Here we go ...

Voila'! taa daa!!!!  Perfection. Doesn't happen often in this house.  I have to say, my mom's a pretty reserved person and she sorta freaked out when she pulled the pillow out of its gift bag.  It turns out that she had almost gone back to buy the embroidery several times. I didn't throw out the top half of this piece.  I think I may turn that into a pillow too, but I'm not sure.

In other news, Ron and I put together a brunch for my mom--his mom is coming over for dinner later today.  The brunch was pretty easy--I baked a raspberry cake the night before, and Ron made a spinach and potato frittata. The cake was actually Ina's recipe for peach cake, but I substituted frozen raspberries for the peaches:

It's really, really easy and perfect with coffee. I can't wait for actual peaches and raspberries to be in season so I can use fresh instead of frozen.

Pearl hid upstairs most of the morning and ignored everybody, but Penny hung out with us the whole morning. Of course the highlight of her day was fresh wrapping paper to sleep and play in. (It's sort of like giving a giant box to a little kid.)

And then she slept on my lap for nearly an hour because she was so wiped out--her nap schedule had been wrecked for the entire day.  (Bear in mind: my cats sleep on average 20-22 hours per day.) She's really not that different from a three-year-old.

All in all, I would say that it was a perfect Mother's Day morning.  Happy Mother's Day, mom! I love you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The end of the tulips

Last Friday, my sister and I took a quick walk through Longwood's tulips because we knew they were nearing the end. I had already seen them, but she hadn't.  It did rain a little, but it made for good outdoor lighting.

You can see the bright tulips all the way in the background.

It's great to go to Longwood more than once in a month because you notice so many different things each time, even in the same display.

I didn't notice these super preppy pink and green ladies last time.  They're just fabulous.

My sister loved the orangey corals.  I know this is ridiculous, but when I really REALLY look at the colors in that photo, it just makes me think of candy.  And nailpolish. The colors complement each other so perfectly.  Truly, how many hours of planning does this take?

Wow, it's like every color of nailpolish you would ever want to own.  It's so remarkable.

And, you can't beat foxgloves.  They're so intricate and feminine. They always remind me of the Beatrix Potter movies that came out in the mid 90s.  Please tell me you know what I'm talking about?  These foxgloves were at least as tall as me.

I planted my own assortment of bulbs, many 20 in all, last fall.  I had no idea what would pop up this spring.  I knew I would get daffies and tulips, but I wasn't certain what colors everything would be.  Earlier this week, half of the blooms were officially dead and the remaining half I brought inside to enjoy. I knew the homeowner's association would be mulching this week, so I cut everything back in preparation. I love the color of these peachy coral tulips, and the pale pink are beautiful too.  Next up is my peony bush. I can't believe how huge it is this year--tons of buds all over it.  I'm expecting that to bloom in about two and half weeks, maybe earlier if it gets dramatically warmer overnight (I hope not).

In the meantime, Penny wasn't well today.

Penny's on the left
Not sure what's wrong with her, but I hope she's ok by tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

End of semester rush

I always look forward to spring and always forget that the end of April is usually a whirlwind--just like December, which is arguably worse because finals get combined with Christmas.  Classes ended last week and thank GOD I had the foresight to fill my last day of class with student presentations.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have had time to be obsessed with this:

Photo via here
My sister and I are obsessed. What can I say? We weren't around for Charles and Di, so now it's finally our generation's turn.  Just when we think we're finished gushing over Kate, we start gushing over Pippa again.  Anyway, the Royal Wedding set the tone for the whole weekend and I thought of little else the whole time.

It's still going to be a busy week: more stuff to grade (exams haven't even started yet ... they'll be the bulk of the end of the week), and wedding and baby shower gifts to prepare, and a Mother's Day gift that's been in the works for at least two months but is not yet finished.  I'll take pictures of them and get them posted for you to see.

Time to start my day ... the hours are going by WAY too fast this week ...