Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cracks in the Sidewalk

One of the things that I love about urban living is how, despite our best efforts, life always invades our cement paradise. In the spring, all of the dreary industrial wastelands bloom and are overcome with exuberant plant life forcing itself upon the landscape. I feel a kinship with those plants in the cracks of the sidewalk and try to find a new place to stick a plant whenever I can.

I'd been looking for some planters that I could hang over the railing in front of the building and finally found them out in NJ. I also picked up some new and different plants to go in them. This was my first attempts to purchase plants that would look nice together. Unfortunately the planters and their plants do little to mask the ugly garbage cans and barren street corner where we live. I may consider buying some more but they are expensive and there is little to prevent the local teenagers from stealing or destroying them.

I've been thinking a lot about a deck and wondering what I could do up there in its current state. The roof is totally blank with and I wouldn't feel comfortable putting anything up there for fear it would damage the roof. Its also windy as hell and I would be worried that things would fly off. Regardless, I get credit for trying...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Pretty Pink

Ab brought these beauties to our dinner party and I snapped some shots of them last week. I'm tempted to blow them up, perhaps 8 X 10 and frame them. Their color is so rich but they are so princessy I'm not sure I can justify it. Maybe they could go in my office at work...


My succulents made it through the winter and are flowering.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Summer Feast

Happy First Feast of the summer! We had many feasts last summer and this kicks off the first of 2009! I feel like I need to make up for my lame start to OLS and throw an almost entirely local feast. To make it more difficult, my oven is broken (though the broiler works). To increase the degree of difficulty even further, I have invited my friend who is allergic to wheat, soy, most dairy, eggs, and red meat. Couple that with making it an OLS meal and you have your challenge.

Luckily, I am a member of the food co-op in my neighborhood and they go out of their way to stock local, organic food. When I went shopping this morning I stopped at the co-op first with the intention of picking everything else up at the farmers market. Luckily, I found everything I needed (and then some) at the co-op. Park Slope, our utopian yuppie sanctuary is one of those places that follows Michael Pollen's every dictate so even our delis and overpriced markets carry more local than most places. That made my local task easier but didn't help me with my oven or my friend's food allergy.

Ewe's Blue - Old Chatham (NY)
Tilsit - Brovetto Dairy (NY)
Hawthorne Valley Alpine Reserve (NY)

Mozzarella (Russo's on 7th Ave), Basil (our fire escape), tomatoes (hothouse tomatoes labeled "from New England")

Salsa (made at Union Market on 7th) and Chips (not local)

Main Course:

Roasted Chicken (PA) with homemade pesto under the skin, stuffed with local shallots and garlic and herbs from our window boxes (lemons not local)

Beets (New Jersey) with Goat Cheese (Do, Ri Me Farm, Poughkeepsie NY)

Baby greens (our planter box), beet greens (our windowsill), and local lettuces with kirby cucumbers (NJ) and cherry tomatoes (PA)

Roasted Asparagus (NJ)


Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate from Mast Bros. - made in Brooklyn
- Flour from King Arthur Flour - VT
- Butter from VT
- Sugar that's not local

Basil, Strawberry Honey Frozen Yogurt

- Basil from our fire escape
- Plain yogurt from Old Chatham Farms
- Honey from my mom in NJ

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Strawberries from NY
- Mast Brother's chocolate (Brooklyn)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Have you met TED?

One of my coworkers turned my on to the TED talks last year. They are short videos of really smart people talking about interesting things, well, sometimes the people are pretty boring. One TED talk that gotten a lot of attention lately is Clay Shirky's talk about how twitter, facebook, and text messaging has changed journalism. It is well timed to offer some prescient insights into the uprising in Iran but interesting even out of that context. The link is below, if you've got 15 minutes to kill, I recommend it as an introduction to these mediums.

Clay Shirky's TED talk

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My IKEA Hack

I spend much of my free time drooling over apartment therapy and wishing I had any design sense or taste. Luckily my husband has excellent taste and design sense but he is not often with me when I get a bee in my bonnet to "decorate". In fact, some of the most frightening words that my husband ever had to hear is "I'm going to IKEA". Usually I come home with $150 of stuff with unprounancable names and limited utility and while this last trip on Monday was no exception, I did come home with a few things to spruce up the fire escape.

We were told by our insurance company that we couldn't have flower pots (or tree beds) on the fire escape. I took down the tree bed (well my husband did most of the work) but have repopulated the tiny space with flower pots filled with basil, tomatoes, mint, our lemon tree named Plant, and some flowers. My thinking is that they are removable so don't count? You can see that in addition to lacking taste and a design sense, my logic can often be suspect as well.

Regardless, I saw a quick piece on apartment therapy about using some small IKEA utensil holders as planters on the iron bars of an apartment. I picked up some metal ones but knew I would need to modify them in some way to make it work. Luckily they already had holes drilled in the bottom (vital for planters).

I removed the pot from its metal bracket and stuck the bracket through the vertical metal bars just above the cross bar. I then passed a bamboo skewer through the hook and used tension to hold the bracket in place. I then potted the plants in the pots and hung them on the metal brackets.

And there you have it, a very simple, not bad looking way to increase your plant real estate. My one suggestion would be to use something darker than bamboo since it sticks out a bit.

Plants Plants Everywhere

For an apartment gardener with nothing but window ledges and a small fire escape, space where you can put plants is prime real estate. When I think about moving to the country, buying a farm, tending goats, and making money through some form of magic, I often end of thinking to myself "Wow, that sounds like a lot of work". I'm not adverse to work but I don't usually have a lot of energy to give to my garden during the week. Which is why container gardening is perfect, especially when I've tried to pick plants that require no maintainence.

I bought these new small planters at IKEA and love their design and size. I drilled some holes in the bottom of the boxes and filled them with drought friendly plants, mostly petunias. The biggest issue is that they are just sitting on our window ledges and I would feel better if they were screwed down of something. The previous owner did everything from glue window boxes down to putting in metal brackets. I think I may journey to the hardware store with some pictures and ask for some help.

Broccoli Beans

This is what happens when you let your broccoli go to flower and then to seed, you get green beans.

Beyond Sunsets

Its been a rainy spring here in Brooklyn and I'm just about sick of it. Unless the rain storms appear in the form of the Apocalypse. We have a beautiful view of weather coming over the Hudson and this beautiful storm came over on Monday sending people running inside, setting off car alarms, and causing me to run around frantically closing windows.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fantasy Island

We've now been in the apartment for over a year and have yet to really move from our fantasy plans (roof deck, remove a wall, and bookshelves) to reality. We're busy, the economy is in the toilet, and we're really messy without the added value of a construction team.

As I was drooling over, I noticed some beautiful metal work from Caliper Studios ( Turns out it is run by a friend of a friend. I'm sure its very expensive but I'm tempted to call Steve and see if he would give us some ideas and a quote.

Gardening Update

Well I don't have much to report other than the green aphids that killed most of my pansies have killed the rest of my pansies and infested my broccoli. I went to the nursery today and bought some new plants that I hope will survive the strange microclimates that are my window boxes. Petunias for the all sun, no rain. Geraniums for the all sun, all wind, no rain. And some impatients for the shady, some rain boxes.

I think the impatients, which I also put in the downstairs box, may have been a strategic error, given that they are cooler weather plants. I suspect they are also tasty for the green aphids that are everywhere but I guess we'll just have to see.

I ate a bunch of broccoli and let the rest flower. I transferred the seedling tomatoes and peppers and ate a bunch of baby arugula. I need a much less windy spot if I want to really transfer plants since they wee ones have a hard time in the wind. I have the perfect veggie growing box but it is currently blocked by my husband's computer. Sigh...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

OLS Week 1 2009

Happy One Local Summer! I've been really lame the past 6 months and have not been cooking much at all. Partially its because our oven is broken and its partially because I've just been too busy to cook anything other than my old standards. I am very excited to start OLS since it really kicked started my cooking for the summer. My rules are simple: local is anything made in NJ, NY, or PA or anything I find at the farmers markets in NYC. I know most people are a bit more strict but every little bit counts.

To start OLS 2009, I stuck by a standard, but made it for a bunch of people. We went fishing and I decided I would cook for everyone. It was a little tougher than I first envisioned because one of our friends is a vegetarian and there were also no condiments or real cooking vessels in the rented kitchen.

Have no fear, when ever you are in a tough cooking situation, a frittata will come to the rescue! I made a local spinach, egg, cheddar cheese, and milk one in a disposable (eek!) lasagna dish. I also have made so many that I didn't write down any sort of recipe. I will say its an easy OLS meal, an easy do anywhere meal, and one that is good for breakfast lunch or dinner.

Game On

I took some pictures of my niece Alex last weekend and she was pretty damn cute, but this weekend, it was all Sonny. In the epic battle of cuteness (so cute it hurts my teeth) Sonny has the slight upper hand.

House Cleaning

We spent the day in NJ celebrating my step-sister's birthday. While the celebration was relaxed, festive, and wonderful, we also spent a bit of time going through my father's things. Up to now, even going into his closet was a sobfest and his watches, t-shirts, beloved shoes, old cell phones, etc were all symbols of his death, ghosts of the years we should have had with him. His closet has been a reliably fragile place and I'm not sure how my stepmom has been able to handle those ghosts.

Today, about a year after his death, was a bit different. We're a bit different. We raided his closet, laughed about him, and talked about all the things that had happened in the past few months. It was a different type of memorial. One that had sadness running through it, under the surface of each person's thoughts, but one that was filled with happy memories, as one remembers only the good parts of high school.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fishing @ West Branch Resort

For Memorial Day weekend we fished in Deposit New York at the West Branch Resort. Deposit is located where the East and West branches of the Delaware come together and it is considered to be excellent fishing territory. We hardly caught anything but I still consider it to be a great trip.

We rented a very nice cabin with two other couples and when we weren't fishing we were lounging around enjoying everyone's company.

15th Reunion

We went to my husband's 15th college reunion last weekend. I think if you've gone to a college with a pretty campus you take it for granted. If you go to a college with a famously ugly campus, you spend your whole visit gawking at the buildings. Even Yale's cement monstrosity is, once you get inside, one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen. Its hard to imaging that this building houses rare books because it feels like a sacred religious spot. I guess to some (myself included) a library is just a sacred.

I don't look forward to reunions, its like being on a date to a wedding where you only know your date. Everyone has this shared history and inside jokes, but this time, I realized that I'd been married long enough to know most of the people, have established relationships with some of them on my own, and have enough shared history that his friends know all about me and our adventures together.

If we ever have kids they're going to Yale, not because of the incredible education, life long connections to people who change and rule the world, but because the campus is so much prettier than where I went to school.

More Baby Alex

We spent part of Sunday in the park with Alex and company. She slept almost the whole time but spent a bit of time flexing her smiling muscles. I saw this with Jacob, a smile would happen but I'm not sure they know how or why but that it gets a really big response.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


This is too funny. I can't remember when this photo was taken though I suspect we were about 25.