Sunday, November 30, 2008

the robots are taking over

on a cold, rainy, grey day, what better way to while away the hours than by making polymer clay robots and other things for hours on end? and eating turkey sandwiches made with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on good bread. oh, and hot, spiced apple cider. it was the perfect sunday. back to the ranting and pondering of strange phenomena tomorrow...

these were made with fimo polymer clay, which you shape and then bake for 30 minutes in the oven to harden it, then you can paint. since these pics, i've put a shiny varnish on all of them (like the pink/purple one above). they're so cheerful and fun! more to share tomorrow when it's light enough to photograph again. it gets dark early these days!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

what we learned

we have learned a few things from our recent foray into the flavoring of snaps/aquavit...
  1. the horseradish snaps should only be allowed to steep with the horseradish in it for 24 hours. if you let it go a week, it's WAY too much horseradish, but at 24 hours, it's awesome.
  2. fresh apples make the snaps a pretty apple-juice color, but don't make it taste that apple-y.
  3. dried apples, steeped for one week together with cinnamon and cloves = heavenly.

ordinary people

denmark is a monarchy, the oldest in europe, with relatives and descendants in all of the others, including the russian and greek. i've always found that a bit mysterious, after all, the closest we have to royalty in the US is the kennedy family. so, the whole notion of a figurehead who opens the parliament but has no say in government (can't say that of the kennedys) and is guarded by bearskin hat-clad guards seems a bit archaic at best. the queen, who smokes like a friggin' chimney and is married to a french guy who people unfairly say never learned danish, has two sons. both sons have married regular girls (thank goodness for the monarchy which was in serious need of some new blood, if you know what i mean). one of them twice. after all, it's a very modern monarchy with divorces and step moms and former princesses degraded to countesses and such.

when i arrived, more than ten years ago, there was just the one princess (now degraded to countess after divorcing the younger (and extremely creepy) prince and remarrying a hot young filmmaker). she's from hong kong, harvard educated and super chic and smart (always wondered what she saw in creepy inbred joachim, but i digress).  in those days, the crown prince was dating a local pop star and wandering around, seeming a bit lost and like he wasn't all that keen on his role as future king.

then, at a party at the olympics in sydney, the crown prince met a nice australian girl. eventually, she came to denmark and actually worked a microsoft for awhile (apparently so she could get a visa and stay in the country). i worked there at the same time and often saw press lurking outside and had to read all of the warnings on the intranet, asking all of us to be discreet if anyone from the press called. and it got me thinking...

it must be so difficult to go from an ordinary life to the life of a princess. all of the ordinary things you could do yourself before, you probably can't do anymore. you can't go shopping as an ordinary person, someone will be watching everything you even look at. you can't run out to the grocery store in your sweatpants and without makeup. i don't know if they liked to cook before, but i wonder if they are allowed to do that anymore or if they have a whole staff who won't really let them into the kitchen. and then i wonder why i even think about these things.

it's not easy moving to another country, even if you're doing it for great love. and i guess i think about these girls because i can't imagine how it would be with all of the added pressure that the public scrutiny must place on them. they have pressure to learn danish (which isn't easy, i can tell you), pressure to look a certain way, pressure to produce heirs. a whole lifestyle change as well as a cultural change. they give up their citizenship and their religion. it seems like more pressure than i can imagine enduring.

but i most often think of them when i'm doing an ordinary domestic task. cooking, sewing, choosing paint colors, painting a wall or a hanging a picture. if those girls did those things at one time, are they allowed to do them now? do they even want to? i don't really know, but these are the things i ponder as i chop onions, brine my turkey, sew up a quilt or make small clay dolls together with sabin. and i feel happy to live an ordinary life.

thanksgiving, how i love you

thanksgiving, how much i love thee...despite the last-minute panic attacks, fighting through swarms of people in the grocery store, throwing my principles out the window and buying sweet potatoes from israel because i didn't want to make another stop (generally we don't by stuff from israel, not until the israelis are nice to the palestinians--but when the dread of making a stop at another grocery store sets in, principles are the first to go), spending far too much time on setting the table before i actually started cooking (what was that about?) are the very best holiday. seriously, what is it about thanksgiving that makes it so wonderful?

is it the candles, or the pretty table settings or the abundance of food?

or is it the kids eating turkey legs?

or is it the pie?

which we served like this...

...because the crust was so ultra flaky (i tried a new recipe and i have to admit that i find pie crust to be generally temperamental and never the same twice) that it wouldn't come out of the pie tin looking pretty, so we covered it in freshly whipped real cream, plopped on four forks and the adults all ate off one plate. i think more food should be served this way, it's the best.

i think what makes thanksgiving the best is a combination of way too much great food, much laughter, people who are actively grateful, and the fact that you have that festive, holiday feeling without all of the gift-giving madness attached to it. and leftovers. thanksgiving leftovers totally rock.

and i can highly recommend doing the turkey brine thing. it was the best, juiciest turkey ever. i will never go back to the old way. here's the brine i used (modified from the fabulous nigella lawson's new christmas cookbook, because i can never really follow a recipe to the letter):

turkey brine

1 orange, sliced
big handful of parsley
handful of black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 fresh bay leaves
2 roughly chopped onions
3 star anise
1 good hunk of ginger, roughly chopped
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup sea salt
1 good squeeze of honey
1 good glug of real maple syrup (do not bother with fake, ewww)

stir together with warmish water in a very large pot (or other container that your turkey will fit into) to get the sugar and salt dissolving, add your turkey and fill with water until the turkey is covered.  allow it to brine at least overnight (two nights would be even better) in a cool place (i simply set it outside with a lid on the pot because our weather allowed that). i had a 5.5 kilo turkey (11-12-ish pounds). 

i took it out the brine, stuffed it, body-buttered it with maple butter and cooked it 2 hours and 45 minutes. it turned out perfectly (we just neglected to photograph it) and was the juiciest, most succulent bird i've had, well, ever.  we're going to do duck for christmas, i wonder if brine will work for that...hmmm...

Friday, November 28, 2008

before i start the mad cooking frenzy

uncharacteristically, i haven't been talking up the back-tack that i'm participating in. what's a back-tack, you say? well, it's a themed swap of crafty things.  i've been assigned a back-tack partner, mo, who has a blog called lime gardinias, where she shares her craftiness. we've been corresponding and getting to know one another and have each put together a little crafty package for one another according to the festive theme of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  today, i put the finishing touches on my items for mo and i'm going to send them off today so that she (fingers crossed), has them in time for christmas.

i won't talk about what i actually made until i'm sure that mo has received it, as i don't want to spoil the surprise. if you want to check out what the over-achievers in the back-tack have done, you can look at the flickr group. they're over-achievers because they clearly got theirs finished and sent well before the deadline (nov. 29). i'm feeling pretty smug about having managed to be ready one day before the deadline, which is really quite unlike me.

and now, my day will be filled with tidying up the mass of sewing things that are on the dining table and then cooking up a thanksgiving feast for 6. my turkey is luxuriating in its brine since last evening and i've made my list, so i'm off to the grocery store.

i hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving yesterday and i wish you a good day shopping all of the sales (they didn't used to call it black friday, did they? i seriously don't remember that name) if you are so inclined in these dark economic times.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thankful on thanksgiving

it's thanksgiving! my most favorite holiday of all. i think i like it even better than christmas! but, sadly, it is not a holiday where i live, so i've been at work today and i currently find myself in my second home...the SAS gold lounge in oslo. i am on my way home to brine my turkey, since we'll have friends over tomorrow for a thanksgiving feast. at least people on my side of the atlantic are interested in thanksgiving and in experiencing the traditional food, even if we don't necessarily do it on the right day.

anyway, despite being a day off on the feast, i feel i have a lot to be thankful for....

  1. a wonderful husband who i am still madly in love with after more than ten years.
  2. sabin--she's bright, smart, thoughtful, pretty and perfect, i couldn't ask more.
  3. the good health of my family.
  4. that our house is (mostly) finished--last year at this time, it was total chaos (but i was in the philippines, having thanksgiving dinner at The Pen).
  5. that i have a fun job with great colleagues.
  6. several interesting job possibilities on the horizon.
  7. a christmasy new mac "red" she said lipstick.
  8. changeable plane tickets.
  9. good friends coming to thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.
  10. this daily outlet for my madness.
  11. the friends i'm made here in the blogosphere over the past year.
  12. that the world is full of inspiring people who are sharing their creativity online.
  13. my iPhone.
  14. my iMac.
  15. my Macbook Pro (are we detecting a theme here?).
  16. new glasses.
  17. daily laughter.
  18. the past year, during which i recovered from my old job and found my way back to myself.
  19. my sewing machine.
  20. my beloved Nikon D60.
seriously, everyone, thank you for reading and for being my friends. i'm really grateful that you're out there and that i've gotten to share your insights and a lot of laughter with you.  happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

a bit more balderdash

will someone please remind me why i have a job which requires that i fly to get there? oh wait, it's because it's a fantastic opportunity and i get to work on interesting things together with people who are motivated and who i really like to be around (all of which i really mean and am not trying to be sarcastic)...but still, i have to fly to get to it. commercial no less. and getting to the airport involves almost exactly an hour on a train from where i live. but that gave me plenty of time this morning to write a few more definitions for those verification words:

aquallar - that luminous, transparent turquoise blue of the sea off boracay.

subedi - pockets of no cellular service when the metro goes underground.

vemputis - an uncontrollable tendency to wear black or nearly-black nail polish.

terysol - a spray which should be used to freshen the air outside of office buildings where smokers gather now that smoking inside isn't allowed.

epoide - the portion of a t.v. program that's shown between commercials.

pedinges - the small splashes of nail polish that get on the cuticle by mistake and must be removed with a brush wetted with nail polish remover by the nice nail girl.

jibist - one who makes out as if they had no idea what their underlings were doing. example: ken lay was the very epitome of a jibist in the enron scandal.

i think i'm kind of on a roll here, but now i'm running out of words, so i'd better go comment on some blogs at collect some more.

i wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving. i'll be working tomorrow, since people on this side of the planet are curiously oblivious to the best holiday of all. i'm doing a turkey and all the fixins on friday tho', together with our very best friends. and for that, i am thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

people of the book

i just finished geraldine brooks' people of the book  and although i don't normally do book reviews (despite reading copiously), i just have to say something about this book. i mentioned the other day that i was pleasantly surprised to find that the sarajevo haggadah, which the book centers around, is a real document, although the story brooks has spun around it is fiction. 

the story she spins takes you traveling through time and through troubled times...from the relative peace and harmony of the convivencia in spain to the ghettos in venice at the height of the inquisition to the anti-semitism of the nazis and the blood and divided loyalties of the more recent balkan wars. you feel the cruelty and the fear up close. brooks is a marvelous writer and a wonderful storyteller.

this was one of those books which i have felt sad to have finished so quickly. i find myself thinking about it and wanting to go back and see what hanna, the australian scientist sent to conserve the haggadah and ozren, the curator at the bosnian museum are up to now. after only a couple of days with them, they feel like friends and i miss them and continue to feel curious about their lives. that's the best kind of story when you feel that way.

in a way, it's a bit like a well-written, well-told davinci code (which means it's actually nothing like davinci code, i admit)...laying some blame for brutality on the feet of the catholics, and taking us on all sorts of intrigues. there is a lot of mystery surrounding the sarajevo haggadah--who made it and why--and brooks' story of its origins and fate seems plausible, to the point where i want to go to sarajevo and see it. (i won't spoil the story for you here.)

a few years ago husband and i story-boarded out a tale of lost documents in the balkans, thinking that it's such a romantic and conflicted place that it would be the perfect setting for such a story. it was very interesting to find out that we weren't wrong about that. there must be other stories out there, just waiting to be told and that's the most intriguing thing of all about this book...that it gives hope that there's more waiting to be discovered.

if you haven't read this book, go get it from your library, you won't regret it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

seeking inspiration

as the paint shapes up on the walls in the writing house, i find myself increasingly thinking about how i want to decorate out there. i chose the dark colors (the ceiling will be even darker) because i want it to have a cozy, almost cave-like feeling and i chose the rich turquoise because i want it to have a moorish/turkish feel. i'm going to have all kinds of creative supplies at hand and yet another sideboard (with 12 drawers) to use as a work surface. but, i'll have quite a lot of wall space to do some interesting things.  so, i've been looking for inspiration and finding it...

in an interview with artist kat mcleod on design files ...

and this cool stuff by artist jeff canham on design for mankind...

and here ...on danish art group superflex's website

and this fresh, funky embroidery by megan witmarsh, also found on design for mankind

my latest obsession and daily visit is design for mankind, erin does the best tumblr i've seen yet. and she has a cool magazine too, that's a free download. totally worth checking out next time you need inspiration.  i'm not sure yet how i'll put all of this inspiration together, but i am confident it will gel in my head and come together somehow. perhaps i'll embroider bold statements on small canvases and group them together on the many possibilities.

stacked books and balderdash

i hadn't stacked any books in awhile, but this morning, these books leapt off the shelves and just stacked themselves. strange, i'm not feeling as bleak as this stack would indicate, perhaps it's just residual withdrawal from the antics of sarah palin.

* * *
for several weeks, i've been collecting those blogger verification words that look like real words. it's so much more entertaining now that they changed their algorithm and the words look like they might mean something. i find myself constantly scrambling for a pen and paper when i'm surfing the blogosphere, so these words are scribbled everywhere in the house..on the edges of newspaper, in the notes on my iPhone (for those times when no pen/paper were available), i even started a document with a bunch of them in it, but mostly, they're scribbled here, along with phone numbers and movie seats and journal prompts and stamped owls and the name of a fabulous chanel perfume, on a scrap notecard at my desk.

but, inspired by amanda's post nearly a month ago, i thought i'd make up some definitions for some of the ones that seem most fun.

cringo: i was going to say that it's what you do when you see a WTF Wednesday posting like this one, but upon further reflection, i think it's a curly-haired white person in mexico.

rhorifer:  a filter which clears away boring conversations like "do any of you ever use the highest temperature wash on your washing machine?" at dinner parties. i'm looking into a portable version of one of these.

domit: a small home constructed in the garden to attract hedgehogs.

menwisms:  the all-too-seldom clever utterance or observation by the male of the species. as in husband's statement last week while watching news of california wildfires on CNN that it so typical of americans to participate in global warming in such an extreme way.

brapigic:  that itchy feeling you get when you've just taken off an ill-fitting bra.

mismar:  to accidentally get caught in the waves and get the bottom of your pant legs all wet.

kajushin:   spontaneous squatting.

quinort:  an orangey-colored moss found at the foot of evergreens in the forest.  can be brewed into a healthy (if somewhat bitter) tea.

this reminds me of playing balderdash, that game where you make up funny definitions for words, at family holidays. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008


i find myself thinking about food. again. and vitamins. since i've had a head cold for a week now, i've been pounding vitamins. and i don't think it's helped one bit. in fact, the only effect i've felt from the vitamins is nausea when i take them on an empty stomach. admittedly, i do think they improve my fingernails when i take them regularly. but otherwise, i might as well rub them on a doorknob (as my dad would say), for all the good they do.

maybe I should just get my vitamins from good, wholesome foods, i thought (wondering if fois gras can possibly be seen to fall into this category). and then, i ran across this article...the case for real food and this one too, outlining all kinds of studies that show that vitamins are not really all they're cracked up to be. and then i began wishing that i felt more energetic and motivated to cook, but the problem is that when you're sick, you just want to lie around and have someone bring you big mugs of steaming, sweet tea, you don't want to stand at the stove, even if it is for your own good.

i loved taking my "biteynins" when i was a kid and sabin loves hers too, but that's because they're purple and pink and tasty and shaped like the flintstones (in my childhood) or they're like elmo-shaped gummy bears (in sabin's) (which is probably a big red flag in and of itself). but maybe i should have just had a carrot and i should definitely just give one to sabin. we should be getting our "biteynins" the old-fashioned eating them in their natural state, enjoying the real flavors and the pleasure of having prepared the food ourselves.  and then we wouldn't get that vitamin nausea feeling either. i sure hope i feel better tomorrow so that i feel like cooking again!

* * *
roasted pepper salad ala nigella
this is a vitamin bomb and pretty too!

8 red bell peppers, roast in the oven, then remove the skins and slice them into bite-sized pieces
1 pomegranate (nigella has a brilliant method of cutting it in half and wacking it with a wooden spoon to rain the lovely little seeds down on the salad)
1 handful chopped fresh parsley

3T pomegranate syrup
2T olive oil
1T garlic oil (mine was canola)
salt & pepper to taste

*inspired by a similar recipe in nigella lawson's new christmas cookbook, in which nigella goes mad for pomegranates (in a lovely, sensual, very sexy way, of course).

the right life

do you ever go to someone's house, look around and think...these books, this art, this furniture, these dishes, this lifestyle...this is how i would like to live. that's what happened to us last evening. we had our annual cousins party, this time in copenhagen. we hadn't been to J&T's apartment before, but i totally fell in love with it, just stepping inside.

both of them are art historians, so their home is full of wonderful posters from all sorts of art exhibitions, as well as wonderful paintings and whimsical collages. they've got clever magnetic poetry on the refrigerator. there's even art in the bathroom. it's so cool. their furniture is the best combination of inherited pieces and the coolest flea market finds. it's all put together beautifully and in between everything there are shelves and shelves of books on art. it was a heavenly and inspiring place to spend an evening. everyone was completely at ease in the surroundings,  there was great food, much laughter, some fun and games, some homemade schnapps (which i, the non-dane, had made--one with horseradish and one with apple & cinnamon--they were a big hit, especially the horseradish one!). it all ended with the agreement that it would be thanksgiving at our place next year. i aspire to everyone feeling as comfortable and happy in our home when they come here next year.

* * *
last year we had no snow all winter long. finally, around easter, it snowed for about an hour and sabin rushed out to play in it before it was washed away by drizzly rain. but this year is already different! on friday, we got our first snow. it was rather strange snow and seemed to come down in little snowballs.
but that definitely didn't stop sabin from rushing out in her new snowsuit on saturday morning:
i don't know if you've noticed the new look of gmail over the past few days. i did and because i can't resist new gadgets, i went in and chose a theme. i chose tree. when i chose it, it asked me for my location, which i thought was a little weird, but didn't really dwell much on it. i've been stunned this afternoon and evening to see the weather change on my screen, to reflect the actual weather outside. right now, snow is accumulating on the top left corner of my mails and on the word Gmail at the top--just as fluffy snow is accumulating outside. it's obvious that it's night and the tree (of the theme name) along the bottom is barely visible. it occurred to me that perhaps google wasn't reflecting the actual weather conditions, but actually controlling the weather...

* * *

quick quilt update:  i did finish the quilt top on friday, as hoped, but with all of the other weekend rushing around, i haven't sewn it to the fleece yet, nor did i have time to photograph it in good light. perhaps tomorrow!  

Friday, November 21, 2008

tagged for a meme

barb tagged me (she actually did it yesterday, i'm a little slow on the uptake this week, sorry!) for a meme that's a bit different than the usual meme.  what you do it open whatever book is closest to you (not necessarily your favorite book, but really the one within reach) to page 56 and type out the 5th sentence, plus the next 2-5 sentences thereafter.

here's mine:

the next thing serif knew, he had a bride. more than a year later, he was still surprised how happy he was with this sweet young presence in his life. especially since she had just confided that she was pregnant.

(kinda fitting in light of my week, weird how that works!)

i'm reading people of the book by geraldine brooks. what i found out today is that although it's a novel, the sarajevo haggadah actually exists. fascinating. i'll share more as i go along, as i've just started it.

thanks for the fun, barb, have a lovely weekend!

i'll tag andi (because i'm sure she has lots of books nearby) and anyone else who would like to try it.

call me crazy

i was just reading what possessed me and i decided that my goal for the weekend is to get randomly called crazy lady in public, like P. did. i'm so envious. these are the things i aspire to.

i started actively working on it yesterday, albeit quietly, to myself, mostly in my own head. it happened when i was standing in the grocery store and i found myself putting a small can of fois gras in my basket, followed by an ordinary loaf of toast bread. with all kinds of conflicting hormones coursing through my body at the moment, i was simply unable to exercise any impulse control whatsoever. at least it was only a $14 can of fois gras and not those fabulous purple furry bumper boots they have down in the shoe store for $360. and say what you will about fois gras, it is the food of the gods. i don't care how they treat those mean old nasty geese, i say bring it on. preferably with a nice fig jam on the side. heavenly. and because i didn't eat it all yesterday, i get to have it for lunch today too. lucky wannabe crazy lady.

* * *

my interview yesterday went very well, at least from my perspective. the job would be interesting (tho' i fear the pay is a bit low) and it's a company i know because i worked with them on projects in my previous job. i've always been impressed with how the people who work there seem to get along in a very real, genuine way and have a good creative atmosphere. that would be way cool. they were interviewing others, of course and will let me know next week whether i have a second interview. i'm pretty sure i will. oh, and did i mention that i actually did the whole interview in danish? pretty cool.  the only drawback would be little or no travel. that might make me very sad in the long run.

* * *

in other evidence of craziness, i made an impulse stop in ikea yesterday on the way home from the interview. one just shouldn't do that. ikea is something one must psyche up for. you have to be mentally prepared when you go there. and you should also be hungry, because of the relentless (and vaguely evil) allure of the meatballs. it was so crowded in the cafeteria that i actually resisted the call yesterday. which was good because then i wouldn't have had room for the afternoon fois gras snack. 

typically, i took the entire tour, because i am utterly unable to resist the cultural pressure to follow those damn arrows. since we're finishing the writing house, that was ok, because there ARE a lot of good decorating ideas in ikea. but why couldn't i just skip to downstairs and get the boxes and fabric that i came for? seriously, i wasted like 45 minutes. why don't i value my own time more than that? and then i bought 12 meters of these cute fabrics:
i wonder what to do with them now...KIDDING. actually, i'm going to make a moderny (as in not grandma-agtig) quilt out of them. ever since i got heather's wonderful patchwork , i've been wanting to do a modern take on a quilt. so i'm going to make a top out of the three fabrics above and then back it with a big fleece which i also bought in ikea, sort of a fast-track quilt for use in the writing house. do you think if i leave the damn computer i can get it finished today? i might be able to if you dare me to try. i'm motivated by a challenge and not very self-motivated. so what do you say? can the crazy lady make a quilt in a day?

UPDATED:  see how far i've gotten?  

and although it's awfully cold out there, i used my writing house to lay out the strips! it's even farther than it looks above because it's all pinned together now. i just have to sew it all up. but first, a bath, because i got really cold out there! that fleece that's beside it will be the matches better than it looks like it does in this pic, i promise.

and by the way, here's what color it's going to be in the writing house when it's done...a gorgeous, rich, vibrant turquoise (it doesn't look as good in the pic as it does in reality):

Thursday, November 20, 2008

moo moo and an interview

a big thank you and a big hug to everyone who left sweet comments and sent sweet emails about yesterday's post. i think that a big part of why i shared our sorrowful news is that i knew i would feel that rush of love and support from near and far.  you guys are awesome. i don't know what i did before i had all of you.

* * *

today, i'm going to a interview for a real job. after doing the consulting thing for nearly a year, i'm ready to be an employee again. i need the structure of going to an office every day. and i especially need daily human interaction with other adults who are not my husband or the teachers at sabin's school or the grocery store checkout people (who are often not adults, if i think about it). and i need someone else to be responsible for calculating the VAT, that drives me mad.  i'm wearing my favorite gap dress (quite akin to the audit dress ), awesome wolford tights (which of their tights are not awesome, i ask you), my big-ass celebrate obama ring and the new chanel no. 5 eau premiére. so it can't possibly go wrong.

* * *

last evening, after a 9:30 p.m. cup of licorice tea to soothe my throat, i was wide awake until well after midnight. but it was only partially the tea. it was largely because of moo cards. beautiful little mini calling cards with your best pictures on them. and you can actually upload 100 pictures at a time (which takes awhile, i can tell you) and get one card of each picture if you want! i went a little mad ordering sets of the Summer of Fun for the kids for christmas and then of course, some just for me. oh, and i downloaded the blurb booksmart software and started working on a book (or two)! tangobaby did both of these things long ago and has been encouraging me to do so for ages. i felt a little stupid for not knowing what moo cards were, so i never really got around to it. but now i have, big stylie! and i have to say that it was so much fun, i'm not sure what i was waiting for!

here's one of the pictures i used on a moo card, just as a teaser:
aren't they pretty? festive bottles of absolut, all dressed up for the holidays in the copenhagen airport.

* * *

and one more thing to share before i go fix myself for the interview...i found a few minutes on tuesday afternoon to visit the wonderful norway designs in oslo, where i bought the coolest cards by darling clementine . i feel very inspired to make some gocco prints after seeing these cards.
ok, gotta run....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

for about 5 minutes...

...we were going to have a tail-ender. a little sweet person with tiny little feet to keep us young for years to come. it was a bit of a shock at our advanced ages (me 41, husband 43), but we were adjusting to the notion in our heads. and we were quite excited about it, we do after all know what we're doing now. it was just barely soon enough to tell, but the test didn't lie. and then, last night, i woke up feeling all crampy and realized that it was not to be. that's really disheartening.

it takes my breath away how quickly you can get your brain used to a shocking idea. and how quickly you can come to count on it. we were making all sorts of plans in our heads...arrangement of rooms in the house, what to do about the high chair and baby bed we just gave away, thinking we'd never need them, the notion that it was husband's last chance for a boy (him being really outnumbered by girls at our house), even names were tossed around.

yes, the timing was dumb. yes, we're old. yes, we'd be REALLY old by the time the child left the nest. and yes, these things likely happen because there's something wrong, so it's probably for the best. and my inner fatalist presbyterian knows that. but we liked the idea. and now it's not to be. and i feel sad. i think it's going to take longer than five minutes to get past this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

immune compromised and second grade girls

my head is full of snot, my throat is hurting like crazy, i slept like crap and i had to fly this morning. i'm in a soulless hotel room in oslo and bookbinder's design is out of my favorite purple binders (which i use for my monthly MPC printouts). not fun. i have the season's first cold and it's left me feeling miserable and sorry for myself. but i'm pounding vitamins (too little too late, perhaps), and drinking tons of orange juice. and i shall now attempt to leave the whining about my immune compromised/binderless state aside and proceed to regular blogging...

last evening, the parents of the girls in sabin's class were called to a meeting. apparently, earlier in the year, there were issues between some of the girls in the class. because girls will be girls. supposedly there were some who were requesting payment from some of the others if they wanted to play along at recess. not cool. we i have repeatedly interrogated sabin as to who it was and whether it had happened to her, but she was curiously silent on every occasion. i even asked her teacher about it at the parent-teacher conference last week. her teacher said that sabin was not part of those issues at all and that she was surely telling us the truth when she said she didn't know anything about it. that's a big relief.

it's also a relief to be told by the teacher, before we asked about this, that sabin is very popular and well-liked by her classmates. they clamor to arrange play with her during the recesses and at SFO (her after-school program). we are so happy about that. because popularity is an elusive and mysterious thing, but it's also pretty important to one's sense of well-being.

sabin's always been one to play with boys, all through her pre-school, her best friend was nicholas. through these early years of grade school, the ones she wants to invite to play on the weekends are named oliver and søren and mohammed (happy about that one, with all the integration issues you hear about). but lately, maria and laura have been calling more often. i'm personally not so keen on maria because she swears like sailor. and while i work with sailors and appreciate a good swear word myself now and then, it's not pretty coming from the mouth of a second grade girl. especially not at the frequency with which it happens with this particular girl. we might actually have to talk to her parents (they're politiken readers, i can tell, just by looking at them...which i think means that they won't take it very well, as they're no doubt wanting her to have the freedom to express herself without too many restrictions, which is surely how she became a foul-mouthed little hell child in the first place).

husband went to the meeting last night and i stayed home with sabin, who was a total crab. mondays are hard on her, she always comes home tired and out of sorts. husband said that they admitted that there wasn't really a problem anymore, things had gotten better. it was something to do with coming back from the summer holiday and getting into the swing again that had caused the problems and now things were fine. but still, the several recently-divorced moms in the group, starving for outside adult contact, rambled on and on about their kids and how hard it was getting them up and dressed in the morning, so the meeting lasted nearly two hours! husband only stayed 'til the end because there was cake. i'm really glad it wasn't me who had to go. we all know how i feel about those kind of meetings.

i've put a lot of thought into what it is about sabin that makes her popular. but popularity is elusive. i think she's popular in the way that the girl who won homecoming queen at my high school was popular...because she's nice. she treats people equally, she's not a snot, she doesn't show off (unless you count those times when she says, "who here has been to the philippines four times, raise your hand?" or "who here flew to the states by themselves last summer?"). she's good at getting games started, she never sits around, complaining she's bored (except at home on the weekends when she wants to annoy her mother)...she gets out paper and gets everyone drawing, or she gathers people to play cards or a board game. i think her preference for playing with boys has kept her out of that girl crapola and somehow made her more mysterious and appealing to the girls. whatever it is, we are grateful for it, because it surely has much more to do with how she inherently is as a person than anything we have done with her upbringing.

which brings me to this...why are girls so hard on each other? and how on earth does it start so early? why do we women do that to ourselves? i can remember my arch enemy all through mom has said she used to pray that that family would move away from our small town...we made each other totally miserable. on purpose. and it was painful. and at the same time, i so loved that girl's two perfectly-placed chicken pock scars that were on her chin and her cheek. they were just so beautiful, i don't know why we just couldn't get along.

but now, my resolve not to whine about my besnotted head is fading fast, so i shall let you go.

Monday, November 17, 2008

monday morning links and quotes

monday morning links...a wonderfully funny and erudite piece on the enduring presence of our favorite alaskan by dick cavett (who knew he was so smart?)...frank rich's article on the issues facing the GOP going forward, which won me over by crediting david letterman with calling the election before the primaries were even over when he said that the ten GOP candidates looked like "guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club."...and maureen dowd's musings on hillary as secretary of state...and, lest you think i'm all politics, a great story of a little girl activist in iowa that makes me feel like i'm definitely not doing enough to make a difference in the world...and a disturbing article on the rising popularity of spam. times must be tough indeed. and yes, i only looked at the NYT this morning. i do it so you don't have to. :-)

* * *
great quotes of the day:

"the worse news for the country is that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead."--frank rich, the moose stops here, NYT, sunday, nov. 16, 2008

"typically american to participate in global warming in this extreme way."--husband, watching news of california wildfires on CNN, monday, nov. 17, 2008

"it is admittedly a rare gift to produce a paragraph in which whole clumps of words could be removed without noticeably affecting the sense, if any." --dick cavett, the wild wordsmith of wasilla, NYT, friday, nov. 14, 2008

* * *

and because no monday is complete without inspiration, some more links...this time, just to the fun stuff, i promise:
  • frikadeller recipe as requested in the comments on saturday's post
  • gorgeous vintage inspired modern fabrics.
  • beautiful paintings by mandy budan. (too bad i'm not getting anything for christmas this year. :-( )
  • very cool maps of imaginary places by paint and ink on etsy.
  • this idea for a virtual quilting group.
what's inspiring you this monday morning?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

lifestyle editors need a lifestyle adjustment

"to be hip or not to be hip," that is the question. actually, the question is more, "should one be hip in a time of worldwide economic crisis and if so, how?" but that doesn't roll off the tongue in the same way.

it seems to me as i page through my sunday newspapers that the people writing the lifestyle magazines that come with those every sunday are lagging a bit behind. perhaps this is because they plan those magazines months ahead and although they are meant to be the trend-spotters, they were apparently WAY off and didn't see the crisis coming. or maybe they're kept in some isolated room, far from the rest of the editorial staff and they have no access to the actual news of the day.

case in point:

a photo and description of a louis vuitton caviar case. yes, you read that correctly, a little square designer, hand-sewn bag in which to carry your caviar and all its accoutrements (this could easily have been a WTF wednesday posting) (oddly, i cannot find the case in question on the LV website, so no link, just this shot of my newspaper). that seems a little lavish in these tough economic times, doesn't it? and it reminds me of when i once saw a chanel water bottle holder to take the gym in neiman marcus in phoenix. but that was in the mid-90s, when times were good. and yes, i restrained from buying it, mostly because i thought the gold signature chanel chain would get too hot around my neck to carry it out rollerblading in the arizona heat. but, i digress...

there is also a big feature on high end designer lamps. we're talking a 6-page feature article on lamps that start at $1,200. i really do wonder if these lifestyle people have access to the rest of the newspaper at all? do they realize that people's home values are plummeting and they can scarcely afford to buy food for their families, let alone spend their entire grocery budget and then some on a lamp that doesn't even really light up the room, but just looks pretty.  i wonder who they think their audience is?

in the influence section, right next to the LV caviar case, they redeem themselves a bit with a little blurb about some hip young danish students who have a fashion blog, where they talk about dressing like you just stepped off the runway even tho' you're on a student budget. that seems pretty hip to the times.

to be fair, there is also a very cool article on street art, which seems a bit more like it. what better activity for the economically-challenged than to wander around with a camera, looking for interesting bits of art here and there on the streets and then being enterprising enough to make it into a calendar? (i wish they had links up on berlingske's website, but it seems the people who post that stuff aren't working on a sunday. grr. so again, we must make do with a shot of my newspaper.)

i don't know about you, but i'd like to see a lifestyle section in the newspaper that reflected the reality of people's lives today. perhaps they're attempting to offer an escapism to make us all forget about falling currency values (in europe anyway, the dollar is mysteriously rising), the loss of our friværdi in our homes (that's the difference between what you owe and what it's worth--when it's positive--equity, that's the word i was looking for) and the fact that countries and companies the size of countries are going bankrupt if they don't get bailed out. frankly, that's not what i want. i'd like to read more articles about how recycling is chic and how to repurpose last year's little black dress so that it's cool this year too. i'd like to know posh ways to use obscure and cheaper cuts of meat. handicrafts are hot, why aren't there more articles about that kind of thing? i think these lifestyle editors need to stop eating posh, designer hotdogs with porcini relish (that was mentioned today too) and get out into the real world and see what's happening.

* * *
p.s. i understand new york magazine has tips for people like me who are suffering from election withdrawal.

p.p.s. there's a very fun list of 37 things president bush should regret, since he recently said that he only had two regrets from his presidency. i think i could come up with about 100 more...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

random thoughts on a saturday

rafy, our wonderful polish carpenter, is coming tomorrow to put the floor in in my writing house. we came to a virtual standstill after the Big Party at the end of august, but now we are motivated to get to work again. the floor will go in tomorrow, then we can install the wood-burning stove, i can paint the walls and we can start USING that room. that will be wonderful.

because it's grey and dreary, like november always is in denmark, i'm sitting indoors, sipping hot tea and reading my latest batch of cookbooks from amazon.

sabin is sitting across from me, felting, or at least she was 'til she made a trip with her father to the hardware store.

i've got the nigella christmas cookbook in front of me. i do love her and her writing in all its voluptuousness.

it makes my mouth water and makes me want to try some new dishes this thanksgiving and christmas. and makes me want to get out the christmas decor and buy some apple cider to warm up on the stove with cinnamon and star anise. yum. nigella is slightly obsessed with pomegranates, but they are lovely and red and really quite christmasy.

i'm going to make bread and cupcakes this afternoon and we're having frikadeller (danish meatballs) for dinner. it's one of those days when you just feel like nesting.

Friday, November 14, 2008

you're the weakest link, good-bye

tangobaby was up very, very early and she asked me if i'd read andrew sullivan's piece on why sara palin still matters. i hadn't, but i have now. i wish the whole world would read it. although part of me wants ann robinson to come on and tell her to her face, "you're the weakest link, good-bye," since she didn't really seem to catch the clue from having lost the election, i realize now that it's so important that we keep questioning this bit of, in andrew sullivan's words, political malpractice. it simply must never happen again that a person so unqualified and unvetted is chosen for such an important role.

so exciting!

it's just at the rumor stage at the moment, but reports are filtering in that barack obama is considering hillary clinton as his secretary of state! that would be so awesome, i can scarcely contain my glee!  she would be a great secretary of state. if he picks her, i think i'll love obama even more than i already do.

grateful friday

it's grey and dreary and a rain of the sort that chills you to the bone is falling outside, so it seems appropriate to reflect on the things i'm grateful for this week:

  • last friday, i took the picture above.
  • a whole week at home.
  • getting to see the new james bond--which, while a departure from the usual james bond formula, wasn't as bad as reviewers have made it out to be. i think bond comes out of it a deeper, darker, more complex character and what they have done to film pacing in the chase scenes is extraordinary and more than a bit jarring.
  • an entire weekend devoted to creativity on the horizon.
  • stitching cupcakes.
  • real cupcakes.
  • my little yellow teapot.

what are you grateful for this friday?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

on intellectualism and feminism

i admit it, i can't stay away from the huffington post, even though the election is over. this morning, it was bob cesca's article on the madness of the far right in cyberspace. although some pretty wacky stuff is being said out there...he cites "impeach obama" groups on facebook (ahem, guys, can't really impeach a guy who hasn't taken office yet...) and some far out far right blogger who is actually claiming that bush made no verbal gaffes in the past eight years...we would do well not to ignore it, as beneath argument as it would seem to be. i think that's what got us into that anti-intellectual space in the first place. tho' it does seem pretty absurd to have to go head-to-head on issues like whether africa is a continent or a country or which countries are part of north america.

* * *
debi's comment on my quick michelle obama post yesterday has me thinking about feminism and what it means, at least to me. and although i posted the article link light-heartedly and more as a justification for my love of middle-of-the-road/pocketbook fashion, debi brings up a valid point about what feminism means today. i'm not sure that i really know because it's a word that gets bandied around quite a lot and used and abused by all sides.

when i was in college, i studied lots of feminist literary theorists--bell hooks, camille paglia, julia kristeva, to name but a few. i was, for a time, interested in the whole notion of "the gaze" and how it often objectifies women, especially on film. i read naomi wolf's the beauty myth and the classics by betty friedan and simone de beauvoir. but i had to admit that i was still hesitant to call myself a feminist. yes, i thought women should have equal pay for equal work, the same opportunities as men, control of their own bodies, but feminists just seemed so angry and strident and righteous. and i'm just not really cool with righteous.

i had this feeling that to be feminist, you had to forsake makeup and beaded cocktail dresses and i simply wasn't prepared to do that. i love high heels and eyelashes and mac paint pots and sparkly clothes. so, instead i embraced a strong woman like madonna, who is arguably a feminist, but one who someone like me could believe in. she was sexy, strong, determined, capable and successful. with her sex book in the early 90s, i felt she took that "gaze" by the horns and in embracing it, subverted it and made it hers, wresting it away from the male who would objectify her. i'm not sure now that it really worked, but for me, it worked at the time--i felt that was a feminism i could identify with.  frankly, madonna at 50 represents a feminism i can still live with (even if i wouldn't personally go there on the plastic surgery)...she's still sexy, feisty, successful and going strong. 

i was a little dismayed to read last summer that camille paglia was coming out as anti-madonna on her 50th birthday. although she's a bit of bitch (something a feminist is also free to be, so i mean it in a good way), i always kinda liked camille for her daring. it just feels a bit wrong for her to abandon madonna on the feminist front. 

i guess what i'm trying to say is that the label "feminist" has always been a bit problematic for me. it is a little too equated with bitch (in a bad way) and perhaps a bit too anti-man in its formulation for me to fully identify. i like men and i like being able to use my femininity in the very male world in which i find myself making a career. would a feminist do that? i'm not sure. they would probably castigate me for indulging in feminine maneuvering to accomplish my goals--like wearing my "audit dress," a grey suit with a short skirt, and sexy black wolford tights--on days when there's an audit. but isn't using your feminine side to be strong and achieve the upper hand also a form of feminism? or shouldn't it be? enjoying one's ability, even at 40-something, to possess a room full of men just by walking into it wearing the right clothes and makeup and then having the further satisfaction of sealing it when you open your mouth and they find out that you're smart on top of it! that's feminine power if not feminist power. and as i see it, the only way to achieve equality in paychecks and career opportunities.

i guess i don't think feminism has that much to do with the abortion issue. i can imagine that feminists think that women should have control of what happens in and around their bodies. and to believe that just because you believe in free choice means that you think everyone SHOULD get an abortion is naive. it's called pro-choice, because we think that people should have the choice to decide for their own body and their own life. although i used to provoke my mother by saying i wished i needed an abortion whenever we passed those clinics in wichita with all the protesters outside of them, i'm really glad that i never needed one. i'm certain it's a heart-wrenching choice for those who choose it. however, i would fight to the end for their right to do so and never imagine that i could make that decision for them (not unless i had already donated the kidney that i'm not using, in which case i could really argue that i 'm pro life...but i digress). 

i objected to sarah palin's citing to katie couric that hunting moose was a form of feminism, but if i reflect on it, perhaps it is. because it's about making your way on equal footing in a man's world--and hopefully transforming it to a more human world, without gender distinction. hunting moose is just her way of doing it and wearing my audit dress on audit days is mine...perhaps that's the beauty of feminism, it's what we make of it.

and me, i'm gotta go put on some of my new eyelashes because husband and me have a date night tonight..we're gonna go see the new james bond!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

loving michelle obama

i just read this wonderful article on huffington post on why all women should love michelle obama and i had to share it immediately. it makes me want to dance around and sing for joy. and it makes me feel a little better about my abiding love for the gap. :-)

on simplicity and the christmas season

i found the coolest shop in manila in the new greenbelt 5 (man, that mall just grows and grows!). it's called brat pack and is actually a super cool concept for a store. it's mostly funky backpacks and bags and clothing and shoes and some accessories (think lomo cameras and stuff like the fab team manila clock i bought there). the stuff is there on consignment from various vendors, but must have to conform to some certain style guidelines, because it's all quite harmonious. check out the shopping bag for a taste of how cool the shop is:

anyway, i bought the simplify shirt above at brat pack. (and yes, i appreciate the irony of me feeling that i have to BUY something in order to simplify!) it's from a label called good karma by life is good, and the label says it's "environmentally friendly clothing for environmentally friendly people." in any case, it's super soft cotton and i love the shirt. and i bought it to remind me that i've been talking a lot this year about simplifying and paring down our lifestyle, but i haven't been doing a whole lot about it.

husband and i just discussed on monday that we don't want to engage in that whole christmas madness this year. that awful panicked feeling that you don't have enough or the right presents, so you rush out and buy a few more things that you don't really need at the last minute. we don't want that feeling this year. we actually pretty much have what we need, so we have agreed not to get presents for one another this year.

then, this morning, i read tara's thoughtful posting on christmas madness and sustainable living at eyeblog. as she says, it's actually about living so that your life makes sense. we'd all love to give only presents that we have made by hand, but who really has the time for that? the reality is that we have to live our lives and make them work too and if we sat around knitting and sewing for everyone all the time, would dinner get made or the laundry get done? as it is, i am a little fearful of looking under the chairs for fear of being attacked by giant dust bunnies.

like tara, i also worry about where the things i buy are made (admittedly not sure it's a good thing that my new simplify shirt was made in pakistan). i would say that i've tried hardest on that front with food this past year...i have made a real effort to buy produce that is produced locally. i've been learning about cooking with nordic ingredients--did you know you could make hawthorne syrup? and we've been learning to enjoy things when they're season and not buy them otherwise--therefore, only 2 glorious weeks of strawberries and the tomato consumption has tapered off significantly. we're finding it makes us appreciate the goodness of the food more. it's true that we'll buy those clementines as they come into season, so we're not entirely faithful. we buy ones that are from spain, so that they've only come up through europe and not been shipped across an ocean on a container ship. somehow the small, easily-peeled juicy deliciousness of those clementines just means christmas, so we're not really prepared to do without.

i had already vowed to give presents i've made to those i need to exchange presents with this christmas (tho' sabin will no doubt get some legos and probably some littlest pet shop). but i'm thinking of nicely framing photos i've taken this year, or having some photo albums made on one of those sites online. i'll also make some cushion covers and perhaps a lap quilt or two. i'm still rubbish at knitting, so no knitting hats and mittens, even tho' i'd actually like to do that.

how can we live more simply and sustainably at christmas? i guess with worldwide economic crisis, it seems easier to imagine paring down and not indulging in complete christmas madness. the truth is that we don't actually need any more stuff here at our house (tho' i did kinda want a red retro espresso machine--but wants are different than needs, aren't they and we do enjoy going out for a latte). but i am looking forward to having a big, lovely christmas tree in our new addition. we won't skip that, nor will we skip making wonderful christmas food. we're just going to try to be sensible on the gift front. thanks again, tara, for prompting me put some thought into this one again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

reality t.v. and inspiration

i'm jetlagging. i wake up promptly at 4:30 a.m. these days. and because i'm wide awake, i just get up. i actually quite like it, because i can sip my chai in quiet, early morning darkness and ponder things...things like how although obama won, we still aren't rid of sarah palin. she's busily being spoon fed fox TV opportunities to appear innocent and maligned by the meanies in washington. and people are still writing her love letters like this one (it's really quite hilarious, do go read it). and it struck me that she actually thinks she's some kind of winner on some (far) stranger than fiction reality show. then again, what reality show isn't stranger than fiction? the problem for me is that although we voted her off, she's STILL HERE, so it's like some especially perverse twisted reality show from hell. i do wish they'd stop broadcasting it soon.

* * *
but, thinking about reality t.v. reminds me of some concepts that husband and i once came up with for reality programs. one of our best friends is head of entertainment at the danish t.v. channel that i like to think of as the CSI channel. but, in addition to CSI, they also have a few locally-produced reality programs. gems like "farmer wants a wife" and "gay army" and "the young mothers," which could soon offer a spot to bristol palin (but i digress).   husband and i pitched the following to her:

  1. gay construction--very flamboyantly gay men are given asphalt and paving equipment and asked to lay some road.
  2. near miss--ordinary people as air traffic controllers in some of the world's busiest airports.
  3. quack docs--ordinary people performing surgery on willing victims. we figured with the whole me-me-me culture of fame that there were enough stupid people out there on both sides to make half a dozen episodes or so.
strangely, despite how clearly inspired these ideas are, our friend didn't actually take any of them further...

* * *

and speaking of inspiration, in order to escape the SP channel, i went looking in the blogosphere for inspiration. and i found some here. and here. and here as well. and i totally love this, i mean who doesn't need some encouragement? and there's always so much inspiration on flickr.

i love the echoes journal so much, the notion of selecting and photographing objects, then trading them with three others and photographing them again is so appealing. does anyone want to do something similar? i'm seeing a cross-continental collaboration...won't you please play along?

Monday, November 10, 2008


just saw this on the front page of 
i believe i don't even need to comment, the contrast is so obvious.
and such a relief.
in every way imaginable.

tropical backwaters

the setting: slightly seedy bar on an out-of-the-way tropical island in what might as well be the south pacific.

the characters:  one brit, heavily tattooed, wiry, small, late 40s, early 50s; another brit, early 60s, or perhaps a bit older, grey hair that has the unreal, unmoving look of a toupee, missing a couple of key teeth in the front; a balding aussie with reading glasses and a severe case of the shakes, might be only late 50s, but could pass for late 60s; heavily-tattooed and pierced, mid-50s american, trying to hold onto youth with long, thinning, grey pony-tail and biker-style leather hat. it’s 11 a.m., but cold, squat, dark-bottled san miguels, glistening with sweat in the heat and humidity, stand before them.

what are they doing here? their conversation is largely about how much tickets cost now to get to the out-of-the-way island. it’s clear they’ve been coming for years. they talk about harrowing landings and take-offs on a nearly-too-short landing strip that starts in the water and ends in a volcanic outcropping that might as well be a mountain. they talk of hong kong, macau, melbourne and manila.

the younger brit who has just arrived has a two-day-old copy of the sun with him. he proceeds to engage in a conversation about how the muslims are taking over the UK...the newspaper has a story of a council that is hesitating to put up their christmas decorations because of the possibility of offending muslims in the community.

i find myself wondering what they’re doing there. what brings them back to this backwater place, where they clearly meet one another again and again? the bartenders know them--setting out their beers without them even asking. people passing by know them. some of the local girls know them. perhaps it’s the girls that bring them back. they’re talking about meeting in melbourne in february. there’s no hint of their business. but i find myself musing on it...small times arms dealers? drugs? whatever it is, it seems small time, more than a bit seedy, insignificant in the scheme of things...something that takes place in a tropical backwater such as this all the time...