Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I have this blah feeling now that Christmas is over...all that anticipation and now it's gone. I did plug in my little Christmas tree, though.

The day we were supposed to go back to New York, I discovered that I had actually gotten tickets for January 27 instead of December 27. So we got tickets for the only seats still available that day...first class, a few hours later. First class is awesome. More leg room, less crowded, they bring you menus (not that we got anything because we had already got stuff in the South Station food court, out of habit). They also help you more (getting your stuff on and off the train; helping your kids over the gap.) We also took the kids to the Boston Children's Museum.







Friday, December 18, 2015

Today I put together a salad with baby spinach, pecans, goat cheese and homemade dressing. It was very simple - extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and garlic. I'll try to remember to make it in the future instead of getting dressing at the store. It was much better. It probably helped that my vinegar was fairly new.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I started eating healthy on November 4, after getting a little shock at the doctor's office. Last time I checked, I lost 14 pounds. I plan to lose 10-18 more.

I'm pleased with the weight loss, looser clothing, etc. But it requires constant vigilance. Salad instead of fries. Dressing on the side. Frittata instead of pasta. No bread. No cookies. No booze. I do feel better eating this way. But it's a lot of work.
There is a rumor that Monica and Chandler might be dating in real life :)
I'm bored with The Force Awakens already. My force would rather take a nap.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I finished the Scientology book. I enjoyed it, but I couldn't understand why Leah Remini stayed in that cult so long. I guess we all make mistakes, and her whole family was part of the cult (from when Leah was a child), and that probably made it harder to shake. Her sister did leave Scientology long before she did. But it was an entertaining book (although it made me dislike Tom Cruise even more).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Today I finished Until I Find You by John Irving. 844 pages...that took me a while. The verdict: not as good as Last Night in Twisted River, but still worth reading if you like his work. Then I started reading Leah Remini's tell-all book about Scientology (called Troublemaker). It is both interesting and disturbing. Scientology is basically a cult that preys on people's insecurities and promises them career rewards if you agree to donate lots of money, attend two hours of church and/or counseling every day, and shun Suppressive Persons (people who are against Scientology). Ick.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It's 61 degrees in December. Zoe and I are at the park.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Isn't this yarn pretty? At first, I was reluctant to use it. It had an unusual texture. But now, I really like it.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

We are moving!

Just to the building behind us. It will have 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and be a little closer to the subway, grocery store and playground.

I still can't believe it. When Zoe was born, we were told it would take 5-6 years to get a 3-bedroom apartment. It only took 4 years. The closing is on December 15, and then we will move in January.

I'll miss our big living room (the new one is a little smaller, but has a bigger window) and our Empire State Building views (the new apartment is on a lower floor). The new apartment has views of trees from most windows, pretty in the fall. Also, the kitchen is bigger, though we will need to do something about the floor. And the 2nd bathroom...is fabulous.

I was relieved to find out that the previous tenant did not die; she went to a nursing home. She had lived in this apartment since 1962.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Took this photo before the rain started. 


Friday, November 27, 2015

So I tried the recipe from Budget Bytes and liked it. So even if her prices are not accurate in NYC, I am now a fan and bookmarked a bunch of recipes from her website.

I saw two movies in two days - The Good Dinosaur yesterday and the Peanuts movie today. Eric really enjoyed the Peanuts movie, laughing loudly and frequently. I like seeing kids' movies. And audience participation is not frowned upon. There is always some 3-year-old firing off commentary.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I was just browsing on Pinterest and found a recipe that looks good--Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta. It turns out it was from the Budget Bytes site. So the woman listed the cost of every ingredient. And I don't know where she lives...but a 9-ounce bag of fresh spinach costs more than 50 cents in my city. Or my state. Or my country...
I finished Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. I tried it years ago; I'm glad I gave it another shot. I originally tried it in hardcover, but the print was small and the lines were close together. I do find the Kindle much easier to read. Anyway, I thought it was vintage Irving, once I got past the logging bit at the beginning. I thought the whole book would be about logging, but it was just a small part. The rest of it was his usual Dickensian novel--elaborately plotted, lots of crazy characters, and little marvels. I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Yummy lentil salad #2

Found another good lentil salad. You cook the lentils for 20 minutes in boiling water with a bay leaf; then you drain them and mix them with some chopped red onion, carrot, celery and parsley. You make a dressing with some olive oil, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Very easy and good.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A friend of mine (from high school) got to brush an opossum's teeth at work :)


Another discovery

Found a healthy salad that still tastes good in one of my cookbooks. You cook a cup of lentils, then mix them with spinach, feta, diced cucumber, slivered red onion, and some homemade dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper). It's really delicious and doesn't taste spartan/medicinal at all.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I tried a new dish tonight. I had thumbed past it before because it looked a little dull. But it was really delicious. You put cauliflower and red potatoes in one bowl, with some parsley, basil and garlic. In another bowl, you mix together some tomato paste, dry white wine, water and olive oil. Then you pour the sauce over the vegetables and bake for 45 minutes, covered, at 400. You take it out, add some breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and bake it for 15 minutes more (uncovered this time). It was really amazing. I'm not even sure why. Maybe the slow roasting brings the flavors out, or maybe the sauce really helped. Hard to say. At any rate, I'd make it again.

I finished John Irving's Avenue of Mysteries, which was far out, definitely not a realistic novel, but enjoyable and thought-provoking. I couldn't think of anything else to read, so now I'm trying Last Night in Twisted River by the same author. It seems pretty good so far, in terms of the characters, though I'm not terribly interested in logging.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I read this interesting article about how the brain is actually more active when you are doing nothing (or daydreaming) than it is when you are performing a task.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151106-why-we-should-stop-worrying-about-our-wandering-minds

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today I took Zoe to a birthday party in Brooklyn. I was reluctant to make the shlep, but the carousel (Jane's Carousel) was really nice. I looked up their birthday party prices...much lower than Manhattan. Also, there were pretty views of the river and the Brooklyn Bridge.



I finished Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. That was a complex book. I went to the Wikipedia entry for the novel when I was done, because the central story (of the 6 interlocking narratives) didn't make much sense to me. Wikipedia cleared it up nicely. Also, the author explained (in the Wikipedia entry) how there are "transmigrating souls" in the story, pointing out that each of the 6 main characters has a birthmark. I noticed they all had a birthmark, but I didn't jump from there to transmigrating souls. The New York Times compared the book to a challenging crossword puzzle.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I just finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I do like his books, but this one had such a bittersweet ending. It was interesting to learn more about Japan though.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Princess puzzle

Just finished this puzzle, mostly by myself. Zoe thought it was too hard. Somebody gave it to her for her birthday. It has 100 pieces.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

I just rediscovered Expose (imagine an accent mark over the second e, because I don't know how to make one on Blogger). In sixth grade, I used to roller skate to their songs at the Roller Palace in Beverly, Massachusetts. I still like their music. I guess people don't change that much.

Friday, November 06, 2015

I just took a bike ride. It was great to be able to ride outside in November. In shorts and a T-shirt, no less. Some guy was wearing a fleece vest over his T-shirt, which I've never understood. If you need a heavy vest, you probably need long sleeves.

Monday, November 02, 2015

On Twitter today, I saw the cutest image of a rabbit playing the trumpet. It was from the margin of a medieval manuscript. Blogger wouldn't let me upload it, but I found a similar picture online.


I love these illuminated manuscripts. So cute and whimsical. They make me think of monks, huddled over the manuscripts, drawing carefully.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I just finished Slade House by David Mitchell, and enjoyed it...though it was a bit scary! It was about a haunted house that persists through the ages, and also featured a character from his previous book, The Bone Clocks. David Mitchell reminds me of Margaret Atwood - a literary writer who is equally at home with horror, science fiction, historical novels, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Today, books from three of my favorite authors came out! A red-letter day for reading. The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith, Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, and Slade House by David Mitchell (OK, he is probably not one of my top favorites yet, though I really enjoyed his last book, The Bone Clocks).

Anyway, I decided to start with Shopaholic to the Rescue, and I'm glad I did, because her books are always so light and fun.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Today I made a soup that I last tried years ago. The first time, I made it with butternut squash "from scratch" and used a vegetable stock I didn't really like. This time, I bought the pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe's, which made the soup much easier to prepare. Basically, you saute two onions in 1/3 cup olive oil, add 10 cups of stock, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, and 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes with their liquid. Then you bring it to a boil, add 2 cups of diced butternut squash (I chopped the Trader Joe's squash into smaller pieces), lower it to a "lively simmer," and add 4 cups of kale and 2 cups of drained canned white beans after the squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Once you've added the kale and beans, you cook it for 10-15 minutes more. It was magically delicious. Zoe loves the squash. She asked if I can put it in her lunch next week. And the good stock is Kitchen Basics vegetable stock - low sodium, but still tasty.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Just listened to a bunch of Gordon Lightfoot and now I'm in a deeply mellow state.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I have to say, Larry David was hilarious as Bernie Sanders on SNL, with a very credible Brooklyn accent..."All these billionaires have three or four pairs of underwear! I only have one pair, and I dry it on the radiator cuz I don't have a dryer!" He defended Hillary on the email issue, as he did in the real debate, and then continued: "I can't even get into my email! I forgot my password and they emailed me a new one! But I can't get into my email without my password!"

And I also liked Hillary as Val the bartender.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I finished the last of the Neapolitan novels today (the second one, since I read them out of order). I know the author wrote some other things. But I'm going to miss these characters. I feel like I've been on a long vacation with them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Years ago, when I was living in Massachusetts, I heard a song when I was driving to work. I liked the beat, but also the words: "I wish I had a girl in the hood/so I could call her." I sang that line when I went to work, making a coworker giggle. And that was it, I never heard it again.

Until last night. I was listening to playlists on Amazon Prime. There was one called "90s One Hit Wonders." I clicked on a random track, and presto, it was the girl in the hood song! I felt like we were destined to find each other, the song and I.

Except Amazon provides lyrics, and it turns out he was saying: "I wish I had a girl who looked good/and I would call her." Oh well. It's still a good song. It's called "I Wish" by Skee-Lo, in case you're wondering.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Winter Stroll

Last night I finished Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand. It's the sequel to one of her previous novels, Winter Street. Here's my review from LibraryThing and Amazon:

Sheer enjoyment. I always love Elin Hilderbrand's books. Here, she revisits the Quinn family from her previous novel, Winter Street. Patrick is in jail for insider trading; his wife, Jennifer, has developed a trashy addiction to help her cope; Kevin is adjusting to fatherhood and an unexpected encounter with his ex; Ava is trying to choose between two men, one of whom might have a crush on someone else; and Mitzi is regretting leaving her husband for Santa Claus. A fun read, with some plot threads resolved and others left hanging, so I bet there will be a sequel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Feeling good after the debate. I like both Hillary and Bernie, but will probably vote for Hillary because of her consistent record on gun control. I liked how Bernie defended her on the email issue, saying America was sick of hearing about it. We are! Let's focus on the stuff that matters.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Neapolitan novels

So I've been reading the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. I read books 3 and 4, then I went back and read the first book, and now I'm on the second one. It's really interesting to see these grown characters (from book 3 and 4) as children, to see the seeds of their behavior, and think, "Oh yes, what happens later is foreshadowed here." I love stuff like that.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

So my mother told me today that they are going ahead with the third Bridget Jones movie. It will star Renee Zellweger (who looks very different these days), Colin Firth (yay!) and Patrick Dempsey, who will replace Hugh Grant, who dropped out of the project. I had thought they were dropping it after Hugh Grant left, so I'm looking forward to it. I think Patrick Dempsey is a good replacement. It's supposed to be about Bridget, married and pregnant ("which doesn't sound as fun," said my mother). But it will fill in the missing years between Bridget Book #2 and Bridget Book #3.

P.S. Apparently Patrick Dempsey is a new character, not a replacement.

Friday, October 09, 2015

It's not every day you see Darth Vader walking down the street.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Trying to sort out my thoughts on the 2016 election. I was a strong Bernie supporter before, but I like Hillary's record on gun control better. Bernie is from a rural, gun-friendly state, and claims that there are many responsible gun owners, and the first thing he wants to do is enter a discussion. Hillary is taking more of a hard line. At this point, I feel like a hard line is necessary. Yet, until now, I liked Bernie so much. Maybe the debate will clear things up for me. The bottom line is, I have two small children, and all these school shootings make me nervous. I wish we could have a nationwide buyback like Australia did in 1996 (in response to a single gun massacre!).

Just read a New Yorker article about Bernie, which said he hits at Hillary's Achilles heel - "authenticity." Yes. But I do like her gun control record.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I just finished Margaret Atwood's latest book, The Heart Goes Last. What a strange and interesting story. A bit dystopian but not as bleak as the Oryx & Crake trilogy...more lighthearted and funny (but still a little dark). I liked the surprise ending (at the very end).

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Today I took Z to a birthday party on the Upper East Side (pretty far from our neighborhood). It started out as a typical birthday party (kids doing crafts, etc.) Then we were ushered into another room, where two men started unloading animals from crates. ("We Bring the Zoo to You.") The animals included a giant yellow python (named Banana), a hedgehog and a bunny. Zoe even held a tarantula!




The last animal is a baby alligator, named Rocky.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Today we went apple picking, even though the sky was gray and ominous. Once we got to the farm, about an hour from NYC, the sun peeked out and things warmed up a bit. It was a field trip Z's class was taking, with one parent per child. We all plucked apples from the trees and munched on them. Then we took a hayride to a pumpkin patch, had a picnic lunch, let the kids run around a bit, and headed back home.




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A girl on Facebook (friend from college) just got a new job "specializing in retrospective observational public health/epidemiology studies."  I'm happy for her, but I don't really know what this means. I definitely prefer straightforward job titles like carpenter, writer, teacher, gardener, etc.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

If you're looking for something good to read, both Margaret Atwood and Jojo Moyes came out with new books today!

I'm also reading the fourth book in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series...featuring a huge cast of intense, intellectual Italians.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I thought this knitting pattern was very funny. Now I kind of want to read the designer's comics, but I think they are only written in Korean.
A lot of people make fun of pumpkin spice aficionados on Twitter, but I love it. I just saw a recipe for pumpkin sugar cookies on Pinterest. I've also been thinking of the first things I cooked. The very first was a simple dessert from a kids' Betty Crocker cookbook with a red-and-white cover. You just bought some biscuits, twisted them into figure eights, dipped them in a mixture of butter, cinnamon and sugar, and cooked them a bit. They were very good. My first real "meal" was potatoes Anna, from a potato-themed cookbook that I've lost track of.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Today I tried a new recipe - cauliflower gratin from the New York Times. It was the first NYT recipe I've tried...I don't trust Mark Bittman somehow - he seems like one of those types who wants you to soak beans instead of using canned ones (the mark of someone who probably has helpers in the kitchen). But I discovered Martha Rose Shulman, whose recipes seem to be up my alley. The gratin was pretty good, though oddly sweet from the cinnamon she included.

T and I saw Black Mass (new movie starring Johnny Depp as Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger, a notorious South Boston gangster). The movie was very good, but chilling. I am used to seeing kids' movies at this point, so the violence was a bit much for me. T and I both had to look away from the screen at times. Later, I read an interview with Kevin Weeks (one of the real-life people who is played by an actor in the movie) and he had all kinds of issues with the film: they made him look too dumb, the chronology wasn't accurate, and the violent scene at the beginning of the movie never actually happened. The movie did kind of put you under a spell, but I think I will pick a gentler offering for my next outing.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Eric still enjoys being read to, so I ended up reading him 43 pages of Mouseheart tonight. Very good if you have a little one (or just enjoy reading children's books).

I also came across this list of books and discovered that I had read all of them except #5 (which I couldn't get into).
I love grilled cheese sandwiches, and this looks like a good one.

I also might check out the cookbook it was featured in - Bountiful. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I read an article in the New Yorker about different "online shows." The article said that Amazon's Catastrophe was the best. I didn't try it right away because I have never been a TV person. Finally I watched it today and I was hooked. I watched the whole season (6 23-minute episodes) in one sitting. I did some research and found out it is a British show, available in the US exclusively through Amazon Prime. I do like British shows better than mainstream American fare. The actors look like real people, the humor is quirky and intelligent, and there is no laugh track. Recommended.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Feeling sleepy, but I just wanted to jot down that I saw Hamilton yesterday. It was a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, etc. Burr was a fascinating character and portrayed sympathetically. I liked most of the hip-hop songs and they gave the play a lot of energy. The actors were good dancers too. The second half was a little sad. We had good seats - second row from the stage. Apparently you couldn't get tickets for the front row - it was reserved for friends and family of the cast. The guy who played Hamilton's son saluted at someone in the front row.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Today we went to a birthday party where the parents had rented a couple of ponies. (That's Manhattan for you.) E enjoyed it wholeheartedly. Z was a little nervous.



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Zoe is excited for Halloween. She wanted to try on her Minions costume.


Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Today was E's first day of school. I feel a little bit emotional. It's weird to have him gone after having him around so much during the summer. Z doesn't start until next week. But I'm bringing her to school at 10 for 20 minutes, to meet her teachers. It's a thing they do. One of them was a "floater" in her class last year, so she knows her already. The other one used to be E's teacher when he was four, and I liked her a lot. So I feel good about her teachers. I haven't met E's new teacher yet.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

I just finished A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan. I liked the author's writing style - crisp and different - though it took me a little while to get used to. What really bothered me, though, was that the protagonist, Alice, had a horrible job, and it took her way too long to realize it!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

My mother is visiting this weekend. She confided that she has become addicted to some Spanish soap opera (Victoria). She almost wants it to be over so she will be out of its grip. She said it feels like a loss, not being able to watch it for a few days. (We don't have a TV.)  I said she could probably find it online, and she said nobly, That's ok.

It's funny because she likes to read biographies of founding fathers and presidents, yet also loves Victoria and The Bachelor :) She told me that Jennifer Weiner has been doing a running commentary on The Bachelor. It's funny, I met Jennifer Weiner at a bookstore in 2005 (there's a blog entry about it) and she was very down to earth. Now she seems pretty glamorous: she did a bookstore reading with Hoda Kotb, and wears hair extensions (by her own admission). Not all the time, though. I think she also got Botox. The thought of bacteria being injected in your face freaks me out.
Recently I read The Good, the Bad and the Furry by a British author who is starting to be published in the States. It was very funny. The writer's father was very eccentric. (It was nonfiction, set in the British countryside.) At one point, the father had a toad living in his shoe. He kept a Post-It on the shoe to remind him. Then the toad moved out and another moved in. The father didn't like the second toad as much as the first. "Well, maybe another nice one will move in," the son told him. "It was all decided a long time ago, anyway." The father said, "You're learning!" He was a firm believer in predestination.

I really like the line, "It was all decided a long time ago, anyway." It takes the stress out of things.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I just walked along the High Line. It's very hot and sticky out, but I always enjoy that walk. I also took this picture of the sun through fog.


I read an article in the Times about Lake Michigan. The writer said if you stand on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, you can never see across to the other side, because Michigan is 75 miles away. I like that a lake can be so big. I dipped my toes in it once.
So today I finished the ribbed hem of a sweater. Then I had to switch to larger needles. They were size 10.5 circular needles (basically a long piece of plastic tubing with six inches of metal on either end). Unfortunately, they were so twisty and bendy that it would be difficult to avoid the dreaded "twisting" of circular knitting. I remembered reading a tip - boil the needles. So I filled the pasta pot with hot water and boiled them. It worked wonderfully. They are nice and pliable now. Interestingly, the plastic tubing didn't get hot at all, though the metal tips took a while to cool down.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My sister-in-law had a cute baby in early July. I saw the baby, L, when she was in the hospital, and then one more time. Since then, nothing. (D only saw the baby in the hospital.) SIL invited us to brunch this Sunday. I am hoping L will be there. (I texted SIL to see if she would be, but she is one of those people who doesn't check her phone constantly - an anomaly in this day and age.)

I know for sure that L is coming to an in-law gathering at D's aunt's house in late September. It got rescheduled several times, because whenever someone couldn't attend, D's aunt would reschedule. I wonder if all in-laws do this.

Update: L is coming to brunch! Yay.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I love the new panda cubs at the Smithsonian. We have not been to see them; last time I went to DC, they were not yet born. I can't get over how cute and tiny they are.


Yep, that little pink guy is a baby panda.

The Smithsonian has a team working around the clock to feed the twin pandas. Right now, the mother won't let go of the larger cub. So the team is focusing on the smaller cub. The bigger cub is thriving in its mama's care :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Saw two movies this weekend...The Minions with the whole clan, and Inside Out with Zoe. Before Inside Out, there was a cute animated short about two volcanoes looking for each other. When the credits flashed, I saw a name I knew - a girl from college - in some technical role. The movie itself was about the human brain and how it processes emotion. The emotions in the brain were Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. (Disgust was voiced by Mindy Kaling.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Just finished Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner. It was one of her best books in a while. Slow start, but then it really pulled me in. I like it when an author comes "back."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Eric and I were on the subway this morning and he was denouncing Windows 10. "They monitor every keystroke!" he exclaimed. "Every user ID, every password." (Did I mention that he is 7 going on 35?) A wide-eyed man was listening to him talk. I told D about it and he said, "Maybe that guy worked for Microsoft." I explained that the guy had big bags and a tattoo of a topless mermaid. "A messenger for Microsoft," he mused.

Friday, August 14, 2015

I'm reading I'll Have What She's Having, a food memoir by Rebecca Harrington. In it, she tries the diets of various celebrities: Gwyneth Paltrow, Liz Taylor, Karl Lagerfeld, and Marilyn Monroe (so far). Karl's diet is the most spartan, Gwyneth's the most modern (raw almonds soaked in milk, kale juice), Liz's the most disgusting (sour cream and cottage cheese mixed as a dip for fruit). For breakfast, Marilyn liked two raw eggs whipped in milk; the author reports that this is delicious, "like bland eggnog." Marilyn would skip lunch and have steak with five carrots for dinner.

Monday, August 10, 2015

So I got a bike to ride when I'm in Massachusetts. There's another bike in the shed but it badly needs a tune-up and my mom doesn't have a bike rack. Turns out my brother (in another town) does so maybe someday he can take it in. Anyway, the new bike is great. A Trek, silver and black. I rode it to my high school, past the turnoff for my elementary school, down random side roads, and finally replicated my favorite ride from childhood. I used to do this ride with a friend, starting when we were 8, and lasting at least until age 11. It consisted simply of riding around our block, over and over. Oddly enough, not boring at all, even now. A bit meditative, with a hill at one end to add variety. As a child I called it "Music Hill," because of its soaring quality. (I also remember a path I walked with the same friend and her mother - we called it "the hidden trail." I think it was just a trail behind our elementary school with some goldenrod and abandoned train tracks.)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

I got to Massachusetts yesterday and started driving for the first time in years. (My license had expired and I renewed it finally.) Tonight, driving in the dark to CVS, I noticed a motorcycle behind me in my rearview mirror. With its single headlight glowing in the darkness, it reminded me of a Cyclops. Then I remembered how it always reminded me of that. Funny how these things come back to you.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Roundabout path

Sometimes I start out reading one book and end up reading something entirely different. I decided to check out All The Light We Cannot See (Pulitzer Prize winner, recommended by my mom, Reese Witherspoon and lots of others). The first 100 pages fairly flew by. After that, the plot squeaked to a halt. I might revisit it - the writing was definitely poetic and skilled - but it just wasn't holding my interest.

So then I started reading My Paris Dream, a Princeton alumna's memoir of her year in France. I was pleased to see her "Princeton playlist" studded with 80s hits...my only regret about going to college in the 90s was that grunge was not as fun to dance to.

Friday, July 24, 2015

I was poking about on Ravelry (a knitting website) and I was, as always, surprised by people who love to knit socks. I have knitted a few, but more to prove that I could do it, than out of enjoyment...I used to be a hat/scarf/mitten knitter and am now a sweater knitter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I just finished Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It had the same premise as Sliding Doors, that Gwyneth Paltrow movie from the late 90s, but much better executed. Basically, the heroine made two different choices, and the novel followed each (two parallel tracks). It was fascinating to see how things turned out. And the author has written two other books :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

So yesterday T and I saw Trainwreck. The theater was surprisingly crowded for 3pm but I guess that's what happens on Friday in the summer. The movie was my first exposure to Amy Schumer (other than the preview we had seen). It was funny and outrageous. Afterward we went out to an Italian restaurant nearby which I had not been to in a long time. I got a beet and goat cheese salad, some homemade gnocchi and a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Today I finished MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. It was the last book in her speculative fiction trilogy. She calls it speculative fiction because nothing is in it that has not yet been invented. It was kind of science fiction-y. I enjoyed it and now I'm wondering if I should try Ursula K. LeGuin. Fortunately Margaret Atwood has another book coming out in September.

Today I'm also going to see E's new play (he's in a little skit every Friday at camp). This one is called "Pirates and Princesses." Later I will see Trainwreck with my friend T, who gets out of work at 12 today.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Zzzzz

Wanted to check in, but wasn't sure what to write about. Yesterday I read Bennington Girls are Easy. Amazon had recommended it to me, and the magazines all picked it as a top summer read, while many of the customer reviewers trashed it. They didn't like either of the two main characters, Sylvie or Cassandra. Well, the book really sucked me in. I thought the author did a good job of establishing a dreamy atmosphere at Bennington and portraying its impractical graduates, drifting through life. There were a lot of funny quotes. Unfortunately, there were sad moments too. I guess the two big themes in the book were the luster of youth and how it gets lost; and how Bennington girls are tragic.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I went to a foot doctor for the first time. My left heel had been hurting for a while but I wasn't sure they could do anything about it. Or I was afraid they might recommend surgery. But all they did was give me a cortisone shot and mold orthotics for my feet. I get to pick up the orthotics in 3 weeks.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

This morning I made zucchini muffins. They are the unsung heroes of the muffin universe. Nice and moist, and lightly spiced with cinnamon and cardamom.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Obama is definitely my favorite president. Every time I look at my Facebook feed, there's news of him making more people eligible for overtime, protecting the environment, and making health care more accessible. I really wish he could run for a third term.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The sublime

So I was listening to Medulla by Bjork on the exercise bike. It's kind of delightfully weird - different from all her other stuff and pretty much all other music. So, in one of those strange cross-connections the mind sometimes makes, I remembered a class I took in 1996 or so, about the sublime in British poetry. The classic example was Keats and his ode to the Grecian urn - an urn depicting a runner who can never quite catch what he's chasing. The sublime is indescribable and hard to capture. So this made me wonder if Medulla is sublime in that sense - because it's less accessible, more challenging, but at the same time more enjoyable than other music. Maybe things are more enjoyable when we can't fully capture them.
Does anyone else have an overexplainer in their life? This is the kind of person who writes an email with exhaustive, boring detail. When you reply (out of politeness and nothing else), they write another email which is a virtual duplicate of the first. They also say, "See previous email" in case you missed reading the exact same thing.

These tend to be the same people who use voicemail instead of texting, and their voicemails are always unintelligible.

AARRGGGHHH!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Z had viral conjunctivitis. This means that her left eye got a little pink but she didn't need to take eye drops. (For bacterial conjunctivitis, which I had last year, you need drops.) Anyway, her eyes look good now, and she seems more enthused about camp again. "Do I go to Puppy Group today?" she asked, and seemed pleased when I told her she would go on Monday. So maybe she was just down on camp because she was sick.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Last night I had trouble sleeping because I kept hearing someone whooping and shrieking. I was puzzled by the source; we're on the 17th floor. Then I realized someone must be on their terrace. I peeked out the bathroom window and saw someone sitting on her terrace, apparently by herself (though maybe I just couldn't see the other person). I flashed back to my college roommate throwing the window open and yelling, "SHUT UP!" and tried to come up with the least inflammatory phrasing possible (New Yorkers are a scrappy bunch). I said, "Quiet down please, thanks." After that, I didn't hear anything. The whole thing reminded me of Rear Window. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

The cashier at Gristedes asked Zoe, "Do you like camp?" She yelled, "No!" The woman in front of me said, "That was strong." I hope she gets to like it more. Before it started, she was really excited about swimming in the warm baby pool with an adjustable floor. They make it so shallow that the kids can walk around in it. When they get more confident, they lower the floor so they can do some "real" swimming. But she seems not be a big fan so far. I guess if we have to, we can cancel the second session, though I'm not sure how much of a refund they give. She also napped twice this week, which she hasn't done in months, and that makes it harder to put her to bed at night.
If you could sing like anyone you wanted, who would you choose? I would probably pick Stevie Nicks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This morning I went for a bike ride. On my way back, I saw a couple with a really cute dog. It was small and tan, with curly hair and a jaunty demeanor. The man spotted a cab and kissed his wife goodbye. Then the wife held the dog up so the man could kiss it goodbye. He puckered up but the dog kept avoiding him. Finally he gave up and got in the cab. A few minutes later, the dog was sniffing another dog's face enthusiastically.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Zoe was tired after camp today. 
Ugh. In a month from today I'll turn forty.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Music

I'm listening to "West End Girls" on my phone...that song came out when I was in 5th grade or so. I remember the Pet Shop Girls' next single, "What Have I Done to Deserve This" with Dusty Springfield, and how I waited for it to come on the radio (admittedly not a long wait) and had my TDK tape ready and pressed "Record" after the DJ stopped talking. There used to be this sense of ceremony about songs that is missing now...every new Madonna song used to be an event...now you just buy the single on iTunes or Amazon.

Though admittedly it is easier to play a song on your phone instead of putting the needle on a record or rewinding a cassette...then again, vinyl is "in" right now...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We're going to see The Lion King on Saturday. It's so nice to see a play and not have to find a babysitter. Because we're bringing the kids! This may or may not work out; we'll see. I'm pretty confident that E will be fine. At 3 1/2, Z may be a bit too young.

I'm almost done with the Maeve Binchy short story collection I'm reading. I had put it aside months ago because I don't always "click" with short stories. I'm glad I picked it up again, because I really enjoyed it. It's too bad she won't be writing any more. But there may be another treasure trove. You never know.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Brownies

Tonight I made brownies from scratch. The last two times I made brownies, they were from a package. It's probably not surprising, but these were vastly superior. Even the part you lick from the bowl was better. The link is here.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Random summer post

So I went to that local-but-not-in-my-backyard park again. I really like it. It's a little further away so it doesn't have neighborhood politics. And I saw 2 moms I like: one who has a little red-haired boy and another with an Australian accent ("roight," "noice") who is about to have a second son. She didn't want to know the gender but the midwife slipped up and revealed it when she was discussing an ultrasound.

I've also been biking by the river a lot. I'm reading Chestnut Street, a posthumous collection of stories by Maeve Binchy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

So I just brought Z to a local park. Not the one behind my apartment, because they took the swings down for the duration of the summer. Peak time for the playground. Nice planning, right? Anyway, this other park has swings and is actually shadier and nicer, just further away. There was a nice older lady sitting near me and she struck up a conversation. I knew she wasn't from New York because she was very friendly and had traces of a Southern accent, which I always find charming. Anyway, we were chatting away, and then her daughter sat near us. She was around my age, definitely in her thirties at least, but she acted like a petulant teenager. When her mother said, "I just love it here," the daughter rolled her eyes. And when her mother asked, "Do you come here in the winter?" the daughter snapped, "I would NEVER sit outside in the winter!" (Also, earlier, I overheard the daughter say to her, "We don't have to talk," though I didn't hear the rest of the conversation so it could have been out of context.) Eventually the daughter said to the mother, "I want to sit over there so I can see my daughter!" and the mother was all, "Nice to meet you" and followed her away. I thought it was a pity that such a nice lady had such a pill for her daughter. (She introduced herself and her daughter early on, but I won't put their names here.) I also thought it was interesting that I felt much more of a connection with their mother, even though the daughter was closer to my age. That happens to me sometimes. I guess if you're going to like someone, their age doesn't really matter.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Yesterday was Eric's birthday party. I enjoyed it more than I thought it would. Maybe I'm more social than I think I am...at least when I get to pick the people who will be there :)

Afterward, D agreed that everyone had a good time, but he was griping that the pizzas were too small. But there were 12 of them! At that point, size doesn't matter.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Today is Eric's birthday. It seems so strange to me. Seven years ago, he was a baby in a hospital blanket, and now he's all grown up. (Well, not quite.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I just saw a savory basil pesto hummus doughnut on Pinterest. Shouldn't doughnuts be sweet?

Monday, June 01, 2015

So I was home this weekend and decided to renew my driver's license. It had been expired for nearly 4 years, and Zoe lost the old one. One of the required items to renew is your old license. But surprisingly, they said my social security number was enough. They didn't even ask me for ID. And I passed the eye test with flying colors. It's nice when something you were stressed out about turns out to be no big deal. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Nutella cookies

It's funny how many recipes I've pinned on Pinterest, yet I've only made a few. There were some 4-ingredient peanut butter cookies that I made until I got sick of them. Now I've found 5-ingredient Nutella cookies with sea salt. Hoping to make them soon.

Easy, fudgy 5-ingredient Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup nutella
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour + 1 tablespoon
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients besides salt in a large bowl with electric mixer until well combined. Place dough in freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes roll dough into approximately 1-inch balls, place on ungreased baking sheet at least two inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes until cookies are set, then very carefully transfer to a wire rack. Generously sprinkle with sea salt.

Friday, May 29, 2015

So I had two computers that were not really working. Then E made a suggestion that enabled me to fix them. It's amazing what a 6-year-old can do. Okay, he's almost 7.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I just finished the most amazing book, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It was about a woman named Ursula ("little bear") who lives her life over and over again, making different choices, which sometimes changes her life dramatically, and other times the same things happen again and again. It was really fascinating if you have any interest in reincarnation, history, or just a good story. And the companion novel (A God in Ruins, about Ursula's brother, a pilot in World War II) came out yesterday. So I'm going to read it next.

Monday, May 04, 2015

I am not obsessed with royalty, but I really like the name Charlotte Elizabeth Diana :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mac & cheese

I just made the best mac & cheese, from a Jeanne Lemlin cookbook. Basically, you boil 2 cups of elbow macaroni, and meanwhile make a roux: 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp melted butter, 2 cups milk, 1/8 tsp dry mustard, a dash of cayenne and a bit of salt. You mix the pasta with the sauce and cook it in a 2-quart container at 400 for 15 minutes. At first, my kids asked, "Is it Kraft?" but then they forgot about that and munched away contentedly.

P.S. I left out the cheese in the list of ingredients. You mix it into the roux: 2 cups cheddar and 1 cup smoked Gouda. The Gouda really makes a difference.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Zoe in her Hello Kitty jean jacket...it has a sequined kitty on the back :)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A bit of excitement today...there was a coyote behind my building, being chased by the NYPD. A neighbor showed me the video. It really did look like a dog, though. Ok, slightly different. Very much like Wile E. Coyote from the cartoons.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Just finished this sweater.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not so bad after all

So I just got back from the "gala." D stayed a bit longer, to bid at the live auction. It's all to benefit E's school. I bid on some items in the silent auction (a tour of a chocolate factory, a big basket from Fairway, a tote with small-dog items for a neighbor, a box of special teas with an infuser). Hopefully we will win something. I decided the black sparkly dress was de trop (and a bit uncomfortable too), so I just wore a long black skirt, a long-sleeved top from the Gap, and black strappy sandals. Some women were wearing cocktail dresses and others were in corduroys and sneakers, so I guess I fell somewhere in between.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just got carded at the liquor store. I love those moments. 

Do I have to dress up?

Tomorrow night we're going to a "gala" at my son's school. It's a fundraiser with food provided by Danny Meyer, all very ooh-la-la. But of course all I'm thinking is: do I have to dress up? I bought a black glitter dress from H&M (one of my new favorite stores, it costs barely more than Old Navy but is somehow classier). But still, despite the dress, which I like well enough, I don't really want to dress up. Which brought up a submerged memory: hiding in my room, then under the coffee table, because I didn't want to dress up to see The Nutcracker as a child. I wanted to see it, I just didn't want to put on a skirt.

Which raises the question: how much do we change, from when we were children? Not much, I bet.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mother-in-law and a family friend took Eric to a puppet show in the East Village. I love his expression in this photo.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

I was reading the NPR review of Anne Tyler's latest novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, and came across this excerpt:

The house is lovingly described, and like Tyler's novels, it's well-built, homey and unpretentious, "a house you might see pictured on a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, plain-faced and comfortable, with the Stars and Stripes, perhaps, flying out front and a lemonade stand at the curb."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fall seven times, get up eight.

The title of this post describes our efforts at toilet training. With Eric, we plopped him on the toilet for months, then suddenly, magically he was toilet trained. (This also happened to someone in Zoe's class.) With Zoe, we have not yet hit the elusive payoff. I put her on the potty every day. Sometimes she goes there when she needs to, sometimes she doesn't and wets her pants instead. I put her in underwear every day. Sometimes they stay dry, sometimes they don't.

I remember a friend of my mother-in-law's telling me that her daughter was wearing pull-ups until age 4 or 5. Then a kindergarten friend saw the pull-ups in her closet and said, "Ew, what are those?" Hopefully we won't get to that point.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Just rode 3.25 miles while listening to Madonna, Sting and The Police. If you ask me, there is nothing like 80s music :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just saw a study on Facebook that says the longer babies breastfeed, the more they achieve in life. Zoe is going to do great things, then :) And yes, I will wean her someday. Though it seems like a daunting task.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

We got tickets to see Hamilton - popular new Broadway play about the founding father, Alexander Hamilton, with a twist: it's all hip hop. I was skeptical at first, but it does look entertaining.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaSD7NY3SCo
Last night I dreamed that a stripper became the first female president. She had long brown hair and there was a photo of George W. Bush grabbing her chest during a performance. She was smart, and only stripping to support her two daughters. She was a single mom living in a nice section of Harlem on 105th Street. Everyone was so interested in her being a stripper that they forgot she was the first female president. At some point I said, "Hey! She's the first female president!" and everyone said, "Yay!"

Thursday, March 05, 2015

It's snowing cats and dogs outside (hehe), although it's a little late for that sort of thing. Isn't March supposed to be spring? Anyway, I had a little Toblerone to fortify me for pickup. My back is doing better after I saw the chiropractor yesterday, but I have to go back next week. It's still stiff and I have limited range of motion. (This reminds me of the time I saw a pair of 80-year-olds on the bus in deep conversation, with seeming relish, about all their ailments. I am already heading in that direction.)

Just finished Journey to the River Sea, about an English schoolgirl moving to the Amazon, and now I've plunged into another book by the same author (Eva Ibbotson), this one set in an Austrian castle.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Ugh, I threw my back out. The last time I did that, I was bending down to take E out of his crib. So that would have been 2008 or 2009. So at least it doesn't happen very often. I am walking around like a hunchback. Can't stand up straight. So tomorrow I am going to the chiropractor. It's been so long since I have seen him, he has moved to a new office. Still on 5th Avenue, but further up. Closer to my house, actually. So that is good.

Finishing up Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I always enjoy her food-related mysteries.

Monday, March 02, 2015

So, anyone here who follows Judy in KY - she has a new blog, munchkinandbuddy.blogspot.com. Go over and say hi :)

It's 34 today. Feels like spring. Well, sort of :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just finished another Lucy Knisley comic book/graphic novel, called Radiator Days, about her life at art school in Chicago. When she graduated, she didn't know what kind of job to get, and had a hard time getting one (sounds familiar), so she worked at a cheese shop for a bit. Of course this made me want to work at a cheese shop. She had to remember 500 types of cheese, and did this by giving them personalities (a smelly Spanish lord, a laid-back California surfer).

We got back from Miami recently, it looked like this:




Sometimes I don't know why I live in the Northeast.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today Z had a playdate with a girl from school. The girl has a nanny who picks her up from school. So we walked from school to the girl's apartment, then upstairs to this playroom where we met some other kids, and another girl from school came over.

I was talking with the girl's nanny, and I found out that the girl's mother doesn't work outside the home. Obviously I have nothing against stay-at-home moms (I am one), but if you don't have a job, why do you need a nanny? I talked a bit more with the nanny and found out that her duties consist of serving lunch to the girl, taking her to the playroom upstairs, and picking her up at school (a few blocks away). I didn't say anything, but I really don't get it. Z's school is in a different neighborhood, and I have noticed they all have nannies whether the mothers work or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just finished Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley. So good! It's about going on a cruise with her elderly grandparents. They are both in their 90s (the author is 27). The story also includes fragments from her grandfather's memoirs. He was a pilot in World War II. Very interesting. I also like the book's format. Knisley writes graphic novels (comic books for grown-ups). I also liked her previous book, French Milk. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Spool of Blue Thread

I just finished A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. What a good book. And unfortunately, it is supposed to be her last, according to a friend. (She's still alive, but supposedly retiring from writing.) I can only hope she will be like Cher, who has one farewell concert after another.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

I just made some cupcakes from a dark chocolate cake mix that was on sale at Gristedes. For the frosting, I softened some butter and added salt, confectioner's sugar, and a few drops of milk. It came out better than when I have followed icing "recipes." And everyone looks down on cake mix, but these cupcakes may have converted me, a former vanilla fan. It's starting to snow outside, big fluffy flakes falling lazily down.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Another cowl

Can't seem to stop making these. Working my way through some bulky yarn.


Monday, February 02, 2015

I got an early reviewers' copy from LibraryThing. It's called The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce. It's the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I liked that one, but the sequel is even better. One of those rare, magical books. It's worth the reading glasses I have to put on to read a non-Kindle book :-)

I also conducted a consumer experiment, ordering the same shoes from L.L. Bean and Land's End. Who does it better? L.L. Bean. By a landslide.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cowl

I just finished knitting this cowl. I really like it. I recently realized I like cowls better than scarves. The pattern is on Ravelry; it's called "A Cowl'd and Frosty Morning." (Bad pun, I know.)


Recently found out that someone I know is an anti-vaxxer (her two-year-old had not been vaccinated for anything). This was worrisome because of the measles outbreak that has been spreading (14 states now, according to the New York Times) and various other reasons. Fortunately we have talked her out of it. She was planning to use a "religious exemption" to New York state law to avoid getting the vaccines for school. But recently a federal judge upheld a New York City school's decision to keep unvaccinated children home from school for months at a time, because of the health risks they pose to other children. So I'm glad she changed her mind.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tomorrow I think I will try to make a "Dutch baby," i.e., a pancake that will feed 3-4 people. You cook it in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Then you can scatter some apples, sauteed in cinnamon and sugar, on top. The cast iron skillet is very heavy - the first thing I thought when I lifted it was, "murder weapon." Not that I am going to kill anyone - but I read a lot of murder mysteries.

I took a "What is your spirit animal?" quiz on Facebook, and it said I was a cat. I love when you get the exact result you want :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Funny how when you see examples of good decor online, they are usually white (living rooms, etc.) Can't decide if it looks classy or sterile. Would also be a disaster with small children.

Banana breakfast coffee cake

I want to make this. (There's a lot of text before the recipe...but it looks good.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Discovered a new series by M.C. Beaton today. I've been reading her Agatha Raisin series for years. This series is about a Scottish detective named Hamish Macbeth. You really can't go wrong with this writer.

Folk cure

So I read online that if you put Vicks Vapor Rub on a child's (or adult's) feet, then put socks on, coughing will vanish instantly. I checked on snopes.com and found out that, even though no one knows why, this works 100% of the time. So I'm trying it for Z tonight. She was coughing for about an hour in the middle of the night, ugh.  

 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I took a friend's advice and dusted off my Etsy shop. I'll be gradually adding items. If you want to take a peek, the URL is etsy.com/shop/bearette24.

Friday, January 09, 2015

I woke up to this (our first real snow of the season), through a screen window:


I was surprised they didn't cancel school, but NYC is tough about that. Upstate, outside of the city, most of the school districts were canceled. The snowfall seems to be slowing down now, though.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Just finished reading A Conspiracy of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith. He's an extremely prolific author who has written about 5 series. This one was particularly fun, including a scene where a loathsome character got trapped in a particle accelerator. Instead of "atomizing" him, as one physicist feared, he took a turn for the better - becoming more altruistic.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

I finished another piece of knitting. It's called a shawlette, but could easily function as a large scarf. I like the way it came out.