Sunday, August 23, 2009

Making stuff

I made risotto tonight. I did it partly as silent treatment on the script I'm working on (giving it a taste of its own medicine--YEAH, SCRIPT, I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU), but also because I bought zucchini at the Saturday farm stand that has apparently opened across the street from my apartment. And really, in August, when it's 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity outside and in, why wouldn't I want to stir rice on a hot stove for an hour?

I used to make risotto all the time--in the way that some people keep on hand the ingredients for, say, a quick spaghetti sauce or a grilled cheese sandwich, I decided awhile back to make sure I was always stocked up (a little risotto humor for you, there) on rice, onions, chicken stock, and white wine. It's a time-consuming staple--about an hour, start to finish--but it's versatile, one batch keeps me fed for a long time, and it comes with a pleasing sense of Making Something. It's you and the rice and some cooking music and a glass of that wine, like a little starchy kitchen party. And as a bonus, there are few greater motivations for getting through the morning than pulling a Tupperware full of cheesy ricey goodness out of the work fridge. I rarely use a recipe anymore--it's pretty standard, no matter where you look--but I used this one to confirm my quantities after my time away. Delicious.

I also pinned a sweater to the floor this weekend--at long last, I finished the February Lady Sweater, and for lack of a better place to block the lumpy-bumpies out of it, I laid it out on a few layers of towel/bath mat/carpet in the living room and pinned it into submission. All seems to be going well: it's almost dry, the inexplicable short side has lengthened out just fine, and Sherlock has done an admirable job of not batting at the pins. Vintage buttons are on their way via Etsy. Weather-wise, I won't be able to wear it for another month, at least, but all indications are that this may bypass "teachable moment/objet d'art" and go straight to "wearable garment." I call this a win.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

12 of 12: August

Welcome 12 of 12: Central Oregon Edition! I'm working in Corvallis for the week, taking advantage of Tillamook ice cream and non-oppressive Northwest summer weather. In the mean time, for more 12 of 12 madness, check out Chad Darnell's blog. It was his idea.


7:54 - Okay, I deviated from routine, a bit. I was half-dressed before I remembered the date, and may in fact be wearing makeup already. Sue me. Next month: bedhead and eye boogers, promise!

8:36 - The OSU football stadium directly across the street from my hotel.

11:20 - The fatal e-mail: Cinema Hype's parent company has gone out of business, effective immediately. Blah blah blah, writing; what is this "paying to go to the movies" of which you speak?

12:27 - Some schools have gargoyles; OSU has...beaver door handles. So, about the same on the gravitas scale?

12:34 - The student union Panda Express, where a) my beloved tofu and eggplant no longer exists, and b) the mixed veggies are not vegetarian. You just think about that for a minute.

4:40 - The Lace Ribbon Scarf in Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, ripped out and re-started on the plane due to self-compounding errors. Better now.

6:33 - Central Park. Not the one you'd think.

6:42 - Waiting for a train as I wander downtown Corvallis in search of food that is not beer.

7:11 - Victory! Adorably artsy pizza pub American Dreams, where the fresh tomatoes are not so much "cooked" as "warmed by pizza." Still good.

7:43 - I don't think there's anything I can possibly add to this. It's just that, whatever you thought about central Oregon, YOU WERE RIGHT.

8:45 - At a work event, having been thoroughly welcomed to the Uzbek portion of the evening. And I don't think "welcomed" means anything legally binding, though it seems that I'm pretty excited about it even if it is.

9:24 - And a complementary good night to you, too, Hilton Garden Inn.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


30th Street Station, Philly, la la la. Train to DC is one hour late--which is not quite long enough to take the subway downtown, have lunch/browse the used bookstores, and come back. And so I say thank you, Cosi, for your free internet while I sit on this bench and listen to the Departures board go flipflipflipflipflipflipflip.

In any case, it's too bad that my office is expecting me tomorrow; the urge to run the other way, to hop on the train to New York or maybe Boston or maybe anywhere else, is screwing heavily with my judgment. (I did, for about 37 seconds, consider a day trip to New York--arrive by noon, head home around dinner. But it's raining, and my suitcase and laptop are not going to a) carry themselves home or b) disappear temporarily.) Or I could blow it all off and stay here in Philly, which I now love for being artsy and beautiful and ugly and confident in its own awesomeness. DC feels, in comparison, like a place that does not totally believe in itself.

The good news: restlessness is, at this juncture, acceptable. I leave Tuesday for four days in Oregon and then a quick weekend trip to California. Any discontented energy can easily be absorbed by the jumping up and down going on in my soul, "work" trip or no.

Ah, well. I think I'm going to have some lunch and find a bag of Herr's potato chips. When in Pennsylvania, and all.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The birthday list

In my family, holiday wish lists are kind of a big deal. They're a ritual of sorts: twice a year--T minus one month at Christmas and birthday--you'd better know what you want, or risk pointed e-mails and/or probing phone calls and/or the traditional threat of receiving only a blow-up raft on Christmas morning. We consider it a helpful gesture (for the gifters) and an insurance policy (for the giftee), and we don't mess around with it.

As a kid, my list was really more like a wish spreadsheet: Item (purple hoop earrings), Location (Claire's or similar), Price ($9.00?), Notes (Really really really want these!!!). My brother still divides his into categories: Books, Music, Movies, Miscellaneous. My dad just calls his "Cool CDs," knowing that letting us all loose in the Classical section of Best Buy without a guide is only asking for trouble, not to mention the wrong edition of The Four Seasons for him.

August is my birthday month--meaning I'm running late already--and in a sense, this year's list is not that hard. It's not like I don't want things. I wouldn't, for example, say no to interchangeable circular knitting needles, nor would I turn up my nose at a pretty and functional enameled Dutch oven, the Nigella of the cookware world. My Etsy Favorites is full of adorable things, and I'm happy to give my username and password to anybody looking for some whimsical gift ideas.

But there's a certain point where the list stops being about cookware (I'm so old, you guys) and starts being about all the things I really want but that don't wrap well--the things that aren't things, or that are things, but my family can't provide them without spending lots of extra time in their secret science lab/villainous lair. And I wouldn't want to put that kind of burden on them, you know?

And so I present my Alternative Birthday List 2009 (What I Really Want):

Extra hours in the day
Woman of Leisure status
Functioning teleportation device
Time speeder-upper/slower-downer device
Adoring and efficient literary agent (preferably television, but open to alternatives)
Daily clothes/hair stylist (Tim Gunn or similar)
John Krasinski in hot pursuit

And, of course, World Peace.

But I still wouldn't mind the Dutch oven.