Wednesday, October 31, 2012

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment

Keep perspective.

I'll be the first one to admit that the events of the past few days have brought a slightly different meaning to the term survival tip. When you're busy filling your bathtub with water and stocking up on peanut butter and jelly, the difficulty of surviving life in a tiny apartment pale in comparison to the hazards of a hurricane.  I don't have much to say this week other than to send lots of well wishes to the people in this city and along this seaboard who are still suffering. 

Donate here.
Register to volunteer here.
I'll be here.
You have read this article home / hurricane sandy / life / life in a tiny apartment with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, October 30, 2012

home again, home again.

barberry hill, sign
barberry hill, sign
barberry hill, trailer
barberry hill, house
barberry hill, sign
barberry hill, road

My hometown has a way of making you miss her in the fall months.

Over the weekend, James and I were back home for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. We shuffled down familiar roads, kicking up the sort of bright red and orange maple leaves that are entirely absent from fall in our Brooklyn neighborhood. We stood on old sea walls and watched a rising tide while I blathered to James using the first and last names of people he will never know--a small town habit that I've not been able to shake. I'm sad to think how much this place will have suffered in this storm. Ironically, it's the sandy parts I'm most worried about.

Back here in our corner of Brooklyn, things are whipped and worn, but generally still standing. Other corners have not fared so well and the stories are still unfolding. Sending out love and wishes for people to stay tucked in and safe today.

You have read this article hurricane sandy / life with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, October 29, 2012

pumpkin pie, the real deal.

ppie - whole pumpkin
When you're waiting for a storm, and before the power goes out, I can't think of a better plan than to mix up a pie so that you can hunker down and feast on it by candlelight if need be. Of course, if you're not waiting out a storm, spending an afternoon baking a pie and hunkering down to eat it isn't the worst idea either. With Halloween and Thanksgiving approaching, having a good pumpkin pie recipe on deck is a very good thing, regardless of the weather.
ppie - scooped
I used Mark Bittman's recipe to make an easy pumpkin pie and instead of opting for canned pumpkin, I roasted whole sugar pumpkins. The first time I made a pie with whole pumpkins instead of the canned stuff, I was in France and trying to share my favorite Thanksgiving food with French friends. I was nervous that slight differences in ingredients would result in only an approximation of the American treat, but in this case at least, I'm glad I didn't let my lack of Libby's discourage me. The real stuff really is better.
ppie - roasted halves
Roasting pumpkin is also ridiculously easy: just thwack your knife through the pumpkin, scoop out those seeds for later roasting of their own, and place the pumpkins cut side down on a buttered baking dish. I roasted two pumpkins for about an hour, until the flesh was soft and scoopable. If you like a smoother pie, you might choose to blend the pumpkin and the cream with a hand blender. I didn't and wasn't bothered a bit by any stringiness.
ppie - roasted scooped
I like to grind my own spices and so my proportions are a little less precise than Bittman's. For this pie, I ground enough to yield roughly two combined tablespoons of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cardamom (shells removed).
ppie - spices ground
For the crust, I'd say taking the extra step of pre-baking the crust is well worth it. I've had many a pumpkin pie with an uncooked crust, and the extra work makes all the difference. (Nota bene: I skimped on the pie weights (or dried beans) during the pre-bake and my crust shrunk a bit more than I would have liked. Next time I won't make the same mistake).
ppie - pastry
After a sweet-scented 30 to 40 minutes of baking, the pie should be ready. A little shake should still result in a slight jiggle at the middle. Allow to cool (James prefers his pie chilled) and add a heaping scoop of whipped cream with a sprinkle of dried ginger. You'll be in pumpkin heaven.
ppie - baked2

Pumpkin Pie, adapted from Mark Bittman

1 pie crust (see here, minus the herbs)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons or so of spices: I used ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cardamom.
Pinch salt
2 cups pumpkin: The flesh of two small sugar pumpkins equalled about this much
1 cup milk
1 cup cream

1. Prebake the crust (at 475 F) and begin to prepare the filling while crust is in the oven.
2. Beat the eggs with the sugar, and then add salt and spices. Stir in the cooked pumpkin and the milk and cream (or half-and-half). Warm mixture in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Do not boil.
3. Put pie plate on baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temp to 350 F. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the middle "shakes like Jell-O." Cool, and serve.
You have read this article food / halloween / pumpkin pie / thanksgiving with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, October 26, 2012

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. my desk.
{because it was one of those weeks where i barely left it (see every single photo below). and because i turned i dragged it to face the window every morning}.

2. this little bag.
{and the incredibly lovely necklace that came inside}.

3. this asian pear.
{and the others. james brought a whole sack home from the market. i ate them all}.

4. this fish.
{because i'm a pescatarian when i can find fish that meets my standards. we got to eat my sister's share while she was out of town. delicious}.

5. cookies.
{and milk. i have a soft spot for the mint newman's o's. can't be helped}.

other things:
this jacket.
this guest post.
this tunic.
this round-up.
this film. (worth a watch).

ps. special holiday sponsorship opportunities available through the end of the year. send me a note.
You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, October 25, 2012

make-believe: pumpkin carving.

I've lost my zeal for dressing up for Halloween these past few years {though I'm still proud of our James and the Giant Peach getup from a few years ago}, but I can definitely get on board for a little pumpkin carving and treat giving. An ice cream scoop is my go-to tool for scraping out the goop, and this year, I'm hoping to put our hand drills to work for a little polka-dotted Jack O'Lantern. What about you guys? Any Halloween enthusiasts out there?

You have read this article halloween / make-believe / pumpkins with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Winter clothes. {Part II in a two part series about winter clothes and tiny apartments. Part I here.}.

Put 'em away, take 'em back out again.

Maybe you've always put away your winter clothes. Maybe you go through the ritual each season-- swapping out linens for woollens, summer for fall. But maybe not. And if that's the case, here's my entreaty.

Though I'm not in the business of taking polls on the subject, I am fairly certain that my wardrobe is fairly modest, comparatively speaking. Number of sweaters? Five. Long-sleeved tees? Four. Pants (jeans included)? Five. And still. These numbers add up. I constantly feel like I'm battling to keep my clothes folded neatly and tucked squarely into my drawers. In a tiny apartment, or in a ginormous house, dressers are only so big. And so, enter the seasonal musical chairs. I was a slow adopter of this rigmarole. As someone who doesn't consider herself to have very many clothes in the first place, and with almost no storage space to speak of, swapping out one half of my wardrobe never seemed like a useful option. Where would I put that other half? But I've managed to make a compromise and it's made all the difference.

We have a large canvas tote with a zipper and twice a year I fill it with what fits: in late spring I stuff it with my bulkiest sweaters and courdouroy pants (along with some of these, just to be safe). As soon as it gets chilly again, in goes my sundresses and bathing suits. Once packed, the canvas tote gets shoved into our hall closet until the seasons roll around again. It's not a wholesale swap, but it's enough to free up some space and keep things neat.  What about you? Are you a seasonal swapper?
You have read this article life in a tiny apartment with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

cedar and rose: a sweet smelling giveaway.

I've been all about scents lately. Proof here, here, and here. Beyond just wanting things to smell nice, I'm totally preoccupied with how tangled up with memories scents can be. As a kid, my mom wore Oscar de la Renta's Oscar perfume. I remember the funny shape of the bottle and its little spot on a crocheted doily on her dresser, but I especially remember the associations I had with the smell. She wore it when she went out and one sniff conjured babysitters and watching Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang for the 100th time, and eating macaroni and cheese out of tupperware bowls.

A few years ago, I figured it was high time to develop a signature scent of my own, and I was delighted to find OLO Fragrance. Each of their perfumes is hand-blended in their Portland, Oregon studio and the result is pure magic. This fall, I've been wearing their newly released Cedar & Rose fragrance. It goes on strong, but mellows out quickly--leaving a fragrance that is sophisticated and woodsy and never a bit cloying.  Just like me. (Ha)!

OLO, who helps sponsor this site, has been kind enough to offer readers a chance to win a bottle of  Cedar & Rose perfume along with a bottle of Argan Oil Hair Tonic in the same scent. As a fine-haired girl I've always had a hard time with hair oil, but I've been using this just on my ends, and I couldn't be happier. Silky smooth. For a chance to win, leave a comment here (complete with contact information) with a sweet scented memory of your own and hop over to take a peek at OLO's website. The descriptions alone will lure you in.
The giveaway will close on Thursday evening and a randomly selected winner will be announced on Friday. G'luck! 

UPDATE: Thanks for sharing so many great scent stories! The giveaway is now CLOSED and the randomly selected winner is BostonGemmie! xo.

If you're interested in sponsoring Reading My Tea Leaves, read more here.
You have read this article giveaway / olo / perfume with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, October 22, 2012

our wedding.

fence post & flowers, bailing twine & mason jars.

cedar posts & bottles.

mom & dad.

the spectacular, the genius, the perfectly wonderful, roosevelt dime.

more flowers from the farm.

benches & doilies (teetering on the edge of grandma-dom, but not quite getting there).

hearts a-flutter.

fishing for a wedding band.



my dress, made by the beautiful, the talented, the amazing nayantara banerjee.

liuzzi mozzarella with roasted peaches, grilled onion, pepperonata & chili paste by the inimitable river tavern.

tent & tables

newlyweds & chickens

not posing, just being my usual sassy self.

shoes & shoes.


wedding tattlys.




Someday I will write more about about this day. But I don't know where to begin and I'm afraid to eclipse what really matters. For now, here are too many beautiful photographs of a beautiful day for which I am incredibly grateful. Thank you to Alice for taking them.

And there's also this poem that my sister, Laura, read during our ceremony. I wish I could share all of our wedding readings here, but I'm afraid there were too many (I didn't get the memo that weddings aren't supposed to be literary symposia, and I'm glad of it):

They were in the air on chairs,
the bride and groom, when of course
they needed a table so we lifted

a table, a dishwasher
and our shoulders were strong enough,
a sofa and I began to understand

the demands of Judaism
when we let go and they stayed, decades,
their children balloons

who've risen even higher
O love, that makes us want to live
in the sky with hawks,

the clouds, the pollen, the dust,
the planes, the satellites, the moon,
the clear, the clear, the blue

 - Cultural Studies by Bob Hicok

Special thanks to Kelly and Kingsley Goddard for allowing us to celebrate on their farm; to Jonathan Rapp, Kathy Stephenson and their Farm Dinner team for preparing an exquisite meal; to Alice Gao for capturing it all on camera; and to our friends and families for making a celebration of this magnitude possible in the first place. We are forever grateful. More thank yous, here.
You have read this article life / wedding with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, October 19, 2012

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. this piece of kinder.
{and all the others. because sweets in the afternoon should be mandated}.

2. these sneaks.sneaks
{because i have a new routine: walk before turning on the computer. changes everything}.

3. this dusty miller.
{because i did a little window box pruning, and snipped these pieces to put inside}.

4. these herbs.
{because they'll probably be some of the last of this season's harvest}.

5. this ribbon.
{because i'm using it for a few special projects this week. stay tuned}.

other things:
our wedding photographs.
i'm selling these & these.
this keychain.
this favorite spot.
this poem.

You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!