Friday, May 31, 2013

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. these eggs.barberry hill farm eggs
{because kelly brought them over to us while we were in connecticut. prettiest eggs you ever did see. tastiest too}.

2. this fire truck.
fire trucks
{because a parade in my hometown wouldn't be complete without it}.

3. these dudes.
james and dad
{and their dude-ish teamwork}.

4. these snowballs in may.
{because the only thing that was missing from my weekend in connecticut was a snowball fight with my sisters}.

5. these daisies.
meadow daisies
{because they survived the train trip back to the city. peonies on my new desk were even better, but of course i didn't have my camera to capture them (an insta, instead)}.

other things:
my sister swears by these. anyone else?
where clothes.
i'm taking the june course. can't. wait.
kate nailed these flower crowns.
heart swells.
lately, i have my eyes on one of these.

things by me in other places:
take advantage of summer. starting right now.
rhubarb hand pies.
herbal waters.
garden tuteurs.
You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, May 30, 2013

secret: i'm terrible at drinking water.

herbal waters
James calls me a camel, imagining that I must be hiding water in a secret cavity somewhere, because he so seldom sees me drinking any.

I know I should drink water more often, and I'm trying to get better at it (I even bought an adult sippy cup!), but here's the thing: I don't really like water. Is that a preposterous thing to admit? Let me explain. I have a hard time drinking water right from the tap. If it's not really cold, I can't drink it. But to make things complicated, I'm not a huge fan of ice cubes in my water, either. Too cold!

To make up for my fussiness, we filter tap water with a brita filter and keep two glass bottles filled in the fridge so that there's always a fresh supply of water.

You'd think I'd be satisfied.

But the truth is, I think water needs help in the flavor department. This summer, I'm making a vow to ramp up my water intake by amping up the flavor.

Over the weekend I experimented with two different herbal combinations that are perfect for the season. I combined lovage, lemonbalm, and lemon peel to make a water that's sharp and fresh, and strawberry, sweet woodruff, and stevia for a water that's just a little bit sweet. You can find the recipes over on Gardenista.

But now I need to know: are you guys big water drinkers? What's your secret?

You have read this article gardenista / secret / water with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Bits of entirely practical advice for surviving the return home after a short stint away. These tips require a modicum of forethought, but the payoff is considerable.

1). Ditch your fresh flowers. Or if you think they'll survive your time away, give them fresh water. Parting is sweet sorrow, I know. But there is nothing worse than the stink of sour flower water. Returning to a diminutive apartment is hard enough, no need for it to be stinky too.

2). Take out your trash before you leave. Have a I written yet about the time that I left my apartment to come home for Christmas but I failed to empty to the trash? Well. If you've ever been curious about the lifecycle of  the common house fly, my apartment would have been the perfect case study. When I finally returned, I didn't find a mess of maggots, but an entire apartment infested with enormous bugs. It was as though someone had installed polka-dotted wallpaper where the dots are just slightly too far apart, and moving.

3). Leave your sink empty. Even if there's only a coffee cup in the sink, take a minute to wash it up and wipe down that sink before you head out the door. Returning home to a sink with dirty dishes can make even the most restorative weekend seem like a distant memory.

PS. Last summer I urged you all to unpack your bags straightaway upon arrival home. This still stands. In fact, after a weekend at my parents' where a sizable washer and dryer were at our disposal free of charge, I'm tempted to include the addendum that not only should you unpack straight away, but that you should make every effort to unpack clothes that are already clean. I doubt that I'll trundle down to the hotel wash room the next time I'm off seeing the world, but a girl can dream. Emptying a bag directly into my drawers instead of directly into the laundry bin was just shy of incredible.
You have read this article life in a tiny apartment with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

lobster rolls.

lobster rolls, etc.
If you don't grow up with them, the concept is understandably cause for some puzzling. Lobster meat in a hot dog bun? It's like nestling a pair of cashmere-socked feet into a pair of old Keds. Which is to say it's both brilliant and perplexing.
lobster rolls, etc.
If you did grow up with lobster rolls, you know there's almost nothing better. Close seconds are the plates running over with thinly sliced onion rings. And coming right up after those are the oval-shaped paper plates called platters and filled up with fried clam strips or filet of something and tiny dishes of creamy cole slaw flecked with celery seed.
lobster rolls, etc.
This weekend, I met some of my very best girls for lobster rolls.* In high school a crew of us worked at at a clam shack called a castle. Summers for us smelled of tartar sauce and kitchen grease and the cheap perfume that we wore to mask it. We squeezed into too-small tee shirts and too-small shorts and poured red birch beer out of soda fountains for sunburned customers.
lobster rolls, etc.
These days, we are practically old ladies. The teenagers behind the counter of our beloved castle wouldn't recognize us, and the brothers who owned the place then have sold it to someone new. It breaks our collective heart to go there and so this weekend we cheated and went to the rival spot across the street. Talk has turned to babies and vacations and plans for a one-day wedding in India. About a million years seem like they've passed since the afternoons in the heat of August when we'd sit under the air conditioner and try to catch glimpses of the cute boys leaving driver's ed class across the street. From our spot behind the counter we'd share baskets of fries and hatch complicated plans for midnight skinny dipping. At closing, we'd pull straw wrappers to see who had to stay late to mop and then we'd show up to beachy gatherings reeking of fryolator and milkshake.

After all these years, it's nice to know that it only takes a few minutes and a few plates full of fried seafood to pick up more or less where we left off. Happily that no longer includes mooning over boys at the driver's ed.

*You might have noticed that things are more or less vegetarian around these tea leaves, but the truth is that I sometimes make fishy exceptions.
You have read this article connecticut / friends / life with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, May 27, 2013

memorial day.

west cemetery
west cemetery
west cemetery
west cemetery
west cemetery
west cemetery
Tiny tributes to fallen soldiers: boyscouts and marching bands and bright red fire trucks, lichen and granite and topsy-turvy flags.
You have read this article connecticut / hometown / life with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, May 24, 2013

my week in objects (mostly).

1. this khadi towel.khadi
{brought to me with love from india}.

2. this cuppow.
{because clearly i needed an adult sippy cup}.

3. this allium.
{for getting ready to pop}.

4. this salvia.
{and the other things, for making the view out of the bathroom window so very sweet}.

5. these keys.
{because there was a slight snafu this morning wherein james and i both left the house without keys. thank goodness for a friendly and trusting super}.

other things:
james surprised me with these. sadly, he doesn't understand the molly mcintire references i've been making all week.
i'm still tempted to do this.
i'm going to connecticut this weekend to raid my mom's rhubarb patch.
i'm admiring these v. sweet dresses.
read it in print.

things by me in other places:
marrying pots and plants.
seedlings and the aftermath.
purple sensation and friends.

And many, many thanks for all of your sweet notes about yesterday's little announcement. It's awfully nice to have such kind blog friends.
You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, May 23, 2013

growing things, etc.

purple alliums
As you've probably gathered from these tea leaves, since I left my job at the farm last February I've been winging a freelance career. It's been simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. In a turn of events that I can only hope sounds encouraging and not exasperating, a year and a half of ridiculous hard work has paid off.
peppergrass, scabiosa, etc.Next week, I'll be joining Gardenista as Associate Editor. There are a lot of plant metaphors that I could use to describe my feelings about this new job, but I think something interplanetary is in order. I'm over the moon and then some. Without a doubt, this is the most excited I've ever been about a job and that includes working at a clam shack in high school where I could eat endless amounts of french fries and milkshakes.
alliums, three ways
I'll still be doing the same writing and picture-taking in this space and a few others, but I am incredibly excited to pour my energy into Gardenista and I really hope that you guys follow along in that space, too.

PS. If you have a garden-y space of your own, Gardenista just launched a garden design competition and we'll be doling out prizes in five different categories. So whether your spot is inside or out, edible for humans or for the birds and the bees only, you can send along photos and enter to win. All the details, here.

PPS. Details on these alliums &c. coming up later in the day. In the meantime, more of my Gardenista posts, right here. Update: Alliums!
You have read this article gardenista / life with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Think seasonally.

I've already written about the usefulness of having at least a small bit of storage relegated to storing off-season clothes. Wrestling with an over-stuffed dresser drawer is nobody's idea of fun and making room in the drawers that you use every day can do wonders for your well-being and your nerves.

But beyond just remembering to swap out my clothes with the seasons, lately I've been finding it useful to think about how other aspects of my home shift along with the weather.

With the radiator turned off, I have a whole new surface to prop books or cups of iced tea without fear of scorching. When the windows are open, there are an extra few inches of window sill space for balancing a house plant (or face brush). Needing to cool things off with a fan means moving a lamp to a different corner.

While I'm not one to go in for wholesale redecorating every few months, it's refreshing to think about even small ways to change the way things look around here.

How do you change things in your home from season to season? Do you shift things around or swap things out? Different bedclothes? New plants? Swapped pillowcases? I'm curious!

PS. I'm seriously considering this trick for making this bathroom screen a little bit more...discrete.
You have read this article life in a tiny apartment with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

shelter: a prickley mountain bag giveaway.

The Prickley Mountain Bag in Cove Green Waxed Canvas and Pink Ikat
When it comes to bags, I'm more or less a monogamist. I've never been one of those women whose closet is jammed full of bags to match shoes and belts and special occasions. I like to carry one trusty bag and to have it do all the work that I need it to. If a bag treats me right, it's guaranteed a lasting spot on the crook of my arm. If it doesn't? Well, it doesn't get a second look.  Lately, my go-to bag has been the Prickley Mountain Bag from Shelter.
The Prickley Mountain Bag in Cove Green Waxed Canvas and Pink Ikat
The Prickley Mountain Bag in cove green waxed canvas and bright pink ikat is every bit as lovely as the woman who makes it. Karie Reinertson of Shelter makes consistently beautiful bags from her Asheville, North Carolina studio. Made from thoughtfully sourced leather and one-of-a-kind fabrics, the bags are works of art in the best kind of way: they're every bit as functional as they are nice to look at.
The Prickley Mountain Bag in Cove Green Waxed Canvas and Pink Ikat
With straps that can be worn across the shoulder or carried briefcase-style, the Prickley Mountain bag makes the perfect companion for early morning trips by subway or Saturday afternoon bike rides to explore a new neighborhood.
The Prickley Mountain Bag in Cove Green Waxed Canvas and Pink Ikat
An interior pocket helps keep things organized and bright brass hardware is both sturdy and handsome. Good qualities in a bag and other things, don't you think?
The Prickley Mountain Bag in Cove Green Waxed Canvas and Pink Ikat
Kindly, Karie and Shelter is offering a Prickley Mountain Bag to one lucky Reading My Tea Leaves reader.

For a chance to win, follow Shelter on Instagram and Facebook and leave a comment here with a description of the kinds of things you'd tote around in your Prickley Mountain Bag.

The giveaway will close on Thursday evening at 5:00 pm and a randomly selected winner will be announced on Friday. Lots of luck and thanks for reading! As always, many thanks for supporting Reading My Tea Leaves sponsors.

(This giveaway is open to folks in the US and internationally; international participants are responsible for their own shipping fees).

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Kimberley!
You have read this article giveaway with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, May 20, 2013

may rain.

rain on salvia
rain on tarragon
rain drops on salvia
Rainy weekend window box views.

Rain on green things is so much better than rain on concrete things, don't you think?
You have read this article life / rain / window box with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, May 17, 2013

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. these forget-me-nots.forget-me-nots
{because they're transplanted from connecticut and doin' just fine}.

2. this earl grey.
earl grey
{because it's much fancier than i usually buy, but an emergency tea stop meant fancy tea}.

3. this tiny herb garden.
shade herbs
{because i finally figured out which herbs can thrive on a low-light windowsill. more here}.

4. these loppers.
{borrowed. and used to take the little shade garden out front to the next level}.

5. this posy.
{because even though i didn't photography it before it got droopy, it was nice to have all week long}.

other things:
this dungaree dress.
photos by snail mail.
this perfect pencil case.
this little round collar.
these ferns.

things by me in other places:
herbs that can grow (almost) anywhere.
considering the fiddle leaf fig.
shaking things up.
You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, May 16, 2013

homemade pizza with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and spring greens.

This is a sort-of recipe, but mostly it's a plea for you to whip out your pizza stone (or cookie tray), fire up your oven, and get to baking yourself homemade pizzas before the summer temperature rises and the thought of voluntarily making your apartment warmer sends you running.

I had the craving for pizza last night at 6:30 pm, so I did what any reasonable person would do and headed to my local pizzeria for pre-made dough. Next stop, the grocery store for a vidalia onion. And homeward to find the last nubbin of Point Reyes blue cheese and two bags full of greens: pea shoots and arugula.

Here's what happened next:
onions for caramelizing
I sliced up my onion, added it to my cast iron skillet with plenty of olive oil and let the pieces cook down and caramelize for the better part of 45 minutes. In the meantime, my oven slowly cranked its way up to 500 degrees. Somewhere in there, I poured myself a glass of a red wine. Not necessary to the process, but helpful.
blue cheese
Next, I washed and spun dry several large handfulls of pea shoots and arugula and crumbled my blue cheese into dime-sized pieces.
caramelized onions and blue cheese
When the onions were good and browned, I covered a cutting board with cornmeal, stretched my pizza dough into a circle and scattered onions and dots of blue cheese across the dough. I drizzled the whole thing with olive oil and slid the dough onto my preheated pizza stone. After 10 minutes, I opened the oven and mounded the whole thing with more arugula and pea shoots than really looked reasonable. This is the best measure I have for you: pile on lots of greens, then add more. Drizzled again with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, I slid the pie back into the oven for another two minutes.
pizza topped with spring greens
The pizza was ready when the greens had wilted down to a beautiful jewel-toned mess.

And there you have it: a springtime pizza that almost has me wishing this cool spring would last just a little bit longer.

Now your turn. What are your favorite springtime pizza toppings?
You have read this article food / greens / spring with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Approach your tiny apartment joyfully.

My mom and dad are hands-down the cheeriest people I know. It's not that they don't sometimes get annoyed, or grumbly about driving in traffic (ok, fine, that's really just my dad), but when those kind of annoyances crop up, that's about where they end. They surface, but before you can blink, the concern is over. There's no dwelling, there's no worry, there's no sustained hemming or hawing.

I once called my dad in a panic about something or other. I needed advice. Or more precisely, I needed to hear myself talk. After I'd finished talking myself down, I said something along the lines of, "Okay, I can do it."

To which my dad replied matter of factly,

"Bear, we don't worry, we just do."

Written here it looks almost like an admonishment, but I assure you that it is more of a credo.

I get more notes than I can ever respond to in a timely manner about small apartment worries. Most of them hinge on the fear of an upcoming move to a tinier place. The particular concerns vary, but here's the one bit of advice that I can offer universally: approach your tiny apartment joyfully. See it as an exciting challenge and not as an impending nightmare.

The first apartment that James and I shared together was enormous. It was five times the size of this place and then some. There was an entire room for our washer and dryer. It wasn't fancy, but it was spacious. We rattled aound in it. After six months of living there we moved to an apartment that was significantly smaller and significantly lovelier.

For the three weeks between signing our lease and making our move, I panicked about how we would fit everything into the apartment. I hemmed and hawed. I made James make a phone call to the current tenant to ask if we could visit the place again. I begged her to leave a massive shelving unit, just in case we needed more storage. I worried that our recently thrifted bedroom furniture wouldn't fit. I worried that no one would buy our couch which wouldn't fit up the stairs. Thinking about adding two surf boards to the mix nearly sent me over the edge. I literally lost sleep worrying about it.

Everything fit. What didn't, we sold. The shelving unit was wildly unnecessary and we moved that out too. We'll probably never have as awesome an apartment for as little money. Life was good.

Life in your tiny apartment will be good too. Just skip the worrying part.

PS. Photo above includes Ma and Pa Boyle + sister and husband + world's most adorable Oliver + me + James, who we forced to stay in the loft. Just kidding. Kind of.
You have read this article home / life in a tiny apartment with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

morning walk.

red columbine
lily of the valley
promenade entrance

Just a few photographs of what morning walks have been looking like lately.
You have read this article brooklyn / brooklyn bridge park / brooklyn heights promenade / life with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!