Monday, December 29, 2014

Bean Bag (and other stuff)

Iain received a gift certificate to Pottery Barn Kids from his grandparents. He wanted a bean bag. Charles stood for a long time in front of the Darth Vader embroidered pillow and matching sheet set but Iain wanted a bean bag.

He also chose the cover. Madras, y'all. Because nothing goes with superhero mask sheets and an aquamarine bookcase like madras. It's all color all the time around here.

We've spent our last few days in shopping marathons, seeking not just furniture but the many, many little things necessary for a functioning life. Today, in search of a plug for Iain's bathtub, we also acquired cookie sheets, kitchen towels (and a rack), a better potholder, a knife block (sorta - one of those boxes with cork sheets in it), and some coasters (also cork - a theme today).

Oh, and we went to the Lego store. [Iain's brain exploded] [see photo above]

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Furniture Shopping

Our casa in LB. Empty. So, so empty. Note the child eating his brekkie at the kitchen counter, sitting in our office chair. Very classy.

So we bought some stuff. Above, a credenza to lift up the television and hold some electronic stuff. It's not old. It's brand new. Because (as Elizabeth pointed out) our modern A/V needs don't really suit older media consoles.

Next, a pair of chairs. Also new, though made to look old. New upholstery, though. They're darker and more tweedy in person than this photo suggests.

We bought a sofa. I failed to snap a photo with my phone. Boo. I was distracted. Partly, I blame the pretty little side table above. Partly, I blame the rambunctious little tater tot below. Holy Toledo, Batman. That kid can wiggle. You try keeping track of the wiggle in antique and furniture stores all over LA.

He tried on a biker jacket. Under duress. Should I be pleased that he didn't like it, or sad? He wanted to pick out a sparkly dress for me, though, and a cowboy hat for himself. I'm pretty happy that the one item he really, really wanted to buy was a vintage typewriter (the kind with a carousel of letters that pop up when you hit a key).

The furniture arrives after lunch tomorrow. We'll finally have something to sit on. Still to find: a dining room table and chairs, a carpet, a coffee table, side tables for the bedrooms, and some lighting.

Not much, right? Easy peasy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


For the very first time. Ever: standing rib roast.

I had it, once, at a friend's house in California. It came off the grill and while it was "resting" we stood in the kitchen and picked bits off the edges. At least twenty people stood around upstairs, drinking, talking, and nibbling other dishes. Unlucky for them.

So I'm making one, hoping I can manage a result nearly as good.

Also: broccoli, asparagus, and latkes (made by Mother, so doubtless delicious). Christmas Eve is the last night of Hannukah so we're beef&potato-ing as an homage to both occasions.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chicken Marbella

On November 22, friends joined us for dinner. These friends have three children so our combined families require food for 8 people. I thought I'd try Sheila Lukins' famous recipe Chicken Marbella.

Essentially, it's chicken pieces braised in white wine, olive oil, herbs, garlic (as in a head of pureed garlic), prunes, capers, and olives. Very tasty but because the prunes and olives are whole people who don't like such things can just pick them out.

I went to Whole Foods for my chicken because it's nearby and I figured I could get a better product. Remember, please that this shopping excursion occurred on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A high-traffic time for groceries, you'd think. Lots of people. Wanting food. Because that's what groceries do. (sell food).

But you'd have thought, based on the level of readiness at WF, that it was a Tuesday in February.

What was in the butcher's case? NOTHING. Photo below. Not that the case is empty. As in: empty.

There's more. When I asked for chicken pieces, I went round and round with the butcher about it. How much? He had no advice to offer. Thighs and breasts? No opinion. Finally, I just told him how many I wanted and he popped into the back area.

He emerged with two plastic-wrapped parcels (the kind that regular groceries put into the meat section) which he pulled open. They had been frozen. He then weighed out the pieces I wanted and wrapped them loosely in paper (loosely wrapping chicken is the best way because then the juices leak out onto other foods, flavoring them).

While I watched him do this, I read the orange sticker below:

So true. So, so true.

Then I went looking for the other items on my list. Each and every aisle was blocked. Every aisle.

Above, a dolley with boxes. Below,  stacked crates and a cart full of broken-down boxes.

Boxes. More Boxes. Just laying on the floor.

Was anyone unloading them? No. Was this because the staff were quite busy with customers? No. they were, mostly, standing around the checkouts and customer-service desk, chatting.

I was...not amused. But I had chicken! And prunes (more prunes than anyone would ever need but they sold only one size and at that point my mood had turned sorta sour so I didn't think I should go anywhere else).

I made the chicken. It was good. I followed the recipe almost exactly (bought the wrong olives at WF so I had to use a slightly different olive) and the one thing I'd say is that another 20 minutes in the oven wouldn't be amiss. Otherwise, delicious.

Me, checking the dish by giving it the evil squinty eye. If it fails to flinch you know it's done.


Monday, December 15, 2014


So let's say you're working on an activity for students. You'd like to use a cartoon by an American political cartoonist. Thomas Nast, for example.

You use Google to find the cartoon you want but most scans omit the caption. It matters. So you look for a better scan.

Yay! The Library of Congress has one. Really hi-res, too. Double Yay! Except...when you click on the link, what do you get?

That's right. A massively pixelated, unreadable, ugly photocopy. Totally impossible to use.

The LOC is a beautiful place. I'm sure its collections hold impressive, rare, valuable materials. But this is just embarrassing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Fun With The Mail

In the mail, yesterday. It's a flyer for a school. A school. They invite me to consider how important the first 5 years of a child's development can be.

I agree, of course, though if I've done that badly it's too late. Iain's heading down the home stretch toward seven.

But let's say I sought a school for another child. A friend's child, perhaps. What questions might I ask?

I don't think, actually, that I'd ask this question. And I hope, fingers crossed, that if I ever decided to mail total strangers a flier about my school I'd get someone really, really detail-oriented to proofread it. Twice. Maybe three times.

Monday, December 08, 2014


Pickles are great! Who knew, Mom?

Winter fun times continue. While I drove aimlessly around town, thinking about lunch but failing to actually decide on something, then shopping, then feeling discontented with the weather, Charles took Iain to Snowbird.

There, he joined his two friends - whom he met during his first year in Utah, at the JCC, when he was 2 years old - for a run down one of the easier areas of the mountain.

Iain failed to embrace the early-season conditions. But he loved lunch. He came home to tell me all about how he ate the ENTIRE hamburger. And this time - for the first time - he tried the pickle.

Wow, Mom. Wow.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Our kitchen lacks storage. Not just any storage - though it's not exceptionally generous on regular cabinets. The problem lies in the available space for anything deep. Platters, appliances, anything more than 10 or 12 inches deep has only one place to go.

So we asked our friend Michel to build in some new storage. It'll hold the footstool (required in this kitchen for someone my height) (short) plus a shelf for the fryer, the KitchenAid mixer, and...maybe a fruit bowl or something. That liberates space in the one other deep cabinet.

These are photos of the build. It's painted but not yet counter-topped because we're hoping to re-use the teak leftover from the bathroom. But eventually, it should look as though it's contemporaneous with the existing cabinets.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Coolest dude in the theater. We've been on a movie kick lately, seeing 3-D space films at the IMAX theater in the Planetarium, visiting the actual planetarium dome theater, and even submitting to the Gateway experience for Big Hero 6.

Iain loves to wear his hoodie in the movies. I'm forever tugging it down. He pulls it back over his head.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


1. We moved a lot of kitchen tools to Long Beach. I sent my old, no-handle pyrex there.
2. I bought new, handle-y pyrex!
3. I loved my new, handle-y pyrex and used it all the time.
4. Last night, for example.
5. But remember those stories about pyrex exploding sometimes? Like, when it heated or cooled too fast?
6. Yep. Those are true.

But the pork tenderloin was delicious. So...