Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's going on?

Oh, not too much.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beget, begat, begot

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my neighborhood? I wouldn't say my block, necessarily, as I live at the dodgy end of this particular street. But generally my East Dallas neighborhood is lovely. Specifically Lakewood. And all of its nooks and crannies. And distinct lack of McMansions and little boxes.

So one night, watching House Hunters begat an internet search that begat this article from the DMN last year. Which begat this renovation crush.

The folks that bought the Parks Estate were featured on House Hunters as a couple trying to decide between three different houses, of course. But per the article, it seems they were smitten on this 1922 house from the start. Can you blame them?

Well, it looked pretty bad when they found it, indeed. It had served as the East Dallas YMCA from 1957 until 1999, when the Y moved out and the house fell into disrepair. In 2007, Preservation Dallas took over and started seeking a buyer who could restore the home to its natural beauty.

The Parks Estate is only a little over a mile from my pad. I think I need to walk over there someday soon, just to see it. And what a pretty walk it would be, too.

Holy geeze, the kitchen is my favorite. We saw much more of it on the show. And the Batchelder tiles on the fireplaces. Oooh.

Built in 1922, Mr. Parks had moved out of his old home on Swiss Avenue into this, his new house, which today is just a few blocks away. But at the time, a few blocks distance meant you were just outside the city limits, and could build an estate on 22 sprawling acres. Ha! Bearing in mind we are only about 5 miles from downtown. Ah, such simple times back then.

Don't you just love old houses? Sigh. If you follow the link to that article, you'll find a few more photos and details on the house and its renovation. You know, if you're into that sorta thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I has a Labbit

A hazard of Christmas shopping, when you haven't been in stores much lately, is that you might see things you like.

Meet my Labbit.

I found him in We Are 1976, a new shop just about a half mile or so from my apartment. I was in there this past week after work, looking for gifts, and the Labbit caught my eye. I brought him home under the guise of gifting him to a child, but yeah. I'm keeping him. I think he is swell.

Labbit comes in many variations as you can see on the Kidrobot site. Labbit also smokes, though I have discouraged this.

Labbit's tag instructs me to pet him daily so that he doesn't get lonely and run off to join the circus. So I'm going to go do that now. Then I gotta get to bed. I've got to be up early to go cheer on the runners in the White Rock Marathon tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Polar Bear Report

What the eff?! So cute. Holy geeze.

polar bear painting by LoucheLab on etsy

Just cos I've been spending a wee bit too much time on etsy lately. It's bound to happen. The polar bears, they find me. And then I share.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Picked one

Thanks for the lovely suggestions everyone! The key suggestion, though, came from Meg, who directed me to Pandora, where I plugged in "White Christmas" by The Drifters (another all-time favorite), and in the mix it produced for me, I stumbled upon an album I'd tried to buy years ago only to discover it was out of print. Could not be had. Unless you had an old copy, of course.

I hadn't searched for it in ages, and so I logged onto (my mp3 purchasing and downloading service of choice), and there it was. Turned out it was re-released only just this past October.

Holy crap, so worth the wait. Phil Spector's wall of sound meets Christmas. Go buy or download it now. iTunes has it too. XOXO

Monday, November 30, 2009


Gah! Is it really the Christmas season already? I know I was looking at tree skirt patterns like a month ago, but I swear this felt like it arrived at warp speed. It always does.

I haven't even looked at my Christmas decorations yet. Well, maybe a glance, but then quickly closed the closet door. But what I have managed to do is load all my Christmas music on my iPod. First things first. I simply adore Christmas music. Don't you?

Back in college, I started collecting Xmas CDs. Great, iconic albums and classics. Usually one album as a treat to myself every year. About five years ago, I put together Christmas mix albums for many of my friends and family and they were a hit. I still listen to all my music but haven't really expanded the collection much in recent years. That's where your suggestions will come in handy! But first, some of my favorites...

The first and the best is of course the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's a must for everyone. Especially the song "Skating." It makes one think of snowflakes and bustling about getting presents and twinkle lights and cheer.

Best. Christmas. Special. Ever. And Vince Guaraldi's music is just the perfect compliment.

Another great album is Bing Crosby's White Christmas (winner for best album cover, too). In particular, his version of "Jingle Bells" with the Andrews Sisters. Back in the late 90s, Gap did a genius ad with a remix of this song - I was never able to find the remix but of course I eventually found the original. I can't help but sing along every time I hear it! It's definitely a mix CD staple.

This album also has "Mele Kalikimaka," of National Lampoon fame. It's Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you.

Another fabulous addition is not technically a Christmas album. Only two thirds of it is, but it's worth it. Duke Ellington's Three Suites contains Ellington's take on the Nutcracker Suite.

"Sugar Rum Cherry" (his version of the Sugar Plum Fairy, of course) is the one track that most often makes it onto the various compilation albums out there - that's how I discovered it - but hearing the whole thing is such a treat.

Okay, the last one is decidedly unlike the others. Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas is just so good. If you're a fan of Sufjan that is (and how can you not be). It's a box set so it costs a bit more than some of these others, but you'll be glad for the abundance once you get hooked. I think his version of "The Friendly Beasts" is just the loveliest Christmas song around.

Now it's your turn! What am I missing from my collection of classics? (Of note, I already have Christmas with the Rat Pack and Dean Martin's Making Spirits Bright.)

And now, I'm gonna leave you with my favorite Sufjan tune, and this ridiculously cute video.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day tripper

Oh goodness. Lookit me, such a slacker. Though not really, as having just come in from pilates, I'm feeling very much the hard worker rather than the lazy bum. At this time last week, I was hunting through leaves for my lost wallet (never found). Can anyone suggest a good place to purchase a quality wallet? I'd been using my last one (a Cole Haan) for probably 6 years. It still had many, many good years ahead of it--wasn't showing a bit of wear and tear. Ooof, that's a sad one, that loss.

Today (during my lunch break, of course) I was browsing around on the internet looking at Christmas cards and calendars. Normally I operate with a motley crew of gifted wall calendars, but this year I've got a list. I want all three and I'm close to buying them myself to ensure I get them all.

First for my desk at work, I'd like another ilee letterpress calendar. (Remember last year's? I've just loved it.)

It's another lovely one this year. She does such good work.

Next for the home office, this one of course. Oh the Charley Harper. I still don't have a print. Will the wall calendar scratch the itch? Oof, I guess time will tell. But wait. Yeah I still want the print.

Meanwhile, the calendar is a good bit cheaper. Somebody hook me up for reals. It's only $14.

And lastly, this one for the wall at work. I mean, I know we've been sucking hard lately (didn't I say it, everyone has their bad weeks?), but I still loves my old school. Gig 'em Ags.

And of course, my Moleskine. I pick one of these up every year.

If getting one of those fancy computer phones means my Moleskine planner becomes redundant, well then I don't want a fancy computer phone. Keep it away. I don't need it. Or the answer to that trivia question right this instant. Let's just sit and ponder for a while. Right? Don't you miss that? But I digress.

So add to the calendars, the new wallet, the new camera lens, and now I've got a hankering for a new radio for my bedroom (a long-standing passionate desire to own a Tivoli Model Two). But gosh, one must prioritize. I mean, I gotta buy gifts for other people now. You know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls. And all that stuff.

Do you have a favorite planner or calendar you buy every year? Or do you just wait to see what catches your eye? Sharing is caring.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Loving Bonnie

Have I ever mentioned my girl crush on Faye Dunaway circa Bonnie and Clyde? I haven't? Well let's get on that.

The hair, the clothes, the smoldering stare. I wish I could pull off this look. Lord knows I've tried. I've even taken this exact picture with me to the salon before. But there's not really so much of a hair-do here as there is an attitude. And a hat. And some pretty ridiculous bone structure.

Again with the hats. And then there's the necklace. And the slip. And the cigarette. It's all just perfect. Swoon.

The violence was a big deal in 1967. But even today, watching the final scene.. goodness gracious. Oh yeah, and that one scene where he shoots the banker guy hanging on the car. I mean really, the whole thing is pretty darn gory. Watch this one after the kiddies have gone to bed.

I've read they're remaking it with some young, fresh ingenue, but let's face it, she'll never be able to replace Faye. And why would you even want to try? The movie is still amazing, and attempting to get that look and that attitude just right.. there's just no way you'll ever get there. Plus don't even get me started on Warren Beatty. Shucks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Be true to your school

First the story finally came out and it was like, Ahhh, gut punch. Did you need to have been there to read it and cry? If you weren't there, did you still read it and cry? I cried, but I'm a cry-baby (and I was there) so..

There's so much water under that bridge, but I just love Pam and loved working with her. And I think she did so right by the subject matter. So yeah, there's that.

Then there's this. Which I won't say much about because I have some friendships I'd like to maintain and everyone has bad weeks (like us last week) so what goes around comes around and whatnot but still...

..sometimes my school does me so proud. And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Amanda,

Remember how during the summer, you were able to just spritz a little styling spray in me, scrunch, and let me air dry? And all day you'd look sorta beachy and carefree and cute? Well I don't know if it's the change in weather or your new haircut or what, but it just ain't working anymore. When you wake up late and attempt the air dry hairdo, you look like a hobo. Please stop.

Your hair

Bummer. I guess summer really is over when I can no longer pull off the carefree summer girl hairdo. Now what?

New York, baby. New York.

Photo by Joseph O. Holmes, spotted on 20x200. I'm so tempted to buy a print. Isn't it gorgeous?

Oh fair city! I'm off to see it in just a couple days. And also eat it. Like nobody's business. Hello Shake Shack, hello Il Bambino, hello (original) Original Ray's, hello delicious coffee and confections, oh my. Hello H&M, hello P.S. 1, hello smelly subway, I missed you! Whatever shall I wear (elastic waistband perhaps)?? Whatever shall I pack? Apparently, a heat styling tool is in order. Yeesh.

Meanwhile, I am working frantically to attach some fringe to a scarf for a special someone who's traveling up to see me via bus from Philly while I'm in the big city. I mean, that's devotion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

16 going on 17

Thursday is CJ's 17th birthday! Can you believe it?

What to get the cat that has everything? He would like cans of tuna or packs of Greenies cat treats. Monetary gifts are also welcome and accepted.

How are we going to celebrate, CJ? Not every cat gets a 17th birthday. That's quite a feat. Just think, one more year and you can vote. Oh my gosh, that's rad.

Sorry to just throw up some pictures of my kitteh, but work/life is keeping me busy these days. Plus it's football season... and the State Fair... and it's the fall - my favorite season. The Arboretum is FULL of pumpkins. And I'm in planning mode for my annual NYC trip in just over a week. I can't wait! Oh yeah, and my meatloaf's done. Laytah.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Better watch out

I had another one of my utterly insane mornings today, so when afternoon rolled around, I got out to get some air. Air being, hanging out in Joann's. I had to pick up some size 8 DPNs, but then the magazine rack called to me as always. (Speaking of magazines, OMG Gourmet! Every time a great one like that goes down, my heart dies a little. Sigh.)

The November/December Crochet Today was out. I've never bought this mag in the past (I lean Interweave), but goodness, how cute is this stuff? And you know how much I love the Christmas. I know it's early, but we knitters and crocheters need to start planning now. The holidays will be here before you know it (if you're lucky).

I die. Honestly are these stockings not the cutest? I'm gonna make 'em, I am. Maybe not before Christmas, but they're on the list. It's gonna happen.

A little ripple blanket for your tree! Whee! Truth be told, I have a tree skirt I adore already, but this'll be a good pattern to have for when I someday move into a home with enough room for two trees. And one of them will be one of those antique silver ones. Oh it'll happen. All I need is a dining room. Or a study. Right now, I ain't working with much.

I want to start crocheting more ornaments. They make good gifts and will help me improve my amigurumi skillz. Kyuuto!

In these days of dying mags, kudos to Crochet Today for having me at hello with this issue. I love the styling of this cover and the retro theme. It's all so very BL, as we used to say. (Right Amy?) That's another one that bit the dust. Sigh. Hang on, you crazy magazine kids!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Late summer color

I feel like I've totally missed the window on posting about peach cobbler since it's October for crying out loud. But if you're a good girl like me and froze you some, you can still make this with fresh(ish) peaches. Or you can make the recipe with frozen peaches from the store, too. I've done that and it's very nearly just as tasty.

So yeah, these are the peaches I was obsessed with from the Farmer's Market. Did I mention those? No, that was the okra, these are the peaches. This was the real reason I was there three weekends in a row. I hit the same booth every time. If I remember correctly, the sign says they were grown in Canton. They were a bit small (always a good sign I think) and were sweet as sugar and I was like a crack addict coming back for more. Yum.

My mom made peach cobbler a lot when I was growing up. And it was served with a blop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla on top. Always, always. Oh yum. Usually I'm all for reinventing recipes from scratch, a la banana pudding, but there are some things you don't mess with. Banana nut bread is one of them. And peach cobbler is another. So I make it, as my mother did, with Bisquick. Don't knock it.

Take about four cups of sliced peaches. I peel the skins off too. Toss them in a pot with a wee bit of water and some sugar if you need it (if your peaches are super-sweet, you might not) and put it on low heat. Plus I like to pile in some cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. No idea how much - do it to your taste. The original well-weathered recipe from my mom's cookbook called for a #2 can of peaches, though mom usually made this with fresh. So when I make that peach mixture, I'm aiming to heat it just long enough to get the same amount of peach-to-syrup ratio as that fabled #2 can of peaches.

Set your oven to 350 degrees (or whatever setting achieves this temperature, as is the case with my crap-box). Then mix 1 cup of Bisquick (fo sho), 1/2 cup of sugar, and 3/4 cup of milk. Meanwhile, toss 3/4 of a stick of butter into a casserole dish and pop it into the pre-heating oven until it melts. Don't let it burn!

The next part is key. Pour the batter in first, then add your peaches and syrup, spooned in delicately on top. Now, as the batter bakes and rises, it's going to soak up a lot of that yummy peach syrup. Oh yeah, and the gobs of butter. It goes in looking like a hot mess, but comes out like this after about 40-45 minutes:

Serve with ice cream if you please. In fact, I'd highly recommend it, because if you don't, you might be insulting its southern sensibility. Heaven forbid.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seeing you in September

I'm heading down to Austin tomorrow after work. It's been three months since I've been down there. Three!! That feels like too long.

I know what the blog is called, but I don't live down there anymore. It does get me down sometimes.

It's totes bat season right now too. Like, the peak. No time for bats, tho. I'm going to Round Top to go antiquing with Stacey! I was going to go for the Antiques Fair last fall, but, you know, I was unemployed. Wah. We're hitting it a weekend early, but there will still be plenty going on.

I'm still trying to hunt me down a spiffy little Hoosier. Wouldn't that be a dream? "Saves steps--and saves time, too." I have just the spot for it in my kitchen. But don't hold your breath ladies. Though I have a job now, the budget is still tight (and the car is small). I've got to find just the right one, at just the right price. It'll happen.

In the meantime, I'll be content with some blue and white crockery or maybe an old, perfectly worn-in quilt to take to the Cool Thursday concerts at the Arboretum. And really, who wouldn't love that?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Okra is OK!

I've been in such a cooking rut this week. After last weekend's baking bonanza (finally made it to the store, but made shortbread cookies and muffins instead of brownies), I haven't cooked any "real food" in a while. So I'm trying to inspire myself by looking at some of the summer yummies I made back in August (and meant to post sooner).

There were about 3 weekends in a row there that I made regular visits to the Dallas Farmers Market. Every time I do that, I berate myself for not going every single weekend - it's so big and so close and there's so much good stuff. One of those weekends, I loaded up on okra. Stewed okra and tomatoes is something I was raised on, so I like to try and make up a batch every summer.

Now, if you weren't raised on okra, you might think it's pretty gross. You've got to be up for the slimy. I can absolutely see why the texture would freak someone out, but me, I don't mind at all.

There isn't really a recipe for this. Just chop up an onion and get it sauteing with some bacon drippings. Due to my desire to cook these occasional dishes from my youth, I've taken to keeping a jar of bacon drippings in my fridge. I mean, if you're southern, you just do it. Don't judge. Also, I think I used a half an onion based on how much okra I had.

Chop up your okra. I dunno, a pound or two? And chop up a tomato. Some take the skin off first but I'm too lazy for that. Put it all in the pot with a little water and salt and pepper, cover and let it cook on low (maybe 10-20 min) until it's just as soft as you like them. Ta daa!

Here's an actual recipe if you need it, since my instructions are pretty sparse. It calls for the liquid from the canned tomato, which I bet makes it quite tasty, tho since okra and tomatoes are in season at just exactly the same time, I figure, why not use a fresh tomato? Then again, your skins are already off. It's your call.

This is one of those few dishes that both my mom (Texas roots) and my dad (Louisiana roots) made for me when I was growing up. So no matter whose house I was at, in the late, hot summer, it was on the menu. Yum.

Anyone else super-excited about the Emmy's tonight? Go, Tina, go!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Semi-hormonal football geek-out

A rainy Saturday, so I have no reason to feel bad about sitting on my couch all day, crocheting, knitting, and watching my beloved college football. I'm such a bum today, I didn't go to pilates this morning. And I wanna bake brownies, but don't feel up for running to the store for some eggs. I'm mean, I'm just completely slumming it. Whatevs.

You might recall last fall's "which team has the hottest quarterback" poll. Almost all of the contenders are back this year, and to replace USC's Sanchez, Pete Carroll has brought us freshman Matt Barkley. Jeeze, Pete. What do you do, recruit based on looks??

Not that I'm complaining. And I guess if that tactic ain't broke, don't fix it. Sanchez did you well. Even got himself a cheesy GQ fashion spread with a hot supermodel when he split with one year of eligibility left to head to the NFL.

Good grief dude, have you no self respect? I'm officially over him. But Mr. Barkley is quite a cute one. Jury is still out on whether the idea of starting a true freshman at quarterback will turn out to be a giant FAIL idea. Good luck kiddo!

It also sorta made my day to see the Herbstreit boys on College Gameday this morning. They're so adorable, all blonde-haired and blue-eyed just like their dad. Sweet.

Okay, I'll stop my semi-hormonal football geek-out now. Anyone wanna fetch me a carton of eggs?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Name that bug

Everyone's lamenting the end of summer these days. I think most of us in Texas are over it though. I mean, I do love summer, don't get me wrong. But as per usual, it's overstayed its welcome here. We're all hot and sweaty and long for a cool breeze. Many of us have sunburned (not me of course). Our forgotten chapsticks have all melted. Our electric bills have broken the bank. Our cats and dogs have shed their coats. And shed them again. Our ovens have been largely overlooked and neglected. Our local ice cream cart man has rung his bell (and we have paid him our dollars). Our kids have returned to school (in wool skirts and blazers no less, poor girls). Our potted plants have bloomed, our herbs have been harvested many times over. And so on.

We're good. It's time.

One of the things I will miss about summer, though, is the sound it makes. Namely, this one.

It's been a particularly noisy summer, as far as these bugs are concerned. I'm not sure what determines that, but when they start humming, I just sigh. What a lovely sound. I would also like to give special recognition to the smell of an incoming summer rainstorm. That is, as long as it doesn't lead to a lightning bolt that puts my computer and modem entirely out of commission. But the smell - that and the humming bugs, I would keep.

So, can anyone identify? So that I might kindly wish these bugs farewell by name, of course, as the cool nights start creeping in. After all, even if your guests have overstayed their welcome, you still must maintain decorum.

Monday, September 7, 2009

High school girls

I work at an old private school. A very old private school. And its halls are lined with photos of the girls who have graduated from this school in its 130+ years. So one day, armed with a camera and inspired by my dear new friend Amy, I took a few pictures of these girls.

In the main entryway, there are photos of some of the earliest classes.

Here is the Class of 1899, all done up in their finest dresses. Party like it's.. oh wait. Yeah, that was probably a much tamer party. But oh, to be 18 in 1899!

Kate and Ethel from the class of 1900. They got a little crazy with the hair accessories that year.

There's a ghost story associated with the class of 1920. One of their dearest, favorite nuns died that year. Everyone had gathered outside for the class photo, including the nuns, but when the picture was developed, there is a nun spotted in the window. If everyone was outside, then who was in the window? It was all agreed - the nun who died.

Can you see her now? Spooky. Or sweet - depends on which way you look at it.

Oh Miss Nellie Kirby, class of 1924. How I love her so. The other girls in her class had fluffed out their hair or worn lace collars or fancy necklaces, but not Nellie. She's like, "Go on vain girls. I'm just me." I suspect she was much beloved, always quick with a joke, a true dry wit.

Oh my goodness, what is going on with Rose? She looks a bit cross. Do you think she was upset that she was 3rd Essayist rather than 2nd or 1st of the class of 1927? Perhaps she was jealous of the valedictorian..

Doryoalace is my favorite girl in the whole hallway of pictures. She was class of 1932. These days, in one visit to Northpark Mall, she'd be spotted by someone and sent off to Paris to walk the runways as a model. Before long, she'd sign a contract to be the face of Estee Lauder. She'd attend fancy parties in New York and hang out with fabulous people.

With such a unique name, I was able to google Miss Watson and found she passed away in 1995 at age 81, still Miss Doryoalace Watson. She was not a fabulous model, but a clerk for the Texas & Pacific Railroad and an art teacher. The only survivor listed is a sister, so I think perhaps she never married. Can you imagine? And such a beauty. I wish I knew more about her.

Oh Winnie. Winnie McBean. Somehow, you get the sense that she was just not amused by her name. Perhaps it was more common in 1934. At any rate, it should be more common now I think. Gone are the days of the Winnies, and we are worse off for it.

There are pictures of a few more girls on my Flickr, and about a bajillion more lining the halls of the school, watching over the class of 2013 (!) as they come rumbling in. Perhaps I'll do a round two someday.

Okay Amy, there's your present. Hope you liked it!