Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Wanderings

My friend Laura came to visit from Boston this past weekend. We were the two singles in a weeklong cooking class last summer in Tuscany. Our host in Italy, Chef Faye Hess, is my neighbor in Long Island City and Laura works with one of Faye's lifelong friends, near Boston.

Our home base in Tuscany!

Faye made the introduction last June via e-mail and Laura and I met up in Florence.  We just clicked--and the rest was a breeze--the train ride down south, getting the rental car, navigating what the rental agent warned would be "very curly roads" and finding the farmhouse. Strangers thrown together as roommates. Fast friends.

Laura and Faye, below, in Tuscany.

Laura had lived in NYC for 5 years, so there was no pressure to be tourists. We decided to stay local on this gray, chilly April weekend and just let things unfold.

We wandered over to Greenpoint and North Williamsburg, Brooklyn for flea marketing and window shopping, had a great lunch at Teddy's on Berry Street, and took a slow walk back home.

This license plate got us in the mood to spend a few hours in Brooklyn!
Greenpoint's main drag, Manhattan Avenue, with the NYC's Citicorp Bldg on the horizon. Manhattan and Manhattan Ave are 15 minutes and worlds apart.

I love low-key signs for unheralded businesses. The freekin' salt of the earth.

Mmmm, Teddy's makes a gooood Bloody Mary!

The Rite Aid Pharmacy is in a former roller rink--the disco ball is still hanging from the ornately carved plaster ceiling!

I just meant to "show" Laura the Peter Pan Bakery...where the waitresses wear turquoise and pink uniforms, and pull red and white striped string from overhead to wrap up the plain pastry boxes, lightning fast. The tiny U-shaped counter is mobbed all day and the doughnuts (donuts!) and bagels just keep coming out of the kitchen...
....but once we were inside, we somehow made room after lunch for a 'crulla and a chocolate old fashioned.

The 'cawfee rolls' are as big as a bundt cake! My friend Joan and I used to pop into Peter Pan now and then after working out at Curves  ;-)   I justified that detour because I'd done a 2 mile roundtrip walk.  But I digress.

The rest of the weekend was great. Faye came by with wine and her son Ferd. We had some nibbles and reminisced about Italy. No room for dinner---ooof!!

Had brekkie, read the paper, did a neighborhood stroll this morning around the Pepsi sign, took in the skyline and packed Laura off at noon.

I had a rather enjoyable weekend, sharing these quirky towns.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spill it, Sistah

Have you looked, really looked at what's in your fridge lately? There's the stuff used most often, that gets replaced regularly. But, check the dates on the bottles and jars in the next rows back...dressings, marinades, sauces and condiments. If you can't remember the last time you used capers or maraschino cherries, had chicken tikka masala, drank a ginger beer or used the horseradish (um, it's not supposed to be brown) it's probably time to spill it.


When you're opening old jars, bottles or cans...point them down into the sink in case they burst. You don't want a Pick a Peppa facial.

The life you save could be your own. And, it's a great opportunity to get those drawers and shelves sparkly again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Divine Intervention

When my next door neighbor Gina was selling what was her childhood home in 2001, she told me that she'd buried a statue of St. Joseph, upside down, in her yard. She said it was good luck for real estate transactions. I'd never heard of that custom! When my new neighbors purged some of the stuff Gina left behind, I adopted the nativity set. Joseph was indeed missing, and I guess he's still out back, somewhere, upside down. Poor guy.

I mentioned it casually to my realtor, Joan, a few weeks ago, and today she stopped by with a present for me.
Neatly packaged for home sales!

There are detailed instructions inside. The pamphlet asks that the user "displace the current quick-fix magic of burying the statue, with the age-old miracle of asking and believing."
"Faith can move mountains...and homes!"

They do suggest that after the petition is granted, and if the seller realizes a bit more from the sale than expected...why not consider sharing a portion of the good fortune?  Either a tax deductible gift sent to "Rev. Father Director" of the Pious Union of St. Joseph...or a gift to a nearby homeless help someone who has neither a home to sell, nor one in which to live.

I kind of like the kit as-is, it's kitschy. And I don't want to bury Joseph! I'll let you know how we do.

May 10, 2010 update: Listed the house mid-March and 57 days later signed the contract. 82 days from listing to closing.
St. Mojoe!

Joan with her "kablam, kapow"  window signs.

Technical Writing

A 3-shelf cabinet with glass doors that I ordered back in November '09 finally arrived today, April 12th. It's going into my office for now, and will be probably be pressed into service in a bathroom or the kitchen once I move. 

The box weighed 75 lbs, so I brought the parts upstairs a few at a time. There was more packing than there were pieces!

The cabinet was made in China, and the parts and bags of screws were labeled for the most part. I intuited what they meant by "feets" and "feamel magnets." 

Some helpful hints:

"When the glass door assemble, please do not run into the glass by hand."

"If the glass is dirtied, you can use cleanser purge of glass."

They suggest that two people work together. I was able to balance everything by myself, wade through a 13 page manual and git 'er done in 2 hours.




Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pet Peeve

I might have to create a whole section for pet peeves...but here's one that popped up today.

In the NY Times, I read the obit for "Meinhardt Raabe, 94, Famous Munchkin." No, it's not that he's a little person who's being called a Munchkin. Although that doesn't seem very PC. Or that he's mostly remembered for his one-time film role, at age 23, as the Munchkin coroner who declared the Wicked Witch of the East dead in the Wizard of Oz.

C'mon, warble it with me...

"As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her.
And she's not only merely dead,
She's really most sincerely dead."

My pet peeve is that it's not until I had mispronounced Rabbe 7 times, that the author decided to clue me in.  "...Rabbe (pronounced Robby)..."  I had to start from the top and read it the right way.

Why not place that parenthetical after the 1st mention, or sheesh how about at the end...after I've said Rab and Rabby 15 times?!

Glad I read all the way through, though, because I learned that not only was Meinhardt a pop culture favorite from Oz, he was a wartime aviator and he also toured the US in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile (pronounced ween-er mo-beel) for 30 years as "Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef." 

Meinhardt Rabbe had quite the hefty moniker and wasn't widely known by name. Note to reporters--give us the name up FRONT!!

Ok One More To-Do and Now It's Ta-Dahhh!

As of yesterday, the to-do list had been all taken care of.

I was out front on this sunny Saturday, thinking about all that I've done to the house over the years. Roof, chimney caps, windows, lintels, window boxes, repointed the brick, new doors, stained glass in the transom, mailbox, house #'s, had the lion gargoyle embedded. And that's just the front! Every bit of the facade has been improved in some way.

I took a pic of the front of the house, with the new street tree in bloom. I almost made it inside, then...

...I thought that the gray paint on the front walk and steps down looked grubby. Everything else is primped and prepped...Open House-ready. That tired gray paint was nagging at me. the touch up stash I went...

Gave the stairs a good sweep, painted the risers first, then the edges and painted my way back up to the sidewalk. I've got the system down!


I taped up a "wet paint" sign to keep toddler feet, puppy paws and shopping cart and luggage wheels dry, then I painted my way backwards, into the house. 

It's 5:00pm, and I have til 7 before friends come over for drinks and dinner. Should be dry by then!

Ta-dahhh ;-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The To-Do List Became the Ta-Dahhh List!

Punch List.
To-Do List.
Honey-Dew List.
Things To Do.
Shopping List.

To "do" taken as a verb means to "do" something, and that's probably why we make lists of what needs to be done.

Actually though, when hyphenated, "to-do" is a noun. It is defined as agitation, bother, commotion, hassle, hoopla,  etc...   When you think about it, getting through the brouhaha of endless to-do lists brings about the opposite of the noun "to-do." The dictionary states two antonyms: peace and rest.  The verb chases the noun, and you come full circle.

I'm feeling full circle-y this week. The to-do's for this particular space in time are all done.

I even cleaned the crumb tray in the toaster.

I've listed my house for sale, the showings are going well, appts are being set for this weekend's open houses. Going from room to room, all my fix ups and to-do's have been completed. The place is shiny and ripe for a buyer. New paint, dings repaired, bathroom re-grouted, yard mulched, closets purged, clothes and shoes donated, files shredded, cabinets organized, etc...   Done. Done. And done.

Ongoing tasks are pretty simple...water the yard, sweep out front, and keep the house neat.

New lists to come when the next phase presents itself. Packing, moving to North Carolina, house and job hunting, etc...   On the flip side of errand-y lists, I hope I'm too young for a "bucket list." Maybe I'll come up with 50 things I want to do before turning 50.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Saturday

Took a stroll over the Pulaski Bridge this afternoon to Greenpoint, Brooklyn and back with my next door neighbor, Sheila. 2 miles roundtrip. She needed white kielbasa, and Manhattan Avenue in the 'Pernt is the only place to get it freshly made.

I took some snaps along the way. Greenpoint feels like another world, yet it's only 15 minutes from midtown Manhattan. The neighborhoods used to be very clearly divided--Spanish, Polish, then Italian as you head to, and under the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) Underpass. The lines are a bit more blurred now, but seeing signs in Polish with no translation really transports me!

You lookin' at me?

Do or Dye

It's Easter weekend, and the store shelves are bursting with marshmallow Peeps, Jellybeans, circus peanuts, Cadbury eggs, M&M's every color of the rainbow, and then some. The red candy can be repurposed from Christmas to Valentine's Day and any green stuff that wasn't branded for St Patty's Day is probably in there somewhere. All of this candy has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of the holiday...but commercially, we are being forced to recognize that Spring has sprung.

I was in Trader Joe's today, and the cash register was finally in sight, after a 45 minute wait in a line that started at the front door, and circled the entire perimeter of the store! Creeping along in line, you are very likely to buy more than what was on your initial list...temptations abound. I went in JUST for champagne vinegar. Couldn't find it, so I got English Breakfast Tea. I also left with crabmeat, edamame hummus and cinammon raisin bread. They were not on the list, as I had no list.

They strategically place the flowers right there at the end of the line, to appeal to your "Spring is here!" and impulse buying sensors. The latter for me is spring-loaded, literally.

I saw, for the first time in my whole life, RED sunflowers! Deep saffron, really. A new hybrid? I've seen burgundy sunflowers in the farmer's market in autumn, but whoa, these were unusual and very pretty!

Must.Buy.Immediately! And only $4.99 for a big bunch.
Hmmmmm...turns out dyeing flowers has gone beyond the horrendously pedestrian blue and green carnations. Visions of well-meaning high school dates bearing corsages in plastic clamshells. Wrist or chest? There is no lesser, to these two evils.

Within a minute of these sunflowers being cut and put into a vase, the water turned a tacky pink.
The jig was up.
They're still pretty. If I see them again, I'd buy them again...but I'll be putting them in an opaque vase.

Speaking of things not being what they seem...remember Circus Peanuts?
They are oversized orange-colored-peanut-shaped marshmallows, that have a unique banana taste. Would love to see the notes from the focus group for this product.  They probably just knew that no one would eat beige marshmallows that taste like peanuts.