Thursday, May 31, 2007

Once In a Blue Moon

Tonight we will see a blue moon. I learned on Good Morning America today that blue moons aren't actually blue (how did I go 30 years without that knowledge??) - it just refers to an occasion where there are 2 full moons in one month, a phenomenon that occurs only about every 2.5 yrs. I always kind of get a kick out of these events...maybe we should do something to mark it. Clearly a meal of Moon Pies are in order. God bless the South.

Aren't these just the prettiest things? Allyn brought them yesterday to our playdate and I picked up a handful for home because Andrew couldn't get enough of them. He even ate one pit and stem and all. It's funny - I don't like many things that are cherry-flavored (even cherry pie) but fresh cherries make me happy to be alive. I remember being in New York in the spring and I would buy cherries on the street...the gold and pink water-coloured looking ones, and I would eat them as I walked along to work or to do my errands.

We're expecting company this weekend, one of my lovely roommates from college and her hubby and edible little boy. The anticipation of company for me is nearly always a good thing, as it is the only thing that truly can motivate me to clean and tidy my home. We're thinking about hitting a farmer's market and getting ice cream from the local dairy and then having some other friends in to join us for cocktails and dinner. I can't wait.

As much as I think our new friends here just hung a blue moon, I do often think it's sad that some of my oldest friends are living so far away. I miss them so much, and although most feelings are lessened with time, my achy-ness for them only intensifies as the months pass. One of my very best friends just moved across the country and sometimes when I look at a map of the US it's like I'm looking at it through a fun-house mirror...the ones where the center looks really big and bulging and the sides are really tiny and so far away from each other. Last night he was going to pick up some gum at a little store and I found myself a bit jealous of the cashier and the other shoppers for just having him around. I feel that way about all of my friends who aren't close...I just would love to say to the people who interact with them in little ways all the time, at the grocery, the dry cleaners, Do you know who this person is?? This is only one of the most fantastic people to ever draw breath. You are so lucky to be ringing up their gum and bread.

I wish we could just all live in some little commune together, working the land and drinking martinis.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

From Pete after reading 237 Curious George books to Andrew

I think when I read Andrew's book to him I am going to say, "This is George. He is a good monkey and always very bi-curious...".

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hecho a mano

It's no secret among my friends that I am one of the most frugal people they know. It's not so much that I don't like to spend money, as it is that I hate to spend money on things that I could so clearly make myself. This trait is both a blessing and a curse. I've attempted to make various items that would be obvious purchases to less financially neurotic folks, with mixed results: a wedding cake, my son's entire nursery linens, wool sweaters, board games, jewerly chests, built-in shelving. A few weekends ago we were invited to the our first BBQ of the season (sadly, our first BBQ in years) and I literally was sewing up a shirt to wear as we walked out the door, a necessity since my closet looked like a store of ugly clothing which had just gone out of business, leaving on the racks the garments that were just too awful to sell. It looked like a place where clothes go to die.

So no one was surprised when I launched my baby cloth business that I would need a website, and that, of course, I would design and build it myself. I realize that in this day and age building a website is really no big deal for a lot of people. But, kind reader, please keep in mind that I have an MA in midwifery. Web design is seriously out of my scope of practice. I'd always prefer the work of IUDs to CSS.

Although the site isn't totally complete and I'm sure has code that would make web developers die a slow death, I'm really tickled with how it turned out. Like with so many of my projects it's about the aesthetics - don't look too closely at the details. But I think it's a sweet-looking site, very friendly, which manages to capture the spirit of Petite Toile. It really wasn't that hard - I just spent countless hours on trying to maneuver my way through Dreamweaver, and it also doesn't hurt to have a live-in art director who is willing to trade Photoshop work for sexual favors.

Most importantly, building this website just reinforces what I've always believed and what I hope to teach to my children: even if you can buy something, there is a unique satisfaction in diving in, getting your hands dirty, and making things yourself - just as you like them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I scream

The first year Pete and I lived in Manhattan we decided to buy an ice cream maker with some wedding-present credit we had at Williams Sonoma. This was a very logical purchase, since our kitchen was (literally) 21 sq. ft and we were already storing canned goods in our shoes.

Space issues aside, I have to say that I've never regretted the purchase. In fact, I nearly dropped to my knees and kissed its little base when it helped me produce Nigella Lawson's World's Best Chocolate Ice Cream this weekend. I urge you to get your sweet tooth on a copy of How To Eat and make some magic happen in your kitchen.

I won't kid you and tell you that it's an effortless creation, but you will be amply rewarded. It's everything I love in chocolate ice cream: smoky, dark, heady. Any ingredient would be honored to meet its end as part of this concoction. It will make you happy when temperatures soar.

This Time of Year

Although it's been beautifully detailed in both prose and song, there really is nothing like late spring in the South. Early March typically heralds its arrival with unfurling of daffodils and crocuses from the ground and the most delicate buds on the trees. By April the yard is a rapidly evolving ecosystem which leaves me, Queen of the Black Thumb, constantly questioning whether the many sprouts around our home are weeds or something that I may actually want to grow.

And then there's May. Oh, May. May is, for all intents and purposes, really considered summer in my part of North Carolina. Pools open early, the buzz of air conditioners provide the soundtrack to the outdoors, and lawns already suffer due to early droughts. But the most spectacular part of May is the presence of tremendous overgrowth of flora, cloaking homes in a shadow of Kudzu and ivy, a blanket to gently deflect the summer sun. The density of green has an unusual effect: instead of appearing brighter in the summer, many locations seem more obsure, darker, more mysterious. This is Flannery O'Connor's South; the alluring, enigmatic region that I love so.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Don't Feel Like Dancing

Although my friend Bo and I joke about it, I'm beginning to be a little concerned that all Andrew will listen to in the car is the Scissor Sister's Ta-Dah! CD. It absolutely never fails that 3 minutes into any drive he will start to scream, Song!! Song, Please!!!. If I do not immediately switch off whatever I am listening to and put in the Sisters, screaming commences.

It really is my fault, since after receiving the album in November I played it ad nauseam, but now the kid is the one that can't let go. I always suffer a pang of guilt when I'm around mothers who discuss their child's love affair with Raffi or the Wiggles. Inevitably they inquire about Andrew's musical preferences and I admit that no, G-rated albums simply don't stimulate him enough - he needs disco/glam-rock and yes, I listen to it with one finger on the fast-forward button to skip over the cursing and nasty sexual innuendos. Typically, this is the end of the discussion.

I'm not so much worried about the music itself, since it really is very catchy and fun and his comprehension is quite limited, but more concerned that he refuses to listen to anything else. It's driving me mad. Pete got me the new Tori Amos CD for mother's day (wonderful) and we tried to listen to it in the car, Andrew protesting the entire time. Finally Pete said, "Andrew - this is the new Scissor Sisters!!!". No deal. My sister sent me this link though, and I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself.

So we have kind of agreed to ride it out, although every time I put it on my eyes start to cross a little. However, the other day we were driving to church and Pete and I both looked in the backseat at our little guy. There he sat in his carseat, completely blissed-out, Scissor Sisters blaring, chewing on my sister's makeup brush.

It doesn't bode well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I am just totally useless today. I did manage to run to Trader Joe's and come home to make mango sorbet, which is truly one of the most magnificent creations to come out of my kitchen in a long time. But my house is dirty and I have cloths to make, and my mojo is gone on both fronts. I was sick last week and then Pete has been sick all this week and the house feels like it's come down with something too. I feel like I need to go around the rooms opening windows and waving a smudge stick and ringing a bell.

I finally got a big order of little cloths out to The Red Hen in Carrboro. I couldn't believe how long it took for me to finish them, but I was really pleased with how they turned out. The business is growing, slowly but surely.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the "restructuring" of Pete's work at that awful agency. When I think back about that time I still get sick to my stomach, but I am also so, so grateful. What seemed like the worst-case scenario (new baby, single income, strange city) really made us reach out and grab opportunities which have been nothing short of miraculous. Case in point: If Pete had not decided to leave his job, I wouldn't have started working at the birth center. And the birth center's lovely little store wouldn't have asked me to make baby cloths. And then I wouldn't have decided to see who else was interested in my little cloths. And, of course, I wouldn't today have my sweet little business.

I think that Pete and I are going to celebrate all that we have done and become in the last year. Our wedding anniversary is lovely because it marks the day we made our vows. But May 18th is so meaningful because that's when those vows were tested, when we had the choice to fall apart or to meet our lives head-on, as partners.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just Up My Alley

A few days ago we went to WV to celebrate my friend Karen's 30 birthday. Her husband was throwing her a surprise party (nearly always a very bad idea) and had recruited me to act as the ruse to throw her off the track of suspicion. So of course I agreed to help out with that and in a further gesture of generosity asked if there was anything else I could do (nearly always a very bad idea).

At first he declined, but then I heard a glint of opportunism in his voice. Yes, if you really want to, I have a project that is just up your alley, he says. He then points me in the direction of this site and tells me that Karen has dreamed of nothing more than a pineapple palm tree to call her very own.

For those of you who have always fantasized about sinking a 1" bit through tropical fruit, let me assure you it's a nasty business. Pineapple guts covered the floor of my parents' garage and I ended up having to spray a hose through their core, a pineapple douche, if you will, before sodomizing the poor things with table legs.

My 82-yr-old grandfather helped out and was both mesmerized and repulsed by what we were doing.

Sadly, the tree was not the hit I had anticipated and I think Karen barely noticed that it was there.

Upon my return to NC I emailed pics of the final products to friends and offered to extend my talents to mark their special occasions too. Like a guillotine out of field strawberries. Or a suckling pig out of kiwi fruit. These were their requests:
  1. I think you should definitely make something for my wedding. Perhaps out of large bananas. Jumbo.
  2. For my next decade birthday, I would like you scupt the Statue of Liberty out of hummus.
  3. A fetal feline out of french fabric.
We all agreed that I should be very thankful that he didn't ask me to make this:

Monday, May 14, 2007

On The Bandwagon

I feel a bit about blogging as I do about popular TV shows - I never seem to get into them until they are in syndication. But I am feeling so motivated by some of my favorite blogs that I wanted to give it a shot. I assume that a first paragraph of a blog is most likely the hardest to write, just like with a term paper. Only, with a term paper, of course, you can go back and write the first paragraph last. Bear with me.

Yesterday was mother's day, and I have to say, this year even more than the last, I feel as if I'd earned it. I was awakened by Pete throwing Andrew in the bed to cuddle and then invited to a breakfast of popovers and insanely-priced butter and organic preserves.

Later we trekked it into Raleigh to do some flea-marketing. When we lived in DC, I thought the Georgetown flea market could not be topped. I stand corrected. The Raleigh one is absolutely fabulous and for $24 I amassed the menagerie you see before you:

Pete took a shot of this scary little dog.

We came back to the house, visited with neighbors, and after Andrew was in bed treated ourselves to what we call "Sideways" night - a dinner of (cheap) wine, cheese, bread, etc. And usually the movie. We didn't rent the movie this year because, wonder of wonders, it was supposed to be on TV. at 7 pm. I checked. not 5 pm. so we missed the film. but the evening was a big hit anyway, making ourselves sick on cheese and delicious farmer's market finds.

Really a perfect day in the midst of what has been a very difficult year.