11.26.08: craft interlude {sew, very old one}

jacob and megan are one of our favorite couples in the whole world, so it went without saying that we wanted to really rock their wedding present. jacob was kind enough to feed my perpetual need to discuss event DIY by supplying me with some of his planning details, and one of my favorite touches was how they were going to use charley harper's "redbirds and redbuds" (with harper's estate's permission) on their programs. i was going to try to hunt down a print, but as it happens, the stitchin' community goes nuts for harper (no surprise there, since modernist stuff lends itself so well to needlepoint grids). i scored an authorized canvas on ebay,* built a frame and dry blocked with some thumb tacks, sewed like the wind - and underestimed project time by almost two months (did i learn nothing from the sockshund?). as with the sockshund for baby james, however, the story has a happy ending: i'm jazzed by how the project turned out,** and long autumn nights of stitching haven't soured me on needlepoint (i'm back to working on the stag beetle i started two years ago).

framed and ready for train travel

secret project: concluded! DIY: huzzah!

*i prefer to design my own (this was actually the first time i've worked with someone else's plan instead of freestyling), but i had a deadline - and i liked the fact that this canvas had the estate's blessing.

**though i will never let someone budget fiber for me ever again; i ran out of medium brown 433 on my very last night of stitching and nearly had a nervous breakdown.

11.24.08: culture blotter {twilight}

i spent a sliver of saturday afternoon scuttling around a few stories above times square* in search of an escalator with a fellow gal-on-a-date-with-herself-at-the-movies (the undermanned snack bar on our floor of the megatheater was swamped, so we were both headed elsewhere for diet coke). i probably sounded schizophrenic when i responded to her question about what i was there to see: "twilight, i know! but i read the books, so. but they weren't very good! but i like trashy things. my husband has to work today. also, vampires!" all that for one question: scary, no? she told me in return that she was there for danny boyle's slumdog millionaire, which i hear is very good, and that her elementary school students hide copies of twilight in class all the time. "oh, no," i gasped, "it's a terrible example for little girls!" "so you wouldn't let your daughter read twilight?" "NEVER!"

twilight the movie is, oddly enough, just fine for daughters, especially if they see it in a crowd. i nearly applauded when robert pattinson (as edward the vampire heartthrob) confessed that he liked to watch kristen stewart (as bella the situationally spineless heroine) sleep...and a ripple of titters and "'cause that's not creepy!"-ish comments moved across the theater. let your peers know that lines like that are laughable, girls! i'd like nothing better than for twilight to be your generation's incarnation of the mysteries of udolpho (udolpho via northanger abbey, that is). bella and edward are, after all, high gothic camp - which is why they were so readable in the first place.

*i know, i know, i said i'd never times square a movie again; sometimes i'm a slave to stephanie zacharek. ("If you care about pop culture at all, you owe it to yourself to see "Twilight" -- Catherine Hardwicke's** adaptation of the first volume of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster vampire-romance saga -- with an audience full of teenage and preteen girls.")

**throwback story aside, it's exciting to see hardwicke rock an almost $70 million opening weekend (the biggest yet for a female director).

11.23.08: you can't gain, i maintain

since 11.23.07:

140 trips to the gym
17 pounds lost
0 cigarettes

i'm taking this anniversary to iceland.

11.20.08: the inner aspect

as tofurky (where's your E, tofurky?) day is fast upon us, it's probably time for me to start bothering you all about taking pictures for ye olde orphan thanksgiving photo pool. you don't need to be an orphan (or to cook orphans) to throw your images in with ours: almost any festive eats will do. for more on the concept (and to talk some kitchen smack), come on over!

on thanksgiving and kitchen smack, i confess that i just received my first weekly newsletter from gwyneth paltrow's goop. what is goop? per la paltrow,
Whether you want a good place to eat in London, some advice on where to stay in Austin, the recipe I made up this week, or some thoughts from one of my sages, GOOP is a little bit of everything that makes up my life.

Make your life good. Invest in what's real. Cook a meal for someone you love. Pause before reacting. Clean out your space.* Read something beautiful. Treat yourself to something. Go to a city you've never been to. Learn something new. Don't be lazy. Workout [sic] and stick with it. GOOP. Make it great.
goop infuriates just about everyone. i get that - she does swan about like she invented pilates and long blonde hair, as they say - but she's been so impressed with herself for so long that i've mellowed into being amused by rather than disgusted with her.** come on, people: she has sages. as i commented on wabes's site the other day, i think she might be my new mischa barton (with less triangle leg***).

that said, gwynnie's thanksgiving dessert joint sounds tasty.
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

A cool alternative (literally) to traditional pumpkin pie. If you can find pumpkin ice cream, by all means use that. If not, here's a quick and easy way to make some using vanilla ice cream, good canned pumpkin and lots of wonderful spices. When you first make the mixture the spices might seem strong, but remember that their flavors get a bit muted when they're ice cold. If you're doing Thanksgiving for a large crowd, make two of these. One is good for a small crowd and the ice cream alone is a simple, fun desert [sic] for a party of two.

SERVES: 6, very generously
TIME: 20 minutes + at least 3 hours in the freezer

- 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve, ground in the food processor)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 5 tbsp melted butter
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 can pureed pumpkin (or 1-3/4 c fresh)
- 1/4 tsp each ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
- Maple Whipped Cream (see recipe below)****

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a pie pan (why bother washing a mixing bowl?). Mix together with your fingers and then press evenly to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. It helps to press the mixture with the bottom of a small measuring cup. Bake for ten minutes or until light brown. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, beat together the ice cream, pumpkin and spices. Spread evenly into the cooled pie shell and stick in the freezer for at least three hours before serving. When ready to serve, spread the top with Maple Whipped Cream.
potentially delectable, no? i say the sages turned in a solid effort this week.

we're trucking our goop up to providence for the holiday, where we'll be frolicking with jacob and megan. there's a chance that we might make it to plymouth rock itself, and the prospect is making me feel extra-festive this year: i'm hoping to convince everyone to rock costumes for dinner (best-case scenario: clue characters). our orphan thanksgiving photos...would be amazing.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 are you as excited as i am about photos of other people's food? last year we had pork buns shaped like pandas.

02 how do you feel about gwyneth paltrow and/or goop?

03 why does chris martin dress like a nutcracker?

04 what's on tap for your holiday?

*given our current economic climate, this phrasing is rather unfortunate.

**also, her husband draws most of my ire. he seems like a lovely person, but i ha-a-ate coldplay.

***which is sung to the tune of "particle man," in case you were wondering.

****1 c heavy cream and 2/3 tbsp maple syrup whisked into stiff peaks.

11.10.08: the dirty dozen, part II {love and affection*}

it's been a quiet week here at kidchamp HQ: tuesday's merry midnight cacophony (in hell's kitchen, as throughout the city and apparently everywhere else, the buildings themselves seemed to howl with glee) made way, on wednesday, for news of prop 8's passage in california (and its nasty relatives' success in other states) and bad news close to home (i remain employed, but i knock on wood every time i say so). i spent my second day off running overcomplicated errands and donating platelets - my reptilian responses to changes in the environment.

04 10 minute apple sauce, courtesy of alton brown: easily the coolest thing to happen to my microwave since i learned to nuke eggs properly back in san francisco. dump a handful of basic ingredients in two big plastic yogurt containers with lids, zap them for 10 minutes, then stick-blend everything together - voila! breakfast (or dessert) for a week, and the kitchen smells amazing. i'm already on my second batch (though i cut the honey down to one teaspoon and don't use the booze).

05 want to read thrillers you can still snoot about? meet arnaldur indriĆ°ason, the rock star of icelandic crime fiction. i had his jar city (a groomsperson's gift from jacob; the title refers to icelandic hospitals' organ archives) on hand when a downed power line stranded us on the tracks in delaware last month, and crawling around in reykjavik's dark-and-seedy-but-somehow-still-adorable underworld made the seven hours we spent returning from baltimore almost painless. i'm now reading silence of the grave (on doomsday orgies and world war II) and just picked up a copy of voices. icelandic reading group? anyone?

06 armchair foliage, my ongoing photoset of central park's annual striptease, isn't the most consistent series out there: i switched cameras about a week in when joe gave me The Professor for my birthday (and then i had to swap the old sony cybershot in again a few days ago when he needed it for work), so viewing it as a time-lapse slide show carries some risk of whiplash. that said, manhattan as it autumns! relaxing when it isn't jerky, no?

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 was there an election night primal scream in your neighborhood, too?

02 how are you autumning? any clever recipes i should know about?

03 that nelson song is probably the most terrible thing i've ever demanded from itunes. what's your secret shame?

*those who bought your selections also bought:
"in the heart of the young," winger
"trixter," trixter
"vixen," vixen


11.04.08: election notes from nyc II: electric boogaloo {updated throughout the day}

21:55 just spoke with my indefatigable friend tom, who's up in wisconsin counting absentee ballots (fine work up there, lad, by the by): "set your tivo for ten," sez he.

21:20 FOX predicts ohio for obama - HOLY SHIT!

20:50 wow: on CNN, david gergen just told anderson cooper that tonight could be "not just a win, but a very big win" for obama. gergen is the king of cool, so i take that seriously (i feel jessi klein a bit on him).

20:40 jacob reports that "rachel maddow needs to chill out," which i can neither confirm nor deny (having watched ABC for the last hour), but 1) she did tweet that barry has yet to wish any bush states and 2) often needs to be "talked down," as she calls it. i feel you, rachel: i think a lot of us need to be talked down right about now.

19:55 meghan mccain's song of the day is journey's "don't stop believin'" - which is a good omen. i couldn't begin to tell you why, but it's a good omen.

19:10 MSNBC sez the new house will split 261/174, "a total repudiation of the republican party" (joe scarborough). this is killing hamlet in the first act, guys.

18:50 see, this is why i distract myself with photo safaris and food: numbers are pouring in on MSNBC now, and even the expected stuff (like obama getting shellacked in kentucky) is making me sick to my stomach.

18:00 encountered my first line of the day at the times square ben & jerry's (one of only two in manhattan, someone said). naturally their corporate photographer showed up and took four thousand pictures just as i got to the door: "hi, i have nothing better to do than wait for ice cream all night." i...probably deserved this.

17:20 CNN on the brutal wait times at some polling places: "sing songs, do whatever you have to do. er, bring a book."

15:30 CNN's times square HQ gets this season's spiffy election digs award; NBC/MSNBC in rockefeller center is a close second, and FOX's avenue of the americas efforts sadden me.

14:30 sitting on the floor in penn station, photographing a doughnut. good on you, krispy kreme.

13:50 the national republican trust PAC is still running its jeremiah wright attack ad on CNN; i'd laugh, but CNN showed an illinois voter flipping a coin to settle on a candidate fifteen minutes ago.

13:00 fitness (and thus news) hiatus: since the sets at the gym* were all tuned to sportscenter, the closest i got to political news was "it's election day, go vote! who's getting the heisman this year? who's in the BCS championship?" the wait to vote in downtown brooklyn is, at present, four hours(!).

10:30 free coffee acquired! i tipped the tired-looking guy at my local starbucks. voting itself was hassle-free as well, though the police officer at my polling place busted me for wearing an obama button on my coat (wearing it counted as campaigning, which obviously isn't allowed there). i apologized and tucked it in my pocket - and sent psychic waves of sympathy to people who show up to vote wearing obama shirts (hope you wore the good underwear).



09:45 off to vote / snap hell's kitchen polling photos / smile pretty and ask for free coffee.

08:39 live TV feed of barack obama voting with his daughter on ny1: vote, guys, vote!

08:15 okay, so a recap of the voting-related national freebies: a doughnut for voters at krispy kreme, a tall coffee for voters at starbucks, ice cream for the hell of it from ben & jerry's (5-8 p.m.).

*to which i wore my threadless robot tee to hail our obama-bot overlords.