Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adventures in Domesticity: "Safe in Her Arms Bruschetta Pasta"

For those of you who have experienced my cooking, you know that while I LOVE great cookbooks, that I'm a huge fan of experimentation in the kitchen. Behold, my newest recipe! I've named it for its significance in the moment. Kyle said something to the dog tonight after dinner like, "When Mommy holds us, everything seems better, doesn't it?" So I present to you a very easy Italian-inspired dish, named in honor of my sweet husband's words.

Safe in Her Arms Bruschetta Pasta

(Serves 2-4)

Grape or cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mushrooms (I used portabella but I think another variety would work great, too)
Fresh mozarella (parmesan, asiago, feta, or romano could be substituted)
Garlic (fresh or minced)
White wine (just a splash of whatever bottle you happen to have open)
Olive oil
Butter (margarine or olive oil may be substituted)
Linguine pasta

Saute mushrooms (I used half a package for the two of us) with a splash of white wine, 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 1/4 tablespoon of butter until soft.

Chop cooked mushrooms finely.

Slice tomatoes thinly (I like the grape or cherry variety because they make perfectly sized circles).

Chop fresh basil (I used 8-10 leaves) finely.

Chop fresh garlic (or use minced). I'm a fan of the garlic so I probably used more than most people would like. I recommend no more than 2 cloves for the average diner (or 1 tablespoon of minced).

Stir together. Add 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste, mixing thoroughly.
Serve over bed of pasta with sliced mozarella.

Here's the finished product:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adventures in Domesticity: Thanksgiving Part Two

So the holiday is drawing nigh (NINE days and counting...), I thought I'd share with you all I need to accomplish BEFORE I start basting the turkey!

So here you are. My To-Do List (all to be completed before Thanksgiving Day):

-Finish and turn in my paper for Theatre Criticism - I'm using Euripides' texts, Helen, Hecuba, Andromache, Trojan Women, and The Suppliants to discuss Plato and Aristotle's views on the depiction and imitation of violence, specifically focusing on sexual violence. Cheery little paper just perfect for the holidays!

-Catch up on all my grading - if you even KNEW how many hours of grading papers I had ahead of me...well, you'd cry.

-Shampoo all the carpets - This is all Madigan's fault. But the carpets need to be cleaned and I want it done BEFORE Emily and Jeremy come for the weekend! I've already found a nearby Rug Doctor rental place so this one should be easy.

-Clean out my inbox - I hate this one. I think, at this point, I'd probably pay someone else to wade through the countless spam, student emails, announcements, newsfeeds, and special offers.

-Finishing transcribing the interviews conducted for my master's thesis - In THEORY, this one should be cake. I mean, I'm just typing what someone else is saying on my digital recorder. It's not like I have to think up anything clever to write. But trying to do this precisely and clearly is actually going to be a lot of work.

-Plus my homework - still have two more reading assignments and written reports due for Theatre Criticism.

-See Aida - this one is not really a chore since it's a wonderful musical and stars many of my fellow graduate students BUT it is going to require time. I'm hoping it's a celebratory evening at the theatre instead of a frantic dash to find a parking spot downtown and thinking all the while, WHY didn't you get your homework done SOONER? By the way, if you're in Columbus, and don't have tickets...well, they're probably almost sold out by now but if you're interested, here's the link:

-Give Madigan a bath - We're keeping her coat longer for the winter but it seems to mean she gets dirty faster. Oh, well. I actually enjoy blow-drying her fur.

Everybody, I'd like you to meet pre-Thanksgiving me...

Credit goes to whoever originally captured and edited this image. This picture popped up all over Google but I can't seem to trace it to its origin. If you happen to know it, let me know!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Painting 2: Revenge of the Easel

Kyle and I went to Hobby Lobby tonight and picked up some new brushes, the canvas frame, and, yes, folks, our very own easel. Sophisticated city! We figured it was probably time since Madigan has decided her creative efforts can be best utilized sitting on the paintings while they're drying.

(Exhibit A)

This easel, a whopping $12.99, came with 8 wooden slats, 5 screws, 5 washers, 5 wing-nuts, 1 chain, and 0 instructions. I have a joke for you: how many former theatre majors does it take to put an easel together? Apparently, two...if you give them half an hour and at least one of them passed Stagecraft.

We put the canvas frame together but are not quite astute enough to notice that one side was a cm too long (stupid pre-cut frames!).

Canvas draped.

By the way, we did a price comparison tonight between pre-stretched canvas and the DIY version we've been doing. A comparable size (around 32-36 square inches), pre-stretched, was running about $50 at Hobby Lobby.

The cost of ours?
$7.32 - 1 yd. canvas (Blick)
$2.79 X 4 - 32" canvas frame strips (Hobby Lobby)

Total: $18.48

The finished product

Kyle and I will post some new sketches tomorrow but the idea for the new adventure is a sort of forest path that starts in the green of summer and then fades into fall and winter and spring at the end of the path. We're experimenting now to see if this is possible.

What do you guys think?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wilderness Song or Heathcliff was right, after all

I don't usually share my own poetry on this blog but I was thinking about the scarier parts of my own adventure in love and this is what came out. I was reminded tonight, especially, of a passage from Wuthering Heights that always stuck with me, even as a teenager. There are some things I cannot explain to anyone in prose, even myself.

"[...] haunt me, then! [...] Be with me always -- take any form -- drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" - Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Vol II.

I see the light go out,
A candle moved from room to room.
And where it goes,
I cannot follow.
Do not leave me here.

I am a voice crying out in a wilderness
And there is none to hear me here.
I cry for you.
I call.
Come back to me.

There is a song in my throat.
I am afraid and choke on the notes
Slipping one by one into this silent desert.
I wait for your answer,
Your echo.
It doesn't come.

Are you lost?
I will find you.

Mute and tired in your nightmare,
Put your monsters in my box.
I will keep them for you
To fight another day.
While you sleep away these dreaming hours,
Stay with me.

Do not go where I cannot follow...

Heathcliff was right, after all.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Humble Abode: The Charity of Chairs

So I personally think buying upholstered furniture secondhand can be icky. Especially at the thriftstore/garage sale level. Juice stains and pet stains and food stains and (the worst) unexplained stains. Rips, potential critters, unknown materials, and odors.

So imagine my surprise when I found this clean, stainless, odorless upholstered chair with a lovely floral print (probably circa 1974) in the corner of a Goodwill in Columbus, Ohio. Actually, I take that back. I didn't find it. My best friend Beth did and pointed it out as a joke. I think she was secretly dismayed when I insisted on buying it.

Now I have been searching online for anything comparable to this chair and I can't find anything for less than $170. This gem? $15. Side note: The magazine on the table (pictured below) is the June 1932 issue of The Stage, published by the Theatre Guild (purchased at a theatre book sale for 50 cents).

Bonus? Super comfortable. Madigan loves it.

Here's a close-up view of the fabric and pattern. I apologize for the poor lighting. I'm waiting anxiously for a new camera this Christmas.

Nothing like the perfect chair to curl up in at night for a little light reading of, oh, say, Plato's Republic.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Humble Abode: The Thrift Store Aesthetic

Ever open a magazine and see a gorgeous high-wingback chair or a beautiful table setting and, after completely falling in love with it, catch sight of the tiny little letter of a pricetag that isn't so tiny? Yeah. Me, too. So I find myself memorizing images from magazines and making a mental shopping list for the next time I'm "junking."

Vintage is a sneaky, manipulative word. It's the materialist's nicest of way of saying "used." And it makes buying "used" things seem hip and progressive, rather than trashy and cheap. But the biggest difference between the word "vintage" and the word "second-hand" is in the number of zeros before the decimal point. And you know what bugs me most about "vintage" items? That Fiestaware is just an opinion away from a Goodwill bin. Seriously. That "buyer" who works for the vintage boutique paws through piles of junk to find things that are truly worthy of the label "vintage." So you know what? I'm doing it, too. These "Humble Abode" posts are going to highlight the vintage things in my home. You know why they're vintage? Because I got them secondhand. That's the only qualification. Some things are from thrift stores and garage sales, some have been passed down from my mother and my grandmother, some things were even rescued off the trash heap!

In our entire apartment, I can only legitimately think of three pieces of furniture purchased new. The sofa, an armchair, and an end table (already falling apart, I might add). Everything else is on its second, third, or fourth reincarnation.

I'm excited to share some of them with you!

I love to hunt for dishes. Here's the table set for dinner tonight.

One of my favorite things is to mix old and new dinnerware. So we have the silverware and white square plates that were wedding gifts, the red quilted placemats from my mother's dining room, the green and purple plates from Goodwill, embroidered linen napkins that belonged to my great-grandmother, and copper napkin rings my parents received as a wedding gift.

The green plates and purple dessert dishes were 59 cents a piece at the thrift store and stacked randomly on different shelves. If you can't tell, I'm a fan of the jewel tones. I managed to put a set together after digging through for awhile. Total: $4.72.

Anyone have a favorite set of dishes or tableware that they either use everyday or save for special occasions?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Lump in the Throat: Pablo Neruda

"Your breast is enough for my heart,
and my wings for your freedom.
What was sleeping above your soul will rise
out of my mouth to heaven.

In you is the illusion of each day.
You arrive like the dew to the cupped flowers.
You undermine the horizon with your absence.
Eternally in flight like the wave.

I have said that you sang in the wind
like the pines and like the masts.
Like them you are tall and taciturn,
and you are sad, all at once, like a voyage.

You gather things to you like an old road.
You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices.
I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated
that had been sleeping in your soul."

-Pablo Neruda, "Your Breast Is Enough"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adventures in Domesticity: Thanksgiving Part One

Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite days of the year. Because for me, it's no just a day to redefine gluttony (although, that usually happens at our house). No, Thanksgiving is a harbinger of CHRISTMAS. Thanksgiving weekend, we drag out the Christmas tree and decorations, we put on the cheesy holiday movies, we do the majority of our holiday shopping (although this year, I've already done most of it to beat the rush). So I start counting down to Thanksgiving Day as soon as possible. I swear, the day after Halloween, it's like I can hear the Butterballs calling to me from the down the grocery aisle. This year, I thought I'd share some of my recipes and traditions, both old and new.

Normally, I make my grandmother's orange-cranberry jello salad but this year I'm trying something new:

Bourbon-Cranberry Compote
(Serves 8)

1 12 oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen (3 1/2 cups)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. apple juice
1/4 c. bourbon

Combine ingredients in saucepan.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens, 20-25 min. Cool before serving.

- from Real Simple magazine, November 2010, p. 247

So what about you guys? What are your plans for Thanksgiving Day? What traditions do you and your family have? Are you doing anything different this year?

Painting Two - Sketches

We've started brainstorming ideas for our next painting and these are the sketches Kyle worked on yesterday. What do you think?

Also, here's a picture of Kyle being manly and fixing the vacuum.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Love is in the learning...or study habits for lovers

I cannot honestly tell you when I fell in love with Kyle. Was it the day he complimented my gigantic walkman, circa 1989, in a dark empty theatre? The basement cast-party where he made me laugh so hard, I spit water out all over his face? Or the night I drove him home and he turned to me as he jumped out of my 1999 Astro mini-van and mumbled, "I love you," rain soaking through his grey hoodie and long hair? Was it that first rehearsal after his brother had died, unexpectedly, at the age of 29, when he stood on the stage across from me, looking lost? Or the July afternoon in the parking lot of the carwash, his face dark with sun, wearing that horrible dog-farting t-shirt I begged him to throw away? Or the night of our sophomore year of college when I smashed my finger in the door frame and began to cry and then noticed the tears running down Kyle's face...when I had asked him what was wrong, he replied, "You're hurt"...? Or the day he left for California when he freaked out about gum on the bottom of the flip-flops I had bought for him? Maybe it was the late night sitting on his kitchen floor where he flippantly proposed marriage (oh, if he only he had KNOWN what he was in for!)?

Honestly, I don't know when it happened. One second, I was just me and the next...I was me and Kyle, wrapped up in one impossibly big blanket of understanding that this, THIS was it. But even then...I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know how many nights I would spend sleepless, afraid and trembling, days I would spend fighting, falling, and getting up again, afternoons I would spend helplessly in love, beyond comprehension or thought or words.

I had a minor epiphany the other day, though...Because the Kyle I fell in love with is a new Kyle every day. Certainly, the Elizabeth he fell in love with is a new Elizabeth every half-hour! And I realized that I am falling in love with a brand new Kyle all the time.

Perhaps, most importantly, my idea of how to love is changing, growing. Expanding. I feel like I'm enrolled in a constant crash-course guide to my husband.

Falling in love might only take a moment. But loving someone is like...learning a foreign language. Somedays, I think my love gets lost in translation. I'm sure he feels that way with me, too. But now and then, like with my very limited French, I learn a new verb tense or a fantastic new adjective that gives me a chance to more adequately say: "I love you, Kyle, to the moon and back, and while my study habits need improving, I hope you'll give me an A...because I'm learning."

Day Something or Other: Painting COMPLETE

This took way too long to post BUT the painting is finished! Here are some pictures of both the painting in its entirety, as well as some close-ups on the details (you can see examples of the poetry in the waves, for instance).
This was such a fun project and Kyle and I had a wonderful time working on it. We'll be starting a brand new painting very soon and we'll be posting on that shortly, as well as continuing to blog about love, marriage, and all the stuff that makes one or the other difficult at times and worth it every single day.

So what do you think? It's hanging in our living room now (I moved some other stuff off the wall to make room). Eventually, we'd like to have three panels hanging over the couch.
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