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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forget about dinner

Things are heating up. The other day, Boston (and much of the eastern seaboard) had one of its hottest days in history. Not since the 1920s has a temperature of 104 been recorded in this area, and no temperature higher has been recorded since 1911.

 It's inescapable, wherever you are, the heat will find you. I don't have air conditioning in my apartment, and unfortunately even if I wished to use window units our power won't support it. I spent some time visiting with my parents and their AC. We ate out, to avoid having to cook, but one of my favorite ways to eat in the heat is to simply pull together some appetizers and cold white wine, and forget the dinner all together. 

I did this on a night last week with my good friend Sophie. We ate kalamata olives, locally made bread, juicy red grapes, goat cheese, cheddar, and some rhubarb chutney I made recently with ingredients from the farmers market. We sipped on chilled Sauvignon Blanc, and dipped our bread in rosemary infused olive oil while chatting about the week that had passed and enjoying the cross breeze from two fans set up. Some interesting artisanal meats or fresh vegetables are also always a welcome addition. Perfect.

The good news is this heat wave seems to have broken, today was quite warm, but nothing like the past few days. Are those of you in other areas of the country (or other countries) having similar weather? How do you keep comfortable?

Do you have a favorite simple meal to make on days like this- when it is so hot the idea of standing above a lit stove is simply unbearable?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What have I been doing?

It's been awhile since I've posted! Here's a taste of what I've been up to in my blog-cation:

Classes-- One summer class wrapped up last week, the next starts tomorrow. These 6 week long condensed courses take a lot out of me! Also, notice that school work all over my newly refinished desk makes it look a bit less pretty. Boo.

Laying in front of fans- on those hottest, most humid days, I was really wishing I had AC. But at least I have a window fan. Fun fact, did you know that the person who invented the first electric fan was born in my own home state of Massachusetts? His name was Schuyler Wheeler, and he was only 22 when he invented it.

Cooking things that are delicious but not so photogenic, like this rhubarb chicken:

Helping my sister paint her new condo. And using "sisterly persuasion" to get her to make daring choices with paint colors. And bragging about my edging skills.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lychee Green Tea Martinis

I've been mixing up all kinds of fun, summery cocktails lately. This one, made with Lychee juice, iced (unsweetened) green tea, vodka and a hint of lime juice is a current favorite of mine. Sweet and light, with a hint of smokiness from the green tea, served super cold. This is just the kind of thing I want to sip on a summer evening with friends.

I thew the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, then added a couple lychees for garnish. They're my favorite part!

You will need:
1 can lychee fruit packed in juice
A pot of strongly brewed green tea, given time to chill
Vodka of your choice
1 lime

combine 1 part vodka, 1 part lychee juice, 2 parts green tea, and a squeeze of lime. Shake over ice, and enjoy.  You can also add cold seltzer (after shaking, not before) for a lighter spritzer variation. Yum.

I made and drank these with my friend Gabi (whose name has been dropped on this blog quite a few times now) as we ate homemade Pad Thai based on this Alton brown recipe (we substituted chicken for the tofu, and only marinated it for less than an hour, but it turned out great), and then munched on red bean mochi for dessert. Our meal and drinks were inspired by a last minute wander through Super 88, a giant Asian market around the corner from my apartment, also mentioned here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Before & After-er (an update to my dresser to foyer shelves DIY)

Remember when I took this sad drawer-less dresser

And ripped out the drawer tracks, painted it, an laid in some plywood shelves to create a shelving unit/entry  table for my foyer?

Well, I recently did one little update- removing the cross bars (except the horizontal one at the top supporting the top shelf) for a cleaner, more open look. This meant getting to hack away at the bars with a saw to get them loose. Which is a pretty satisfying activity, I must say.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cleaning compulsion?

photo via womensday.com

Over the last couple of years I seem to have developed a bit of a cleaning compulsion. Every morning right after I wake up, I make my bed, sweep my room, organize any objects that may be out of place, empty the trash can, then move on to the kitchen. There I  wipe down the counters, sweep, put away the dishes, sometimes I even mop. With bleach. At 6am. Really. I then have to remind myself to wait until at lease 7:30 to break out the vacuum, for noise reasons.

Looking objectively at my current routine, I have to laugh. I was the girl whose room was so messy all through middle school and high school that I forgot what color my rug was, because I could never see it. I had constant arguments with my parents over abandoned dishes and the mess I left in my wake everywhere I went. Clearly, somewhere along the line this changed.

Today while over my parents house to take care of their pet bird, Petey, I decided to do some organizing and purging in my old bedroom. I found some gems. In one drawer there was a bottle of perfume I bought while in Ireland visiting my sister (who did a college year abroad in Galway when I was 16.) One sniff and I was back there! Amazing how scent works that way, isn't it? The perfume itself is far too sweet to be something I would wear now, but its scent instantly brought me back. Next I found a pile of journals and sketchbooks. I am going to frame a few drawings I found, which I made originally back in 2001 and 2002, and hang them in my apartment. But the best find of all, was a journal full of angsty teenage poetry, lists of favorite movies and songs, resolutions, and one journal entry that stood out.

Judging from the friends I mention earlier in the journal, this entry was probably made at the beginning of my senior year of high school. While I do think it speaks to the moment of evolution in my psyche when it comes to cleaning, I have to confess there were still several solid years before my habits actually began to change.

On the chance that there are others of you out there who, like me, went from complete tornado-mess-makers to obsessive cleaning nuts, I thought I would transcribe some of the entry here for your amusement.

Sadly there is no date on the entry. There is also not much by way of structure, I created the line breaks to hopefully help it all make a bit more sense, in the journal itself it is just a constant stream of words:

Weird thing happened today- I have just cleaned my room, and have been working on keeping it that way. Put away one thing before you take out another; put dirty clothes in the hamper, clean in the drawers and the closet...etc. I went downstairs to get a calendar for in my room and noticed that the kitchen was a total mess. It seems like this house was always a lot cleaner when I was little. 

Garbage bin brimming, food out, dirty dishes in the sink... It only took me ten minutes to clean everything up, wash down all the surfaces, realize we had no more sponges left- write that on the shopping list and load the dish washer. I turned off the light and realized what I had done: I had voluntarily cleaned up after not only myself but my family also. 

I have always wondered how it is that my mom would spend her days off cleaning. I'm not saying I liked it. That's gross. I'm just saying I was willing to do it, somehow. 

As weird as that sounds I guess I had always kind of liked my messiness. There is an exciting level of chaos and impulsiveness implied about a person who keeps a messy room. They are so much less boring and predictable than tidy people. While the idea of being chaotic, impulsive and spontaneous is very appealing, maybe clean is good too. 

I decided that I was going to keep my room clean, and also become all around more tidy. Maybe this can be an early news years resolution. It doesn't hurt that my parents have offered me incentives... a phone in my room if I keep things clean for a month, a CD player after 3 months...

Well, there you have it, contrast that entry to my cleaning habits now. It's sort of amazing, right? By the way, I suspect this picture is one I took right around that time, when I was so proud of how clean my room was:

This was the cleanest my room ever was in high school. 

So, did any of you used to be a slob like I was? Did you change down the line, or do you still have to fight it?  Or do you not fight it, and just learn to love your messy self?

On the flip side, do dirty dishes in the sink make you twitch? Do you chronically clean every surface with bleach? Or is it just me- is there something terribly wrong with me?

Also...Have you discovered any old journals recently?  Do tell!  If you're willing to share some of the good stuff I might be convinced to post a few lines of my teenage poetry...Just saying.


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