Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall is falling

The leaves are on the ground and no longer on the trees where they were just a few days ago. A few of the trees are still holding strong, their branches filled with golden and red leaves. Fall on the east coast is absolutely beautiful, but sadly, it seems to happen in the blink of an eye.

I would love to tell you that we have been so busy working on the house that I haven't been able to write. The truth is that progress has ground to a halt. Some highlights of my slovenliness include Laura coming to visit (yay!) It was terribly rainy and cold, we took this as a sign to indulge in cocoa with brandy and strong hot rum cider! M and I were lumberjacks for Halloween, but we were unable to find axes in time so the trees went unmolested. I have arranged our holiday travel plans and other pressing needs. Now back to the hearth and home, painting commences this weekend and I predict that it is going to be a wild ride. I painted as an adolescent at the behest of my mother with the promptings of some cold hard cash, but now it is all up to me and I have been looking for TSP powder for months! Does anyone know of a good substitute? I may have to use diluted dish-soap.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We have a cavernous basement, I mean, it is absolutely huge and empty, not to mention dark and creepy. I thought and M thought that it would be a great place for a wine cellar. We aren't yuppie enough yet for the de facto wine fridge in the kitchen and if you have seen our kitchen, it needs much more than a wine fridge to spruce it up ...Yet the basement, however, gives multitudinous possibilities.

I have loved drinking wine for some years, mostly 2 Buck Chuck or whatever I could afford. I definitely lean toward strong reds with mineral flavors. I don't care for sweet or jammy wines or many white wines, so my tastes may be different than yours. I've never purchased an entire case of wine, I was terrified at the thought, ( It's so much money!) We entertained the idea many times because we drink wine on the regular and spend more than we should by buying per bottle. Last week we went to one of the local wine shops just to grab some beers and a few bottles of wine. I casually asked the clerk what the discount was for a mixed case. He replied 15%!!!!! Holy smokes, I was grabbing bottles faster than you can say cheese. We experimented a bit and to be honest some of the bottles weren't so great, but most of them were (and discounted!)we're prepared for next time. This is what we found;

Grenache Noir - Domaine de Gournier, France
(Oops) - Cab Franc and Carmenere, Chile
Strong Arms - Shiraz, Southern Australia
Little James Basket Press - Vin de Table, France
Domaine de la Petit Cassagne - France
Albarino Burgans - Albarino, Spain (white)
Cassilero del Diablo - Carmenere, Chile

The Cassilero is an old standby, almost every one of their wines is satisfying and affordable. Their Carmenere is basically our standard Vin de Table. So the next time you think about buying a mixed case, just do it. We did and found some amazing new wines and saved some money, but it is surprising how quickly they go.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

le cuisine

Our weekend wasn't as simple and idyllic as usual. We were engaged to attend two functions, one being the DIY art opening of a friend in the funky neighborhood of Hampden, the wedding of two close friends way out beyond Frederick,(read 60+ miles) I can triumphantly say that we made it to both just in time. My natural proclivity to slothfulness almost killed both events. Jen's art show was awesome. Saturday however was another story, getting trapped and lost in city traffic,then driving at NASCAR speeds on the Intersate we entered the church at a run and were forced to hop over the bride's train to get a seat. Not the most classy of entrances, but we made it and drank much to the bride and groom's health at the reception. That left Sunday to do house things, and nothing much got done. I organized a linen closet and M decided, after 2 episodes of Anthony Bourdain and 1 bottle of wine, that it was a good time to take out the window a/c in the living room. Enter much groaning and many expletives as he hauled the unit down to the basement.In lieu of actual progress I am left with views of the kitchen and our new awesome fridge!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

All talk, No action

Today I slept in, ignored my alarm clock, missed the Farmer's Market [http://www.32ndstreetmarket.org] didn't make breakfast, or lunch, and didn't get out of my pajamas until after 3 p.m.
To put it simply, it was wonderful!

It was gray all day with a heavy threat of rain, a cold breeze has been blowing through the house, scenting everything with that fall smell of wet leaves and damp pavement. I got dressed, got out of the house and as we were on the stoop, our lovely neighbor told us that a real bad storm was coming, enter immediate scurrying on three levels to shut storm windows and lower the flaking double hung warped wood windows down inside of them. The rain started as we were driving through the city and the smell of fall leaves hung like a heavy perfume.

We were on a mission to buy a new refrigerator, the current one pisses freezer water all over the interior of the fridge compartment, we could get it repaired but who knows how much that will cost, and the ice cubes taste like used dental floss anyway. Luckily, we received a house-warming present in the form of a gift card and with Energy Star rebates, we are now in the market for a new fridge! I have been eyeing a 21 cubic ft Samsung model for some time now, it's quite pricey for our budget but I am adamant about having a bottom freezer/ top fridge. So my Saturday was spent dreamily wandering the aisles of our local home improvement mega-store, stuffing paint sample cards in my purse like a klepto and sizing up step ladders. We're scheduled for a refrigerator delivery and haul away on Sunday, WOOT!
So after my jubilant consumer experience I am sipping wine on my back porch, smoking my tasty deathly cigarettes and I hear a raucous party going on 3 row homes down. I think, "Hey I should go check it out!" in my flannel pajama pants and threadbare V neck tee, it would be fun right? Then all of sudden I hear a veritable Greek choros of young drunk absolutely white girls start belting out the words to the theme song of the 90's sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and as the strains of Yo Holmes Smell Ya Later reach my ears I'm reaching for another glass of wine and turning back to my book of poetry for underachieving community college students, and am steadfast in my appraisal that I am fine just right where I am.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stoop scrubbing, general landscaping and common kitchen electrocution.

Lately we have been taking it slow, ignoring the glaring eyesores during the workweek and attacking projects with fervor on the weekends. Honestly there doesn't seem to be any other way to do it, there just isn't enough time in the day. I am still unpacking boxes and ummm... duffel bags,don't judge me, it's actually a really easy way to pack clothes!

This weekend, for some reason, we focused on the exterior of the house. Michael has been itching to cut down the weeds out front, which were about 3 1/2 feet tall, guarding our front stoop like the entrance to Jumanji. Also M tore out all the leaves, weeds and garbage surrounding our tiny tree at the curb, and laid down some brick.We plan on putting down some ground cover soon.

I scrubbed our front stoop with a brush and generous amounts of Bon Ami scouring powder, I couldn't believe how white they became, and they are actually marble not dirty concrete!

I also gave the kitchen a Darby level scour, and used our new Shop Vac on all the baseboards to get all the nasty bits up. When I was pulling the 3 prong out of the socket, it wouldn't come out. The plastic socket cover actually started to pull away from the wall so I grasped the plug a bit more firmly and instantly felt my skull vibrating, Yelping, I ripped my hand away from the plug, which was still firmly in the outlet, tripped over the Shop Vac and exited the kitchen. M eventually unplugged it for me : )

Next weekend we plan on mouse-proofing the house, I will post some pics of some really sketchy looking holes in the floor and baseboards, please comment with advice or tips!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ratatouille- easier than I thought

It is a chilly gray Saturday morning and we have so much to do. I just wanted to post picutres from dinner last night. I made ratatouille from the contents of our CSA box.(One Straw Farm) We got the most beautiful little aubergines and I couldn't resist trying something new.

It turned out really well, I mean, Michael was raised in cow centric Wisconsin and he didn't even mind the absence of meat. I used a non-traditional cooking method. I just chopped all the veggies, splashed some olive oil and kosher salt on them and roasted them in the oven at 375F for 50 minutes. I then made a simple tomato sauce on the stove. I sauteed onions in olive oil, then just placed tomatoes in the pan and seared them until the juice and flesh separated from skin, then I added fresh basil and parsley, one bay leaf and a handful of dried rosemary, and salted to taste. After the vegetables were done roasting I placed them in a bowl, topped them with the simple tomato sauce and placed some cheddar slices on top. The recipe called for Padano or something else equally fancy, but we get this great cheese from the 32nd Street Farmer's Market
Broom's Bloom Dairy, Hot Pepper Creswell Cheddar, we put it on everything!
It was really hearty and warm, perfect for the cold rainy night!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do not hurry, do not rest...

Hello all, this is my humble room of an office where I blog from, we have one window that overlooks the alley behind our house and mainly showcases our neighboring rowhome but we get a decent breeze and we will get everything up and running soon...i hope

Here is the main staircase, it wraps around way too many times for decent sized furniture, but we have a lovely skylight right above that provides great light.

This is the back stairway, it used to be the servants staircase, but we just call it the staircase of death since the steps are only 5 or 6 inches in depth and that handrail has already saved me a few times

This is our temporary bedroom at the back of the house. (Probably will be the guest room in the future.)It is definitely still a work in progress but I got the curtains up and my scratchy wool Army blanket on the bed and that makes me happy. Just to be honest, I was very judicious in my picture taking, we have a few rooms and areas that are still an absolute disaster but it is finally the weekend and I am sure we will get around to it.

One long week, an unexpected windfall, and rain on red bricks

I haven't written all week, and have made no real progress on the house, in fact we may have regressed. Last night we attended a charity benefit for Believe in Tomorrow, (www.believeintomorrow.org) It was held at the Bay Cafe in Canton, (area of Bmore). I ended up being the 1st winner of the evening, $500! It was a really good time. Michael almost won the grand prize of $10,000 but was eliminated in the last round. I am planning on putting that money towards a new refrigerator, as our current one is dripping water all over our CSA veggies. Here are some pictures of the house, let me know what you think and if you have any advice or suggestions!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beautiful Light Fixture from Eos Mexico Studio


I think this may be the perfect first addition to our new home....

Making This House a Home

So I finally got this off the ground. We moved into our home last weekend and just got our mitts on internet. Needless to say it was a very long week... The house in gaining some semblance of order and I was able to make the bed and wash all of the curtains. The weather has been nice and cool lately which is a blessing since the only AC's we have are window units in varying states of disrepair. We're still living out of suitcases and boxes but I was able to actually cook dinner last night (Chicken Mole)! Pictures will follow as soon as the rooms are picked up a bit, but for now feast your eyes on kite flying at Ft. McHenry.