Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vicarious baking

My oven has been broken for a few weeks now and I'm going into baking withdrawl.

So instead of a hit of the good stuff, I will have to be satisfied with showing off my aprons as a kind of vicarious baking.

Here's my number one workhorse apron, given to me by the lovely Jaja as a housewarming/welcome home to Philly present. The full coverage and sentimental value means that this one gets the most use.

This hilarious one I got at an estate sale in New Jersey a few years ago. I never use this in the kitchen, it makes me think of sexy housewives cooking in nothing but high heels. Plus, stuff would go right through it.

A tried and true fifties apron, stolen from my parents' house. I think this belonged to my grandma (Mom, correct me if I'm wrong).

One of my favorites, bought at a thrift store in Pennsylvania during college.

A lovely, too-good to use apron, given to me as a going away present by my friend Sarah in Davis.

A Christmas present from my friend Metthea. It's reversible, and those "mittens" on the side? Potholders!

This is where my aprons live, right where I can most easily access them in the entrance to the kitchen.

On a separate note, thanks for all of the congratulations on the job! I'm pretty excited about all the things I have cooking right now (wordplay!) and I hope to soon bring you all up to speed on the community garden project. Now go enjoy your working ovens and mail me some cookies, like Aunt Emmy always does.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I did it!

I got a job in my field!

In April I will start my new job as an environmental educator at Bartram's Garden in West Philadelphia. It's the colonial estate of John Bartram, an explorer and botanist who was a contemporary of Ben Franklin. I've been volunteering there since December and I guess I succeeded in making myself indispensable (insert smirk and nail buff). But honestly, I'm very lucky. I love the people I will be working with and the lessons I will be teaching are so much fun (topics include butter-churning, bees, rivers and seeds!). And I can bike to work! Yippee!

The job is part-time, from 9am to 1pm, and I have something in the works for the afternoons (also in my field, keep your fingers crossed!).

The following pictures are from a visit M and I took to Bartram's Garden in the fall of 2006. The grounds of the estate include a restored house and barn, formal gardens, an amazing collection of trees, a wetland, and a unique stone cider press (below).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pretty in pink

This is just another little peek into my current life as a nanny. My last nanny post was about the two boys that I sit for occasionally, but as you can see we're dealing with girls here. And these girls are no tom-boys.

A sunny afternoon in the bedroom. Fairy sheets and fuzzy pink telephones.

The carousel at the new Please Touch Museum!

Baby fat and dress-up clothes.

I love these girls but things are hopefully about to change in the work department for me. I'll know soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 23, 2009


That's right, this exists in Austin:

It's some sort of food chain, I guess. Weird.

Other things that happened this weekend in Austin, Texas (they may or may not be in order of awesomeness, starting with the most).

Snow cones with Emilie. Flavors consumed include watermelon, margarita, sour cherry, cream soda, fuzzy navel, blackberry, cinnamon, ice cream (yes, you read that correctly), wedding cake, blue coconut, blue raspberry, raspberry, black cherry, green apple and cantaloupe. All in three days.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I've always wanted to go here and when Emilie suggested it I leapt at the chance to plant-nerd-it-up. It was prime time for lupines when we were there, though in Texas they call them bluebonnets. Either way they were everywhere and they were gorgeous.

The actual festival was fun too. It was a bit too Mardi-Gras-y for me at times though (think roving groups of drunk a-holes). It was hard to get into a lot of the music venues, near impossible for the most popular ones. But we ended up going to a lot of decent free shows, dancing and staying up later than I expected (fueled by snow cones). Emilie and I actually had the most fun at the "dueling pianos" bar we went to, go figure.

Of course I found a way to take pictures of art too. That Chiquita Banana-looking sticker is actually meant to promote one of M's DJ friends, Sammy Bananas. Clever.

Snow cones, wildflowers, music and dancing. Who could ask for anything more? Now I need to catch up on my sleep and shake this cold I've been holding on to for the past week.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scramble McScrambleson

Eeerrrrgggg. No words.

She can "high five" and "high ten" and she's learning to do "bang bang your dead" where she lies down and rolls onto her back.

If you listen closely you can hear my mom call her "Scramble McScrambleson" in the background.

Now for a short hiatus while I go to Austin TX to see my dear friend Emilie and watch M perform at South by Southwest!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our Plot

M and I officially have a community garden plot! But don't get confused, this is separate from the community garden that I'm trying to start (we're making some very interesting progress on that project, but I'll save that post for a time when things are just a bit more official).
This plot is an 8' by 5' space in the St. Bernard Community Garden on St. Bernard Street, about 9 blocks away from our house. It's a little triangle of land tucked at the end of the street that butts up against the train tracks. Some of my college friends actually live on this street and garden here too so it's already a welcoming community.

They have packed around 25 plots onto this piece of land so they are all quite small. But I don't mind. After attempting to do container gardening in the summer in Davis, CA I will take what I can get, as long as it's in the ground (and I appreciate being forced to start out slowly). Here's what our plot looked like on Saturday morning when we went over to do a little work on it (it's the one in the foreground).

And here's what it looks like now! We mulched around it and planted some mesclun mix and mache in a small row on one end. The water isn't turned on yet so we don't have much hope for the seeds but we were just too excited to hold back on the planting. We will add compost in about two weeks and then really get down to it in April.
Wish us luck!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Philadelphia Flower Show!

The theme this year was "Bella Italia." The show was full of Mediterranean style gardens, citrus trees, Italian flag colors, and . . . . kitchen gardens! I was so excited to see people embrace the food culture of Italy and incorporate food into their designs. It was everywhere; in the garden entrances, front porches, backyards, commercial landscaper exhibits, and educational displays. Some people had neat little rows of lettuces and herbs, and others used chard "bright lights" and other showy varieties of vegetables as ornamentals in their designs.

Here are some pics from the show (I apologize for the poor lighting, I did the best I could):

The entrance, with huge floral bouquets and columns.

A "garden entrance" design from Lower Merion High School that is full of food plants (orange tree, basil, chard, rosemary, artichoke, mint, peppers and eggplants).

A "window box" design made completely of herbs.

An educational display by W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences (a charter school in the city), completely designed and installed by students. It is a replica of a South Philly (Philly's Italian section) meat-and-cheese shop, including a courtyard with a kitchen garden.

Absurd clothing and shoes created entirely out of plant material (taking inspiration from Milan's fashion industry).

Gorgeous springtime displays featuring azaleas and rhododendrons.

The blue ribbon winner from the "backyard" design, depicting my future back yard (complete with a bird house with a green roof).

Individual contestants in the terrarium category (I am obseeeeeessed).

And of course, more absurdity. What would the Flower Show be without it?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chocolate-chocolate-butter cookies. Urg.

I've been stocking up on home-made butter from the butter-churning lessons I teach at Bartram's Garden and I now have a freezer full of the stuff. So far it's exclusively going into these incredible chocolate-chocolate cookies which come out all gooey and fluffy and rich because of it. Talk about a secret ingredient. Here's how you can make butter yourself in the food processor. And here's how you can make it by shaking cream in a jar!
I'm mostly feeding these to the wonderful neighbors I work with on the community garden project. (Let's be honest, about half of them are consumed by myself and my housemates). Tomorrow is our third meeting and last night I made my third batch of cookies. Mmmmsicles.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Fables of Aesop

"The Fables of Aesop," illustrated by Charles H. Bennett. I picked this up at a public library book sale for around $1. It's copyright is 1931. Incredible.

The drawings are unbelievable and the morals crack me up. Old Charles clearly decided to add his own political and social commentary to the traditional stories.

"In the trade of chestnut-stealing, it is the Cat comes in for the kicks, while the Monkey enjoys the halfpence."

"When the Recruiting Sergeant tempts you with the scarlet uniform, he says nothing about getting you into hot water."

"The race is not always to the swift."

Click the picture to read each story and see the illustrations in better detail. What a steal!