Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pillow Talk

So, part of the reason I wanted to buy fabric while in New York (other than just homage to the Purl gods) was that I've been wanting to make cool patchwork pillows for quite some time. Since I first saw Lisa Congdon's work, actually.

So I started my first one of these before Christmas. My mother had brought me most of her fabric stash in the build up to cleaning out her house, so I used a bunch of upholstery leftovers for my first attempt. This is a floor pillow - I did a log cabin piecing for the front, and then quilted it very simply.

big pillow pillow front

For the back I just pieced it together, sort of string-quilt style, two overlapping pieces bound with bias tape.

pillow back pillow back seam

I don't know why it took me so long to finally put it together and stick it on this pillow, but I'm pretty happy with the result. However, all of the fabric is stuff that my mother chose over the years and it's not quite my style. So I guess I need to spend some time thrifting for fabrics?

Friday, June 27, 2008

White Trash Strawberry Shortcake

The other night for backyard movie night, I made strawberry shortcake for dessert. I call this my white trash recipe because it involves canned biscuits. Normally I am morally opposed to using canned biscuits, but this is really good and very easy (which I know is the point of most convenience foods, duh) and somehow I find it comforting. I think this was adapted from a Southern Living recipe my mom used to make.

1lb of fresh, yummy strawberries (or other fresh berries)
FYI: you should always buy organic berries if possible, as they are delicate and tend to have the greatest levels of contamination. I didn't this time as I bought 4 lbs at Costco but I figure it goes with the canned biscuits)
1 c plus 1 T sugar
1 T chiffonade of basil or mint
1 stick butter
8oz heavy whipping cream
1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits (I like the reduced fat wheat)

Here's what you do. You slice up the berries, toss them with the 1 T of sugar and the basil, and put them in a container in the fridge for 2+ hours.


To prepare the biscuits, melt the butter and put the remaining sugar in a shallow dish. Dip each biscuit in butter, then roll in the sugar, and put on the baking sheet. Bake according to directions - you should have a lot of butter and sugar left over, so maybe don't use as much as I say. I just like to have plenty to work with.
dip in butter now the sugar to be baked

While the biscuits are baking, whip the cream (add sugar or vanilla if you like, to taste).

When the biscuits are browned, let them cool for 5-10 minutes before preparing the dish.


To prepare, take your biscuit, spoon whipped cream on top, and then berries on top of that (or however you like it, I know some people like the cream on top but I'm not one of them). This is freaking delicious and great payoff for not enormous effort. I am currently loving the strawbery-basil combination, but you can do mint, or vanilla, or whatever catches your fancy.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Goonies Never Die

On Saturday someone had the bright idea of showing a movie in their backyard.

movie night

It was these people (I don't think the cat had anything to do with it) the bright sandal couple! Carolee said that someone called them the bright sandal couple, and Topher was all "wha? why?" but I had a guess why someone would call them that...

Toph & CLee

The Bright Sandal Couple

John provided the set-up, he's trying to become his own rolling roadshow in friends' backyards. So far so good.


I made my white trash strawberry shortcake for the dessert, recipe to follow.

sweets for the sweet

We watched Goonies, which is so good. But since I went inside at one point to prepare the dessert, I think I can say that I still haven't seen the movie all the way through.

Goonies Never Die

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ah Yes

Have you experienced Garfield Minus Garfield? I know it is old news, but I'm still happy to see the updates in my Google Reader.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Enn Why See

So, I didn't just go to Kelly's wedding while I was in New York City.

Sure, my sister gave the rundown - there was the Cloisters, some theater (which reminds me that I have been meaning to buy the iTunes showtunes from Passing Strange), and tasty, tasty sushi (I try to do thing like eat a big pile of raw tuna to remind me that not being pregnant isn't the giant pile of suckiness that I usually feel it is. Wine helps with that too). That was a lovely day, Friday. Beautiful weather, we had a picnic, we enjoyed ourselves.

Then came Saturday. It was hot on Saturday. Like, 95 degrees. In NYC, that is freaking boiling. I was wearing jeans, which is a stupid thing to do on a boiling-hot day in New York. But my sister is a sport, and when I made plans to visit her in NYC she asked what I wanted to do. So we did those things on Saturday.

NYC Booty.

Those things included just two stops -

1) the Purl stores, in SoHo. I've been knitting and now quilting for a while now, and the Purl empire is kindof a center for the stuff I like. No photos from me (although just check out Flickr if you want an idea) but it was good fun. The yarn store, I didn't get anything - I'm kindof on a wane right now with the knitting. The patchwork store, though. I got some stuff to make pillows for our new couches. 6 different 1/2 yard cuts, so 3 yards total. I'm kindof excited about them, I think it will be good. This photo shows them on the couch, with one of the pillows they are meant to replace. I think these fabrics will both casual-ize and modern-ize the look of the couches. Poor Emily was a little put off my the fabric store process - the pulling everything off of the shelf, etc. But she got with it and I am happy with my choices!

purl to be pillows

2) Trader Joe's. Life in Austin would be pretty near perfect if we had Trader Joe's, I am convinced. If you ever want to get me a little treat on your travels, I love these dark chocolate-covered edamame beans from TJ's. Apparently they no longer have the garlic pistachios that I used to love, and they also no longer make the yin-yang peanuts that were a big fave for a while. That's okay. They have these, and they have the chocolate-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels. MMMmm.

It might be a sad commentary or something that my list of things I really wanted to do in New York were visit a quilting store and Trader Joe's, but let's not go there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Week's End

I know that everybody's working for the weekend, but I'm not working too much lately.

Well, I did do some baby-wrangling this week for Hugh. We had a pretty good time together - although he is in the army-crawling stage and moves quickly across the floor to grab at the potted plants.

Other than that I was primarily in recovery. Somehow the New York, family beach trip, moving out of my childhood home sequence of events really put me in a delicate emotional place. Too many endings and not enough beginnings, I guess.


Done Moved

Looking through my photos I realize that I don't like to take pictures of people. I usually rely on others to do that for me. I remember comparing photos with my father when we got back from our Alaskan fishing trip. Every one of his pictures centered on a smiling face, usually above a large, dead fish. All of mine were landscapes, flowers, rocks. I haven't really changed much - I like the lomo-esque no-flash pictures (also easier to take with my not-so-great camera) and find that I lose a lot of people details. But I like this one of my mom, right before we left Wayside. Things keep moving but I still feel stuck.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Debate Partners

Aw, Girl Kelly got married and I was there. It was in Prospect Park, in Brooklyn. At the Boathouse. And it was lovely. I will admit, I went a little grudgingly. The money isn't exactly flowing freely at our house, and it was at a less-than-ideal time, and bitch bitch bitch sweaty New York in summer.


But I'm so glad I was there. K and I were debate partners in high school - the power couple, in our shoulder-padded blazers and pleated skirts. Somewhere there is a picture of us looking fierce and debate-y. Since then our lives have intersected with increasing rarity. When I look at where we are today it's a wonder that we started from the same place. She's an artist, passionate, focused. Her life is completely of a world that I barely know how to visit. But that isn't the point of a wedding, to have everyone in your current world smiling at you. It's also nice to have people from other corners of your life there, affirming your significance in their life and their significance in yours.

If only I could have remembered the words to any one of the random songs that we used to sing together, in wonderful harmony. Biophilia (composed at a debate tournament when our opponents failed to show), or any of the Girls State oeuvre. I think we mastered some Indigo Girls songs, too. Aw, Kelly. Those were good times, and I'm happy I could be there for another one!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home Sweet

I'm finally back in Austin, FINALLY. I left 10 days ago, but it feels like longer - three nights in New York, six nights at the beach in Alabama, and then two nights in Bryan for the final throes of of my mother's move. It's done, and I am tired. I didn't take many photos but I'll put something together soon.

The good news is, K picked SEVEN POUNDS of tomatoes when he got home on Saturday. So there are some tasty sandwiches in my immediate future.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Status Update

The other day, I went to lunch with Laura and we were talking about the whole process of my mother's life change. And I said, "Well, it's not that bad. We've known it was coming, we had been doing stuff to get ready for a while. It's not like she dropped dead and I had to go clean everything out."

And you know, I think she was a little shocked by that. Like, why would I go there? And I was a little surprised that she was a little shocked, because that is how my mind works. Worst case scenario. I don't even know I'm doing it. That's where I live now. And most of the time, the worst case scenario hasn't happened, it isn't going to happen, and my thoughts have nothing to do with whether it happens or not. But the worst case scenario is right there with me at all times, now.

Also, not pregnant. Just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Letters and Sodas

So apparently it is the 15th anniversary of Liz Phair's seminal (heh) album, Exile in Guyville. And I'm not the only one who was obsessed with that album?

15 years ago it was the summer before my senior year in high school. I remember listening to Exile mostly the following summer, and as a freshman at UT. I am sure I heard it earlier, but it really started to resonate a year later. In fact I have a specific memory of a girl's weekend at the ranch, where Liz Phair was played pretty much non-stop, just a week or two before we started college.

The album, of course, is not about girlfriends. Maybe we listened to it together, but we all had our own take on the lyrics, I am sure. What's funny to me now is that general consensus is that I was the slut of our group. Thinking about Exile in Guyville with that insight (I certainly didn't realize it at the time) I gotta say - if I was going to be thought of as the slut, I certainly would've done more whoring around, living up to those songs I loved.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008



Hott shoes, right? Salvaged from my mom's closet. This duck decoy was one of many that my father accumulated over the years. There were three like this one, mounted on boxes. My mother said to pick one - she would give one to me, one to my sister, and one to my father's friend. I chose this one and then opened the box.

There was a stack of stuff, including several letters and a passport. I read the card that I could tell was to my father from his mother, but my mom confiscated the other letters before I could read them. Hmph.

The card is perfect, and captures their relationship quite well I thought.

Pat, this is a sort of foolish gift, but to me it is symbolic of our relationship. Only God knows where this old decoy, this rare old spent shell, and this old wood have been - just like us - not many questions asked, but together they make a good combination, and the patina they have acquired makes them more beautiful today than ever. So may it ever be -

My grandmother died just about six months after my father. She spent those months wondering why she lost him, saying that she was old and she should have gone instead of him. In many ways I believe that she willed herself to die after he was gone, she was a philosophical person but not that philosophical. We were so much in the thick of our grief for my father that when we lost her it was all a blur. I remember crying at her funeral, but I think it was for him. It is only in recent years that I have begun to really miss her. This card captures what I miss - the total acceptance and appreciation of what someone is, rather than what someone should be. I wish the same could be said of me, but I know better.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Impending Room

So Thursday my mother sent someone to my house with two new-to-me couches. They are fairly mom-ish, but in a good way. And unlike our old couches, they a) match, and b) don't smell like dog. So, yay! New couches! I am looking forward to fully breaking them in with some Netflix tonight.


Here's the old couch - we literally kicked it to the curb.oldcouch

The nice young man who brought them here ferried me back to Bryan, America so that I could help my moms finish packing up her house. Both of you who have been reading since I started this blog will recall that I fucking hate moving. In my list of least favorite activities, packing and unpacking are pretty near the top. I find them less pleasant than getting a filling. The dentist visit only lasts an hour, after all - but after a long day of moving labor, I feel like I've been beaten with a tire iron.

That said, there is something mildly gratifying about packing, in the cheap sense of accomplishment that it gives. A stack of carefully packed, taped, and labeled boxes is something that you can look at and know you've done, and as I don't have much of that in my life these days I'll take it. Of course, if you look at said stack and then think about all of the OTHER things that need to be carefully packed, taped, labeled, stacked, moved, unpacked and put away, it doesn't feel so great, but let's not go there.

den shelves kitchen guest room moms closet

Anyway, E wanted to see pictures of the house all packed up. This is the best I could do, as the house is not yet all packed up. It's kind of shocking to see it all in such disarray. Right now there are about 75 boxes (she used a lot of BIG ones) and I would guess that there are 10 or less to go.

My mother, God bless her pointed head, is moving into a one-room garage apartment while she waits for her new house to be built. I actually agree with her that this is a good idea for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it should provide us all with endless entertainment as she and her 60-pound dog share about 300 square feet. Also, I approve because it is technically still bigger than MY sad little DC compartment, so I still keep the hardship award (though E's walkup miles probably beat us both by now). I wish I could find a picture but I don't think I have any digital records of my tiny DC apartment.

This week is a busy one - I'm working Monday and Wednesday, and leave Thursday morning for a quick trip to NYC and then a longer trip to Orange Beach. Yes, that's right - BEACH. Which is the most welcome word I can think of right now. BEACH TRIP. I like the sound of it.