listapalooza 4: surprise, surprise, i love you.

It's only fair, after the last post, to have a kind of corollary, right? So here's a list of the things I love in spite of myself. At some point, I was skeptical about each entry on this list, but now... well, now I'm a really big fan.

1. coffee ice cream. Once upon a time, that sounded horrible. Now? Well, now it's a bit of heaven in a bowl.

2. kalamata olives--briny bliss.

3. that old-book smell in libraries and used bookstores... it used to make my nose itch, now it smells like perfume

4. the wonderful Kristen introduced me to Karmin: completely amazing!! Totally worth a listen, and just so much fun...

5. sweet potatoes

6. The Killers ... love them so much now.

7. wearing red lipstick. Usually I'm all for subtle makeup ... usually.

8. crappy 1980s adaptations of Charles Dickens novels. ... Really. I mean, I shouldn't even admit that in public, but they're weirdly addictive... (This one's more recent and is genius, so go watch it. Make some tea.)

9. the redesigned Bon App├ętit. Yay. The May Italy issue was brilliant, and I'm so excited about where that magazine's going. Better photography, better writing, better layouts... it's fantastic. I do a little dance when I see it sitting there on the coffee table.

10. sushi. Yum.

11. granny squares... I was a hard sell, because I loved knitting so much, but I'm still awfully smitten with these bright pieces of color.

12. Mumford & Sons. I really didn't think I'd enjoy them, but they're awesome, so go listen.

13. Iron Man. I was so burnt out on comic book adaptations, but, uh, can anyone not love Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark?

14. M. Night Shyamalan is a genius.

15. oof, and then nerd glasses. I admit, it took me a long time to be reconciled but... they're complete fun.

So there it is.

What can I say, sometimes it's good--so good!--to be wrong.


listapalooza 3: sorry, but i just don't love it.

I feel like I should love these. But I don't. I just ... don't. So I feel kind of apologetic for some of these, but confession (they say) is good for the soul.

So for what it's worth, I'm not wild about

* bubble tea!

* Jack Johnson

* jeggings (yiiiiikes.)

* Glee

* or, for that matter, Modern Family

* nail polish on my own fingernails (looks so weird! and I can hear my old piano teacher snarking at me again...)

* Ernest Hemingway

* milk chocolate

* iPods (yikes)

* okay, and since I admitted to that, I also can't like cell phones. Really.

* carrots (never ever ever could manage to like carrots)

* cast iron pans

* cake pops (ack!)

* food coloring

* spearmint

* ooof, or black licorice

* taxis

* Toms shoes (I love what they do, I just don't love the shoes, okay?)

* soft cooked eggs (shudder)

* annnnd, while I'm in a confessing mood: Harry Potter. Yes really. Just couldn't get interested, though I promise I tried.

Wow. Confession really is great. I feel so ... relieved, some how. And like I've just designed some weird utopia, strangely free of all the above...

hee hee.


listapalooza 2: book sirens

There's something wonderfully safe about owning books that you haven't read yet. I mean a certain kind of book--it sits there on the shelf looking like money in the bank. It's waiting for just the right time, the right mood, the rainy afternoon or the late late night... and it might be your new favorite.

I love the books I haven't read yet.

Of course, when I get too many of them, with their beautiful spines and titles haunting me, I want to just lock all the doors and close the curtains and read myself sick. Just take a week and read and read and read and read.

Maybe that means I'm already sick, I don't know. But here are the unread books that are whispering at me from my shelves...

* The Great Typo Hunt (this looks so awesome... and like a proofreader's dream come true)

* Don Quixote

* The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

* The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

* Poirot in the Orient

* A Thousand Days in Tuscany

* A Tale of Two Cities

* Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant -- this one seems to be brilliant on so many levels, I just can't wait...

* The Undertaking

* West with the Night

* The Count of Monte Cristo

* Sonnets from the Portuguese

* Gilead

* The Thirteenth Tale

So, apparently, I'm a miser, a hoarder, lining my little nest with brilliant unread books... Or maybe I'm just looking for a week of rainy afternoons.

Maybe June will be filled with words.


listapalooza 1: bakery wishes

What is it about flour, sugar, butter, and eggs that can turn the unbearable into something bearable? Add a bit of chocolate, and we might even come through smiling.

As a wise aunt of mine said recently: I think if I could bake my way through life, everything would be okay. She is so right.

So. If I had limitless energy (and a bottomless pantry), here's everything I'd learn to make right this minute:

* Homemade doughnuts. It just sounds like a good idea.

* Palmiers

* Biscotti

* This crepe cake and I still need to get together

* Tiramisu

* Eclairs... or profiteroles... heck, let's make 'em both.

* Brioche

* Those pistachio-cardamom macarons are still calling me...

* Croissants

* Annnnnd croissants with chocolate

* Clafouti: I've made a cherry one, and somehow feel like I've only just scratched the surface of something wonderful...

* Madeleines

* Truffles

Mmhmm. That's a good place to start.

listapalooza. or, surviving the end of May.

There are times when I hate to be right, and this is one of them. I was dreading May, way back at the beginning of it; and here comes the end, the goodbyes, and all that bittersweet.

And I only like bittersweet when it's applied to chocolate.

But here's the thing: I can't make all my lamenting sound interesting to myself. So I'll spare you the moaning. And we can all breathe sighs of relief.

Instead of talking about the anxiety tunneling through my heart--yikes--I thought: let's do a festival. A festival of lists. Because I love lists.

A list is a collection of brain splinters, in neat order. Just looking at one gives me a thrill. (Yes. You already knew I had a fair streak of nerdiness in me, right? So there it is. Lists thrill me. Now you know.)

Also: I think a series of lists might just preserve my sanity. So that's what we'll do. Scatter about a bunch of lists, like a breadcrumb trail, and somehow somehow I'll make it from this moment into early June.

Listapalooza 2011. I'm so up for this.

(Obviously, very inspired by the brilliant Hula Seventy.)


love is sandwich cookies.

"Do you think you could get away with that?" "There are no limits to what I can get away with when I am functioning properly." -- P.G. Wodehouse

So there was a birthday celebrated last weekend. And I thought: hey! Let's make macarons! It's been a while, and isn't it time for that kind of crazy baking challenge again?

I've had a quarter century with the best little sister in the world... I think that's worth some snooty French cookies, yes?

And if one flavor is a good idea... surely three flavors is a much, much better one?

Of course it is. Waaaay better to splash a lot of culinary love around: Espresso-Blackberry, Chocolate Earl Grey, and Grapefruit. (Like all good things, these recipes came from Gourmet magazine.)

Next question: Is it possible to make those tricky beauties assembly-line style?

Why yes. Yes, you can.

Finally: is it wise to pile all the cookies on top of each other, and balance a candle-lit cookie on top?

Probably not. I did it anyway.

Worth it.

Because she is a darn awesome little sister.


jenn versus the month of may.

Some Monday mornings I wake up full of pluck. Today was not one of those mornings. I had the covers over my head, thinking maybe, if I decide not to get up, this week doesn't have to start.

This certainty cut through my heart: once I get up, the days will fly by, and I will reach the end of May much too soon. The end of May threatens with a fistful of goodbyes. And while I have a very long list of things I love, goodbyes are not on it. Not anywhere.

So yes, it's true again, I'm the Chicken Little of the calendar. (The days are flying! The days are flying!)

I got up anyway, still clutching the warm memories of yesterday, and hoping that somehow, I can learn to greet May with an open mind and a quiet spirit.

Getting back to my writing desk helps. Hey there, characters. I think I write so I can create people more brave than I am. And then I try to be like them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I'm not brave at all.

But today's been about more than bravery (lost or found): I've made peace with chapter three (I think). And then rewarded myself with a warm banana muffin, and white chocolate peanut butter smeared over it... that will restore some pluck, let me tell you.

You can face a lot of things with a warm banana muffin. And that white chocolate peanut butter? That's like a superhero cape.

Went for an afternoon run in the rain. Chased sixteen mallards down the road and got myself quacked at. Waved at all the dog walkers, dodged the dripping-est trees. Came home feeling better, so much better.

And I made a decision about number 12 from The List: that vintage-y knit skirt? I love it so much. But maybe next year. The project I'm making instead has to do with these gorgeous things...

Yes. A granny square quilt. I'm so excited. I mean, really.

Over the last few weeks, I've been turning all kinds of yarn scraps into these cute little squares. I love watching the abandoned bits and pieces come together in one unique patch after another...

And then gathering up all those patches into a quilt that's both warm and full of stories. Yes. Making much of leftovers.

Shoot, that isn't just a quilt, that's a whole philosophy.

And maybe that's the spirit for May. We will make much of all we have, right?

Every scrap of color, every bit of time that's worth a stitch. We'll turn this calendar page into something warm, something full of stories.