Garlic and Sapphires

When we were on vacation, I picked up a book at a thrift store. Garlic and Sapphires. Written by Ruth Reichl, it is a memoir of sorts that covers her time as a New York Times food critic. Although the cover looks a lot like "chick lit," it proved to be quite the opposite. She is a truly gifted writer and her stories are marvelous. Her detailed descriptions of food and restaurants made me want to change the way I dined out. If you like food--do read this book.

An added bonus is the recipes. With most chapters there is a recipe to go along with it. One that was particularly intriguing was for spaghetti carbonara. We made it today--wow. It was wonderful and I thought I'd share the recipe. However, I will preface this by saying that should your cardiologist ever turn to you and say--" [patient] your cholesterol is way too low and I think you should do something about it--oh, and also you could do with a few more carbs in your diet"--then you should cook this recipe often. If, however, your cholesterol is normal to above, it may need to be a sporadic treat, ya know, only twice a week.

Spaghetti Carbonara
(from Ruth Reichl, but paraphrased by me)

1 # Spaghetti or Angel Hair (we used latter)
1/2 # thick cut bacon
3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
1/2 c. real parmesan, grated, plus more for the table
2 eggs

Fill a stockpot with water and generously salt. Bring to a boil.

Cut bacon into 1/4 inch pieces, begin cooking. When fat appears (around two minutes), add garlic and continue cooking until bacon is just crispy (not too crispy). Turn off heat and set aside when done. Remove garlic.

In a large bowl, crack the eggs and lavish with fresh ground pepper.

Cook pasta. Immediately, when done drain quickly and place in the egg bowl (a little extra water is okay). Stir the pasta. This will cook the eggs. Add bacon and most of the grease (hard, yes, but oh, so good!), toss, then add the cheese and toss. Voila! Serve immediately. Feeds 3 people well. Lavish with extra parmesan if desired.

This was an amazing dish. I couldn't believe that I had made it. It's absolutely perfect when you need comfort food (or your cardiologist gives you a mandate to up your cholesterol). If anyone cooks it, let me know!


dangerous shopping

In a moment of retail weakness, I almost bought this outfit for Aubrey. Hugs and Hissyfits is this super cute store in Destin that carries clothing waaayyy beyond our price range. Still, a girl can dream, can't she!? The outfit wasn't quite as pricey as the ninety dollar rose bedecked nighty that also caught my eye, but for so brief a season as Christmas . . . Anyway, had they had Aubrey's size, I probably would have caved. Grandmas are you paying attention?


Mystery Magical Morning

This is one of those days when everything seems to be going right. I'm perplexed. For example: I got up after hitting snooze only twice, finished my Bible Study, drank a homemade latte, ate breakfast (not healthy, but high in calcium), rolled my hair (Bobbie Brown frowns upon rolling, but I ask Bobbie: What's a girl to do who can't master the use of "product", a blow dryer, and a round brush?), did makeup, nails, dressed and am ready for Bible Study a good fifteen minutes early. Not only that, but my mom is heading up to keep the kids since they are snotty (not sick, just snotty), and I'm meeting Caroline for lunch! I certainly don't think that God is causing all of this to happen so later on he can smack me upside my joyful, incredulous head, but judging by the patterns of life these last--okay, all of life!--I'm just not myself today. Usually I'm applying makeup in the parking lot at 1st Pres! In fact, Tuan knows there are dire consequences when my makeup bag is taken out of the car. Alrighty, the kids are waking up now (!) gotta run.


real-life decorating

So . . . when I haven't been toying with the look of the blog, I've been working on a project for our room: nightstand/bookcases. For some time we have needed night stands that would function as more than tables. Our old ones were cute, but they were just that: an antique table divided (where the leaf would go) and perched against the wall. They also clashed with the heart pine bed--a sort of orangey color. So . . . we've been searching for either bookcases or dressers, and at Target (of all places!) I found a three shelf bookcase that seemed like it would work. I wanted white which was online only. Several weeks ago, we had the capital to fund the project, but every time I got online to order I couldn't go through with it. The Saturday before last, Tuan and I were at Dirt Cheap in Columbia and found the bookcases for seventy percent off--whoo-hoo! I think bargains swarm to me like so many love bugs around a white car.

The bookcases were a dark "espresso" finish which would never do with heart pine, so I've been painting them. It's taking a while because of limited space and two little ones, but tonight I am actually getting the paint on. We primed them white, and I'm loosely brushing blue on them (what better to go next to orangey heart pine than blue--complementary eh?), then working some cheerful green into the cracks. I guess because I'm too lazy and hurried to pick out a proper paint and go to the store and have it mixed, I am taking some old paint and brushing it roughly onto a brand new surface to give the illusion that I found old bookcases at a thrift store and ran out of steam while sanding the bookcases to paint and just left them like that so I could hurry up and put them in my room. It's rationally ridiculous, but if it looks good . . . There's the rub. It may not even look good and I won't know 'til they're dry and assembled. Then, I really won't want to fix them with a proper coat of paint.

To add to the craziness of it all, in one of those inexplicable moments of slow-motion "oh, noooo"-ing, the green paint somehow flew up in the air and splashed across a good six feet, puddling on the floor and ALL OVER our couch. Children were quickly thrown into their room/bed and spray bottles of 409 and warm soapy water enlisted (along with the shop vac) to get the paint out. To great relief, we got all the paint out. I confess, though, that I thought I might have finally gotten a new couch out of it!

I am on a rabbit trail to who-knows-where, but I want to give a shout-out to Formula 409. This is truly the miracle cleaning solution. It degreases my stove, laundry, removes horrid rug stains, paint from upholstery and love bug gunk. We sprayed it on our cars today and let it soak in before washing. The 409 really made a difference--it was much easier to remove the gunk.

If you're a Jan Karon reader, you may recognize familiar phrases. I read the Mitford books aloud to Tuan in the car whenever we're traveling. So far, in four years, we've read up to In This Mountain. It's been really enjoyable. I enjoy doing character voices (Fancy Skinner is my favorite), and occasionally get too worked up over details of the story. Why, I wonder, do a retired priest and a work-at-home illustrator with no children in a small house, need a woman (Puny) to come in every day and clean/cook for them? Also, Cynthia seems to get very worn out. Maybe she is doing a lot of things in the community while Father Tim is walking Barnabas and eating at the Grill and not getting his hair cut, but Karon certainly isn't letting us in on it. I really love Mitford, but there are days when children are endlessly eating, soiling diapers and strewing toys so that our living room looks like a small day care, that I wish Cynthia would come and see what it is really like to be worn out. Then maybe, just maybe, she would send Puny over to my house for a day or so and I could go and illustrate children's books.

There ya go.


header difficulties

I guess I'm going to blog as I re-decorate! I can't get the header the size I want! This has been a completely blissful use of nap-time today. Not very productive as far as housework and projects go, but utterly fun creatively! Stay tuned for further blog updates.

artistic frustration!

I am trying to make my blog cuter, but my html skills went away as soon as I presented my final project in webdesign! So, please bear with the blah background. I also wanted to say that Aubrey has been saying "mama"! This is very exciting as Johnny said "dada" first. : )