Monday, August 31, 2009

Rested and restored

You know those moments when the world smiles on you and offers exactly what you need most? This weekend was full of those moments, and a lot of splendid nothingness. We've both been run ragged by work lately and were thrilled to have a weekend with a completely blank slate. When we got home on Friday afternoon, we almost immediately fell into a deep nap to shake the week off of us. And just like that, the week was gone.

In my 'more is more' persuasion, I'm a believer in surrounding yourself with things that make you smile and making time for the little things that you love. Napping is one of those things that is just good for my soul. Luckily, my partner in crime feels the same way. As for the 'things' part of that equation... T gave me a gorgeous pair of shoes for Christmas last year that had never seen the light of day, something that was increasingly bothering me. For eight months now, I've been searching for just the right thing to wear with them, or just the right event. Finally, I realized I was being silly... I didn't need a special outfit for those shoes, they were the outfit. Paired with an adorable but sedate navy blue linen dress, they were transformative. And they made me smile. And they really made my seersuckered groom smile.

A good reminder for me, those shoes. I cook with the best ingredients I can find, no matter the dish. Why not wear my best and most fun shoes, too, no matter the occasion?

With the seersucker Louboutins on my feet, we headed off to Hattie's, where I ended up being homesick for North Carolina and New Mexico all in one meal. I want to write more about our meal later on; it was that delicious. Improbably, the host knew who I was from this strange blogging world, and the night was full of magic. While strolling through the neighborhood after dinner, we ran into a work colleague and had the kind of charmed connection that makes me feel like anything is possible. Some nights it really is.

On Saturday we did nothing but watch the Kennedys, sleep, watch the Kennedys, and sleep some more, but the effect was so restorative that it hardly felt like a wasted day. We finally snuck out for a late sushi dinner and then found ourselves at Veritas, where we will return asap for more excellent wine recommendations. (Also something I'll write more about this week.)

The green chile from our meal at Hattie's on Friday night was too haunting to ignore, so on Sunday I decided it was time to put this year's chile in my freezer to good use. (You guessed it: my green chile chicken stew is yet another post to come this week... it's going to be a food+drink kind of week over here on The Freckled Citizen, I think.)

One more note about the weekend and how good for us it was... You know you're in a relaxed state when one of you walks out post-shower wearing this t-shirt:

This shirt is just one of the gems we still have lying around from 2008's Hall and Oates Halloween, and can make me grin through even the worst of moods. I'm so happy that its magical mood-changing powers weren't required this weekend.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday afternoon paper pick-me-up

I'm counting down the hours until Hattie's. In the meantime, Postal Press just opened, and since I cleverly finagled my way out of an afternoon commitment, I'm sitting here cooing over these notebooks!

That's right, folks... more porky paper!

While I'm at it, I might as well pick up some letterpress Hello notecards...

...and of course add their blog to my Reader.

This could be trouble.

Friday I'm in Love

I must confess, between Ted Kennedy passing away and lots of ridiculousness at work, it'd be easier to pick three things that saddened or annoyed me this week instead of my usual celebratory stance. But that wouldn't be the Friday style, would it? Thinking positively, then, this week I'm loving:

Cari Long Fine Art Photography

Cari took the most precious photos of my nephew Liam. They are prints only, not digital, which is why you're seeing snapshots of the prints in a frame or on the fridge instead of the real deal. But still... I think you can see how gorgeous these are! He is a cute little thing.

End-of-Summer Goodness in a Bowl

This is my favorite warm-weather pasta salad. It works in small batches for a quick meal, or in huge ones - I once made ten pounds of it for a political fundraiser. Knowing what kind of week was ahead, I made a batch of this early in the week to eat for lunch when it would be too hectic even to run out for a sandwich. It's the little things that make tough weeks easier, and this tomato/feta/herb/orzo concoction does the trick for me every time.

Friends in Fun Places

I've said before that one of my favorite things is watching my fantastic friends do interesting things, and this week was no exception. My dear friend Gene - modern Renaissance man, wedding officiant to yours truly - reported for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer as part of their roundtable this week. It was his second time on the show (he also reported on Election Night), and I swear I burst with pride seeing him do his thang, as Gene would say, for a national audience. Viva PBS! My friend Erik was also tweeted by The Nation this week, which to some of us is pretty hot stuff. Round of applause for two of my favorite guys!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mission: Magazine Cover Dinner

On a lazy night at the homestead, we were contentedly watching lefty documentaries and snuggling when it occurred to us... why not whip up that luscious salad on the cover of this month's Food & Wine for dinner?

Magazine cover dishes don't often make the "whip it up" cut. This salad, though, suited our laziness nicely. It's hearty enough to be the main dish, but uses rotisserie chicken that can be picked up at your favorite market. How easy is that? The challenge:

The first step was to make the Green Goddess dressing. I'd never made my own Green Goddess before, and it was a treat to do so.

Green Goddess Dressing

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the anchovies, garlic, parsley, basil, dill and oregano until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and process until smooth. Fold in the chives; season with salt and pepper.

Two notes on this dressing:
  1. If you're not familiar with cooking with anchovies, you might think they're gross and you'd never buy them. However, anchovies are in a surprising number of salad dressings - you'd be surprised how often you eat them without knowing it in restaurants. (This dressing, for instance, isn't the same thing without them.) Throw out that mental image of handling sardine-type creatures; oil-packed anchovies are innocuous strips in a jar, and they grind to nothing at all. A jar of good anchovies in oil can cost as little as $5 and will last you for ages, so what are you waiting for? They're a pantry staple.

  2. I don't like mayonnaise. I never put in on sandwiches, don't like mayo-based salads, and hate the smell of it. However, this combination of ingredients transforms what looks like a mayo-heavy dressing into something sublime. Really. (I also like my own homemade garlic or roasted red pepper aioli, so go ahead and call me a mayo hypocrite if you like.)
The Green Goddess dressing was so delicious that we couldn't help but mop it up with squares of ciabatta while we assembled the salad.

Speaking of ciabatta and the salad...

One 1-pound loaf of ciabatta, bread cut into 1-inch cubes (do not use bottom crust)
One 2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat pulled into large bite-size pieces (no skin or bones)
8 piquillo peppers (from a 9.8-ounce jar), drained and quartered lengthwise
3 inner celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

In a large bowl, toss the ciabatta with the chicken, piquillo peppers, celery, and olives. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Notes on the salad:
  1. As always, fiddle with this recipe and make it your own. I added red onion to mine, because I add red onion to nearly everything. Do the same with your favorite vegetable. I also used far peppers than what the text calls for, because I like peppers nearly as much as I like onion.

  2. Next time, I'd use a bit less bread than the official recipe. I happily discovered the next day, though, that even with the dressing-soaked bread, my leftovers weren't soggy. They were pretty much delicious.

  3. If you can't find piquillo peppers (a Spanish version of roasted reds), just go for standard roasted red peppers, either out of a jar or roasted right in your own oven.
I think you can see what a snap this salad is if you have the right ingredients. And as Food & Wine notes, it's fantastic with a glass of pinot (the house fave anyway).

The result (an admittedly bad photo - sorry!):


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take a look! It's in a book!

I just discovered that PBS' "Reading Rainbow" has been canceled... sadness! The show ran from 1983 to 2006 with the same host, the gentle and kind LeVar Burton. PBS has been airing reruns since 2006, but the contract runs out this week.

I used to adore this show and its ability to transport me to other places (so much so that I named my book label here on FC after it). I wonder if there's a program for kids on today that celebrates reading and adventure in quite the same way? I fear not. As a kid without cable, PBS was my go-to channel, and every note of this theme song still makes me grin from ear to ear.

I think I will go and spend the afternoon curled up with a book now.

Update: Nooooooow we find out. Think Progress: Decision to end 'Reading Rainbow' traced to a 'shift' in priorities during the Bush administration. The NPR piece regarding this development this morning was really interesting, too. As someone quoted on the piece said, "'Reading Rainbow' didn't teach kids how to read, but why to read, and the administration wasn't interested."

Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009

Beginning the day by remembering, on m-pyre.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oinky ooh-la-la

As a native North Carolinian whose family knows a thing or two about hogs, I am an unabashed connoisseur of all things pork. Pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, pork belly, BACON ANYTHING... you name it. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these brilliant letterpress posters, which bring together my love of pork and Hatch Show Print letterpress in perfect harmony:

I think we all know how much I need to own the "noun not verb" print, don't we?

On a side note, this isn't my first blog post to combine pork and paper... perhaps I should begin a Porky Paper series?

Bonus pork paper product
: Adorable pig portrait letterpress card!

UPDATE: Resistance was futile. Pork, The Noun: headed my way.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tip, seesaw, tip

Here's the happy news in the M+T Life Status Report: we are incredibly lucky to have one another, we go home every day to a place that we like and furry friends we love, we have fantastic friends around, and we live in a town that offers more distractions than two people could possibly hope for.

Here's the rest of the Report: Distractions are not enough. And while we are perfectly comfortable here, we go through our days feeling fairly disconnected from what matters most to us, a sentiment that becomes more difficult to stomach as time goes on. Living as far away as we do from our families isn't just an issue of travel or prioritization. It impacts every decision we make, every way we think about our future, and has us in a holding pattern until we can figure out where/when/how to jump start our Real Life. We feel particularly vulnerable after weekends like this one, when we move mountains in order to spend just a couple of precious days with our favorite people, only to know at the end of it that once again, there is just never enough time.

Sometimes I imagine us teetering at the center of a seesaw, waiting for life to tip us in one direction. There is family pressure and a desire to be closer and make life easier on one side. Then on the other side, there's the hope that if we hold out long enough, all the stars might align for us so that a big move will be a bigger professional and financial opportunity than it is a setback. But that seesaw doesn't seem to want to tip either way, and so we remain distracted.

We've reached that precarious point in the year when we admit to ourselves that we will be here for another season. And again, this is not a bad thing, just more teetering in the center. So all the concerts we bookmarked for fall not knowing whether we'd be here or not, we can now buy tickets for. And all the trips we have planned for fall, we can go ahead and book them departing from DFW. Time marches on, whether we're calling it our Real Life or not. But as for when a progression of the calendar will feel like an actual step forward... that remains to be seen.

Scenes from our happy table at The Place this weekend:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday I'm in Love

My top three picks for the week are pretty straightforward this time around, because except for work, this week has really not been about anything more than these:

Blogging at EAD

I really loved blogging about our wedding over on Elizabeth Anne Designs this week. Even though I had a wedding blog that recorded a million ups and downs and cracks and crevices in our planning process, stepping away from it and writing about our wedding from scratch is a different beast entirely. I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity, and I really hope that someone planning their own weird wedding can take something away from our experience. Buckets of thanks go to Ami for inviting me!


We were ferocious Restaurant Weekers Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and now have the swollen bellies to prove it. Three restaurants in a row is tough work! (I posted reviews of each of our meals on Sidedish here, here, and here, by the way.) As much as I love fine dining, I think my favorite element of the week was running into Central Market to pick up cat food after our last dinner and realizing just how much I missed cooking, and how excited I am to get back into my kitchen next week after our trip. I haven't even opened the latest issue of Food & Wine, I've been so busy. Next week, I'm back in there with a vengeance.

My (new! official! amazing!) Family

I feel extraordinarily lucky to genuinely love T's family, and I'm so excited to spend this weekend with them in Connecticut. By the time you read this, I'll be up in the sky en route, where a weekend of clam-baking, drink-making, word-gaming, wedding-planning (yay Avery!) and general loveliness awaits. We haven't seen them since the wedding, which is far too long to go without their quick wit, big laughs, and great hugs. To la familia!!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Advantage: Kittenz

We have a problem in our apartment.

See, the dishes that we registered for were discontinued while we were engaged, so we decided to register for as many of them as possible since it was our last chance. It'd be easy to just store them away, we figured, until the pieces we were using needed to be replaced.

Only, our storage room is already full of stuff. And we got distracted. And so the boxes of extra dishes are all sitting in the corner of our living room, still.

Now that they've become a permanent fixture in our living space, our beloved felines Switters and Fanny have taken them over as their own.

To Switters and Fanny, these boxes are the best kitten playground ever. They spend hours each day playing on top of, around, and inside - oh yes, inside - the boxes.

Fierce battles are waged in the opening of this top box. It's the Ground Zero of Kitten Attacks. And truly entertaining to watch.

So, we couldn't deprive them of their favorite playground, right?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Busy blogger (just not here)

I'm up to my ears in work the next two days, and though I'm quiet over here, I actually have been writing up a storm over at Elizabeth Anne Designs. What you've missed:


Today's and tomorrow's posts in particular were a labor of love putting together.

  • Guests scared to know where they've been seated
  • Sunsets and shenanigans
  • Sure, we had fun, but did we learn anything?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saved by Bobby Flay

On Friday night we had such a decadent night out, we felt the need to recover the entire weekend. We sat at the Nobu sushi bar (a far better idea than getting a table) and had the chef create for us whatever struck his fancy. We have our favorites that we always order there: the jalapeno yellowtail sashimi is my absolute favorite; their rock shrimp is the Nobu version of mac and cheese; and the miso cod is the standard by which all other similar dishes are judged. The chef also created a phenomenal octopus, black salt, and lemon creation for us, in addition to a delicious smoky seared salmon/sesame oil plate. Outrageously good. Factor in several cocktails for each of us, plus additional drinks next door, and we were the epitome of indulgence that night. (I might still be recovering, in fact.)

On Saturday, then, it was time to be more realistic, all-American... sober. We made Bobby Flay's Argentinian burgers and bought baseball tickets in an effort to prove that not we're free-wheeling and big-night-outing all the time. Really, we're not. :-)

At any rate, the hamburgers were absolutely delicious. We served them with my favorite tzatziki potato salad, adapted from this recipe. Bobby Flay's chimichurri, used as a garnish for these burgers, is one I'll make from here on out. It's delicious on any kind of grilled meat. He makes it with cilantro sometimes, too, depending on the dish. But this traditional version knocked my socks off.

Bobby Flay's Chimichurri

2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, packed firmly
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
3 tbsp red wine vinegar

Combine parsley, oregano and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the paprika, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper and process until smooth (just a couple of minutes). Scrape into a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

The sauce can be made 8 hours in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated until 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eating my way through the week

This is Restaurant Week in Dallas. I think I'm in trouble. Let's take a look at the schedule:

Monday: Because we're traveling later in the week and I hate wasting food more than anything, I ate waaaaay too much of my favorite tzatziki potato salad for lunch. I caught myself doubling the recipe again when I made it Saturday, even though I knew I shouldn't have. Why, whyyyyyy do I always double the recipe? This is my upbringing at its "best," I suppose. Oh, so that's just lunch. Just me sitting here with a belly ache. But guess what? Reservations at Abacus at 7. Luckily it's in my 'hood, so I can walk it all off after dinner. Suuuure....

Tuesday: 7 p.m. reservations at my favorite restaurant in town, Stephan Pyles. I'm dying to try SP's new Passion Chile Margarita, just named one of the best cocktails in Dallas. I will eat pretty much anything this man creates. It's going to be dangerous.

Wednesday: Dinner at Fearing's, 8 p.m. Trevor has to eat there for work all the time and is pretty much over it, which means I never get to go, so I'm excited. Also, I learned via Twitter that Dean Fearing was recently in China with Ruth Reichl, which kind of intrigues me. After dinner there is the requisite people-watching at the Ritz bar, which can lead to all sorts of trouble. (On a recent visit, we were so fascinated by an icky guy in tight jeans in the valet line ahead of us who was taking home a prostitute, we decided to subtly follow him to see where he lived. We should probably be a husband and wife private eye duo. But I'll never tell where icky guy parks his Aston Martin...)

Thursday: Trevor flies to New York while I facilitate a public meeting, which means dinner will be a plate of cheese and crackers and bad coffee. Let's face it, though, that's probably a good thing after the M-T-W trifecta.

Friday: Dawn flight to New York and lunch with friends, then dinner in Connecticut with T's family at this awesome little spot, which will kick off two more days of eating. I'll be rolling off the plane come Sunday night.

Next week: Fasting?

Blogging all week at EAD!

Compared with my last little online adventure, I keep the w-word to a minimum over here. UNTIL NOW!


I'll be recapping our crazy 'ol wedding over on Elizabeth Anne Designs all week, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to do so. I like to think that some reader like me might stumble upon my posts there someday and see that great weddings are possible even for non-Cinderellas; that you can look good in a wedding dress even if starved Dallas saleswomen tell you you're too curvy; and that in the end, love and personality is all that matters, so throw as much of your weirdness into it as possible and never look back. It worked for me, anyway.

See ya over at EAD?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday I'm in Love

It's Friday, and you know what that means! I'm metaphorically gazing at my Robert Smith posters of days of yore and listing my three favorite things from the week:

Julie & Julia

I enjoyed the book immensely, but I just loved the movie... I'm quite sure the casting gods were present when Meryl Streep was cast as Julia Child and Stanley Tucci as her adoring husband Paul. The Childs' story is one that not enough people know - and how amazing is it, really, to celebrate a pairing on screen that is as supportive, committed, and hot as theirs was? That's right, folks - in case you weren't aware, Julia and Paul knew a thing or two about keeping the bedroom fires burning. I was grinning ear to ear in every scene where their mutual adoration and sizzle was celebrated. What pleases me so much about this film is the notion that our paths toward finding what we love are never clearly marked, much less paved, but we can get there if we keep meandering. Julia was a woman who invented her own destiny, and she did so after the age of 40. And Julie Powell, feeling wasted in a life she's not quite sure is truly hers, sets out to try something, anything, to recapture that spark... a feeling I can identify with 1,000 times over. I'm not sure that you have to love to cook to love this movie. I'm not sure that you have to have a tendency to swear and be generally unladylike, or to sometimes sit on the kitchen floor and ask what the hell everything means, or to know that conventional answers are not enough for you, or to believe that your path toward enlightenment is no one's but your own, so who cares how long it takes you to journey it... But these are my reasons for feeling connected to this story. Julia Child was a remarkable woman, and watching her come to life was a complete treat. And finally - finally! - I have "My Life in France" waiting for me on the bedside table. I cannot wait.

International Flava

I had fun in my kitchen this week, from falafel one night (oh how I loooove falafel) to making my first-ever tortilla espanola another. The tortilla espanola, or tortilla de patatas, was such a snap to make, and is such a favorite tapas dish of ours, that I was shocked I haven't been making it for years. I also got to break in my supremely gorgeous Le Creuset cast-iron frying pan while doing so, which made magic of the potatoes and eggs. I used this recipe because we had yummy chorizo on hand, but the chorizo definitely isn't required. Accompanied by a homemade garlic/paprika aioli and a fresh salad, and oh my goodness... heaven in your mouth. I'm looking forward to digging into more traditional recipes soon and crafting my own "best of."

Our Song

Cheese alert: it's dorky but true. Every single time I hear our wedding song, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I burst into the most enormous grin possible. I might even play it several times in a row just to sustain the feeling that no matter what else is going on or what's up in the air and to be determined, I'm incredibly lucky and really, everything will be fine. Wonderful, even. This song is my magic drug for whatever ails me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Squawking with glee!

Something about this week (perhaps my extra-tough-but-ultimately-rewarding last week?) has me just biding time until the weekend. So getting some fun news in the middle of such a week is a delight.

Enter The Squawker, the Best of Texas blog, which just named my little online abode here Blog of the Month! Thank you thank you thank you!!

Confession time and long story that has a point: I'm a non-tv girl compared with the average American, but still have my weaknesses (I give in to Rachel Maddow - but not on a daily basis; I love food-based shows - but rarely watch The Food Network; and enjoy smart, well-written scripted television (which includes, obviously, "Mad Men," and yes, I do qualify "True Blood" as being smart). This is a long way of saying that one Friday night when I was recovering from a particularly atrocious week and counting the minutes until I could justify passing out to make Saturday hurry up and happen, I stumbled upon an Unfair Park piece talking about a local girl who was the subject of "What Not to Wear." I probably hadn't turned on TLC since college and definitely wouldn't list makeover shows as a weakness, but I also remembered the show's dangerous, tv-suckage appeal and likable hosts (Stacy and Clinton are no Trinny and Susannah, but they're not bad, either). The local angle had me hooked. Also, the episode started in ten minutes.

Over the course of the next hour, I was charmed all over by Dallas girl Amanda, who handled Stacy, Clinton, and the horrifying 360-degree mirror with aplomb, and looked rocking at the end of the show, in a style that was completely her own, fashioned by taking the show's advice and translating it into a vintage '40s vibe with cinched-waist dresses and hot shoes (I believe in those two things, after all). AND she redid her hair to a style much cuter than the one Nick gave her, so major props for that. When she's not being made over and starring on national television, Amanda is the editor-in-chief of The Best of Texas' Squawker blog, which I found during the show and immediately added to my Reader. Not surprisingly, the blog is as charming as its editor. When I started The Freckled Citizen, I added The Squawker as an official Freckled Crush, and by that time had kind of forgotten how I'd found it in the first place. Until now.

So that's the story of how I found a crush-worthy blog and started leaving comments, and how that blog found me. Another victory for blog world.

Thank you, Squawker!

More fun:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

[Girl] With The Thorn in [Her] Side

Fritzed-out (again) air conditioning in my car + 30-mile-away work meeting and driving tour of the town = Driving T's fun new car instead of mine today!

Listening to Sirius' 1st Wave station in the cool AC makes me so happy, I want to move into the car.

If I purchased a Sirius radio for my apartment, I could live in the 1st Wave experience, quite literally, which would prevent me from having to move out of our apartment. And at home, I could instantly download songs that I love but don't own, instead of trying to type songs to download into my phone while driving. Safety and all.

Did I mention that our fuzzy NPR reception and unreliable Internet stream at home are the bane of my existence? And that Sirius NPR at home would alleviate my morning stress about not properly hearing Morning Edition?

And did I also mention that having strong NPR reception at all times was a wedding vow? Well it was, because I wrote it for Trevor to recite. (Hey, fair's fair - he wrote my vows!) So really, it's fundamental to our marriage that we go ahead and take care of this.

I think that about covers it, don't you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patio gardens and whatever's next

It happened again; we fell in love with another apartment. This one blows that other apartment out of the water on the livability scale. This apartment felt urban, but homey; streamlined, but warm; expansive, but intimate. It was the first highrise apartment I've seen where I knew without a doubt I could buy without looking back, without any angst about not having a yard or our own stoop. If we were actually in the market to buy, instead of being complete fakers on these tours, this place would be a major contender. (It would also be nice if we could even remotely afford it, but that's another reality-based discussion that's not worth having at the moment.)

The patio in this apartment was 700 square feet, an extension of the entire length of the apartment, opening up to the Dallas skyline. Think about that size for a minute: a 700 square foot patio. Ridiculous! Ridiculous views, ridiculous amount of space... ridiculous built-in outdoor fireplace! Sigh... That patio left me daydreaming the rest of the weekend. In the model unit we looked at, the patio was so large it was actually arranged as three separate outdoor "rooms": a cozy nook coming off the master bedroom, a large seating/dining area extending off the living room, and a cooking area extending off the guest bedroom. Here's the patio from another unit in the building, albeit a terribly decorated one:

Boring and uninspiring image of the patio that would become fabulous under my watch

When I saw the patio, though, I had one thought: garden.

See, gardening is something I can't do at all in our current arrangement. We're on the corner of the building on the eleventh floor and the wind whips everything to shreds - even simple plants like herbs. Our patio is great for lounging, but not for growing things. If we were going to be here forever, I'd try building a structure to help protect plants from the wind and too much sun. But it's probably not worth it at this stage in the game, so instead I just grit my teeth every time I buy fresh basil, mint, dill, and cilantro - which is pretty much every trip to the market. Nothing irks me about my lack of a garden like having to purchase fresh herbs when I could grow them instead.

Our current patio. Great space for reading/sipping, but not-so-great space for plants (trust me)

But oh, the possibilities with more and better configured space! I enjoy seeing urban translations on outdoor living, since that may very well be the typology we'll be calling home when we actually are in the market to buy something. And since I already know that I do well in cozy bungalows with real in-the-ground gardening space and a walkable neighborhood, it's reassuring for me to find other scenarios that could feel at home, too - a spectacular building, sure, but one that feels more grown-up than the last apartment we toured, one that's a little less bachelor and a little more family (we saw kids and dogs - always a good sign). Reasserting my versatility in these matters makes me feel like I'm ready for whatever may come. That's important to me, since we're not really sure what's next.

In honor of this weekend's to-die-for patio, I was inspired to seek out images of patio gardens. I'm not including any backyard or rooftop gardens here, which can obviously be stunning and enormous; I'm talking simple, urban, DIY container gardens that could work on any non-wind-tunnel patio.

Even the tiniest spaces can accommodate container gardens, depending on your conditions. Source.

Herbs galore! Source.

There's a lot going on here, but not a lot of food. However, the concept of stacking plants to line a wall is perfect for any small outdoor space. Source.

Container gardening isn't just for herbs. These would be great on a patio (my containers would be obnoxiously colorful, of course). Source and how-to.

Pots, pots, pots. Source.

Replace these decorative plants with herbs and vegetables - gorgeous! Source.

Please excuse me while I go graze on greens for dinner. Source.

Lounging in the greenery. Source.

I saved the best for last. Does it get any cooler than a vertical herb garden for an urban space? I think not!!! Source.

Bonus Link: Tips on starting a patio garden from Epicurious

Monday, August 10, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

Heirloom tomato season continues in all its glory. This is the time of the year when I look for every possible excuse to include them in the meal. Behold, this morning's gorgeous breakfast:

Egg with heirlooms on half an English muffin, placed on top of a basil leaf with a hint of goat cheese

Oh, heirlooms. I am utterly, completely at your mercy.
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