vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

Posts tagged not related to food

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FEELINGS

Guys, today was the last day of my maternity leave.

I am having a lot of feelings.

It turns out that caring for an infant all day is really hard. Or maybe not for other people. Maybe it’s sunshine and roses for others? It was really hard for me. There were a few days when I spent almost the whole day trying to get the kiddo to nap. Other days (most days) when he would consent to nap, but only when physically on my person. Also days when he just wanted to nurse, except not really, which is so much worse than it sounds. Days when every trip to the bathroom was accompanied by the sound of crying. Or I’d finally get him down to nap and then the dog would bark. All of this while neither of us really had any clue what we were doing. Was he tired? Hungry? Wet? Is this the acid reflux? Or a growth spurt? Or just him being angry about not being in the womb anymore? I was only guessing, and frankly, I think half the time he didn’t really know, either.

I like my job. I am looking forward to going back to work. And I am a little bit relieved to have some time to be an adult again, and to operate in a world that I have a clearer sense of control over, and to talk to other adults. And to know that I’ll be able to eat lunch. And pee without anyone crying.

On the other hand, it turns out I’m kind of emotional about this whole thing. I did not think I was, but the evidence is mounting:

- I cried in the car this morning listening to an NPR story about Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer.

- And then thinking about Mary Bonauto and all her work for marriage equality.

- And then in the kitchen thinking about how you learn to love by loving the people in your life (which I could recognize as unbearably sappy even in the moment and yet I still teared up).

- And then when Leo McGarry almost died alone in the woods (DAMN YOU, AARON SORKIN)

- And then when the kid fell asleep while I was holding him in the afternoon.

And I’m not a huge crier normally.

I was under the weather yesterday so the kiddo and I spent a chunk of the day hanging out in bed, chatting about baby things and laughing. He laughs and it feels like all those ridiculous things parents say it feels like and you roll your eyes at them. It’s amazing. And then today he fell asleep on my arm and I typed part of this post on my phone with my thumb because I couldn’t bear to move him and because the precious little baby shoulder and arm were right there with the squishy arm fat and elbow dimples. And he will get bigger and I won’t be able to have him snuggled up next to me sleeping and the elbow dimples will go away and I think that was when I cried that last time.

I’m sad that this period when it was just the two of us all day is over, as hard as it was. I wouldn’t change things— I want to go back to work, and I feel good about his daycare, and I CERTAINLY do not want to go back to when he was six weeks old— but I will miss him tomorrow.

Filed under not related to food feelings motherhood

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On a whim when I was pregnant I started sewing a quilt for my kiddo. I thought it was going to be a really simple baby blanket/mat, the kind you put on the floor for them to play on. I made little squares out of scraps of old fabric and odds and ends— an old button-down shirt of Dave’s, leftovers from a dress I made. And then as I was working on it it slowly got bigger and more elaborate. And I thought I would just tie it instead of quilting it, or at the very least machine quilt it, but that seemed not as nice so I hand-quilted it. And then because it was nicely hand-quilted, I decided to do the nicer hand-finished binding. In this way I have been working on the super simple baby quilt for months. 

It’s almost done, though, and I’m really, really excited.

On a whim when I was pregnant I started sewing a quilt for my kiddo. I thought it was going to be a really simple baby blanket/mat, the kind you put on the floor for them to play on. I made little squares out of scraps of old fabric and odds and ends— an old button-down shirt of Dave’s, leftovers from a dress I made. And then as I was working on it it slowly got bigger and more elaborate. And I thought I would just tie it instead of quilting it, or at the very least machine quilt it, but that seemed not as nice so I hand-quilted it. And then because it was nicely hand-quilted, I decided to do the nicer hand-finished binding. In this way I have been working on the super simple baby quilt for months.

It’s almost done, though, and I’m really, really excited.

Filed under sewing baby not related to food

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The Josh and Juli Show: Tales from shoveling snow

joshandjulishow:

People in the Northeast have a bit of a reputation for being…a little bit crabby. When you’re walking down the street, people aren’t going to smile and make eye contact. Standing in line at the grocery store (and that is IN line, not ON line as silly New Yorkers might say) and no one is going to…

I missed this when it was first posted, but it’s great and still appropriate because it snowed again today, as I assume it will every single day until the day I die, because that is apparently the trajectory we’re on and the snow has crushed my spirit.

Juli and Josh are southerners who have moved north. They also have a gigantic cat, which is neither here nor there, really, except that I want their tumblr to include more Meowsers.

Filed under snow not related to food

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Lessons Learned from My Youth: Apartments

The Billfold has a post titled Places Where I Have Lived.

I have lived many places, and I have learned things from those places.

Moving involves more packing paper than you can even imagine.

Apartment in New York for $750 a month (1 bedroom in a 2-bedroom). My bedroom was 7’ wide and had no closets and a window that was completely inaccessible to sunlight. Also, there was an entrenched drug dealing operation happening out of the lobby. One of my favorite restaurants was just around the corner, though, along with its sister bar that played awesome reggaeton before reggaeton was even cool.* Lessons: I have less tolerance for “up and coming” neighborhoods than I would like to imagine; you’re generally safer living in a building with drug dealers operating out of the lobby than living two doors down from a building with drug dealers operating out of the lobby but when things go bad they will go bad in a big way; it’s depressing to have a bedroom that gets no sunlight; I don’t really like Red Stripe that much.

1-bedroom in Montreal for the equivalent of $400 US a month that had a doorman and a pool on the roof.** Lesson: Living in Montreal is the best when there’s a favorable exchange rate. It’s probably the best generally. If it gets to -20F with any regularity, you really want as many panes as humanely possible on the windows (ours were tripled paned and on very cold days I could still feel the cold coming off the windows).

1-bedroom basement apartment in Brookline for $610. Lesson: Even if it’s big and really close to a lot of great restaurants and Trader Joe’s and reasonably priced and you think that it gets plenty of light when you see it, and it probably does get a reasonable amount of light given that it’s partially underground, living in a basement is the worst. If your relationship is not really solid, it will be destroyed by the experience. Coolidge Corner did not have enough bars.

1-bedroom apartment in Somerville, MA for $700. I loved this apartment, and it had a little tiny side yard (“yardette”). Lessons: A good commute really improves your frame of mind. We could never live in a place without a dishwasher again. Having a bedroom on the first floor under the stairway to two upstairs apartments is a bad idea. You would think that Harvard law students would know not to move with a Zipcar Yaris from 11 pm - 4 am on a weeknight, but that is not necessarily the case. I hate everyone at 4 am on a weeknight. Dave hates them more.

Moving the plants is always a bigger hassle than you think it will be.

1-bedroom apartment in DC for $850. Lessons: I can never move without movers again. Getting stuck behind a diplomat at the grocery check-out as they explain how they don’t have to pay taxes on their cereal is the worst. I don’t love living in a city that is full of people who moved to that city for work. If we did not move to a place with a lower cost of living, we were going to live in one-bedroom apartments for the rest of our lives and when we had kids, we were going to have to put them in a drawer but I do not even know which drawer because we did not have any spare drawers.

2+ bedroom apartment in Portland, ME for $575. I can’t even tell you how beautiful the light was in this apartment. It was spectacular. Lessons: Portland is the best. Like a gas, my belongings will expand to fill any given space. People who haven’t ever lived in New York City will complain a lot about walking up two flights of stairs to get to your apartment but you will really only care when you have just bought a ton of groceries. Once you think your downstairs neighbor might be a serial killer, that thought will never really leave you, no matter how pleasant the downstairs neighbor might seem. Having a washer dryer in your bathroom is the best thing in the world, second MAYBE to a pool on the roof, but it might be better than a pool on the roof. I don’t want to rely on a condo association for the structural maintenance of my home.

Our house (price not disclosed) Lessons: Splitting and stacking wood is so much more work than you think. Grilling is the best. Making your own roman shades is harder than it seems. When you finally get that Dwell Studio comforter than you’ve wanted for 4 years, it will be better than you could have imagined. The refrigerators that have the freezer on the bottom really are better.

* You probably hadn’t even heard of it?

** All apartment rents represent my portion of the total rent.

Filed under real estate not related to food

10 notes

Shoveling!
1. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING TO SHOVEL. This is just absolutely the most important thing. If you wait until the next morning, there’s a good chance you’ll be facing dense, packed-down snow with an ice glaze. I don’t want to put on my boots and go outside at 9 pm either, but it is better this way.
2. Shovel early and often. There are two people in the world— the people who think that it would be easier to wait until the snow stops to shovel so then you just shovel once, and the people who want to be able to shovel by sliding their shovel along the ground instead of heaving huge shovelfuls of snow over their shoulder. I am of the latter camp. This is more a matter of personal preference (I doubt my older brother is an early-and-often shoveler, for example, being an economist and former lacrosse player), but I want you to consider it.
3. Don’t walk or drive over snow that you’re about to shovel. You know how when you’re mopping, you mop in such a way that you don’t have to tromp over the wet freshly mopped area? Same deal with shoveling. It’s easier if it’s not all packed down.
4. On something like a driveway, shovel from the middle to the edges. If you start at the edge, then you have to get a whole bunch of snow over a section that you’ve already cleared. I think the larger tip here is to consider where the snow is going to go.
5. Dress in layers. I know, it’s super cold out! But shoveling is remarkably aerobic. Your hands, if like mine, will go from warm, to super cold, and then all the way back to warm and then slightly past warm. The body is an amazing thing.
6. Yes, the people next door are supposed to fucking shovel like decent human beings so we don’t break our necks and get snow in our boots. If they are not going to shovel and you are going to be, say, walking past their house or building three to four times a day with your dog and hating them the entire time, especially once things melt a little and then ice up, it may be easier to just shovel it yourself now that you’re out there. No, life isn’t fair.
7. Speaking of being a decent human being, it’s really nice to shovel the sidewalk wide enough so that people with disabilities don’t have to travel in the middle of the street.
8. If someone else is shoveling with you, you are not allowed to tell them how to shovel. Even if they’re walking all over the part they’re about to shovel. Even if they shoveled the edge first and now have to go back over it after.
9. You’re right, people with snow-blowers are cheating.
10. You have no idea how much snow you have all over you. Shake it out first before you go instead. Especially the hood of your jacket.

Shoveling!

1. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING TO SHOVEL. This is just absolutely the most important thing. If you wait until the next morning, there’s a good chance you’ll be facing dense, packed-down snow with an ice glaze. I don’t want to put on my boots and go outside at 9 pm either, but it is better this way.

2. Shovel early and often. There are two people in the world— the people who think that it would be easier to wait until the snow stops to shovel so then you just shovel once, and the people who want to be able to shovel by sliding their shovel along the ground instead of heaving huge shovelfuls of snow over their shoulder. I am of the latter camp. This is more a matter of personal preference (I doubt my older brother is an early-and-often shoveler, for example, being an economist and former lacrosse player), but I want you to consider it.

3. Don’t walk or drive over snow that you’re about to shovel. You know how when you’re mopping, you mop in such a way that you don’t have to tromp over the wet freshly mopped area? Same deal with shoveling. It’s easier if it’s not all packed down.

4. On something like a driveway, shovel from the middle to the edges. If you start at the edge, then you have to get a whole bunch of snow over a section that you’ve already cleared. I think the larger tip here is to consider where the snow is going to go.

5. Dress in layers. I know, it’s super cold out! But shoveling is remarkably aerobic. Your hands, if like mine, will go from warm, to super cold, and then all the way back to warm and then slightly past warm. The body is an amazing thing.

6. Yes, the people next door are supposed to fucking shovel like decent human beings so we don’t break our necks and get snow in our boots. If they are not going to shovel and you are going to be, say, walking past their house or building three to four times a day with your dog and hating them the entire time, especially once things melt a little and then ice up, it may be easier to just shovel it yourself now that you’re out there. No, life isn’t fair.

7. Speaking of being a decent human being, it’s really nice to shovel the sidewalk wide enough so that people with disabilities don’t have to travel in the middle of the street.

8. If someone else is shoveling with you, you are not allowed to tell them how to shovel. Even if they’re walking all over the part they’re about to shovel. Even if they shoveled the edge first and now have to go back over it after.

9. You’re right, people with snow-blowers are cheating.

10. You have no idea how much snow you have all over you. Shake it out first before you go instead. Especially the hood of your jacket.

Filed under not related to food

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OH MY GOD YOU GUYS.

I have so much to tell you.

I mean, I don’t, exactly, except that in the last ten days or so, we packed all our belongings, moved, hired a painter who then painted my office, found an arborist and had them come to the house to give advice on trees to remove in the yard, had an electrician come in to fix a bunch of reverse polarity outlets, had Christmas, found out from the neighbors that the woman who owned this house before the last woman used to walk her cats on leashes, did not have internet set up, learned how to use our wood stove, painted our bedroom (you can ask me about my cutting-in technique any time), still did not have internet set up, called my dad in a panic because the wood stove was pouring smoke into the living room (the cold air in the chimney was blocking things), called my dad in a panic because we didn’t think the washer was properly hooked up (not true! it just spends like three minutes jiggling and “sensing” before actually washing anything), still did not have internet, and I sanded down and re-oiled our butcher block counter and table. We finally have internet set up.

Here’s a picture of Cashew looking out the window at squirrels:

Here’s a picture of my desk, note how I flipped over the cutting mat so the black side is facing up.

Here’s a picture of the doodles that I draw while on conference calls that make me worried that I might be a sociopath:

Kinda, right?

Filed under not related to food

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HOLY SHIT, HERMAN CAIN.

I was not going to write about Herman Cain or Penn State Football or anything else because this is a food blog, and then I saw this. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst thing I saw all week, but it’s sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I am appalled that Herman Cain is still leading the race for the GOP Presidential nomination despite allegations of sexual harassment/assault from four different women. I don’t even care if he did it (this is not true, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend I don’t care). I find it appalling that reasonable accusations from four women matter so little that Cain’s bid still has legitimacy.

According to a recent study, more than half of 7 - 12th grade girls were sexually harassed in school last year. Somewhere between half and 90% of women in the workplace in the U.S. have been victims of sexual harassment.

Now, again, let’s continue to pretend for the sake of argument that I think it’s honestly possible that Cain didn’t harass women, despite the accusations. Even so, say you were a woman that was being sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace. Accusing someone of sexual harassment is embarrassing and potentially career-ruining. Cain’s candidacy sends a pretty clear message that it doesn’t really matter for the careers of the perpetrators.

It didn’t, ultimately, matter for Clarence Thomas, because Anita Hill was picked apart and insulted and condescended to by a panel of white men in power in front of most of the country (including me, as an eight-year-old) and Thomas was, if we recall, confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. A large amount of evidence has come forward since corroborating Hill’s testimony, including a number of witnesses who were prepared to testify but were never called (hey Joe Biden, I get that this happened twenty years ago. I’m still not cool with it!). Thomas is, again, still a Supreme Court Justice. One of Cain’s accusers had said she didn’t want to come forward because she didn’t want to become another Anita Hill.

The message that gets sent to women and girls across the country is that it doesn’t really matter if a man is accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women (multiple women!). He can still become a Supreme Court Justice! He can still run a viable campaign for President! And why are all these professional women so slutty?

And now it comes full circle: Herman Cain is on tape joking about Anita Hill endorsing his campaign. There’s riotous laughter from almost-entirely male group.

It’s difficult for me to find it funny.

Filed under not related to food

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In Which Cashew Recovers from a Very Trying Few Days
My mum and her puppy, Quincy, came to visit! It was great! Except that it nearly brought Cashew to his knees, emotionally.
Cashew has not ever had to share the apartment with another dog. He was very far out of his comfort zone. His comfort zone is approximately the size of his dog bed and he does not like to even approach the boundary. I tell people that this is because he is a shelter dog, or because he got shot with a bb gun, but I suspect it might also just be his personality.
He did much better once he realized that he would get to eat his meals in peace.
By the end of the visit it seemed like he might even be enjoying Quincy.
That has not stopped him from giving me the above look and sighing dramatically.

In Which Cashew Recovers from a Very Trying Few Days

My mum and her puppy, Quincy, came to visit! It was great! Except that it nearly brought Cashew to his knees, emotionally.

Cashew has not ever had to share the apartment with another dog. He was very far out of his comfort zone. His comfort zone is approximately the size of his dog bed and he does not like to even approach the boundary. I tell people that this is because he is a shelter dog, or because he got shot with a bb gun, but I suspect it might also just be his personality.

He did much better once he realized that he would get to eat his meals in peace.

By the end of the visit it seemed like he might even be enjoying Quincy.

That has not stopped him from giving me the above look and sighing dramatically.

Filed under not related to food cashew