The List 2012

As I reflect upon 2012 and prepare to usher in the new year, I decided to come up with my Top 10 List of things that I would like to see (or hear) less of. Preferably none at all actually.
Drum roll please...

Top 10 things I'd like to see/hear less of in 2013

10. Skinny jeans. 
They really ARE not for everyone.

9. Dance Moms

8. "I only buy if it's on sale. What? No sale today?" 
If you can't afford it when it's full price, then you shouldn't have it in the first place. 
It's not the last piece of bread on earth and you're not dying on starvation.

7. Doorbusters

6. Tory Burch

5. Honey Boo Boo

4. The phrase: "Seriously?" 

3. Justin Bieber

2. 50 Shades of... (anything). 
Come on people, there are better things to read out there!

1. Kim Kardashian

Happy New Year everyone! May the new year bring all of us happiness, love, less taxes, bigger paychecks, good mental and physical health, and vacations! 

Brown Elephant in the Room

We have this enormous chair. It seats 1.5 people very comfortably and comes with a matching ottoman. But it's in a rather interesting brown/olive green pattern fabric that only works in huge spaces. The chair was a gift. It used to be in my brother-in-law's 2-story huge family room, but then they replaced it with a leather one and we needed comfy manly size furniture for our basement (aka the man cave because there is a bar in it) so the chair migrated over to our house. It used to live down the basement. Two basement misfortunes later (of a wet variety) and the chair was rescued to the upstairs living room. It didn't exactly go with anything (we have modern interior) but it was comfortable to sit in to read a book to our son or relax with a cuppa. Sometimes I would move it from one corner to another corner trying to improve upon living room layout (still work in progress).

A Word on Gardening

As I was grating a zucchini this afternoon while making zucchini squares, I realized that I discovered a couple of things since I started gardening a couple of years ago. Things I probably would not have known if I continued to buy produce in the store.

Did you know that zucchinis are covered with tiny little hairs all over? And that the plant rather be producing flowers and thorny leaves instead of fruit? That you need to beg it to produce a fruit and then, when it finally appears, you have to wait for several weeks for it to grow to a kitchen worthy size? Well, let me rephrase that: Social Media worthy size. Who wants to post a tiny zucchini? And don't forget that you need huge choppers and thick gloves just to get deep enough into the plant to cut down your priced possession. Zucchini plant scratches itch.

Did you know that cucumbers come with tiny prickles? All over? Including the plant? And that you need to prune it back once in a while so it will also remember to produce something other than vines and flowers. Once you get a cucumber, the plant immediately decides that it's done looking pretty and starts drying up, making your garden look ugly.

That strawberries are the hardiest plants out there and have only one thing on their mind? It is to go forth and multiply. Five years ago I bought 4 little plants, I now have a patch covering over 40 square feet! I eat (and yes, it's all me because no one likes strawberries but me in this house) about 4 lbs worth, the rest gets stolen by birds and rabbits. Strawberries are heaven for mosquitoes by the way, they love to nest under the leaves, it's cool and dark there. For every berry I pick I average 5 bites. Those little Off! repellent fans? I wear 3: one on the front of my shirt, one on my waist and one on the back. If I ever get tired of gardening I'll just let the strawberries loose and by fall the entire garden space will be covered.

No matter how well your fences are and how high they are, along will come a deer one night, reach over the fence and eat everything, including watermelons you've been babying, within reach. The next morning you're left heart broken and puzzled as to who might have gotten in, until you see that for some reason everything above 3 feet have been eaten, not below. And then you look at your apple tree...

I have an apple tree. It is my pride, it is my joy, it is my fault I didn't chicken wire the tree. It is a young tree, only about 5 years old. Macintosh. Last year we worked on staying upright, it was leaning dangerously to the left because of the winds. There were flowers but no fruit. I will puzzled. With all the bees around, one would think it'll produce something. This year I decided to take matters into my own hands and (after spending evening wrapping each branch with old shirts to protect from frost because it bloomed too early thanks to this crazy weather) I armed myself with an old paint brush and fertilized the blooms by hand. Every. Single. One. I got one apple.

Last July, the storm that ripped the siding off my house also ripped the apple off the branch. I brought it home and cried over my kitchen sink. I didn't cry over the siding, I cried over an apple. It was small, bright green, with a little black spot on the side. Danny wondered where the worm was because there was a spot on the apple. It wasn't ready to be eaten yet, but we cut it anyway looking for a worm. Nothing. Had it survived the storm, it would've been a beautiful and delicious fruit. I mourned the loss of the apple for a week. And then the deer came back.

The deer ate the tops off all my tomato plants. And, all the new branches on the apple tree. Let me put it this way, there is a wanted poster out on the deer now and if one day I am posting venison recipes and you know that I am one happy gardener at that moment.

Speaking of tomatoes... Did you know that the plant itself is poisonous except for the fruit? Not to the deer apparently! Two years ago, one cold and frosty morning I ran out to the garden in panic that the frost was here and that I need to get them all off otherwise they'll be lost. They were still green, I planted late and I didn't find out about Miracle Gro tomato miracle until several months into the gardening season that year. Every windowsill in our house was covered with green tomatoes, slowly ripening. Well, this is where I learned to let go. Now, if I don't get them all I let them drop. This season I have not bought a single tomato plant and yet my garden is so think with plants that I need a machete to get through. And it's three different varieties as well. They already dropping now, sometimes the chipmunks will eat them (hey, it'll be seeds in fertilizer!). I still have a window sill full of them, slowly ripening. But I'm already looking forward next year to see how many, and where, tomato plants would I get from all the dropped fruit. And I bet I'll get a miracle pumpkin again as well. Maybe it'll be the white kind next year!

Proust Questionnaire

The best place to read back issues of Vanity Fair is in the bathroom. They just lay there in the heap inside a basket, staring at you with those beautiful cover faces, and you pick one up just to turn it over so it will stop looking at you. And that’s how you find yourself reading the back page questionnaire. And sometimes you wonder how would you answer questions like that. The other day I noticed that the back page was titled Proust Questionnaire. Wasn’t there a line from Frasier, something about snobs and Proust? Well, Marcel Proust was asked to fill out questionnaires as a form of a party game during two social gatherings: one when he was 13, another when he was 20. He happened to be the most extraordinary person to respond to that game, thus making it famous. I’m not an extraordinary person, but I decided to play as well and answer the questions. Below are the original questions, for Vanity Fair version you can check out their site.

Questionnaire #1

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? To lose my child

Where would you like to live? St. Augustine, Florida

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Holding my child in my arms

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Procrastination

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Bond, James Bond 
Who are your favorite characters in history? Catherine the Great

Who are your favorite heroines in real life? A certain family friend

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? The one I created

Your favorite painter? At this moment it will be Tamara de Lempica

Your favorite musician? Julio Eglesias

The quality you most admire in a man? Drive

The quality you most admire in a woman? Backbone

Your favorite virtue? Patience

Your favorite occupation? Chef

Who would you have liked to be? Julia Child

Questionnaire #2 
(the one Proust answered seven years after first. I'm not waiting seven years)

Your most marked characteristic? My brain

The quality you most like in a man? Charm

The quality you most like in a woman? Style

What do you most value in your friends? My true friends do not talk behind my back

What is your principle defect? Impatience

What is your favorite occupation? Chef

What is your dream of happiness? It’s the same every night: being on a beach

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? To lose my child (every mother's worst nightmare)

What would you like to be? A salami

In what country would you like to live? Spain

What is your favorite color? Pantone® Reflex Blue

What is your favorite flower? Tulip

What is your favorite bird? A great horned owl

Who are your favorite prose writers? Tolstoy, Dumas, Hugo… Fleming

Who are your favorite poets? I only have one: Pushkin

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? James Bond

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? The one I created, Catalina Bennett

Who are your favorite composers? Rachmaninoff and Gilmore

Who are your favorite painters? I have a BFA, my list is long

Who are your heroes in real life? My father

Who are your favorite heroines of history? Catherine the Great (have not changed my mind in the last 2 minutes)

What are your favorite names? Danny and Daniel

What is it you most dislike? Nagging

What historical figures do you most despise? Hitler, Lenin, Stalin...

What event in military history do you most admire? I don't admire anything that has to do with war

What reform do you most admire? None

What natural gift would you most like to possess? Would love to be a wiz with numbers

How would you like to die? Fast, so I’m not burden to my family

What is your present state of mind? Busy

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Eating

What is your motto? Good things come to those who wait

Beach art