Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If Pies Were Jobs, I'd Be Saving The World Economy

Behold, the fruits of my unemployment! (Get it? Fruits? There's fruit in there. Strawberries, anyway, I'm not sure if rhubarb qualifies as fruit).

Funding for awesome Slavic-related summer activities did not come through for me this year, so I'm trying, with very little success so far, to find a job. As I'm sure many of you know, it is very easy to become a useless layabout when unemployed. After two days of sleeping until 1 in the afternoon, I decided this must not be. So I figured the least I could do is get up while it's still am. I've been setting my alarm for 8am, with the goal of being out of bed by 9am. I've been doing quite well, though it's really, really hard when there's nothing in particular that you're getting out of bed for. Today I've decided that I need to revise my personal edict to include being dressed before 10am. For some arbitrary reason.

It's not that I don't have things to do. I have knitting projects to finish and submit/put up for sale. I have swords and a big, flat backyard. I have a guitar I keep saying I'm going to learn how to play. I have rhubarb in the fridge that needs to become pie (check). I have dead and/or made-up languages that need learning! I have - gasp - pleasure reading I could do! Oh, and let's not forget, I have jobs that need applying for. Also blogging. You'd think I'd be updating my blog more frequently now that finals are over. Evidently, you'd be wrong.

The problem with all of this is that it's all stuff I can do on my own time. I can very easily do all of this at 3 in the morning. I can even do some of it in bed! But I'm less productive when I work like that, and even when I do get things done, I feel like I've wasted the day. I try to spend time in parks, I try to get errands done without using my car. But it's sooooooooo easy to spend 2 hours checking your email in your PJs.

This is why I must never be a housewife or stay-at-home-anything of any sort. Even the super-industrious home-business variety. I need a reason to leave the house every day and to interact with people. I need a reason to be out of bed by a certain time. I need structure, damnit. I can make the lack of structure work, I can be all self-starting and rah, but God, it's like pulling teeth!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Ikea Effect

Today we went to Ikea, mostly out of boredom, partly for the cheap Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam. I was afraid it would make me pine for clever domestic things I can't afford, but I was pleasantly wrong. Ikea has these neat little alcoves set aside as fully furnished apartments with some astonishingly small square footage displayed like a badge of honor. "Look how clever we are, we can make this appalling space so comfortable, functional and welcoming."

So while peering into those, I was happily reminded of the process of kitting out my apartment back in Texas. I was living alone, on a modest teacher's salary in approximately 600 square feet, and for not much money, I made that place quite a nice little cave to spend a year in. Granted, it was hand-me-down furniture that really did the trick. And some cleverness of my own - repurposing extra curtain fabric, things like that. But it was fun, and I did a good job.

Ikea did not make me feel oppressed today, as I thought it would. But as I walked through aisles of clever, money-and-space-saving shelving and gadgetry, my mood drifted from happy nostalgia to wistful and then somewhat sad dreaming. I kept a running checklist in my head, ticking off what we wouldn't need, two grown people with their own pots and pans and beds and desks. I'd also imagine how we might transform a tiny apartment kitchen into a facility suitable for foodies, and my boyfriend, who will remain nameless, let his gaze linger on many of my chosen goodies. I'd picture what his son might draw or scrawl on the blackboard door of a wall-mounted cabinet, or how to portion-off rooms, so that three people might feel at home and welcome in too little space.

I have all I need and more than enough space now, with my roommates, but I would be so happy to make do on a small budget in a tiny space if that space were filled with people I love. But for that, he'd have to get a job in Madison. And so, I will continue to glory defiantly in my blue carpet, and to dream of some tiny apartment when I let my guard down.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lunch from the Farmers' Market

The farmers' market by my house is open again! Rejoice! It's still a bit early in the season for selection and prices to be at their best, but it's good enough for me for now. I'm basking in produce (and cheese. Cheesecheesecheesecheesecheese. God bless Wisconsin). :-)

After we got home from the market, I whipped this up for lunch to go with last night's steak leftovers. It's so quick, easy and good, I thought I'd share the recipe. This is best with really fresh mozzarella, but the local provonello we found today was great.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

1 medium cucumber
1 medium tomato
a few generous slices of provonello
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
a dab of mustard
a pinch of salt
a couple of twists of a pepper grinder

  1. In a small tupperware, combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper and half the mint.
  2. Close up the tupperware. Shake. Lots. Let it sit there for a few minutes, while you prepare the vegetables, or longer.
  3. Slice the tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese and arrange on a plate.
  4. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables and cheese.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining mint over everything. This lets part of the mint flavor the vinaigrette while part of it remains fresh and crisp.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This Post Has a Picture

It's right there at the top of the post. Just beneath the title. You don't see it? It's easy to miss, but quite clear. It's my favorite size 6 circular needle that has SUDDENLY BECOME INVISIBLE!!! This vanishing needle made me unreasonably angry and upset last night. I bought amazingly yummy yarn yesterday for two new projects that are going to be wonderful. Both require a size 6 circular needle. I have 2, one of which has a sweater on it, one of which is now charmingly invisible. I looked everywhere. My darling boyfriend, who shall remain nameless, even searched through my car. He found horrifying tupperware with old leftovers in them, an alarm clock, a bird call and lots of candy but, of course, no size 6 circular needle. I'll probably go buy another one today after school. I can justify (sort of) buying a duplicate of a duplicate needle because I think these are both patterns that can sell. *looks at bank account and whimpers*

Speaking of luscious, beautiful "money saving" things, here are some books I want. I need to be coming up with these ideas myself and not paying someone to come up with them for me. helps a lot, particularly when bogged down with finals. I mean...Dostoevsky's idea of evil and the Late Common Slavic period of disintegration are definitely inspiring, just...not in quite the same way, y'know? A trip to the library is called for, I think. Or perhaps some window-shopping at Barnes and Noble. Then if these patterns are a) completed and b) sell, I'll splurge on some more books that I don't have room for on my shelves. :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Little Things

I don't know what kind of flower this is, but now the entire dining room smells of it! My boyfriend, who will remain nameless, rescued this bloom from the sidewalk and wore it in his lapel on the bus ride home. He presented it to my roommate when we got home, who showed it to The Kiddo (her son, the most adorable and mercifully mild-mannered 6-month-old I have ever encountered). I think it's a more extreme smell than he's used to because his eyes got reeeeeeeally wiiiiiiiiide. Tiny kids are fun to watch when they first encounter things we take for granted. We had a pretty respectable thunder-storm this afternoon, and he stared out the window fascinated by the rain for as long as someone was willing to hold him near it. Kid's got good taste in nature.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Yum Kitchen and Bakery

Why yes, those cupcakes were as good as they look! :-D Upside-down rhubarb cupcake and a dark, moist chocolate cupcake that you wish and hope will have the classic dollop of white cream on the inside, and it DOES!!! These cupcakes were everything I'd hoped they would be.

Anyway, this past Sunday, my boyfriend, who shall remain nameless, and I stopped in at Yum Kitchen and Bakery for lunch on our way back from the bike shop. The bakery case was the first thing we saw and, believe it or not, it just got better from there. In addition to these flirtatious morsels, we split a steak sandwich with arugula and red pepper aioli. Mmmmmmmm, dear God that was good. It came on crispy, toasted herb focaccia, with delicate potato chips and a big 'ole salty pickle. Seriously, the pickle was heaven. Not too tart, still crisp - I'm very particular about my pickles. I typically don't like them, but when they're right, oh, they're just perfect.

Anyway, if you find yourself in uptown Minneapolis any time soon, I suggest you stop in. It's a bit on the pricey side but if you split an entree with someone you love, it works out quite reasonably. I tried to reproduce the red pepper aioli and failed...tastily? What I made is not red pepper aioli, but it's still good. I'll post a recipe here if I ever come up with anything worthy of the moniker.

Happy finals, everyone! I'll try not to abandon the blog completely this week and next, but if I do, know that I'm on a series of hot dates with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, and that I'll be back before too long.