Category Archives: How Cool is That?

It’s a Corker!

I’ll just say it flat out: I Iove screw top wine bottles. No corkscrew? No problem. No wine stopper? No problem. Expense to have your cellar full of decades old Romanee-Conti  recorked every fifteen years or so? By some French artisan you’ve flow in first class on Air France? Zero.

Not that we have such a swanky cellar — in fact you’ll be lucky to find three bottles lurking around in various levels of fullness. But geez, trying to recork a bottle is such a pain in it! It doesn’t matter how hard I force. Chipping away at a cork with a pairing knife simply ensures that I’ll need to use a tea strainer to remove chips when when I pour the next glass.I’ve never dared lay a recorked bottle on its side in the fridge, for fear of dribbling onto the english muffins.

A screw top bottle fixes all that. Problem is: where I live the selection of drinkable wine that come with a screw top bottle fits on a space at the liquor store the size of a postcard. This wasn’t true in Canada — all through January the Liquor Control Board of Ontario supplied me with very drinkable plonk in recloseable bottles.

Thank heavens I returned home to this gadget, yet another cool thingie my daughter introduced me to last time I was in LA. I picked up three @ $1.95 apiece at Surfas in Culver City. I stole the pic from the Crate and Barrel site because it seems my camera has gone walkies. (Yes, C&B sells it for a buck ninety five too.)

Nuts, I can’ t upload the photo so check out the link:

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/dining-and-entertaining/bar-accessories/wine-bottle-stopper/s268704#reviews

And read the glowing reviews! I believe they’re all five stars. I give it six stars — talk about cheap and cheerful!

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Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Drink, Home, How Cool is That?

Object of the Day: Tisket! Taskit! Check Out My New Basket

Some goofball once said something like: “Pleasure postponed is pleasure doubled.” I’m not all about instant gratification; that two day UPS hang time is about perfect. The fine folks at L L Bean backordered my bike basket for a friggin’ month and a half.  Shipping, as always, was free.

Oh, I love it. I regret that I can’t photo style it with a baguette and a bunch of bluebells — my package of English muffins and bouquet of rogue goldenrod doesn’t hit that hip lady in Amsterdam vibe. Or the Miss Marple vibe. Or the wife of an investment banker in Nantucket vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty bucks isn’t too much to pay (free shipping!) for a rich fantasy life and a vehicle in which I can return library books, is it? It’s so much prettier than the woven  pink plastic woven dealio that carried my textbooks home from high school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love its retro convergence with my air horn. I love that it attaches to the handlebars with doll-sized leather belts : no screwdriver required. I love that I can remove it in a snap, and it’ll become my farmer’s market shopping bag.

Mostly I love that I’ve constructed the bike of my dreams. No gears. A comfortable saddle. The ability to sit up straight and watch the world, not the road. Serious exercise for legs and butt.  A Keystone Cop kinda air horn. And a basket I’ll take to TJ’s and load up with flowers, wine, and cheap snack food.

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Filed under Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, On the Street Where I Live, Worth it anyway

Required Watching: How To Peel a Whole Head of Garlic in 10 Seconds

I watched Rick Bayless make mojo de ajo on his PBS show last Saturday, and I decided that I needed some, bad. Mojo de ajo (slow cooked garlic in a bath of oil) requires tonnes of peeled garlic cloves; Chef Bayless used four whole heads. He said something like: “Yeah, peeling four heads of garlic is a drag, but it’s worth it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo from garlichealth.wordpress.com.)

Well, flap my flippers, what popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday but this 10 second demo courtesy of Saveur mag. “How to peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds.” I was grabbing garlic heads from the garlic/onion bin within, well, three quarters of an hour. (I read Roger Ebert’s blog posts via Facebook before I even brush my teeth.)

I promise, very soon I’ll send WordPress that 55 bucks so I can plant video directly on my web page. But until that happy day comes, just follow this link:

http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/video-How-to-Peel-a-Head-of-Garlic-in-Less-Than-10-Seconds

 

Lor’ lummee, It works! It involves “shaking like the dickens,” and my dickens might have involved fifteen seconds — I’m a girl and all. The second head I shook took much longer , which puzzled me until I realized that I hadn’t smashed the head hard enough to separate every clove. The smashing is an important step. I’m going to use that toolbox-to- kitchen-utensil drawer essential, the rubber mallet, next time.

I’ll talk about mojo de ajo another time and another place. But, amigos, I made it, and with my new garlic peeling skills, I’ll never be without it again. So help me God.

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Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Food, How Cool is That?, Site of the Day

Apron of the Day:”Sweet and Hot”

This is not one of my Yin/Yang His/Hers kind of reversible aprons — it’s all hot sweet cuties, from the chic babe walking her pup to the saucy chick motorcyclists flashing their frilly panties. It was a blast to create because I giggled my way through the sewing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this side the print features cowgirls, flamenco dancers, babes in capris chatting on the phone: I love them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For (hee hee) a “fabric artist” like me, it’s all about the print. Fabrics for me are like my children;how can you play favorites? That said, this week these motorcycling mammas are my bevvy of firstborns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Loulander laughed — I’m glad I had the prim red gingham trim for the pockets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve some dazzling Asian prints I can’t wait to cut into, but what think you? Should I begin this year’s crop of holiday aprons?

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Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, Needlework, Reversible Aprons, Sewing

Making Bargains

I had a big birthday this summer, but I still feel as bewildered and bedazzled as I was when I  was fifteen. I think, at least back in my day when I was cheated out of the fun of an IPad, an IPod and an IPhone, I had I huge fantasy life. That fantasy life included Ray Davies, Glenn Gould and Pierre Trudeau falling madly in love with me. Those fools.

(I still don’t own any of those IThings. but I know my son-in-law could hook me up.)

In my early twenties I saved my money — 1000 bucks, and it financed four months in Europe. London, Paris, Rome, Florence.  Viarreggio. Oh, for the romance of one’s early twenties! Yeah, I picked  up a husband over the breakfast table at the Locanda Anna in Florence.

It stabs me, I mean it stabs me to the heart to know  that without an enormous creative effort from me and huge economic luck, , I’ll never see St. Paul Covent Garden again. I’ll never see the Pyramids, Ankhor Wat (forgive the bad spelling!) and Machu Picchu, Or Venice. Or NYC.

Maybe this is a list of the possibles:

Spillsville, Iowa. Antonin Dvorak lived in Spillsville for a year and wrote “The Symphony From the New World” there. I want to smell the air he breathed. I love Dvorak, and I adore annoying my husband by saying “He’s better than Brahms!” (He is.)

Columbus, IN. Here’s the deal from Travel and Leisure:Travel + Leisure magazine said:
Designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen, the J. Irwin & Xenia Miller House ranks alongside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, and Philip Johnson’s Glass House as a hallmark of Modernist design.  It was completed in 1957, but unlike those residences, it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful Modernist gardens in the United States, created by landscape architect Dan Kiley.“ 

Nauvoo, IL, the stop off point for the Mormons on the way to Salt Lake City. Freaky, but worth it.

Hannibal, MO. Mark Twain, period paragraph.

But my big North American travel dream is to get to Newfoundland, that wild and crazy place endowed with huge history, fat fish, cliffs, meadows and sea. And L’Anse Meadow, a Viking settlement whose existence has haunted my dreams since I was ten. (Of course, I’d have driven around Cape Breton Island,checked out Halifax, hopped the ferry to PEI where I’d visit Green Gables and gorge on shellfish and potatoes before I got to The Rock.)

Closer to home, there are Arthur/Arcola, the Amana Colonies and the Indiana Limberlost of Gene Stratton Porter. I have a huge crush on mounds, especially if they’re in the shape of animals — do I have to go to North Dakota to see one? (Attention Dale Simpson Jr.)

I’m laughing. Seems like my trip to Newfoundland will cost as much as a trip to Rome. I want it anyway, and I want to rent some goofy SUV and go with my father,my husband, my daughter, and my son-in-law.

And please, if you have any touristic advice — chat on.

 

 

 

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Filed under History, How Cool is That?, Into the Mystic, Worth it anyway

Newspaper Names: Read all About It!

I sport some newspaper genes. Many of my McArthur ancestors were journalists, my father spent his career producing the very paper on which your daily is printed, and, I, in my small way, write a regular column that appears on newsprint. I remember when there was a morning paper and an evening paper in most towns of any size, and when I first moved to Chicago there were four dailies: The Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Daily News. We’re down to two. (**Edited to mention that the fourth paper was the Chicago Daily Defender.)

But this isn’t going to be one of those nostalgic pieces full of millennial gloom and doom about the disappearance of the daily rags. (I am glad to see my hometown journal,  Le Nouvelliste is still around with all the lurid stories filed under “Faits Divers.”)

Those who know me well know I have a weird kick in my gallop about names. People names, pet names, place names, botanical names, brand names, grocery store names — I roll my tongue around a good name, then store it away in the rental storage unit my brain’s become.  A discovery of a great newspaper name among all those ho-hum Timeses and Posts and Gazettes and Suns and Newses makes me happy, well, forever!

Among the big market papers are some really good names. How about The Cleveland Plain Dealer? I have no idea about the paper’s politics, but it just sounds so solid. So plain. The there are the portmanteau names, where the second word dispenses some character to the blah first word: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Should I ever become a newspaper magnate I’ll rename my paper to include the word Picayune.

In fact, there’s a paper in Texas that I might need to save up some apron money and buy: The Beeville Bee-Picayune. The Rochester, New York daily Democrat and Chronicle has some nice old-fashioned newspaper name heft. But hey, all these guys don’t make the cut, or would have to qualify, to get into the Best Newspaper Name Tournament.

I don’t have to drive but a couple of hours downstate to Bloomington-Normal,( home of the Redbirds!) to find a beaut: The Pantagraph.  Then there’s the Laramie Boomerang — what the heck? The Nome Nugget ? Perfection! I’d love to shake the hand, backward over the years, of the wag who named The Tombstone Epitaph.

Go pour yourself a big fat flute of champagne, stand up, and shake out the folds of your de la Renta gown. Drumroll. Ladies and gentlemen, the award for the best newspaper name in America goes to the Linn, MO Unterrified Democrat!

Do you have any nominations for next year’s ceremony? Or maybe you’re like Lou, who’s been making up names of his own while I’ve been writing this. He likes: The Rockford Files, the St. Paul Epistle, the Ledger Demoines, (yeah, it takes awhile and isn’t that great,) The Lincoln Log and the Aspen Tablet. Send them this way, and we’ll read all about them.

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Filed under Collections, Free, HeeHee, History, How Cool is That?, Library Card

LA Journal: Ozzie Dots

I love Los Angeles. I say that loud and proud, and you’re hearing this from someone who sniffed with disdain at the very mention of LALA land — no good places to walk, no high culture, too hot, superficial, blah blah blah. Of course that was before I’d ever been to LA. When I first walked out the doors at LAX, I fell madly in love, even though the view from the Arrivals sidewalk consists of a parking garage and my daughter wasn’t yet in the frame of that first snapshot . I learned that every single one of my snooty preconceptions was wronger than socks with sandals.
I was reminded of all these things last night when I was dressing to go to a barbecue at my ‘Villian buddies, Gretchen and Darryl. Yeah, well, the shirt’s too big (Mens L) but on a sticky night all that cottony drape seemed like a good idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But you have to see a close up of the print to understand why I bought this, the first “Hawaiian” shirt ever to grace a hanger in my closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was made for the US Water Polo Team in 1996, when the Olympics were held in Atlanta. The shirt’s stupendous deco print didn’t bring our lads any luck: they finished seventh, and watched Spain, Croatia and Italy on the medal stand.

This good-as-new beauty cost me exactly one dollar. I found it on a “Everything’s a Dollar!” rack on the sidewalk in front of:

 

 

 

 

It’s Ozzie Dots, on Hollywood Blvd., a few blocks away from the kids’ apartment in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Felez Village, their hood until a few weeks ago. I swiped the photo from their website: http://www.ozziedots.com . To get the real feel of the interior, check out the YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFomO5HE_u8

 

Ozzie Dots does costumes, wigs, theatrical makeup (fushia false eyelashes, anyone?) vintage clothing,Levis 501 jeans and “Hawaiiana” — random kitsch and lots and lots of shirts that would look good if you were hauling your long board to the beach. Or the Water Polo pool.

It’s a cramped, crowded wonderland. Lou usually drags me out forcibly after an hour, so we can devote a couple of hours browsing at Soap Plant Wacko http://www.soapplant.com/ next door. (It’s another pilgrimage shopping spot for us, and I’ll devote an entire post to it at a later time.) Does Ozzie Dots sell anything I need? Um, no. I’m not in show business, their goodish-quality costumes are too far away for a quick trip after work on Oct. 3o, and I there’s a 30/70 chance I could find a pair of vintage 501s in the back of Lou’s closet.

I want everything.

But some pix from Honor last year showed me why Ozzie Dots is as necessary as few bags of Tootsie Rolls when Halloween rolls around in LA. I mean, here in the ‘Ville I can’t walk a few blocks and pick up a Bride of Frankenstein wig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, beyond!  The slinky silver knit dress counts as vintage — my mother wore it in the late 70s, and Honor herself wore it to a high school formal. (Doesn’t her girlfriend make a winsome Frieda Kahlo?)

LA: I’ll be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under About a buck, Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, LA Journal