Friday, November 30, 2007

I went to see Balkan jazz orchestra Anistar play last night at Zebulon. It was out of this world...utterly mesmerizing. At one point there was an entranced woman levitating. I have a penchant for middle eastern music, not to mention anything reminiscent of gypsy lore.

Just finished reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Filled with references to Greek mythology and particularly Dionysus, I picked up Edith Hamilton's Mythology to refresh - after Aaron who circumscribed the same literary path 6 moths ago. (They are his books.) Associated with all things wild, untamed, drunken and ecstatic Dionysus was followed by a group of loopy broads called Maenads, denizens of the forest and known for their crazed and intoxicated dance rituals which often involved bloodletting, the mutilation and eating of animals, and orgies. Whoa.

To be free of self-consciousness; to lose all aspects of oneself completely (if only for moments) has its certain charms. The ancient Greeks thought that achieving this heightened trance state would connect them to the Gods - make them immortal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

These poinsettias are the smallest in the world; they are lovingly referred to as "pixies" in the poinsettia industry. They are only available at Fisher and Page in the flower market, I know because the gentleman who runs plants there told me twice. Sweet things, aren't they?

Anyway, I'm off to 28th street again this morning, this time in search of white ones. (The plants pictured here are pink.) The pleasure of perusing the plant stands (as opposed to cut flowers) is they are open later, and the rush to get there at 6 am is moot.

I may or may not also stop into the biggest store in the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007


1. I found the Brel record.

[I didn't, Eric did. I merely expressed enthusiasm for it, and subsequently moved it to the heavy rotation pile.]

2. I wrapped so much soap today, I can hardly believe it.

[In fact, I have not wrapped a single bar of soap in several days. Eric, however, has wrapped enough soap for both of us. Thank you Eric. I instead have been aimlessly spray-painting things gold, taking pictures of things unrelated to our business, planning what to have for dinner (eggplant pizza), and scouring ebay for bakelite and chess set auctions.]

What a perfect gloomy day today. Sleep-till-9 kind of gloomy. Wake up and eat-marmalade-out of-the-jar gloomy. I found this Jacques Brel record in Aaron's collection and can't stop listening to it. It's ridiculously good, and, unfortunately probably featured on hundreds of compilations with titles like "Evening at the Bar Tabac" or "Continental Cafe."

Regardless it works wonders on a day like today.

So the folks at New York Magazine were kind enough to mention our soap in their Best Bets section today. Which means I walked to Cobble Hill to pick up a copy, and quickly peruse some of the shops. (Alas I returned empty handed; Smith St. is disappointing lately.)

Have you seen this lemon tree in the window on Court and Butler St.? Its dripping in fruit, I stop and stare at it every time I pass it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I spent the holiday upstate at Sue and Pentti's along with some friends. It was an easy and lovely time spent hiking and eating and whatnot. I've been in a bit of a fix lately, and the holidays are strange and anxious for me. (Saturn returns to Virgo?) Remembering what I am thankful for is not always clear...the following are some touchstones

1. Gloomy days in the woods.

2. The old Budster

3. Ranunculus back in season

4. Moumou's knit slippers

5. George Michael

7. Friends who love me even when I'm cranky.

Thanksgiving centerpiece on the hoof.

More gold. More Beirut. More Burroughs Brew tea from Baked. More pie, more stomach aches, more episodes of The Office. More shopping online when I should be working.

Then more wrapping, stringing, packing, shipping. More rearranging more squabbles about where to put things. More stamping and wrapping.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tomorrow we're heading to the flower market to snatch the first installment of Thanksgiving flowers. Today I had a client bring me a napkin from her table and a menu to match the centerpiece to. This is dedication, and yes, it was my mother.

Speaking of dedication, this is the A.P.C. corduroy jumper I've been coveting this winter. It's quite simple, and seems easily replicable - Mom, I'll help you move out the sewing machine.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I did my best to enjoy the last vestiges of fall this weekend with a jaunt in Prospect Park and lots of gold spray paint. Via Martha's suggestions, I've learned that gold spray paint can be applied to practically anything in order to accomplish a certain 14 karat hue. Next I'm trying it on Southern Magnolia leaves, Eric's winter coat and the streets of Red Hook. De-gentrify that!

The Grand Army Plaza farm market was abuzz with slopers hustling to get every last free range turkey and fingerling on their Thanksgiving dinner shopping lists. We are fortunate enough not to be cooking this Thursday, so we fought our way through to the apple vendor to get sugar donuts and hot cider which proved to be a great snack for the people/dog watching that ensued.

Everything has an appropriate anecdote! This mix cures all evils - especially the lingering melancholy induced by reading The Road (McCarthy). If you want to talk about the book we can, or I can just burn a copy of this for you if you come by the shop.

Billy Idol: Eyes Without a Face
Django Rheinhardt: Brazil
Belle & Sebastian: The State I'm In
Slumber Party: New Trouble
PM Dawn: Set a drift on Memory Bliss
Bobby and James Purify: I'm Your Puppet
Bo Diddley: Do What I Say
Peter Schilling: Major Tom
Cydi Lauper: I Kiss You
CSS: Music is my Hot Hot Sex
D.A.N.C.E: Justice vs. Simian

Now that I am feeling slightly more uplifted I can share this sweet potato gnocchi recipe which I adapted from bon appetit:

3 smallish sweet potatoes or yams
prick holes in them, all over and throw them in a hot over (around 400) for 35-45 min until roasted through.

cool slightly

Scrape potatoes out of skins into a mixing bowl with:
1/2 cup of well drained ricotta
1/2 cup of grated pecorino romano or parm
1 tsp of salt
generous grating of nutmeg
1 1/4 cup of flour
1 egg
1 tbs of maple syrup

Mix with hands until dough forms - adding more flour if necessary. Cut in four pieces and roll each piece out into a snake (around 3/4 inch thick). Cut in 1 inch pieces.

Press the tines of a fork down on each piece. When you lift up the fork the nugget will stick to it. Roll the piece off the fork to form a shape reminiscent of radiator pasta.

Place finished gnocchi on a flour-dusted baking sheet.

Boil a big pot of water and drop the gnocchi it (you'll need to do this in two batches). Boil till they float - about four minutes. I over boiled mine and they just turn a bit soft.

Remove gnocchi and set aside.

Place 1/2 stick of butter in a skillet and heat on high for 5 min. until butter solids are browned.
Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped sage, stirring to incorporate.
Throw gnocchi in skillet with the butter and sage and saute over med. heat until the gnocchi are warmed through.

Serve with more chopped sage, lots of pepper and a dusting of cheese.

Also, I made a brussle sprout salad - finely sliced sprouts tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, pine nuts and shaved pecorino.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This little porcelain dog figurine holds a note in our window to remind everyone and y'all to pre-order Thanksgiving and holiday flowers. Those are pots of narcissus bulbs (paperwhites). In Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water and, not able to connect with his image, pined away and died. When the nymphs went to burn his body there was none, instead a white sweet-smelling flower grew in its place.

This is a small maid of honor bouquet with peach garden roses, bouvardia and seeded eucalyptus. Below is a set of peach lusterware on ebay. My favorite way to search on ebay is by color. Peach in "antiques' yielded this sweet set (I'm looking for the creamer though) along with a terrific canning jar with an original 'Brandied Peaches' label.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here is the Saltwater soap, back in effect after a seasonal hiatus. Salt crystals give it a roughness in the shower which lots of you like and the strong camphor scent (rosemary with a hint of patchouli) is oddly reminiscent of the sea. Granted, not the sea round these parts.

Speaking of the sea, there is a big fish (15 lbs) that hangs out down by the fairway pier when the tide is high. I have seen it twice, it swims unusually close to the surface flipping over and making circles. I said to it: "SPEAK!" But nothing...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This is another example of the snow white pallet I mentioned yesterday. The big flower in the middle is actually a type of decorative kale. Very appropriate for autumn I suppose. The eucalyptus I got from the Grand Army plaza farm market Saturday, it's incredibly fragrant and fresh. Only Koala bears can digest eucalyptus.

It's not the photo, these carrots are yellow. Which is what attracted me to them last week at the market - they were different, and any deviation from the standard Pinocchio-nosed carrots in the orange colored plastic bag is reason enough to get jazzed about taproots. Plus my yogi informed me that the fall is a season of AIR - in the astrological sense - and that we should be eating things that grow in the ground in order to feel...well..grounded.

Thus this soup which changed my opinion of carrots last year, and continues to bring betacarotine to me and my entourage.

1 large onion chopped - in a 4 quart pot with 3 tablespoons of butter and some ground caraway seeds (optional)
Cook over med. heat until the onion is translucent
Add 4-8 carrots (4 huge, 8 smallish) cut up in 1/2 inch pieces

Continue to brown together a few minutes
Add 1 quart of chicken broth plus 1 cup of water

Cover and cook for 1/2 hour or so
Remove from heat and puree in food processor in batches

Return to pot, salt and pepper to taste

THEN! chop some fresh dill and mix into a 1/2 cup of crème fraîche (or sour cream)
Serve with a dollup of that and you will love it! You will love it more left over with lox on finncrisp!

Needless to say the yellow carrots were busted, they didn't have the fuller sweet flavor of orange carrots - as if they were not ready to be pulled up yet.

We recently stumbled upon this most unusual and delightful globe while transversing every small town in SW Virginia on a thrifting frenzy. It accurately denotes the coordinates of the Bermuda Triangle (albeit in ballpoint pen.) More on this later when Eric and I realize how to use this incredible windfall of knowledge to our advantage.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I was going to work on centerpieces this weekend for the thanksgiving roundup but ended up wasting a lot of time researching PM Dawn lyrics. (You have to watch this NOW, its completely amazing.) Regardless, I bought flowers in a very light color palette this week - one far to delicate to stand up to most thanksgiving tables. Which reminds me that once my mother said she would never serve a meal that was too pallid (i.e. halibut with cauliflower)...that the appetite desired an array of color on the plate. Now there seems to be a trend towards monochrome plates. A meal devoid of color: nutritionally vapid but elegant! (and the perfect opportunity to break out the best linens.)

Still hanging onto these sweet green juice glasses - paired them today with a depression green glass vase. Those are garden roses from (gulp) California. I've been trying to buy flowers locally, but its really tough as most growers are in California, Ecuador or Holland. Also Australia - which completely baffles me - we ship flowers all the way around the world. Next post: How to calculate the carbon footprint of a December peony...

These roses are the wildest things ever - the petals spiral neatly inside a perfect circle. Plus the smell is truly genuine, unlike many of the over hybridized roses available today.

Tantalus was the son of Zeus who stole ambrosia from the gods and brought it down to share with mortals. Not the best idea (stealing the sacred nectar of deities). Also not a good idea to sacrifice your son and slip him in the stew at a feast on Mount Olympus in order to prove the stupidity of the Gods by tricking them into cannibalism. It didn't work - Gods being all-knowing and whatever called him on it and placed him forever in a shallow pool of water surrounded by fruit trees. Any time he tried to pick a piece of fruit the branches would be swept up and out of reach by a breeze. When he knelt to take a sip of water from the pool the water would drain. Tantalus ... tantalize. And ambrosia is actually the name of common ragweed, one of the most allergenic plants.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Today I spent some serious time perusing the racks at Barnes and Noble on Court Street looking for inspiration and catching up on celebrity gossip. The inspiration is for the remaking of our retail's been a while since we turned everything upside-down and rearranged. I've been sneaking peaks at various 'inspiration walls' as they are called. People cut and paste images to provide the colors, patterns, objects and general aesthetes for their creative practices. I said to Eric, lets GET one of those!

Actually we know better. The pages collect dust in our space and I forget to look at it. I am better situated in front of the computer with access to THIS kind of inspiration. Whoa.

Since I've been sabbatical-ing from the artworld, I've not only had much more time to focus on Saipua, but also for the pleasures of aimless walking and serious cooking. [A few days ago I tried to go to the Met, and, forgetting they are closed Mondays, spent the afternoon sleeping in the park on Cedar Hill.] The cooking bit you see here is a chard and raisin quiche adopted from this double crusted version. Really, really good for breakfast actually.

These here are our moth letterpress notecards we recently printed with Greenwhich Letterpress, (a team of sisters who are incredibly accommodating). Our wholesale customers have seen them in the flesh as we used them to announce our new Geranium line. What is left of the run we tied up with suede ribbon in sets of 8.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This here is BUDDY and those there were some flowers i sent upstate with Susan who, Buddy now stays with. When we first moved to NYC 4 years ago we found Ye ole Budster in FDR park. Obviously abandoned, he followed us the mile or so out of the park and hopped in the car. We took him home, never decided on a name, and thus still call him Buddy. Turns out Buddy has been moonlighting down the street with another family who calls him Wilhelm.

I've been really into different types of Echeveria lately (also called succulents). These are some pieces I am trying to root in a shallow glass cylinder. I stuck some chocolate cosmos in there for fun, and realize its the start of a neat thanksgiving centerpiece. I am going to assemble some centerpieces and report back.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

if you have not heard it, Raising Sand, the new alison krauss & robert plant album is sad sweetness just the way you like it!

been working on packaging our new candles. Hefty votives in Verbena and Oakmoss, these are a collaboration with our friends at Oakmont Candle Co.

Have been trying to figure out how to incorporate more bacon grease into my diet - here's my latest interpretation of bacon and eggs:

6 slices bacon fried in cast iron skillet.
remove when crisp, keep on heat
add to same skillet (leave bacon fat): hand full of chopped celery, carrots, shallots
cook 1 min, then add 1 cup of red lentils
continue to cook, stirring often for 5 min

meanwhile wash up some frisee
make a mustardy dressing (i used white balsamic, hazelnut oil, mustard and shallot)
toss with frisee

add 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup chicken broth to lentils, cover, cook on med. heat for 15 min or until lentils are soft.

chop bacon with handfull of fresh thyme or whatever is around.
poach two eggs for 4 min

scoop lentils onto salad, place eggs ontop, finish off with bacon and herbs, drizzle a bit more dressing (or just good oil) over all and eat it!