Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bye-Bye Winter, Part 3

I'm wearing flip flops today. Can you believe it? Me neither. But I've been celebrating with two things.

1. Matt fixed goat-cheese mashed sweet potatoes. I have no idea how he made them, but I'm here to tell you, they are officially my favorite mashed potatoes in the world.

2. I'm wearing this pink t-shirt with little roses sewn on.

Goodbye black turtlenecks and warm tights. Bye-Bye winter.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

After Hunting Curtains in Anthropologie for Three Years I Caved and Made Curtains out of Target Shower Curtains. And Mabel Could Care Less.

See. I told you. She is completely nonplussed about this entire situation.

I on the other hand, feel like I won a war. Let me explain. I've had the same white, tab top curtains hanging in the living/dining room for the past three years. Why? Because:

a. The giant front window had always stumped me.

b. I wanted curtains for Anthropologie so badly I could taste it.

c. I'm cheap.

So this past weekend I was trolling Target. I don't peruse or meander. I troll with purpose, scouring every inch of the store with my laser eyes, hoping to find a cheap substitute for Anthropologie on an end-cap.

And after I systematically eliminated every curtain, I shrugged my shoulders and headed into the bath section just for fun. It was at this particular juncture I stopped short and clasped my pearls. Well, not literally because when I shop at Target I'm usually sans makeup and wearing my ten year old AC/DC t-shirt, ragged 'spray paint' jeans and a pair of flip flops. But you know what I mean.

I spied these shower curtains. They were perfect! Except the whole shower curtain, only 72 inches long problem. So in a fit I bought them. Did I have the money for it? No. Why did I do it? Because as I stood under the mind-bending power of Target's fluorescent lighting, I realize that if I didn't do something now, I would have the same white curtains for the next three years.

On the advice of my mother-in-law, Saint Linda, I bought some matching brown fabric and stitch-witchery. I didn't even SEW, just measured, cut, and ironed the bottom panels on. Where has stitch-witchery been my whole life? I. Am. A. Fan.

So anyway, we officially have curtains. I know, I know.

"But Liz, you've mixed dark brown curtains with a light brown couch and a black table and chairs!"

Uh yeah. I did. That ship sailed long ago people. You know I'm not one for strict color rules. Or matching. Or planning.

So take that Anthropologie. I like my shower curtain curtains just fine.
Even if Mabel could care less.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Parmesan Wafers

Spring is here, let's eat! Wait, that sounds strangely similar to my cry of "It's fall, let's eat!" and "It's winter, let's eat!" I see a pattern forming here, but I choose to ignore it the same way I choose to ignore the straining rivets on my bluejeans.

Truthfully, there's nothing like warmer weather and the promise of patio dining to whet the appetite.

And thanks to my new favorite domestic guru, Katie Brown, we made these little appetizers before dinner last night and they were delish.

We used sprigs of tarragon, but any fresh herb would work just as well.

So it's spring. Let's eat. And more importantly, I need to bake something to put in my cake carrier. You know, so I can justify the fact that I bought it several years ago and used it once at Thanksgiving '08.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bye-Bye Boring Winter Clothes, Part II

Bye-Bye boring winter clothes.
Hello new stripey short-sleeved jacket.

And my grandmother's vintage owl pin strung on a chain.
Ahhh spring. You are so good to me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sun and the Lake

Time change does odd things to the light in our house. I cant help but notice the sun streaming brighter than usual, longer than usual. Especially in our bedroom where the sun shines onto the lake in the distance, which reflects brightly through the corner window.

It's almost like a giant flashlight on a mirror, reflecting so brightly it wakes me up every morning.

But I'm thankful for the glaring sunlight that interrupts my sleep. I'm thankful for the layer of green covering the ground outside. I guess I'm just thankful in general. Spring tends to have that affect on people.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bye-Bye Boring Winter Clothes, Part 1

Bye-Bye boring winter clothes.
Hello red sweater with buttons sewn on courteousy of my little sister Rachel.

See the little bunny rabbit button? I just love that sweet girl. And I love spring.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alone Time

*Pictures of Operation Gardenia CPR. The poor thing fell over in our front flower bed, so we moved it to the backyard. Unrelated to blog topic, but I'd rather post photo-shopped pics of eye-blinking kittens than have a picture-less post.

All by myself. For a whole week. As I perched on the edge of the bed and watched Matt pack for a conference, I was truthfully a little excited. I felt guilty until he looked at me and smiled. "You planning on enjoying your alone time? I know you need that."

Bless his heart. Matt is not clingy, because if he were, I would have crushed his spirit long ago. I crave quiet time. I love nothing more than a silent, tv-less house and solitude in my office to read and write until my eyes begin to blur and I glance at the clock muttering, "What? It's midnight already?" But Matt has always understood this.

And as he packed his bags and headed for the airport, I relished the idea of going to the grocery store with just me to shop for. I was excited to be able to come home, run, eat, and go to bed at 8:00 without someone raising an eyebrow and kidding, "WHAT? You're going to bed already?" I was ecstatic about the concept that I could clean the house and it would stay that way, pure and unblemished without dirty socks and clothes flung willy-nilly over the backs of every dining chair. I felt like a bad wife. But I couldn't help it.

So the week began. I grocery shopped and made my own dinner (something Matt normally does). I put on a Rosemary Clooney cd and an apron, smiling to myself, "Huh, this isn't so hard." Of course, cooking a hamburger isn't hard. It isn't hard unless you get caught in a trance watching Access Hollywood and forget about your little burger patty burning into charcoal on the George Foreman grill in the kitchen.

I scraped the mess into the trash can and gave up my culinary ambitions, plating some thin mint cookies and crawling into bed early. I was relaxed and zen as I flipped on the tv. It was at this juncture I made the rookie mistake of watching CSI. I was transfixed, popping cookie after cookie in my mouth as I watched law enforcement officers unearth a giant ditch full of murdered women. And after I polished off the entire sleeve of girl scout cookies, I lay in the darkness, Mabel clutched close, assured that I would be murdered in my bed at any moment. Finally the paranoia gave way to exhaustion and I fell into a fitful sleep while I dreamed that a demented Dick Van Dyke serial killer kept spraying tear gas into my bedroom window to drive me outside.

It was only during the early rays of dawn that I realized Dick Van Dyke was not spraying tear gas into my room, but Mabel was curled on Matt's pillow, her bottom inches from my face as she passed the most noxious gas ever to waft from an animal's bowels.

I sat up in the half light, gagging, wiping my face, stomach upset and acidic from no dinner and five thousand calories worth of thin mints. I sat there, thinking about my impeccably clean house, the fridge stocked with my favorite foods, the days that stretched in front of me of alone time to do whatever I wanted. And as I turned to glare at Mabel, who sniffed the air and jumped up, running to the end of the bed to escape her own nuclear cloud of farts, I realized that after only one day, I missed Matt terribly. Alone time is a little overrated.

Friday, March 19, 2010


It's too darn pretty outside for me to sit here blogging.

I've got wildflowers to pick.

And chapters to edit.

And roasted garlic to make.

Hope your weekend is wonderful!

Over and out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Book

For those kind souls have been encouraging me, thank you so very much. I smile every time I open an email with a query advice link or a personal writing experience. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

The book is going well. Well as in, I haven't cursed, thrown anything, or flopped on the floor like an irritated salmon... in the past 24 hours. Just kidding. Truthfully, this nice weather couldn't have come at a better time. As much as I love my office, I find myself in serious need of fresh air and bird sounds.

So I'm living on my back patio, editing, soaking up the vitamin D as often as I can. See the end of my pen? As much as it looks like I'm mad and angry and gnawing on this poor plastic writing utensil like an angry billy goat, it's really a positive sign. That's how you can tell the RPM's in my brain are revved. An un-chewed pen is a sure sign I'm in the midst of a creative disaster.

Here it is. The reason I've slacked on emails and blogging and housekeeping in general. But late in the afternoon, when the sun shines on my face and Mabel sits on the patio with me, it's all worth it. Getting published someday is a dream come true for anyone who ever folded construction paper in half and 'made' their own books in the 2nd grade. I raise my hand as 'guilty' on that one. But that's not the only thing that drives me. It's this, the patio sessions of pen chewing, the birds chirping, the daydreaming, this is the happiness I treasure.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Will Not Shop Today...

There are times in my life when I'm overtaken with the gripping urge to go out and buy something. Anything. A new dress, a new globe, thrifted chair, hair clip, pink coffee cup... anything. I don't know why this happens, but I often find myself having this internal conversation.

"Now Liz, get hold of yourself. Just because you have a credit card does not mean you need to go shopping. You do not NEED new chairs for the dining nook. Sure they'd be nice, and the ones across town were pretty spectacular, and they WERE only $75 for the pair, and... STOP IT! Don't even think about getting in the car. You do not need to go shopping!"

So when I'm struck with the restless, overwhelming urge to do some retail therapy, I start looking around the house. If I can distract myself with a project, paint an old lamp, rehang some artwork, it usually quells my obsession with prowling flea markets all day and spending a week's worth of grocery money.

And that's the situation I found myself in this week.

So instead of shopping, I decided to set the table for dinner. I found an old strip of burlap, used painters tape and a black magic marker to draw black trim on each side.

And instead of convincing myself I needed to run to Lowe's and buy a big planter full of baby hyacinths, I picked some weeds, I mean flowers, from the yard.

And when I was done, I felt better. I no longer needed to buy a pair of Converse shoes from Target, or another turquoise fan from the thrift store. I didn't need a rug on sale at Pottery Barn, and I certainly didn't need new chairs for the dining nook.
Not yet anyway.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Violet Shade of Spring

Have you ever received a gift that was so fabulous it made you feel guilty for accepting it? Well that's how I felt about this bowl, a gift from my friend Autumn.

Me: "I LOVE IT! But didn't you want to keep it?"
Autumn: "I was tempted, but I decided to give it to you instead."
Me: "OK. Well it's the most beautiful bowl I've ever seen. And I feel guilty."

But that's what sweet friends do. They give gifts they'd like to receive. So thank you Autumn.

Spring is happening at a lightening pace this year, everywhere I turn things seem to have a chartreuse and violet glow. Everything from the wildflowers covering our yard (I refuse to call them weeds)...

... to the gorgeous pearl edging of my new bowl. Now I just need to find seven more of them. And plates. And cups. And saucers...

Friday, March 12, 2010


And the winner is.... Sunny at besprent. Email me your address (mabelsblog at yahoo dot com) & I'll get this shipped out! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Super Duper Funny Book Giveaway: Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation

Since it's been forever since my last book giveaway, and since my well of dried up, crusty endorphins is being slowly replenished by running, I decided to celebrate with a give away.

Guys. This book is funny. And by funny I mean laugh-out -loud-wishing-someone-was-nearby-to-read-quotes-to funny. I can attest to this, because Mabel was my only option and she's basically heard most of this book.

Not only is the book hilarious, but at certain points I began to wonder if Elizabeth Beckwith was a fly on my family's wall, especially when I read the chapter entitled, "How To Scare the Crap Out of Your Child (in a Positive Way)."

So here's the giveaway scoop. Leave a comment, I'll enter you once. Leave a comment and blog about the giveaway, I'll enter you twice (be sure and let me know in the comment section). But even if you don't win, this book is worth the price of admission. Buy it, or better yet, give as a baby shower present. I know I will.
*Giveaway ends tomorrow at 3... winner to be announced that night.
*Giveaway closed. Winner to be announced soon!

I Guess We Can't Call Her Fatty Anymore

As you'll recall, a while back our vet told us Mabel was fat.

Vet: "Honestly, she's a little overweight."

Us: "She's just a couple of pounds bigger than she was last year!"

Vet: "Yes, and she was fat then too."

I'll be honest, the crazed-mother side of me almost poked him in the stomach a'la Pillsbury Dough boy style and chided, "Yeah... well... you're no super model either." But I didn't. Because he's a very nice vet. And he's not fat.

So this winter, Mabel went on a diet. And while she was on her diet, Matt joined a gym and began working out with a couple of friends.

And while the two loves of my life began a metamorphosis toward becoming more svelte, I stopped running. I had lots of excuses.

"It's gets dark too early."
"My shin splints hurt."
"I really need to watch this marathon of The Nanny."

So Mabel got smaller.

Matt got more muscles.

Meanwhile, my ankles decided to do their best imitation of tree trunks.

But with the onset of spring and our sudden burst of pleasant weather, I'm starting to see the error of my ways. I find myself frowning at Mabel's reduced backside. I envy Matt's shapely ankles. I dread wearing skirts without tights.

The one thing I could always count on for comfort was my fat little dog. No matter how tight the jeans or snug the socks, I could always pull her rotund body into my arms, scratch her behind the ears and lovingly coo, "Who's my little fatty angel?"

So I'm back to running. And after a four month hiatus, it's brutal & unnecessarily cruel. Frankly, I feel like a lumbering buffalo with a giant duffel bag full of jello strapped to my butt. But with every pound of the pavement, with every creak of my left knee, I'm one step closer to my in-shape husband and my slender little schnauzer. I have no other choice. Because now, Mabel crawls into my lap and blinks up at me, her expression superior and holier-than-thou. I know what she's thinking. She's thinking, "Ha lady. Who's the fatty now?"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Morning....

I woke up without one pair of clean socks, yellow crust in the lashes of my right eye, and the vague feeling that at some point in the night Matt yelled out, "Fiddle faddle! I despise clowns!" I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writer Should and Should Not’s

While we admire some more pictures from my favorite store, I thought we might discuss a few writing truths I know to be self evident. And when I say 'truth' what I really mean is 'hunch.'

1. You should: Take your work outside. Soak up the sunshine and write.

You should not: Take your work outside and proceed to have a full-on schizophrenic conversation with yourself to work out the kinks in your dialogue. Your husband may think this is cute at home when you argue in the bathroom mirror and shake your hairbrush at, well, yourself… but strangers will only become overwrought and concerned for your well being. Trust me on this.

2. You should: Write what you know, be inspired by your family and retell humorous stories.

You should not: Retell family stories which will force the ones you love to relive past humiliations in a public forum. Unless you’re me, and have family members that relish the spotlight and have no qualms with my beginning a chapter this way: My sister realized that she’d just farted in front of an entire panel of art judges. But she shrugged shamelessly, taking another bite of the free snacks and pointing at them accusingly. “What are you looking at?" she demanded. "There’s something wrong with this prosciutto.'” Whoops. Maybe that was too far.

3. You should: Carry around a notebook to jot down little thoughts and ideas throughout the day.

You should not: Use the notebook to vent your marital frustrations. “I cannot believe I had to ask him to pick up his underwear off the bathroom floor AGAIN. Note to self, hide this underwear in his briefcase before work.” Because… your husband will eventually read it and you might end up with underwear in YOUR briefcase.
4. You should: Send in your query letter and relax. You can’t control the outcome; you can only control the effort.

You should not: Bite your fingernails down to the nubs while you wait, mentally envisioning said agent reading your sample pages and making fun of you with their agent friends. This is what medical professionals refer to as ‘ paranoia.’ Take a deep breath, buy yourself a decaf cappuccino and work on your next book.
And no, I won’t show you a picture of my fingernails.