Monday, June 30, 2008

We liked Anne Hathaway Before...

but we have a new found respect for her now!

Amazing Race... in French...

So, I was just watching "Peking Express" on TV5 Monde, aka France's answer to the Amazing Race. It's pretty cool, but I will say it's just not the same without Phil.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Unusuals, aka Fox Force Five...

"Well, the way they make shows is, they make one show. That show's called a pilot. Then they show that show to the people who make shows, and on the strength of that one show they decide if they're going to make more shows. Some pilots get picked and become television programs. Some don't, become nothing. She starred in one of the ones that became nothing." -- Samuel L. Jackson, as Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction

Okay, so I'm not starring in anything ala Mrs. Mia Wallace, but yesterday I was an extra in an overnight shoot for a new ABC pilot, "The Unusuals". I fear this pilot may go the way of Fox Force Five, but I figured what the hell, I may as well give it a try.

I got a call on Thursday from C and G Casting about a shoot on Saturday night (note, I didn't realize at the time that it wasn't just a shoot on Saturday night, it was an overnight shoot, starting on Saturday, ending sometime as yet undisclosed on Sunday. On Friday I called in for more details and was told to wear a spring casual outfit and bring a change of clothes that were more business appropriate. I was then told to call back on Saturday morning for call time, location, etc. Saturday morning I find out that this is an overnight and that I need to arrive at 6pm at 4 West 43rd Street (aka the home of the Unification Church, otherwise known as the Moonies, who apparently rent out their auditorium space for extra cash...) our "holding" area.

I show up at 6, fill out my pay form, and proceed to pick out a table to sit to await further instructions. I sat with two older women (one easily in her sixties, the other probably seventy-- then again we all know that seventy is the new forty). After a little bit another older woman joined us (who was also easily in her seventies), as she knew the other two from previous jobs. I took this time to do some work for The Job (because nothing says "waiting as an extra" like drafting a Loan Agreement) and listen to the conversations all around. After a bit, I joined in the chatting asking about waivers and the union, etc. The ladies were Vicenza Terrence and a third who's name I didn't catch. Both Vicenza and Terrence live in the Village and have been on Law and Order! Most recently, they've been extras for Rescue Me. They were a hoot and very fun to chat with. After a bit the wardrobe lady came and assessed all of us. Luckily I got the thumbs up for my outfit, while unfortunately one of my table mates had to change out of her striped blouse and put on a sweater she had brought-- downside? it was cashmere and our holding area was decidedly not air conditioned. I was really a bit surprised that this whole extra thing is much of a "do-it-yourself" affair... the outfits that people had on totally ran the gamut. I guess in a production the director doesn't mind leaving certain things to chance!

After about an hour and a half or two hours the PA's called for extras number 26-77 (all of us non-SAG folk) to go on set. There had been rumors that we would be at Grand Central, but instead we were sent over to the subway station for the Shuttle. It was pretty neat-- the film crew had closed one of the subway entrances and had two subways and one platform cordoned off. We were put on a car (with A/C!) and told to await further instructions. Everybody was very sociable and chatty and I met a nice man from Brooklyn in his forties that just decided to give the whole acting thing a go. After a bit we were joined by Teddy (who I think must have been an AD) and told what the scene was going to be and what we would be doing-- a hand full of us were chosen to go out and populate another subway car where the shot would be taking place. Our group was cut in half, with the first bunch of people going in the car. Then the rest of us kind of felt like the kids who don't get picked for dodge ball on the playground. After a few more minutes though three more of us were taken into the car. A couple, and me. The couple followed Teddy into the car and were told to sit down, I was standing behind Teddy and when he turned around he asked me: "Were you brought in here?" I quickly said, "Yes". Then he told me to stand near the door, holding on to one of the poles. Turns out I got to be placed right next to the action of the scene-- I'm sure that when its all said and done my head will be cut out of the frame, but just so you all know-- I was wearing tan linen Eileen Fisher pants and brown Prada pumps. If this thing ever airs, you'll know those linen pants are me!!

We even were told to act! When the action of the scene took place those of us near the actors were supposed to react--- but Teddy specifically told us *not* to overact. When we were doing the rehearsals I specifically didn't really change my facial expression too much and one of the other extras made a comment-- to which I noted that there was no way in hell that I was going to be considered to be "overacting" and manage to get myself thrown off that subway car before we actually filmed anything! Noting that during all of this, one of the guys next to me kept talking to the "talent" which I had read before was strictly verboten. I kept waiting for one of the PA's to come and tell the guy to knock it off, especially when he started asking Harold Perrineau where he is living these days, and then started giving him suggestions on how to play the scene. We ended up shooting the scene four times, two different ways and then were sent back to holding!

Upon going back to the holding pen, Vicenza and Terrence had been joined by some other new faces and they wanted to know the details... one big detail to note is that by this time (after nine pm) we still hadn't been fed anything... but I guess that's all par for the course. I'll know in the future to certainly pack my own snacks.

We were all shuttled back to the subway station once more before we did get dinner (which was surprisingly good-- I certainly didn't expect to have mussels, clams and shrimp as part of the buffet) and then we hung out at holding until about 12:45 when it was back to set. During dinner the Sag Rep on set was hanging around by our table and answering questions-- one of the most surreal discussions of the evening was about the pay rate, union rules and availability of parts for playing the "victim" on Law and Order. Apparently, if you're in full body make-up it means an extra whole $18.00 per day. One of the other extras had driven up from Philly and she brought her dachshund with her. Vicenza noted that since we hadn't been asked to bring pets, the dog wouldn't be getting any money out of this "gig".

I can honestly say both that I have never spent so much time in one day on a subway car nor have I ever spoken to so many random people all at once. Everybody was amazingly nice (and a bit kooky, but I think that's to be expected... especially when you're sitting around underground watching stunt men do their thing at 3am). Also, on a funny note, there was one girl from Hightstown and Eugene, a Russian gentleman from East Brunswick. Eugene was in the scene with me on the subway car and at the end of the night we were instructed to walk up and down the platform for an "establishment" shot. When I asked him whether he was a full time actor he said that he wasn't-- he works for a mortgage company here in Princeton, but he did say that he'd like to pursue acting because, he "has a look". He said that "I don't have to be Robert DeNiro, but a few lines would be nice" (all said in a bit of a thick Russian accent). Eugene would be perfect as a Bond Villain (much like Dr. Gamburg) though a little on the short side.

Overall it was a neat experience, even if all I'm getting paid is about $100 for 11.3 hours of "work". It was great to see how the production happens and I do have to say I was a bit envious of the crew when craft services came around at 3:30 or so with a giant tray full of cannoli.

I finally got signed out after 5:00am, as the sun was coming up and got home by 6:45. It was kind of like overnight jury duty, except the pay was slightly better.

I will say, if nothing else it was an experience. If you're in New York, you have some free time and you're looking for a unique evening social event I say go for it, after all, somebody has to be that person in the background riding on the subway car-- why not have it be you?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Le Piano Oublié

Tonight we watched "Le Piano Oublié", aka The Forgotten Piano on TV5 Monde. It was a very well told French TV movie, essentially. But without commercials it kept us hooked such that we actually sat at the kitchen table and watched it on the world's smallest tv until it was all done. Now I'm watching Venus Beaute (Institut)(again)... love this whole foreign tv thing!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In the category of someone who will be needing a letter of reference soon...

Nancy Byrne, Executive Director, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism was quoted in yesterday's Town Topics. Ms. Byrne is quoted as saying: "When you say 'New Jersey' people cringe." While this may be true, should it really be coming out of the mouth of the Executive Director of the State's tourism board???

The Oscars

That was tonight's final Jeopardy! category. The clue was (paraphrasing) "This person has earned 1 nomination in acting, 6 in directing and 14 as a writer."

All three contestants missed it (one said Orson Welles (!?!), two John Huston). Alex says: "The answer: "Woody Allen, oooo don't you hate yourself for missing that one? the viewers at home missed it too, no one ever gets this one..."

No Alex, you're wrong, me and most of the other Jeopardy! viewers in the New York area *knew* it was Woody Allen! How could you *not* know that???

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Back in College, Leda and I were big fans of the movie Clerks.

"Just because they serve you, doesn't mean they like you."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Toy Assembly Instructions.

Congratulations! You've just bought a large overly plastick-y toy for your child! We know that you pride yourself on only feeding your child organic food, only dressing them in organic cotton and striving to only buy wooden toys made in Western Europe but let's face it, you can only do that for so long. Educational toys? Once toddlerhood hits that's out the window. Now let's get down to the real work-- assembly!

Did you think that after actually making a child from scratch you would be done with building things for a while? Ha! That was only the beginning. Yes, that's right, we've employed people at slave wages in a far off country to put together roughly 1/4of this particular toy. The rest is up to you. We know you're up to the challenge! As a starter, we've enclosed most of the screws that you will need. Please note, however, that we have not actually threaded any of the openings through which those screws are supposed to be screwed into. That part? It's up to you. (Noting, that to make this endeavor that much more exciting for you, we have enclosed screws that don't have pointy ends). As an added mental and physical challenge the depth through which said screws are to be placed will vary based on the location of the screw so if you start assembling this product with a short screwdriver you will be, in a word, screwed. You'll need a long thin screwdriver (noting that you'll probably have less torque with said screwdriver making it even more difficult to install previously described blunt screws). You can thank us later!

Also note that when building this toy we suggest that you attempt to break it, as that is really the only true test of seeing whether you have built it properly to withstand the force that is a toddler. Door-knob on little house door? We know it's flimsy. Good luck. You spend most of your day as it is trying to keep small household items from becoming choking hazards? Guess what, when your child attempts to rip the door handle off this product, or rip the door off its hinges, the screws? You're right, they will be choking hazards. See, and you thought this item would be providing your child with fun and excitement for months to come? I bet you didn't think that it would continue to occupy your time as well!

Once you've completed assembly don't forget the batteries! We specifically did not note on the outside of the package what kind of batteries you'd be needing because we thought you would appreiciate the surprise. Double AA batteries? Of course not, far too common! Triple AAA batteries? Do you have some of those lying around? Yes? Good, that's not what we're looking for. D batteries? I see you've bought some of those too, no, we don't need D batteries, alas you'll need three C batteries. Just enough to make that four pack of C batteries seem like overkill and one more than you could buy in a two pack. (Editorial note: -- This raises a question-- What about the B battery? Trust me, if we thought there was even a one in a million chance that someone in North America carried B batteries, you'd be driving out to Radio Shack to buy some). Wondering how an iPod can hold 10,000 songs and be as slim as a credit card but it requires Three C batteries to operate a small light bulb, sound effects for a creaking door and three versions of the alphabet song? We wondered that too, but we thought relying on gi-normous batteries would be a nice old school throwback to your own childhood. Fun, no?

Finally, thank you for your purchase and good luck!
You're going to need it.

America's Newest Homeowner!

Fung Wah Bus!

So I'm totally stealing this picture from 410e9th it was just too funny not too-- the infamous Fung Wah buses drive like maniacs on the turnpike!

Another Friend of Bill W.

I saw the above phrase on a bumper sticker today. Tell me, doesn't advertising that you're in AA defeat the purpose of it being Alcoholics Anonymous?

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin...

Poor George. Someplace just got a lot funnier.

Below are a few quotes to remember him by:

"Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."

"Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"

"Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that."

"Don Ho can sign autographs 3.4 times faster than Efrem Zimbalist Jr."

"You will not hear me say "bottom line", "game plan", "role model", "scenario", or "hopefully". I will not "kick back", "mellow out", or "be on a roll"! I will not "go for it", and I will not "check it out". I don't even know what "it" is!"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cookie Monster...

The Mom advised of this great quote from Cookie Monster this week: "Me been there, Me have crazy times in the 70's and 80's. Me the Robert Downey Jr. of cookies."

You can also see Cookie answer the Proust Questionnaire on NPR...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Things We Love...

that Starbucks sells a "Kid's" drink (aka 8 ounces of Milk), this concept, combined with drive-thru Starbucks can be a life saver.

A New Hope...

MSNBC published a list of 10 Weekend Getaways for the summer. Included in this list are exotic destinations like Rekyavik and the Azores. Also included? New Hope, Pennsylvania. Okay, so they have suggested the entire Bucks County region, but they do specifically mention New Hope. We went to New Hope last weekend. Mind you, it is a cute town, there is at least one decent antique shop and there are a couple of restaurants that look promising, but really, the place is on par with Helen, Georgia (and I say this and I'm about a thirty minute drive from the place, let alone 1.5 hours from New York or 2.5 from Baltimore, etc., etc.) There are one too many shops selling tie-dye and patchouli and there are also a few too many biker types for this to be a top weekend destination. As an FYI, Lambertville, NJ across the Delaware River looks a bit nicer... but I still wouldn't suggest to anybody that its a place you'd want to actually fly to get to!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Wait Staff--

Yes, that's right, I've come to dine at your establishment and I'm ballsy enough to bring my child along with me. More realistically put, my child needs to eat and I am merely a food-stuff facilitator. I kind of like to think of myself as mom-slash-personal-assistant-slash-handler and I'm handling Napoleon's ID. Think of me more as those people who do advance work for the President, or for Castro.

Now that I'm here, let's try and work together to make this as enjoyable (or at least as less of a teeth-clenching and hair-raising) experience as possible. Here are a few ground rules to govern our relationship, or a list of demands, as you may see it:

1) I intend to leave you a large tip. Recognize this in advance. I feel it is necessary and perhaps the only way I can secure the ability to return to your restaurant in the future and as a small compensation for the cheerios and other detritus which we will be leaving behind, under our table and spread about a three table radius of the high chair/booster seat when we leave. (Case in point-- a hamburger bun strewn on the floor, under the table and stepped on at Brasserie? This alone warranted 30%).

2) The minute our butts hit the chair at whatever table you've stuck us with (understanding that it will most likely be the most undesirable table in the place, farthest away from (x) other diners, (y) your colleagues lucky enough not to have gotten us assigned to their station and/or (z) anyone with all of their hearing) you need to immediately bring us a bread basket. It doesn't need to be free, it just needs to be full. The key to a happy, quiet child? One who's mouth is full. Nothing can quite accomplish this as quickly as carbohydrates.

3) Now that we've gotten the bread, take our orders and bring us out our food as soon as humanly possible. Appetizers? Bring out everything as soon as it's ready. Entrees? We'll take them ASAP and leave the appetizers right where they are. The bread? Its novelty is fleeting. We'll need new and exciting food options about every 7 to 10 minutes (and that's if we're lucky). A European, relaxed dining experience? If I wanted that I'd have stayed in France. What we both need to understand is that I'm on borrowed time. I've got exactly two pieces of bread, eight forkfulls of kid's sized macaroni and cheese and about ten french fries before I've got to get the check and get the hell out of here or you're going to start to see fireworks. In that time I've got to not only feed my little one but I've also got to order my own food, consume it and pay the check. Trust me, speed is key.

4) Bring me whatever I ask for, no matter how odd it may seem. A glass of ice cubes, a shrimp fork and some lemon wedges? Spare napkins, ketchup packets and two wine lists? Whatever it is, just bring it. Keeping a baby/toddler/child happy in a public eating establishment is less of a balancing act and more like trying to defuse a small explosive device. If I need ice for my sippy cup understand that in that gi-normous diaper bag I'm straddled with I don't have a sno-cone machine. There's only so much a person can carry without having to hire a sherpa, sometimes you just can't be that self-sufficient. Bring me a glass of ice. If I ask for ice water, I'm not asking for "cold" water, I'm asking for "ICE" water. If [insert name of your favorite celebrity] were eating at your station and [he/she] asked for ICE water would you bring them cold water, or a glass of ice with water in it? Ever see that movie "As Good As It Gets"? Well, until a human being hits about the age of 10, we're all about as OCD as Jack Nicholson. Understand that as a parent, I have been through this drill every day since my little person was born. I know what she likes and can anticipate her needs better than you can. If I need ice (or lemon wedges, or extra napkins or whatever) to avert a meltdown, bring it. I'm not asking for you to negotiate peace in the middle east, I just want some ice.

5) Understand that your help in these matters is appreiciated and this can't be a successful endeavor without you. Trust me, neither I nor you want to interrupt the other diners, I'm doing my best but I can't do it alone. I also can't live for the next eighteen years only going to drive-thrus. When in doubt, just remember rule #1 above.

Westport, CT and the GWB...

(On the Post Road Bridge)

(At Compo Beach)

(Ocean view)

(Crossing the Bridge)

copyright 2008

Adventures in Homemaking...

The other day I met up with KK, who I hadn't seen in forever, and she gave me some wonderful fabric (alas, we are both sewers and knitters!) So, I started to make a little top and pants set for Miss B...



(Pants, in process...)

I also used this as a chance to make a little dress and bloomer set out of some neat batik print fabric I had hanging around and some coordinating striped fabric (which started out as a quilters "fat quarter"-- turns out the "fat quarter" (which were on sale this week at Jo-Ann for 99 cents) is the perfect amount of fabric for bloomers-- with extra to spare!

I didn't use any formal patterns, just used the top/pants set for comparison for sizing and an existing pair of bloomers for size purposes. Not bad, I guess all that paper folding in art class as a kid has finally come in handy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Yesterday I read a review, in the New York Times, of "Audition", the Barbara Walters memoir. In his review, David Kelly writes:

"In the prologue, Walters recalls that during her years on the “Today” show she would leave her building at 5 a.m. every day, usually with a garment bag. Outside, the “ladies of the evening” thought she was one of them, only more successful. “I would get into this long black limousine with its uniformed driver, and we would glide off into the early-morning light. And you know what effect all this had on the ladies? I gave them hope. Perhaps this book may do that for you.” On behalf of the millions of people who have been on the streets of New York at 5 in the morning and know what it’s like to give hookers false hope, I’m happy to say: Mission accomplished."

It just made me laugh.

Things We Love...

The Panini Press (Krupps, thanks to the Mom and Dad) perfect for making sandwiches for Baby!

Bliss' Lemon and Sage Soapy Sap (makes bubbles for a bubble bath that actually last, and who doesn't like the smell of lemony goodness?)

Jo-Ann Fabrics (Truly the home of pre-recession pricing-- with the exception of patterns, of course-- it's great you can go in there, by things for multiple projects and it's all under $15.00. Today I got fusible binding, two packages of elastic, two spools of guterman thread in fashion colors, fabric for two projects and a "fat quarter" of quilting fabric for $14 and change.)

The Ye Old Blackberry (for some reason, I can now check my AOL account from my Blackberry--- woo-hoo! Yet another way to waste time on the web anywhere at anytime!)

iTunes (okay, so I do have a love-hate relationship with Apple, but after watching a wacky French film ("Pur Week-End") last night on TV5, I was able to go on to iTunes and buy two songs heard in the film, including one that is considered Yiddish Hip-Hop.... how random is that?)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


For years and years one of the Dad's favorite shows has been Lovejoy, a British import formerly on A&E, with Ian McShane in the title role. You rarely see Lovejoy on tv these days, but interestingly, on Sunday nights one of our PBS stations has been showing them. This Sunday's episode is one in which Lovejoy (a crafty antiques dealer) has been recently released from a short jail stint after having been wrongly convicted of dealing in stolen property. What did Lovejoy do during is time in prison? "I've begun writing a book on Spode."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fortunes for Babies

Last night we had PF Chang's for dinner. Sophie's fortune? "You'll soon make a big first step".

Saturday, June 14, 2008

TV5 Monde!

The Husband had me call Verizon the other day to see if we could get the "triple play" package rate for our cable, phone and internet services since we already had all three but weren't getting any discount. So, I called and got us the discount and at the same time signed us up for the French language tv station TV5 Monde. We're been watching it ever since (the cat is in all her glory). Tonight we were watching some sort of variety program called Les Annees Bonheur and they had George McCrae singing his disco one hit wonder "Rock Your Baby". So he comes out on stage followed by a pack of dancing girls and I notice that all of the dancing girls have on the silk orange and pink Marimekko print top that I bought earlier this season at H&M. Talk about random!

How to Beat the High Cost of Living, Part Deux

Check out the Book Sale at the library in Rocky Hill. Today I got two hardcover books for $1.00! (It was half price day) Tomorrow? It's $5 bag of books day! And, Miss B and I also hit up an estate sale-- we're now the proud owner of a pair of Staffordshire dogs-- Score!

Friday, June 13, 2008


We're on our way out the door to go to Gymboree this afternoon and I'm carrying all twenty odd pounds of Sophie (who's got a bottle herself), my overfilled purse is on my shoulder, I've got a burp cloth, lip gloss, a hairbrush and a mini bottle of Poland spring in my right hand. This is all a long way of saying I've got my hands full, as usual. I walk over to the Wagon and I happen to spot an evil looking spider on the roof-rack/side-rail thingie. Now I know-- the spider is black, the rail is black, the garage is dark-- how the heck did I see this thing? I have no idea, I just have this wacky hightened spidey sense. So, what's a mom with her handsfull to do? Bend her right leg and step out of her three inch platform sandals-- grab said sandal with "free" left hand, whack spider with shoe, and proceed to go about her day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's What's for Dinner...

Tonight it's macadamia/panko crusted tilapia in a lemon garlic sauce with yellow rice and my favorite bell pepper and fruit salsa. This time I made the salsa with half of an orange pepper and half of a red pepper, roughly diced. I tossed those together and then added a little bit of very finely chopped jalepeno pepper (with seeds). Then I added mandarin orange slices (rough cut) and diced pineapple. To that mixture I added some cilantro and lemon juice. I find it tends to be a nice light accompaniment to the fish-- great for summer.

Next week, in anticipation of not being able to do theme weeks (other than "Microwave Week" and "Toaster Oven Week" during the kitchen reno...) I'm going to make some of the recipes from this month's Food & Wine. They have a fish and chips recipe that looks good, a take on the traditional tuna melt-- a tuna and gruyere pannini and a sun-dried tomato flan. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gemini's Twin...

As always, I love to read Miss B's horoscope. In this month's InStyle Magazine, it advises that "you choose clothes in classic shapes and styles but continually reinvent your look by wearing them with statement pieces from your vast collection of accessories."

Back in homeroom...

I certainly would have never expected this sentence out of Farah Abdi...

I, [State Your Name]

the Husband and I were sworn in yesterday to the NJ Bar. Surprisingly, the ceremony was quite short and to the point. But, no compliants. When its practically 100 degrees and you find yourself in Trenton, there really is no need to stick around.

Okay, People....

tonight is the Top Chef finale... as discussed with the Mom, we both think Stephanie will win. (Noting, however, that we're thinking she will win since a woman hasn't won yet... personally, I think Richard is the most talented of the three remainders...) Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Randomness...

Miss Baby seems entirely enthralled by the Judy Garland documentary from 1979 that we're watching. We were just flipping through the channels, but when we got to channel 200 Judy was singing a song and Miss B stared at the screen and has been enjoying each song since. This is doubly random considering that this morning during bathtime she clapped and danced along to Run-D.M.C. I guess it just goes to show, when you love music you can have diverse taste.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Before we went to Paris we invested in a Maclaren stroller. It was on sale for $99 at Babies R' Us as it was a 2007 model and they were getting in the new 2008's (as if these things were cars!). It was a really cute gray/pink combo and it was light as a feather and super easy to fold up. One afternoon let's just say it had a bit of a run-in with the wagon while I was backing out of the garage. When folded it had a tendency to roll if you tried to stand it up and alas, when it was taken out of the trunk and propped up in the garage, I went to back out and it had slipped into the wagon's path. I had thought I felt something with the back tires and then I knew I had hit something when the front tires got it. I took it inside and the wheels were pretty bent out of shape and the plastic "hubcaps" were all scraped. I unfolded it and it had a bit of a distinct swagger when rolled. I thought that it really wouldn't do for the cobblestones of Paris so a new 2008 model was in our future.

What do you do when you have a stroller that you've rolled over with your car? Sell it on ebay, of course! So, after prying the tires back into shape with a screwdriver I took some pictures, described the condition of the stroller and posted the auction. After 7 days I had a winning bidder at $102.50 (plus $25 shipping...noting that this was more than I initially paid, before I drove over it!) This seemed great! Then I got an email from my winning bidder, asking how much shipping was to French Polynesia. You see, my auction specifically noted that international bidders were to pay actual shipping. My bidder, being a first time ebayer hadn't noticed this until after she won my auction. How much is shipping for a stroller to Tahiti? Approximately $80. Next thing I get a notification from Ebay that my winning bidder is going to send me $10,352.50 via personal check. Okay, I think to myself, that'll cover shipping. I then checked what the current exchange rate is from the currency used in FP to the US Dollar and basically my bidder had failed to make the conversion when noting how much she was sending by check.

Thankfully, a few hours after being notified of the $80 shipping fee my winning bidder agreed that she wanted to cancel the auction. This let me offer the item up to another bidder. The bidder who eventually ended up with the stroller paid $92.00 (yes, that's right a mere $7.00 less than what I originally paid) plus $25 shipping. When I checked my ebay feedback rating the new (rolled over) stroller's owner said: "Great Deal!" Gee, I was thinking the same thing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cooking and Baking...

On Monday we had salmon. I had gotten two salmon filets, some asparagus and wild rice at WF figuring that I'd figure out what to do with it when I got home. Originally I thought I would bake the salmon in the oven over the asparagus, but the salmon had the skins on and I thought I'd check some of my cookbooks for a different recipe. I had also picked up some pecan panko. In the Gourmet Cookbook I decided between salmon in a balsamic reduction (is there any other kind?) and salmon cooked on a bed of salt. I went for the salt!

It was pretty neat, if I may say so. The recipe called for two cups of sea salt/kosher salt to be put on the bottom of a pan, heat on high for four minutes or until the salt begins to smoke a bit. Pat your salmon filets dry and season with salt and pepper (I also added the pecan panko to the top of the filets... Then you place your salmon filets on the salt, skin side down. Cover and watch the fun begin until the salmon is cooked through. It was pretty nifty, I came back a few minutes later (after setting up my asparagus to roast in the oven in a citrus dill marinade and got the wild rice cooking) and there was my salmon all pink! Unfortunately, as we do not yet have an actual exhaust fan that exits the house, the kitchen has smelled like salt/salmon since Monday but the overall outcome was really tasty and incredibly easy. The salmon was nice and moist and was a great accompaniment for the asparagus and rice.

Then, tonight I made my version of cobb salad-- I threw in the kitchen sink including mini heirloom tomatoes, red peppers, ham, chicken, avocado, blue cheese, monterey jack and hardboiled egg. But, where's the challenge in putting together a salad? I also took my first try at Madelines.

Since trying honey madelines at Fauchon in Paris I had been on a quest to make my own. The Mom got me a bone fide made in France madeline pan and then it was just off to find a recipe. I had found a recipe on the web, the Mom had sent me one, there's one in Ina Garten's Paris cookbook, there's one in Baking with Julia, there's one in the Martha Stewart cookies book then there's one in "The New French Baker". Problem? They're all slightly different. The one on the web had me using unbleached all-purpose flour. Patricia Wells? All-purpose flour and under no circumstances use "unbleached"! Gourmet, Martha and Julia? All use cake flour. Turns out the difference between all-purpose flour and cake flour has to do with the gluten content and thus the "toughness" or doughiness. Bread flour has a high gluten content, all-purpose is a blended flour with intermediate gluten levels, cake and pastry flour being those with even less gluten so they are considered "softer" flours.

Then, to add even more confusion to this process, some of the recipes have you baking at 400, some at 350, some at 375. Some people have you refrigerate the batter for up to an hour before baking. It seems there is little consensus in the world of madelines and of course, I couldn't find the "official" Fauchon recipe.

I ended up going with the Gourmet recipe, even though it called for cake flour and all I had was unbleached all-purpose. I also wanted to try and make these "honey" flavored like what I had at the Place de Madeline so I used three spoons full of Fauchon acacia honey once the batter was final. The end result? Really tasty! The color was a bit uneven (the shell/fan side was a bit more brown than I would have liked which I attributed to the fact that I had buttered/floured the pan) but that's something I can work on. I figure next time I'll get some cake flour and maybe try the Julia Child version. One of my cookbooks also had a chocolate/orange recipe-- I think I may just try the orange... we'll see what a little Grand Marnier can do!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Zoo Knew?

Today we went to the Zoo!

The Philly Zoo (which claims to be America's First Zoo...) all I know is it was far superior to the Bronx Zoo in that it actually had quite a large assortment of animals... We had discussed with Thisbe going to Reading Terminal given that it was going to be toasty, but when we got the zoo the weather was still not too hot so we figured we'd give it a go.

They had lions, bears, polar bears, zebra, giraffes, various primates (including gorillas), birds, penguins, lots of ducks (a Miss Baby fave), hippos, a rhino, otters, a camel, ponies, goats and bunnies, and free range peacocks. Most of the smarter animals were in semi-hiding due to the sunny, warm temperatures but there were a number of presumably less intelligent animals out in full view, sun beating down relentlessly (humans included).

Also on display were a large pack of Amish who were apparently bused in via wagon and draft horse.

Upon arrival at the zoo we looked for parking. We pulled up to the "Frog lot" which is at the corner of the back of the zoo and the amtrak line (which has about six tracks, a 10 foot high fence with barbed wire and a generally unfriendly look to it.) We pulled up and were to be the last car in the frog lot in what would be about as far away from the entrance to the zoo as possible while still being in a zoo parking lot. I was skeptical. I pulled up to the young blond woman who was dolling out parking passes and asked whether there was some other lot. She had a walkie talkie and after I asked her about the parking situation she responded with, "you're in luck, drive all the way down this drive and there is one space at the front that's open. It's pretty close to the zoo entrance." Okay, so we head forward, cars lined up on either side of the drive, passing all along the back of the zoo, past various service entrances and past a bunch of Amtrak workers in hard hats doing construction on the rail yards and generally not looking very safe and/or family friendly for when we need to actually leave the zoo.... after a good little drive we end up at the end of the line. There's a man in our path dressed in zoo garb and wearing a coolie hat. There is one parking space-- he has a walkie talkie just like the other parking attendant and he waives us into the space. I take a look to the right just beyond where we're parking and what do I see? The zoo entrance. Score! I asked no questions and just thanked the man in the hat and we were on our way.

After the zoo we still were looking to kill some time but now we were looking for air conditioning. The King of Prussia sounded like a good option as I had never visited it before and figured that it is generally too far out of the way just to make a special trip there but it was only a few exits down on the PA Turnpike from the Zoo. We found a prime parking spot next to Neiman Marcus and headed on in. When we walked out from NM into the Mall there was a beautiful Hermes store on our left and on our right was a sign with an arrow pointing the way to JC Penney's. I can honestly say I've never quite seen such an odd assortment of stores together in one mall. What a bad leasing strategy! I mean come on, Cartier in the same mall as a Wet Seal and Frederick's of Hollywood?? Please! Somewhere, French people are mortified.
The upside, however, to this arrangement was that Miss B and I were able to share some pretzel sticks from Auntie Anne's (all those times I passed by the folks making the pretzels at he Auntie Anne's in Rock Center, now I visit two malls in a two week period and I succumb both times to pretzels...) No purchases were made on behalf of either of us girls but we did find some great Zegna summer goodies for the Husband at NM. On the way home we took the "scenic" route going 202 all the way back to Lambertville (where we hooked up with the infamous 518)... along the way we hit up a Wawa-- one of the few remaining stockists of Nantucket Nectar's half-and-half. Overall an eventful day.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Brothers Moon...

Today we had brunch at The Brothers Moon in Hopewell. I got really great blueberry pancakes, the Husband got potato leek soup and a ham, egg and cheese sandwich on a brioche and Miss B. got a quiche (with asparagus and goat cheese!). While the service was a wee bit flighty, the food was tasty (especially my pancakes!) and that baby, she can eat. She had a croissant, multiple pieces of bread, asparagus from the quiche, cut fruit and blueberry pancake.