Friday, October 31, 2008


Here's our new faucet!

Remember-- it's not broken, it's Italian!


So, I'm starting to put stuff in the new kitchen and today it was time to put the Michael Graves tea kettle in its rightful place on top of the new rangetop! You see, I'm a bit of a design freak. I coveted this teapot since I first saw it at Kristen Fucci's house back in the seventh grade. I remember little else about her house (other than the fact that her dad had one of the goofy Saab 5000s) but I was always mesmerized by the teapot! I loved the little bird at the end of the spout! Back in law school the Mom got me the version that Michael Graves did for Target back in the day-- but alas, it didn't have the bird on it. A few years back the Husband bought this for me as a meseversary present... interestingly enough, being in Princeton, we actually have a real live Michael Graves store! This little goody is one of the few good things that ever came out of that whole Memphis design period in the mid-eighties in Milan. Do we use it? Of course not! It's just for show. ;)

Boo! Happy Halloween and Happy Anniversary to the Mom and Dad!

Today's Adventure!

Today Miss B. and I visited with Mel up in Westchester! We went to Philipsburg Manor (part of the Historic Hudson Valley!) First, though, upon meeting up with Mel, we did get to partake in some tasty home-baked pumpkin bread (go Mel!) and then we had lunch at the City Limits diner (part of the same restaurant group that owns Molyvos and Oceana). Lunch was tasty and fun (Sophie was very excited about the gi-normous donut that hung from the ceiling...) and after lunch we headed up to P-burg Manor. Turns out the main house at the manor is a stone house from 1750, which made it similar in some ways to our stone house from 1760! The first floor of the house contained the kitchen and butter churning area and had stone walls painted white, just like in our nook. I asked the tour guide whether that was historically accurate and it turns out that it is! Apparently, one of the other historic Hudson Valley homesteads (Van Cortlandt Manor) even had a "recipe" for the whitewash paint amongst their historic documents. The kitchen area also had a big fireplace just like in our dining room. Unfortunately, photography in the interior of the house was strictly verboten, but below are some pictures from the grounds and the exterior. Sophie did great while on the house tour-- keeping her composure right up until the end when she got a giggle fit while the tour guide was discussing the Rockefellers. Phillipsburg Manor also has farm animals-- so we got to see a cow being milked, two oxen, a bunch of sheep, some turkeys and their barn cat! Afterwards, we went for tea and scones at the Silvertips tea room in Tarrytown. Clotted cream! Oh my heavens!! A great day was had by all!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Sophie has just put on the Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

It's Snowing!

Oh, how quickly Fall can turn...


When thinking about what some of the greatest inventions of the 20th century are, air conditioning and the iPod spring to mind. After this whole kitchen remodel thing, I've got to say that the dishwasher is right up there. Not that hand washing stuff in a sink is bad, but hand washing dishes for three months in a bucket in your bathtub leaves a bit to be desired. Today the plumbers came back and set us up with our faucet, disposal and dishwasher. Love that dishwasher.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Things We Love...

Stocking up on future Halloween costumes! Today I got a sunflower costume for next year for Miss B. and a three-eyed pink alien for the year after for a whopping $6.37. Tell me, at those prices, how long before Babies r' Us files for bankruptcy??

And, I have to again sing the praises of Vanity Fair! I've been reading the November issue and it's chock full of good stuff. I've already read the article about Cherie Blair and the story about how Jackie O helped to coordinate bringing the Mona Lisa to the US for a visit in the '60s. I still have left to read an article about Prince William and Kate Middleton and a story about the "Battle of the Money Honeys"... Husband loves that Maria Bartioromo!

Jack O'Lanterns!

Turns out Husband is an expert carver!

Another Beautiful Fall Day...

Here are some pictures taken on the way to doing errands today!

Garage Sale Update...

So we only ended up making about $113, but we did get to meet our neighbor from the Red Maple Farm down the street! I had wondered if any of the neighbors would come by (I was thinking more along the lines of the Ilventos or Unganos who live on either side of us) so that was fun.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Real Time Garage Sale Blogging....

Today's the big day: Garage Sale! Forecast? 60% chance of rain starting at 12pm. Reality? It's already drizzling, so thanks to the Husband (who nicely cleared out the garage last night despite being both tired and sick!) we have moved operations indoors. We had advertised a 10am start time, but it takes a certain kind of person to be a garage saler, so true to form we had three people in parked cars waiting outside of the house by 9:30am. The Husband went outside to put out our "Garage Sale Here!" signs on the front lawn/across the street and as soon as he did that the horde was out of their cars ready to pounce. Of course, pouncing garage salers don't actually mean big sales-- but in the first twenty minutes I made about $40. The cash-to-minute ratio has been going downhill steadily ever since. So far it is 11:44am and we've gotten about $100 (Let's not talk about the $20 it cost to place the ad in the Town Topics or the $20 spent at Office Depot in sign/price tag supplies). I guess the best way to look at it is that people hauled away crap we didn't want anymore and they paid us for it. I guess that's really all you can hope for! For right now we still have some big ticket items left. Namely the infamous Viking cooktop, a Pottery Barn rug and a Baby Einstein jumper. Next question: If it's raining, how long is it likely for me to continue to sit outside and man this thing? Luckily, I do have internet in the garage! (Who knew, half the time it doesn't even work *inside* the house!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good Housekeeping.

Ana recently correctly noted that much of the content of this blog has to do with either house remodeling or trips into "The City". True. Unfortunately, here goes another one, in a similar vein: I must sing the praises of two of my favorite household appliances (I'm sure that in a sick twist of fate after this post has been published both items will mysteriously "go on the fritz", but here goes)...

First: The Dyson. I know everybody hates those goofy commercials with James Dyson talking about how his vacuum never looses suction and then something new about rotating of a pivot, but those commercials aside-- I do love my dyson. I have the original yellow monster. It is four and a half years old and it is by far the oldest vacuum I've ever had. Used to be vacuums would crap out about every year or so (part of the problem could have been the whole thing about emptying and replacing the bags, but I digress). The Dyson is great. Not only does it theoretically "never lose suction"--- this is an Obama-ism... it only doesn't lose suction if you follow the instructions and every so often (so far, once in four years) wash out the internal filter. It also has this seventeen foot long attachment hose and three pretty useful attachments. One is great for doing our stair runner, another perfect for getting cat hair off of our furniture (a nice little personal challenge set forth each day by Miss Kitty just to keep us on our toes). Also great, since it is bagless and super easy to empty I usually empty the canister each time I use it. This ease of use will invariably lead to attempting to vacuum up things that one shouldn't. Case in point-- last evening I was vacuuming all of the new kitchen cabinets in order to get rid of the sawdust, etc. from the installation process... I was too zealous in my undersink vacuuming and sucked up some sort of wood block. What happened? The vacuum started to make a strange wheezing sound (kind of like the time I accidentally vacuumed up an entire unwound spool of curling ribbon). Then what happened? I was able to push a button and release the 17-foot hose, take the attachment head off of the hose and pop! Wood block dislodged! The Dyson comes apart (and goes back together) insanely easily... which makes it almost idiot proof. The only downside? It doesn't seem to be designed very well to vacuum the inside of our cars. I think this is some sort of deal with the devil made by dustbuster and the automotive manufacturing contingent. Thus proving again that one must always own more than one vacuum.

Fabulous Household Item #2: The Dualit Toaster! I recall going to the Williams Sonoma Outlet years ago and seeing rack upon rack of reconditioned Dualit toasters and thinking: "These things must be real pieces of crap!" But lo and behold, I have had the Dualit for a bit longer than the Dyson and it is fantastic. I think that all of the reconditioned ones were probably less likely ones that had actually broken and mostly just ones that people didn't figure out how to use. These toasters, from Britain where tea and toast is a religion, aren't particularly intuitive to say the least, but they are deceptively simple to use if you think outside the standard toasting box. First of all, there is a button on the two slot machines that allows you to select whether you want one element or both elements to work (i.e. it's energy friendly if you're making a lone slice of toast. Of course the switch is a bit imperfect in that turning it only really shuts off the outside element of the second slot so if you were to put two pieces of toast in the machine one would toast perfectly and the second would be toasted only on one side...leading you, perhaps, to think it is broken). I've already done this once but then thankfully realized I had pushed the button by mistake. Then, for things like bagels it has taken us four years plus to realize that if you put the sliced side of a bagel facing outwards it will toast appropriately with only one twist of the timer-- face the bagel inwards and you'll be going through multiple go-rounds and then end up practically singe-ing the thing. Who ever knew toast could have so much personality? But truly, the machine is a workhorse-- tirelessly producing slice upon slice of perfectly toasted bread every time we make tuna on toast and doing a great job with morning after morning of bagel toasting. I love it and it comes in fashion colors!


It's that time of year again-- time to play Monopoly at McDonald's. My question, in the "instant win" department-- does anybody ever actually win anything besides the coupon for 25% off at the Lady Footlocker??? I can't even get a free hashbrown or a small coffee!

We Are The World...

So you already knew about my original contractor, Carlos and his men, who were Mexican. Then there's Devi our Ukrainian electrician. Our woodfloor guy was a nice African American gentleman named Frank who employed people who may have been Portugese (the language they spoke seemed to be some strange amalgam of romance languages). Our plumber? Vin Diesel (aka Anthony, who is Italian, as is our carpenter/tile guy). Today? Today our laundry room floor is being tiled by an asian man and his wife! Talk about a family business. While the Husband and I did used to work down the hall from one another at The Job, I think if we were both employed working side by side in a trade he'd probably shoot me. We have one more big item to complete-- having a new baseboard installed in the kitchen-- and at this rate I just won't be happy unless the installer is an eskimo. Why do I suddenly feel like Angelina Jolie?

In case you were wondering....

The Husband has indicated that it takes approximately 440 licks before one reaches the center of a tootsie pop.


Because a day can't go by without more updates on the kitchen front...

(Note there's some wacky shadows/lighting issues because of the flash and the time of day when I took these...)

Tony has to finish the rest of the subway tile tomorrow, flip those decorative tiles that he installed upside down (!) and then do the rest of the cabinet work....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's Observation...

We're still waiting for the compactor to be delivered and Tony the cabinet/tile guy installed about half of our decorative tile upside down.

Birthday Shout-Out!

Happy Birthday to 5280 Mommy! Go Libras!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The granite men were here for five hours. I can't say that I didn't expect that. I just expected it would be during *normal* business hours. Instead, they arrived at 4:30pm and left sometime during the second act of Heroes. Yes, that's right, they were here at the house installing the granite countertops with what smelled like the equivilent of airplane glue until after 9:30pm. Call me an old fogey but I really don't want contractors doing work at the house after 6pm. I also don't like work to begin before 8am (in fact, even 8am is pushing it, I'd truly prefer 9). But, at this point, I guess I just have to be glad that its done.

Next up? Thursday is installation of the new ceramic tile floor in the utility/laundry room.

(Check out that tv! Note: the cord is not in its final location, thankfully.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Patch!

Today we visited Terhune Orchards! You would have never known you were in New Jersey, except for all of the ladies bedecked in velour track suits!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Quick Update...

Here's the progress!

Monday: Granite will be installed (or at least it's supposed to be installed... the Granite people told me Tuesday when I called to confirm, and then Doug at HD interceded and made them go back to the original date of Monday... something's telling me they're going to pull a Verizon and "not be able to make it" on Monday... but I'm trying to stay positive!

Then we've got Tony coming back later in the week to finish his work on the cabinets and do the backsplash and we'll have Gold Medal come back and finish the plumbing (sink/dishwasher/disposal hook-up, pot-filler hook-up) and electrical (island lights, woo-hoo!).

What else? Laundry room floor! Lowes will be installing a tile floor in our laundry room. The materials are in stock and will be ready for pick up on Tuesday and the salesman expected that the installation can take place by the end of next week!

I see a light at the end of the tunnel.... and the exciting thing is it will be just in time for the new season of Top Chef which begins on November 12th!

Pack your knives and Go!

Speaking of packing your knives, we also visited the Town Topics office today in order to place our GARAGE SALE ad! Yes, we have finally lived here long enough to emass enough extra crap to hold a garage sale! I'm very excited. Of course, I'm sure I'll be less excited on the days leading up to the sale, but we'll see. We have lots of interesting stuff like our old Viking cooktop, two old TVs, our old kitchen rug, clothes, dishware and other assorted crap that has been taking up space in the "office" aka the moldy little room off of the garage. Let's hope we clear enough cash that it will pay for our new trash compactor!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On the Way Home...

from the grocery store, we took these pictures...


Today Miss B. and went to Wegman's. Whenever we go to Wegman's I always set Miss B. up with a bagel to munch on. I usually break off pieces and then keep the bag with the bagels in the back of the cart. Today, when Sophie finished her first bagel piece she turned around in the seat of the cart, pointed back towards the bag and said: Baa-Ba. At first I didn't quite hear too much more than sounds, so I said: "Bagel?" and she said back, pointing furiously, "Baaa-Ba", "You want more bagel?" "BAAAA-BA!" This reminded me much of the scene from the remake of the Pink Panther when the diction teacher was trying to get Inspector Clouseau to be able to pronounce "Hamburger." The teacher keeps repeating "Hamburger" and all he can do is say "AM-BUR-Gur!", increasingly louder but always with the French accent.

What Next?


When? Monday. (Or so the HD claims).


Last night when I came home, the Husband surprised me by having hung the tv! We've still got to run the cables up in the wall, but we tested it out and it was pretty cool...

Nutrisystem for Men...

So we're watching NFL Total Access this morning (Sophie changed the channel from Sesame Street...) and a commercial comes on for "Nutrisystem for Men". They've got Chris Berman hawking this stuff and I have to say I never expected to hear "rib-sticking" in the same sentence as Nutrisystem.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


So, the new season of Heroes. What do we think?

Here are a few thoughts. First off, is NBC kidding already with all the commercials? At one point the Husband timed it and they went 3 minutes between commercials-- three minutes? Come on!

New Heroes: Daphne a/k/a the Speedster. Seems like a run-of-the-mill comic book hero power-- being able to run really fast. We'll have to see where this goes, but my main question is why on earth would she have given up her Paris apartment (with Mona Lisa) to live in that dump she was living in in the future with Parkman and Molly??? What happened there!?! BTW, who the heck is taking care of Molly in the present, and why doesn't anybody seem to care/notice that Parkman has disappeared?

New/Old Hero: Mohinder. Okay, finally we're going to give Mohinder some power and what do we pick? Why he's become Jeff Goldblum from "The Fly"! This is rather un-creative, and I'd have to say I think I would have been happier if they had just brought in Jeff Goldblum.

Black Guy who gets stronger based on other people's fear (sorry, I haven't caught his name... is he Knox? I just don't know!): undecided.

Black Guy in the African desert who paints the future: Seems okay, but how lame is it for that poor guy that he only sees Parkman's future?I'd have asked for a better power, or at least one that's a bit more flexible.

Nikki/Barbara/Tracy: Okay, when do we meet Barbara and what's her power going to be? How does all of this relate to Jessica, and will Tracy and Barbara have split personalities too? How does Ali Larter keep all of this straight?

In the Whatever Happened To Category: Once again, I ask-- where's Claude? I liked Claude! Christopher Eccelston was good as our local invisible man... will he ever reappear?

Rena Sofer as Heidi Petrelli a/k/a Nathan's wife.... are they divorced, or what? I guess she has to hope that 24 gets renewed.

Developments: I have to say the whole Sylar as HRG's partner thing is growing on me, though I did always like the Haitian so here's to hoping we'll see more of him too.

Adam Morgan-- glad he's back... but it's a shame that we seem to have left behind Hiro in Feudal Japan-- that was a neat, albeit short, story line.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Checking in on statcounter today, I saw that we had a visitor from Barcelona, Catalonia, Espana! Shout out to Miss Thisbe!

In other news, I did watch Atonement last night and I have to say, I'm a bit torn. When I read the book I wasn't a big fan. I think I liked the movie considerably more than the book (Kiera Knightly is always good and after Wanted, I do like James McAvoy), but I have to say I don't think the movie would have made too much sense had I not already known what was going on thanks to having read the book. It's a movie watching Catch-22. I wouldn't recommend the book, but the movie was good, but I think you'd enjoy the movie more if you have read the book. I think the movie is kind of a way to make up for having read the book!

In other book news, I'm currently reading "Audition" the Barbara Walters memoir. I haven't gotten to anything too exciting yet (I'm only on page 133), she's still talking about her time coming up in the sixties... we'll see how that goes. Thanks to Call Me Mommy my next read will be "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld. I think it's a great companion piece to the current election, given that it is a thinly veiled fictionalized account of the life of Laura Bush.

In other general news (with a little bit of book news thrown in) yesterday I hit up the Princeton Hospital Auxilliary White Elephant Sale. A few years ago the sale was held at the Princeton Airport-- which was a really cool location (and at which time I got a nifty Copper paella pan and some other fun goodies...) for the past two years or so it's heen held at the parking garage at the hospital which I have to say is a bit of a lame venue. Needless to say it's rather dark and just not really the best location on a beautiful fall day-- who wants to be walking around in the lowest level of a covered garage?? But, I did get a couple of neat books and this time around the pricing was certainly right-- $1 for hardbacks and .50 for paperbacks. I got a couple of first editions and two books I had been interested in: Tuxedo Park and The Keep.

On the Kitchen front, we went back to the granite yard on Friday and picked out our two slabs! Though we had waivered from Arctic Moon when we visited the slab the day before (we were thinking of possibly going with either Champagne Pearl or Majestic Sand... they ended up having no champagne pearl for us to view and the majestic sand was waaaay too peachy/flesh-toned...) but when we visited Innovative Stone again on Friday they had four more slabs of Arctic Moon for us to see, and two of the four had no pitting whatsoever (so much for "pitting to be common" with Arctic Moon). Now it's two weeks to granite (I'm hoping it will be two weeks from last Tuesday since that's when we templated, but I'm sure it will end up being two weeks from last Friday...) And, this weekend the husband braced the wall where the tv is going so once we prime/paint we can hang the tv!

Next item: Our daughter the computer genius. The Husband's computer had recently gone off the deep end and was only exhibiting the black screen of death. It completely bypassed the blue screen of death and had just decided to go black and though it would turn on and make a bit of a whizzing sound, it wasn't making the tell-tale "I'm thinking" sound, so we were concerned (and frankly, the Husband was ready to just trash it.) Then, figuring nothing else could go wrong with the machine, the Husband let Miss B. play with the keyboard (as she likes to do). A few moments in to Miss B. randomly bashing keys and lo and behold: the screen lights up. The computer turns on. It now works. Mind you, the Husband has begun the process of backing up all of his data as we fully expect the black screen of death to return at any time, but in the mean time we were both very impressed. We still aren't quite sure what key sequence did it, but after she was done, not only did the computer work but she had also seemed to have called up the actual web-page code for AOL.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

We just saw this movie the other night and I have to say both the Husband and I were pleasantly surprised. It had some good one-liners--- if you're looking for a goofy comedy, you could do worse.

On other fronts, Miss B. just went to sleep and the Husband is doing trim work and I'm doing some sewing... looking for a movie to watch until Atonement comes on HBO West at 11... No Reservations is on one of the other HBO channels... and I have to say it just wasn't entertaining enough the first time around to watch it again... so I've got on Casino Royale... only a few more weeks till Quantum of Solace!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Bent Spoon and Other Goodies...

Today the Husband had off for Yom Kippur! We spent a nice family day with Miss B., as usual, though, Kitchen remodel events did find their way in to our day... we went to our local Stonemark/Innovative Stone granite yard to view our "slab" (make that 2 slabs) for the kitchen. We had chosen "Arctic Moon" which has a really neat look to it, however, it has apparently been discontinued because of some sort of "supply" problem. (Leave it to us to find the blood diamond of granites... the damn stuff comes from Brazil so I don't really understand, but whatever...) anyway they have two slabs earmarked for us but when we went to check them out they had a *lot* of pitting/chips. So, we're going back tomorrow and they're going to pull other slabs for us to view (specifically, in "Majestic Sand" and "Champagne Pearl". They have all kinds of great names like "Casino Royale" and "Gold of Troy" They all kind of sound like B movie titles.

Then we hit up Best Buy and got a great deal on a Sony flat panel LCD TV. This was made even better when, as we're leaving the store we realize there doesn't appear to be a remote control in the packaging. How is this solved? First the Best Buy guy claimed that "not all the tv's come with a remote" (okay, do we look that stupid?) then, the Husband is told by Best Buy's finest that "Andrew's got a box of remotes in the back". The guy claims, as long as it's the same brand and "as long as it says "TV" on it, it'll work". Hopefully this is true.

Finally, our night ended with a visit to our favorite local ice cream place, The Bent Spoon! Husband got a malted with dark chocolate ice cream and butter-walnut ice cream. I got a scoop of milk chocolate ice cream and a scoop of peanut butter. There was lots of sharing involved-- mostly with Miss B. Yum!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


First off, thanks to all who have sent their birthday wishes!! Yay!! And, a shout-out to other proud Librans born on the best day of the year-- October 8th! Including, the Mom, my niece Isabella, Cousin Tony, and of course, Matt Damon. In the usual tradition of celebrating the birthday for at least an entire week, the fam treated me to another fun day! We had a lovely dinner at One 53 in Rocky Hill, came home to birthday cake and flowers all around (both from the Husband and the Mom and Dad!!) Gifties included a Woody Allen theme in books, and a whole bag of amazing quilting goodies thanks to Mom and Dad!(That's right-- yet another craft field-- here I come!) And, what could be better, now I'm watching Project Runway! Yay!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


This is apparently old news, but it appears that Bravo might have The Real Housewives of New Jersey in the works! (Sign me up!)

Okay, why does Obama keep pronouncing "Pah-key-staaan" like he's from Pakistan. It's as annoying as Sarah Palin pronouncing Iraq "EYE-Rack".

Open letter to Verizon: Since when did it become okay to give your customers a 12-hour window for the arrival of your service personnel? Yes, that's right-- would my service tech be at my house between 8 and 10? Perhaps 1-3? Even 4-6? Nope, 8am till 8pm. Okay-- here's another question, since when did it become commercially reasonable to expect that you can come to my house after 6pm to do work that isn't emergency work?? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having after hours support-- it's great if you're working (so you don't have to take the day off to meet the Verizon guy-- except for the fact that you'd still have to take the day off since your window is 12 hours!) BUT, then it needs to be something more like "we have after hours service, if you'd like that?" Unless I've requested after hours service, I am not okay with him show up at 6:30 and staying until 8:15. Not to mention that when the two guys did leave they were pissed off, gave me no paperwork to sign and were generally rude! Upside, I do appear to have internet service, downside-- I don't know why. They wouldn't tell me what they did to make it work. Nice. God forbid what will happen when I call them back to ask to have more phone jacks installed. (oh, and let's not forget that the only reason they did eventually show up at all was that the Husband called them twice this afternoon trying to get somebody to arrive-- and when the guys did arrive they thought they were here to work on our TV!)

In other news-- we went to the Crate and Barrel outlet the other day and managed to find a cushion for a chair that we bought there a few months ago... now we can actually sit in the chair and the cushion was only $10! (Noting that the cushion is some kind of micro-suede (rather than the leather it's shown with on the website-- but it fit and all together we surely did not pay anything close to $799 for it!!)

What else happened today? Granite template. According to template guy, our granite should be available for installation in two weeks (everything in kitchen remodeling is two weeks...) still trying to get our appointment to view our slab...

Sunday, October 05, 2008


So today Miss B. and I went back to the Princeton Library Book Sale. All told, we spent $17.50 on books and got roped into buying a PL Bag for $1.00. Here's what we scored:

Andre Malraux's Metamorphosis of the Gods (First English Edition) $75-$86 (we paid $3) (This was part of the estate of Ambassador Anne Martindell)

Philip Roth's "My Life as a Man" (First Edition) $50-$65 (we paid $5.00)

John Updike's "Rabbit at Rest" (First Trade Edition) $60-$75 (we paid $1.50)

John Updike: "Bech is Back" (First Edition) $60 ($1.50)

(Prices are per

Unfortunately, I left behind Anne Tyler's "An Amature Marriage" (selling for $1.50) which goes for about $35... damn! But, all in all a nice addition to the collection of First Editions. I also got a Dan McCall book (a former creative writing professor of mine), the Oxford American Literature Companion, the 25th Anniversary of the New Yorker cartoon compendium, a book on Botticelli from 1903 and another book from the Cornell University Press.

Okay, so maybe we can deal with the folks from the PL. :)


So, as many of you may know, the birthday is coming up, so today the Husband and Miss Baby took me into the city for a little pre-birthday celebrating. First we went to Park Avenue Autumn for a lovely brunch (which included maple french toast with butterscotch apples) and then we visited the Central Park Zoo to check out the polar bears, seals and penguins. Next it was off to Frederic Fekkai for a haircut. Giovanni took over for Julian (as Julian no longer works on weekends), it was sad that I wasn't able to go back to Nicolas at Marianne Gray in Paris, but hey, that's what the lottery is for, right? Who wouldn't want to go to Paris every six weeks for a haircut? But, I digress. Afterwards it was back to the park to check out the children's zoo and by day's end Miss B. was exhausted. Turns out today was also the Cookie Magazine Mom's Shop day on Madison Avenue (to support breast cancer research) so as it turns out on our way back to the car we came across a random act of ballooning on Madison. Miss B. loves her balloons!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bargain Hunters

Many of you are aware of my love-hate relationship with the Princeton Public Library. I love it in that it's a beautiful new facility, and really, who doesn't like a library? I hate it because, as we've detailed before, they want to charge $100 for "out-of-town" residents to get a card. (Don't even get me started. Last week, when trying to negotiate with J&J Trucking about delivering my extra cabinets they insisted that I was to be scheduled on the day they deliver in Mercer County because my address says Princeton... they were "not convinced" by my claim that I actually live in Middlesex County. It seems that the exact geographic location of my home can only be used against me. But, I digress.) So, back to the library. Today was the first day of the Princeton Library "Friends of the Library" Book sale. I love book sales. I regularly attend the West Windsor Library Book Sale, the South Brunswick Library Book Sale and of course the Annual Bryn Mawr/Wellesley Book Sale. The Wellesley sale is great because the last day of the sale is "box" day where you get to just fill up a box for a fixed price! The Princeton sale often has some good finds (like the first year I attended when I picked up a couple of old Princeton yearbooks for $2 a piece which were selling on Ebay for $25!) However, the down side to the Princeton sale is that it is a bit hoity-toity. These are, after all, USED, DONATED books. Sure, some of them may look new, but again, if someone else has previously owned them and then donated them to the library for sale, they are, in fact, USED. What can I say, I'm cheap. When I go to a book sale I like to see Hardcovers for $1. I'll go the $2 that South Brunswick charges, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Princeton? Sure, they have a more highbrow selection of books (rather than ten thousand copies of Danielle Steele, Janet Evanovich and Nicholas Sparks books) but $3 for hardcovers? That's not the worst of it! I'm browsing and I see a biography of Edith Wharton. I'm intrigued and figure I'll take it. I look inside the front flap-- they want $10! It's not autographed, it's not a first edition! Then I see "The Nazi Officer's Wife" again-- a book I'm interested in, what's it going for? $6 WHY?? "Foucault's Pendulum" is $3, a first edition of "The Dante Club" is $3, so which crazy "Friend of the Library" volunteer priced the Wharton book and the Nazi Officer's Wife?? The best of all? I'm browsing through the cookbook section and I spy a pristine copy of the Dean and Deluca Cook Book. I thought I would pick it up for the Mom in case she didn't have it. Is it $3? Of course not-- it's $20!! Okay, Dean and Deluca aren't coming to your house to make dinner, you're buying a USED cook book!

Then, I'm walking around pushing Miss B. in the Maclaren and carrying an armfull of books and one of the volunteer ladies kindly asks if she can put my books aside for me. Against my better judgment I say okay. What happens next? Well, after she tells me that she got confused and mixed my books up with some others I come back to my stack and everything looks okay. I step away for one moment and next thing I know one of the other book sale vultures is rifling through my stack of books. I indicate that I'm taking all of those books and now that I'm home I realize I'm missing a small book of French verse from 1888! I think the book vulture swiped it! (This is highly offensive to the book sale code of ethics, so book-stealer if you're out there--- shame on you!) ANYWAY. I guess it's my fault because I should have come prepared with bags, and I should have never let the volunteer obscond with my stack. Argh.

On the upside I did find a hard cover edition of King Ottokar's Sceptre (from the Tintin Series) and it appears to be entirely in Arabic. I'm hoping that'll bring something on Ebay. Maybe enough to afford that Dean and Deluca Cook Book! (Ha!)


Thursday, October 02, 2008

In Box

This week's aol mail inbox highlights include messages entitled:

"Election hair extravaganza" from (I'm assuming targeting more at Sarah Palin than her male compatriots..."

"Kosher Cheese Collection at Zabar's" (from,

"Bring the Glow of Halloween To Your Home" (thanks to and

"Reproductive Health & Lupus" (thanks to the Lupus Foundation-- sure, you donate some old clothes to an organization a couple of times and suddenly you're on their email list for life!)

OMG, part deux

So I've had a couple of savings bonds since I was a kid. Here they have a face value of $25 a piece and me, not being too Bond savvy, am thinking they're only worth their face value. Thanks to the US Treasury Department website I was able to calculate the accrued value of these jobbies and since they've been sitting around for thirty years, who knew? They're actually worth a good bit more than their face values. So, I decide to cash them in and in turn get new Bonds so that in another thirty years thanks to inflation I'll have some extra cash that might, by then, buy me a loaf of bread. I go to my local Chase branch. Now you would think, in these economic times if someone comes in with a bonds, gets money for the bonds and actually wants to reinvest in the US Government (which, let's face it, could be bought out by China any minute now) you'd take their money. Does Chase do that? No. I walk in and ask at the service desk whether they can help me. I'm met with a blank stare. That guy goes over and asks the branch manager who nods that they can both redeem my bonds and get me new ones, she then points to a teller.

I go over and see Natalia the teller who can barely figure out how to cash the ones I have. She then tells me that if I want new bonds there are two kinds-- great, I ask which one has a higher yield and/or better rate of return: All I can get from Natalia is that the EE bonds only require a 50% of face value payment up front and the I bonds require 100% payment and that's all she knows. In theory, I don't have a problem with a teller not having this sort of information, but shouldn't the bank manager have actually directed me then to one of their financial people?? Meanwhile, Natalia keeps getting interrupted by the teller next to her who was stumbling through trying to prepare a bank check for another customer. I've got Miss B. who is slowly coming to realize that hanging out in line at the teller window is not very exciting. The teller than asks me how I want my cash-- I say in $100's, whatever's easiest... she gives me all twenties. Okay, if I ask for 100's and follow with "whatever's easiest" I mean EASIEST FOR ME. I.e. let's have as few bills to count as possible. On my way out I let the branch manager know that my experience was less than stellar. If this is the kind of service that a Chase customer is getting, good luck to all those poor WaMu bastards!