Weekly Menu: June 16

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Summer is upon us! That means this week is all about fresh herbs, tons of veggies, and lightness. Bonus points if you get to eat outside. We don’t, because we live where summer = frigid arctic temps. Still, that can’t stop me from stuffing my face with all kinds of summer produce.

This week is also all about using our resources smartly! I’ll be traveling two days this week, so I am all about trying to figure out how we can maximize ingredients and meals so N doesn’t have to cook for one while I’m gone. He can cook for himself certainly – he’s a highly evolved man who knows his way around a skillet – but when left to our own devices, we each retreat back our single eater/single person behaviors: one of us eats eggs and watches Dexter episodes and the other of us might eat popcorn in bed for dinner and watch Call The Midwife on Netflix and cry their eyes out. Ahem.

(But seriously, are you watching Call The Midwife? It’s THE best show on television. No, SERIOUSLY.)

The only downfall from this week’s menu is that it’s more meat-heavy than I usually prefer. Normally we try for the reverse ratio – two or three meat dishes as opposed to just two veg dishes. I’ll make up for that by eating veg while on my business trip Tuesday and Wednesday, but you could work around that by leaving chicken out of a salad or going out to a veg restaurant when you eat out.

Here’s this week’s menu:

SundayNew York Times Green Goddess Chicken

Monday – Chickpea Curry (V)

Tuesday – Chili from the freezer (V)

Wednesday – Salad with shredded leftover Green Goddess Chicken

ThursdayMark Bittman’s Chicken Yakisoba

Friday – Date night to the San Francisco Symphony

Saturday – Grilled Mahi + Edamame Mint Salad


Grocery List:

Whole chicken cut up

Frozen edamame

Basil – one cup

Chives – /25 cup


Scallions – 2 bunches








Greek yogurt







How to Refinish a Dresser, part 3: Dress Me Up

You have your dresser. You have your supplies. Now it’s time to actually do this thang.

I often find lists to be far more useful than paragraphs, so let’s just jump straight in to the 1-2-3.

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1. Disassemble your dresser. Use that phillips screwdriver to remove any old knobs (if they’ve been on for a long time, once you remove the screw you may have to knock it off with a hammer) and take all the drawers out.

2. Fire up the hand sander! If your hand sander is new, you may have to cut and punch air holes into a few sheets of 1/3 sand paper. Save the template and make new sand sheets as necessary. I ended up using about eight sheets total for the entire project.

dresser 1

3. Sand like crazy. If your dresser had varnish on its front (as mine did) you need to get all of that off. Ours also had some stubborn scotch tape (eeew, but, free dresser, so) and a few jagged edges. Sand all that junk off until smooth. It will look patchy, and that’s totally normal.

photo 1

[3a. If your dresser has any noticeable chips or divots taken out, fill them with wood putty and wait until they dry. Sand as normal.]

4. Wipe the whole shebang down with a damp towel. You want: a smooth, clean surface. You do not want: microscopic clumps of sawdust under the paint.

5. Slip a sheet of paper towel under each leg, to catch drips.

photo 3

6. Prime time! For our dresser, I did all the trimming in (front lattice, legs, under the lip of the top, etc) with a brush, and then used the roller on all the flat surfaces.

7. Wait for the primer to dry entirely. I bought quick dry primer that allegedly dried in an hour, but I let it sit overnight. This is the frustrating part, because you could do this in a day if it weren’t for dry time.

8. Repeat step #3 and sand the entire thing down again. What you say? We already did this, you say? Yes, you did. But a quality refinished piece requires a few steps of things that seemingly should be a one and done. Trust.

9. Repeat step #4 and #6. Wipe down, dry, prime, let dry.

10. Finally! Yes, it’s time to paint. It’s likely been a day or so, so just make sure you have all your tools at your disposal; a clean dry paintbrush and roller, and that your paint pan is also dry. Nothing is worse than wettish/watery paint.

11. Because you are painting (vs. priming) it’s best to take your time and go carefully, especially if you’re using a color. Priming can get a bit sloppy and it’s ok, but painting requires a little more patience. Be mindful of drips and the pattern of the brush strokes if you are using a brush only.

12. Let dry. Ideally overnight. I know, so annoying.

13. Paint another coat. If you were slopping on your first coat, really now, it’s time to get serious. Paint with care, young people!

dresser 2

14. Let dry again.

15. While the dresser is still disassembled, rub the entire piece down with steel wool. Weird, right? But the wool fibers eliminate those teeny pin pricks of paint that dry up instead of flat. It also gives your piece a subtle shine and a buttery soft feel. Like. Buttah.

16. Wipe down with a damp towel again, to whisk away any silver curls from the wool.

17. Move the dresser to wherever in your house it’s going to go. We had to haul this bad boy up multiple flights of stairs, so it was easier to do it while it was still in pieces.

18. Re-install knobs or put the new ones on.

19. Fill with your beautiful clothes, you saucy minx you!

dresser 3


20. You’re done! That’s it! Instagram that biz and show it to your friends! You officially did something pretty bad ass. Nice.

How to Refinish a Dresser Parts One and Two, if you need them.

Flight Checklist

I’m not a finicky flyer by any means. I’m small (5′ 2″ on a good day) and I’m bendy enough to curl up in an airplane seat and sleep for at least a little while (thank you, yoga!). In fact, I really like to fly – it’s one of the few places left where you can go where nobody can bother you about work or harass you with texts!

That being said, there are a few necessities I must have in order to enjoy a flight to the fullest. Here’s what I’ll be bringing with me on tonight’s flight to New York:

1. Eye mask. Even if it’s a short flight, the white noise of the plane and the semi-darkness always lulls me to sleep. I love to nap – LOVE it – so an eye mask helps me stay asleep when I inevitably drift off.

2. Chapstick and lotion. My skin gets so dry in the recycled air, I feel like I’m slathering product on the whole flight. Without it, I feel dry and gross.

3. A warm blanket or scarf. I have a giant plaid fleece scarf from Gap last season and it’s the perfect double as a blanket because it’s so big!

4. Peppermint tea. I ask for hot water and pop the teabags in to instantly relax.

5. My nook! It doesn’t replace books by any means, but I read seven books on a trip to London and Paris last year, all on the nook. It’s a lifesaver.

What do you bring on the plane?

A General Malaise

Do you ever just feel blah? Like, come home from work and curl up into a comfy place at 6 p.m. and don’t climb out until the next morning blah? My favorite episode of This American Life is a show called Road Trip! (exclamation point included). It features, among many hilarious tales, a story with the phrase “a general malaise” and it cracked me up when I heard it, because it was the perfect expression of that feeling we all get sometimes. Nothing is wrong, but nothing seems particularly right either, and indifference reigns: about commitments, relationships, what to eat, wear, do, and even about whether or not to get up in the morning. So, pretty much the entire world. Yes, all of it.

If you think I sound like an anti-depressant commercial, you can rest assured, I will not be posting any photos of myself (shot through a color filter so everything is that slightly blueish, extremely depressing tone) crying in a chunky sweater in an isolated, Northwest-esque landscape, or video clips of myself looking murderously at my dog. We’re at least ten years and a few kids away from that amount of panic. Besides, I don’t have a dog to murder, and if I felt like getting all homicidal up in here, I’d definitely take out the frat boy neighbors first.

I kid! Sorta!

But seriously – I’d love to know – do you ever get the general malaise? How do you fight back?


Image via The Steward

Fall Media Mix

{O Captain, My Captain!}

When I have tired of drinking coffee and romping through the leaves and riding my bike (so, rarely) I might sit down and watch a movie. Maybe. It’s rare, but it does happen. But in the Fall – nay, every Fall – there are three movies that I absolutely have to watch, because they’re full of collegiate spirit, heartbreak, bittersweet romance, and lots and lots of plaid.

I also have certain artists and musicians to help ease into the feeling of Fall, so I thought it would be fun to share Fall favorites this week!


Dead Poet’s Society

Annie Hall

Love Story

{How does she get that shiny hair?}


Jane Eyre

Stories from My Homemade Life

Love Letters of Great Men


Jose Gonzalez


The Kings of Convenience

How do you get into the feeling of Fall?


Welcome Fall

Happy October everyone! October is, hands down, my favorite month of the year. Crisp air, leaves changing, woolly sweaters, college football, early morning runs and long days spent writing in coffee shops. And, of course, baking and blazers and boots and other stylish, gourmet activities!

Last October I was preparing for a trip to London and Paris with my best friend. If you have never road tripped through the French countryside, listening to a mix of Edith Pfiaf and Rhianna, eating Twizzlers and laughing until you cry, you should try to check that off your list.

This Fall is a trip to New York, some Broadway, some great food, and a weekend with best friends. We might not have Twizzlers, but we’ll have an amazing time, that much is sure.

This week: fireside chic, Fall music and movies to create the perfect Autumn ambience, and a pumpkin cookie recipe that’ll knock your adorably woolen and seasonally appropriate socks right off. Right off, I say!

What are you doing for Fall?


Image via the very pretty sundaycrossbow.blogspot.com

How to sleep

We all need it, we don’t get enough of it, we love to talk about how much we’re getting (or not getting), and we love to discuss the details in the morning.

Yup – sleep.

Sleep is a funny thing in our culture, because without those precious restorative hours we’d be slow, drunk-feeling, and unable to learn new things or even remember how to do what we already know, according to Time Magazine. But it’s also a badge of honor to go without it. Bill Clinton famously functions on four hours per night, as do Martha Stewart and Condoleezza Rice, apparently. Maggie was recently paid to sleep and write about it. And, obviously, there are people out there paying other people to go to sleep and write about it. We’re obsessed.

I am an unabashed, (mostly) unashamed eight hours per night sleeper. From my infancy (seriously, ask my mom) I have been a paragon of crankiness if I don’t sleep, and now, at 26, I can be beastly if I shortchange myself even a few hours.

My ideal schedule is 11:30 p.m. to 7:45 a.m., give or take that extra 15 minutes. It’s a schedule I am militant about adhering to when I can, though I work at a theater company, where shows routinely end at 11 and after-parties last until 2 a.m., which seriously messes with my sleep schedule.

To get back on track quickly, I’ve developed a sleep checklist for nights where I know I might have trouble falling asleep right away:

One hour before: No music, TV, magazines, e-mail, or anything else that will activate the short attention span section of my brain. Books are great because I can focus on one story, one “voice” and there are no pictures.

30 minutes before: Yoga. If I haven’t been in a few days, it’s been a bad week, and it means I really need to stretch. I’ll do a few downward dogs or back twists on my floor just to release the tension and marshall my energy into one thing, instead of letting my thoughts fly everywhere.

20 minutes before: turn on the fan to cool down the room. Your basal body temperature drops when you sleep, and if my body temp goes down as I transition into sleep mode, I’ve found that I fall asleep faster.

15 minutes before: brew a cup of peppermint or chamomile tea. The warmth, the smell, the ritual all helps signal that it’s chilldown time. I also leave at least 15 minutes to read, if I haven’t already. Not only is reading a calming activity, but I get angsty if I don’t read every day. I am a girl who reads.

Five minutes before: turn off all the lights, cover up all the blinking electronic lights, find my sleep mask, set my alarm, put my journal on the nightstand, and snuggle in. If I don’t fall asleep right away, it’s either because my brain is still whirring along (deep breathing and journaling usually stop that) or it’s because the temperature is wrong, and a fan/blanket/socks/no socks adjustment is in order.

How do you sleep?

Slip Into Something More Comfortable

This time of year is strange for me. In San Francisco, the weather’s just getting nice and we’re in the throes of an Indian Summer at last. But 24 years of living according to normal seasons means that I crave the feeling of settling in, hunkering down, feeling wistful about the fall (wistfall?) in preparation for winter. I’m like a little grizzly bear.

This week, we’re talking comfort – weather be damned! – and what it means to us. That’s, you and me us, not me and me us. I don’t have a multiple personality problem, I swear.

Is comfort a certain pair of pants? A hot mug of tea? A feeling you get when you’re home at last? I’d love to know. As we settle in for whatever comes our way, I say, we do it in comfort.

Icon: Nancy Drew

It’s still on my wish list. That blue convertible, I mean. And to have perfectly coiffed titian hair (though “titian” was a word that confounded my childhood vocabulary for many years) and, of course, the ability to be showered, dressed and ready in “only 20 minutes” as she so often is.

Of course, we speak of Nancy. The only Nancy. Nancy Drew.

Beloved by awesome, fearless, highly achieving females everywhere, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Oprah, Nancy captivated my childhood with her tales of daring, fortitude, common sense, and kindness. She made us believe that anything was possible – it’s probably not a ghost, but it might be! Eeee! – and that we could tackle most anything on our own if we had to. Especially because, more often than not, she had to. Ned didn’t show, her dad was off trying a case, or her trusty sidekicks Bess and George were lost or were being held hostage. Nancy just hitched up her sundress and went to work, saving the world one bad guy at a time.

Kathleen Parker’s column in the Washington Post explains the psychology of our love affair with Nancy in ways that I cannot. But I can say that, without Nancy, I would not have an overnight kit in the back of my car, I would not sleep with a flashlight under my pillow, and I would not have the ability (one of my finer points, I’d like to say) to be showered, dressed and ready in only 20 minutes.

What did your literary heroine teach you?