Summer cooking fantasy

The Greenmarket is starting to get really great now. And I’m remembering why I love living close to Bleecker St (the awesome food portion, not the un-awesome high-end boutiques potion). My summer eating plan is developing as follows: lots of vegetables, assiette de crudités placed on the table in little bowls and plates. Things like grated beets with mustard dressing, braised chard or a gratin of chard stems. A little salad of tiny potatoes and cucumbers. Basically whatever I can get at the market each time I go.

Then some meats. Prosciutto from Faicco’s or the like. Maybe a piece of grilled something if we’re in the mood for heavier meal, purchased at one of the two old-school butchers nearby. Always green salad while the lettuce is still sweet, before the heat of the summer. And cheeses galore from Murray’s, with a baguette. As a family we’re going to attempt to eat every cheese Murray’s sells.

And little olives, and cornichons. Maybe some night, rabbit sausage, and another evening a pâté. For dessert, fresh fruit. To drink, a rosé. Maybe some Lillet to start. All outside in our small garden, surrounded by herbs and flowers. (In this fantasy our compost bin loses its stink).

If I can achieve this, it should be a very nice summer.

Current obsessions

Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Style Iced Coffee. I tried this on my recent trip to San Francisco and was hooked after drinking only one. Maybe it was because I was hot and sweaty after a run along the Embarcadero. Maybe it was because of the view of the bridges and Mt. Tam across the Bay. Maybe it’s because it’s so delicious and mellow and a tad sweet and simply summer perfection in a glass. I am now making by the glass quart at home, weekly.

Japanese Sewing Books. Japanese girls’ clothes manage to be feminine and sweet without being garishly pink and purple. The fabrics and photos in the sewing books are lovely, and the styling is perfect. I’ve already got one and I want more. Luckily there seem to be plenty of resources online for patterns. I’ve been sewing a lot and these books make me want to sew clothes for Minna all day long.

These two obsessions work well together: I can get jacked up on iced coffee and sew for like ten hours straight!

Not joking capris

New pants

After my triumph with the Ooh La Shorts, I pushed my sewing boundaries and made these jester-like capris for Minna. It was the first time I sewed elastic straight to fabric and it worked out pretty well. I wanted to do something different to the hem to make them a little more feminine. Also I’m using the same fabric for shorts for Ollie and didn’t want them exactly alike.

Minna loves them and wanted to sleep in them last night. She’s wearing them today with tights underneath because it’s not warm enough to wear them alone. The fabric is lightweight cotton for summer. They may be my favorite sewing success yet!

Ooh la shorts!

One thing my mother and I have in common is an interest in French things. Another is sewing. A third is a bargain. A fourth is a challenge. So naturally when she sent me a link to some cute kids’ pantalons on a French site and suggested I make them, I couldn’t resist!


I had some chartreuse linen I got for free years ago. By a miracle I also had matching thread in my stash. I drew a pattern based on the photo of the shorts. And then I just whipped up some crazy pantalons for Minna. Looks like I didn’t make them tall enough, but I think they’ll still work. After her nap I’ll try and get her to model them. For now, I present:

The Ooh La Shorts:

Ooh la shorts

A relocation

It really pains me to do this, but for the time-being, I will be updating Megnut-type content over on Tumblr at (note the missing “u”). I wish there were an easy way to keep updating here, but I find the publishing system I’m using on this site is just too much of a pain (Melody, an open source Movable Type fork, if you care to know…) and it’s keeping me from writing.

I’ve been using Tumblr for my other site, and I love the ease of posting. I find that ease is allowing me to write about making do, but the non-ease here is keeping me from writing about pretty much a lot of other stuff. It’s been this way for ages, so this is an experiment for now. I’m going to post to Tumblr and we’ll see how it goes. I hope you’ll join me over there.

The anti-princess

I don’t know what it is about pink and princesses that pisses me off so much (ok, maybe I do, pink seemed frilly and lame when I was little, only prissy girls wore pink, strong capable girls wore all the colors of the rainbow, and princesses didn’t *do* anything, except wait for some prince to marry them, or eat an apple or grow long hair while locked in a tower…) but just when I was giving a little on the whole issue, I’ve discovered how difficult this battle actually is.

Minna and I go swimming every week together. The last few weeks her class has progressed to “separation”, and so I and the other parents sit alongside the pool and the kids swim without us. I thought it was all going so well, Minna was happy and swimming great. Today two other children joined our class so separation wasn’t possible. And with me, Minna decided she didn’t want to do the very activities she’d done so happily without me just last week. Our instructor came over to help.

“Minna, do you want to be a cat or a princess?”

“A princess!” said Minna

Horror on my face.

“Ok, let’s put on your pink princess gown, and your pink gloves and pull them up. And your sparkly crown and…” and on it went in an attempt to get Minna excited about the exercise.

It didn’t work, and princess or not, Minna wouldn’t budge from my arms. But I was so irritated to learn that this was happening RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE for the past two weeks. If we have to pretend to be something else while swimming, why not be a whale? Or a shark? Or a fish? Something that actually SWIMS! Not a cat or a stupid princess in a crown and evening gloves. Who swims in that anyway?

And why can’t kids just swim? Why the need to pretend to be anything but a happy kid swimming?

It’s dedoubt time: no more pink in the house! And I swear pretty soon when people say, “Oh she’s so pretty!” I’m going to snappily reply, “And very CAPABLE too!”


On Adversity

“If you’re successful all the time, you sell yourself short. How do you stretch yourself to the point where you fail, to learn how to deal with adversity?” – Gary Caldwell, Head of Tufts Rowing (and my former coach!)