Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Styling with Renee Michelle Exclusive: DIY jewelry

If you're needing some bling, but don't have spare cash, I'd like to recommend a DIY ring. Slice a thin piece of a broomstick, then drill out the center to fit. (A caliper for measuring the diameter of your finger is helpful for that part.) A few coats of stain and varnish to bring out the grain, and voila!

Broomstick rings, total cost $0.

(This is the first in a new occasional SwRM series on planning a budget wedding. And in case you haven't figured it out, that's my engagement ring, from Andrew.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I've been making a lot of pasta lately. Sometime over Christmas break I got it stuck in my head that what my life was really missing was homemade ravioli. Then I discovered that pasta makers on Amazon are as cheap as $20. It arrived a few weeks ago, although my conference prevented me from putting it into action until this week. I made a batch of ravioli and a smaller batch of fettuccine. The ravioli turned out better than I expected - I used a ricotta filling which was rather runny and I had trouble sealing them. The fettuccine was awesome, and will definitely be a repeat recipe.

Today I set the pasta maker aside and am making 8 pounds of gnocci. Because, you know, gnocci in the freezer is like money in the bank. At least according to 8 out of 10 Italian grandmothers.

Can anyone recommend some killer ravioli fillings?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Starting anew

Imagine that you are someone who highly values your clean, orderly house. You are perhaps known for always having a tidy, welcoming home. While you aren't compulsively neat, it would only be a very tiny stretch to use such a phrase to describe yourself. Further imagine that your beloved has offered to build you a window seat, a piece of furniture you have been begging for during the last six months. Charmed by the idea of having something made, especially for you, by your loved one, you agree that it can be constructed in your living room. Now imagine, a month later, that you still live surrounded by wood, sawdust, and tools, and that your loved one has suggested that he has learned oh-so-much during this project that it would be a good idea if he just let the landlord burn what he has done thus far, and then your loved one could purchase some higher quality wood and build something so much better, because now he could do a much better job if he just started over.

Now, as you eat dinner on your two square feet of clean table, shoot him a very dirty look.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


My dining room table continues to look like this.
And the window seat continues to be a pile of two by fours, but they are now sporting many notches, which, I am assured, indicates progress.

To escape the mess, I'm headed to a conference for a few days, so no posts for a bit.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Starting 2008 off right

Today I've stayed at home for a day of enforced reading. I've got six articles and a book, and I admit that even though I read quite rapidly, the pile is a little ambitious even for me. To entertain you while I slog through this stack of papers, a review of our New Year's Eve with Motherrocker and family. At MR's suggestion, we prepared a series of little courses. There were
only a four of us planning to be there all evening (with assorted small children and friends joining us at various times), so we didn't need quantity, just variety.

We started with a great supply of olives and nuts leftover from Christmas feasting, followed by a sandwiches: cucumber, cheddar and roasted pepper, and, um, some with meat in them.

Later in the evening we had small scrumptious ramekins of French onion soup and Champagne cocktails. (What a discovery! How could I not have known about the delectableness contained within a Champagne cocktail. It takes the delicate flavor of sparkling wine and makes it even better by contrasting it with the slight astringency of lemon and bitters, mellowed by a bit of sugar. Wow.)
Later, when we thought we couldn't eat another bite, MR brought out a plate of homemade cookies and candies, for which she is famous (I assume - they were all great).

Some of us finished off the night with video golf. What a way to welcome the new year.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This next post is pretty much just for Andrew's parents. Andrew got his first glasses on Friday, and he spent all weekend exclaiming over how much he could now see. I snapped a picture just for his mum and dad:

(The cat was much less impressed by the corrective lenses than I - I like men in glasses. It must be a physics survival mechanism.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Styling Shapes

My big accomplishments yesterday? Writing one page of a first draft of a paper (not much, but I'm still proud to have put pen to paper) and buying this lamp.

Lately I've gotten more interested in the form of objects. This makes my life more difficult, unfortunately, because while I can slap some paint on and change the color of a piece of furniture, the basic shape is pretty much a given.

And good form doesn't come cheap. So, while I troll Craigslist and thrift stores, I also keep an eye on (gasp!) retail offerings. And when I found this lamp, I just had to have it. It's got clean lines, and the shiny chrome is going to work well with the 60's look I'm trying to achieve.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Construction Zone

We spent last weekend starting projects. Not finishing any, though, which is why the house looks like a Home Depot exploded inside it. (Which isn't actually possible, of course, because even aside from the fact that if a Home Depot did explode, the contents would probably not remain intact, you could also fit roughly two dozen apartments sized like mine into one Home Depot.) But I digress. The point is, my kitchen table is currently being used as a set of sawhorses, a dozen 2x4's are next to the couch, and the clock I'm rehabbing is spread out in the bedroom. Darn the New Year - it breeds good intentions which breed mess.

Monday, January 07, 2008


A friend and I were recently discussing an emotion that we've both been recently struggling with - jealousy. I'm not sure I had been jealous (at least in my adult life) before this. If someone's life looked better than mine, I'd take it as a signal that I needed to make my own life better, and figure out a way to do just that. But sometimes there are simply circumstances that are beyond your influence. I regularly read blogs written by people dealing with infertility, and this particular emotion often plays a supporting role there. (While I'm not going to get too detailed here, I will clarify that infertility is not what's causing my woes.)

I don't think you get much guidance on how to cope with this when you are growing up. Sesame Street does not seem to have ever done a skit on what to do if you want someone else's ice cream cone. I suppose Mr. Rogers (and I've always liked his show better than Sesame Street) would tell me to be happy with what I have. And I try. But sometimes that doesn't work very well, so then I just aim for distraction.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The grindstone

After a lovely two weeks in which I forgot my profession (I do physics? No kidding, that sounds pretty interesting; tell me more about it...) I am back, watching videos and reading papers. Yes, I watch videos for a living, although it sounds a bit more leisurely that it actually is.

I was greeted this morning at the office by a tiny frantic cockroach in one of my desk drawers, which allowed me to provide entertainment to the rest of the office with my shrieks and dash across the room. I was saved by a coworker who killed the bug. (After pointing out how tiny it was. But really, who claims that fear is proportional to size?)

I'll post pictures from our New Year's Eve celebration with Motherrocker, but not today. A lit review is beckoning, and I can't resist...