Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Commute Home for 2010

It is quite a shitty one. Why is there so much traffic?

Cookies for Christmas

Dorie Greenspan's chocolate chip cookies are one of my family's favorites so I made them in addition to the mini-cake and cupcakes for Christmas.

I remember the first time I made the cookies I thought they came out perfect--they looked like the Bon Appetit magazine article that included her recipe anyway. The subsequent times though came out kind of superthin and crispy. Jon liked them and my family preferred them, so I stopped trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Jon liked how small the first batch came out small. Like silver dollar-size. He said that cookies aren't really meant to be more than a couple bites. Some of these are one bite. Some are two.

I then accidentally overcooked a batch. I initially was taking them out at 9 minutes, but I set the timer to 9 hours instead, and it was 8 hours 45 minutes before I took out a browner (though not burnt batch). Jon said they looked better and tasted more complex. Jon likes burnt things though. But they did taste better.

So in addition to making the tiniest cookies possible, I had to bake them a tiny bit longer. And since I was doing the whole process by myself in our tiny kitchen, it took awhile. I had three trays with Silpats rotating--one in the oven, one cooling, one being prepped. I was a tired machine. (I must say though, the paddle that scraps the sides of the bowl is an amazing invention. Thanks to Charleen for that awesome shower gift!)

Start time was 11:43 p.m. and about 100 cookies later I was done at 1:55 a.m. Christmas day.

Cookies were crispy and delicious!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

XMAS Postcards

Last year I illustrated about a hundred postcards: snowpeople and wreaths and I tried a few other things too with watercolors . After painting the scenes, I wrote out the cards, and then I addressed them all--by hand. It was painful but satisfying. It was kind of like penance for not doing our thank-you cards for our wedding sooner. It felt like a married people thing to do, so I did it.

(last year)

This year, I thought that it'd be cool to use recycled materials for the cards.

  1. I bought 8x11 card stock and hand cut them into quarters. My mom got me a paper-cutter tool, but it wasn't meant for cardboard-like paper. I used it for tracing straight lines to then cut with a scissor.
  2. Then I cut out some holiday things that I found kind of cool, like the illustrations from the TraderJoe's holiday circular and a pamphlet that had a penguin selling cell phones at the Mitsuwa cell-phone store. For everything else, I recycled the paper bags that I got from Paper Source when I bought my wedding stationery by cutting out shapes and hoping for the best.
  3. I plotted out the scenes and glued all of the pieces down.
  4. I used stamps that I got from Staples to stamp most of the text. This took a few rounds of stamping: our address (should anyone need it), the message, and the web address with the card music video. It was somewhat painful, but easier than handwriting everything this year.
  5. The things I handwrote were names, addresses, and, for some, personal messages.
  6. Then I applied the stamps and hoped for the best. Hopefully, the mailman can pick it up from our apartment's box today to finally deliver these babies. (Oh, crap, the Canadians don't have enough stamps on them....Bummer.)
  7. Jon made the website in Lightroom and posted it on YouTube for mass distribution:

(this year)

Was it worth it? Well, maybe. I think I'm going to send out fewer and make those extra special next year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowasaurusizzard 2010

Just a week ago I posted a picture from a storm earlier this year to celebrate the beginning of winter. Jon thought it was from that day for some reason, but that day was kind of humid and warm. A week later, now we have one to two feet of snowfall.

It was really sunny on Monday, the day after the storm. I think it melted a lot of the snow, but I was inside the whole day so I don't know.

NJTransit suspended bus service. So if I had to go work on Monday, I couldn't get to work. Jon didn't go to work though he worked from home. I slept until noon.

I'm not sure why the cars in the photos above and below are parked like this. Jon suggested that the car at the bottom got too tired of practicing drifting and just stopped where it was. The car on top looks like it's in one of those car moving games. Get the red car out of the lot by swishing around the other cars.

The sky was more purple than illustrated below, but my cell phone has a tendency to go for the blue tones instead of the red. It was pretty anyway.

Morning Commute: Post-Snowmablizzgeden

Our sidewalk was mostly clear. It snowed at least a foot inches and then drifted higher in some areas. It was also really sunny yesterday, so maybe a few inches melted?

I waited between these two cleared sidewalk paths for the bus for a short while. The other stop was beyond the snowbank, and it was hard to know how packed it was. Then I got worried about how packed the bus could be, so I moseyed over.

If they plow the sidewalks and presumably the paths to the crosswalks, why do the crosswalks always end up so messed up? Why?

Waiting for the bus here. About a foot and a half of snow.

Knee high snow. Cooler than knee high boots? Or maybe it proves that knee high boots have a purpose?

Probably not.

Sant Claus is coming to home.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Mitsuwa to buy eggs for the baking I was doing for Christmas and pick up a cake from Italian Tomato/Saint Honore for Christmas Eve dinner. (It was Jon's idea to pick up a cake--I wanted to make chocolate pudding, but in the end, buying dessert really freed up some of my time to concentrate on the Christmas baking.)

Mitsuwa was really pushing the chestnut, chocolate, and vanilla-strawberry shortcake flavor cakes, but I wanted something fun and not too sweet so we went with the green tea cake. The sugar Santa and bodiless snowman was really cute too--especially compared to the weird things they had on the other cakes.

It came in a festive box too. Sant Claus is coming to home.

I thought Pam once wrote about Christmas cakes being a derogatory term in Japan in her blog, but I guess I was mistaken. Anyway, this was fun to read again too.

Ah...Christmas cakes:
Christmas Cake
In Japan, age counts. Especially if you are a woman. The ideal of feminine beauty in Japan is youth and innocence. Plus, there's a lot of pressure on women to get married. So, if you're an unmarried woman, and heading towards thirty, we'd say that you're being "left on the shelf" or maybe "past your sell-by date".

In Japan though, they compare such women to a "Christmas Cake." It may well be sweet and delicious, but no one really wants any after the 25th. So, if you're an unmarried Japanese woman, after the age of twenty five, you're in extreme danger of becoming a Christmas Cake.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mini Tiny Cakes

For Uncle Dennis's traditional Christmas-themed chocolate cake. Yay!

::Snoopy dance again::

(too much sugar?)


Chocolate sour cream cupcakes! They look normal! And smell good. ::Snoopy dance::

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Is in Two Days?!

A few weeks ago Jon and I went to see some Christmas-y stuff around NYC. Since I work in the middle of NYC Christmas-central, we went to see The Tree.

Jon saw this tree and liked it better.

Then we went to Bryant Park Christmas Shoppes and touched stuff at the Kate Spade pop-up store and got grits from one of the shops. Grits are good.

There was a tree there too, but Jon saw a tree he could call his own--if security weren't looking and we didn't have to lug the tree on the bus.

On our way down 41st to the Port Authority, I spied a little ball in the sky between the buildings. Do you see it? It's on the top of the photo and slightly to the middle right, glowing white.

It's the New Year's ball! But Jon saw a parking sign that he really wanted a picture of--along with the grits in his hand.

Oh, well. There's always 2011 holiday season for Jon to appreciate the blinking lights, flashing New Year's ball, and decorated trees.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Party Flowers

Took a half sick day today.

Husband was sick half this morning from who-knows-what (though we probably all do know what) from his company's holiday party. I had a lot to clean up, which started around 4:30 till about 6:30.

Everything at work was fuzzy. Husband brought flowers to cheer me up. Home now. Cheered up. Going to sleep, then start work.

Holiday parties suck.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I bought a bunch of shoes from Aldo's sale online a few weeks ago, and these are the ones I've kept. I've not had a chance to wear any of them though. The sandals and peep-toe flats are obviously not ideal for below-freezing weather, and there's not been an occasion to wear the heels. The excuse I have for the oxfords is that I bought them to wear with tights and skirts or dresses so that I wouldn't have to wear boots every time, but it's been way too cold to consider wearing anything to commute in besides UGGs and jeans/cords.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Muffin Loaf

It'd be weird to grab the muffin loaf back to take a picture of it, right? (Hence, the sketch.) I used frozen wild blueberries--the little mini ones. They bled blue all over the loaf--hence the greenish tinge. Irresistible, huh? It looked a lot better and tasty in real life. Ricotta added an interesting texture definitely. Lime is more assertive than lemon but it mixes things up. I don't know if I'd make it again. I'd make a coffee cake maybe. It held up well though. It's a Dorie Greenspan recipe. (Click on the loaf sketch for the recipe.)

I think I'm going to search Etsy for something cute for Dayna. $10 is our limit. Any ideas?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ate on 11/18

I saw this article on the New Yorker website and thought I'd try it out and see how I liked it.

In the meantime, I'm trying to think of something fun to bake/bring for breakfast tomorrow that will impress my coworkers. (We're having a meeting for our Secret Santa.)

So far the menu is: OJ, doughnuts, my handmade baked good (!)

I hope it doesn't suck. Any ideas? I was asked to bring chocolate, but I don't think it's a requisite. Maybe a Spanish omelet?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Super Special Shapes Party

It's kind of late in the day and it's right after a pretty horrible meeting that no one enjoys and I get a cover for a book. The book is for everyone's favorite little Mandarin-speaking cartoon and is about shapes.

I check it and all the text is fine, but this is the first time we're seeing art. The art of the main characters and details in the center of the book look fine too.

But then I look down on the right corner and see a parachuting bug. And I'm thinking maybe my eyes are tired. (An editor at the horrible meeting nearly ripped me a new orifice because I misread my 4 as a 1.)

But no, there's a parachuting bug and then I see her bug friend cheering her on from a leaf below. And I'm like, well, what else is on this cover that might seem odd?

And then I see mushrooms growing by the bamboo stalks.

And then it's so clear why there are parachuting bugs.

And then I had to route that and other work and draw these sketches for you to see because I could hardly believe it myself and wanted to record how strange (but awesome) my job can be sometimes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Yay! I proofread the first one and keyboarded the second one. Freelancing!


Written by Eileen Cook
(Simon Pulse; ISBN: 9781442413252; January 2011; Spring catalog page 75)

“Ever since her mom was killed by a drunk driver, Hailey—rich, smart, pretty and popular—has specialized in avoiding risk. Tristan, her boyfriend at their upscale boarding school in Vermont, dotes on her. So why does she risk everything she’s worked so hard for on a random impulse? Or is it random? After her dad cancels their long-planned summer together, she’s caught vandalizing a statue of the school mascot. Worse, she’s seen kissing her partner in crime, and he’s not Tristan. When she refuses to divulge his name, not only is Hailey grounded, so are her classmates, and they’re not happy about it. Her punishment includes assisting the janitor, Drew, a townie whose perspective rocks her world. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s also smart and gorgeous.) Hailey may be an A student headed to the Ivy League, but when it comes to taking a chance on life, she’s clueless. She’s also enormously appealing and great company throughout this breezy read. Yes, it’s chick lit, but of the highest quality—like a gourmet truffle. Cook has whipped up a real treat.”


Written by Kekla Magoon
(Aladdin; ISBN: 9781416978046; January 2011; Spring catalog page 49)

“Ella and Zachary, sixth-grade misfits, cling to each other to get through the taunts, rejection and, sometimes, abuse from their classmates. Ella is the only black student, and her discolored skin tone has some calling her “Camo-Face,” short for camouflage. Zachary, or “Z,” is small for his age and takes refuge in fantasy to cope with abandonment by his father. When a new black student arrives and seems open to Ella, she has hope for a new friendship, especially because, even though he can fit in with the popular group, Bailey reaches out to her. The insecure Z sees this as a threat, and Ella is torn between her loyalty to him and her wish for some normalcy. This elegantly crafted story features strong writing and solid characterizations of both main and secondary characters. Ella and Bailey’s racial identity is one element in a full and richly textured narrative. An out-of-the-ordinary setting—just outside of Las Vegas—and the nuanced picture of young teens and families under stress make this an outstanding follow-up to Magoon’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning debut, The Rock and the River (2009).”

Fog Across Manhattan



was foggy.
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