Tuesday, March 29

booking it, vol. 2

I've been trying to read more and take advantage of my commute with audiobooks.  Here's what I've been reading/listening to lately:

Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
by Mary Roach

I listened to this while going to and from work over the course of about a month.  I really enjoyed it-- although there were a few times I had to skip a chapter (I'm a little squeamish).  Overall, I thought it was really interesting.  I was a little worried that the book would be dry and too scientific, making it difficult to follow along.  However, Mary Roach did not disappoint  in making science accessible.  She was funny, to the point, sometimes surprisingly bold, but always very human.  I wouldn't use this as a source, or partner it with other scholarly research on sex.. instead, this was a lighthearted (and at the same time scientifically solid) jaunt through some of the quirks and kinks of the history and development of sex research.

To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife
by Cailtlin Flanagan

This book came to me by way of Goodwill.  It was a yellow tag sale day. and the bright yellow cover and potentially snarky title caused this book to practially leap into my arms.  For those who know me well, you know that the Man and I joke about our stereotypical gender roles in the home.  You also know that a lot of my undergraduate (and some graduate) research was centered on gender-- specifically gender roles in romantic relationships.  I loved the dialogue (both inner and with the Man) that this book prompted. 

Granted, I didn't take it too seriously-- as some reviewers on Amazon seemed to, but instead appreciated Flanagan's writing style as an in-your-face and at the same time in-the-kitchen view of the challenges of being a modern woman.   Often I find myself torn between worlds and roles, and even find some guilt or shame in my enjoyment (and the fulfillment I feel) from being that sterotypical woman. But I embrace it, as Flanagan did.. or tried to as she meddled through her thoughts and feelings on marriage, parenting, chores and a carreer.  I really enjoyed this read, well worth the $1 I spent.

I am an Emotional Creature
by Eve Ensler

My bestie in the City sent over a few books to check out.  Included was the latest from Eve Ensler.  This was a quick but powerful read.  It really made me think about girlhood.. and about how my experiences growing up will be so drastically different than a girl hitting her tweens today.  Her account was a mix of poetry and short stories.  All of them poignant in Ensler's way.  I spent an evening or two reading it and although I may not be the target demographic, it without a doubt struck a chord on many occasions.

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures.
by Robert Wittman (founder, FBI Art Crime team)

I still haven't finished this audiobook (I'm on Chapter 25 of the last disc) but I have enjoyed it completely. It has everything I had hoped from the title: intrigue, an inside look at the FBI, interesting crooks, a dash of art history, and a peek inside an undercover agent's mind. I found this fascinating. However, it's not an "action" styled tale.. the easiest way I've been able to summarize the feel or pace of this book is by comparing "National Treasure" to "The American". Although there is intrigue, much of the action is through meetings, phone calls, making arrangements. The intensity is not through bombs, or high speed chases. Instead, I found myself hanging on the words of the crooks as they negotiate deals. Waiting to see how Wittman manages to draw out a confession through applauding the con-man's brash boastfulness. This book works on a more beauracratic pace, but as Wittman reminds the reader-- patience is key when working undercover. I'm anxiously awaiting the last few chapters, and for the end of his story to unfold.

Up next are a handful of cookbooks to flip through, an audiobook titled "Waiter's Rant", a little dose of Dave Ramsey, and a dash of cheesy chick lit.

What are you bookmarking these days?

Sunday, March 27

splendidly spring

For my friends where it's snowy, I'm sorry.

For those of us here in the South-- it's been a gorgeous past few days.  Sunny and warm with a breeze.
Perfect except for the pollen and a few spring-y showers.
Last weekend the Man and I spent a good bit of time working outside in the yard trying to determine if it was just the weeds growing, or if we might actually have some grass under all the dandelions.  We (and by we, I mean he) also worked on prepping a space for some tomato plants!!

I shouldn't be this excited, but I am ridiculously super-pumped to try my hand at some seriously home grown tomatoes.  Hopefully, I'll have some of my Dad and Sweet Grandma's mad-green-thumb-skills.  She could grow tomatoes all the way into December, and he has grown some about as big as grapefruit. 

In the meantime, I realized that I have yet to share my Spring mantle.  I'd like to add some touches of hot pink as we for April and maybe add in a few more flowers, but for March I'm liking the green and cream scheme.
It's a lot of the same- corkboard, two mirrors, and cream candle pillars.  I added in some of my Sweet Grandma's green glassware (a measuring cup and dessert dish) as well as a neat wire bucket/basket from a yard sale last summer.  I also hope to plant something in that larger cream crock, but for now it's a little sad and empty.

The wreath isn't as full as I hoped, but it's not too shabby for being about 6 years old.  I had also hoped to make a pom-pom garland, but I guess I'll save that for another time. This month has just FLOWN past..

What I am completely LOVING is the green polka dot ribbon.  My friend Ashley used it on a coffee filter wreath a while back and I knew then that I would be copying her look. 
The ribbon is on a spool at Wal*Mart (I know, I know... I try to avoid going there) for $2.  I made a special trip and will be going back to pick up more.  It's a great width and so cheery!

In all, three cheers for spring, tomatoes, and polka dot ribbon!

What is something you're cheering about this time of year?

Thursday, March 24

bitty blogiversary and a compendium of cakery

It has officially been one year since I first posted on the nerdy nest.  I want to thank those of you who've actually been following this little journey of mine.  It makes my day to see a comment or even when I see that another friend has found me out on the interwebs.  So, thank you!
I do plan on having a mini-partay at the nerdy nest tonight (the Man just doesn't know it yet!), but since I just realized today that it had been one year... I thought I'd do a little collection of cakery for you all in lieu of an actual celebration.  Because really, what is a birthday without cake?

let the sugar rush begin...

white chocolate dipped fortune cookies and strawberry cupcakes

pecan praline cake with a caramel cream cheese frosting

lemon cuppies for a co-worker's baby shower

"crayfish" red velvet cupcakes for the Man's birthday

strawberry jar cake (failcake) with cream cheese frosting mixed in

lemon and strawberry cupcakes en mass

my favorite cupcake liners, love them!
my rose cake (with an attempted heart inside) made from white and red velvet cake and a new buttercream recipe

an eight layer lemon cake with Sweet Grandma's cream cheese frosting
Those are a few cakes from the kitchen of the nerdy nest this past year,
it's certainly been sweet to say the least!

Monday, March 21

lemongrass & thyme?

I've been trying to make an effort to be more green around the house (in baby steps, nothing too drastic).  I had a great coupon off some Seventh Generation cleaning products and was in need of some cleaning wipes.

May I just say that cleaning wipes are one of my favorite time savers for cleaning our bathrooms?  I know they can be wasteful, but I've tried using microfiber cloths and in my opinion-- the wipes did a better job.

So I tried out the Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes.  They were supposed to smell like lemongrass and thyme.   I've never smelled lemongrass and thyme specifically, but I am not a fan.  The wipes smelled worse than my dirty bathrooms.  Seriously.  They were bad. Really, really, bad. Almost like in a cartoon where the stinky lines impishly curl around the source. 

I used them because I stubbornly did not want to buy more wipes until I had run out.  Still, I can't say I would buy them again. 

Just be warned. 
If you're going green (or even just trying a new product) give it a whiff first. 
My sniffer wishes I had.

Friday, March 18


I'm a total basketcase.

No seriously, I am.

I heart them.  I have too many of them.  I can't part with them.  The Man teases me relentlessly about my love of baskets.  I have to resist them when I'm out shopping.  And most of the time.. I.. simply.. can't.

Baskets are the perfect storage solution.  They are pretty, versatile, and can disguise (and contain) many piles of assorted stuff.  It was decided a while back, in a friendly debate-- that I should count how many baskets I have packed into our nest.

Let's take a brief tour of my basketcase-ery.

Keep in mind, I just focused on the "woven" basket variety.
Does that picture make you happy?  Are you also a basketcase? 
I can't stop smiling.. I just love 'em!

The best part is, that I use every single one of them.  For storing things like:
Christmas cooking paraphanalia
 wine/party glasses
assorted chips and munchies (yes, those are cheesy-poofs)
my sprinkle stash for cupcakes
library books that need to be read/returned
laundry that needs to be washed/folded
my magazine stash
the Man's cords, cables, and controllers
other baskets?
picture frames
batteries and plug-ins
off season linens and throws
the Man's random pocket treasures
brushes, lotions, and hair rubber bands
and our first aid kit.

Even better is that most of them were bought at a yard sale, thrift store, or were hand-me-downs.  One came from the side of the road, and another was a suprise craigslist find. I admit to picking up a few at IKEA, but even still--we're talking pretty cheap.

In total, I had 21 woven baskets (pictured above) and
46 baskets
in all. 
[That's not including bins or storage containers.  In my opinion, bins are a completely different category.]

Are you a basketcase?

Monday, March 14

mini bundt brownies

During part of the clean-up and clear out yesterday, Sassy Grandma decided that I needed a new Bundt pan ...or three, or four.... 
 I was most intrigued by this mini pan, or is it a jello mold?
 Although she claims to have had it for years (much like her Maneshewitz!), she can't remember how it landed in her cupboards. Most likely, she thought she might have picked up at a thrift store.
It's an alumnium pan, so it's quite lightweight. More than anything, I love the shape!  
I didn't exactly measure, but it seems to be about 9 inches in diameter and only about 3 inches deep.  Pretty unusual compared to a standard Bundt pan.
I have so many ideas for how to use my new pan.. but since it's a weeknight--a quick batch of from-a-box brownies will have to do.

Hopefully the Man won't mind too much...

Sunday, March 13

a lovely vintage?

Today, Dear Mother and I went over to Sassy Grandma's house to help her organize a few of her kitchen cabinets. 

I've gained a bit of a reputation in my family for being the "purger and organizer" since I've attacked Dear Mother's closet and cabinets, as well as helped the Dad purge a few times.  Still, I had a feeling that Sassy Grandma might not be too happy with my organizing style.

The ultimate goal was to make it where she could get to the things she uses easily.  Sassy Grandma is currently using an electric wheelchair in the house-- so it's important that everything she needs is in reach, simple and clear to see, and that we relocate or remove anything she doesn't use on a daily basis.  Any kind of change is very stressful for her, so it was also important to stay positive and choose words carefully. 

The first thing I did was pull everything out of the cabinets.  This was a little tough for her, but I think after we got started and she realized that Dear Mother and I were not going to "purge" anything without her okay. we were able to accomplish quite a bit.

I forgot to take before pictures, but imagine these cabinets full of bake ware and lots of canned goods.  In the end, I think she was pretty happy with the results.  Only time will tell.

If nothing else, I got in some quality time with Sassy and Dear Mother.  In the middle of our purge, while discussing all the different things Sassy Grandma used to bake, the topic of her drunken fruitcake came up.  She mentioned that she had a bottle of "fruitcake wine" hidden in a bag in her fridge.  Better yet, her "fruitcake wine" had not been touched since before my grandfather died, eighteen years ago.   

Meaning that this unremarkable bottle has not only been sequestered in a grocery bag behind the ketchup and barbecue sauce, but it has also been moved between 3 different fridges and two addresses.  How does this happen and neither her daughter or granddaughter know about it?  How many times have I opened her fridge for a soda, and bypassed this shrouded family mystery?  What else is Sassy hiding?

Sassy Grandma and her "vintage" Maneshewitz
Dear Mother was insistent that we at least see the wine.  Sassy nearly dared Dear Mother and I to try it.  How could I resist her challenge? 

So... let it be known, if I happen to die suddenly-- I did take a sip of Maneshewitz
[from a bag in my Grandmother's fridge]
that is old enough to vote.


Saturday, March 12

a facelift

It's been a low key evening in the nest-- the Man has a new game, dinner was leftovers, and I've been clicking around on the laptop. Even the cats are somewhat calm.  After a busy week, I am grateful for a little down time. 

I've been wanting to rework my little corner of the blogosphere, and what better time than tonight?  I'm not sure if I will keep it as is.. but it's past midnight and this Cindarelly's chariot is swiftly prepping for pie, which means this is going to have to do.

Speaking of corners of the blogosphere-- I also wanted to say hello to some of the people I *actually* know  (as in, I've met them in person, shared a conversation, and consider them friends) who've recently ventured into the addictive little land of blogging.  Please stop by their blogs and say hello!

Jennifer at Deviant Tart
and the two fab chicks
 Casi & Crystal at Birds on a Wire Photography

Cheers to a restful, relaxing, and hopefully sunny weekend!

Tuesday, March 8

let's go sailing!

Did you just envision a gorgeous coastline, the canvas sails whipping in the wind, as the frothy ocean waves lap at the sides of a polished wooden deck?  Perhaps you saw yourself reclining, basking in the sun as your crisp navy and white striped cardigan set fluttered in the wind, as you peered over the surrounding sea through your fashionably oversized designer sunglasses?

No-- just me, then?  -sighs-

Okay, let me clarify.  Maybe sale-ing is the better spelling in this context.  Because truthfully the scene was more like this:  surprisingly chilly Saturday morning, Samantha the GPS guiding the way, a Hardee's biscuit for the road, and a gaggle of bargain-hungry shoppers milling about in a stranger's yard.  In the South, the first semi-warm weekend signals the start of Yard Sale season.

I had initially planned on going to a friend's sale, and a large community sale a few Saturday's ago.  I hit both and made a few stops along the way.  One of the most memorable sales was at what I will lovingly call a McMansion.  It was in a wealthy neighborhood between Auburn and Opelika.  You could hardly find a place to park along the road.  I would estimate that there were probably 40 to 50 people there, at least. It was madness!!

It was a moving sale and people were clamoring from room to room to find a deal and guard their piles of steals.  For me, I found a few things-- a book I've been wanting, an interesting notebook, and a funny surprise for a friend of mine.  I wish I had thought to take pictures of this sale.  It was a little overwhelming to say the least.

Then I ventured to the NIE (Newspapers in Education) yardsale that was hosted by our local newspaper.  I didn't find anything huge (I know the Man was happy about that!)-- but I did score some great deals on some fun home decor stuff:

  • two mini mirrors that would be cute in a gallery wall (or maybe as coasters?)
  • a bag of faux apples (for $1!!) that I think will be perfect for an early fall mantle
  • a bag of decorative orbs in green (also for $1!) that are going in my IKEA hurricane for now
  • another basket-- addicted, can't help it
  • a few books
  • an awesome HUGE grapevine wreath (not pictured, it's still in the car)
  • my lovely pink peony wreath-- it needs a little love, but I can't help but smile when I see it
  • two urn planters (also still in the car) that need some serious TLC but have tons of potential

How do you like them apples? er..those apples?
Most of these finds came from one person-- it's always fun when I run into someone who has similar tastes and it is even better when they're willing to negotiate on prices.  Overall, I think I spent about $20.  More than I intended, but not too bad for breakfast plus a day of shopping.  Now if only I can stay out of the thrift stores and other people's yards for the rest of the month. 

Well.. at least until March 26th when my friend Casi is hosting a sale to raise money for a Breast Cancer walk.  It's supposed to be at TAGS Gift shop (in the Valley, I think) from 5:30am-2:00pm.

Yeah, I doubt I'll be an early bird for that one.  Maybe I'll see you there?  How does noonish sound?