Life in Maison Gezellig

  • Life in Maison Gezellig

    Seasonal Affective Disorder: tips for 2014 (and beyond)!

    diagnosis SAD

    Congratulations on making it through yet another winter with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD™)! To make your experience even more SAD™ next year, let’s review our list of DOs and DON’Ts:

    1. DO stay awake at night thinking of all the things you meant to get done that day but somehow didn’t manage to do. Lying in bed at 3 a.m. is also the perfect opportunity for any of the following: remembering embarrassing things that happened to you in high school, making lists in your head of all the ways you are like a cat, mentally composing blog posts that you will never  write down.
    2. DON’T assume people still like you! Just because they’ve never said an unkind word to you in the entire time you’ve known them or given any indication that they are upset with you, that last email they sent casts doubt over everything. If they didn’t now actively hate you, why would they take an entire day to reply to you, huh? And why put a :) in there if they weren’t thinking, wow, you’re a total bitch?
    3. DO get deeply offended every time someone tells you, “yeah, I hate winter too.” Some people are just assholes to even to try to relate to you like that.
    4. DON’T avoid social media: it’s your fast-track to self-loathing! You’re not on an expensive vacation from your lucrative job, are you? ARE YOU? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
    5. DO get irrationally infuriated by, oh, I don’t know, everything. Your manicure chipped, your phone’s about to die (because you forgot to plug it in), the super still hasn’t fixed that leak… the best course of action is to have absolutely zero perspective on these things and spend the afternoon in a white-hot fury. Scream at the cat. Pick a fight with someone on Facebook. Who cares?!
    6. DON’T tell anyone you are having a rough time lately! You don’t need their help/pity and who are they to know your private business anyway? Man, screw them.
    7. DO turn your back on things you like to do! If there’s something you used to enjoy doing, perhaps going outdoors or writing blog posts, or anything makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, you should put that off for as long as possible. Maybe for months even. You can think about doing these things (again, thinking about it instead of sleeping is suggested), but for fuck’s sake, don’t just do stuff.

    And finally, remember it’s just 258 more days until next winter! :D

  • Life in Maison Gezellig,  Unschooling

    Halloween 2012

    My 9-year-old daughter went as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween this year.

    We didn’t plan it; in fact, she was unusually indecisive about a costume this year so we went store-to-store and examined all the various possibilities.

    Anything deemed “girly” was ruled out (by her) but anyone in The Avengers (Thor and Captain America were both considered), Super Mario characters, and a few other options were all on the table… until she found the last “Sherlock costume kit” (which also included a monocle?) and that was it. Costume done.

    Now, most of you know I do not post stuff about my kid (or at least not very often) because I have always felt that she is entitled to her privacy, especially now that she’s old enough to read everything I write here.


    The more I look at this photo and think about it, the more I realize: I would never have had the balls (no pun intended) to dress up in this costume at her age.  

    What if no one got who I was supposed to be?
    What if people thought I was a boy?
    What if they all laughed at me?

    I don’t think any of these questions even occurred to her. (Okay, I just asked and she says no, none of these possibilities crossed her mind.)

    I don’t know how much of that is being homeschooled or how much is what I’ve instilled or how much is just who she is, but damn, that is fucking rad as hell.

  • Life in Maison Gezellig

    And so, another week goes by…

    Ordinarily at this time, I would be en route to my kid’s art class, probably hustling across Delancey Street right now, but seeing as she feels a little sniffly, I’m using this time to catch up on the things I’ve been neglecting.

    Like this.

    And you, reader(s), assuming I am still nestled into your RSS feeds somewhere.

    So… hi. How are you? How have you been lately?

    Me? I’m good. I’m kind of crazy busy lately, but in a good way, you know?

    For example, between this sentence and the last one I just typed, I had to reply to an email about the compost situation at our garden. Basically, we have a lot of food scraps and not enough leaves (or other “browns”) to make a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio so we’re scrambling to come up with a new source.

    Garden stuff like that, repeated 5, 10, or 20 times over the course of a day, really kind of takes up a good chunk of my day.

    Oh, speaking of compost, I’m now very nearly officially a Master Composter with the NYC Compost Project!

    Not that it got me the compost educator job I applied for last week… but it’s still something I am really incredibly proud of. I’m still not completely official until I complete 30 hours of compost-related volunteer work, so yeah… there’s that on my schedule now, too.

    And then there’s my kid (who took the photo at the top of this post) who is still homeschooled and still as rad as ever.

    Plus there’s my own writing work. Oh, and I’m writing reviews for Kirkus now. I think I’m supposed to stay anonymous or I’d totally post some of the reviews here. A couple of the books have been such utter crapfests that I would love to share the reviews I wrote for them.

    One thing I will say for being this busy…  America, if I ever busted your chops for your shitty food choices, I just want to say I’m sorry. 

    I see the appeal of the drive-thru, the frozen foods, the nearly instant dinner. Because sometimes it’s suddenly 6:30pm and everyone is famished and all you want to do is shove food in your face and then collapse on the couch for a couple hours. I have been there several times of late and those moments do not usually lead to very good food choices.

    So, if you have had occasion to roll your eyes a little or ever mutter “must be nice to have so much time on your hands” at me, I do not begrudge you for it.

    Because I totally get it now.

  • Life in Maison Gezellig,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Quick, yes. Inspiring, no.

    Poor little blog: you really get the short end of the stick, don’t you?

    What with trying to launch more freelance work, homeschooling my kid, and all the community gardening stuff (e.g. a huge opening day party to plan for next month), dinner has strictly been of the hurry-up-make-food-go-in-mouth-now-and-then-watch-Community variety — which is fine but not of much interest to anyone beyond those actually getting fed.

    So, what you’re looking at above are two beloved (if not very attractive) meals I’ve made this week.

    First up, pictured on the right, is something I look forward to making every year: corned beef fried rice, based on this recipe. Before making a traditional corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, I pick up an extra head of cabbage as well as a huge corned beef (which is always on sale that week) and then use the leftover corned beef (rather than the canned stuff) and the extra cabbage to make the fried rice. Depending on how salty your corned beef was you may want to skip the soy sauce in the original recipe in favor of rice vinegar, too.

    And on the left… a tostada with refried beans. I admit, I am somewhat in love with tostadas of late. They’re like huge unsalted tortilla chips and everything tastes better on them. I am also unequivocally in love with the salad you see perched on top of that tostada, which comes courtesy of Elise at, and consists of the following: shred half a head of iceberg lettuce and dress it only with vinegar and salt. Seriously. That’s it.

    You can be a lettuce snob and try a different lettuce if you want (in fact, that’s actually romaine in my photo) but take my word: it will not be as good. The cool, watery crunch of iceberg is the perfect counterbalance to earthy beans or the umami of ground beef on a tostada.

  • Brooklyn,  Life in Maison Gezellig,  Minimalist Living,  Photo Post

    Kitchen update:

    kitchen collage

    As you probably don’t remember, my kitchen is pretty tiny and I have pretty much zero interior design skills besides which poses an extra challenge for me.

    I think I may edit out a few things from this shelf arrangement (like, that one bowl on top of the plates is making me serious OCD-crazy looking at it) and I still need something to cover up that breaker panel at the top there, but overall, this shelf unit fits SO MUCH stuff in such a small space that I’m really pleased with it.

  • Being Frugal,  Doing More With Less,  Life in Maison Gezellig,  Minimalist Living

    dinner list > grocery list

    dinner list

    Every week, I write two lists: a grocery list and a dinner list.

    I know a dinner list seems a wee bit fussy, particularly from me and my Zero Tolerance For Fuss… BUT I’d say the half-hour I spend writing the dinner list saves me at least a couple hours a week and saves me money besides.

    Here’s how I do mine:

    Step 1: Assess the state of your pantry and jot down any meal idea based on what you can make with what you have on hand (or with the inclusion of one or two ingredients). For example, at the bottom of my list is an entry for tacos (because I found I had taco shells in one of the cabinets), so tacos went on the dinner list and sour cream and salsa went on the grocery list. I usually try to make this list after I hit the farmers’ market that week, but I’m in a kind of Greenmarket limbo since deciding I need to try shopping at a different one.

    Step 2: Pick something new to make. I get bored really easily with the same foods over and over (to the point that I usually don’t even eat leftovers the next day if I don’t have to) so I try to include some new recipe every week. This week’s list is slightly unusual, due to the fact I bought a copy of Donna Klein’s Supermarket Vegan this weekend, and I’m going through a MAKE ALL THE THINGS! phase with it. My parenthetical page numbers on this week’s list are all from that book.

    Step 3 (optional): Check out the grocery sales. I don’t always do this, but if I’m really hard-up for dinner ideas, I’ll go to the supermarket’s site and see what’s on sale that week. Otherwise, I just pick up some sale items while at the store and they end up as part of Step 1 in this process.

    Step 4, possibly the most important step of all: PUT THE LIST ON THE FRIDGE. I don’t even want to discuss how many times I have made the dinner list and then failed to take it out of the notebook and put it somewhere. Seriously. It’s shameful.

    With the dinner list on the fridge, I am saved my usual staring-blankly-into-cabinets-at-5pm-and-sighing time and can just get cooking without having to think about it (last night was the pasta puttanesca and it was crazy good) AND I know that the items that ended up on my grocery list have an actual use that week, which keeps me from buying perishable items on impulse and regretting it later (yeah, I’m looking at you, flaccid carrots).

    What’s your shopping strategy? One list or two? 

  • Life in Maison Gezellig

    A eulogy for a good boy: R.I.P. Wally, 2000-2011.

    I guess I’ll just jump in and get to it.

    Remember my debonair and handsome cat, Wally? A little over a week ago, we were all just hanging around the house, waiting for the cable guy to come fix the internet, when he suddenly became sick. Really, really sick.

    He was panting (which cats never do unless they’re in a lot of distress) and worse, he seemed to have no control over his back legs. I called a cab and took him to the Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group downtown. I quite honestly cannot say enough good things about this place. They whisked him out back almost as soon as I managed to choke out what his symptoms were.

    In brief, he had congestive heart failure, his lungs were full of fluid, and a blood clot had migrated to his spine. The drugs the vet had given Wally to alleviate his symptoms were doing almost nothing for him.

    I talked to my husband and daughter and told them I didn’t think we should make the cat wait for them to get to the vet office to say goodbye to him. So, it was just me there to see him off.

    I guess it was sort of apt, just me and him alone together,  just like when we got him. Ten years ago, my husband was at the desk of the animal shelter, filling out paperwork, and I was in the shelter’s room of cats deemed friendly enough to tolerate each other.

    I sat on a little couch, surveying the potential pets, and Wally just jumped up on the couch and flopped himself down next to me. Looking back on it now, I realize he was such a friendly cat that he probably would have done this to anyone (and probably had, for all I know, ten times already that day) but at the time, it felt like he picked me.

    Whether or not he was aware enough to know that I was there with him while they put him down, I guess I’ll never know but I like to hope so.

    So, goodbye, handsome man. You were friendly without being a nuisance to people. You escaped and ran away one time but came back two days later to get petted by us. You were funny and sweet and had an exceptionally expressive face for a cat. Although I probably won’t miss your talent for high-volume puking or the way you liked to hump stuffed animals at 4 o’clock in the morning (seriously, what was with that?), you were a good cat — probably the best I’ve ever known.

    One last thought: I’ve turned off the comments for this post — not because I’m so grief-stricken that I couldn’t bear them but because, despite all I’ve said here, it still makes me feel a little silly getting consolatory notes for, well… my cat. But please know that I deeply appreciate everyone’s sympathy. Thank you, everyone.