Saturday, June 28, 2008

So many books, so little time

Last night I was waiting for Kelli for our La Sandia dinner date (Mexican food week lives on!) at Barnes and Noble and practically had to chuck my wallet out of the store so as not to buy 10 more books in addition to the two I am waiting on from amazon. I am adding these three to my "to read list". For the record.

The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century

From the book jacket/amazon: As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man's mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.

It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger's success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.

[Art and Nazis. Has to be fascinating.]

Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp

From the book jacket/amazon: While she is pregnant with twins, one sentence uttered by her doctor sends Stephanie Klein reeling: "You need to gain fifty pounds." Instantly, an adolescence filled with insecurity and embarrassment comes flooding back. Though she is determined to gain the weight for the health of her babies--even if it means she'll "weigh more than a Honda"--she can only express her deep fear by telling her doctor simply, "I used to be fat."

Klein was an eighth grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her "Moose," and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, "No one likes fat girls." After many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the fat doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Klein's parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp. Determined to return to school thin and popular, without her "lard arms" and "puckered ham," Stephanie embarked on a memorable journey that would shape more than just her body. It would shape her life.

In the ever-shifting terrain between fat and thin, adulthood and childhood, cellulite and starvation, Klein shares the cutting details of what it truly feels like to be an overweight child, from the stinging taunts of classmates, to the off-color remarks of her own father, to her thin mother's compulsive dissatisfaction with her own body. Calling upon her childhood diary entries, Klein reveals her deepest thoughts and feelings from that turbulent, hopeful time, baring her soul and making her heartache palpable.

[Love reading memoirs. Last great memoir I read was that of a polygamist's wife.]

Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You

From the book jacket: Does what’s on your desk reveal what’s on your mind? Do those pictures on your walls tell true tales about you? And is your favorite outfit about to give you away? For the last ten years psychologist Sam Gosling has been studying how people project (and protect) their inner selves. By exploring our private worlds (desks, bedrooms, even our clothes and our cars), he shows not only how we showcase our personalities in unexpected-and unplanned-ways, but also how we create personality in the first place, communicate it others, and interpret the world around us. Gosling, one of the field’s most innovative researchers, dispatches teams of scientific snoops to poke around dorm rooms and offices, to see what can be learned about people simply from looking at their stuff. What he has discovered is astonishing: when it comes to the most essential components of our personalities-from friendliness to flexibility-the things we own and the way we arrange them often say more about us than even our most intimate conversations. If you know what to look for, you can figure out how reliable a new boyfriend is by peeking into his medicine cabinet or whether an employee is committed to her job by analyzing her cubicle. Bottom line: The insights we gain can boost our understanding of ourselves and sharpen our perceptions of others. Packed with original research and fascinating stories, Snoop is a captivating guidebook to our not-so-secret lives.

[I am dying to learn what my crazy messy cubicle says about my personality and especially my commitment to my job.]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sup Chip

Thanks to Amanda for introducing me to my new favorite chip - the Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno Tortilla Chip.

Tastes amazing with Whole Foods brand pico. I can only imagine pairing it with some guacamole. I only wish the Whole Foods guacamole came in the On the Border "live" version. YA know.
(pic from

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Concert Announcements

The Kooks - 9/8; on sale Saturday, June 28 at 10 am

Cold War Kids - 10/18; on sale Friday, June 27 at 10 am

Bumper Stickers

Stupid Bumper Stickers application on facebook, why must you waste my time? I enjoy this one in particular:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mighty Life List

A blog I occasionally read is Mighty Girl. This blogger has shared her Mighty Life List and encourages readers to also create a list of 100 things they would want to do before they go -- in other words, a bucket list. I have made a list of 50 things and stopped there because already it got overwhelming. These are in no particular order and I have actually done 7 of them already but they are on the list regardless and I would even do them all over again.

1. Cook a gourmet meal.
2. Read major works of Russian literature in Russian.
3. Dye hair black/dark brown.
4. Go skiing in Megeve, France or Buttermilk, CO (or other good beginner trail).
5. Go to a Redskins game.
6. Go to a World Cup game. I may make do with a DC United game.
7. Buy an expensive bottle of champagne. Like those rappers.
8. Have a dog. One to whom I can say, “You cut to the core of me, Baxter” or name Cosmo.
9. Live in another country.
10. Write a successful blog.
11. Go on a cruise.
12. Visit the Acropolis in Athens.
13. Sign up for a ballet class.
14. Learn ballroom dancing.
15. Watch the sun set behind the Great Pyramids in Giza.
16. Watch the sun rise at Stonehenge.
17. Go to a kabuki play in Japan.
18. Make cheese.
19. Publish something.
20. Buy an original piece of art.
21. Take a painting class.
22. Take a golf class or go golfing.
23. Own a business.
24. Teach a course.
25. Become fluent in French.
26. Know basic Spanish.
27. Take a course at Oxford.
28. Become better at photography.
29. See an opera at the Met.
30. Spend a day at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
31. Spend a day at the Louvre in Paris.
32. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich.
33. Go to Carnaval in Brazil.
34. Become a better swimmer.
35. Go to a petting zoo in Australia.
36. Have afternoon tea at the Ritz.
37. Make a scrapbook.
38. Learn to play guitar.
39. Learn to play the drums.
40. Refresh my memory and fingers for piano pieces I’ve played, learn some new pieces, and have a recital for my closest friends.
41. Learn to make all of my favorite Russian foods from my mom.
42. Completely fill in my sketchbook.
43. Take a special someone to Russia with me.
44. Own a summer home.
45. Donate money to the Banneker/Key Scholarship at the University of Maryland.
46. Participate in a tea ceremony in Kyoto.
47. Wait by the stage door after a concert and meet one of my favorite bands.
48. Go to a taping of The Daily Show. (and meet Jon Stewart?)
49. Go skinny dipping.
50. Form a Depeche Mode cover band. I would be the lead singer of course. (This one is probably the most overwhelming.)

Berlin Graffiti

I both love and hate the internet because you'll start in one place and ten links later you'll find you've gone down a rabbit hole and are looking at something completely unexpected.

I started reading an NYT article on where to eat and what museums to see in Berlin. A few clicks later I found these two interesting sites:

1. Berlin Wall Art. This site has a gallery of over 80 photos of the west side of the Berlin Wall, six months before it was torn down. Artists and visitors on the west side of the wall had the freedom of expression to draw and write messages on the concrete walls. I tried finding an art book on amazon that has a similar collection, but unfortunately nothing caught my fancy.

2. Banksy's Tour in Berlin. Banksy is a British street artist who does a lot of cool graffiti with stencils. This Google map shows 32 of his pieces artwork he spraypainted in 2003 and 2004 in Berlin. A few were featured in a book I have, Wall and Piece. Here are some good ones:

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Since publicly announcing that on my trip to Germany I plan to backpack, as we'll be moving to a new city or town practically every day, I have gotten many responses -- Jenny offered her backpack for my use, Kristin suggested I visit for ideas and tips on packing, and Brendan just makes fun of me.

I think my first step may be to borrow Jenny's backpack and do a dry run. Take the backpack home, and see how many pairs of shoes I can bring to Germany with me. Then see if I can lift it and take it up a flight of stairs.

But what to pack and how to pack it? I had heard about rolling clothes of course, but One Bag talks about "bundle wrapping". I am not 100% on board yet, but apparently this technique reduces wrinkles and creases in your clothing. There's a diagram and everything. One Bag also suggests practicing "buddy packing" or packing half of each person's things in the other's bag. If one bag gets lost, each person will at least have half of their stuff. Dana doesn't know it yet, but I actually WAS going to suggest that one of us bring a shampoo bottle and the other bring the conditioner. I think that's totally practicing good buddy packing.

One Bag has checklists for what to pack, but it also links to a website called The Universal Packing List. This website will customize a packing list for you based on criteria such as the dates of your trip, the temperature highs and lows, your gender, accommodations, and mode of travel. I apparently can't leave town without a sarong, medication against yeast infection, my malaria tablets, a swiss army knife, and a corkscrew.

Friday, June 20, 2008

American Boy

Currently the song I want playing in my ear 24/7: American Boy - Estelle (feat. Kanye West). I don't care what Republicans say, Kanye is awesome.

Also, I looked up the lyrics to that new Pussycat Dolls song:

When I grow up
I wanna be famous
I wanna be a star,
I wanna be in movies

When I grow up
I wanna see the world
Drive nice cars
I wanna have groupies

For the past week I honest to goodness thought they were singing "I wanna have boobies".

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Embracing My Russi-anity

Mr. and Mrs. Putin. I kid, I kid.

Soaking in the culture in St. Pete's.

Soaking vodka at the Absolut Ice Bar in London

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Me Jana

Tonight Kristin, Alison, and I had dinner at Me Jana, a Lebanese restaurant at Courthouse. I've found a new neighborhood favorite. Although they serve main dishes of various kebob, the thrust of the menu is the mezza, or small plates of delicious. We sat outside on the patio, drank some Lebanese red wine, and relished the

Kafta Kebob - Ground lamb and beef mixed with onion, parsley and spices.

Chicken Shawarma - Marinated chicken in garlic, lemon juice, slowly roasted. Served with garlic whip and sumac onion.

Falafel - Chickpea and fava bean croquettes with tahini sauce, tomato, parsley and mint.

Cheese Rolls - Manchego and Feta Cheese wrapped in phylo dough and fried crispy.

Fatteh - Fried baby eggplant topped with yogurt, pine nuts, chickpeas, garlic, and olive oil.

Those are the descriptions on the menu and they make me salivate.

When I got home I may or may not have eaten some ice cream for dessert, provided by my employer as a summer gift, while watching season 3 of Weeds, loaned to me by Dana, on the flat screen TV Papa Tomarev helped me to set up in my room. I am so loved.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sweet Dreams

My favorite routine from last season's So You Think You Can Dance:

Don't have a favorite dancer this season yet. Maybe the guy from Kazakhstan. This suit is NOT black!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How I Met Your Mother

Watching it. Loving it. Basking in its glory.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I am happy for Barack Obama and all, but watch this. So sad and true.

Tonight's Seinfeld Quote

KRAMER: Do you ever yearn?

GEORGE: Yearn? Do I yearn?

KRAMER: I yearn.

GEORGE: You yearn.

KRAMER: Oh, yes. Yes, I yearn. Often, I...I sit...and yearn. Have you yearned?

GEORGE: Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving...but I haven't yearned.

KRAMER (in disgust): Look at you.

GEORGE: Aw, Kramer, don't start...

KRAMER: You're wasting your life.

GEORGE: I am not! What you call wasting, I call living! I'm living my life!

KRAMER: O.K., like what? No, tell me! Do you have a job?


KRAMER: You got money?


KRAMER: Do you have a woman?


KRAMER: Do you have any prospects?


KRAMER: You got anything on the horizon?


KRAMER: Do you have any action at all?


KRAMER: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?

GEORGE: I like to get the Daily News!

(The Keys)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Today I learned about Picnik for editing photos. Here is a before and after of Wilson Tomarev.



Doesn't he look handsome in good lighting, on a Polaroid?

Yes, that's right, he decided to sit in a glass bowl that was set out on the kitchen table. Circa one year old.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Finer Things Club Visits the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City

This weekend, Dana, Christine, Jackie, and I visited the Jerz. Dana's family generously opened up the doors of their shore house at Stone Harbor for our rest and relaxation, while the Borgata opened its doors for our entertainment.

A word on gambling. I had never been to the casinos as an adult. The only other time I had been in a casino, I was 14 years old and not allowed to stop and look at anything or make eye contact with the people dressed up as gladiators at Caesar's Palace. So after our enormous dinner at Bobby Flay's and a disastrous key lime pie dessert, I was let loose. As we are high rollers and the one-cent and two-cent slot machines are beneath us, we made a beeline for the five-cent slot machines. At the "Amazon Queen" I put in five dollars and in a few moments I cashed out with $10.70! The envy of all, next I tried my luck at "Russian Treasure" thinking, hey, this is going to be very lucky for me. In a matter of minutes I was down $25 and thinking that this machine was very realistic and completely Mother Russia-like -- there IS no treasure, and it takes all of your money and spits in your face, figuratively. The loss of my original earnings of a whopping five dollars is still a sore subject, although I still loved the Borgata because its background music included Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and DEPECHE MODE in its rotation. It's almost as if the casino knew I would be in attendance.

After Christine and Jackie left on Saturday afternoon, Dana and I spent the rest of the time at Stone Harbor. Here are some pictures that I enjoy:

The view from Dana's porch. We sat and read here when it wasn't too cold. I loved the house and adopted it as my own.

Late Saturday afternoon/early evening, there was a huge storm. Towards the end of the storm we drove around the entire island and looked at all of the houses and condos. This one was a Katya pick. I probably liked it only because it looked bright and pretty in the rain. Otherwise, it isn't really in the same style as all of the cute shore houses.

We also drove around for about twenty minutes, breaking all sorts of traffic laws, to get a good shot of the Stone Harbor water tower. Sadly, this is the best I got.

Sunset on Dana's street.

Sunset on the bay.

I snuck a picture of some random people in front of the sunset.

In addition to house hunting, we spent a significant amount of time in the center of town. I made poor Dana go into town with me for shopping at least four times. My favorite shop was called the Frog and Toad and it just sells STUFF, a lot of STUFF. I felt inspired to purchase this kids' sketchbook:

The sales lady asked me if I was an artist or art student, to which I replied no, I just thought the book was really cute, but secretly my soul was smiling. Maybe I will start a new blog section called "I dabble" where I share pages of said sketchbook. You've already seen my dabbling in photography with the point-and-shoot. Wait until you see me dabble with Crayola markers.

My other glorious purchase was a book on Frank Lloyd Wright's favorite furnishings. It makes me really want to go visit Fallingwater sometime this summer or fall. My parents took me there too, but of course I was too young to appreciate it.

On the way back from the shore, to pick up our spirits and also delay coming back home, we made a few pit stops. In addition to two farmer's markets, we stopped at a random winery, Auburn Road. We were only in there for ten minutes, but tried two wines and walked away with some bottles of Pinot Grigio. Great success!

Thanks again to Dana and her family for a fantastic weekend!