Saturday, August 20, 2011
At first, I had the Apple Smart cover, but that does nothing to protect the rest of the machine's body, so I ended up buying a Timbuk2 quilted cover (at such a good sale price, as Homer has said, "I couldn't afford *not* to buy it!"). I can be clumsy in general, so this seemed a wise investment and has served me well in terms of protection.
However, I needed to do something about that keyboard.
Really, I don't want to lug around a whole lot of extra stuff, so a wrap-around case that incorporated a keyboard really seemed like the best option. I'd looked at a couple, talked to some people and read some reviews, but each seemed to have its problems. Zagg looks fabulous, but I can't flip the whole thing behind the iPad if i'm just reading.
Plus, as a writer who takes way too many notes, I'm a sucker for a decent keyboard.
So when on August 5, Belkin announced its iPad2 Keyboard Folio, I knew I had to give this a shot. Couldn't find anywhere to buy it online immediately, but found it at a local Target.
Although I'm curious that there were no real reviews--only product announcements. Maybe there's a reason for that?
After an exercise in origami, I ended up abandoning the wordless graphic directions, and just wrestled the iPad into the case, paired up the iPad with the easy Settings directions in the booklet, and went to town.
First off, the keyboard feel is really superb. The TruType keyboard rocks. It really is comfortable to type, and although I don't have man hands, I have long fingers and some keyboards feel too cramped for me. Not this one.
I touch-type around 100 WPM, and get immensely frustrated by keyboards that can't keep up. But these keys have just enough give, there's no clicking, they're not too wobbly or mushy. Overall, it makes typing longer entries on the iPad easy.
It's editing where I'm stymied.
OK, the Belkin's Quick Install Guide is really just that: the absolute bare-minimum basics when it comes to this device, some Bluetooth info, legal mumbo-jumbo, and service, safety and warranty blurbs. A loose little piece of paper added to the guide tells you that the Command key activates alternate keys, including Delete.
As a daily PC user who types to get the ideas out fast enough, the Delete key is an important tool--no, the most important tool--in my editing arsenal. I type and correct on the fly, using Delete as needed. Only now I have no Delete.
Although the little loose paper of additional instructions says Command activates Delete, maybe it technically does, but not in the way I'd expect. If I used Macs all day, it might be a non-issue for me. But using Command + Backspace/Delete deletes to the beginning of the line, not just the following character as a PC's delete button does.
I just keep Command+Z at the ready for these situations.
Also, the Belkin iPad2 Keyboard Folio would be really good if they'd incorporated Apple Smart Cover technology into the cover. That would have made it at least a bit more functional.
The absence of a magnetized cover also means that the cover just flaps open at will. I keep wishing for a Moleskine-type band to keep the cover closed, but I guess it would get int the way of the cover when it's opened up and positioned to type.
OK, I have to say it, this case is just plain ugly. Ugly, industrial grey pseudo-suede. But I get that they need to make a limited number of colors to appeal to the broadest number of people.
But I would have preferred black. And you can't really tell from the photos on the packaging that it's not black.
So that was something of a disappointment.
This has been just a few days with this keyboard, so I'll see how things go. I need to use it more to figure out how to use the function keys and do more research online to see if what I've experienced is just inexperienced-user syndrome, or if they're real deficiencies.
For now, I'm keeping my iPad2 enveloped in the Belkin Keyboard Folio.
But it's got me wondering if another product might take these small annoyances into account. Stay tuned.
Monday, July 4, 2011
1. Mr Spandrel is keeping us rolling forward with painting our bedroom and the painstaking prep involved. There is so much to be done that I tend to get overwhelmed by the thought of massive disruption... but the end result will be beautiful and serene, I know.
2. This holiday weekend was full of connecting with family and friends, without the stress of entertaining. This is a long weekend that I've largely been able to savor, whereas recent ones have been a flurry of preparation followed by recuperation. This is more fun.
3. A two-day business trip in New York recently that, although it was super busy and left little time for exploring, gave me a jolt of that city energy that I crave once in a while. Awakens the creative spirit, too.
4. Hammocks swaying in summer breezes.
5. A short work week awaits, and who wouldn't be grateful for that?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
It was the perfect job for me -- satisfy my curiosity, change up the routine a bit, and go to cities I'd never visited before.
My first business trip was to Manhattan, and to make it in time for an early-morning conference start, I'd arrived a day earlier, a Sunday. Leaving my bags at the hotel, I ventured out.
But I was prepared.
This was the days before the Internet, but I'd done some reconnaissance on shopping in New York, and it was research that paid off handsomely.
Beyond window-shopping, I wasn't too interested in high-end shopping, mind you, which is easy to come by in New York. I needed stuff I could actually afford on a journalism graduate's salary.
And I proceeded to have a mind-boggling shopping experience at Shulie's, a plain-Jane store on the Lower East Side, supposedly run by the sister of designer Elie Tahari. It promised discounted Tahari fashions from "last season," which I'd long ogled from afar.
After discussing my budget, the two saleswomen brought me loads and loads of clothes. Dresses. Jackets. Trousers. They patiently helped me piece together a 5-piece purchase that was more than I'd ever spent on clothes, but that served me well for at least 10 years, including a dress that made me feel fantastic each and every time I wore it.
So I have a special place in my heart for Elie Tahari. I still have to watch my budget, and buy anything made by the label on steep discount or deep markdown.
But I love to watch the Fashion Week shows online, and his line this year is just gorgeous. Shulie's is long gone, but I'm sure there's a deal to be found out there, somewhere.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
A few months ago, my grandmother passed away.
She was her own person through and through, and you always knew where she stood and what she thought about a particular food, fashion trend, or person's character.
She did not mince words, my grandmother.
During the last months of her life, I admit I visited her more often than ever, if only to burn the memories of her into my mind. Often, my sister and I went together to see her together.
Among the things my grandmother told us was that she regretted was not having spent more time with the two of us. And that hit me, hard.
It's cliche to say that our time here is so finite, and precious. But it's true.
And I'm still amazed at how much we -- really, I -- let it slip by. Even with the best of intentions to spend more time doing things we enjoy for and with people we care about.
So I've adapted my resolution to have more fun this year to have more fun with the people I love.
And I intend to make that a theme that remains in my life forever.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Organized a dinner out with my girlfriends before an impending snowstorm. The company and conversation kept us enthralled for two hours on a cold, rainy night.
Went to see A Single Man - beautifully shot and acted, with set design that just dropped you into 1962 and let you swim around in it a while. I hope that Tom Ford's maiden voyage in cinema isn't his last.
Met a new artist during a bead show that reminded me you have to do those things you love. So often, we do what we should do, nd not necessarily the things that bring us joy.
Finished a friend's necklace which I hope the new owner enjoys.
Struck up a conversation with a shop owner this weekend who mentioned she hasn't seen television in three years, that instead, she spends time her time only in the present moment, engaged in conversation with people in real life that she knows and cares about. Such a simple thing, but really, sensible.
And then, ate way too much during ravioli night with my family, enjoying the antics of my niece and nephew, and sleeping through the night for the first time in months.I love when days are jammed full of moments like that.
Monday, February 8, 2010
I keep this front-and-center this time of year, when I find myself slipping into complaint mode...
What about? You name it.
About wearing wool again.
About the wretched weather.
The lack of sun, the overabundance of root vegetables in wintertime recipes, the absence of inspiration and celebration.
Surprisingly, I've been doing pretty well with my New Year's Resolution.
Already I've seen more movies with friends in the past month than during the previous six.
Enjoyed more impromptu get-togethers, moments of herbal tea appreciation, good reads, great music and funny people.
The winter storm warnings hang over my head like a storm cloud, ready to rain on my parade. But I'm pushing them aside.
By tomorrow, I want to devise a list of 5 fun things I can do each work- or snow-day that involve zero calories.
Any ideas? Share 'em in the comments!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
That's all. In some ways, it's sad, isn't it? That I'd let life veer off into a groove that had worn itself so deep as to become a rut.
A rut I revisited over and over again this year.
Eat at various times.
As Gretchen Rubin points out in her book The Happiness Project, the days are long but the years are short.
In 2009, various things occurred, many of them not-fun. So that by the end of December, it felt like I shook myself out of the little fog I'd been in, and realized, another Christmas was here.
I'd like the next year to be different from the last one. Sure, there were good things that happened, but overall, Mr. Spandrel and I agreed that 2009 could be shown the door and never come back again, thank you very much.
So far, aside from already having much more fun in just the first few weeks of January, my little resolution has had a beautiful side benefit.
It's been a blast to watch the faces of the few people I've told this to in person, because a lightbulb goes off and they smile... and they agree that it will join their already-crowded lists of resolutions.
And that is just so much fun.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
- Vacation days during the week, while the rest of the world goes about its business.
- Spending more time than usual with someone whose company I really enjoy.
- Meeting a friend's family, admiring how much fun and joy they all have when they're together.
- Enjoying a delicious dinner with the one I love, at a restaurant we both enjoy, capped off by a dessert that was out. of. this. world. (I'm talking about you, lightly heated nutella-laced sticky bun ice cream sandwich with salted caramel ice cream!)
- The anticipatory smells of Hanukkah dinner - latkes all around!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Never in all the years that I've been cooking Thanksgiving have I had as much trouble getting my hands on a few jars of Heinz Turkey Gravy. (There's chicken flavor, sure, but just because it's poultry doesn't mean it's the same.)
And before you start, yes, I use gravy from a jar, I admit it. And yes, and I know how easy it is to make gravy, but with so many people under foot on that day, with many things cooking at the last minute at the same time, a very few gravy fans, I've found it's best to just pop the top and plop it into a dish to zap in the microwave so everything is piping hot and ready to go.
Seems like everyone else has been scarfing up the gravy in my neighborhood, thinking the same thing.
So if you need me, I'll be at store number 6, looking for turkey gravy (or maybe even store #7, but let's hope it doesn't come to that).
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Yesterday, our entire yard was blanketed with leaves. The chilly November air causing more to tumble down with each passing minute, the leaves click-clacking like ticks and tocks of a clock.
Raking took hours, sweeping into piles, then lugging tarpfuls to the curb. Back and forth, back and forth. By the end, my back ached, but not too badly. Just enough to know it was time to stop.
Went to bed early (9:30, on a Saturday!?), exhausted, arms and legs jittery from overuse.
Slept a solid 9 hours, restorative and deep.
This morning, I tackled indoor chores. It was hard to keep going, but thanks to Mr. Spandrel's help, we got through it.
By lunchtime, we were ready for a break and ventured outside. It was beautiful; 65 degrees that felt like 75 compared with yesterday's cooler temps.
We headed to a new place nearby for lunch, thrilled - and surprised - to see that their outdoor seating area was fairly empty.
After lunch, languidly enjoying the last of a black currant iced tea, I shuddered at what a wonderful weekend it had been.
1. A solid night's sleep.
2. A gorgeous day.
3. Yard work plowed through.
4. A bit of household organization.
5. Time spent with my favorite person.
They say each day is a gift. Some days, I'd rather return in the box it came in, get my money back - especially lately.
But this one? Priceless.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
thank you to top it all off - the trifecta of project management.
Too often, we move too fast to appreciate our own daily accomplishments, however small. Gotta savor those moments as they happen!
Monday, November 2, 2009
- Full moon light through the leafless trees.
- Cool fall air, unmarred by the snap of winter's chill.
- Roasted chicken picked up on the way home.
- The key turning in the lock, arriving home after a long day.
- Going to sleep early.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The piece de resistance, her iconic wedding dress, was there in all its glory, flanked by video of the wedding day. I remember as a teenager, watching this wedding unfold like a fairy tale on television, enthralled by all the pomp and the yards and yards of silk. Today, more than 25 years later, the dress seems fussy and a little too-cute in parts, embellished with puffs and bows and volume. But it was still a thrill to see it up close.
Diana's later fashion choices, from the beaded evening gowns to the boxy day dresses that were all the rage in the 80s -- my God, why did anyone think all that shoulder paddage was necessary? -- evolved into the fluidly draped silk dresses with intricate beading that caught the light as she made her entrance on every red carpet, elegantly exiting the limousine ever-ready to shake the hand of whomever was greeting her.
It is impossible to imagine living life enduring such scrutiny.
I'm no Anglophile, but it was still interesting to view some of the dresses that have appeared in photos over the years -- in all, a lovely way to spend a fall Sunday afternoon.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
As Marcus Buckingham says, you need to find the joy in the hard work you do. Getting through the work so you can go home and relish a little joy is no way to get through a work life. The passion and joy needs to be present for you to feel fulfilled. And they need to be finely woven into your day.
(Ideally, that is.)
Every workday has its drudgery - I agree with that, too. But much is in the attitude, so change is a-coming.
On Monday, I'm going to make some changes.
First task is to calm things down by slowing the pace enough so think rather than simply react. I will face the day, determined to find the bits of joy that can be had with a few small steps.
Really devote some thought to the projects I'm especially keen to contribute to and to make my own.
Appreciate the humor of the many people I work with each day.
Hang up a piece of artwork I really cherish so I see it 8 hours a day instead of hiding it behind a door.
What things can you do to make your workday more enjoyable?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Specifically, how all manner of printed products actually were produced and printed. The technologies used, the innovative papers and foils and hits of glosses that banded together to bring a printed piece to life, whether it was an annual report, a car brochure, a direct mail piece, an art book or a magazine.
I was in heaven--as an obsessive reader, I came to appreciate the heft of books and particularly magazines. How the pages gleamed and the images sprang from the pages in a visual marathon. While in college, I interned at a magazine and learned how the editorial side built an issue piece by piece, fact by fact, racing against the deadline that awaited every month.
So getting a documentarian's view of the production of Vogue's annual masterpiece of a September issue--the requisite shenanigans that play out behind the scenes, the fluttering of assistants and the rolling of racks and the racing of heartbeats as blood pressure boils over and defeat sets in amongst some of the most creative minds in the industry--was a startlingly good time.
When it ended, just like my friend seated beside me, I wanted more, more, more. We saw flickers of The Devil Wears Prada personality peeking out, but largely that kind of behavior was tamped down or largely kept from view and instead a carefully constructed Anna Wintour veneer was on display. For the sake of reality, I suppose, we saw her from time to time with her lipstick gnawed-off, or tired eyes caught on film for all to see.
But it was Grace Coddington whom I admired all the more in the end, for trying new creative approaches to telling the stories of those clothes each month. Clearly, she is the dreamer behind the visual driver's seat, assembling tableaus of models and props that take you to another world, whether Anna thinks she can charge her overpriced admission to go there or not. I understand she has a magazine to sell ads for, that it's a business that requires coverage of some and not others and that the who's in and who's out changes like the wind.
But while she clearly seems unafraid to be direct and even brusque with those beneath her, her peers bring out her insecurity. And we were treated to an example of how passive-aggressive bosses (who leave for a trip and ask an underling to deliver bad news once she's left the building) can just chip away at a team's desire to work hard.
Given the glimpses of Grace's chutzpah and keen intellect, I was hoping she'd grab the cell of one of the myriad assistants to call an unsuspecting Anna in her limo to give her what for. But she also strikes me as too shrewd to do that on camera, and probably too well-mannered, being British, after all.
If you've ever cracked open one of the heftier issues of Vogue and wondered what it takes to make it happen, or felt yourself transported to another time or simply pined over the clothes while paging through its fashion spreads, go see this movie. It is well worth your time.
Monday, September 7, 2009
My sports-obsessed nephew had been tossing a football around all afternoon with various family members, when I -- known as the least likely football player of the group -- picked up the pigskin and asked him to show me to throw a spiral.
(Remember, it's on my list? Yeah, I'd forgotten, too.)
When he heard it had been a goal of mine, he caught my eye, not believing what he'd heard, and we headed into the yard.
My nephew's normal 13-year-old impatience gave way to a forthright, gentle coaching. Laughably, he stood the same distance he uses when throwing to his five-years-younger sister (it's been a looooong time since I'd thrown anything).
We tossed the ball back and forth as he commented on form (follow through with throwing arm down and across body, other arm flows back in same direction to help body twist for power), and made suggestions for a variety of changes and subtle adjustments.
Eventually, I threw one!
Not far, and not easily duplicated, but we even had a witness: My niece, as cheerleader, stood nearby and let out a squeal when it finally happened.
It was a relaxing, and unexpectedly fun and satisfying way to end the day.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The hostess had prepared chicken with a white wine and mushroom sauce and a smidgen of cream. Sliced potatoes roasted in the oven with Swiss cheese and cream. Tangy ratatouille to cut the richness of the rest of the dishes.
Others had brought appetizers, wine and breads to round out the evening.
After work, I'd rushed home to finish my contribution -- a tarte tatin for dessert. While it took me 35 minutes to slice into 1/8-inch thicknesses the 9 or 10 apples I'd peeled and cored, it was a very zen experience. Counting each slice until I had eight kept me focused on maintaining even slices.
It hadn't caramelized, as Julia had predicted. (But since this was the only dessert on the menu, I opted not to follow the fix of smothering it with confectioner's sugar and broiling it, which seemed a recipe for disaster given my oven's quirky nature.) The resulting sweet and buttery, cinnamon-scented apples were delicious nonetheless.
And in the end, surrounded by apple peels and droplets of juice scattered everywhere in my kitchen, I felt I'd achieved something -- some small aspect of French cooking. I vowed to make more and I could see why Julie Powell set the goal of cooking every recipe in the book as goal.
The comfort from seeing a pile of ingredients come together into something that's satisfying and true can't be beat.
As one of my friends said when raising a toast at the start of our shared meal, Bon Appetit!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
- Looking up, and realizing it's Thursday and - holy cow! - where'd the week go?
- Getting sucked into a surprisingly great book (Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife.)
- Finding a few new beads at a show, then spending the week stringing and restringing, and just staring at the pretty colors every once in a while.
- Making incremental progress on a big-big-big project at work.
- Instigating plans with my best girlfriends that will result in a Friday night Julia Child foodfest to usher in Labor Day weekend. (Considering making madeleines to accompany the tea that will inevitably end the evening - unless I dig up something more manageable and healthy [wishful thinking] in my mother-in-law's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)
Monday, August 17, 2009
- Still feeling some residual, vacation-oriented bliss, even with the first day back to work over and done and realizing some perspective was gained by being away from everything.
- The calm that is derived from a morning walk.
- Polishing off a bar of Green and Black's Chocolate--before dinner.
- Salmon with onions, capers and lemon over couscous, alongside sauteed spinach.
- Genuinely feeling happy to be home.
Monday, August 10, 2009
- A softly broken-in pair of khaki shorts on deep, end-of-summer sale.
- Plans to attend a bead show in a few weeks, where my fave lampwork artist will appear.
- Clean laundry, fresh from the line.
- Meeting a friend's tow-headed little toddler for the first time.
- The restorative powers of the only Frappuccino of summer during a mini-heatwave.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Back then, while in the kitchen one afternoon, I found myself describing my actions, just as Julia did, in a sing-songy voice, providing detailed instructions to an imagined television audience on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my palate wasn't that refined, as a kid).
It was very important -- I admonished my imagined audience -- to spread the peanut butter to the very edges of the bread, without sliding out over the crust.
And the jelly? On that, one mustn't skimp.
When I'd stumbled upon Julie Powell's blog, The Julie/Julia Project, back in 2002, I was enthralled by the concept of this former Texan working her way through Julia Child's cookbook. But even more so, I was taken in by her writing. Julie would weave in thoughts about her day, the frustrations she dealt with at work, the challenges the recipes gave her at the end of a long day. And observations on the progress of her project.
It was like life -- full of triumphs and tears, challenges and surprises. With a supportive husband who popped TUMs like after-dinner mints.
And when Powell's book came out in 2005, I opened the box from Amazon with all the excitement of Christmas morning. I devoured the book, and felt, disappointed.
She'd aligned her blog entries alongside vignettes of Paul and Julia Childs' life together, imagining conversations that seemed to me contrived and drippy with nostalgia. Honestly? I sped through those parts, hungrily seizing on Powell's observations about aspic and omelettes instead.
Last night, a friend and I went to see the movie Julie & Julia, and I was surprised at having the opposite experience. The scenes with Julie, aside from the obviously soul-crushing days at the Lower Manhattan Development Project, were thin and uninteresting. But those where you see how Julia came into her own as a chef and relish her relationship with her lovely husband Paul -- those scenes were magical.
Now, maybe that's because Nora Ephron knows how to throw pixie dust onto relationships and capture those moments on film in a heart-stirring way.
It might be Meryl Streep's superb embodiment of Julia. From the physical aspects of Julia's game and gangly enthusiasm, to the bleats and huffs of speech that inflated Julia's body, caused her arms to flap and body to collapse on a couch with gusto.
Or it could have something to do with Stanley Tucci's sublime performance as Paul, a man who is beyond smitten by Julia. He obviously worships her, craves and appreciates the art found in and made from life, relishes performance and flourish. As an actor, he is just amazing -- or maybe like Streep, he found a character he could inhabit, rather than play.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm making a list of ingredients for sole meuniere.