Archive for homemaking

On the Giving and Leaving of Notes


Notes, a vital part of domestic life.

I was actually going to give you a panna cotta update tonight, but instead Wonk the Plank realized that we could watch the entire Silence of the Lambs via YouTube and, well, you can figure out the rest.

So I’ve got nothing. Nothing. Except some notes. Domestic notes.

Wonk and I are fans of notes. It all started with an elaborate treasure hunt he made for me when we were first dating, which involved a series of notes with clues that took me way too long to figure out. That treasure hunt is one of my fondest memories. I think I still have those notes in a box somewhere.

We still employ notes, but for more mundane matters – I leave him notes telling him where the dinner is if I’m out for the night, and he leaves me notes alerting me to the existence of snacks in the fridge.

The other week I woke up to the following series of notes. Wonk had left before me and, I suppose, was afraid I wouldn’t find my lunch. Yes, I didn’t really need a Plank to tell me where my lunch was. But is there really a better thing to wake up to? I don’t think there is.


Note Number One

The first of the notes. The satsuma oranges are the first part of the lunch components.


Note Number Two

This one was right between the table and the fridge.


Note Number Three

This one was on the kitchen floor, pointing the way to leftovers in the fridge.

In case you’re wondering, I found the lunch.


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Domestic Blind Spot: Duvet Covers

For most of us (with the possible exception of Martha Stewart), despite having mastered many of the domestic arts, something falls through the cracks. Like one day someone suggests that you make a souffle, and you have to bashfully admit that you’ve never made one before. Perhaps you’ve always been too afraid to tackle pie crust, even though you’re a whiz with yeast breads. Even the best Modern Domestic has a domestic blind spot or two.

For me, it’s the duvet cover. I don’t have a method of putting on a duvet cover that doesn’t make me look like an idiot. Despite owning them for many years, the way I still put on a duvet cover is to lay out the cover, crawl inside with the comforter,  carefully lay out the comforter, crawl out, and give the comforter/cover a good shaking. Not only is it laborious, but it looks like I’m trying to build a fort in there. Above, you can see Wonk the Plank demonstrating my duvet cover method, or lack thereof.

I always thought that this was the way duvet covers were put on. But I recently did a little research and found that there are much easier – and much more dignified – ways of putting on a duvet cover – methods that involve carefully folding the duvet cover over the comforter, or shimming the duvet cover over the comforter.

In fact, when I look back on it, the fact that I blindly accepted that this must be the only way to put on a duvet cover, makes me feel a bit like a modern jackass, blindly accepting knowledge for years that turns out to have been wrong.

Of course, I have many other domestic blind spots (gardening comes to mind), but this is one I have to deal with on a fairly regular basis, depending on how ambitious I get with the laundry.

What are your domestic blind spots? Is there something you’ve always meant to do in your home that you’ve never done? Have you overlooked a certain area of domesticity?

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Weekly Roundup: Top Chef Controversy Continues

WSJ Wines

February 28th was "Open That Bottle Night." Did you pop a cork on anything special?

Good morning Modern Domestic readers! Can you believe it’s Monday yet again?

  • But wait, there’s more Top Chef drama! The Best Bites piece linked to this SideDish article, where Casey Thompson (Carla’s sous-chef and past Top Chef Contestant) has harsh words about Carla’s cooking. Like, really harsh words. Wow, is someone still bitter about her horrific loss in Season Three?
  • Do you have a bottle of wine that you’re saving for a special occasion, except that no occasion ever seems special enough? That’s why Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the Wall Street Journal’s wine critics, invented Open That Bottle Night.” Each February 28th, the famous duo opens one of those “special” wines with their friends and family –  because, after all, wine is meant to be enjoyed, not to gather dust on a shelf. Terry Gross interviews John and Dottie about the 10th anniversary of Open That Bottle Night on NPR’s Fresh Air.
  • If you’re interested in branding and marketing, you’ve probably noticed that Tropicana rebranded it’s orange juice — except the new “brand” is so boring it looks like it belongs to a generic. The Kitchn alerted me to this New York Times article: Tropicana is rolling back all the new branding. Wow, maybe because it sucks? Boy am I glad that I don’t work at the marketing firm that put that little project together.

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Orange You Glad We Didn’t Say Banana?

With ModernDomestic ailing, it has fallen to WonkthePlank to titillate the ‘sphere with a guest blog recipe so delicious, so outrageously flavorful that the masses will drive her beloved Blog Stats up to heretofore unseen highs. That, we think, is truly the best medicine.

With that in mind, we proudly present:

And lo, a Child is born!

A meal full of healing energy for ModernDomestic!

Orange Mac and Cheese with Ants on a Log
A WonkthePlank mainstay from our bachelor days


1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
7.25 oz. elbow macaroni
1 bag orange powdered cheese
2 sticks celery
peanut butter


First, boil some water in a pot and cook the macaroni for 7-10 minutes or until tender.

While the macaroni is cooking, wash the celery (ideally, it should be aged 2-3 weeks), spread some peanut butter on and stick your ants (raisins) on top.

Once the macaroni is done, add the powdered Plank sauce, the butter and the milk. Stir vigorously until the macaroni turns a bold, shocking orange.

And lo, a Child is Born!

And lo, a Child is Born!

Now, some cooks may not have the virtuosity required to prepare the pièce de résistance that is Orange Macaroni and Cheese with Ants on a Log. But for these yeoman chefs, fear not! We have lower hanging fruit – in the form of a banana.

Even an inexperienced chef can handle this recipe with ease

Even an inexperienced chef can handle this recipe with ease

Sliced Banana With Toothpick
Another WonkthePlank original


1 banana
1 toothpick


Peel, then slice the banana into bite-sized chunks. Insert toothpick. Serve chilled.

A tasty treat that anyone can prepare


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Weekly Roundup: Can This Furniture Store Be Saved?

Domino Cover

Domino is closing! Domino is closing!

Good morning MondernDomestic readers! Here’s domestic news from the internets to accompany your Monday morning coffee.

Domino Is Done For

  • No! The rumors are true! My beloved Domino, the hip and stylish home-decor magazine, is closing its doors. The last issue will be in March. Read more and commiserate over at Design*Sponge.

Carla and Spike Party Top-Chef Style

Sugar and Champagne Wrap-Up

Desperation Hits Home Furnishings Market

  • Wow, so those increasingly desperate sale emails I’ve been receiving from The Pottery Barn aren’t just an isolated trend for home decor stores. The New York Times has an excellent piece on how the home furnishings market has collapsed in the economic downturn.

Delleicious DC Checks Out Red Velvet Cupcakery

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Domestic Snapshots: Amaryllis In Winter


My amaryllis decided to bloom during DC's first winter snowstorm this year.

I’m not a green thumb, not by a long shot. But I’m happy to report that today, during the first real DC snowstorm of the year, my amaryllis plant is blooming for a second time.  The plant was a housewarming gift from Ferosha, and hasn’t bloomed for more than a year, probably because of my neglect. But lately I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my plants, and the daily watering has really paid off.

Of course, a DC “snowstorm” means you get four inches of snow, forcing schools to close, businesses to shut down, and Northeasterners like WonkthePlank and Midwesterners like Elpis and Justice to laugh their heads off. But even if the snow blanket is paltry, the English lit geek in me savors the poetic irony of my amaryllis blooming in the dead of winter.


Who knew that all it needed was daily watering and moderate sunlight?

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Monday Roundup: Mimosa is the New Black

Mimosa close up, the Women's day flower in Italy.

Mimosa flowers and the Pantone color of 2009.

Image via pizzodisevo on flickr, under the Creative Commons license.

Happy Monday, ModernDomestic readers! Here’s some reading from the blogosphere to get your week started right.

  • Did you know the the color for 2009 is “mimosa?” The Washington Post has an article about the “it” color and why this bright yellow is actually appropriate for the new Obama administration and our troubling economic times.
  • If you’re not feeling the yellow, Apartment Therapy LA has a post full of inspiration photos using a black, gray and purple color scheme. Somehow this feels much more appropriate.
  • The Capitol Cooking Show is looking for viewers to submit cupcake recipes for an upcoming episode called “Crazy For Cupcakes.” Read all about it on Delleicious. Too bad my favorite cupcake recipe to date (pumpkin cupcakes) isn’t my own—it’s Martha Stewart’s!
  • It’s time to start making your reservations for DC’s Winter Restaurant Week (Feb. 16-22). Don’t know where to make your money count? Stumped on the best places to make a reservation? Captiol Spice has a map of all your Restaurant Week choices (If I had the money to spare, I’d be trying to get a seat at Art and Soul. Oh well, next time). Also check out DC Foodies guide to getting the most out of Restaurant Week.
  • The District Domestic is making homemade doughnuts, which sounds like a good idea for a winter weekend project, and a nice break from the cupcake craze. I only made doughnuts once and I burned the the crap out of them, but hers turned out much better.
  • Design*Sponge has photos of really beautiful lighting from British designer Hannah Nunn. Her pieces look like what I’ve tried (and failed) to make on my own. These  beautiful, delicate lamps may just inspire me to try again.

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Monday Roundup: Inauguration Tizzy

Obama Cupcake - Single

Obama cupcakes are a hot item in the blogosphere.

Happy Monday, ModernDomestic readers.

To start your week off right, here’s some good news and reading from the domestic blog-o-sphere.

  • DC Foodies talks about what to drink in a recession, and apparently, it’s Montepulciano. Also, thank you for saying that Italian wine is “a bitch to get a handle on.” I’ve always thought that and have been too intimidated to say anything
  • And for all of you who have already broken some of your New Year’s resolutions, there’s a good post over at The Kitchn about failure, and why it’s an important component of any self-improvement plan, culinary or otherwise.

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Can Mark Bittman Clean Out My Cabinets?

12-07 pantry 3

Photo Courtesy of la fatina on flickr, under the Creative Commons license.

As I said on Monday, one of my Domestic Resolutions for 2009 is to clean out and organize our unruly kitchen cabinets. So imagine my fortune to see that Mark Bittman wrote a whole article on this very subject yesterday!

Bittman has a number of suggestions for cleaning out your cabinets. But how realistic are they for a time-strapped blogger? Let’s see, shall we?

Suggestion: Throw out Packaged bread crumbs or croutons and make your own.

I really don’t use breadcrumbs regularly, so I don’t see the point of making my own. I will make my own fresh bread crumbs, but I make those on an as-needed basis.

Suggestion: Throw out your canned stock and bouillon cubes, and make your own stock instead.

Um, so I’ve tried to do the whole “make your own stock and freeze it” thing, and I’ve done it once or twice. But when I make stock it means I can’t leave the house all day because I don’t want to leave the stove on unattended, and it takes forever (forever!) to defrost the stock when Ineed it. A nice suggestion, but I think I’ll still use boxes of stock from the grocery store (Kitchen Basics is my preferred brand).

Suggestion: Throw out your spray oil. Use regular olive oil instead.

I don’t have spray oil.

Bottled Vinegar, Canned Peas, and More

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My 2009 Domestic Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

What's On Your Domestic To-Do List?

Welcome back ModernDomestic readers! I have to say, I missed you on my holiday break, even though I had a really lovely time baking, crafting, and doing some much-needed sitting around.

I thought of this blog as I was sitting at Wonktheplank’s mother’s house on New Year’s Eve. As I watched the ball drop on TV, I started thinking about my to-do list. Not my work to-do list, or my personal to-do list, but a to-do list that fills me with extreme guilt and anxiety: my domestic to-do list.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to motivate myself to tackle more items on this domestic to-do list. And yet, while I had an excellent time sharing my baking projects, crafting projects, and Top Design and Top Chef recaps, nary a dent has been made in that daunting list of domestic projects. Despite my best intentions, there is still nothing hung on my bedroom walls (which, supposedly, was the Great Task of 2008).

But now that it’s the new year and I no longer have the giant attention suck that is the holidays (although don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, they just take up a lot of time), I’m feeling ready to tackle this to-do list. So I’ve decided to share it with you, in the hope that you’ll also get revved up to tackle your domestic tasks.  And perhaps you’ll share your 2009 domestic resolutions with me.

Here, in no particular order, are my domestic resolutions for 2009:

  • Finally make or buy a headboard for the bed.
  • Take a cake or cupcake-decorating class.
  • Begin tracking and recording all my personal expenses (after a rather long hiatus).
  • Hang things on the walls in the bedroom.
  • Try a new cake recipe from the BakeWise cookbook that my sister got me for Christmas (so excited).
  • Finish the two collages that I need to get done before hanging anything on the walls of the bedroom (one involves fish, the other hasn’t been started yet).
  • Reorganize the kitchen cabinets, which currently look like an ingredient war zone (I got a bit of a start on this today).
  • Try out the recipes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris, which my mother got me for Christmas.
  • Figure out how to either take the wheels off the bed or get something to stop it from migrating around the bedroom.
  • Try out the brand-new pastry tips that WonkthePlank’s mother got me for Christmas.
  • Reorganize the open bookshelf in the bedroom.
  • Establish and maintain a personal filing system.
  • Try to convince Wonktheplank to replace our hulking futon.
  • Learn more about each of the wines in the case of Wall Street Journal Wines that WonkthePlank got me for Christmas! He is the best!

And, finally (and perhaps most importantly), try to talk more about the blog with the greater world. To that end, Wonktheplank got me the best Christmas present ever—ModernDomestic business cards. He even designed them himself (with a little help from a template). 

Business Card

I'm official!

Now let’s hope I can get up the nerve to hand them out in the new year.

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