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Renovating and redecorating — even when the change is a minor one — always makes me want to clean up. A new, intensely white stove just isn’t going to look right in a kitchen that’s a bit dingy with assorted life crud. It doesn’t matter if the replacement item is a sink, toilet, light fixture, or a new piece of furniture, I want to welcome it in with all of the fanfare it deserves. So what if I have to clean all over again when the installers are finished because they’ve left mud and sawdust everywhere?

The thing I really like about pulling things out from under cabinets and moving furniture around is that I’m bound to find something interesting or unexpected. Back in the old apartment in some random June, The Beard and I were rearranging our shared office. To our amazement, we found an unopened Christmas card containing three hundred dollars in cash.

I haven’t uncovered a similar windfall yet, though I am currently doing my best to clear my kitchen of all signs of human habitation. There will be plumbers and contractors tromping through today, and goodness forbid they see any signs that someone, say, cooks and eats in that room. Look, I’m the same person who will clean the entire house twice over because a friend is dropping in after work for a glass of wine. We can’t change who we are.

Anyone, the one thing I did find is the silly little pie bird that my mother-in-law bought me for my birthday last year. Fortuitously, it came with a matching pie plate…this was lucky because the cats’ dish is rather in need of a wash. For the time being, my feline companions will be dining out of a Pfaltzgraff dish.


I haven’t yet used my pie pan and bird to make an actual pie because I hate making pie crust. Pie birds, in case you’re wondering, are steam vents that keep wet fillings from bubbling over into the oven,where they make a great big smoky stink. I’ve been baking since I was knee high to a merry grasshopper (it’s a wonder that The Beard doesn’t weigh 400 pounds) but I cannot for the life of me make a pie crust that turns out tender. My crusts are, frankly, horrid, so I typically buy them, and then I still can’t use the pan because all of the roll out crusts contain lard and we’re vegetarians!

Where was I going with all of this? All I wanted to say when I started was that pie pans and pie birds make great gifts, even for those of us whose pies won’t be winning blue ribbons any time soon. An extra deep dish comes in handy now and again — your cats will thank you — and as for the bird…well, it can sit up on the windowsill over the new sink looking cute and inspiring conversation. After all, how many people in your life have ever seen a pie bird?

A splash of the good stuff for Monday

I have a case of the Monday blahs, and the promise of plenty of pretty things to look at was what eventually got me out of bed. As lovely and sunny as it is outside, it’s still hellsa cold. I’m in the process of redecorating my kitchen and it’s beginning to look more and more like the demented altar of a crazed sun worshiper. Hey, I can’t help it if I’m desperate for springtime to get here!

Villeroy & Boch Wonderful World-Yellow Dinner Plate Bloom 10 1/2Villeroy & Boch Wonderful World-Orange Dinner Plate Bloom 10 1/2
Villeroy & Boch Wonderful World-Blue Dinner Plate Square 10 1/2Villeroy & Boch Wonderful World-Green Dinner Plate Square 10 1/2
Villeroy & Boch Wonderful World-Green Mug 10 ozVilleroy & Boch Wonderful World-Orange Rice Bowl 20 oz

These are just what the doctor ordered, and I love them. The cheery pieces above hail from Villeroy & Boch’s Wonderful World line. I think they’re worth every penny when the wintertime doldrums are threatening to sap my motivation, but whether or not you consider $17 a reasonable price to pay for a bread plate is up to you. If I had my way — and a great deal more money than I do — I’d pair my little Wonderful World collection with something like this:

Time to brighten things up

When I look at this stove, I can’t help doing the Homer Simpson “UGGHHHGHHH” thing.

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