Friday, March 27, 2009

Mack's Ultra Safe Sound Soft Foam Earplugs

The other night before going to sleep, I was thinking literally about material possessions that are essential to my life. I can't think of anything more necessary to my quality of life than these ear plugs.

After the first few nights, I got used to the sensation of sleeping in earplugs, and now I am hardly bothered by the people in the apartment next to me, only separated from my bedroom by a very thin wall. (To give you an idea of the thinness of the wall, I can tell you that my neighbor watches a lot of history documentaries (about World War II and baseball) and that he does not want to have children and that he does not cover his mouth when he belches.)

Another great thing about these earplugs is the clarity of instructions on the back. I never knew how to correctly insert an earplug before.

Mack's Earplugs are available in most drugstores in packs of 32 for around $4.25.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A few weeks ago I started regularly taking the B61 bus. It travels between from Queens Plaza in Long Island City to Ikea in Redhook, and provides me a pleasant alternative to taking the G train to such places as the 7, E, and L trains, as well as Kristin's house.

The weather has just changed, so I am not sure how I would have liked waiting for the bus in very cold temperatures. This time of year, though, I can't think of any more pleasant place to wait around than sunny Manhattan Avenue in late March. In my neighborhood, you can watch the older Polish ladies go about their business, appreciate the subtleties of the 99 cent stores' window displays, and generally check in with the daily activity of the neighborhood while you wait.

Today, for example, the bus was quite late (I also like how you can check the schedule to see how long until the next bus), but the 20 minutes I stood waiting was infinitely better than if I had been standing in the cold, dank tunnel of the G train.

Taking the B61 has also given me a much better understanding of Brooklyn neighborhoods. I like to watch how the streets evolve as the bus goes down Manhattan, through McCarren Park, down Driggs and over to Wythe. It's interesting the proximity of different communities, and who gets on the bus when and who gets off.

Here are some highlights of the scenery from the segment of the B61 route that I frequently travel:
-I like the Sweetleaf Cafe on Jackson Ave, just before the bus turns left over the bridge into Brooklyn
-Traveling over the Pulaski bridge
-As you descend down the bridge, to your right, the final alphabetical streets of Greenpoint I rarely see otherwise: Eagle, Clay, Box, and Ash streets.
-McCarren Park Dog Run and immediately after
-the onion shaped orthodox church
-there is a beautiful iron gate at the stop right after the bus turns onto Wythe -- lots of people always get out here
-Driving by Peter Lugar's restaurant at night and looking in to see all the waitstaff in white shirts and black ties.
-Going under the overpass, looking to the west and seeing the Williamsburg bridge lit up.

It costs $2 for a ride on the B61 plus a free transfer to or from any subway....for now.

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini

This is a fantastic recipe for Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad. Leah found it on Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, and made it for our first potluck about a month ago. Wizenberg's description of it is more loving than I can ever manage to be about food, so you should definitely check that out, but since I love food as much as anything else, I thought I'd try my hand at reviewing the recipe.

It doesn't sound good, and, truth be told, it looks gross. This is a front, to keep the less brave and the less smart away, in the same way that some plants look poisonous but really taste delicious (I don't know if that's actually a reality, but in my head it is). You should try this recipe immediately. It was, I think, pretty easy to make (I didn't have a whole lot to do with it, because if I had, I would have skipped half the ingredients and undercooked everything and it wouldn't have come out right), and it tasted unbelievable.

There are a lot of contradictions in this meal, and that makes it wonderful. Warm salad? Squash and tahini? These things don't seem to go well together, but they make a perfect combination and the tastes flutter along your tongue like happy dream butterflies. It's smooth and grainy, a salad and a meal, exotic and comforting, and overall just plain good. Bon appetit!