Monday, August 16, 2010

Something else is now cooking

Sent From My Dell Desktop is currently on an indefinite hiatus. I wrote on here for several amazing years and the archives will stay up permanently. For now, you can follow my other adventures on my other blog,

If this is your first time here, these are some of my favorite posts from my Sent From My Dell Desktop Days:


Friday, September 25, 2009

An actual e-mail I sent Eugene while he was touring through Prague with a molding wheel of Dutch cheese in his backpack

To: Eugene
From: Alejandra
Subject: Saving moldy cheese

There are a couple things to consider. First, is it a hard or semisoft cheese? (like Parmesan, Aged Cheddar, Swiss, Pecorino, Colby, Asiago, etc.)? If it's a hard or semisoft cheese, it will be ok to eat but you have to cut the moldy part as soon as possible. Get a knife and cut it off so that there is at least an extra 1/2 inch between the moldy part and the good cheese. Be careful not to let the knife touch the mold. You need to get your hands on some plastic wrap asap and tightly (tightly!) wrap it after you cut the mold off. If you still have any of those plastic baggies from the care package, use one of them to place the wrapped cheese in.

If you can't get plastic wrap, Use generous amounts of paper towel or thick napkins and then place in a baggie. Air is the enemy here. You need to store it in a cool, dry place. If you have A/C or a fan, keep it in an area near that. If it's cold out, then put it on a windowsill (but out of the sun). Just figure out the coolest place and always keep it there. If you can tell me the name of it (the cheese) I can give you better advice.

OH and also, don't touch the cheese with your hands. Bacteria on our hands is what causes cheese mold. Always handle it through a napkin or plastic wrap.

If it's a soft cheese (like brie or camembert) then it will need to be thrown out.

That's probably more than you wanted to know about cheese mold... ;)



Friday, August 21, 2009

Books I Once Loved: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg -- This incredible tale about Claudia Kincaid and her brother Jamie,who run away from home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was a favorite when I was in 5th grade. Our teacher at the time made us work on a project that described what we would do if we were going to run away from home. We had to plan out every single detail of it, the lesson being that we would learn how difficult it was and never attempt it in real life. Unfortunately, some of us were ridiculously good planners and our parents called the teacher to complain about the dangerous project.

My idea, in case you're wondering, was to get our parents to take us to Six Flags Great Adventure, where we would purposely get lost in the crowd and while our parents were busy looking for us in the theme park, we would have already headed for the nearby train station and jumped onto a train bound for Florida (with tickets purchased using saved allowance money). Our final destination was going to be an island in the Florida Keys that I had seen on television and which appealed to me because the host had described it as very "remote."

About this project: A few days ago, I went to the bookstore to buy a few books on writing book proposals. While looking for the reference section, I wandered into the pre-teen aisle and took a look at the books on offer. I was actually a little turned off by all the Twilight and Gossip Girl books on the shelves. It got me thinking about some of the novels I loved when I was that age, and so I've decided to record them here with comments on a completely irregular schedule. I hope that you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Books I Once Loved: The Dollhouse Murders

The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright -- This book grabbed my attention and scared the heck out of me when I was 11. It tells the story of Amy, a 12-year-old girl who is frustrated about having to spend the summer looking out for her mentally-challenged sister Luanne. The girls are sent to their Aunt's house and discover and miniature replica of the family home in the attic. They soon discover that the dolls in the house move on their own, and it seems that they are trying to tell Amy something. You'll have to read it to find out what, but I promise you that it's a great story, and is probably a great first mystery for a child in 4th - 6th grade.

About this project: A few days ago, I went to the bookstore to buy a few books on writing book proposals. While looking for the reference section, I wandered into the pre-teen aisle and took a look at the books on offer. I was actually a little turned off by all the Twilight and Gossip Girl books on the shelves. It got me thinking about some of the novels I loved when I was that age, and so I've decided to record them here with comments on a completely irregular schedule. I hope that you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Plant

This is my garden. It only has one plant. MY plant.

My plant was born 5 months ago from a little seed packet that I got as a baby shower favor. The other seedlings (my plant's brothers and sisters) perished quickly a few weeks after birth, but my plant lives on.

This photo was shot in Macro. My plant is only about an inch tall, and seems to have stopped growing, although she is still strong and bright green.

I have no idea what kind of plant my plant is, but I still love her. (My plant is a girl.)

Sometimes I secretly think that my plant is actually a baby tree. Like all mothers, I have high hopes for my little girl.

Saffron / Azafran

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I finally Mad Men'd myself

It looks absolutely nothing like me. Except for the donut. And maybe the boobs.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fifteen Books

15 books which have influenced me in one way or another.

1. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson: You might know her for her horrifying short story, "The Lottery," but her memoir, which is really a collection of short stories about her wacky family, is absolutely brilliant and hysterical. I bought it for a dollar at a used bookstore when I was in 7th grade and impressed the heck out of my English teacher with my quirky choice of reading. (She actually asked to borrow it.)

2. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: Anyone that knew me in high school or college is aware of my obsession with this book. I have multiple copies if you want to borrow one. And if you'll let me, I'll happily talk your ear off with my theory about language and keys and Berlitz and Joyce and babies. It's a good one.

3. Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl: A delicious and inspiring memoir of the former NY Times food editor/current EIC of Gourmet Magazine.

4. Rosie by Anne Lamott: Something about the way Lamott writes makes me want to write. I have the worst time getting through her books, because I keep putting them down to go dash off my pages. It's the best way to get through a block. Also, I always see myself in her characters.

5. My Sister's Bones by Cathi Hanauer: I read the first chapter of this in Seventeen magazine when I was about 14 and then waited 10 years to finish it because I kept forgetting to buy the book. It was worth the wait.

6. Underworld by Don DeLillo: Huge book, but absolutely incredible. I love the detail. Bought it when I lived in Italy and read most of it sitting (under the Tuscan) sun in the Piazza Republica.

7. The Good Life by Jay McInerney: McInerney once again manages to make tortured rich New Yorkers sympathetic

8. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: sad and lovely. I think it's the first book that actually made me cry.

9. The Map of Love by Ahdaf Souif: heartbreaking and incredibly sensual romance by the Middle Eastern journalist/writer. I read it for my Middle Eastern Lit class in college.

10. Crescent by Diana Abu Jaber: I have a hard time describing this book because I just loved it so much. It's at time poetic, sexy, romantic, political, and delicious. Yes, delicious, because the main character is a chef and it discusses the intersection of food and life and culture. Oh, and it has recipes too. Wonderful ones!

11. A Literate Passion: Anais Nin & Henry Miller: An erotic and erudite collection of letters between the two lovers/friends/writers.

12. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: Most. Hysterical. Play. Ever!!

13. The Awakening by Kate Chopin: Another writer whose use of language I adore. Also check out her short story "Ripe Figs" ("

14. Striped Ice Cream by Joan Lexau: The first book I ever loved! And one that still pops in my head all the time. Particularly when eating striped (Neapolitan) ice cream...

15. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warren: Technically a series, but I can't think of any other book(s) that tickled my imagination (and desire to run away and live in the woods) more than this.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Restless Artists

“Had they paints or clay or knew the discipline of dance, or strings; had they anything to engage their tremendous curiosity and their gift for metaphor, they might have exchanged their restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided them with all they yearned for. And like any artist with no artform, they became dangerous.”

-Toni Morrison

Friday, July 03, 2009

My own parade of shoes

For nearly two years, I have been meaning to get all these shoes repaired. I've traipsed allover the East Coast dragging the bag from Washington, DC, to New Jersey to my apartment here in New York City. For a while I even brought them all into work, thinking that I'd drop them off at the shoe repair place near my office and so for over a year (!!!) that bag of shoes sat under my desk getting crushed by my feet and the vacuum and stacks of magazines.

Until last week! As one of my 101 goals for the next 1001 days, I decided to finally repair ALL of these gorgeous, comfortable, and expensive shoes that had just been wasting away because of worn down heel tips, torn leather, or ripped slingbacks. I gathered them all in a big reusable shopping tote and marched them straight down to Dino's repair shop during my lunch hour. Three days (and $165) later, I had a brand new shoe wardrobe. Six pairs of fantastic and oh-so-comfortable shoes just waiting to be worn.

Now I just need to figure out what to wear with them...

The repair shop, for any of you in the city and looking for a great place, is called Dino's and it's located in Columbus Circle. It's a great little "mom and pop shop" that is run by an Italian family. (Like real Italy-Italians, not Housewives-of-NJ-Italians.) They also clean and repair leather (purses, jackets, etc) and adjust belts. If you go, tell them that Alejandra with the 6 pairs of shoes sent you. Maybe I'll get a discount when I bring them another half-dozen!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's the opposite of logorrhea?

I've had a hell of a time putting words down lately. Well, that's not true actually. I feel like I'm constantly putting words down--making lists, jotting, starting sentences that never quite reach punctuation. Lots of bits, but not much to show for it. It's starting to exhaust me. It's not even a block...more like writer's constipation.

Ugh. I know. I apologize, but really, really,'s how I feel right now.

I spend all day long, constantly and constantly, thinking and forming paragraphs in my head. Things that sound great, but which disappear on screen. I write and write and write and write and when I'm through I've said nothing.

I'm grasping for a minute, a moment, a something of quiet. Just enough quiet so I can hear past the static and figure out what it is that I've been trying to say for God knows how long.

Every night I go to bed dreaming of Joan Didion's peach and hoping that maybe tomorrow it will be quiet enough to taste it.