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. (And you never know...I may be back!) For now, you can follow my other adventures on my other blog,



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

Monday, January 04, 2010

In 2010 I will...

Last week I started a resolution post of things I’d like to accomplish this year: goals I’d like to reach, places I’d like to go or see myself, etc. Unfortunately, once I hit about 36 on the list, I decided to save it and go to bed (it was nearing 2am). So I did, and the next morning Tumblr did something odd and would not recover the post! So they were gone. Before the year even started and my resolutions were lost in the wind.
It doesn’t change the fact that there are things I’d like for myself this year, and so I’m starting again. A new list, a few days late, but no less resolved. (this was cross-posted on Tumblr, too). I'll strike through the goals as I accomplish them.
In 2010 I Will…
Professionally I want 2010 to be all about my platform: evolving my blog to become a well-rounded lifestyle guide and resource with great writing, amazing recipes, and party/home advice; networking and meeting people who will inspire me, guide me, and help me get closer to reaching my goals; building a strong relationship with my audience and readers; promoting myself through all branches of mainstream, online, and alternative media; establishing myself as a lifestyle and homecooking expert. To achieve this I will…
1. Finish writing and editing my narrative cookbook proposal so that it is agent-ready by St. Patrick’s Day.
2. Sign with a literary agent.
3. Get and sign a book deal.
4. Make concrete strides toward working from home full-time in my own employment (saving money, develop freelancing contacts, come up with ideas for other options…dessert catering? party planning? monetizing website?)
5. Double visits & page views by April 30, then again by August 31, and again by December 31
6. Continue with publicity efforts and secure at least 5 mentions/appearances in 5 major glossy magazines. (So far: Saveur Jan/Feb 2010, Real Simple profile in May, what next?!)
7. Make at least 5 television appearances for lifestyle/food/blogging stories (Possibilities Fox, NBC LX, etc.)
7. Secure at least 15 mentions in 15 major newspapers.
8. Secure at least 20 mentions in 20 major websites/blogs.
9. Develop to include more lifestyle guide content (party planning advice and ideas, checklists, playlists, resources). Make myself available to answer questions on party planning, recipes, etc. Contribute to more lifestyle stories as expert on this platform.
10. Update at least 3 times a week.
11. Research midcentury housekeeping and cooking for possible 2nd book project.
12. Answer all blog mail immediately and respond to all Tweets.
13. Treat other bloggers as I like to be treated: Always leave a comment if I read a blog post on another site that I enjoy, that teaches me something new, or that makes me think in some way. Also send emails or leave comments if I try recipes and they come out well or if I have a question. Link back to more bloggers that I enjoy reading. Update my blogroll regularly. It’s a community; remember to be a part of it.
Two of my long-term goals are to create a career for myself that will allow me to work full-time from home and on my own hours and to have a home with a big kitchen and big dining/entertaining areas in a neighborhood I truly love. To do this, I need to take steps towards becoming more frugal so that I waste less money on things I don’t really need and instead invest them in obtaining the things I really want. Therefore I will…
14. Continue to save at least $500 a month (preferably $500 from each paycheck)
15. Bring lunch & breakfast to work at least 3 days a week
16. Spend no more than $12 total on days I buy lunch (including breakfast) [excluding farmer’s market purchases in summer]
17. Buy only used books (also
18. Buy baking supplies in bulk (flour, chocolate, butter, etc)
19. Participate in Project Hunger
20. Attempt a 1950s Housewife Food Budget for 1 month to inspire creativity and awareness about how much I spend on food and how to be frugal
21. Get in the habit of cutting and using coupons. Write to companies I like for coupons. Buy things on sale.
I want to continue to make my home a place that pleases and comforts me at all times. I want everything in it to be beautiful and meaningful. Therefore I will…
22. Fix couch by restuffing cushions and getting (or making?!) a custom slipcover that doesn’t slide around all over the place. (Got new couch instead)
23. Hang art in bedroom, bathroom, and living room.
24. Replace current bed with a new queen-sized bed and mattress that is comfortable for Eugene and Me
25. Replace big, giant television with slimmer LCD that is more aesthetically pleasing and which frees up a few extra feet of space
26. Fix the kitchen floors or find a creative way to cover them
Creative Endeavors
Continue to grow and nurture the many creative projects and endeavors that capture my attention. Complete projects that I start. Seek the accountability and support of other around me who have similar interests.
27. Learn to use a sewing machine so that I can make my own curtains, clothing, etc.
28. Participate in Project 365 (taking 1 photo of something every single day; at least 1 self portrait a month)
29. Take up canning and create homemade jams and marmalades
30. Continue to develop food photography skills. Take a related class or workshop.
31. Take one writing related class at least every 3 months via local universities, writing schools, or Mediabistro.
32. Join a writer’s group like Morningside Writers
33. Create video podcasts for the blog with how-to videos
Make feeling good the priority for 2010. I’m already aware of the things that make me feel good and energetic, and the things that make me feel sluggish, tired, or bloated. I will incorporate this awareness into my daily life and into the meals that I prepare for myself and my family.
34. Use gym at work at least 8 times a month (ideally twice a week)
35. Find a coach or therapist to work with on ADD issues
36. Order long-term prescriptions online through Medco for larger discounts and more regular schedule
37. Develop habit of drinking green juice for breakfast at 1-3 times a week. (Homemade or from Westerley). Suggest juice bar option at work.
38. Try at least one new vegetable or fruit on every grocery store trip.
39. Minimize refined sugars and flours. Incorporate more whole grains. If whole grain is not an option; then bake/make something that is or choose fruit or protein instead.
Interpersonal Relationships
In 2010 I want to expand my social network to include more women who are out there already doing the things that I want to do and achieve. I want to learn from older women who have years more experience than I do. I want to record history. I want to surround myself with people who can inspire and teach me. Not lose sight of the amazing and brilliant people who already surround me at work, in my family, and in my various social networks.
40. Accept more invitations. Extend more invitations.
41. Reach out to and develop relationships with women who are doing the things I’d like to one day do or who have similar sensibilities and interests.
42. Build relationships with other couples who have similar interests.
43. Meet the neighbors and help create more of a community within in our apartment building.
44. Send thank you notes and letters whenever I receive a gift or gesture from someone.
45. Send letters or emails to the writers of any books I read and enjoy (if they are still living, of course)

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

Sunday, July 05, 2009

And the winner is...

Thank you to all who entered the book giveaway. I got some great book recommendations and I'm excited to announce the winner of the four books. The lucky reader (as chosen by a randomly selected number) is:

Comment #2 or Upper West Side Writer of the blog Falling Into Words. Congratulations! I'll pop the books in the mail as soon as I get your mailing info!

Thanks again to all who entered. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @nandita to find out about other fun contests and giveaways.