Saturday, February 28, 2009


Ke'e Beach, Kauai


Kauai's famous red dirt. They dye t-shirts with it.

Black and white

Tuesday, February 24, 2009



It's been so chilly lately that Tom's latest "ice sculpture" froze through solid then developed this interesting ice dandylion-starburst-mimzy thing.

Meanwhile, California bloggers like Design Geek and Loving Living Small are writing about outdoor spaces as if spring is here. MEANIES!

My pledge to you: There will be no posts about gardening, al fresco dining, sunbathing, raised bed composting or beekeeping on Bromeliad Living until mid-March at the earliest.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Careening down the Long Island Expressway with the most spectacular sunset of the winter going on behind you. By the time you reach high ground on the Kosciuszko Bridge, it's all over.

Then you realize the traffic keeping you from the sunset was caused by everybody slowing to look at the sunset.

Friday, February 20, 2009

DIY recovery: Bad art, good location

Early in my DIY career, I tried to create my own abstract art. I was hoping for something cool like this:

Or this:

How hard can it be, right? I made my own canvas with a homemade wood frame and free fabric. I used acrylic paint and watered-down Elmer's glue as a substitute for gesso.

I hung it proudly for a few weeks and finally replaced it with a mirror after too many friends asked why I hadn't finished it. Also, to be quite frank, it was really bad.

The other day I went looking for it intending to recover the frame with my all-purpose free white vinyl and draw something like this with a marker:

But once up on the wall, it didn't look so bad. If I'm wrong about this, don't tell me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Urawaza - Japanese for cheap fix

Dropped your cell phone in here? Try rice.

The modern Japanese tradition of Urawaza (secret trick) started after World War II when Japanese households had to make due without the basics. It's now the subject of a book by the same name that offers clever and frugal household tips like picking up broken glass with a piece of bread or taping two Bandaids to the bottom of slick-soled shoes on a rainy day.
Yesterday, The New York Times offered some useful tech urawaza, which I've condensed since who of us these days can afford to lose a cell phone in the loo?
  • wrap one layer of a black plastic bag around a credit card magnetic strip that refuses to scan.

  • keep your cell phone in the fridge to make the charge last longer.

  • extend the range of your car key remote by placing the metal key fob against your chin. (Your head acts as an antenna.)

  • run a hair dryer over an almost empty ink cartridge to loosen dried ink.

  • put a wet cell phone in rice to draw out the water.

  • use a curved cookie sheet behind your wireless router to extend its range.

  • clean CDs or DVDs with mouthwash.

  • reduce the brightness of the flash on your digital camera by taping a small piece of paper over the flash. (My personal favorite.)

  • stick a bad hard drive in the freezer to allow recovery of data. (I've done this and it works. But be warned - you only get one chance at it.)
Here's an extra via my highly technical friend Jaron - Tired of getting zapped by winter static every time you touch a doorknob?

Yes, that's an anti-static bag - the kind that computer parts and electronics come in.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Small Space Big Space

Remember all the yada yada about how much I love living in a small apartment?

That would be true with the exception of the following:

Natalya Kashper's 7,200-square-foot $7 million loft featured in The New York Times.

How cool would it be to host the Superbowl here? Not a Superbowl party. The actual Superbowl.

A note on Starbucks quotes

The other day my co-worker Zack left a cup of Starbucks at my desk "for your blog."

I was delighted. A happy reader rewarding Bromeliad with a cup of Starbucks. Except the cup was empty.

It seems Zack generously saved me the sodden remains of his caffeinated treat for the quote on the cup. (There is a recession going on after all.) Which means there is widespread misunderstanding that the Starbucks quotes on Bromeliad Living actually come from Starbucks. Even the one from my uncle.

So, to set the record straight, the Starbucks series "The Way I See It" is an invention of the Starbucks Corporation, who disclaim any agreement with the authors quoted.

The Starbucks quotes on my blog are selected by me because I'm now too cheap to buy Starbucks anymore, and I don't really get the Starbucks real quotes most of the time. So, I disclaim any agreement with Starbucks' choice of quotes. Like the specimen Zack provided:

The Way I see It #26 - Failure's hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever. - Po Bronson, Author of stories, screenplays and nonfiction, including What Should I Do with My Life?

I don't know what to make of that, Po. Between your viewpoint and the fact that the cup is empty, I feel like gnawing off my own wrists.

Monday, February 16, 2009

F-f-f-fashion Week

Isn't she chilly in that?

Thursday. Fashion Week begins. Hundreds of designers descend on Manhattan. I’m nowhere near Bryant Park, but in a nod to √©lan, I wear a chic little coat to work, one of those shapely down styles that taper at the waist, along with narrow toed boots and leather gloves. I notice that. It’s. Really. Cold.

Friday. The temperature drops below freezing. Pointy toed footwear doesn’t accommodate socks very well. At lunch, I switch to a pair of clunky but spacious rubber boots, a temporary measure, I’m sure.

Saturday. I dump the cute coat and dig out a marshmallow circa 1994. Monochrome is back, which is consoling since the coat and everything else I’m wearing is brown. It’s also enormous, a down comforter with sleeves. Not a lean silhouette, but I wear it anyway. My arm is too thick to get through the strap of my Prada bag. I ditch the bag.

Sunday. The weekend shows emphasize layering. On my way to the coffee shop, I try draping the hood of my coat loosely over my head like some Russian princess. But it captures wind like a sail. I cinch the hood shut until fur trim encloses my face like tentacles on a star-nosed mole ─ a good look only if you’re Shackleton returning to Elephant Island with a rescue party. I sense I’m losing some kind of battle here.

Monday. At least four designers have featured elbow-length gloves. I am reduced to mittens, which encase all fingers in one fat flipper with a stiffly opposable thumb. They are red. I harbor not even a faint hope that they will read as ironic.

Tuesday. I’ve got crab claws for hands and tree stumps for feet. My arms hang away from my sides, and I tilt my head back just to see where I’m walking. I burrow through four waistbands to scratch an itch.

Wednesday. My clothes weigh more than Kate Moss.

Thursday. I don’t have style anymore. I don’t even have gender. I may not be human. I am Sasquatch. Peer deep into my fuzzy hood and you will find, not the pert nose and rosy lips of a fashionista but darting eyes and pointed teeth and the fetid breath of a carnivore.

Friday. Who cares? I ask myself bitterly. Not me. Not anymore. Because, finally, I’m warm.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And miles to go before I'm elite

Tom arrived home from his biggest mile run; big smile and big tired. Mile running is hard to explain to non-runners - basically you fly to nowhere just to accumulate frequent flyer miles. The trick is to book a cheap ping-pong style route that provides the lowest cent per mile cost possible using arcane mathematical formulas known only to the shadowly underworld of mile runners. The miles can then be redeemed on a more desirable and expensive route, or - often more importantly - put you over the top to qualify for elite status another year.

I went with Tom two years ago on an nine-segment mile run. This year I stayed home since only one of us needs to be Platinum Elite with Continental in order to get a decent chance at upgrades. And that, my friends, is how po' folks get to sit in first class. For those of you who are still confused, offers an outsider's look at mile running.

Here are the stats from Tom's trip:

  • Total time: 60 hours

  • Total segments: 8

  • Total train rides: 4

  • Total airports: 5

  • Total miles: 21,932 (including elite bonus) (25,000 = free domestic trip)

  • Total cost: $109 (after $100 voucher)

  • Cents per mile: .004

  • Upgrades to first class: 3

  • Movies watched: 2

  • Books read: 1

  • Airline meals eaten: 6

When mile running, day becomes night and night becomes day. Sleep comes at your best opportunity either on the flight or the occasional airport that has a comfortable enough spot that you can actually lay flat. Few experience the pleasure of strolling a completely still airport at 3 a.m. and the relief of focusing completely on the journey at hand because there is no destination to worry about.

At 30,000 feet there are no phone calls, e-mails, demands. Deadlines wait until you land. When the captain announces the flight will be 5 hours and 30 minutes, you look out your window and see a plateau of clouds stretching for a seeming eternity tinted with red-orange at sunrise. What is there to do? Nothing! The bliss! Time to think; there is no better place to contemplate life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My fakey zebra hide makes Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy is running its February JumpStart contest to inspire getting do-it-yourself projects done this month. My faux zebra hide made it into the contest. (Ridiculous excitement at cheapness unmasked on big famous blog.) Give me a thumbs up if you like it.

(And, yes, the marker did smell. I was banished from the room while using it.)

Lots of neat projects. Check them all out here. Or post your own. The contest runs to February 23. If you miss that, Design*Sponge is having one in April.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is this me?

". . . Like Carrie Bradshaw but cooler, with fewer shoes, better values and a mortgage."

That's New York Times writer Penelope Green describing bloggers who mourned the loss of Domino magazine and who may represent "a larger, cultural movement, characterized by a girlish and fizzy optimism and an appetite for Jonathan Adler ceramics and Parsons tables from West Elm."

Love Adler and Parsons tables. Fizzy? Perhaps. Was not a big fan of Domino (I know. Heresy.), except for the web site. The print photos always looked gloomy for some reason. Not enough fizz?

Wild and woolly

High winds today. Dust clouds blew from the construction on the waterfront. Buildings swayed. Elevator shafts howled. Contact lens wearers wept.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Found items

How to fulfill any bower bird instincts without spending a dime. These I qualify as "give aways" rather than trash picks because they were not technically in the trash. I uncovered them in a shared area of our building complex where residents can drop off unwanted items. Most of it is junk. If I go every day and find four things a month I'm doing good.

I found the silver dish and stones on separate occasions.

A black glass dish. Had never seen one before.

This next one requires explanation. Why a wig head? I don't wear wigs. Maybe it reminded me of my grandma Ada, who had a collection of red wigs and wig heads. I let it sit for two days before bringing it home.

Now I have a place to display my mom's totally retro cool sunglasses. The chain drapes over your ears to create sunglasses and earrings. (Yes, I do wear them on occasion. No, the scarf is not hers.)

The great thing about picking up junk for free is that I can enjoy it awhile and then have no problem giving it away later since it cost me nothing - my frail hedge against hoarding.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Engagement Anniversary

15 years ago today, Mr. Bromeliad climbed aboard a flight from Chicago to Indianapolis holding a bouquet of roses with a message tied on each rose. He got moved up to first class (got the free upgrades even back then!) and there started handing a rose to each passenger and showing them a picture of Girlfriend Bromeliad.

At the Indianapolis International Airport, one passenger after another deplaned and handed a rose to startled Girlfriend Bromeliad. (Back then, you could meet passengers at the gate.) Mr. Bromeliad gave her the last rose, which said "Will you marry me?"

Thus began our travels.

Mr. Bromeliad got me this bouquet today.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hint of spring

It went from six degrees on Thursday to 60 degrees today. Everybody, even the locals, were grinning like tourists. The clouds were moving fast, opening up patches for the sun to shine through like a spotlight. If you look very closely, you'll see the Statue of Liberty behind the tree.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Close Quarters

House Hunters is on again. (Always.) Another young couple seeking 4 million square feet in a price range involving two or three commas.

Big houses are like dark places out in the country - I grew up with them and now both make me nervous. I don't get it anymore. Don't people get lost in a big house? What's out there in the dark? Aren't they worried?

Mr. Bromeliad and I started out as small space dwellers with a 350-square foot studio some 15 years ago. We could stand in the bathroom, kitchen, living room and bedroom all at the same time. Two years ago we got our first place with a separate bedroom. We couldn't hear each other anymore. We lost things because there were multiple places to put them down. We followed each other from room to room so there was pretty much always two persons in one room and zero persons in the other.

Our new place is a rambling 470 square feet with a balcony. When the walls stop closing in, we hang out in the bathroom awhile.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brad Ford's soothing colors from nature

Here's some eye candy from interior designer Brad Ford's web site. Just looking at these makes my blood pressure go down. This is what I'm going for in my little cheapster home design way. (Much in the sort of pathetic, hopeless and unlikely way one might go for Jessica Alba's abs via sit-ups. )

These last few images are wallpaper. Not the computer kind, the wall kind - from the Hampton Cottages and Gardens' 2007 show house. A-mazing.