The Ugliest Mug in the World.

This, my friends, is The Ugliest Mug in the World. I chanced upon it today while tagging along on a shopping mission at a small home-goods store. I like these small, family-run businesses because you can never really be sure what you are going to find in them. Lord knows I was not expecting this to be hidden among the innocuous flowered mugs sitting on the shelf.

Like an enigma, this mug is puzzling and inexplicable; rife with hidden meaning. Why is the pony singing? Why is it wearing lipstick? Why does it have two sets of back feet?  Is the handle the same pony? Or a mutant cat-pony hybrid? Is the handle pony creeping on the mug pony, or vice versa?  The questions were endless.

I brought the cup over to the saleslady/owner for some answers.

“Do you know where you got this mug?” I asked.

She peered under the mug, searching for  a mark, a symbol, anything to identify this cursed ceramic. Spotless.

Looking slightly perplexed, she shrugged.

“Nope.”

And with the transfer of 12 Shekels (about $3) the mug was mine.

Unwrapping my purchase at home, I realized what had been naggingly familiar about the mug pony’s face. It looked like David Bowie.

This mug has the appeal of a train wreck. It is horrifying and grotesque, yet I cannot look away. I am actually becoming kind of inspired by it; If there is room in the world for a mug with a singing, prancing, David Bowie-esque horse thing and a cat-pony handle,  then surely there is room enough for me.

And so, with the smugness of one who knows she is unbeatable, I challenge YOU, dear reader, to find a mug uglier than this one.

It is a task I do not envy.

 

 

Making the Best of Summertime with Sangria Saturdays.

It can be difficult to recognize the onset 0f the summer months in a Mediterranean climate such as Israel. Gradually though you begin to notice the increasing power of the sun, the warmth of the breezeless nights and  your ever-increasing fantasies about air-conditioning.

Summer in Israel slows things down. Rushing makes you feel hotter, so you just take your sweet time going wherever you need to go. In the oven-heat, it can be hard to imagine doing anything else but finding a shady spot somewhere and lying down, sipping ice water stuffed with mint leaves.

Saturday was such a day. Too hot for the beach, too hot for a walk, too hot for anything but to make a soup-pot’s worth of cold sangria and devour a mess of freshly made  bruschetta under the lemon tree, whiling away the afternoon enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of summer.

Summer Sangria:

Bunch of fruits (I used grapes, apples, nectarines, oranges and cherries)

Brandy/whiskey

Sugar

red wine

red Lambrusco/cava/any sweet carbonated wine

Instructions:

In a large bowl/pitcher, mix the chopped up fruits with a few teaspoons of sugar (more if you like a sweeter sangria, less if you don’t)

Pour over the fruit enough whiskey or brandy to just cover the fruit. Let chill for a few hours or overnight

Pour in your wine; one bottle of red and one bottle of Lambrusco and let chill for another hour or so. Serve in cups over ice.

Tip: If you really want to be fancy, make ahead sangria ice cubes by freezing red wine in ice cube trays, dropping a little bit of chopped apple in each cube.  As the “ice” melts, it will make your drink colder AND stronger.


Simple Summer Bruschetta:

1 package grape tomatoes

Handful chopped basil

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic

Coarse salt and fresh pepper

olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

baguette

Instructions:

Slice each grape tomato in half and add to bowl. Finely dice the garlic and add to tomatoes. Finely chop the onion and add to bowl. Sprinkle onions with course salt and fresh ground pepper. Thinly slice the basil and add to bowl. Pour in olive oil, about 4-5 tablespoons and add 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the mix. Gently stir the bruschetta with a spoon. Meanwhile, slice baguette into rounds and sprinkle with olive oil. Toast slices in oven until golden brown. Top with bruschetta and eat!

5 Reasons Why This Tea Set Will Make Me A Better Person:

Oxford, England:

There I was, standing at the cliff edge of consumer doubt, debating whether I should take the plunge and buy the whole damn set. So what if I only wanted a tea pot, considering I have a set of vintage teacups back in New York. That was before, and things have changed considerably since then. A fierce argument was taking place inside my head-between rational, budget-conscious Shelley and crazed, compulsive shopper Shelley.

Rational Shelley: ” You don’t need this. How will you carry this 9-piece set on the plane back to Israel? and HOW will you carry this set back to New York when you  finish school in two months? answer me that!”

Compulsive Shelley: “I want.”

Rational Shelley: “What the f*&^ are you going to do with a goddamn tea set in Israel? It is REALLY HOT THERE RIGHT NOW.You’re telling me you are going to sit in the 90° heat and have a steaming hot cup of tea?”

Compulsive Shelley: “I want.”

Compulsive Shelley was making some really strong arguments. But Rational Shelley required more. So Compulsive Shelley obliged with an orderly list of all the reasons why this tea set would make Shelley a better person.

Reason 1: THIS TEA SET WILL BE AN INVESTMENT YOUR GRANDCHILDREN WILL INHERIT.

Look at this workmanship! this is vintage English and French China from the 30’s; your great-granddaughter will pine for it as it sits on the top shelf of your granddaughter’s china cabinet. Then one day, against her mother’s explicit orders she will stand atop a chair to take it down and reaching up on her tippy toes bring the whole thing crashing to the floor, shattering it into a million pieces.

Reason 2: PURCHASING THIS TEA SET MAKES FISCAL SENSE.

This tea set is a steal! How much would this fine English China cost you in the States? heck, even the new ones in England are more expensive than this. You are actually  saving money by getting this in one lump sum. And you know you are ALWAYS about saving money. Do it.

Reason 3: THIS TEA SET REFLECTS YOUR REFINED SENSIBILITIES.

Who else goes to Oxford, England for 3 days and comes back with a friggin’ tea set? You, thats who. Others may be satisfied with a knockoff T-Shirt showing the Union Jack humping Big Ben but you are cut from a different cloth. The discriminating-souvenir-hunter kind of cloth.

Reason 4: TEA PARTIES ARE CLASSY.

Beer Pong? Puh-leaze. Nothing says baller quite like inviting your friends over for a tea party, and then actually having a tea party. With crumpets and shit. Which reminds me, you need to buy some crumpets*.

Reason 5: HAVING NEVER WANTED A TEA SET AS A CHILD, YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF TO WANT ONE NOW.

You never played tea party with your stuffed animals, pretending that they were “drinking” while you shoved a plastic teacup in their face and talked to yourself. Maybe you were unconsciously waiting the whole time for this one moment, when a real tea set would be staring you in the face daring you to say no. You going to let down your six year old self?  I think not.  Besides, a little regression never hurt anyone.

*Author’s Note: I bought it. The tea party with my friends was everything compulsive Shelley said it would be, and crumpets are just big english muffins.