How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Flask

. . . That You Really Love Because You Got it in New Zealand

1. Text your friend, Lil’ Jay, with whom you have been discussing flasks: My flask smells revolting. How do you clean a flask?

2. Wait for her reply: [My fiance] says, “What do you mean ‘how do you clean a flask?’ You Google ‘how to clean a flask!”

3. Wait for the addendum: He Googled it for you.  Salt water or a little bleach in water.

4. Leave putrid flask out on the kitchen counter for one week, or until your roommate asks if there is any particular reason that your putrid flask is out on the kitchen counter.

5. Poke around in the cabinets, trying to remember what Lil’ Jay’s fiance’s Google search results suggested, until you find some white vinegar and baking soda and think, “Oh, yeah, that might have been it.”

7. Dribble some vinegar and a little bit of warm water into the flask.

8. Use the heart-shaped teaspoon your grandmother gave you for Valentine’s Day to scoop 1 tsp. baking soda into the flask.

9. Screw the cap closed and shake vigorously.

10. Listen to the fizzing.

11. Shake vigorouslier.

12. Listen to more fizzing.

13. Empty the flask. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

14. Check old text messages and see that Lil’ Jay’s fiance actually suggested salt water and bleach, not vinegar or baking soda.

15. Google it yourself and find these great instructions for cleaning a stainless steel travel coffee mug (almost the same thing, yes?) with baking soda, boiling water, and white or cider vinegar on Good Housekeeping‘s website.

I bet Lil’ Jay’s fiance hasn’t even heard of Heloise and her hints, hmpfh!


16. Take a picture to show how well your sparkling and squeaky clean flask fits in the pocket of your pajama pants!

17. Feel silly.

18. Post it on the internet anyway.

Compliments of The Elves

I couldn’t believe what a challenge it was to find a photographic image of a Santa Claus hat with a transparant background to edit on to the heads of family, friends, pets, or celebrities in digital pictures, so I’d like to share the one that I created for just that purpose.

This is what I see on the way out of my bedroom

One thing I have tried to do in my apartment, both out of necessity and desire is decorate and accessorize with objects and images that look beautiful to me even if they aren’t high art.

This is the north wall-lette of my bedroom. It’s pretty narrow (the door is just to the right) and impeded by both the radiator and the light switch. It also gets a lot of sun through the three large windows on the front wall.

I didn’t want to hang a print here because it might fade from exposure. It would have been awkward to place one individual item with the light switch in the way of any symmetry.

The first thing I did was change out the switch plate. The gold one that was here when I moved in clashed with the silver coating on the radiator. I don’t think my landlord thinks himself an interior designer, but hello! That’s a catastrophic aesthetic error. I bought the matte white switch plate at Target or Home Depot for less than three dollars. I couldn’t have any distraction from the aged Victorian radiator.

The zinc letter E is from, yes, Anthropologie‘s monogram collection (8″ high, $18; 25″ high, $98). I staked out two different stores for two weeks until I found one with perfect texture imperfections. I really like the “drop-shadow” it casts on the wall in the early afternoon.

I got those four silver frames on clearance at Urban Outfitters last winter. They were meant to be magnetic, but the tiny disc magnets on the back had all popped either out or in leaving holes—which happened to be perfect for hanging on flathead nails. I think I spent about $10.82 on two sets of two. They are very lightweight and I wouldn’t want anybody from Antiques Roadshow to see how faux they look up close, but I love the baroque-y shape.

I’m really crazy about what’s in the frames, though, and this is where the “use whatever looks beautiful” philosophy comes in. I replaced the halftone portraits of Ghandi with images clipped out of catalogs. You can decorate more than the coffee table with junk mail!

On the left is a deep purple velvet tufted chair that I saw in an Urban Outfitters catalog. I cut it in two, so it’s pretty obvious what’s in the photo if you look at just the top half, but the bottom half is meaningless without it’s mate. On the right is a scrap from a J. Crew catalog. They did a photoshoot with lots of distressed furniture in a pristine living room, and one model posed beside this slender, white table with peeling paint and a chandelier on its side on the table top.

On their own, none of the framed clippings would mean much. Even as a set they don’t really convey a distinct message other than, “This is Emily’s aesthetic style, and since she can’t afford any upholstered furniture or a chandelier and she doesn’t have room for furniture that serves only one purpose, she decorates with pictures of all of those things.”


My cousin is in town this weekend and we have spent our time seeing 27 Dresses, discussing the power of positive mental attitude coaching from The Secret, and confessing the crowning indiscretions of our youth. Marie is always on my side—she commends my strength but validates my weaknesses. We high-five each other all around.

She told me this whole gossipy narrative about me as filtered through my mom, to our grandmother, to her mom and back to us. She said that the moral of the story came down to, “it was all on Emily’s terms,” and Marie said, “Well I’m sure it was!” Like, tell her something she doesn’t know. High five for that.

Last night, we had dinner at Rice Thai Kitchen on 7th avenue, which is celebrating its twelfth anniversary with a 50% off special. We each ordered a glass of Thai Iced Tea, which is a sweet drink with a comforting spice. It’s served a little like a tequila sunset, with a creamy layer that hovers atop the crushed ice and tea.

It would be easy to replicate with chilled black tea brewed strong, maybe with two bags, a little cinnamon and sweetened condensed milk or half and half. Twinnings makes a loose Ceylon Orange Pekoe (it comes in a dashing little tin) and a bagged black Ceylon tea. CurrySimple, a mailorder Thai food supplier, makes a real Thai tea syrup concentrate and has a pictorial of the process online.

Apparently, the beverage is served in a plastic bag with a straw on the street in Thailand. I’m trying to picture how that would fly on the streets and subways in New York, where we really depend on our cans and cups and bottles.

Whenever I have something with condensed milk, I think about manjar or dulce de leche, which means “milk candy.” It’s a creamy, caramel sauce that’s popular in Latin America. I spread it on pancakes, toast, sweet crackers and sometimes just my fingers when I went to Chile. It comes in a jar there, but you can make it on the stove top.

1 quart whole milk
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Bring milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking, and continuously stirring until the milk has thickened and turned a caramel color, about 1 hour. Stir in baking soda. Continue cooking until the milk has reached a pudding consistency. Pour manjar into a bowl and cool completely in the refrigerator.

I’ve heard that you can also whip this up with nothing but a can of sweetened condensed milk submerged in a pan of simmering water for three hours, but that sort of sounds like a science experiment and I’m not asking for any explosive disasters in my little kitchen.



Originally uploaded by EmLocke12.

This stuffed elephant, from an old, old, old book called Splendid Soft Toys, was my project for the week.

This book is so old, it was published before there were copy machines to make pattern enlargement quick and painless. She was actually supposed to be larger, but I had to scale down because I didn’t have paper big enough to copy the pattern (on a grid).

I embroidered her eyes –that was fun. And she has a ‘t’ on one foot. The foot pads were the hardest part.

She doesn’t stand up on her own because her trunk is a little longer than her legs. Maybe she’ll grow into it! For now, she is good for hugs.

My other project this week was to finish my applications to summer graduate programs in publishing. Now I’ll be hugging Tulip for good luck.