Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gamine, Beguine, Tagine!

I like to take photos of my meals with my cell phone...

It's been awhile, and what do you know -- without my regular blogging of happy thoughts, my angst has definitely increased. Correlation? Yes. Now to prove cause and effect by finally writing another entry. We'll see if things start looking up!

I like to take picture with my cell phone of the meals P and I prepare. I have several tiny square-photo masterpieces of all sorts of tasty dishes. In this post, I will use some SAT words, share a favorite recipe, and, most importantly, reflect on a tiny lovely part of my life -- food.

The words I've chosen to title this post, make me happy, rhyme, and could potentially describe a day cooking in my kitchen. Let's start backward from "Tagine."

I love my tagine. It is a beautiful blue, my mom gave it to me as a pre-wedding present, and it inspires me to cook Moroccan food while listening to "Rock the Casbah." By the way, a "kasbah is like a walled city-type place. Or a big fort-ish area.When "Rock the Kasbah" ends, I try to find some other North African or French music to inspire.

Beguine: a vigorous popular dance of the islands of Saint Lucia and Martinique that somewhat resembles the rumba. American French béguine, from French béguin flirtation. Got that? The kitchen music can sometimes inspire dancing on my part.

As for Gamine, I'm going with Miriam Webster's second definition: a small playfully mischievous girl; rather than the first of : a girl who hangs around on the streets. Although I have been seen out and about Haggerty Road in my day. In any case I'm a gamine in the kitchen. That's a noun, right?

Finally, in my tagine pictured above is a delicious lamb stew-type dish (ok, it's also called a "tagine"). It has honey, prunes, saffron, all sorts of good stuff. It is also, and perhaps most importantly, very easy to make. Check it out here. I actually also have Cooking at the Kasbah -- it has beautiful photos, and contains recipes I can actually make, which is good for building confidence in the kitchen...

Ok, off to think happy thoughts for the rest of the day.
PS - pictured with my tagine is a very tasty cucumber lemonade gin martini. Delish! Seriously, the cucumber lemonade mix is worth $4.50 and there are lots of other tasty flavors, too!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lovely shower, lazy day...

Tiny Ladies... you can hardly see us!
At the Roycroft Inn

This past weekend P & I drove out to western NY so I could attend a baby shower for my oldest friend. I have know A since she was born (I only beat her t0 the world by 6mos, so that's saying a lot), and now she's about to have a new family member. Don't know if it will be a little guy or little gal... [By the way, I love the word "gal," I've been using it a lot lately. I think Esther is influencing me.] The shower was really lovely. Just a pleasant afternoon sipping mimosas, eating chocolate cake with blue icing. La- la la- la la dee-da.

We then returned to A's supercute house, which was filled with one of my favorite things (about which I have posted at length)- nice smelling candles. I want to be A like I want Martha to be friends with me. Husband T kept the wine flowing and fed us cheese. It was so wonderful to just cuddle up on the couch to spend time with good friends.

We then ate real Buffalo wings and pizza. Ugh. I hate myself. Well, no, I don't, it was good, but I can't eat like I did in college, that is for sure.

Ladylike post-Buffalo Wings...

The only thing missing was M down in FL! We missed you, lady. P always tells me how much happier I seem after spending time with these girls. I think we need to move closer together.

Until our next meeting!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Winning is Fun

I like to win, although I won't admit is when we're about to sit down to a board game. Oftentimes, I don't play games at parties because I hate losing, and don't really enjoy just playing for the heck of it. This is in conflict with my self-image as a non-competitive person.

However, one thing that allows me to play without losing even if I don't win, is the business card drawing that you find all over the place: at restaurants, stores, spas, etc. I drop my card with abandon. First because I love, love business cards, and secondly because you can't beat playing and not losing even if you don't win. ESPECIALLY when you do actually win.

This has happened to me on two occasions so far:

1. I won 2 free burritos (I graciously gave one to my co-worker).

2. I just recently found out that I have won a private wine tasting for 10 of my friends at my favorite wine store in town, Best Cellars. 3 Reds, 3 Whites, fun times.

So, Cheers to me. I win without being competitive and get to make others happy as well. 9 friends, to be exact.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A very fall weekend...

Let's go for a hayride! A wonderful hayride...

This past weekend was the first weekend that really seemed like "fall" to me. It was so hot on Friday, then Saturday was cool and cloudy - I wore a green sweater with a hood and jeans; fall clothing makes me happy.

P and I also went on a fall family outing, complete with hayrides, pumpkins, apples, cider doughnuts (a new, and EVIL delicacy for me - note: they are "fried in grease."), geese, frogs, mud, little kids, and runny noses.

I've been pretty focused on doing some apple picking this fall and so far my plans have been foiled. I was set to pick this weekend, until I showed up at Smolak Farm, and saw some lovely bags of pre-picked apples already waiting for me. Suddenly, it seemed much more convenient to purchase my expensive apples sans manual labor, but thought, no, I must Pick Ur Own Apples.

However, much to my chagrin/delight, the trees had been picked clean already! I was free to buy apples for $7.95 and not feel bad for not picking them myself.

P & I spent all of our money here.

This purchase was followed-up by a hayride through the pumpkin patch with my new sister-in-law, husband, and 2 new nephews. We thought it would make a stop in the pumpkin patch, but it went right through, dropping us off at the bottom of a hill and leaving us to walk back to the patch. A thinks the patch was pre-seeded with pumkins from other places. Ha. She was worried S & D would want enormous pumpkins, but luckily, they only wanted ones they could carry themselves. I just saw here that they had pumpkin ice cream for sale. Probably better I missed that.

Yesterday, I put my fall fantasy of baking my (pre)picked apples into full effect. I made a huge pot of spaghetti and meatballs and sausage (mom's recipe + dad's amount of wine added) while P and our friend M were on a man date at the movies. When they returned to the apartment, I was peeling and chopping apples -- I looked very Martha, I'm sure.

Love you, Martha...

I've been obsessed with the idea of eating apple crisp with tawny port, thanks to Karen McNeil and my Wine-a-Day Calendar; I got my wish. And, I have leftovers so I can re-enact for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lovely Lady

This is my Aunt Mar, and it's her birthday! Happy Birthday to you.... I've been so lucky to have Aunt Mar in my life -- as is everyone who knows her. To make this photo happier, what could be better than an armful of (well-behaved) babies. Baby Brady, and another random baby that I don't know.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Lovely Granny

This is my lovely Granny, Elizabeth. In this picture we are at my rehearsal dinner, which was a bbq picnic in a park. There was a very nice pavillion overlooking the lake, a beautiful sunset, and many great friends and family members.

Granny hasn't been feeling so great lately, so I've been thinking of her a lot, sending lots of love. If you leave her a good wish in the comments, I'll let her know... Feel better!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Corner of Happy

This is my wedding bouquet! I display it in a lovely blue vase that was a wedding gift from my good friends, Dave and Julia. The vase was made in VT where we got married, so that makes it even more special. It is sitting on an embroidered piece that my Aunt Mar got for me from the German Market in Chicago. It was around Christmastime, I think.

To add to the happiness, all of this is perched on our wine cabinet, also a wedding gift, which is full of wine that we received as gifts from several different people. It makes me happy to look at this little corner and see so many tiny bits of love all together.

Found it...

To prove that I am not as shallow as the first few list items I have mentioned might imply, I am including here my actual answers to the questions I was asked.

1. What is important to me?

Close friends
Making people happy, comfortable
Helping people
Cheese, wine
Nice beds
Nice hotels
Security – financial, job, personal
My dog
My job
Treating myself every now and then: massage, etc
Entertaining friends
Trying to be a good world citizen, being as sensitive as possible to issues/people
Small things for the environment

2. What do I hope for, dream of, or wish to accomplish in my lifetime?
To be fluent in French
To live abroad
To have a family and a job and not have to compromise
If I have kids, make sure they spend some time living abroad
Travel to many countries
Have a house with a yard
Live in VT
To be independently wealthy
To have own practice or flexibility in job
Help Pete write his screen play
Write something of substance that is actually good
My sister to be normal and to have a good relationship with her
My brother to be happy
To take care of my parents if they need it
To have a comfortable retirement
Have a regular dance partner, perhaps compete

3. Are you living your life accordingly?
So, this is the "shocker" question that is supposed to make you reevaluate your life. It wasn't enough to make me move to Italy for 2 years as it did for my officemate, but I have taken some small steps to make sure I elevate the importance of these things in my daily life, and make sure they don't fall to the wayside when I'm "too busy." All in all, this was a really useful tool, I think.

So far, I've taken a French Class, kept reading books in French, have actively read about wine, and attended tastings, and will soon go to a private tasting and hope to take some classes. We'll see how I do on the other items. Many of them are just matters of educating myself more, so totally doable! I like lists, so I'm going to start checking things off...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Easy to Love

Ah, Esther. For me, watching Esther Williams movies is akin to two glasses of wine drunk very quicky, or perhaps 1/2 valium. These movies will seriously smooth out your brain waves; total escapism to another time. You have to love movies that are described using adjectives like "swell" and "wacky."

My new husband was so wonderful as to gift me with a set of Esther's first four movies from 1944 including: Bathing Beauty, Easy to Wed, On an Island with You, Neptune's Daughter, & Dangerous When Wet. The best thing about these movies is you don't even really have to watch them to get the full effect. They can kind of be on in the background and you can wander in and out of the room and get a little dose whenever you like.

The other day, my boss mentioned to me that he had taken his two young daughters to the community pool, and was trying to explain through demonstration who Esther Williams is. I excitedly told him about my gift, and then paused for a second to think whether or not it is wise to reveal to your boss that you have an EW addiction. I quickly decided it was fine, since he had first told me he was pretending to be her. I offered to lend him my movies, er, for his daughters, and brought them in the next day.

They LOVED the movies. Not just the girls, but my boss and his wife, too. In fact, he told me that they watched two of the movies back to back in bed one morning. He then asked if they could keep the set for another weekend...

I'm starting to go into withdrawl, so hopefully I'll get them back soon.

The List

So, I have a terrible tendency to worry and stress, and generally work myself up over small things. I'm not sure this is apparent to people I don't know, but the internal result is not so nice. Since I've been way too lazy to go to the gym of late, I've decided to find another way to perk myself up. After all, there are lots of things I like and that make me quite happy.

A few (or maybe several) months ago, my officemate at the time gave me a little test. She told me to take 2 minutes to make a list of all the things in life that are important to me. [Me, writing the list.] Then, she asked me to look at that list and ask myself if I am living my life according to that list of things I deemed important.

Of course, I'm not quite sure where the list has gone to. More and more frequently, I find that I am inclined to organize first and think later, as my husband can attest to ("Where did my coffee mug go? I set it here on the counter just a minute ago." - I'm sure I put it in the dishwasher 30 seconds earlier). This leads me to believe that this very important list is on a flash drive in my apartment (or in my black work bag, not sure which).

I do recall several items on that list: family, French, cheese, travel, nice hotels, cashmere. I'm sure there were more meaningful things on the list like job security yadda yadda, the list brought to light the fact that I just really LIKE a lot of stuff, and wouldn't it be nice to make sure I appreciate those things and make sure I incorporate them into my everyday and share them with those I love. Whether they care or not.

This brings me to this first blog post. We'll see how it goes. I will either get terribly addicted to this blogging biz (although at this moment I write, I'm the only one authorized to read it), or I will give it up in a few weeks. I have tried keeping journals before and they usually lasted an entry or two, then I would realize I wasn't being honest about my feelings in my OWN journal, so, in effect, was lying to myself, which was pointless.

This is an attempt at a different approach though. It will be an experiment to see if blogging is something else I can add to the happy/important list (champagne was also on there, or it should be). Instead of starting a journal to pour out the stress of the day, I will try to come here to think lovely thoughts and reflect on happiness.