Friday, November 23, 2007

Deep thoughts...

I have been tagged by my lovely friend C and charged with telling you: "7 LOVELY random and/or weird things" about myself. I had an interesting time trying to think of things, so here are my deep thoughts.

1. If I could have a dinner party with any people living or dead, my group would include the Dalai Lama, Martha Stewart, Julia Child, Christoper Walken.

2. I like it when people have flowers in their bathroom.

These flowers are in my bathroom...

3. Along with the flowers, I also have a Mississippi snow globe in my shower. It was a cultural gift from P.

A cultural gift from the South...

4. I have a birthmark on my right knee that I think looks like a clown wearing a beret or a maple leaf. Until today, I thought it was on my left knee.

My knee, my right knee...

5. My husband makes me food when I'm too hungry to make food for myself.

Lucky me...

6. I like things with penguins on them.

My socks with penguins skating...

7. One time I took a studio art class in college and we had an assignment to draw our hands. The teacher looked at my drawing and told me that there was something very strange about my drawing and that the hand I drew looked like a monkey hand. He then had me hold up my hand, looked at it awhile, then said: Oh, your hand actually really looks like that.

It...was...a... MONKEY PAW!

Hope this has helped you gain a little insight on my life. Thanks, C...

Friday, November 9, 2007

H.A.S., #2: Oh, Joy!

Sharing the Joy...
Essential for a proper Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving is stressful for many people, and was for me, too, until I decided that I would become a permanent hostess at home and never travel for T Day. Ever. Again. Much better! Granted, I am in a lucky position where P and I can see both of our families around Christmas, so there is less pressure on Thanksgiving.

Being a bit, er, anal, for lack of a better descriptor, my first crack at hosting Thanksgiving involved many revised shopping lists, a spreadsheet, a food-prep and cooking timeline, post-it note tabs to mark important recipes in my FAVORITE cookbook, and a formal menu in a separate Word doc. Keep in mind, this was a totally normal Thanksgiving spread, I just was determined to get it right.

Tabs: proper preparation is important...

I believe P surveyed my pre-cooking organization and dubbed me the "Thanksgiving Nazi," but all turned out well, if I do say so myself. I think this year marks the 3rd or 4th "L&P do Thanksgiving." The only think I can't get quite right is that 4pm dinnertime that people seem to shoot for. I seem to get dinner on the table around 6:30. The first time around this prolonged preparation resulted in me, my two roommates at the time, my two friends, and P consuming 12 bottles of wine between noon and 7pm. Good times. My one roommate actually ended up taking a nap before dinner. Or perhaps it was in the middle of dinner...

Anyway, our digs are considerably more cozy in our new apartment, so we really only have between 2-4 very exclusive spots available for guests. I think we're hosting the same two we had last year: My co-worker/friend M, and our half-Canadian friend, D. Anyone who knows me knows I have a bit of a Canadian fetish, so I especially like hanging out with D. He is amazed with my Canadianness. But! I digress...

I will save my menu selections this year for a future post. As I mentioned in H.A.S., #1, I can go on about this stuff forever...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm Old Fashioned...

Good ol' Old Fashioned...

I was preparing to post Holiday Anticipation Series, #2, but got caught up in a rant to my poor parents about how my totally great, really challenging, and all around cool job is making me unhappy. Well! We know what that calls for -- a lovely thought. Or, a good stiff drink.

I love a classic cocktail, and have recently been shaking/stirring and calibrating some durn good manhattans, martinis, dark'n'stormys (not all at once) in my home kitchen laboratory. Tonight called for an Old Fashioned. An old fashioned is just beautiful in its simple alchemy. Sugar, two dashes of bitters, bourbon, orange peel, and a cherry if you're feeling crazy. So few ingredients, but an amazing and delicious result. I like to use raw sugar in drinks because I think it adds a little complexity.
Mmmmm.... better already.

Coming home

Exhibit A

What a crazy fall this has been. Between me and P, I think we have had somewhere around 11 trips between us. I think this is part of the reason I'm looking forward to the holidays -- time off!

P has a tradition of procuring "Cultural Gifts" for me when he travels. Some of these have included: a pickle in a can from Germany, a Mississippi snow globe, and a Chipper Jones bobblehead from Atlanta. Perhaps more enjoyable have been Swiss and German chocolates, hot sauce, and interesting post cards. Now, he has taken travel rituals to a new level. Exibit A, above, is a "Welcome Home" shrine he created for me to arrive to after a trip. Here is a close up of the note he included:

Exhibit B

Flowers to make me smile, bourbon to take the edge off, and Pirate's Booty to make sure I am not cranky. What a guy. I'm off to NYC tomorrow, the same day he returns from his great adventures in "The South." I'll have to think of something to leave him to welcome him home in my absence. Ideas?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Holiday Anticipation Series, #1

Anticipating Christmas back in 2006...

Many people complain that as soon as Halloween candy goes on sale November 1st, that everything Christmas hits the stores, too. I, however, am not of this mindset. I love the anticipation and celebration of this season, and it helps me get through those first few months where it really starts to get horrifically cold. Instead of thinking: oh god, it's cold, my nose is gonna freaking fall off; you instead think of: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and jack frost that is only nipping at your nose, not freezing the blood in your capillaries. See? This season puts together in our minds warm interiors, and outside winter wonderlands, sparkly things, food, friends, family, and, oh yeah, baby Jesus -- what more could you ask for?

So, anyway, I especially enjoyed my first post-Halloween trip to Target yesterday because the store is filled with Christmas dish towels, Christmas trees, things that smell nice and Christmasy. Predictably, I bought 4 seasonal smelling candles [P: How many candles to you have in the line up (before you buy 50 more - I could hear it in his head)? L: Look, I am not addicted to heroin, I don't smoke, so there are a lot worse things I could be buying.]

I realize I'm completely passing over Thanksgiving here, so promise to force myself to cover that territory in #2 post of this series. I've just ordered myself (and for P, too) a real, honest-to-goodness roasting pan (with rack!) so that this will be the first year that we will not have to use one of those disposable aluminum pans. Last year we poked a hole in the bottom of the pan accidentally -- not good for keeping the smoking oven factor down.

On this note, welcome to my "Holiday Anticipation Series" of posts. I can/will go on and on about this stuff. I wonder what I'll write about in March...

[Note: While I am all about the sensitivity of "happy holidays," I hate that it's become unnatural feeling to say "Merry Christmas," even to someone else who you know celebrates Christmas. When I say "holidays" in this series of posts, I mean CHRISTMAS, DAMMIT! Of course, I hope everyone enjoys their respective holidays.]

Beautiful breakfast

Berries, brown sugar, and walnuts...

This is a photo of my breakfast this morning. I'm not sure it looks as good here as it did sitting on my counter with morning sunlight streaming in on it. I love steel cut oats. They have the coolest texture and kind of "pop" in your mouth. P's mom introduced me to the berries and walnuts on top. Very delicious, but I have a horrid sweet tooth and still need to spoon some dark brown sugar over it all. Well, actually, first the oatmeal goes in the bowl, then the brown sugar, then berries, walnuts, then milk. Organic milk. I am freaked out by hormones in meat and dairy lately, so only drink very expensive hormone free milk. It comes in a pretty blue carton, so that coupled with no hormones is worth the extra moolah.