Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once More Into The Breach

I made it through the holidays alive! Now it's just one last holiday party - tonight is a friend's New Year shindig and so I get to balance the urge to dress up with the desperate need to not freeze my bum off. Le sigh. It is always fun though, it's one of the only buildings downtown with a doorman so it feels very big-city. And he's on a really high floor so we get a great view of the fireworks!

Christmas was pleasant after all the hubbub died down - we had cioppino at Matt's parents' place on Christmas Eve and gave the kiddoes their presents (we figured if they got them on Christmas Day with all the rest we would never have time to play with them all together). The older one immediately decided they were all hers and that was entertaining for a few minutes. Christmas morning was at Matt's brother's house (owner of the kiddoes in question) and the big one very helpfully opened everyone's presents for them. It was a bit surreal since they don't really have furniture (don't ask) so we all sat on the floor to open stuff. Matt's mom thought she was hilarious and got us all snuggies so we are trying to figure out if we can donate them to the Salvation Army or somewhere people will use them (we will not). They all got a combo of homemade and local goodies (granola, jam, coffee, nuts, candy, etc.) which I was feeling fine with until Matt's brother and sister-in-law gave us nice scarves and a framed family photo (and a cute purse for me). But this was after a long discussion of people who give junk gifts that we will never use with Matt's bro so hopefully he appreciates the snacks at least as much as (if not more than) the snuggies.

I also found out I should be formatting my poor camera card every time I take pictures off of it. And I lost all my Christmas morning pictures (long story).

We went to Los Gatos the day after Christmas and got to spend lots of quality time with my sisters and my grandmother. My parents were in crazed cleaning/babysitting mode so we didn't see them as much, my dad did 4 loads of laundry one day because one kid got sick so they changed sheets and then another kid got so excited he wet the bed. TMI? Sorry. That's why we went down late. We had one nice night out with a close friend and her husband (the wedding in May that Matt missed, so he got to meet the new husband and it was fun and low-key) and had wonderful Thai food and got to catch up... she pointed out our 10-year high school reunion is coming up.

10 years. Most of the people who will show up are the self-styled "cool kids" who I have no interest in catching up with. However, my friend is all up on her Facebook and is actually in touch with the people I would like to see, so hopefully if they come down we can hang out and do stuff either instead of the reunion (in my case) or in addition to the reunion. These would have been the crowd I went to Homecoming with and ate lunch with every day, went to parties at their parents' houses and got in trouble for sneaking out with them. These are the people I want to see. So we will see what happens.

Did you go to your reunion? 5-year, 10-year, high school or college? Was it worth it?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

And to all a good knight ;) See, now I've filled both your terrible pun quota and your charming be-suited gentlemen quota for the day. Wasn't that nice of me?

Sweet dreams! And dancing sugarplums, if that's your thing. Me, I like Boromir. His sad ending notwithstanding. Aragorn could use a haircut.

Off to watch toddlers terrorize a pile of gifts...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In Which I Promptly Prove My Last Post Title To Be A Lie

I now have photographic proof of my moderate amounts of Christmas cheer.

There was mistletoe, but it is no longer photogenic. Also snowflake-y candleholders which may spend a lot more than just December out and about because I am currently in love with them. It's the little things, apparently.

The star came, and I love it. My tree may still look a little bare, but I love everything that is on it right now. There are ornaments from my grandmother, my aunt in Arizona, and Matt's aunt in California, among others.

Also, my awesome garlands are wood and look like cranberries. I want about twice as many. And there is one member of the Nutcracker band.

There is also a big pot of this pie-in-process simmering on the stove for Christmas dinner. And the beginnings of a stack of presents all wrapped up to take home with me. The Reno peeps haven't had theirs wrapped yet as they are mostly in the fridge (the gifts, not my in-laws). My favorite paper is the stuff I reused - the red-and-white pattern and the tiny trees. If I could buy the red-and-white stuff I would frame a piece. But it was a little too creased so I used it up.Kiddoes get books or toys, and other non-Reno peeps are getting chutney. But I am fancy so they are getting it wrapped in nice Irish linen dishtowels.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Am Terrible At Taking Pictures

But not so bad at the throwing of the parties.

It was a hit. I thought everybody was bringing cookies so I didn't make much sweet stuff, but then everybody brought savory stuff (which I made a ton of) and it got attacked and all I have left is sweet stuff. The bourbon balls were a raging hit. The cookies were respectable (the cranberry-ginger ones are gone completely and we made a hefty dent in the gingerbread, which made about twice as many cookies as I expected). The peppermint bark was also a hit but I had to put it back in the fridge eventually as it got somewhat soft.

I lit all the candles we never burn (we have candles in our fireplace) and the tree was nice and sparkly. EVERYONE brought beer or wine. Shots were done. It still stayed civilized, but we had a fabulous time. Everybody loved the food, so I will try and do a rundown of stuff besides general bread and crackers:

baked brie with cranberry sauce
lots of green and red grapes
a nice piece of smoked salmon
a big bowl of spicy olives and little mozzarella balls
vegetable tapenade (Trader Joe's)
korozot - my grandmother's spicy Hungarian blue cheese dip
lots of cut-up veggies
nice sliced salami (somebody picked up a slice and asked me if it was "that Hickory Farms summer sausage". I couldn't decide how to explain that I was insulted - was he implying that somebody else brought it and I had to serve it even though it was bad? Because it was good and I kind of resent the implication/snobbiness)

And I swear there was more. Plus the shrimp and seven-layer dip other people brought (not together). We have nearly nothing left except some crackers.

And there was one really nice moment that just made the party for me. One of Matt's friends started playing the piano and he was playing some Beatles tunes. About halfway through A Day In The Life, everybody started singing along without realizing (around 2:21)

When we got to the "aah" bit (about 2:51) we all looked around and noticed everybody else was singing too. And IT WAS AWESOME.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Very Much Want To See This

I can't say I'm all about the "reimagining" of classics as a general rule. But I just think this looks like a blast! I know people get sick of Tim Burton always casting Johnny Depp and HBC but I like the look of Alice and am intrigued by Anne Hathaway as the White Queen.

Back to cookie-baking!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sucker For Acapella

I love Ben Folds. His most recent album is a bunch of college choirs doing acapella versions of his song. He is judging an acapella song competition on TV. And it is just making me just love him more. He is the only judge that seems to give legit feedback. They've got a Pussycat Doll and one of the guys from Boys to Men (no I'm not spelling it right/wrong/however it's supposed to be spelled). Ben Folds writes his own music and sings and plays piano. The Pussycat Dolls mostly dance. The Boys to Men dude was in a group that won a lot of Grammys. More than 10 years ago. Too bad they couldn't get three qualified judges. At least the B2M guy is trying to give useful feedback, the Pussycat Doll is just being chirpy and parroting the other two.

I may have to watch this whole acapella song contest though. Just because their opening number was Under Pressure and the girl that they gave Freddy's high note to was rad (the Mormon one with the blonde mohawk). I am getting tired of the whole "this is so hard with no instruments" angle though. It's refreshing to hear some good voices instead of the American Idol ideal of overemoting. Some of the song choices are better than others, though.

I know that was gratuitous but I love that song.

And his stuff sure does lend itself to acapella.

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Cold Bird

I have been working at home because I haven't been feeling well (also, foot of snow). But today it didn't look so bad so I went in to work this a.m... in my car. I went in earlier this week in Matt's truck but hadn't been out in my little Honda yet. Going to work, fine. Coming back? Slalom city. Good thing I got groceries and a nice little swag thing for my door because I am not going back out there. Fresh pictures may ensue if it stays this ridiculous.

I don't know which was worse, almost getting stuck outside the co-op (poor guys, they were so excited about having a parking lot when the weather was nice, didn't think about having to shovel it when it got crappy out) or the House Of Bread (best challah in town but they are in a real shopping center so somebody should be more on the parking lots there). Not to mention the idiots slaloming around me because I am going 15. Not gonna go any faster just because YOU have a big truck.

Anyways, I am settled in for a while now. We're only supposed get a couple more inches but it is not as cold today so everything is wet and slushy. Which means as soon it gets dark... icy! I think it's movie time. Or possibly time to get started on the next batch of bourbon balls...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dilemma Time (Also, A Suggestion For Your Blogroll)

I have now received two gorgeous fruitcakes in the mail. One from Cookbook, who you should all be reading. I won her fruitcake giveaway AND she also tossed in some modjeskas, just because I had asked about them in an earlier post. They looked unassuming, but all the current holiday treats in the house are full of nuts and therefore off-limits, so I had one. First thought that crossed my mind, "Holy crap where did that other one go and how can I get more of these NOW", no joke. There are no more modjeskas in the house. Matt didn't even see them go by. Which also may have been due to him scarfing all the damn bourbon balls I made for the party.

The other fruitcake is from our super-gourmet relatives in Woodland, which means I better make mine tonight and get 'em in some booze because it was supposed to be a swap. And I am behind the curve. Fruit, meet your new best friend, Booze.

The dilemma is - Am I nice enough to share these delicacies with the philistines at the Christmas party? Or are they miiiiiine, aaaaaaall miiiiiiine (including ensuing caloric overload, as there are, yet again, a million sweet things in the house I CAN'T eat and these are, sans modjeskas, the only sweets in the house I can have)?

Dilemma #2 - Matt is eating all my bourbon balls(recipe also courtesy of Cookbook, my holiday butter-and-sugar muse). If I make another batch, I have to hide them. It's cold enough that they could stay in the garage, tightly wrapped (seriously, the high today was 19 and our garage is, shall we say, minimally insulated). But the thought of all that buttery goodness languishing in the garage just doesn't sit well with me. Is it all in my head, or would you be reluctant to stash your sweets in your garage too?

Tonight's other project will be the first batch of Christmas party cookies, as they can be stashed in the freezer and baked closer to the party date. They come with a whole variety of mix-in options, I am thinking of the cranberries and orange zest - any opinions? That seems kind of low on the decadence-scale right now so I am less excited about it. Hmm.

Also, my hyphen use has increased dramatically. I blame Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Highly recommended.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I am working at home today. This is the view out to my backyard. It started yesterday and I was fishtailing on major roads just to get to the grocery store. It was SO icy. I pity the quail today. About 8 inches last night with another 4-8 inches in the forecast for today. But at least it won't be icy when I finally have to suck it up and go out in it.

I am supposed to play a gig tonight at a Christmas Open House at a little church social dealio for one of our trumpet players. Our french horn player is currently snowed in and all the local schools are closed. I am inclined to call it off. But that's just me. *Edited to add - this was canceled by 10am*

We actually went out last night and we really enjoyed ourselves. The snazzy little bar that Matt's band plays at had their one-year anniversary last night. The whole street was empty and snowy except this one bar full of dressed up people. It was basically an invite-only Christmas party and there were women there in cocktail dresses and heels. I had long johns on. I did have a nice wool coat and pretty scarf but they pretty much stayed on. There was one really pretty punk girl in a red gown and I had to compliment her on her look and ask her how she did it. Her response? "I'm really cold." So I didn't feel so underdressed after that. I was respectable looking. But I was warm. So ha ha.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dame Diana. Yes.

Daniel Radcliffe meets Diana Rigg. And she is awesome.

The catsuit in question. Speaking of awesome Halloween costumes, about a month too late. Le sigh.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Don't You Feel Better Knowing...

that this is also available as an e-book? Miss the point much? Also, this beautiful little number just shot to the top of my Christmas wish list.

The Queen may have said it best here (as much as I wouldn't say no to one if somebody gave it to me).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick Question For The Day

While I may or may not be shopping on the Crate and Barrel website for unnecessary holiday swag, I do need a decent pie dish. So I figured I'd see what they've got while I was in the virtual neighborhood. The first entry, in cranberry red, was the Holiday Bakers. The second, and the first potential candidate, was the olive-green Harvest Bakers. The third, in antiquey French white, was the Josephine Bakers.

Would she approve?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And It Begins All Over Again

Now it's time to start thinking Christmas! You may be skeptical but we are down to one party a year and that is the Christmas party. I have given up on other organized parties but this one was a big hit last year and when people started asking "So are you going to have another Christmas party?" I said yes. That is the 18th. And we are staying here for Christmas, so we will have a family dinner here on either the 24th or the 25th.

So it is time to prioritize. There are plans to be made. They are as follows - cooking, decorating and presents.

Presents - Matt brought me a flier from this funny place because they are having a local crafts bazaar of some sort in two weeks. So that is an option. I have many jars of chutney that will be going to hopefully-welcoming homes and I want to pair those with a local thing like (my current options) jam, honey or homemade soap from the co-op. Stuff people will use. Other options include peppermint bark (not for those on diets), homemade granola and spiced nuts (hopefully not too many people are on diets). But that shouldn't be too painful.

Cooking - a menu for Christmas will be chosen when I find out what the hell the in-laws plan on doing. If they do cioppino Christmas Eve I will happily do a turkey or some sort of roast for Christmas Day. And we will probably only invite the in-laws and one couple so that will only be a meal for 10 including the kiddoes.

The other thing is what to cook for the Christmas party. At this point we've already got 25 people saying they will stop in, some will come early and some will come late. I guess it'll be like an open house type thing, that's what it was last year. There will be a big pot of cider and there will be hot buttered rum and so I just want a couple of cookie recipes and a variety of savory appetizers as people often bring cookies to share. I am thinking gingersnaps (because I luuuurve them) and something from here and maybe a batch of peppermint bark. These also look like they are a good make-ahead option. For savory I am going to have a couple of dips (one of mine and one or two from Trader Joe's) and crackers or baguettes and some crudites. We've got a family recipe from my grandmother involving blue cheese mixed with cream cheese and large amounts of paprika that is always a hit, I am thinking of just having that instead of a bunch of different cheeses. Although this was also a big hit last year. So I guess it's just narrowing down the options, really.

Decorating - this is the biggie. Last year was my first Christmas at home. I inherited/acquired a decent amount of ornaments so I am not worried about the tree much. But I also couldn't justify buying lights as I inherited three strings of perfectly functional tree lights from a friend. Unfortunately they were from here monochrome phase so they are all red. I called it The Satan Tree last year and I don't think I can do it again. I need multicolored lights, thanks. I think the red ones are going to move on. So last year all I had was a tree and a wreath on the door. And I want to get a little more festive this year. I am trying not to spend like a fiend, so I will probably keep it to lights, some garlands and a couple of festive candle holder type jobbies. That doesn't sound too unreasonable, right? I still haven't found a tree topper I like, they are so expensive! The only current candidate is this one, it is just like the one my parents have. It is a traditional Hungarian style and theirs has lasted forever so it may be my one splurge.

Can you tell I love a good To-Do list? I have three weeks for the party and four until Christmas. So this list may be back... most of Matt's Christmas stuff I grabbed as soon as I found it so that is a relief. But everybody else gets checked off, one by one. You'd all get chutney if you were here!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Made It!

So Thanksgiving was a relatively mellow time and a general all-round success. The turkey, while my instructions confused the butcher, came out fine and cooked relatively fast for a 20 pound bird. We covered it in bacon, among other things, and it was generally moist and tender and is currently almost gone. I have one wing and one leg left over (sans thigh - so, drumstick?). Green beans came out lovely, could have used some nuts but I wasn't quite that on it. My butt was pretty much covered by the fact that they were RIDICULOUSLY GOOD green beans to start with. I love the co-op. Stuffing and yams were brought so I take no credit or blame but they seemed fine too. I have no pictures.

I also got stuck doing the potatoes at the last minute. Thus, I had absolutely no interest in peeling them. So they became onion potatoes instead. My helpful aunt sliced them smallish and boiled them. I sliced up an onion and sweated it in bacon fat. The boiled potatoes then got mushed into the onions and salted. It's pretty basic. It could have used another onion and some more bacon fat but it was fine for the totally unexpected last minute.

Cranberry sauce and chutney both went over well and the pies were a huge success. The pumpkin streusel was a hit and I really wish I did have a picture of that as it came out particularly beautiful (my pies are usually strong on character and weak in the looks dept.) but suffice to say it went over well. I made little leaves to put on the crust and they looked dopey but in the oven they puffed up and got all golden and nice so that was particularly satisfying. On top of that, everyone whom I requested to bring a dessert actually brought two. So we sent people home with some of their pies just for the sake of my waistline. There was my brandied pumpkin pie and my pumpkin streusel, a decent apple pie, a gorgeous looking pecan pie and a lovely peach cobbler. And whipped cream and custard. But no ice cream. That was apparently a huge oversight on my part. Whatever.

So a general success. And last night we took my aunt and uncle out to bars to see rock bands. My parents kind of floated through the 60's listening to the Kingston Trio and the Limeliters and the Clancy Brothers (all of whom I love but are generally folkies). My aunt was the youngest and she and my uncle are the hippies of the family. So we got to take them out on the town and hang out in bars with rockin' bands and they seemed to have a great time. And now I just have to recover. I think naps are in order. And vegetables.

Also, no shopping. Black Friday passed me by with brisk walks and turkey sandwiches and that is just fine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Somebody Knows Me Too Well

Got this from Matt in an email saying only "it's like it was made for you...". Although I guess it was a little bit obvious - I mean, Muppets + Queen? How could I not love it?

Monday, November 23, 2009

And We're Down To The Wire (with updates!)

Where were we? Aah. That's right. In the nice clean kitchen (ha). I am so on this shit.

Weekend before:

make stock for gravy (done)
clean house (not half bad)
attempt to make space in fridge (pretty good)
roast spiced nuts (or in this case pick up a big bag of good-looking tamari almonds at the co-op)

Day Before:
pick up rolls (lookin' good)
make cranberry (nice and tart)
make pies (burned the crust on one but for some reason the other is looking perfect)
make white bean dip (done, yum, no snacking!)
iron linens (?!)
put together "guest bedroom" for sous-chefs (all taken care of)
make sous-chefs iron linens? (not so far, maybe tomorrow)
clean veggies (green beans and crudite-type action for appetizers, sous-chefs got it covered)
corral necessary serving bowls and utensils (eh, in the morning)

Day Of:
stick turkey in oven
deal with green beans (possibly do in a.m. and reheat?)
set tables
put out appetizers
make gravy
heat up sides

make coffee
make whipping cream
serve pies
make more coffee

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Can Somebody Confirm -

Is this really the Pointer Sisters? And does anybody else remember this vividly from their childhood?

Edited - for Lauralynne:

And the guy who posted this points out this is Pixar's Bud Luckey...
Same Bud Luckey.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review Time Again! The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

I think Mella may have recommended this one, I was a little skeptical at first. As a reader, I am slow to catch on to allegories and allusions sometimes, especially when they are Biblical (or Biblical AND Faustian, in this case). Or 1930's Russian. Thank God for footnotes.

Part one of this book is set in Moscow in the 1930's. A couple of guys are out and about and they run into a stranger who tells them a short narrative from the perspective of Pontius Pilate and tells one of them he's going to die. Then one of them abruptly dies and the other goes mad. The rest of the first chapter is the stranger's three entertaining minions wreaking havoc on Moscow, stealing the dead guy's apartment for the stranger and driving people mad. The first guy who goes mad meets his neighbor in the asylum, a man only called the Master (cue Doctor Who joke re: sound of drums). The Master wrote a poorly received manuscript about Pontius Pilate (the story we first heard?) and went mad when it was roundly (and publicly?!) rejected by all the critics.

Now I have to say, I was skeptical about part one. It is very hard to keep track of who is going mad and who is being persecuted by the stranger's henchmen. Also, no sympathetic characters have really shown up except the mad poet and the Master, and we don't see a ton of either of them as there are so many characters with long Russian names having their lives entertainingly ruined by the minions. One of whom is a talking cat named Behemoth. So extra points for Behemoth.

However, part two is worth it, as it is much more straightforward. Here we really meet Margarita, who was mentioned by the Master in part one. She is unhappily married and in love with the Master, who is still in the asylum after burning his manuscript. She has saved what she could of his manuscript and still pines for him. The stranger devil's minions show up and offer her a deal - she basically goes with them and they promise her happiness. Having nothing to lose by now, off she goes, becomes a witch, incidentally takes revenge on the Master's critics, and presides over the devil's masked ball (this was where I really enjoyed having the footnotes to figure out who all the guests were). She is a great character and the devil rewards her in the end. And then we're back to the story of Pontius Pilate. I don't want to completely spoiler-ize this thing but it all adds up fairly well in the end and I am glad I bulled through part one. But I still feel like I need to read up on PP as I'm sure I missed out on a lot of the nuance of the Pilate storyline. Overall, very interesting though and thanks for whoever gave me the recommendation!

And just for kicks:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Le Plan

So with T-minus one week until 20 people descend upon my home for a hectic but fun afternoon of food and family, here is the run-down. I love me some list-making. And party-throwing. AND I have the day before T-Day for extra prep...

1. Turkey. This will be pre-cut by the lovely gents at Butcher Boy. The wings and legs will get roasted on their own because I am lazy and that is easy. The breast will get stuffed with rosemary, half an onion and half a lemon. Under the skin it will get butter with garlic, more rosemary and sage from the yard. On top it will get bacon, as is traditional in Matt's family (mostly so they can fight over the bacon later). This will minimize basting and general opening of the ovens so everything will cook reasonably fast.

2. Rolls. From House Of Bread. They don't mess around and I can pre-order and just pick them up the day before.

3. Cranberry Sauce. Probably will get made the day before. Mostly cranberries, possibly with some sort of citrus, some dried fruit and/or a moderate amount of sugar. If I was hard-core I'd do this but I am probably too lazy.4. Stuffing. Brother-in-law's got it covered. I'm not a fan so it's best if somebody else does this. He has mentioned, variously, pancetta and cornbread. I don't know if they will both be in the same recipe.

5. Yams. Love 'em. Could eat 'em until I turn orange. Mother-in-law makes them regularly so she gets to bring 'em. No sweet stuff, just baked. Luuuuuurve.

6. Salad. Mom's got it covered. Thus, more room in the fridge for me.

7. Roasted veggies. My aunt has brought these in the past so she's on the hook for 'em again.

8. Green beans. I will probably do these right after the turkey goes in the oven, I figure I can stick them in the warm oven to reheat after the turkey comes out. I now have lots of options for these, based on that last post. Thanks, everybody!

9. Mashed potatoes. Brother-in-law is also on the hook for these. He likes to cook and has the shortest distance to travel of anybody. So my sister just has to help him carry it all in.

10. Appetizers. People will be showing up any time after about noon, I am guessing. With beer. So for those who came early to beat the traffic, there will be crackers with a couple different cheeses, toasted veggie tapenade (yay for Trader Joe! also spell check wants to replace tapenade with tapeworm. no thanks, spell check) those little mozzarella balls, olives, possibly sliced salami if I go for the gusto, and cut up vegetables and some white bean dip something like this for the healthy snackers. Also, spiced nuts (haven't decided what kind yet but these are hard to screw up. Pecans maybe? Or almonds). This requires almost no actual cooking-type work so I am all over it.

11. Pies. People are bringing variously, apple, pecan and peach pies or other desserts. My plan is to cover the pumpkin dept. as it is my favorite. I am torn between this and this. The first one has been a success in the past but the second one looks sooo goooood. *insert drool here* I may make both just to cause trouble. Because we really need six desserts.12. Miscellany. Whipped cream will get made after dinner so it doesn't take up too much space in the fridge. Gravy will be a pain in the ass. I will probably make turkey stock this weekend for a head start. Veggies will get cut up by the visiting cousins who get here Wednesday. They also get to clean the green beans. I can do all the cooking but if I have some sous-chefs sleeping on my futon by golly they will be slicing and dicing for me. And probably ironing linens and setting tables as well. Drinkers get to bring beer and wine, I will provide a variety of nonalcoholic options.

So: Weekend before: Make stock for gravy, clean house (ha). Attempt to make space in fridge. Roast spiced nuts.

Day Before: pick up rolls, make cranberry, pies and white bean dip. Iron linens (?!) Put together "guest bedroom" for sous-chefs. Make sous-chefs iron linens?

Day Of: Stick turkey in oven, deal with green beans (possibly do in a.m. and reheat?), set tables, put out appetizers and make gravy. Once turkey comes out, put in sides that need heating up. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Now what have I forgotten?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moving On.

We will burn the Xmas bridge when we come to it. For now, we focus on T-Day. Only 20 people, and the turkey is already ordered. Most of the sides and desserts are being brought, so I just have to pick up the little piddly things like rolls and cranberries. And maybe some green beans.

How do we all feel about green beans? I haven't ever made them for the holidays as I am not a traditional casserole fan. I don't do things that involve canned soup but I do love me some green beans. I was thinking of just blanching them and then tossing them with a nice mix of exotic mushrooms sauteed in butter and white wine. Still festive but not too heavy, I figure. Any thoughts/suggestions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Damned If I Do/Don't (this may get deleted)

So Matt wants to have Christmas with his family in Reno. And my family wants me to come down and have Christmas with them in Los Gatos. And if I spend Christmas with my family I will spend the whole time being Cinderella and helping my parents cook and clean because everyone else thinks they are suddenly a guest now that they have kids and I have nothing better to do than do all the work since I have no kids to watch. And we will spend at least one day on a miserable, pain-in-the-ass trip to somewhere large and crowded that will also involve crappy traffic and no parking (Academy of Science, I'm looking at you) where we will have no fun because everyone will spend the whole time chasing kids around. Trips like that are not meant for groups of 15 when there are at least 5 kids under 8 years old and no schoolbus involved. And Matt has no sympathy. And I am kind of sick of the whole thing. It makes me not want to go at all.

We are going to go down the day after and spend 3-4 days hanging out if the weather is not too crappy to drive down. That way Matt can have Christmas morning with his nieces and nobody will really notice I am not there when there are 5 little kids running around and fighting over presents Christmas morning. I will still get to see my sister who I only see twice a year and my grandmother who I should see more. But maybe I will be less miserable. Because right now I am tired of being guilt tripped and miserable when it's starting to look like I won't have any fun no matter what I do.

And now I am crying on my data sheets. I hate family sometimes. I miss having Christmas with my parents but hell if I am not sick of my sisters. And I haven't even see the one in question since her wedding in September. And Matt is no help at all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Living Room Project Phase 2 of 3: Complete!

So the front wall in the living room is painted. And it looks good, if I do say so myself. Updated pictures will ensue once I've gotten the curtains cleaned. They were gross. I don't know how this house gets SO DUSTY. The slowest part was cleaning everything off - this was the wall with guitars hanging on it, the loveseat, the tv and accouterments, the giant black lamp and a pile of guitars on the floor. All of which needed cleaning up. So I guess this was my belated spring cleaning.

The walls in the dining room are done, so the only wall left is the one behind the sofa. Which entails moving the sofa and all the CDs. Not all of which will be returning, hopefully. So this wall can wait until after T-Day. And I will enjoy my painted walls for now. And try not to think about the last one... Looks like fun, eh?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Thoughts? *edited for clarification*

Cute? Or too old-lady? I want to wear them to Tubachristmas with a short skirt and bright red tights. Would it work? Tuba notwithstanding. The heel seems to be reasonable without being too frumpy. I think...

To clarify:
1. I have slightly kooky taste in shoes. My clothes may be pretty staid but I like a goofy shoe. Seriously, I would probably own most of the shoes Pink Studio makes (except for the serious heels). I would sell somebody's grandmother (not mine) for these:
However, this leads us to:

2. I can't buy shoes in stores. There is no trying-on. I wear a 12W. Most brands do not produce shoes that big. Pink Studio certainly does not. Clarks does. They are about the only brand I have found that aren't either totally orthopedic looking or just plain frumpy (I think this may have led to my tastes getting weirder over time).

3. The goal is actually some shoes I can wear when going out in winter. We are not chauffeured to our partying here. We park places and walk other places. Weather is shitty. And I fall down in heels over 3". Sober. So these babies are not gonna happen. I may just have to see if they are frumpy in person or not. does have free shipping...

Maybe when they go on sale.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Questions, Round 2. And Rambling.

What is the first movie you ever saw in a theater?

No clue. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was The Little Mermaid because the ending was scary. Heavy when you're seven and a lightweight. I remember running away when my family was watching Return of the Jedi at home because of the fight scene with the Rancor at the very beginning. However I also remember dancing around with my sisters to David Bowie in Labyrinth. A child's mind is scared by the randomest things. David Bowie, no. Rancor, yes. Also, ALL of the Dark Crystal. Still haven't tried to watch that one again. Skexis, no thank you very much. I was a wuss. Still am.

Tell me how those aren't scary.
These guys? No big deal, apparently.

What's the book that had the biggest impact on you?

Oh that's a variable one. It could change based on time of day. I was a speed reader from an early age and ate up whatever I could find. I loved anything about mythology and read possibly every OZ book ever written. Graduated to junk like the Babysitter's Club and the Fountainhead in short order. One of the ones that stuck with me the most was Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, I remember doing a book report on it in 6th grade and have reread it at least once a year since them. It just had such a strong, interesting female protagonist who loved books and the fantasy undertone was there, but not as strongly as a lot of the junkier stuff I was reading at the time (ahem, Mercedes Lackey). Also, the writing was great, and I never would have read a lot of books if they hadn't been alluded to in Tam Lin. Oddly enough, I never got into any of Pamela Dean's other stuff. Among other books Tam Lin got me to read: The Daughter of Time (which got me hooked on Josephine Tey) and The Lady's Not For Burning (now one of my favorite plays).

In what fictional place would you like to vacation, and what would you bring back as a souvenir?

Right now? Lord Peter Wimsey's England. We could shop for first editions and I could have tea with Harriet. I'd be fine just bringing back a tin of nice tea. It's cold and gray and I'm in England-mode right now. Mmm, teacakes. Maybe I'd bring back teacakes.

What place (where you live) gives you joy?

We live a couple blocks from the Truckee River which actually runs through downtown Reno. Most of the casino brochures don't mention that. But the Truckee is really pretty. I don't go down there enough. There is a river path that runs from Verdi all the way to Sparks and a piece of it is right by our house. So that would be it for me. Or at least one of the places. It just makes you feel like you're someplace else.

What's your drag song?

Probably either Queen, Mika or the Scissor Sisters. Or Lady Gaga. I am developing a weird fondness for current super-gay pop.

Don't you just want to put him in your pocket he's so cute?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sick Of This Crap.

I hate being sick all the time. It's not a full-blown flu, just an annoying recurring sore throat, constant sniffle etc. Stupid colds. I hate people who come to work sick.

Thus, working at home again for as long as I can stand it/my boss can stand it. Bleah. I have stuff I want to be doing.

I even tried to take it easy this weekend. No big projects, no late nights, a couple of sedate dinner parties (helping fill a table at a local Democratic fundraiser "Welcome to surreal town, you're underdressed" but a favor is a favor), and errands. That's it. Even a health-giving walk as Matt's grandma is wont to call them.

Stupid body.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Little Things (House Project Post) Plus *Bricky Kitchen Warning*

I had last Friday off. For Nevada Day, the day on which Nevada was made a state. Sometimes working for the university isn't so bad! Free weekday, though, of course equals Project Day!This is the celebrated BBQ nook of yore. It faces the fridge. It is built into the backside of the fireplace and has a little door underneath for your propane tank to live in. Am I the only one who thinks this sounds unsafe for indoors? Maybe, but it's MY kitchen, so functional space, here we come!
Our buddy Paul is a talented guy (not to mention a badass metal drummer). He kindly covered all my cinderblock with plywood and caulked it all nice and tidy. Then I got to wait around and be antsy while the caulk dried before I could paint it and hang the shelf.
End result? Nice useful storage (and yes, those are all my cookbooks. I love to look at 'em but I never use them so I have a hard time hanging on to tons of them. I always want more though). There is power here (another reason why the BBQ idea seems sketchy) so I can plug in my toaster so now it is basically the toaster nook. The mixer gets used rarely but will fit nowhere else in my entire kitchen so here it stays. It is great, I got it from a friend-of-a-friend who broke it and didn't want to bother calling Kitchenaid to get it fixed. So $80 later I have a fully working awesome mixer that would normally cost a LOT more than that. And for how much I use it, I am glad I didn't pay full price. And the big blue bowls is actually a stack of great big ceramic serving bowls so it is great to get them out of the way of everything else.

All in all, a very satisfying little project. I theoretically could have done the plywood bits myself but it would have taken a LOT longer and would not look nearly as tidy. So I can justify a little outlay for mister Paul's time and skill. That's one thing in my kitchen I don't have to hate anymore!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Marvelous (I'm Meme-velous?) Questions 1-5

Would you rather eat Reese's Cups or Peppermint Patties?

Sigh. Before the no-nuts debacle it would have been Reese's in a heartbeat. I love me some creamy fake-pb goodness. Peppermint patties are fine though. But now it is usually straight milk chocolate or the kind with little crispy rice bits (hippie Crunch bars, basically).

Would you rather never listen to music again or lose your TV?

Lose the TV. No question. As much as I love Project Runway and NOVA, 99% of TV adds nothing to my life and I don't really think I'd miss it if it was gone (although I do love my Netflix). But give up music? I might die. No concerts? No Noisettes on the iPod while I'm in the lab? No drone-y Indian music during yoga? No way. That said, tonight will be the first night this week that I don't have band practice, and now we're going to a concert Saturday night too. Music is a HUGE part of my life.

If you could visit any one time period in history, when would it be?

This is a toughie, I'd probably go with the 60's just to see the changes going on, even though some of them were sad ones, it was so vibrant and interesting and it wouldn't be going back far enough to one of the women-as-chattel, no-personal-hygiene periods like the Renaissance (which I would be ok with if I could be male, and maybe a Medici or something).

Would you rather die peacefully, but unexpectedly in your sleep at age 60 or die at 90 after suffering for years from disease?

90/disease. As unpleasant as it sounds. My grandmother is 102 and not in perfect health but if she had died at 60 I never would have met her. She got to meet all her grandchildren and lots of great-grandkids and seems to still enjoy the time she has with us. So I'd rather not give that up.

Do you think that questions such as "what's your favourite colour/ice cream/album of all time" help you get to know another person?

Hell no. This may possibly be due to my complete inability to choose a favorite anything. I like too much stuff a lot to pick out any single favorite thing.
Shortcuts like this just don't cut it for me.
I agree with the points made by others (lauralynne? I'm already mixed up on this meme) about how the small questions can be good starters for discussion and lead to bigger questions and more depth to the conversation. But I'm just bad at them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Annie Are You OK? Are You OK? Are You OK Annie?

Yes, I'm fine, Matt just dragged me to see This Is It last night. I did enjoy it, although not as much as he did (he's a HUGE fan). I'm no apologist, I just enjoyed watching them put together what was obviously going to be an amazing spectacle of a show. I loved seeing them putting together all of the effects and videos to go along with the songs. The band was amazing and the dancers he found were fantastic. And dude could still dance like crazy.

And H'ween was low-key, but I did love my costume.
We'll give everyone else black bars for anonymity, but we've got my date Boba Fett (clearly on his night off) and my witch friend with her date the Invisible Man (the Ace bandages lasted for about 10 mins. before he had to take them off, but I like the idea). And yes, my hat was lopsided but I did fix it (every 15 minutes or so, for the ENTIRE night). It made the costume though, I got tons of compliments on it. Although the veil makes me look like I was going to a very sassy funeral.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy H'ween

Here's a little fall color for you to enjoy, hope everyone has a fun and healthy Halloween ;)
This was in a neighbor's front yard - whatever it is I want some in my yard by next spring! Seriously, it was growing like a weed but looks like a cross between a tomatillo and a fritillary. And spellcheck doesn't like either of those words.

Here's a little creepiness for your holiday via some old-school Disney:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lazy Lazy Lazy

Since I am too lazy to fill everybody in on my exciting life since getting back from Vegas (which should have included WAY more in the nap dept.) instead, here is my Halloween costume rundown:

I haven't found a suitably tiny toy gun yet, but the hat is even more awesome and has a veil (and a tiny brooch from my grandma in the shape of a gold spider) and the stockings have cuban heels and a back seam just to look retro. The rest is basically a skirt suit with a fluffy blouse so the hat and stockings kind of do the work for me (the shoes and bag are placeholders/daydreams).
That is the goal hairdo. I think it is doable. So what do you think? Will I achieve my aims of looking charmingly attractive without a. freezing my ass off or b. falling into the trap of the sexy/ slutty fill-in-the-blank costume? The goal is more this instead of this. What would be perfect would be to top it off with some little gloves and a cigarette in a holder but I am on a time crunch here and now I need to find a fedora and some suspenders for Matt...

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Made It Back Alive!

Here's the full story, in relatively quick format. We've got a couple of friends who had tickets to see U2 in Vegas Friday night. Their flight left Thursday night. He ran into some work issues that he couldn't skip out on and she didn't want to go alone. So that's where I come in the picture... I got to be her surrogate date for the weekend and man was it fun!

We stayed at a time share that was selling off rooms for cheap, the place was super nice but it wasn't quite warm enough for the pool (sigh). So we went to the outlet malls (I questioned this, and had her original date accompanied her she would not have gotten to shop but would have hit every roller coaster on the strip. Needless to say, shopping was her idea. Although I would have been ok with roller coasters too) and had a lot of fun farting around in fancy stores. I ended up getting a couple of practical clothing items that I had been looking for and one totally impractical buttery-yellow leather clutch purse. It is adorable. Because clearly I adore it.

The concert was at Sam Boyd Stadium, which is not the one on the strip but the one 20 minutes outside of town. We were off of the end of the strip right by the airport so we had a bit of a head start. We got there right before doors opened (6pm) for a decent parking spot, then found out we had to go get wristbands since we were on the floor - general admission for fan club members, woot! There was a main stage and a ramp that went around (picture one of Saturn's rings) and the seats between the ring and the stage were the super pricey ones but we were right outside the ring so the view was still epic.

The Black Eyed Peas started around 7:30 and were a good warm-up act. I don't really mind their stuff and was thoroughly entertained by the costuming, they looked like a marching band getting ready to perform their medieval dominatrix-themed Dune field show. However, the highlight was their four dancers (that were not onstage nearly enough), they looked like refugees from a Daft Punk video. They first came out dressed as speakers. Seriously. They had 1/4 speaker attached to each forearm and each thigh so when they stood straight with their arms in front of their faces they just looked like big speaker boxes. If that doesn't make sense it's their fault, not mine. And they danced. They were totally the best part. Fergie Ferg has a perfectly good voice but I don't know why these guys are such a hit. Especially after their wonderfully tactful song about the Now Generation that starts with a Yes We Can-style Obama-related tribute that segues into a chorus of Gimme The Cash or something to that effect. I believe crass is the word I am looking for. And I am so tired of people who can't sing without AutoTune (not Fergie but the dude singer). Also their spare dude singer/rapper/I forget what he did looked just like a Bond villain. Major cheekbones and a black leather jumpsuit with red stripes. This website has pictures of the speaker people among other things, and seems to be run by the guy from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Am I the only one who thought he was dead?

But anyways. The whole stage/ring complex is overshadowed by a giant thing that looks like bug legs. The legs are full of lighting guys (we counted 14) and the center (the bug torso?) comes down in a big circular screen made of a bunch of little diamond-shaped screens. The giant screen thing starts showing a bunch of clocks and then a world map with the international dateline scrolling around the world like crazy and flashing What Time Is It over and over. It then flashes 9:06 and I just have to crack up. Kind of anticlimactic.

Finally they all come out and play a couple of tracks from their new album (only one of which I am excited about) and then start getting into some of the bigger hits. By the time they play Elevation my "date" and I have pissed off the neighboring drunks enough so we're getting a little bit of space. Everybody sings along to every song and it is fun as heck. Bono is a goober, and I love the Edge even more after seeing him up there totally deadpan in a BeDazzled plaid flannel shirt and his standard beanie. He also sings the shit out of a lot of the songs so Bono can do the shout-with-the-crowd bits. And changes guitars possibly every song. Also at one point the drummer (Larry?) comes out with a djembe and jams out on the ramp like 25 feet away from us and damn if I can remember the song (it's gonna bug me now) but he was great! That is one tight band and they put on a great, high-energy show.

Here's the list according to these guys:
Get On Your Boots (I think this is my favorite off the new album, better live than on the album though, of course)
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day (YES)
In God's Country
Fix You
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Viva Las Vegas (this was funny)
Stuck In A Moment
No Line On The Horizon
In A Little While (this was cool as they had footage from the space shuttle playing during this and at the end they had one of the astronauts quoting the verse about "man takes a rocket ship into the sky"
Unknown Caller
Until the End of the World
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights - this was cute, he pulled a kid up out of the crowd and they were running around the ramp and the kid was wearing Bono's shades.
Go YouTube, whoever shot this was pretty close to where we were, oddly enough.
Vertigo + a hint of All These Things That I've Done (the Killers are from Vegas, meh) you can also see how the screen expanded here, it was pretty nifty.
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - Ha! This was the djembe song.
Sunday Bloody Sunday (this was rad)

Thanks again YouTubers (I want to breed a new kind of potato and name it the YouTuber), I hated all the people holding up their cameras every time Bono walked close to us but this sure is convenient. And that is the bug looking set I was trying to describe.
Walk On
You'll Never Walk Alone

They bailed but the lights didn't go up so of course they did encores.

One - I think it was during this they talked about Aung San Suu Kyi and had a bunch of volunteers walk around the ramp holding up masks of her face which was kind of unintentionally creepy. Not bad preachy-wise though compared to past footage I've seen.
Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name

And then they bailed again so we did too. We knew they were going to encore again but it was getting progressively mellower and it took us over an hour to get out anyways so I can't imagine if we had waited that extra ~20 mins. just to leave with the whole crowd. They were starting the whole "get out your cell phone and make this stadium like the night sky" BS and I just don't care enough.

So overall, BEP's were doofy but entertaining and U2 puts on a fantastic show. And I am still tired.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Signing Off For Now.

After seeing that movie I am really excited to see the Edge live. Bono is kind of a goober but he seems to mean well in general. Even though I've decided he could be Robin Williams' little brother. Anyways, first I'm gonna rock, then I'm gonna roll! See everybody when I get back (metaphorically speaking, that is)!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ho Lee $#!t.

I just got a call from Matt. A friend of his and his girl got tickets to go see U2 in Vegas Friday night. Now he can't go. So I am going to keep Christine company. At U2. In Vegas. We leave tomorrow night.

Ho. Lee. Shit.

Not A Cure? *Warning* MORE Brick*

Since Alana is posting kitchen pictures, I might as well join in! I am having ~20 people here for Thanksgiving. Most of them will be milling about the living room, as there will be big tables everywhere else. So I finally decided to bite the bullet and get it under control. This is a very loose definition of "under control". The living/dining areas are connected and I have already started "Curing" the dining area with a new neutral tablecloth, equally neutral paint job, tiny vase from my sister's wedding that is perfect for keeping full of nice herby greenery from the yard, and a light fixture that doesn't fight with anything. The dining area is going to be considered under control, for now (I promise it's not boring with all that neutral, it still has the purple couch Matt bought from a tattoo parlor).

So here are the living room goals:
- Move furniture away from walls.
- Vacuum and dust EVERYWHERE (this is big as there are CD racks and stereo equipment to deal with and they are HEAVY).
- Paint walls.
- Store some guitars and amps somewhere else. There was a big step made here when I actually removed ALL the amps to clean and vacuum around them and Matt agreed that I could store elsewhere the ones that weren't used regularly since they are big fat dust collectors. So the huge Peavey is headed for the garage in a nice overcoat of dropcloths and we are down to three amps in the living room. Guitars are next...
- Store some CDs somewhere else so the extant guitars can be more efficiently organized. I already moved a crate of mine to the garage after backing them all up onto the lappy, now I just need to get Matt to do the same with his...
- Obtain (buy/make) new pillow covers for the throw pillows on the couch/loveseat. This would be easier if I wasn't so darn picky. Where do people get throw pillows that aren't $100? We actually put our faces on these during naps so the fancy ones with buttons and beads just leave weird marks.
- Create and maintain space around the couch so when my dad shows up with a pair of end tables (Have I mentioned my dad is rad? My Dad. Is Awesome.) they can be put in their respective spots without having to rearrange everything right then.
This is the view to your immediate left when you walk in the front door. I am going to try and eliminate the short CD rack so we can line up guitar cases against the wall by the window. Then we can get to CDs and guitars both. Right now the corner rack is the dumbest storage idea ever. It would be more accessible if I just put the whole rack in the garage. Hmm...

I have about a month on this. What do you think? I am going to try and get the wall by the windows painted this weekend. Or maybe next weekend. I'll take whatever I can get.
Direct view of the front wall that will be painted first (no CD racks to move). If you click you can see the lovely fireplace wall with stacks of amps. Those are mostly no longer there. It's a start. I have many other dreams of how to make this a nicer space but this is my trying-to-be-realistic phase right now. We'll see how it works out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Musical Interlude/ Movie Review Time!

Matt and I went to a fascinating documentary last night, called It Might Get Loud. It was about The Edge (of U2), Jimmy Page (of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, among others) and Jack White (of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs). It was a combination of them talking to eachother about music, interviews with each of them about their influences and them sitting in a room talking music and jamming. It was SO well done.

It was an odd format, because it would switch back and forth between the three of them, and they had interviews with Jimmy Page and the Edge in their old recording studios where they had recorded iconic albums and in their current abodes talking about their influences and (especially in the case of Jimmy Page) past musical experiences. In Jimmy Page's this was particularly interesting as he started out pre-rock and roll and learned to play in a skiffle band and spent so long as a studio musician playing written-out music (he's the guitarist on Goldfinger, among other totally random things). He talks about the point where he was sitting in a session and realized he was playing muzak, and he just had to leave. He then goes into how much time he spent trying to innovate and do different things with the guitar just to get away from the rigid structure of his past studio gigs (playing guitar with a violin bow, for example). It was a little sad actually, they show a clip from Spinal Tap which came out a couple of years after Bonham's death and the breakup of the band, and you realize that it wasn't that over-the-top, and he just looks so sad about that. Although he does explain the double-necked guitar, too. The top half was a twelve-string and the bottom was a regular electric because it was the only way he could play all of Stairway to Heaven live in concert without switching instruments - he played all the solos on the regular side and everything else was on the twelve-string.

The Edge was actually really interesting as well, it goes a lot more into his influences from the political climate in Dublin when they were starting out and how that influenced his writing music. Songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday for example - I for one forget how much singing and songwriting he does for that band. It was also fascinating to watch him talk about his gear, how much time he spends getting just the right sound and effects for each song and each lick - he sits down at one point and plays a catchy lick on an unplugged electric guitar and then he plugs in and it turns into this huge memorable song and it is so interesting to watch.

Jack White was kind of the "which of these things is not like the other" factor. I know he was kind of the contrivance to get the other two together in the first place but it just felt a little forced when they would have old footage of the others and them talking about their experience and they've both got 20-30 more years of stories to tell than he does. I know it's kind of to get the younger crowd in and it is interesting to hear him talk about his influences as well but he just seems kind of out of his league, especially in the jam sessions. That was kind of my other little peeve - they hardly showed them jamming at all! The preview kind of implies that the whole thing is about the jam and it is really a minor component. Although it was pretty cute watching him just look on in awe when Jimmy Page is showing them how to play Heartbreaker.

Overall, I highly recommend it if you like rock music (or are married to a guitarist). I've got some residual interest as a non-guitarist who lives with a serious guitarist but also as a moderate U2 fan and a huge fan of both Zep and the Raconteurs. And I thought it was very interesting and extremely well done. So there ya go.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flakey McFlakerson

So I have spent an excessive amount of time trying to convince people to dress up with me for Halloween as the cast of Mad Men (or at least a couple of them). I was going to be the redhead and I had a friend who could pull off the main blonde and the boys could just wear suits (fedoras optional). And now I totally don't want to. Waah.

It's the updo. I just don't care enough. I've even been practicing. And I can't find a wig anywhere. Some people make the retro hairdos look so easy. But my hair is apparently super slippery or something. Because it will not stay up. And I just don't want to try any more. I want to be a generic femme fatale with my hair in my eyes and a tidy little suit so I don't have to spend more money on a Halloween costume. So waah for me.And off topic, I have to say thanks for all the comments on my kitchen, it is SO on the chopping block as soon as we save up some dough but until then, new hardware is tempting me. But I have to say, 40 hinges and 25 pulls is still not a small investment. Le sigh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Habit (And AT {kind of a rant}) *plus, bricky-kitchen warning*

(I meant to post this a while ago but it got lost in the ether - the picture is also from a period when I had just cleaned and rearranged the whole kitchen. Needless to say it doesn't look like that right now)

I still get emails from Apartment Therapy. I was an enthusiastic participant in the website when I first found it a couple of years ago, but my enthusiasm waned as I sent in pictures of stuff I wanted advice on and got snotty responses ("get rid of the rug" was my favorite. Let it be known, the question in question had nothing to do with the rug). But the community and helpful people were addicting so I kept going back. I participated in at least two Cures and one Color contest and have learned quite a bit. One of the bigger things I learned was that I would rather share my projects with a select audience (a.k.a. you lovely readers who care enough to click on my blog) instead of tossing them to the lions commenters at AT, even though I have gotten good advice there in the past.

But like I said, I still get emails from them. Not AT, technically, but The Kitchn, the affiliated cooking blog. I still hate the spelling, but enjoy the (much less negative) commenters (although don't get them started on ground turkey, apparently it is the hot dog of the poultry world and no respectable cook goes near it. F you all, foodie snobs. You don't know where my ground poultry comes from). Anyways, my point is, they're starting the Kitchen Cure and looking for participants. And I realized, my kitchen doesn't need Curing. Maybe a quick mop and scrub, but not a Cure. This is big, people.
I am happy with my ridiculous "retro" kitchen, as far as I can be (I will say, whoever thinks a 3-D backsplash is a good idea anywhere, especially behind a stovetop, STOP NOW. Unless you want to spend your weekends cleaning it with a toothbrush). Yes, it was designed for people who don't cook, yes it is nearly impossible to clean, yes the wacky dropped ceilings mean I can't put much of anything in the upper cabinets. Yes it is the first thing you see when you walk in the door so party guests immediately settle Right Where I Am Working unless they prefer Right In Front Of The Oven When I Need To Get In There Right Now So Pick Up Your Drink And Get Out Of The Way.

But I can make Thanksgiving dinner for 30 when it comes down to it, and I can tell you it will be TASTY. I love having my electric kettle next to Matt's wacky double-decker bus shaped tea tin and my grandmother's rad old flour and sugar canisters next to the huge cutting board my dad made me that totally needs oiling right now (be right back). This is MY kitchen. Someday I will gut it and it will not be retro any more. But all my things will still be there, and then there will just be no more little undercurrent of Hate when I talk about it with people (esp. those who call it cute, retro or classic Avocado 70's, as these are inevitably people who don't cook).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can I Get A Hmmm? (Plus Quick Recipe)

Hmm. I had a very busy weekend but need to really quickly share a recipe. We went and visited family in Woodland, Colusa (this was a LOT of driving) and Grass Valley (new baby to visit) before the weather gets crappy. And they ALL sent me home with produce. I now have a stack of tomatoes (even some green ones to fry), a pile of pomegranates and a passel of peppers (in both hot and bell varieties) that all need some love. So last night when we got back, I...

quartered and seeded a pile of tomatoes (enough to cover a sheet pan),
shucked a head and a half of garlic,
tossed them in olive oil and italian spices,
and stuck them in the oven at 275F for two hours (three might have been even better).

Then I tossed it all in the food processor (I am way too lazy to peel tomatoes and this makes the peel a non-issue) and tonight we are having fresh tomato sauce on our pasta. People put in onion, carrot, all sorts of fancy things but if you slow-roast 'em you really don't need much else other than tomatoes.

That said, I also stuck a couple of paint swatches up in the living room. I think my paint choices were too dark as my "light" color has become my go-to choice for my accent wall color. So I think I am going to have to go up the swatch for my lighter color now. Which is fine. Right now my walls look like they have patches of milky coffee all over them. And I think I am going to go with it. It's a tiny bit weird with the warm wood but I am not working around the colors of my hated kitchen just in case we never change it (if we never change it, suffice to say I will be at the very least refinishing some nasty cabinets so I can deal with that). It works with the furniture and the carpet so everything else can just fight a little bit less now.

And for my Halloween costume, suffice to say I am not hard core enough to be Lady Gaga this year (also, it's gonna be cold!) nor am I able to afford a makeup artist! So here is your clue...