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?