Saturday, December 31, 2005
Bean is sick with a bad cold so I'm staying home with her tonight while Husband goes out to a friend's house for a few drinks and some social time with his guy friends. I don't mind a bit--in fact, I encouraged him to go because I think he could probably use a little time away from the house and all of us. My New Year's Eve is going to consist of the following: finishing this post with a tasty raspberry vodka collins, breathing deeply of the baking apple-streusel pie aroma wafting out of my kitchen at the moment, watching episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" all by my lonesome, and...well, that's it, actually. Personally, I'm feeling like it's a damn good way to close out the old year.
I've been visiting my usual favorite blogs lately and it seems that everyone is waxing introspective and making resolutions right and left. I find myself in just that kind of mood tonight, too. My life is very, very good at the moment, and I am very, very grateful for that DAILY. I sometimes think to myself that I'll look back on these years with Husband and young children and know that they were the sweetest of my life. I wouldn't change a thing. Well, o.k., maybe ONE thing, but more on that tomorrow, if I have time between chopping collards, making country ham biscuits, and simmering black-eyed peas for our guests. In the meantime, I hope all of you out there have a gratifying end to your old year and a cheerful, inspiring beginning to your new. Happy New Year!
Friday, December 30, 2005
Husband is inviting a bunch of his running buddies over after they all finish running a race together. They're all coming with wives and kids in tow. I've invited several of my friends with their respective kids and spouses, partners, etc, and most of them appear to be coming, too. Sister is unfortunately going to be at her dad's, but otherwise it will be an entirely kid-friendly, informal affair with plenty of cold beer for the grown-ups. I find myself really looking forward to it. I expect that a heaping helping of grown-up conversation will help me finally come down in a relaxed way from all the Christmas excitement. The day is supposed to be lovely and sunny so perhaps we'll all mostly stay outside on the deck while the kids swing on the hammock and play in the treehouse. Can't wait!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
This inspired me to think a little more about the personal soundtrack idea. I'm sure this sort of meme has been dreamed up and circulated before, but since I'm new to the blogging world I'm inventing it new for myself. Anyone else can participate, too, if a post-Christmas, self-indulgent activity is in order. Let me know if you participate, okay? I'd love to see what others include as part of their own personal life soundtrack. So without further ado...
The Personal Soundtrack Meme
- First song you remember hearing on the radio as a child: For me this was a Scott Joplin piano tune which was on the radio in 1973 because it was part of "The Sting" soundtrack. I distinctly remember my mom cranking it up on the stereo in our living room so that I could dance to it while she laughed. She knew I loved it. I would've been 2 years old.
- First album you remember listening to as a child: "Some Girls," by the Rolling Stones. Hearing this reminds me of my favorite Aunt Lorrie who was only 9 years older than me. It was the 1970's and I was the personal mascot of my gorgeous, 6-foot tall, Viking blonde aunt. I was allowed to hang out with her in her room while she played albums for me. The Rolling Stones, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Ted Nugent, The Knack. I chose 'em, she put 'em on the turntable. She drove a red Camaro with a white leather interior and could roller skate backwards and very fast in a most awe-inspiring fashion. She used to have me zip up her ultra-tight Jordache jeans while she lay flat on her bed and tried to hold the button closed. My Aunt Lorrie died of cancer last year at age 42 and I still miss her very much.
- Album that takes you back to junior high: Prince's "Around the World in a Day." Even more than "Purple Rain," this album reminds me of being in my sunny bedroom, listening to the weirdness coming out of the speakers, trying to figure out the whole Wendy and Lisa thing. I loved Prince. Still love Prince actually.
- Most played album in high school?: Hmmm, this is harder because I was deliberately buying and listening to music at this point. I guess if I exclude albums that friends had but I didn't (Guns-n-Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" springs to mind--music to drive drunk by), I'd have to say REM's "Green." This wasn't even my favorite REM album, but somehow when I hear a song from it I am instantly transported back to my little bedroom nook in the attic of a particular house in a particular small Southern town that I couldn't get out of fast enough.
- Favorite album in college? Actually, give me 3 favorites: "Hunkpapa," by Throwing Muses; "The Pink Opaque," by the Cocteau Twins"; and "Last Splash," by the Breeders. I guess the Breeders choice reveals that it took me a LONG time to finish my bachelor's degree. 8 years, in fact. Couldn't quite make up my mind about that major...
- Favorite albums to road trip with?: Hands down, these are "Exile in Guyville," by Liz Phair and "Nevermind," by Nirvana. Maybe not a road trip NOW, but they were certainly part of a certain Southern Cities Tour taken by a good friend and I back in the day.
- Best albums to divorce a husband by, or any other albums worthy of mention: "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," by Lucinda Williams and the "Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees" double album by the Magnetic Fields. Both were albums I listened to constantly just after leaving my Ex. No particular reason, really, I just suddenly had a bit of free time since little Sister was spending some time at his house without me and I was able to frequent record stores kid-free.
- Your personal soundtrack today includes...: Oh, jeez! Like I have time to go music shopping or need one more noise in the house on top of a crying baby and 7-year old questions and the exhaust fan running while I cook! Can I include the opening theme to NPR's Morning Edition? Or anything on a Baby Einstein CD? Pathetic, huh? I'm afraid I don't much keep up with new music these days. But if anyone else out there has any suggestions, I'm all ears!
- So if this is your personal soundtrack, what's the plot of the movie in 50 words or less?: A comedy in which the heroine does lots of drugs, ends a good relationship, rushes headlong into a series of stupid relationships which all end badly, has a baby, resumes the good relationship, has another baby, and everything comes out all right in the end. A total chick flick, y'all.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
So I vomitted 3 times and had 4, um, intestinal incidents between the hours of 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., with Baby Bean crying intermittently most of this time, I might add. But things sort of settled down with me after that. Husband, however, continued to barf all.night.long and so neither of us got any sleep at all. It was so bad for him that apparently he even passed out with his head on the rim of the toilet at one point.
So I guess that it was some sort of bug that caused Sister to hurl so spectacularly after her Christmas party last week, rather than way too much junk as I had assumed. I found out today that my friend's daughter was also sick that night, so now I feel horribly embarrassed, wondering if ALL those little girl guests were that sick, too. I'm too embarrassed to call their parents to inquire, actually. Though I suppose that since it's a week later I'm a little behind the game anyway.
Sigh. Well, according to my mother, this is a 24-hour bug so hopefully Husband will be better soon and will regain some of the color in his currently gray cheeks. I'm feeling better myself, though I'm still trying to avoid looking into the refrigerator. The mere sight of Christmas left-overs makes me queasy all over again. And if I flashback to the Indian food we ate last night before all this began...urrlgh! The one good thing about being this sick, though, is that your day is very focused. We're sick so we're staying home. No running out to Target to exchange Sister's new shirt for a larger size. No grocery shopping. And no stress about it either. Our job today is just to lay around, drink mild fluids, and try to keep the baby germ-free and entertained. Probably what we need after all the holiday excitement anyway.
Monday, December 26, 2005
It seems to me that Sister had it particularly rough this year the way that the Ex and I worked out her schedule. This year was her year to spend Christmas with me, and to make up for the fact that I would have Sister on two of "his" days, the Ex tacked on one extra day last week and one extra this week to his usual time with her. This means that she's hopped between households every 2 days for the past week, and she's looking a little peaked. This morning when I went in to her room she had the oddest look on her face. It was a little too old for a 7-year old girl--sort of resigned and sad and like she had a secret all at once. Now, it could just have been that I walked in right before she jerked her finger out of her nose, but I don't think it was just that. A little later in the kitchen I was trying to make a few light jokes while I stirred up some pancake batter, and she kept looking at me like she wasn't sure how to respond. She seems very emotionally fragile somehow. Husband says that he always had a tough time right after Christmas because there's such a build up and then the event is basically over in a few hours. Does anyone else out there remember the same thing happening to them? Or do your own kids go through the same thing? Maybe I should damn the torpedoes and try and keep the excitement going throughout the day. Or maybe that's just delaying the crash that's inevitable. I don't know.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Apple Jack Cocktail
2 oz applejack
3/4 oz curacao
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes of orange bitters (briefly muddle a twist of orange peel to the shaker if you need to substitute for this)
Shake all ingredients together in shaker with ice. Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with a thin slice of apple and a strip of orange peel.
Since I haven't actually tried this one yet, you can yell at me if it sucks, but all the components look like they'll work quite well together. I don't think any of us are going to be disappointed. Oh, and a note about orange bitters. There's only one company in the U.S. who makes it anymore. They're the Fee Brothers in New York City. I ordered a case from them a couple of years ago since the shipping was free on a case and the whole order was only, like, $15 or something. However, I do have way more orange bitters on my hands than I can use in this lifetime. If you're a regular commenter and you want some I'll be happy to mail you some as a little Christmas present. Just let me know!
And cheers, y'all!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
My husband has a great relationship with Sister, though she is the Ex's daughter and not his own. They get along beautifully for the most part, though, and Sister is always excited when he comes home from work because she knows she can look forward to a good romp with him. He plays with her in that way that men do with kids and women don't--tosses her in the air, hangs her upside down, makes dumb jokes, you get the picture.
So it bothers me that one troubled spot in their relationship is that Husband often doesn't believe the things Sister says. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm under no illusion that my older child is a completely truthful at all times. She's 7 and is still perhaps not entirely clear on absolute truth and the words to use to say something. I feel like I can usually tell when she's trying something out on us, though--trying to manipulate us to get her way, trying to alarm us with tales of other children's behaviour, etc. Last night, Sister complained that her stomach hurt. She started doing this in the bath when Husband asked her to go ahead and wash herself already, using washcloth, yes, but also soap, Sister. And no, you did NOT wash yourself yet, I've been with you the whole time, dear! She's doing all this complaining that she's got a bellyache while giving Husband a hard time about washing, so he assumes that they're part of the same hassle. Sister continues to complain as she emerges from her bath and is asked to tidy her room before dinner. Again, Husband believes that she's just being ornery, trying to get out of doing things she doesn't want to do. And it is true that this is one of the strategies in her well-used arsenal of chore avoidance tactics.
We all sit down to dinner and Sister is looking downright pale. I'm thinking that she really is feeling bad, and frankly with all the crap I allowed her to eat at her Christmas party this isn't an unreasonable theory. Husband is impatient with her, though, and tired of hearing her whine for what he believes is a falsehood. It's hard for me to know quite what to do. I don't want to say anything to challenge his authority in front of her, but I don't want to discount Sister's complaints if she really is sick. After she eats just a little of her dinner I test her, telling her she doesn't have to finish it and she can just brush her teeth and go right to bed. To my surprise, she agrees to this readily and now I KNOW she's feeling bad.
She gets into bed, and I might add that at no time does she ask for her Advent calendar candy or any dessert of any kind. My child does feel bad. I read her some chapters, tuck her in, and kiss her goodnight. When I emerge from her room, I tell Husband, "You know, I really think she's feeling bad. She didn't ask for dessert or anything, did you notice?" Husband sort of hums at me in disbelief, but I don't press him. It bugs me a little that he doesn't believe her, but what do I do? I certainly can't prove it. I can only believe what she's telling me--he does not.
But an hour later, as I'm ironing the border on a baby quilt I've finished, we hear her padding down the hallway, accompanied by some spattering sounds. Shit. I rush into the bathroom, dodging a large vomit splat on the hallway rug, and find Sister at the sink, her belly heaving. Husband is right behind me and is instantly full of remorse. He's apologizing to her for being mean even as she's standing at the sink, barfing surprisingly large quantities of pastel chunks. Husband is feeling so guilty about not having believed her that he races back to her room to begin cleaning up. There is barf EVERYWHERE. All over both Sister's sheets, on her bedspread, her down comforter, the canopy that hangs around her bed, her giant stuffed rabbit, her bookshelves by the door--I mean, enormous quantities of the stuff. And it's all apparently composed of party junk so it's no wonder.
It takes Husband a good half hour to clean and mop and disinfect everything. I'm washing 5 loads of laundry today. The giant bunny and hallway rug may be a lost cause, I don't know. But the good thing is that Husband will probably think twice about discounting what Sister says from now on.
And this is the buffet, post-party. You can see that nearly all those cookies are gone, and the 2 thermos pitchers that contained hot chocolate and hot cider are empty. The fruitcake, however...well, the grown-ups didn't stick around so I was the only one who ate a slice. I do make excellent fruitcake, but it is NOT for children, being the booze-soaked, candied ginger extravaganza that it is.
The afternoon light in our kitchen was such that I couldn't get a good picture of how trashed everything was, but I'm sure you can imagine. Actually, the party went surprisingly well. I don't know if it's that Sister is older and therefore can handle the emotional upheavals of a party better now, or if it's just good policy to always have a friend stick around afterwards to mitigate the pain of the rest of the guests leaving. Either way, out of 9 girls, NO ONE CRIED! I consider it a raving success, and the last big hurdle before Christmas itself. I've hardly wrapped anything and still have peppermint bark, toffee, and pralines to make for some friends, but it all seems easy now.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I am barely holding on to my life with my teeth at the moment, y'all. Why did I ever let Sister talk me into letting her having her own Christmas party today? On top of everything else I'm supposed to be doing for Christmas?! There are 8 little girls coming over this afternoon and their moms may or may not be staying, too. I wish I had an actual head count, but very few of the invitees actually RSVP'd. (Is RSVP'ing out of fashion anymore? Someone please tell me because I can't figure out otherwise why no one bothers to respond to invitations anymore, even when expressly asked to do so.)
So that's happening in what feels like just a few short hours. I'm not going to bother cleaning the house since our stupid white linoleum kitchen floor will only be trashed by all those little feet tracking in mud from the very wet backyard. Thank God that at least the weather is sunny enough for them to actually BE outside. My house is so small that it would be overwhelming if they were all trapped indoors. I'm going to try to keep them busy with games of "Santa Says," Christmas musical chairs, and Christmas Mad Libs. That last will be our calming activity just before the parents arrive again to pick up their girls. Hopefully on time.
Oy vey. Wish me luck! As one parent said to me a few days ago, someone's going to cry. He meant the girls, but it might be me. Stay tuned for before and after pictures!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I dropped Sister off at her dad's house last night for her weekend with him. When we got there, however, his roommate told us that he wasn't there yet, but had called to say that he was on his way. No problem, I thought, happens to all of us. So Sister and I came in to wait in the living room. Not much to do there, though, so she asked if I wanted to go to her room instead. We went back and Sister flicked on the light switch...and I was shocked at the sight of her so-called room.
Her room was filthy--I don't just mean just messy, though it was extremely so--but truly dirty. The bed was unmade with dirty sheets and blankets, and is in fact still one of those tiny toddler beds though Sister is a 7-1/2 year old who stands taller than most of her second grade classmates. What toys were there are still toys she's had since she was a year old, with only a few stuffed animals that are more recent additions. There were 2 adult-sized bikes parked in her room. Her dad's art supplies took up the space on her table. And one of her dad's large, sinister-looking paintings was hung on the wall facing her bed--and by sinister, I mean a demonic face painted entirely in black and yellow glaring out from the canvas.
Sister stood there looking with me, not terribly sure what to do in "her" room. I know she generally doesn't spend the night there with her dad because his parents pick them up when she's with him and they spend their time together out at her grandparents' house. I'm pretty sure that they do this most of the time that they're together, with a very occasional night spent in his house. But even knowing that, I was appalled and saddened that her room had obviously morphed into a space used as part-storage and part-studio. (He does have an actual studio space in the house, by the way--a screened porch enclosed when his parents bought him that house.)
To me, this indicates that he doesn't make the space for her in his life, that he is not thoughtful of her when she's away. I was saddened and pissed and confused all at the same time, imagining how I would have reacted if one of my parents had done that to me, wondering if I should say something to him about it. I don't know if I can without turning it into a big fight. Husband says that it probably doesn't matter so much since her grandma has made a space for her in their house that is presumably clean and welcoming and HER space. He also says that men tend not to think about their homes in the same way that I do, that my Ex is after all a bachelor, not to mention an artist. I guess that's all true, but it still makes me sad to think of Sister not having her own space in her dad's house.
And this does beg the question of why he picks his semi-annual fights with me over how it's not "fair" that she spends more time with me than with him. I don't know what to say to him. That man is a puzzle. In a bad way.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
- Force field
- Stretch ("Like, really far.")
- Come to life ("I can make all my drawings come to life!")
- Talk any way ("In any language, Mama.")
- Stink ("Blecch!" Said holding her nose and grinning.)
- Rip hard stuff ("I mean like stuff you normally can't rip. Like glass.")
- Change age ("I can change ages with anyone.")
- Tornado ("So if there's someone I don't like I can just sweep them up in a tornado and take them away from me.")
- Make up stuff (She gives me a look that says, "As I am doing right now." I nod.)
- Never die (Oh, honey, not before me at least.)
- Understand ("I can understand every kind of language. Like if a bird is saying, "Tweet-tweet," I know what that means.")
- Fairy dust ("There are all kinds, Mama.")
Friday, December 16, 2005
Baby Bean slept through the night for the first time ever! I think it's her new, reduced nursing schedule that's doing something to her biorhythms. Or something like that. I only got 6-1/2 hours of sleep last night because I was, um...accosted by my Husband at 11:30 p.m. But they were 6-1/2 hours of SOLID sleep so I feel great. This morning I hit the ground running. Here's what I did:
- Walked Sister to school and made it there ON TIME! (Score 5 points.)
- Returned home and got Bean off to her first nap struggle-free. (Score 5 points.)
- While Bean napped, I made a batch of macadamia nut brittle and wrote out the list of which of our friends are getting what baked goods when. (Score 10 points, baby.)
- Avoided blogging, email, or web surfing. Made beds, swept up fern leaf litter that Bean keeps stripping off the stems. Picked up scattered toys all over the house. Put a load of laundry in the machine. (Score 10 points!)
- Assembled 2 large platters of home-made cookies and candies demonstrating my and all other parents' appreciation of 100 teachers and staff at Sister's school. Wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the car so that I wouldn't have to struggle with it once Bean woke up. (Score 8 bajillion points.)
- Woke Bean up and kept her from being upset by singing cheerfully and making funny faces at her while getting her into a clean diaper, coat, and cute bunny hat. (10 more points.)
- Drove cookies to the school and lugged them in while carrying Bean because actually I was 15 minutes late and would be even later if I set up the stroller and strapped her into it, all so I wouldn't have to make 2 trips up that long ass sidewalk. (Lose 10 points.)
- Exchanged important documents with local Brownie Cookie Sale Coordinator Lady who works on campus. Only drove around a little while before finding the damn parking lot she was talking about. (Score 5 but lose 10.)
- Went to the mall and found all the presents I was looking for! Picked up birth control prescription and remembered some hair product! (Score 20.)
- Went to the ABC store to buy some fancy Scotch for Husband, but there was a sign that said "cash only, card machine broken." Shit. Who the hell carries cash anymore? (Lose 50 points.)
- Went to a Persian cafe for lunch because I forgot to eat breakfast and was starving, and Bean was growing impatient with the car seat. Lunch was tasty, but overpriced. The owner wasn't terribly comfortable with me nursing Bean in his nearly empty cafe, but he came around when Bean afterwards happily ate the Persian equivalent of tzatziki and curried rice and vegetables. (Score 10 but lose 20 for a $10 lunch.)
- Went to Target to pick up pictures for Husband's father plus a photo album to put them in. Stopped the clerk from overcharging me--a coupon was supposed to be applied, dammit. Also replenished ingredients needed for baking. And for once, avoided spending $100! (Score whopping big points for that!)
- Retrieved platters from Sister's school where someone had kindly washed them for me. Noted that the teachers had hoovered down nearly everything I made for them! And several of them stopped me in the hall to thank me gratefully. Plus, I picked Sister up on time and chatted with the teacher about the diorama viewing happening on Monday. (Score 1,000 points!)
- I rock! Except that I'm blogging again and ignoring Sister who wants to show me her drawings of superhero imaginary friends and all their magical powers. Better go quick before I lose some points here...
Thursday, December 15, 2005
There was freezing rain last night necessitating the delay. We Piedmont-area North Carolinians don't screw around with the frozen stuff when it comes to asking school bus drivers to negotiate windy roads. Actually, this puts me in mind of my least favorite sentence spoken by nearly every Yankee interloper you run across in these parts this time of year. It is always said proudly and with a bit of a sneer plastered on the face: "You people don't know how to drive in the ice and snow!" Then they stand there with a slight, challenging smile waiting for you to take the bait.
You won't find me arguing, however. The fact is, there just isn't that much in the way of frozen precipitation here. Last year, there wasn't one single, measly flake of snow, much to Sister's disappointment. How can you get expert at something you've got to deal with only every other year or so? And it's not like we're wasting our tax dollars on an armada of snow plows and thousands of tons of salt for the roads. What a way to tie up cash, and the stuff does melt. No, I just stand there and let them sneer a minute before I say to them, "Why would you want to?" Seriously, what better reason to stay at home, maybe build a fire, make a pot of cocoa for the kids, bust out the craft supplies, and just hang out? Leave your pajamas on! Make pancakes for lunch! Call the boss and say you just don't feel comfortable driving and so you can't make it to work! There's one thing a lotta y'all don't know how to do, you know. Relax! Don't rush off, stay awhile. I'll make some coffee, and I think I've got some cookies around here somewhere...
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Something happened today that made me really confused as hell about the whole breastfeeding thing. My sweet little baby who began her little biting habit a week or 2 ago? Remember her? Well, today she actually drew blood, she bit me so hard. Not much, granted, but I have 2 bloody little bite marks on my right nipple as we speak. (Imagine me sighing sadly and taking a big swig of my gin and tonic here as I remember this.) My original plan was to nurse this baby for at least her first year like I did her older sister. I even thought I might do it longer since I'm staying at home and had no reason to rush weaning. Sadly, it seems like my plan is being thwarted. I think Bean might be biting me because she's bored with nursing. Her pattern seems to be that she'll nurse for 5 minutes on one side, bite me, and then stop (and grin). I'll tell her firmly "No biting!" and put her upright for a minute, then we switch to the other side. She'll nurse happily for another few minutes, bite me again, and then I'll be so pissed I'll put her down completely. At this point, she crawls away happily babbling to herself. I'm torn between hating nursing and physically cringing in dread when I put her on the breast, and wanting her to stop this NOW, behave herself and just finish out the year, for chrissakes! Just a few more months, child!
She's only 8 months old at this point. Babies don't wean themselves this early, do they? I'm willing to wait out the biting if it's just a phase that she'll grow bored with, but what the hell do I do if biting is her way of telling me she's bored with ME? I so don't want to be strapped to a breast pump for the next four months. I mean, do babies have to have formula if they don't nurse at this age? I don't really want to go that route either. Sigh. Perhaps gin will tell me what to do.
Monday, December 12, 2005
But this is a new era. I'm getting more sleep now as the stay-at-home-mother of another baby--even one who still doesn't sleep through the night--than I ever did as a baker. (Which is perhaps why it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it should that my 8-month old doesn't yet do this...) And just in the past couple of days I've made Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate-speckled meringue kisses, white chocolate peppermint cookies, chocolate crackle cookies, hazelnut sandies, and the dough for spiced almond cookies. Oh, and I've brushed my fruitcakes for the second time with liqueur and rum. My house smells so good when you walk in, what with all those spicy, sugary smells plus the Christmas tree smell on top of that. I might turn out to like Christmas after all.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Seven things I hope to do before I die:
- Take a few months and go on a tour of the entire country, east to west and north to south. I'd like to do this with our kids while they're still actually kids. We'd stop to hike out West, tour candy factories wherever we found them,...
- Learn to speak fluent Spanish, and not just the present tense-only, kitchen variety that I know now.
- Have one more baby.
- Turn our little piece of land into a stunning garden full of not only year-round flowers and/or fruit but also birds and good bugs and small wildlife. Our house is small, but I don't want to move from it til at least the kids are grown.
- Go on an archaeological dig in either the Greek islands or somehwhere in Mexico or Central America.
- See my kids grow into happy, intelligent, together women who manage to by-pass the pitfalls of teen-age hood in our little town where kids seem to grow up very fast indeed.
- Become a really expert quilter and sewer.
- Sail on the ocean without becoming violently, gut-emptyingly sea-sick. I can't even float around on a sea kayak in the sound without getting queasy!
- Stop feeling bitter about my ex-husband and his mother's role in my daughter's life. I wish very much to get rid of this.
- Make exercise a priority in my life like I know I should. It's a good thing I fidget. Apparently, fidgety people burn up to 300 more calories per day than non-fidgeters. Also, I bustle.
- Go back to being a vegetarian, despite knowing there are all sorts of moral reasons to do so.
- Avoid putting my foot in my mouth at least once at a party.
- Tell a lie convincingly. I can't stand falsehood of any kind, though sometimes a white lie is helpful. Can't even do those, though.
- Write fiction.
Seven things that attract me to my spouse (significant other, best friend):
- He's got the most appealing mix of erudite, articulate, and raunchy. I love that.
- He thinks of himself as a provider. My animal brain totally digs this, feminism be damned!
- He has interests that he is passionate about that have nothing to do with me.
- He is completely enthusiastic and supportive of my own interests, despite them having nothing to do with him either.
- He is incredibly sweet with our baby, and has always taken care of my daughter from a previous marriage as if she were his own, too.
- He is the voice of reason to my own intemperateness and impetuousness. Even when it means being brutally honest and saying things I don't want to hear. It frequently pisses me off, but I would never change this about him.
- I SO love his sense of humor. He is very witty.
- "No no no, Bean! Don't eat Mama's plants!"
- "How was school today, m'dear?"
- "Oh, does this baby want to nurse? Yes, she wants to nurse with the Mama!"
- "Sister, please come get your kitties/tea set/notebooks and crayons and put them where they go. You know, if you put everything in its place you won't lose things so often."
- "How are we ever going to get this baby to sleep through the night, hon? This is getting ridiculous."
- "Damn cats...!"
- "No biting! No biting the Mama!"
- Black Sun, by Edward Abbey
- Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, by Charles Pellegrino. (This is a book of archaeological evidence for various happenings in the Bible. SO interesting.)
- Aztec, by I think Gary Williams. This is an incredibly trashy, titillating novel set in the time of the European conquest of Aztec civilization. One of my guilty pleasures.
- 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I've read this countless times at this point, and plan to read it countless more.
- "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," which is a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It is crystalline sharp in its description of the last afternoon of a man dying of a gangrenous leg in Africa. A perfectly written story.
- It's been awhile, but my favorite book used to be Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. Yes, some people think he was an unapologetic misogynist and anti-Semite, but I used to really love his writings. I should really go back and see if this still holds true now that I'm 10 years older...
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy, LONG before Viggo Mortensen entered the scene.
Seven movies I could watch over and over again:
- Um...The Lord of the Rings trilogy, because of Viggo Mortensen.
- Henry and June, about Henry Miller, his wife June, and Anais Nin in Paris. The costumes are superb and Uma Thurman is a very convincing June Miller.
- Wild at Heart. "The whole world is wild at heart and weird on top." Indeed.
- Spirited Away. One of the few children's movies that isn't totally insipid. My husband, daughter, and I were all totally taken when we first saw this movie.
- The Big Lebowski. Good for easy laughs, and eminently quotable.
- Damage, with Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, if I'm in the mood to have a good freak-out cry. This movie is awful and so, so good.
- Big Night. Have I mentioned how much I love food?
Seven people I would like to join in this “Seven Sevens” meme:
Friday, December 09, 2005
Here was the conversation with her friend as we walked home from school:
Friend: Let's pretend like we're kittens.
Sister: O.k., like jaguar kittens.
Friend: Yeah, big cat kittens. And we like to play in water (said as they splashed through gutter puddles), which is what makes us so interesting.
Sister: Yeah. But actually big cats like to play in water.
Friend: Yeah. And pretend that we don't know where our mothers are.
Sister: Yeah, and pretend that I only have 1 claw left on each of my paws.
Friend: But you usually have 4.
Sister: Yeah, but I only have 1 now.
Sister: (pause) 'Cause one time when I was a baby I had to fight a pterodactyl.
Sister: I had to fight this pterodactyl and I kept losing the claws on my paws until there was just one left. And then I stabbed him in the neck with them.
Friend: And after that we couldn't find our mothers anywhere. We didn't know if the pterodactyl had eaten them or maybe locked them up in his cave.
Sister: Yeah. But afterwards we found some spotted furs and some bones. There were skulls and bones.
Sister: I took the skull and you took one of the foot bones.
Friend: Yeah, and we used them for sword-fighting.
Sister: Yeah, we used some for chewing on and some for sword-fighting.
I love these conversations, when she's playing with a friend who will go the whole "let's pretend" way with her. They check with me now and then, glancing over at me to see if I'm reacting at all to the more outrageous parts of the tale, but I never do. I just keep pushing the baby's stroller along, pretending to enjoy the sun and the breeze blowing down our street.
But I found it just now, shining up at me from its resting place on some pine needles stuck between our back sliding glass door and the beginning of the back deck. I only saw it because I hadn't had time to hang the laundry outside earlier today and was only just now getting to it. The afternoon sun hit its top facet so perfectly that it winked at me as I crossed the threshold. I feel lucky indeed today.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Mothers are anoying
Mothors are nice
Mothers are naguty
Mothors are healthy
Mothors are mean
Mothors know best
Should I be grateful that it at least all evens out in the end? Sigh. Well, there's always adult pleasures to mitigate the sting of your children's ingratitude, no?
1-1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz triple sec
1/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz ginger beer
Stir all ingredients together in an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with lime and orange slices. Drink and feel like a sucky mom.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
This cocktail always reminds me of the brief time I lived in New Orleans at age 20. I was waiting tables at the Hotel Pavillon right outside the French Quarter. When I would get off working the dinner shift, I would wander over to the Napoleon House which was one of my 2 favorite bars. One night it was especially hot, and as I bellied up I told the bartender, "Make me something refreshing." He made me this.
2 oz brandy
1 oz white creme de menthe (NOT the green stuff)
Stir together in an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Alternatively, you can shake it in a shaker and strain it into a chilled martini glass, but I'm one of those who loves to chomp crushed ice. Note that this is straight booze. No juice or club soda tarting things up.
But I'm not in a room full of adults at the moment. I have to rely on all you out there in the blogosphere. Since it's only fair, I'll kick things off and tell you what we had last night. We had Sister's favorite, Build Your Own Tostadas Night, which involves preparing lots of little bowls of Mexican-themed ingredients (guacamole, refried beans from a can, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, you get the idea) and setting them out on the table along with some fried corn tortillas. Everyone puts whatever they want on them and chomp happily away. Lots of little bowls to wash, but that's what dishwashers and 7-year old table-clearers are for. Oh, and Thursday night is a noodle casserole with tomatoes, ground beef, and cheese. Husband's carbo-loading for his marathon and loves this stuff. That's it for my ideas for the week.
What's for dinner at your house?
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Okay, here goes. We can't actually afford to have a big, booze-soaked bash this year like we usually do for Christmas. We could do something, I guess, but to me, there's no point in having a cocktail party if you're not going to get dressed up and have tons of booze, freshly-squeezed sour mix, 8 kinds of hors-d'oeuvres, etc. Do it swank or don't do it at all, in my opinion. But here's the next best thing, dear readers. I promise I would make you these if you were in my house.
1-1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz Rose's lime juice
juice of half a lime
Pour all these ingredients into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass and give it a good stir. Garnish with a lime wheel. You can also make this straight up--just shake everything together in a shaker and strain into a chilled martini glass. I prefer mine on the rocks, but that's because I get lazy since it's our house drink and all. I have turned many people into converts with this drink.
8 mint leaves
2 oz vodka
1-1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 oz simple syrup
splash of melon liqueur
Wait! Wait! Don't get turned off by the melon liqueur! This is really incredibly good, I promise. Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail glass. Add the rest of the ingredients except the melon liqueur, along with some ice, and shake to blend and chill. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Float a splash of melon liqueur on top. Truly delicious and dangerously easy to suck down.
1-1/2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 cup ice
This is a slushy version of a regular sour. Blend it all together in your blender til it's good and icy. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice, preferably speared on one of those little plastic swords. That one's for you, Pie Maker, though I'm not sure you'll want to spend your fancy bourbon on a blender drink. Still, with fresh juices it's hard to go wrong. You can eliminate the blender step if you want and just stir it all up in a glass.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 teaspon packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons room-temperature butter
pinch each of ground cloves, allspice, and cinnamon
1/3 cup apple cider
2 oz dark rum
Mash together the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Put this paste into the bottom of a mug. Heat cider til it's steaming and pour into the mug. Stir well to dissolve the paste. Stir in the rum. You can garnish this with whipped cream and a pinch of nutmeg if you want, but it's plenty rich on its own and I don't do this. Also, I made a large vat of this for a party once, but really it should be made and drunk immediately, not left on a stove. It's a great way to take the edge off a cold night, though.
Husband walks into the bathroom where I'm applying lipstick and puts on his deodorant. He winces and raises his arms, flapping them about while making more terrible faces and sucking in his breath.
Me: What's wrong?
Husband: God, this stings!
Me: Are you chafed from your long run this morning?
Husband: No, I guess I just scrubbed my armpits too hard in the shower.
Me: (pause) Just using a washcloth?
Husband: No, I used that new thing you have in there.
Me: (incredulously) You mean my pumice stone?!
Husband: Is that what it's called?
Me: That's supposed to be for feet! For scrubbing hard callouses off of feet!
Husband: I was just trying to get extra clean!
Me: Can I blog about this?
I've been thinking a lot lately about food. The food season has just recently switched over to hearty, winter stews and root vegetables and the like. We're also in the midst of the holidays, of course. But I should just come clean as the food obsessed person that I really am. So I've been thinking a lot lately about food and how I can use it to make my children adore me.
I think I'm well on the way with Sister. She's 7 now and has always been a fantastic eater, with only a few strong dislikes that I know to avoid (basically anything spicy or anything in the cooked greens category ). Ever since she's started eating solid foods she's loved them. Once when I fried up a little chicken liver from the chicken I was preparing for dinner, I gave her a little piece and my child asked for more! Makes a Southern mama proud. She'll eat sushi if we go out. Her favorite is salmon roe--you know, the kind that looks like large-ish bright pink soap bubbles? It is a pleasure to feed that child and always has been. And I guess lately I've been realizing that without trying too hard I am becoming her food ideal. The food I cook for her will be the benchmark for all other foods prepared by all other cooks she will encounter as she grows older. Those of you out there who don't give a rat's ass about food will be saying to yourselves, "So what?" But I adore food and am thrilled to have realized this is part of my mama role. I make the cheese grits that the Ex's mother needs the recipe for because Sister won't eat her cheese grits. I make the chicken pot pie. I make the cheese souffle. I fry the catfish. I mash the potatotes. I bake the cookies. And on special occasions, I make the pierogies from the recipe that my Polish grandmother made with me when I was a girl. My girl tells me I'm "the best cooker in the world." To her, I am.
Monday, December 05, 2005
But here I am at last! It's 4:00 p.m. in beautifully soggy North Carolina today and my blogging minutes are limited since Bean will likely wake up from her afternoon nap any second. Up until now I've kept myself busy inside today with various Christmas related activities. We put up our tree yesterday, and somehow managed to cram those 5 boxes stuffed with ornaments onto our tree! Yay for that. But I do have 2 more boxes full of assorted decorations still to decide what to do with. I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I'm getting to where it simply won't do just to put up a Christmas tree in the house. I've got to also put up tinsel star garlands around doorways, strings of lights in any houseplant big enough to hold them, paper garlands on the mantel, bells wound around porch railings, you name it, we're doing it. Sister is ecstatic, of course, and I guess that's why we're going so hog-wild. The days of Christmas done tastefully are numbered in this household. Now, if we could only get Husband to agree to colored lights on the tree instead of white.
Quick, fellow bloggers! Colored lights or white?
Friday, December 02, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
4 oz cheap red wine
1 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Stir together in a tumbler, add ice and maybe a lemon wheel if you feel up to a garnish, and enjoy. This is surprisingly good and quite tasty in the summertime, too, in lieu of sangria. Goes down very fast...
- There is a huge mountain in Poland!
- Christmas there is a huge feast. The holiday spirit lasts untel Febuary!!!!!!
- Polish pepole are called poles. (This, by the way, is hilarious if you're 7.)
- Polish love fun.
- They have decorations of wheat and straw for Christmas.
- Capital Warsaw.
- Languege Polish
- Food pierogies!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
In the meantime, will a delicious cocktail make me cheerful or just sleepy? Both, I think, but it would be nice to be cheerful at least once today.
Best Gin Fizz Ever
2 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 oz simple syrup
2-3 oz club soda
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients except club soda. Shake to chill and blend. Pour into a highball glass over ice and top with club soda. Give it a quick stir and drink it, woman, drink it.
I wish I knew an elderly woman I could pose some questions to. The oldest woman I am good friends with is in her 50's--hardly elderly. But if I knew some spry old lady in her 70's well enough, here's what I would ask her: Do you keep having sex when you're old? How often do you do it? Do you still feel like the same person you've always been and feel some surprise when you look in the mirror and see that you don't look like you feel? If you've been married a long time, have you always been happy or has it always been hard? If you divorced after many years, did you see it coming?
Don't worry, those of you who actually know me. My marriage is fine and I'm happy just now. Perhaps a little sleep-deprived, but happy. I'm just the impatient sort, don't you know.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
1 good-sized chunk of fresh, ripe pineapple
1 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz cherry brandy (the real kind from somewhere in Europe, not the cheap stuff)
1/2 oz Cointreau
splash of simple syrup
splash of Benedictine
good quality ginger ale or ginger beer
Muddle the pineapple in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 4 cubes of ice and all the rest of the ingredients except ginger ale. Shake to mix and chill. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with ginger ale. Float a little more cherry brandy and Benedictine on top and enjoy!
(Note: I don't know about the rest of you mamas out there, but I like a tasty cocktail during the long, pre-winter holiday nights. I'm going to try posting a recipe everyday because I do have lots. I promise they won't all contain gin.)
The rant goes thusly. Some of you may already know my custody arrangement with Sister's father. We have joint custody of her and the way we've worked it out he's got her most weekends and takes her to school a couple of days. (Nevermind just now how I really hate this arrangement now that my life no longer includes working weekends.) This means that 2 days out of 5 the Ex, or rather the Ex's mother, gets Sister ready for school. May I just say that whenever I resume custody of Sister on Tuesdays and pick her up from school she almost invariably looks like a complete street urchin?
I'll have you know I really have zero interest in making my child into a fashion plate. Sister can choose her clothes if she wants and I don't care what she puts on as long as it's weather appropriate. I am the anti-label queen when it comes to fashionable clothing for any of us in this household. I still shop at the thrift store even, folks! But the other day when I picked her up it was 40 degrees outside and my sweet girl was dressed in a tie-dyed, sleeveless tank dress that she had definitely outgrown LAST YEAR. We're talking size 5-6 on a very tall child wearing size 8 now. (Not to mention that--okay, my snarkiness is showing here--tie-dyed anything is completely unacceptable on anything in this century unless maybe it's something your own kid makes with one of those tie-dye kits she got for her birthday.) So, ugly-ass tank dress with no shirt underneath and no pants, no tights, NOTHING to warm her blue-white, goose-pimpled legs on the walk home from school. She did, however, have completely unmatching rainbow-hued socks and BLACK SUEDE moccasin-type shoes. No warm winter coat, just a thinly-lined raincoat. She actually smelled because they had kept her up so late going to some stupid potluck on a school night that there was no time to give her a bath. Jesus God. I asked her nonchalantly if she had dressed herself that morning and, get this, HER GRANDMA HAD CHOSEN HER OUTFIT!
At the risk of offending others I want to say that my ex-mother-in-law is a woman who has never worn make-up, never pierced her ears, and dresses straight out of L.L. Bean. I REALLY hope that Sister won't derive her personal aesthetic from her, but whatever, fine, no problem, different kind of woman, different aesthetic, I can be down with that. However. Woman, if you're going to be all my-son-has-as-much-right-as-you-to-time-with-her and hiring lawyers for him and shit, please make an attempt at taking care of her as well as I do. Dress my child in clothes that fit and are warm and that maybe don't make her look TOO much like the poster child for anti-materialism. Is that really too much to ask?
Monday, November 28, 2005
That party was some years ago now and as a fairly experienced mom I am now perfectly comfortable telling you that I am mad at the baby this morning. Not so mad that I'll do anything horrible, of course. But our little bundle of joy hasn't slept well AT ALL since we went to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. I feel like I'm nursing her around the clock. She "only" woke up 3 times last night to nurse, and for that I feel grateful, that's how bad it's been. She's spent the morning screaming at me because she is also, of course, quite sleep-deprived. And she just now fell asleep after more screaming, literally MINUTES before I was going to walk out the door with her to go have a cheering lunch with Sister at school. I haven't seen Sister in days since she was spending Thanksgiving with her dad this year. I miss my child who is only sarcastic at times and never screams at me anymore.
I'm looking forward to tonight when Husband will be home to take over babycare and WON'T be hogging the computer for work-related projects. I will most likely be enjoying one of these after the baby goes to sleep:
1-1/2 oz Courvoisier
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.
(Note to my oh pie maker, if you're out there: I am lamenting the apparent loss of my perfect Singapore Sling recipe. I can't find it anywhere! Guess I'll have to reinvent it as best I can and I'll post it once I'm successful. Sniff. This day sucks.)
Sunday, November 27, 2005
We've just returned from the Thanksgiving trip from hell. Husband and I were somehow in charge of organizing and preparing the usual feast at Husband's father's house in Atlanta. I was feeling nonchalant about the actual cooking since I'm pretty handy in a kitchen. This despite the fact that we were flying in from out of town and were going to have to hit the grocery store as soon as we got off the plane. An uncle was bringing a few side items, Husband's brother would pick up some pies, etc. It went pretty smoothly, really, despite a bit if stress and NO SLEEP the night before. (Our Bean is the world's most wretched travelling baby.) Once all the elderly relatives began arriving, however, my nonchalance was dashed as I heard Husband utter these words to his aunt: "This, of course, would never have passed muster with my mother." The silver wasn't polished, there was no centerpiece, the cloth napkins weren't all matching, no tablecloth--these are the things I think he meant. I don't think Husband quite realized how this would come out, but nevertheless, hey, thanks a lot, honey. Next year, maybe we can have Thanksgiving HERE at our own house where I can do things up and actually have fun. And the baby will sleep, for chrissakes. And I don't have to stay with and make lunch for your father so that your brother can go work out and you can go for a nice run out of the ridiculously overheated house. And I won't get a little case of food poisoning from the Mexican restaurant down the street just a few hours before we're supposed to board an early flight home. (I'm actually no longer bitter but maybe WAS feeling a little resentful before we got home sweet home. I love home.)
But Husband's comment does beg the question for me of why men can be this way about their mothers. I think I've mentioned before I thought that dynamic you read about in crappy women's novels where men remain mama's boys all their lives was a complete fabrication. I thought that right up until the time that I married my Ex when it was proved to be real right quick. Now Husband is no mama's boy and never was. And I must say here that his mother died horribly from cancer about 3 years ago and really was an interesting, kind woman, though I never got to know her very well. But why do men nearly always walk into their adult lives with some form of mama idolization? I don't see it happening with women and their mothers. Do women do this with their fathers instead? I wouldn't know, as my father left us when I was very little (and good riddance). It's something I continue to puzzle about as the mama of young girls and no boys. Perhaps if I had a son I would begin to understand it, or maybe some of you ladies out there with sweet little boys have a clue. I do confess that a little idolization sounds pretty appealing, though I would hope that any son I had would still grow up to be an independent man capable of taking care of himself and others. But to be the woman against whom all others are measured? Maybe not so bad.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
But has anyone looked at my profile? I threw "gin cocktails" into my interests so that I didn't come across as truly square, but really my interests are thoroughly domestic. I've taken up quilting as of last year and absolutely love it. I'm interested in sewing in general, in fact, especially stuff for the house. I love to bake. I love to cook. I love to have people over to feed them. I love gardening. I basically love all things associated with being at home. I've even gone through phases of home-canning, soap-making, and a brief fling with knitting, for chrissakes! I don't think I'm alone if Martha Stewart's billion dollar empire means anything, but still it's hard to make all these sorts of hobbies sound interesting to anyone else, at a cocktail party for example. Throw "stay-at-home mom" into the conversation and pretty shortly I'm the biggest wallflower present. Just a couple of days ago I attended a workshop sponsored by my neighborhood gardening club (See?) on decorating for the holidays (See? See?!). If it weren't for the fact that 2 of the presenters were young, stereotypically flamboyant gay men I would've felt completely old-fashioned, surrounded as I was by every little old lady this side of Durham. My interests do tend toward the old-ladyish it would seem. Everytime I walk into my favorite local quilt store it is quite noticably devoid of anyone my age.
I asked Husband recently if I was tending too alarmingly towards the domestic sphere, if he was worried that instead of a modern, enlightened young woman he found that he had in fact married Laura Ingalls Wilder. He gave me a typically honest answer to the effect that as long as I had interests that I was excited about I was still an exciting person. If I were to lose interest in any sort of hobby, well, that apparently would be a different story. So I guess I shouldn't beat myself up about what truly are my interests. Once upon a time, I had fantasies of being so uber-competent that I could literally produce anything I needed to live in my life--growing and preserving food, raising animals, making clothes and bed linens, even building houses. I guess it's not so surprising then that given a little extra time I'm getting back into those old hobbies. But I just wish I was more interesting at cocktail parties.
Monday, November 21, 2005
This has been about the most blah day I've had in some time. Must be the dreary November weather--the sky steely gray and a cold drizzle that's lasted all day, plus recent temperatures in the 20's having turned everything in my front yard a slimy dark green. Ick. Here are some of the high- and low-lights:
Pro: Got a bit more sleep last night than I've been getting lately.
Con: Bean is still teething.
Pro: Bean did get one of her 2 top teeth which seems to have diminished her suffering somewhat.
Con: She can now make this awful grating noise by rubbing her bottom teeth and new top tooth together. Like nails on a chalkboard, seriously.
Con: I somehow lost the diamond out of my engagement ring over the weekend and it still makes me sad.
Pro: No pro to this one, unless I'm supposed to end up being a less materialistic person out of it or something? Screw that. I loved that particular piece of material.
Pro: The baby has officially begun crawling!
Con: The baby has officially begun crawling and made her first official crawling-related mess today--turned over the cats' water dish while I wasn't paying attention. Just water, but it's a harbinger of messes to come. Guess we really need to childproof the house here one of these days...
Pro: Thanksgiving is coming up and I am very fond of Thanksgiving.
Con: We are flying with Bean to spend the holiday with Husband's father. Upon our arrival we will need to immediately brave the thronged Whole Foods store to shop for everything we need to cook dinner for a crowd of 11! I love to cook, even for big parties, but that's an uncomfortably narrow window of time in which to get everything ready.
Maybe I'll just give up on this particular day and go ahead and get into my pajamas. Especially since my darling baby has just hurled milky spit-up all down the leg of the new black pants I'm wearing. Sigh.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Little sleep last night.
Teething baby. Cross husband.
Please, teeth, come on out!
I went to Target yesterday, fully intending to follow the list I had virtuously drawn up beforehand: bar set for recently-eloped friends, Neutrogena lipstick in a shade I can't find anywhere else, baby bath seat, and perhaps a few baskets or tins in which to pack Christmas goodies for friends. List firmly in hand and a commitment to just get in and out in my heart, I strode resolutely into the new SuperTarget near my house. I got Bean--blessedly sleeping--in her car seat clamped down to the front of the cart and made it about 20 feet into the belly of the beast when my brain turned to mush and I became lost in the enchanted retail forest that is pre-Christmas Target.
Does this happen to anyone else? I began to realize what was happening to me, shook my head, cast down my eyes to avoid temptation, and made it to the baby section to search for a bath seat. They had none. At this point I was toast. Not finding the seat meant that they had me--I was completely adrift, my list a meaningless slip of scrap paper. I took a left out of the baby supply aisles only to be confronted with cute socks in Sister's size that would be perfect in her stocking. One pair with Santa printed on them and one pair with a small, stuffed reindeer head attached to them, into the cart.
Then onto the Christmas aisle, which it turns out at this time of the year is no one aisle, but row upon row of them, bristling with shiny, tempting goods bursting beguilingly out to the front of the shelves to lure you in. I was looking for baskets or tins? 6 sturdy boxes in bright colors and patterns, 6 snowflake-patterned Chinese take-out boxes, 8 gift bags, a set of overpriced gift tags, a soccer-related Christmas ornament to go in Sister's stocking, a painted tin Christmas tree in which you could put about 5 pieces of candy, plus a combined total of 200 feet of tinsel star garlands in various colors, all into the cart. Trying to get a grip on myself, I fairly sprinted towards the kitchen ware to find the bar set. On the way somehow a set of pink flannel, snowwomen-printed sheets for Sister's bed made it into the cart as well.
Once in the kitchen section, I had to firmly talk myself out of adorable Christmas-printed melamine plates and various ceramic platters that I hankered for. (I might add here that I already have about a dozen platters currently residing in my kitchen. Perhaps I should call it a collection and stop feeling guilty.) Did I really need that 3-tiered server? No, but it was so cute and I could use it for Sister's Christmas party! Must...resist...hard-to-store kitchen item....I found the bar set I was looking for, but couldn't make it out of the kitchen section without a new candy thermometer for myself--just in case my other one breaks during the upcoming baking and candy-making frenzy, don'tcha know.
Then, growing weary at this point, I finally made it over to the cosmetics aisle where I found my preferred shade of lipstick. Plus a little pot of advanced moisture repair lipgloss. Totalling it all up in my head, I realized that I needed to do a little "un-shopping." The sheets went back, and I got a cheaper-by-the-foot shade of garland, but that's all I could bring myself to return. I love Target! I hate Target! I barely made it out of there, slightly dizzy and confused, just squeaking under the $100 mark. Hope all my friends don't mind cookies for Christmas. I promise they'll be beautifully packaged!
Friday, November 18, 2005
A teething baby
With a cold woke me a lot.
Slept too late today
But don't worry, eat breakfast.
We'll just drive to school.
Martha's mag instills
A sense of holiday angst:
After school today
Sister goes to my mom's house.
A calm night ahead.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
In the meantime, if Sister can finish this week out with lots of smiley faces on her behaviour chart I'm going to allow her to have a Christmas party. A little girls Christmas tea party, in fact. Husband thinks this idea is ridiculous--"a kid having a Christmas party?!" he snorts, but it's not like I'll be serving cocktails! I do, however, realize that my vision of this party, Sister's vision of this party, and what actually transpires are not likely to jibe very well. I confess that my vision is of sweet little girls dressed in holiday finery, having cups of punch or cider and little plates of sweets. Said sweets loom large in my vision. I'm picturing beautiful pyramids of cream puffs, artfully decorated sugar cookies that Sister and I have whipped up ourselves, glass dishes sparkling in the afternoon sun and filled with homemade brittle, powdered sugar dusted wedding cakes. I'm imagining that the girls will fill their plates with these confections, appreciating that they are homemade, will eat them in a civilized fashion. We'll all play some rousing party games outside because the day won't be too cold or rainy to be comfortable. And at the appointed hour, the parents will pick up their well-behaved offspring, who will smile charmingly and thank us on our way out. This is my vision.
Sister's vision goes something like this. Guests will arrive in their holiday finery, but Sister will still be the prettiest, with the most interesting use of hair scrunchies to top it off. The other little girls will all be in awe of the sweets as Sister proudly brags that she helped make them over and over again. The guests will not tire of hearing this. Sister will give them a tour of her room and her toys and they'll admire everything, envy her quantities of stuff. But they won't complain when Sister wants them to merely look and not touch. Sister will have a number of party games planned and there'll be time for every single one. Each guest will clamor for her to be their partner. The girls will be allowed to hoover down the sweets, as much as they want, as fast as they can cram it into their mouths. Someone will have brought a puppy. Everyone will be allowed to stay an extra couple of hours once their parents get here and realize what a fantastic party it is and how much fun they're all having together.
Of course the truth is somewhere in the middle. Well, o.k., perhaps closer to Sister's version than mine, minus the puppy I hope. And if you think I don't really know that there will also be temper tantrums, tears, things broken, things spilled, things knocked over, clique-ish infighting, stained clothing, hurt feelings, and general bad behaviour due to multiple sugar highs in a small space because that day there'll be pouring rain, even sleet!, then you're wrong. I do know this somewhere. But I think I'll let her do it anyway.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
So I've been thinking about composing my own list of 100 Things since like any blogger I am under the illusion that random strangers are interested in my life. But since I've been so very self-indulgent and whiney lately, and also since my favorite food holidays are fast approaching, I thought I'd instead compose a list of 100 Things to Eat. They're my favorites in no particular order--mostly homemade by me or someone else, but I didn't want to have to keep typing homemade. Have I mentioned how much I love all things food? Must be a Cancer thing.
100 Things to Eat
- home-grown tomatoes of any kind
- a cherry tomato called "Sungold," I don't care who grows it
- corn picked and immediately cooked and eaten
- homemade jelly doughnuts, still hot
- actually Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, still hot, rock too
- cornichon pickles
- fried chicken
- biscuits and gravy
- eggs over-medium
- very delicious hashbrowns made from grated potatoes
- watermelon rind pickles
- ripe canteloupe slices
- strawberries picked during a drought year (makes them super-flavorful)
- mint sorbet
- cheese grits
- fresh oysters
- also fried oysters
- fried oysters on a salad with maybe some bacon vinaigrette and lemon slices to squeeze over it all
- hazelnut sandies (These cookies are my all-time favorite. I'll give you the recipe if you email me!)
- lemon chess pie
- buttermilk pie sprinkled with cinnamon
- really good butter used in baked goods (It does make a difference.)
- foie gras
- fried chicken livers
- French fries that look like they were cut from an actual potato, with skins on and everything. With mayonnaise, not ketchup.
- fried catfish
- Can you tell I'm a Southerner yet?
- fried chicken tofu (you heard me) from Ann Jackson's cookbook, Heart of the Home. (I can't seem to make this link to her book on Amazon work.) She's an incredible woman.
- sticky buns made from brioche dough and fresh from the oven
- cucumber and onion pickles
- Japanese pickles from sushi restaurants
- any good, sour, crunchy pickles
- oh, and pickled okra
- seafood gumbo
- split pea soup
- crusty fresh bread
- cherry preserves
- manchego cheese
- gouda with plenty of age on it
- hand-made salamis from this cute New York Italian guy in Greensboro, NC (I know you New Yorkers have got this sort of place on every block, but everything this guy makes is incredible, and if you're in NC then it's worth a day trip.)
- big hunks of fresh, ripe watermelon eaten on a wooden deck at the beach
- medium rare hamburgers
- rare steaks
- Yo, did you know that I was a vegetarian for 8 years? It doesn't show anymore, I know...
- Coke in a small glass bottle, so thoroughly chilled that there are ice crystals in it.
- pork roast and sauerkraut
- pierogis that Sister helps me make from my grandmother's recipe
- Hey, I'm 1/4 Polish, too. I have in my possession a letter written to my grandmother from a cousin, giving her a recipe for calves feet in aspic. Haven't tried that one yet.
- goat stew in a Haitian restaurant on my honeymoon with Husband in Miami
- Also, I spent the first 10 years of my life in Miami, and I'm injecting all these autobiographical tidbits because all of them inform my culinary interests. Southerner, Pole, and formative semi-tropical childhood.
- fried plantain chips purchased at a corner market in Little Haiti in Miami, or actually any large grocery store down there
- pecan pralines made with a bit of good bourbon
- very good chocolate
- amaretti cookies reeking of almond paste
- Actually, my secret baking vice is eating raw dough of any kind. Some people find it gross to eat raw pie dough, raw biscuit dough, croissant dough, that kind of thing. I wonder if I'm getting some trace nutrient that way, it's so delicious to me.
- a really ripe pear
- really ripe peaches
- sour cherry pie
- homemade chocolate ice cream with maybe some hint of coffee and rum
- mushroom pate
- fried rice with scrambled egg bits in it
- fresh shrimp
- Ooh! Ooh! Sauteed soft shell crabs!
- those little warm chocolate cakes that when you cut into them they ooze out liquid chocolate batter
- dried cherries
- crackers with butter on them
- bread and butter, too (Takes me back to toddlerhood. My mom claims I used to sneak sticks of butter out of the fridge when I was kid and eat them like popsicles. I don't remember this.)
- MY cornbread (and no one else's)
- posole verde, a traditional Mexican hominy stew I learned how to make from some line cooks from Guanajuato several years ago
- popcorn popped on the stove, in a big pot, with plenty of melted butter, salt, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast
- cinnamon graham crackers
- black-eyed peas
- collard greens cooked the Southern way, with red chili flakes and diced salt pork, on the stove all day and with plenty of pot likker to soak up with MY cornbread
- chicken and dumplings
- chicken pie made like Gran made it
- chicken pot pie like I make it for Sister
- plain ol' cheese souffle (Everyone in our house loves this and I still maintain that if we have eggs, we have dinner.)
- a cold glass of milk when I'm really craving it
- homemade spiced apple butter (I'm kind of hooked on this lately, stirred into vanilla yogurt, with toasted almonds sprinkled on top.)
- my mom's grilled cheese sandwiches (She uses, um...Velveeta.)
- Breyer's mint chocolate chip ice cream
- Should I list cocktails here, too? I make the most ass-kickin' gin fizz you'll ever taste, using fresh-squeezed citrus juices. I'll send you the recipe for that, too, if you ask me.
- Mmm, cocktails. Gin gimlets are our house drink.
- Singapore slings are divine if you make them the complicated old way, using fresh pineapple, real cherry brandy and Benedictine. Oh my.
- bittersweet chocolate mousse
- fresh salsa of any kind with freshly fried flour tortilla chips to dip into it
- caramel sauce
- any dessert anyone makes for me
- but really any food at all that anyone makes for me. There is a certain grace that you have to practice as an adult woman to allow someone else to feed you. This appeals to me, and I'm trying to teach this to Sister. (Who, by the way, is a fantastic eater)
- Okay, almost done, but this is still coming pretty easily. Real onion rings--the kind that actually have the stringy onions inside them
- hot blackberry cobbler
- I can't believe I didn't think of mashed potatoes sooner than this!
- my Polish grandmother's weird compote made of sectioned grapefruits and oranges stirred together with a bag of butter mints. She used to serve this at holidays. The mints dissolve and it all becomes this deliciously sour, sweet, minty, unctuous, slurpy ambrosia. Strange but true.