Wednesday, December 28, 2005

the word is out

christmas was good, and it's not over yet. we will be having second christmas in pennsylvania with the hippie's family this coming weekend. yay for more presents! :) i generally like giving presents even more than getting them, but i have to say--this year's haul has been pretty good. aparently, the word about my hobbies has gotten out. i have been officially labeled both a cook and a knitter. i am amazed at the wealth of cookbooks and knitting books i have received so far. this picture shows just a sampling of some of what people have given to me, and i LOVE IT. so many new things to try! oh, and that knife on top? GLORIOUS! i intend to chop the world.

so we spent christmas with friends and family, like most people. christmas eve belongs to jenn and harry and gabriella and various members of their family. i made an italian feast again this year: an antipasti platter with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, sopresatta, and marinated fresh mozerella, bruchetta with tomato basil sauce, 3-cheese tortellini with fresh alfredo sauce and pruciutto, baked asparags with parmesan and butter, roasted herb-crusted lamb, and homemade eclairs (a la mary). it was pretty damned fine, if i do say so myself.

we got up at the ass-crack of dawn on sunday to drive to my parents' house for the day. and it was actually unusually pleasant to see the family this go 'round. well, except for some loud and annoying comments from my aunt who appeared out of nowhere after we had already eaten and opened presents. she gave my mother a gift, and then proceeded to tell her that it was really the free thing that came with the much nicer gift that she had purchased for my cousin. she loudly informed my nieces that i am always flat broke because i like to "live high." she gave me a ton of grief for not driving 3 hours to go visit her at her house, and then informed me that she and my uncle had dinner last week not 3 miles from our house, but she could not be bothered to call. makes that invite to her home sound mighty sincere. anyway--a bit of a dark spot in an otherwise pleasant day.

the day after christmas, we got to see good friends again--the physics group gets together for dinner every year over the holidays, and it's alays so nice to see everyone. i even got a little extra time to poke around with meredith this year, which is always fabulous. we spent a little money, and then i took her home to her family's house where there happened to be many leftover christmas cookies--always a treat.

this week, i am enjoying a few days off. i just spent a bit of time in the park with emily and shane, followed by a fabulous lunch. it's a glorious day outside--about 60 degrees and sunny. i am filled with dread at the prospect of going to the mall this afternoon, but it's a must as i need to find something to wear to the new year's party we will be attending this weekend in pennsylvania. wish me luck, both with the parking and in finding something wonderful to wear with my fabulous silver shoes!

Friday, December 23, 2005

christmas eve eve eve at the bucks

last night emily and i met at starbucks for tea, knitting, and our gift exchange. i beat her there, so i put my stuff and her presents on the super-comfy velvet chairs (score!) and got in line to order some tea and my first cranberry bliss bar of the season. the fact that i have not already consumed 17 of these is something of a christmas miracle as i fucking LOVE THEM. but i digress... so i have laid claim, and am ordering when this ENORMOUS woman with her ENORMOUS sense of entitlement comes in and MOVES MY STUFF. actually picks up emily's gift and moves it so she can sit her ass down in MY comfy velvet chair. people, this is simply NOT DONE. starbucks ettiquette rule number 106 is as follows: #106 -- DO NOT MOVE OTHER PEOPLE'S STUFF OFF THE COMFY VELVET CHAIRS. i will freely admit that i had a few thoughts in her direction that were NOT in the christmas spirit. but i am over it. really.

meanwhile, today is better. i am listening to some charlie brown christmas music (purchased at the bucks last night), and actually getting ready to split as soon as the blogging is done. i will go home and try my hand at making mary's eclairs and wrap about 10M gifts. i may need a cocktail or two to get through it. oh, and the hippie and i are reading christopher moore's book, the stupidest angel: a heartwarming tale of christmas terror, version 2.0 that is so far, an absolute scream. here's the first sentence:
christmas crept into pine cove like a creeping christmas thing, dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.
don't you wanna just keep reading now?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

busy, busy, busy...

the holidays are just busy--it's hard to blog when there's travel and social-ness and sickness to contend with. and knitting--oh god the knitting!!! but lest i digress onto that topic, let me give a little update RIGHT NOW. over the past coule of weeks, i met some new kitties--eric and kylie acquired sibling kittens, panther and treat. i spent eric's birthday playing with their beautiful feisty selves. mostly, panther just wanted to eat the camera.

this past weekend we made a little trip up to maryland to see mary and go to her fabulous christmas party, which is always great fun. it's one of the traditions the hippie and i are propagating together, and definitely one of our favorite parts of christmas. did i take pictures? no--of course not. actually, i had more fun in the party prep than the actual party--i got a nasty headache about half-way through the evening, which made it a bit quieter for me than for most of the guests. still--there was good conversation to be had, which is mostly all i need. i also greatly enjoyed spending time with mary's kitty, nikki, who is apparently quite capable of opening doors in order to hop into bed with any guests who happen to be sleeping in HER bed. she's awfully sweet, though.

on the way home from mary's, we stopped off to see the hippie's friends, greg and heather, and to meet their baby, dylan, who is a tiny carbon of his father--ie, a tank. a cute adorable tank, but a tank none the less. oh yeah, and we went to ikea this weekend--YAY!!! LOVE the ikea. every time i go there, i spend too much money, but also get one tiny step closer to actual organization--it's awesome.

oh, and did i mention that i have been knitting? i took on more projects for christmas than are humanly possible, which shocks no one who knows me. honestly i am amazed at how many of them i have actually gotten through. i had to back off on the last three things, and i am still going stong on a few more bits and pieces. my own cats are, of course, a huge help. as you can see--they work really hard helping me knit all day, and then they just collapse in a heap--the poor babies are so tired!!! i actually got more knitting done than expected this week, as i ended up sick as a dog and velcroed to the couch all day on tuesday. this is just NOT a good time of year to be sick!!! but worry not--i am getting better by leaps and bounds for once--thank GOD!!! the christmas, it is LOOMING now, and i am running behind. however, i know i am not alone this time of year, so hey--i am not stressing--what gets done will be enoough, and what doesn't--eh--i'll live...

and last, but so not least, if this picture (or any picture of gabriella, for that matter) doesn't warm the cockles of your heart, then your evil cold heart has no cockles of which to speak, my friend. i swear, gabriella gets cuter every day. i saw her at lunch today, and she was dragging her big stuffed rudolph around by the neck--so funny i had to snap it with my phone. earlier today, she had a little christmas party at school where her father sent me a cute pic of her in her santa hat, too. adorable. anyway--enough babble from me for now--the grocery store is waiting...

Monday, December 12, 2005


when i lived in new york, one of my favorite things was walking home from work in the wintertime, especially during the christmas season. it was just beautiful, up 5th avenue and around the park--all the lights and the people and the decorations, the windows all done up for the holidays, the angels with their trumpets at rockerfeller center, the ice skaters--all of it. it was the only time of year when the tourists didn't annoy me. and it was cold cold cold, and i would bundle up in my black coat and all the winter accessories i bought in italy, and i would walk the fifty-seven blocks home in my fabulously stylish boots and be perfectly comfortable. and since then, every christmas, i have pangs of desire to take that walk again. there is just nowhere in raleigh that feels like that. the only place here with the requisite crush of people and all the decorations is the mall, and i am sorry, but it absolutely pales in comparison.

tonight it's dark early, and i can see a couple of stars out the window from my office, and i am filled with longing for new york and a long walk home out in the cold under the lights of the big city.


i love to have fresh flowers for christmas. who am i kidding--i just love having fresh flowers, period. anyway--for christmas this year i chose some lovely red and while alstromeria and bright red gerbera daisies for the kitchen and some green ireland bells to put in a tall red vase in the living room. of course, i forgot to photograph everything, but as you can see--the kitchen flowers are fabulous. i recently learned that alstromeria is actually the same thing as a peruvian lily. who knew? i also googled "alstromeria" just out of curiosity, and lo and behold--the fist link was to my beloved flaurella's flickr photos of HER alstromeria. how cool is that???

and speaking of flaurella, she asked in her comments on the last post that i post my recipe for black and mahogany rice. i have to admit, there's not much recipe to it--i just use really good rice from lundberg family farms. they have this great blend of black and mahogany field rice that i buy--it's excellent, cooks up easily, and has a strong nuttly flavor. it's perfectly good just steamed with water, but for company, i make it with chicken broth and throw in a few sprigs of thyme while it's cooking. when it's done, i toss it with crimini mushrooms sauteed in good olive oil and a little white wine. it's YUM. when preparing this rice, be careful not to overcook it--it can get mushy if kept on the heat too long.

the dinner on friday came off well--i even managed to get the flowers arranged and the table linens ironed before everyone arrived. and i think all the guests had a good time. it was good to meet spend some time with the hippie's boss and his wife, and harry and jenn are always a pleasure. our friend eric is always a joy to feed--as a bachelor, he is always blown away by home cooking and eats himself senseless--it's a GREAT compliment and definitely makes me feel like all that work is worth it. gabriella was in rare form and spent all night dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, or acting like a kitty. she also made the hippie show her every picture in the dungeons & dragons monster manual and name all the monsters. she's no sissy--she has always loved her monsters.

in other news, i managed to knit a christmas present and a half this weekend--i am cookin' with gas! :)

Friday, December 09, 2005

that 50s housewife thing rearing its ugly head again

what is it with me? i somehow think i can pull off so many things that are just insane! i ALWAYS think i have more time than i really have, and once in a while it just catches up to me. tonight i will be serving a 4-course dinner to seven people, one of whom i have never met. last night i made chocolate pudding and roasted butternut squash soup and some maple butter, did a load and a half of laundry, straightened the house up some, and failed to wrap a single christmas present. tonight i will roast two chickens, make some fabulous black and mahogony rice with fresh thyme, and sautee some fresh asparagus with crimini mushrooms in a fine olive oil with just some simple salt and pepper. i have a cheese course to serve with our homemade cranberry wine. i am crazy. i have been working my butt off all day so i can get out of here before 4pm, and lo and behold! i am going to make it! now i just have to stop for fresh breah, run home and get the laundry out of the dryer, move the bins of hristmas stuff to the basement, turn on all the christmas lights, dust the bookshelves, and get cookin'! and you know--i will pull this off. i always manage. but sometimes i look at the schedule i have given myself and i am just amazed that my blood pressure doesn't shoot through the roof and kill me this very instant. why do i feel like i have to be a 50s housewife when i have a day job? am i the only one with this problem??? i have till 7:30 to get ready, people--wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

gettin' our christmas on

the decorating has begun. the hippie and i spent most of last weekend immersed in preparations for the holidays. saturday we cleaned (step one), and then went to the farmer's market to visit the crazy bee people and my favorite flower lady. she makes these beautiful wreaths every year, and i LOVE them! this one has boxwood, dried peppers, bittersweet, magnolia leaves, and cedar. it will dry to a beautiful golden color and last for nearly a year. we bought another one for our garishly painted entryway--the entryway has pink walls and kelly green doors, so putting something red out there is a frightening prospect at best. we got a wreath with boxwood and dried pink and purple lisianthus. of course, i forgot to take a picture, so you guys don't get to see it. oops!

after the farmer's market, we drove all over hell and half of georgia to find our christmas tree, and it's GORGEOUS! last year, we got our tree late and ended up with this charlie brown tree, which we both loved. but this year, although being on the ball has cost us more, the tree is so pretty and symmetric--i love it! the problem was that by the time we got it, brought it home, and set it up, we were both exhausted. so we built a fire and watched some movies while knitting. knitting is my life till after the holidays. as you can see, samson enjoyed the fire quite some. i thought he might actually climb in, but he settled for staring at it for about two hours.

sunday was nothing but spending money. I went to about a million stores and gave all my money to those people in exchange for wrapping paper, ribbon, presents, and all that crap i always end up getting at target that i don't really need but can't resist. what is it about target??? now i am ramen-noodle broke till my next payday. *sigh* anyway--after that madness, we ordered some take-out and decorated the tree, which looks pretty good (much better than this bad, washed-out picture shows) in spite of a minor disaster involving an unfortunate interaction between the vacuum cleaner and the plug attached to two-thirds of the lights that are on the tree, but now woefully dark. i thought the hippie might hurl the entire thing into the trash, but he recovered, thank goodness. i am loving the paperwhite lights on this tree. i scored them last january at smith & hawken's after-christmas sale for a tiny ortion of their current price--excellent!

now i need to start wrapping presents. i still have miles to go...

Friday, December 02, 2005

where have i been, you ask? well...

it's been a busy couple of weeks! the week before thanksgiving, i was busy as a bee making things. things like this pumpkin pie. things like this would take me FAR less time if i could resist martha-stewart-ing them up like i do. i have these teeny cookie cutters, and i LOVE using them for pie crusts like this one. i was so into making this that i got the hippie to take some pictures of the process. he, being red-blooded and male and all that, took advantage of my request and took a few extra pictures pointed down my shirt at my cleavage (such as it is). i will NOT be posting those on the internet. anyway, since last i posted, i have gone through quite a few pumpkin and apple pies. still need to get on the perfecting of my pecan pie skilz.

i also made a boatload of wire things, packed them up, and shipped them off to my friend jenn for the opening of her new gallery/shop, the porch. she was planning this artists' reception, but there were just too many conflict to pull that off. i think she'll probably do it in the spring, which is OK by me--it's a better time to make a trip down to cape hatteras anyway. here's hoping she sells a boatload of stuff for christmas!

we went home to my parents' house for thanksgiving, as we do every year. t-day is the major holiday for my family--i could skip christmas with them WAY easier than i could thanksgiving. i made all my requisite dishes, and got in some good hanging out time with my mom and the rest of my crazy family. one of the highlights of the day was getting to hold the two week old puppies that my brother's girlfriend brought over. SO CUTE!!! the puppies were so glossy and black they were hard to get good pictures of, but i tried anyway. and i took a picture of their mama, too. and i LOVE this picture of my youngest niece, wendy. she's almost five, and as smug and obnoxious as she could possibly be. this is the only picture i have ever seen of her that actually captures that, and it makes me laugh every time i see it.

we also caught the new harry potter movie--we went to see it at the IMAX theater, which was cool, but in my opinion, not quite worth the extra 4 bucks. the movie was pretty great, although i still do not understand why they don't just have these movies in two parts or make them extra long to fit in everything that's important to the story. or at the very least, release extended versions on DVD like LOTR did. it's not like anyone is going to complain about TOO MUCH harry potter! all in all though--it's great, and you should see it if you haven't already. they did a fabulous job on the dragons, and i adore the weasley twins! i liked it well enough to go again last night with my friend emily, to a normal theater this time. which would have been cooler were it not a) the ghetto theater, b)more than a little filthy and smelly, and c) FREEZING. em asked me to knit her a nose cozy during the film, but while i did have some yarn on me, i couldn't see to knit a damned thing. that harry potter--he's pretty dark, man.

and i have also watched the entire first season of desperate housewives. i am filled with depression that i have run out, but thank GOD, because it was eating my whole life!

so yeah--throw in all the other stuff like dance class, regular social stuff, and all the boring yet endless domestic details like laundry and cooking, and i have been running around like mad and have had no time to post anything in AGES. all is well though. the holidays are in full swing. i spent my lunch hour(s) today shopping and actually managed to get something i know for a fact my parents will love. i am knitting presents up a storm, and tomorrow we are going to the farmers' market to get our christmas tree, a ritual i adore! my christmas list is so anal and thorough that store clerks' jaws drop open at the sight of it, and i can't wait for all the mayhem that the next month will bring. oh, and the presents, too! hopefully i will find more time to post in the midst of all that mess.

oh, and by the way, this post is dedicated to flaurella who posted a concerned comment today since i hadn't posted in so damned long. it's awfully nice to be missed by the internet. :)