Sunday, December 25, 2011

Musings of Martha Wannabe

Let me be honest.

I am not so very good at the domestic things.

Its not that I can't do them. I can. In fact, there was a time when I looooveeeddd to throw parties with themes and fancy food.

Its just that I live by myself now. With a naughty dog. I work all week. Try to go outside all weekend. I have poor time management skills in my personal life, which means I never get things done in the time I want to get them done. Like making Christmas presents, sending birthday gifts, or creating gourmet meals worthy of a four star restaurant. Amazon.com and cereal for dinner serve me well most of the time. You are welcome. Come over for dinner whenever you are in the mood for some Kix.

But the last couple of weeks, I have come down with a seasonal epidemic known as "Stewartluenza."

The symptoms are very obnoxious. They include lack of appetite, sleepless nights, shaking, aching joints, headaches, and illusions of grandeur.

Allow me to elaborate.

A few weeks ago, I got it in my mind that I wanted to make this recipe for Sweet Potato, Roasted Chili, and Coconut Milk Ravioli. How hard could this be? You know... to make ravioli from scratch. For the first time. Ever. And have company for dinner while I tried out this recipe.
While mine look only a little like the recipe, they were pretty freaking delicious. I ate them until I couldn't sit up comfortably and contemplated undoing the top button on my britches after dinner...but alas, I had guests. I didn't eat anything else for the next two days. You might say I lost my appetite completely.

Except for the following week when I had delicious stew made especially for me. Which I ate with reckless abandon and forgot to photograph.

Last week I woke up with the overwhelming need to make Christmas candy for my office and friends. Unfortunately, when I make Christmas candy, I can't just make one batch. No no.

I made Peanut Butter Fudge, Chocolate Orange Fudge, Chocolate Coconut Almond Fudge, and Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bears.

This would have been fine, except that I did not get home from work until 8:30 PM, stayed up well past midnight, then got out of bed at 4:30 AM to start my next day. I had a sleepless night.

Sister's annual Christmas Cookie Exchange was last week, which meant that I had to bring three dozen cookies to share with people, in addition to lots of other foods to add to the table. I made cinnamon apple oatmeal bars...


And these chocolate Andes mints cookies, which I could not hold still enough to photograph. I apparently sampled too many cookies. Sugar overload?

Sister's party was beautiful, but as you can see from her expression, which mirrored mine....

we were quite tired and sore from standing at the stove by the time the guests arrived for this lovely spread.
The Eve of Christmas Eve proved to be the worst of the virus. The illusion of grandeur. After seeing this beautiful picture of Panettone:



I got this crazy idea that I, too, could make something so delightful on the eyes and obviously delicious.

How hard could it be to make a sponge...

Watch it rise....

Divide it up into pans with ridiculous looking "collars" so that it would be tall...


Bake it and enjoy?

Quite hard, actually.

Messy. Time consuming. Like hours upon hours, really.

They didn't turn out so very tall and fluffy, but they were pretty yummy anyway.

I can't say that every endeavor was chaotic or resulted in me harboring some sort of resentment. Christmas Eve Dinner was actually pretty fantastic. Painless. Delicious. In fact, I might even go far as to say it was the Pièce de résistance to this season: Amazingly Good Pork Loin....studded and stuffed with garlic and rosemary, then topped with a rosemary balsamic reduction.

I am sure that I will recover soon from Stewartluenza. Hopefully sooner than later because with all this baking and cooking of amazing food, I am gonna need to buy some new pants.

And trust me, if you thought my trouble with hats was bad...wait until you hear about me and my jeans. 

Happy Holidays!

From me and Ellie....

May your season be full of adventures, a little bit of snow, and lots and lots of cookies!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Welcome, Drew Cooper!

Not so very long ago (well, September of 2010), I got to stand up with my oldest and bestest friend while she married her best friend.  A special occasion for all of us who love them to smile about. 



In perfect and right timing, they had something even more special to smile about...


And on Friday morning, all 8 lbs of Drew Cooper decided he wanted to come out and meet everyone.

Welcome, Little Man! I am so glad you are finally here!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Bleeding Heart

Politics, like religion and economics, is not a topic I often broach with people I do not know. Perhaps because I advocate tolerance for individual choice, opinion, and freedoms. Perhaps because I work for The Man and I am not really supposed to talk about those things at the water cooler. Perhaps because I suck at confrontation and usually end up with comebacks that are some derivative of "Pbbbtttt!" when political debate begins.

I will freely admit, however, that my political leanings are more Left than Right. That I made cold calls for our President and would do it again. That I have some staunch opinions about certain hot ticket items that do not always jive with my upbringing...and that I am avid NPR listener.

Interpret as you wish.

When I get to the point on Highway 395 on my daily commute that I can pick up an NPR station (the north end of Little Lake Canyon, in case you are wondering), I stop everything I am doing...since I am excellent multi-tasker while I am driving....and listen to Morning Edition, or Talk of the Nation, or All Things Considered, or Fresh Air. If I'm lucky, I catch Car Talk or This American Life. And yes, I do subscribe to the Podcasts. And stream from my computer while I am knitting on Saturday mornings

Since I listen to NPR, and do not have television, I have missed out on the propaganda  media soundbites for the upcoming GOP primaries. I am not terribly heartbroken, since the brainchild of Will Ferrell and Andy McKay - Funny or Die - has provided me with all the information I need.

Enjoy. And take with a grain of salt becasue I would never tell you how to vote in 2012.

Ok.

Maybe.






Thursday, December 8, 2011

TGIFF

This was a very long week that involved a lot of driving, a lot of worrying about people having medical tests and procedures, and not a whole lot of sleeping. Thank God its FINALLY Friday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

7 outtta 10.

I'm still around...just in the middle of a 10 day work week.



I'm exhausted. But I wouldn't trade sleep for any of the amazing things happening right now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving.

Hope your turkey was delicious....

Your pie was decadent...

 And your company was delightful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fiddle Dee Dee

Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

The Family has been up to a lot of fishing.

 This is a horsefish, aka a huge-ass catfish. We think it weighed anywhere between 12 and 40 pounds, depending on who you ask.
 This is Brother-in-Law showing off his bass to his captive audience.
Everybody had fun, even the dogs.
We got home from fishing to do some serious consultations with The Manual.
Cranberry sauce.
Check.

Pies.
Check.
Its nice to have Thanksgiving at home this year, even though we had a lot of fun at Sister's house last year. We are trying to do everything like we always do....even down to the part where I've made way too much cornbread than we can possibly add to our dressing, Mom has fast-forwarded all the "love" scenes in Love Actually and everyone is asleep on the couch at 8 PM.

Hope you are enjoying your family time. 



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pin-Up

I am not sure if I have mentioned before that I do not own a television. Beside that fact that I don't spend a lot of time at home, when I am there, I am constantly trying to get stuff ready for the next day. Like making lunch or getting my coffee ready so that it will turn on automatically before I wake up or laying out my clothes or waiting patiently for my fairy godmother to grant me some wishes that mostly involve a clean house, cooked dinner, and possibly for someone to show up long enough to rub my feet (because I'm not very good company Monday through Thursday). Often I am cleaning up a disaster that Miss Ellie left for me.

When I get to the end of the evening chores, I put on my jammies, make a bowl of cereal, and sit down with this trusty laptop. Sometimes I write a blog. Sometimes I watch a movie on Netflix or a TV show on Hulu.

But lately, I have a new internet addiction.

It is called Pinterest. Have you heard of it?  Maybe not,  unless you love to surf the interweb. Do you ever bookmark a recipe or a website you want to go back to, but then COMPLETELY forget why you bookmarked that page in the first place?

On Pinterest, you can add things to "boards" with different titles like "Things I want to Make," "Things I want to Eat," "Things I want to wear..."

For instance I find recipes that I absolutely must try...

Crafts I absolutely have to do:
Source: purlbee.com via Ashley on Pinterest

And funny things that make me cry from laughing.



I can spend a lot of time...like hours...just cruising the website looking at what other people are interested in. So much time in fact, I sort of lose all track of time. I am really glad this silly thing wasn't around while I was writing my thesis.
And I am really really really glad I am not allowed to play on the internet at work because there would be a lot of archaeology just...getting older. Of course....I suppose that is job security for me just as soon as this particular internet fad is over.

Yes, I can justify just about anything. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last Word for the evening...




Except maybe the grammar is not so great.

Dog Overboard

I'm home for a week. For some home cooked meals that don't involve some iteration of cereal. For some rest. For family time.

And obviously for some fishing.

This scene from the beginning of the day should have been a sign. Ellie and Jake were playing Kate and Leo, but in an entirely platonic way since they are related.
Both dogs were friendly. Full of affection for their people. Who oddly resemble their dogs.


 They let us do some great fishing. 



They were the cheerleaders.
 But then we let them get out of the boat for a pit stop.
And from that pit stop, Miss Ellie believed that she should be in the water ALL the time. Right around the end of the morning, she decided that even though Dad and I were reeling in enormous bass, she needed to get in. So she did.

While I am really the only person who has any right to comment on the behavior and....boundaries of her skin....I have to admit that soaking wet, Ellie is really difficult to lift. Like completely impossible. So impossible, in fact, that we had to drive the boat away from her and find some shoreline. Her poor little puppy face was terrified as we drove away. She made little puppy squeaks. When she got to shore she jumped in the boat, received a sound scolding, and cuddled up next to me on the seat.

Fortunately, we made a good haul anyway.

But seriously. Ellie might be grounded tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Okay. I get it.

So in this time of reflection about my choices, my relationships, and how I want my life to be, I always appreciate a few words of advice. My girlfriends have teamed up to express their opinions, and I welcome them with open arms and mind. Because if I can't hear it from the people I love the most, then probably my year of being "OK" is not going so great yet.

I find it so amazing that the women in my life are the strongest, most well-adjusted people I know. They have sound wisdom, perspectives I never imagined, and always say the right thing, even if they think they are hurting my feelings. I suspect, given the longevity of life the women in my gene pool seem to possess, I will be enjoying Florida from my motorized scooter in a bedazzled jumpsuit, shoplifting Werther's and bottles of Jack Daniels with the ladies on my speed dial in about 50 years. And I will have the most amazing blue hair on the planet, second only to my dear Mamaw Thompson, who remains forever in my memory as the possessor of THE most amazing blue hair on the planet. Until then, I will be sure to get bedazzled something or others for my grandmas because they are also founts of advice and buckets of encouragement that I never cease to take comfort in.

In Bridget Jones meets Jane Austen meets Virgo fashion, I've been ruminating and writing out my thoughts on one subject that seems to unite all of the women I know....or at least a common theme among us over the last year......

Boys.
Dudes.
Men.

The end of a marriage is hard. The end of your first relationship after the end of a marriage is nearly as bad. There's a lot of blame. A lot of anger. A lot of sadness for yet another failure.

While it is definitely ego-boosting , in the wake of temper tantrums and hair-shirt wearing, to be asked out on dates by sailors...or climbing bums...or both...and to say yes to the cutest and most interesting "JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN!", it is also important to retain perspective. To maybe not go crazy and move in together because "OMG, He called!" I think this is called "playing the field." It may also be called "rebounding."

I've never been very good at dating. Or field related sports. Or basketball.

But something I am trying learn: to move past the past.

We all make mistakes. Party fouls. Booboos. We all hurt someone in ways we didn't realize. Or hold on to the pain someone else caused, projecting that on the next person who shows us any kindness.

I have not been a purveyor of strong, healthy, well-adjusted relationships with men. I could probably dive deep into my psyche about why this is the case, but I think I should probably save that for my therapist. Or my girlfriends. Who are actually one in the same.

The point is that I don't always want that to be the case. I am trying to give some thought about the things that are deal breakers (not showing up, hitting, overt Conservatism), tolerable until fixable (selfishness, excessive use of ketchup), and brownie point earners (calling me first every time, making me dinner, rolling on the floor with Ellie, bringing me coffee).

After a couple of really complicated years, after being told "No one will ever love you like I do," after a lot of nights in a fetal position wondering if I'm crazy...

I just want something better the next time.

And this time, I am going to ask for it.

Read this article. Just click on the title.
Yashar Ali: A Message to Women from a Man: You are not "Crazy"

Thank you Lizzie and Amy for the good article.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesdays

Today I found myself standing in one of my favorite places, surrounded by my favorite memories, facing my biggest fears, and wondering if the blues ever really go away...

or if you just learn to live around them.




Having a theme song probably helps.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

You found me.


I find it absolutely fascinating that in the full year I lived in Ridgecrest, I have only two friends to show for it.

Two months in Lone Pine, I have doubled that number. This makes me happy. And a lot less lonely.

Not that I need a lot of people around, but its refreshing to have some human contact when your support network is dispersed across the country like confetti.

The hardest part about meeting new people is deciding what to tell them about yourself. Which parts of your life history are relevant to the type of relationship you want with that person. Will you be open? Will you be guarded? Will you mention the other characters in your drama? Will you change something about yourself so you are never again in a situation where someone can take advantage of you?

Someone a few months ago said "I can't ask you to change anything about yourself." They never would say what it was that they wanted me to change. It kind of stuck in my craw, actually. Especially because all I ever try to be is myself. And especially because I haven't heard much from them since.

Can you blame me for asking these questions? For thinking twice before taking off my bathing suit cover and jumping in the deep end? For hoping that all my quirks make a new friend call me back rather than avoid me like the plague?

Four years of writing this blog means that I have chronicled four years of silliness when Bigger Life Events were overshadowing everything. The Big Stuff became the backdrop, and if you can read between the lines, sometimes you can get a glimpse of that. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I do filter and censor myself for the sake of giving you too much information. On here. And in life.

I do not usually tell the new people I meet about my blog. Not because I am embarrassed that I have one. And not because I don't want them to read it.

I do.

I just want them to make the effort to get to know me without my filters on.

But if you stumbled across this - accidentally or otherwise...and you have never actually met me...or you have met me and figured out my Blogger Secret....AND you actually come back to read some more of my silliness....

Then congratulations. You found Me.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

410



This is the number of calories in a single, grande, 2% milk, Peppermint Mocha with whipped cream.

While only really special people can know my favorite coffee drink, this is by far my SECOND favorite coffee drink.

And its finally here.

I had my first one today.


For the record, that is the caloric equivalent of a bottle of wine and two beers. For some reason, these three beverages have the ability to turn my Holiday Season into a giggle fest or a blubber session.

But wait...its already the Holiday Season?