So many good things are happening that something is bound to go wrong soon. For example, why must GOD punish me with zits when I’m 39?
Vacation is looming large and I’m beginning to panic a little about not having practiced my Spanish more. I need to do a little research and download a conversation Catalan and French podcast. Teh Smitten and I purchased our train tickets a couple weeks back and only spent a total of $220 to get us from Barcelona to Toulouse – pretty happy about that. I’ve started to tab interesting places and cafes/bars for us to visit. I should be more concerned with various deliverables due with my leadership program, but its hard to focus when I know that happyfuntime is so close.
We have commenced Teh Smitten’s birthday weekend. The celebration (kinda) has kicked off with Ghirardelli brownies and this lovely Rias Baixas Vizconde de Barrantes albarino. We have a Clatterford dvd in the player and are idly flipping channels. Right now, teh cutie is happily watching some blow hard talk about weaponry on history.com.
Also, I am nearly done with Christmas shopping. Took care of the niece and nephew via Amazon.com this afternoon. The boy gets xBox 360 games (Madden 10 and Brutal Legend) and the girl gets the latest glam barbie vacation house with matching pool and convertible (to be released in mid-November). Best. Aunt. Ever. My brother in law is getting an haute couture t-shirt from Alexander McQueen. The boy loves t-shirts so he’s getting the best. Srsly. Gilt.com has saved my ass this year. (And so has ruelala.com, hautelook.com and ideeli.com – bless them every one!) The Marc “mother effing” Jacobs handbags for my sister and me – still reeling over that find. I need to stop spending money so I can buy myself a car at the end of the year. I’m not sure that Toonces is going to pass the DC inspection in January. At the current rate, it is going to be a Toyota Yaris or Hyundai box of death instead of the Honda Civic. Alas, alas!
We’re mostly dry at Chez Allezoop these days due to Teh Smitten’s unconfirmed fatty liver (non-alcoholic) disease. Once confirmed (hopefully later this month) we may be able to commence having our daily bread wine again. Technically, I could drink but we believe in solidarity around here. Well, 9 days out of 10 we do.
This is tough on Teh Smitten since fancy artisanal and old school cocktails are among his passions, and because people who complain about not being able to drink are automatically labeled alcoholics. (Sometimes I not so secretly long to live in Europe where folks have a more balanced view of these things.) Fortunately, we both – and his doctor – know better.
Once I get my tax refund, I’m seriously thinking about whisking the cutie and me off to somewhere for some relaxation. How far can I get us for a total of $2K to $2.5k? Considering that our current outlet is an xbox 360 game called Fable II and that I have developed a true hate for my blackberry, out of the country would be nice. Could I do Spain for us both for $3k?
Lastly, I need to come up with 2 60 day rotations in other Federal agencies. Who wants a GS-14 with external affairs and policy skilz? My agency is paying the way…
Teh Smitten and I had a nice Christmas with my family at their new home between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The first couple days were a bit harried, but Christmas day was spent at the beach and the day after with old friends and dinner at SoBe. To help stretch out the relaxing feeling, I upgraded us to first class for the trip back on Saturday night. About an hour after we landed, we got an irate call from my niece.
Niece: Allez! You left your peepee!!! [Unintelligible yelling…] You get back here right now!!
Me: [Trying real hard not to laugh because she is SERIOUSLY shocked and dismayed that we have LEFT A MAN BEHIND.] Wait, honey, let me put you on speaker… Now tell Teh Smitten what you just said to me.
Niece: Smit! You left your peepee!!!!! [You can hear everyone over the age of 5 laughing on both sides of the line at this point.]
To freshen your memory, here is the previous post about Pipi Le Chick.
The niece had plenty to say about this very serious parental lapse on my and Teh Smitten’s part, for which I should feel lots more guilty. Pipi is very special to her as he has a delightfully soft and plaintive peep, and she knows him well from our Skype video conferences. She demanded that we return immediately and fetch our precious baby. I explained that he must have hidden from us while we were packing so that he could stay and winter with her in Florida. I asked her to take special care of him for us. She was somewhat placated.
Christmas is HARD.
We went to the beach on Christmas afternoon. Teh Smitten and I lounged in our chairs and read our new books. The niece crashed after about 10 minutes.
I told you I was tired.
We took mercy on her wee neck and put her in a lounge chair.
So, Christmas was nice. My mom wasn’t on my case for anything. The weather was nice (maybe a little rainy for a couple days), we found a pub down there that serves Belhaven on draft as well as fried p0undcake (which is so wow), and we had a brief respite from cold and gray DC.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not a good cook. I am quite proficient at heating food up. This is a handicap around the holidays. I have a couple go-to items such as my mom’s Hello Dollies (a very good five layer bar) and ghirardelli brownies – from the mix! – people never know they aren’t from scratch.
Why why why would someone who loves food the way I do not have the natural ability to also cook it?
Exhibit A: homemade pie crust.
This past weekend I took a shot at what seemed to be a ridiculously easy pumpkin tart recipe in Gourmet. The fact that it was in Gourmet should have been the tip off. I’ve never actually made a pie crust in my life – even my mother just buys the ready-made kind. This particular recipe called for baking anise seeds into the crust. Leave it to me not to check the directions before launching into this project; I was missing a couple important tools. A pastry blending thingy would have been nice, as would a rolling pin. I used a bottle of dessert wine to roll out the dough instead. The dough came out uneven and separated a bit (and, yes, I chilled it for at least an hour).
So, there goes that idea for Thanksgiving dinner with Teh Smitten’s family. I’ve since offered to make the family monster cookies but now I can’t locate the recipe and have had to email a cousin who will hopefully respond in the next week or so.
Adding to the pressure is Teh Smitten, whose workplace is holding a potluck next week. I have offered things that I know I can do such as broccoli-rice-cheese casserole and homemade mac-n-cheese with ham. Casseroles are mighty hard to screw up – they’re barely a notch above heat and serve. I’ve also offered the five layer bars.
The family is pretty much all packed up. They move out of the house on Saturday and into a hotel for a week, and then off to Miami. Teh Smitten and I already have our airline tickets for Christmas. Did you know that they have $40 day cruises to the Bahamas leaving Fort Lauderdale daily? With gambling? Huh.
My heart is full with regard to the election. It has been a while since I felt really good about being an American.
Vacation is 14 days away and I have printed out all our confirmations and itinerary and started a packing list. We have a lot going on these next two weekends so I’m trying to get a jump on things.
It looks like my sister is VERY close to taking a good offer to work for a hospital in Miami. This means the whole family – sister, brother in law, nephew, niece, and my parents could be headed South in a matter of months. While the pay represents quite a raise, there’s no doubt that they’ll be getting far less house for their money. They now have about 3800 sq ft. and a backyard that looks out into a treed common area – think they got it for about $420K. Its lovely. They’d have to downsize a bit – they wouldnt have a basement in Miami, necessarily, and they’re going to have to shell out for serious hurricane insurance and preparations. I’ve sent out messages to all friends or colleagues who have the remotest connection to the area to get an idea about good places to raise children or good public schools… And I’m thinking about how fun it will be to go to Miami for Christmas. On the other hand, it will be tougher to get back to MO to see family – many of them aging and not in good heath. I know this must makes my mom a little sad. I should start a little fund for airline tickets for her and my dad.
The diet sucks. I’ve moved onto level 2 now, so at least I can have oatmeal tomorrow. You have no idea how necessary fiber is to happiness. Not just pooping. This next phase also means I can drink moderately, so I had a couple drams of the Glenmorangie Lasanta that The Brooklyn Freckler gave me for my birthday. It is just so lovely. Ah, Teh Smitten keeps reaching out and gently pulling on the little hairs at the nape of my neck which is just so heavenly!
Tomorrow we’re headed upstairs to join my landlords for a fundraiser for Obama. I’ve given $50 so far, and might have to do a bit more… Election is 42 days away? Also, I heard today that any of you Dem’s who have maxed our your contributions to Obama should start making them to Bob Barr if you really want to fuck up the Republican vote.
Dieting essentially requires one to stop being social. It is awfully hard to have a social life or travel for business and diet successfully. As you may have guessed, I blew it this weekend.
Went out with Shards and her husband on Friday and had a gazillion cocktails. They are headed to Israel for a couple years, which makes me sad that I haven’t been to Boston sooner to hang out with the entire Boston crowd. We met the awesome bartender at Central (Justin Guthrie) that keeps making the news and now we really want to try and get into the speakeasy that is by email invite only. I sent the speakeasy folks an email and just need to pick a date – they are only “open” on Sundays and Mondays. Shards says to go on Monday since nobody will suspect that we’re drunks on a Tuesday. Or something like that. I forget what she said exactly due to all the cocktails. (2 pom margaritas at Rosa Mexicano, something with gin and St. Germaine in it at Poste, and a very cool black pepper infused lime soda Gin Rickey at Central.)
Yesterday I had to run up to NYC for a business meeting today, so went up early to spend time with friends. The friend responsible for getting me into whisky recently did a little side work for Glenmorangie and brought me a wonderful early birthday present in the form of sherry cask Glenmorangie – it has been remarketed and named Lasanta. I joined her (Brooklyn Freckler) and the Alabama Slama for an afternoon at Bloomingdales and dinner/scotch at the St. Andrews pub. (I had a Strathisla and a Edradour.)
So, my reward for restarting the damned SB diet will be the Lasanta and a night at the speakeasy. Zero days down; 14 to go.
And what a better way to start a diet than to talk about food? A meme from VGT entitled the Omnivores 100, a la Shards – shockingly, I am picky about stuff like insects and head cheese. Not that you’d ever know from the size of my ass.
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
6. Black pudding [I’ve had the Spanish version]
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda [I need to try me some of this]
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects [not intentionally]
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more [hells to the yeah]
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin [but never again]
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
63. Kaolin [as in clay?]
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis [vegetarian doesn’t count]
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette [can’t stand the odor]
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe [we have three different brands at home]
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare [does rabbit count?]
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab [yuck]
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake [I bet it tastes like chicken]
Teh Smitten and I have been netflixing Slings and Arrows, a Canadian Shakespeare Theatre sitcom recommended to us by Mr. Odney. The title line is courtesy of this very dysfunctional, twisted and enjoyable show. Rachel McAdams is in it and is charming. I dunno – my friends with artsy backgrounds need to rent this show and relive their days at DC’s Shakespeare Theatre.
I’m headed to St. Louis on Wednesday night. I’m going alone this time and my nephew is quite put out about it (“why didn’t you bring Teh Smitten?!?”), so I’ll be bringing gifts from us both. But, I had the time off and I’m going to be subjecting my darling to family in October as it is. In the crucible that is Disney World. 39 more days till the 4-day massive pub crawl and then another 4 to dry out on a beach in Treasure Island.
My sister has gotten reservations for the entire fam at Epcot’s Japanese restaurant on my birthday, and a romantic date for just Smit and me at the French Bistro the night before. We’re staying in the god-awful Disney Budget All Stars Resort. I suppose I should try to get a reservation at one of the other spots, but really the kiosks with the wine and snacks might suffice and be all we can afford as it is.