Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kiki takes a break

You know how kids sometimes have problems saying a name? Well, to the Commander I am "Kiki." When she first started calling me that, I thought to myself, "Isn't that a stripper name?" Then I remembered that that particular girl had behaved more like a hooker than a stripper. Now I hear this.

"Kiki? Kiki-kins? Who's smoking? I smell smoke. Is someone smoking within a six mile radius of where I'm standing! Stop them Kiki, stop them!"

And today I realized that I have been hearing that voice since before I met the Commander. Yes, I spent the morning of my day off on yet another of my mother's wild goose chase kind of errands. Because it's no problem to drive to Richmond and then to Mill Valley. While completing the errands, a thought crossed my mind. Kiki deserves a reward.


About ten years ago, I stopped going out for New Year's Eve. That's when I started my own tradition. I head out early in the day to shop for "snacks." Around eight or so in the evening, I put my tray together. Then I sit myself down in front of the TV to start the DVD viewing. The idea is that I graze from the tray over four hours or so.

Oh, and Happy New Year to all of you! May the evening be safe and fun for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Why I can't lose weight

I spent most of my weekend immersed in Facebook. And movies. The movies thing is perfectly normal. The Facebook thing? Makes me want to do a road trip to Santa Cruz to slap the friend who cajoled me into signing up. After all these years, she should know how obsessive I can become about things.


And yes, the movie viewing continued on Sunday. This is one of the few movies for which I actually own the soundtrack -- and listen to it in its entirety. Oh, and that spunky female vocalist in the video? Yep. Renee Zellweger.


And looky. I actually made it out of the house on Sunday. (This was after being holed up since Thursday night.) The Poulet food was starting to run low. I needed more food. (Shush. I know the freezer is still pretty full but I've actually eaten a few items from it.) And usually I feel a wee bit guilty about heading to Astronomico's but then I read this. Besides Berkeley Bowl was still closed for the holidays. (Here's the full top 10 list.) The cool thing is that Astronomico's color codes the seafood -- green, yellow, and red. The majority of what I buy is green. Occasionally I delve into yellow. But I never do red. I kept thinking that I wanted some sort of seafood. Reading the article made it a done deal.

I've made the mussels before but this time the store did not have any fresh chives. Once I had my heart set on the mussels, I kept trying to think of a side dish. And then I saw the recipe of the day on Epicurious. Seemed perfect to me. So perfect that I think that it can be eaten on its on. Now one person did comment about wanting to substitute another cheese since gruyere can be pricy. But I already had some in the fridge waiting to be transformed into something. And oh no. I just realized that I forgot the hot sauce. That's OK though. It was still damn tasty. Also there was no arugula in the store. I'm starting think that it is some sort of conspiracy. If I find a recipe calling for arugula, there won't be any around. I used baby spinach instead. The bread was the country batard from Astronomico's bakery. The bacon was the applewood smoked from Niman Ranch.

And here's an argument that I throw out to all those foodies out there. A great deal of the time I eat what is seasonal. Of course, I eat out a great deal and in the Gourmet Ghetto, they're all about seasonal. Because of this, I happen to buy things that are local as well. So here's an idea. Instead of saying to folks to buy local, tell them to buy the seasonal stuff. If you're in an agricultural area, it means that you are probably buying local stuff as well. If not? It's the first step to buying locally. I dunno. I've had a few days off from work and plenty of time to think about a variety of subjects -- including how people behind various causes could make their causes more palatable to the general public. And maybe not so elitist. (Yeah, I said the "e" word. What about it?) What can I say? The upcoming inauguration has me crazy and all. I keep thinking to myself, "But I want everyone to feel welcome..."

But that's right. Shonda and I said that we would not start any weight loss efforts until after the New Year. I still have a few more days of eating to go. Because I've decided to allow myself at least a few more days of emotional eating. And if you have a problem with it? Well, I have something that you can kiss.

And yes, for the last time. If you come to visit, I will indeed feed you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I hate Paris... *

Yesterday was one of those the-weather-sucks-just-like-the-holiday-season-does-and-my-hormones-are-messing-with-my-head kind of days. You know what's really good on those kinds of days? Besides really good food. Yep, movies. It dawned on me that the answer was in yesterday's quiz. But I wasn't in the mood for 16 Candles. Nope it was more of a French Kiss kind of day. And then I decided to just make a marathon of it.

Normally I'd go all romantic comedy. This time around French Kiss was about the only thing to make the cut in that group. What I wanted was comedy and violence. Really cool if both were combined in one movie. So without further ado, I give you yesterday's feel good DVDs.

1. French Kiss -- I love the argument over "La Mer" at the end.

2. Uncle Buck -- Yes, I love 16 Candles but this is by far my favorite John Hughes flick.

3. The Complete Denis Leary -- If this doesn't make you laugh, then I don't know what to suggest. Works for me every time.

Or that whole discussion on throat cancer and the electronic voice box. I had an uncle who had one. He was annoying as hell. (He was annoying before the cancer.) One day my aunt mentioned having to recharge the batteries because they were almost dead and they were about to hit the road on a two-hour drive. My uncle was the worst kind of backseat driver. My reaction was, "Why the hell would you want to recharge the things? I say bury the batteries in the backyard."

What? You don't understand. This guy made my Uncle Crickity Crack seem almost sane. (By the way, thank you, Zombie Mom, for that great name.) Oh yeah. Now I remember why. Because he had been an actual crackhead while Crickity Crack just has some crackhead tendencies. And now you're probably asking why I would want to spend the holidays around these folks. It's all about the stories, people. And the ability to respond when someone sees something on TV that they just can't believe, "Oh no. People actually do/say that kind of stuff. I'm related to some of them in fact."


4. Fear of a Black Hat -- The first of the mockumentaries in my viewing list. The booty as a political statement? Need I say more?


5. Drop Dead Gorgeous -- Used to think this one was a mockumentary until this year's election.

6. Best in Show -- So many things. Starbuck's. Outfits on dogs. Yellow bees. And how many kimonos should one really pack for a trip?

7. The Last Supper -- C'mon. Haven't you ever wondered what the world would be like if some people had never had the opportunity to come to power? Not that most of us would act on these thoughts. And then there's the whole roommate dynamic thing. Next time I watch this, I'm going to pair it with Shallow Grave. That is if I watch it again. This was by far Natasha's favorite of the day. I'm a little worried.

8. Serial Mom -- Probably my favorite John Waters flick. I like to sing along with the Barry Manilow songs. And to yell at the Patty Hearst character, "There's a reason why we have a color named 'winter white!'"

9. Transporter 2 -- I would have gone with the first one but I've seen it in the last couple of weeks. Every now and then a girl just needs some car chases and some basic ass whoopings. Leaves me with a nice warm glow.

10. La Femme Nikita -- Not that bullshit American remake but the original French movie.

After I came up with my viewing list, I realized that once more I had unconsciously created bookends. In case you didn't know, it would be the presence of Jean Reno. Almost made me want to throw The Professional into the middle of the mix. Next time. What the hell. Maybe I'll watch it today. Once you've caught two Luc Besson movies back-to-back, it's hard to stop.



Boris and Natasha are really down with the DVD marathons as well. We each have our own spot on the bed.

What are some of your feel good movies/DVDs?

* I'm not really sure if I hate Paris since I've never been there. But I do love Cole Porter.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Last Christmas



Most years holiday dinners have been a potluck for my family but last year was different. My aunt insisted on cooking the whole meal. It had been at least ten years since she had cooked a whole meal on her own. I had sat with her, when I went to drop off my Thanksgiving leftovers, and discussed the recipes that she planned to use. There was a great deal of disbelief amongst family members though. That's why they had asked for photographic proof of the meal.

I've been avoiding these photos for some time. But Christmas is past. And today I just miss her. It's been a hectic week and I just want to talk about it all with my best friend. But instead I think I'll wash dishes and keep watching the "NCIS" marathon. And eating the goodies I picked up at Poulet on Wednesday. This morning it was blintzes with blueberry sauce. Lunch?


Chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, dried figs & spinach with Focaccia stuffing with pecans, cranberries and leeks. All topped with Madeira giblet gravy.

Not pictured are the yummy winter greens with applewood bacon. And the orange trifle. There had been some latkes as well. I will need to savor what is left as they are closed until after the holidays, if I remember correctly. Thankfully I bought a whole quart of the gravy this time around.

Trapped in the 80s

Your result for The Ultimate Sixteen Candles Quiz...

Gnarly


You scored 100% You need to take a break from the 80's and join the rest of us in the 21st century!


Take The Ultimate Sixteen Candles Quiz
at HelloQuizzy



We won't even discuss my deep love of this movie. We won't talk about how I made clothes for myself in the mid-80s that were based upon the fashions that Molly Ringwald wore in John Hughes' movies. We won't talk about how Emerald and I used to say that we should have a girls' weekend centered around the 80s teen films of John Hughes.

Yep. We're going to ignore all of this and decide that my score was a complete fluke.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If you worked with me


First of all, you could have received this beauty in the gift exchange. It's a wine chiller in case you can't tell.


You would have also been greeted by this sight at 8:00 in the morning. The drinking officially started at 10:00. And continued for about 10 hours or so. Thank goodness I don't have to work today. But I do have to get cleaned up. Something about a date. For now I'm crawling back into bed though.

Music to movies






When I bought The Propellerheads's CD shortly after it's release, I was hooked. Apparently others were as well. Suddenly the songs started showing up in movies all over the place. As a result, my imagining of choreography was at times limited. I play their stuff when I want to feel all kinds of badass. I got that feeling from their music long before its appearance in movies. And so when I hear it in movies or commercials, I think to myself, "Gee. I wasn't alone in that feeling." The exception is their song "History Repeating." I spent countless, quite memorable hours dancing to that one in clubs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have seen the tape measure

In preparation for sewing on Sunday, I pulled out the box marked "notions." And in it I found three tape measures. I know that I have said that I go by how my clothes fit but I was curious. Now I know why my clothes no longer fit. I've gained two inches in my hips. I kind of expected that. But my waist? Three to four inches.

I am bummed beyond belief. I might have to go back to my last successful weight loss plan.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gone to the dark side

I have resisted the call of Facebook for quite some time. Then on Friday I received an invite email from an old friend. In fact, I considered her one of my best friends throughout high school. We lost touch in college but reconnected at our ten-year reunion. (Oh, and by the way folks, I'm coming up on 25 years since graduating from high school. It seems kind of surreal. Where did the time go?) Ever since that reunion, we have been in constant contact. If you have received a forwarded email from me, it more than likely either came from this friend or my dad.

So seeing as this was someone whom I've known since age 12 -- and whose opinion I've always valued -- I found it rather hard to say, "No." The minute I signed up, I was suddenly being hit with friend requests from others from our graduating class. Apparently a good portion of my high school class is on Facebook.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up in Richmond -- a city that doesn't necessarily have the best reputation in the Bay Area. Then again some of us like it that way. It keeps the riffraff out. And every now and then I get that look of incredulity. "How can you be so intelligent? So well-spoken? You're from Richmond," is what the look says. And I thought of this as I read through profiles on Facebook. I was reminded that I went to high school with a group of extremely intelligent and talented people. I could understand how others might have been right if it had been merely a handful of us but it wasn't. And so when I look at my classmates, I know that those folks who say, "Ewwww Richmond," or something similar, really don't get it.

I think we're one tough bunch. I remember laughing in college over certain things that happened during my high school years. What? Not everyone experienced gang members running through their school with guns after a gang fight gone bad? You didn't have the experience of looking at some drugged out guy pull a hunting knife on you to rob the donut stand you and your classmates ran as a fundraiser? You didn't go to a school that only had day games because no one was coming into the neighborhood after the sun went down? That was the folks from other schools though.

I think that it made us ready for the worst that the world could hand us. At the same time, we were surrounded by teachers who truly believed in our abilities. And we believed in each other just as much. School was my safe place. I know it was for some of my other classmates as well. These were the people to whom I could say anything.

And maybe that's what's made me shy away from Facebook in the past. These are the people who know where the bodies are buried -- so to speak. (I even got a friend request from the guy who wanted to get married 12 years ago.) I cope, survive because there are certain parts of my past that I simply choose to ignore. But there were some good parts in that past and so now I'm just going to try to concentrate on those.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm getting a lump of coal




Your Christmas is Most Like: How the Grinch Stole Christmas



You can't really get into the Christmas spirit...

But it usually gets to you by the end of the holiday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where to shop

A few weeks ago, the Zombie couple picked up rings to celebrate their tenth anniversary at the mall near where I grew up. I go to this mall occasionally but for the most part I stopped shopping there years ago.

Why? I am the daughter of the shopaholic fashionista. The mall in our neighborhood? Over time it became known as being too "ethnic." Go into the Macy's there and ask for certain designer stuff that you know that the Macy's in most other locations in the Bay Area have and you get a blank stare. Or the recommendation to go to one of the other stores.

My aunt hated this shit. Why should she have to leave her community to buy the stuff that she wanted? My aunt lived in Oakland and was big on spending her dollars in Oakland. But often the major retailers just didn't have the level of things that she wanted. Because us ethnic folks just don't have the money to spend. Never mind the studies that say that African Americans spend a higher percentage of their disposable income on things like clothing than other groups. Nope. They just don't have as much money so they can't possibly be spending it on clothing and what not.

I spent many years being dragged around by my mom to malls in Marin County and eastern Contra Costa County. Why? Because the populations in these areas had a higher white percentage. And guess what? The higher the white percentage in an area, the higher the likelihood of finding "upscale" stuff in the stores.

But my favorite was back in the late 80s when my stepmother insisted upon giving me a Dooney and Bourke bag every year for Christmas. She would buy me these huge purses while I tend to prefer smaller ones. Besides I was a starving student at the time. So each year, I would go to Macy's -- where she purchased the bags -- to exchange them for something smaller. The first year I went to my local Macy's. I could not do the exchange without a receipt. I explained that it had been a gift. They told me that I should ask my stepmother for the receipt. (I guess this is why some stores now do gift receipts.) How could I ask my stepmother for the receipt? I took my bag back and went to the San Francisco store the next day. Instead of hearing, "Do you have a receipt?" I heard, "Have you selected which bag you would rather have?" This is when I stopped shopping at Macy's as much as I had in the past.

I could also tell tales about my years of living in Williamsburg. There was a local department store in town. A well known fact amongst the African American community was that you either needed to look like a professional or a student to get any service in the store. (Perhaps this is a bit off point but it feels like the same shit, if you ask me.) If I was not in business attire, then I made it a point to have a backpack with me when I entered this store. One time I was dressed casually and did not have my backpack with me. I was invisible. Until this one saleslady saw me and remembered me from my mother's visit to town a few months earlier. Because she remembered that I was a student. But what a load of crap.

Back in 2003, I went to Virginia for Christmas. Women there are closer to the average size for women than they are in California -- or at least that's my perception. I went shopping the day after Christmas with my aunt. At that time I wore a size 2 or 4. (I'm now firmly a size 4.) I finally found one size 4 in a store. My aunt looked at me like I was insane to be looking for anything under a size 8. Because the stores in Tidewater seem to start at size 8 is what I discovered. From what I gathered in my time living in this part of the U.S., size 8 is considered to be tiny. If you wear a smaller size than that, then you need to eat more.

Of course, a great deal of this is colored by my family experiences. My aunt with whom I went shopping is maybe a size 8. She is the smallest woman in our family, other than myself. My mom is about a size 12 while her mother is a size 22. At least that's the size that my grandmother wore the last time we shopped together. And from what I remember of that shopping trip was that she had plenty of choices. OK. So they were old lady choices. Because my Pentecostal grandma is super conservative in what she wears. But my mom's older sister, who is one of the most beautiful women I know, is often rocking something quite stylish. And except for height, she and grandma are pretty close in size.

And this is why I've always thought that the "black" stores carry larger sizes. I've always felt that we have been able to see the beauty in a woman regardless of her size more so than other groups. And maybe that's because many of us have never been the definition of what is beautiful in the dominant society over history. We set our own standards for beauty as a result. In my family, I at a size 4 or so am just as beautiful as the women who wear size 12 or 22. How could we not be? Look at our faces and you will see the same woman.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, these women -- my grandmother and my aunt -- are both emotional eaters. They'll tell you otherwise but I have witnessed it firsthand. I just happened to be blessed with a quicker metabolism. Otherwise, I would be them. My grandmother has complained for years about walking -- as in walking through the mall. It's because of this that I have mentioned losing weight to her. Shopping should not be a physically demanding activity in this way in my mind. And although she's 85, I'd like to keep her around a little longer. She's my sole living grandparent at this point.

Bottom line -- yes, I get pissed off with certain stores. And then I vow to never shop in them again. And I tell my friends about my experiences. I figure that if the store have enough of a drop in their earnings, then maybe they'll start to listen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

May karma kick you in the ass


Not all of you. Just those asshats who have been on the road over the last few days. Combine rain and the holiday season in the Bay Area and you have enough to induce something beyond road rage.

I reached my peak of tolerance last night. After work, I headed to my local Safeway on the way home. All I wanted was some wine. But the lot was packed. This never happens. And people were doing some really stupid driving maneuvers in the lot. About the time a space opened up, I had given up. I just didn't want to witness the carnage when one of these fools rammed a vehicle into that of another of the fools. It was time to head home.

And then I remembered that Poulet carries wine. Besides I needed to stop in there to drop off my holiday order. (I told you that I would be ordering from there. And I know it will be soooo good.) But I felt strange about just buying wine there. I mean I had pie. And the receptionist at work had told me that it was perfectly acceptable to have just pie and wine for dinner but... I wanted to try the duck shepherd's pie but it was being served with brussel sprouts. Oh hell to the no. They didn't even have butter on them. So I went with the chicken Waldorf salad. And then I spotted that beauty -- the one in the photo. Oh hell. Throw that in as well. By the time I got home I had forgotten what the stuffing was so I had to dive in. I found polenta, cubed eggplant, and tomatoes. Have I mentioned my love of eggplant recently? Well, in case you've forgotten, I love the stuff. So yeah, one day I may have to try to recreate this yumminess.

Oh, and please bear with me. I just recently migrated my comments. As a result, I will be finally making those changes to my template over the next week that some of y'all have pointed out as well as those necessary to make comments the way that I want them. Ya know? Those of y'all who use IE since the text in posts seems to do some weird shit in IE. I know. I looked at this blog at work where I am forced to live in IE hell. But next week I have some time off and I think it will be time to do some maintenance around here. In between partying.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In search of a post

I'm feeling a little guilty right now. My last two posts? One was a quiz and the other about music. I feel like I'm dialing it in.

It's not that I haven't thought about posts over the last few days. There were many moments over this past weekend during which I thought, "I should write about this." Then I remembered that these things fell into areas about which I no longer blog.

I picked up lunch for myself and others in my office on Monday. I took a photo of the food. I thought that I would write about it. It was going to be a whole discussion about the lack of green in the chile verde. Until I started burping up the stuff the whole drive home that evening and found myself wondering, "Will I make it home in time?" At work yesterday, I told my coworkers about this. Three out of the four of us felt ill after that meal. I won't be returning to that place ever again.

Before this I had meant to write about the holiday party I attended on Saturday night -- at the wonderful Fairmont. I was the only one from my company who attended minus a plus one. The president of the company told his wife -- and everyone else at the table -- how he told the senior vice president that he should show up to be my "date" for the evening. So I kind of have a crush on the guy -- lack of dating and all -- but he didn't show. (And I have a firm rule against dating coworkers. But I question this instance at times because if things worked out, I could be a trophy wife. I think I'm well-suited for that role.) My mom was concerned about the music thing at the party. Except for my boss, all of the guys from my company danced with me at some point in the evening.

The receptionist and I got into a huge discussion about the holidays yesterday. She said, "Why can't people just say 'Merry Christmas?'" I pointed out to her that not everyone celebrates Christmas. She said that my answer was the same as her sister-in-law's. Her sister-in-law is a public school teacher. (I've known this for some time.) I pointed out that in public schools it's important to not show any kind of religious preference. In case you're wondering, Christmas is a completely secular thing for me as I am a Pagan. I can't believe I just wrote that. Because saying that you're Pagan can be tantamount to saying that you're a devil worshiper. I'm not. The concept of the devil is a purely Christian concept. So yeah, I love it when someone else tries to impose their belief system onto mine. But I really love it when someone celebrates a holiday that is really about my belief system. (Except for the crass consumerism.) Ranks right up there in the lack of knowledge of the appropriation of customs and traditions from other groups. Because to do so would mean that one would have to acknowledge that these other groups exist/matter. (And yeah, I've had this cheery holiday discussion with family members in the past. When others doubted the veracity of my statements, my uncle, the imam, told them that I had done a good job with my research and that I was correct.)

At dinner on Saturday, one coworker's wife, who had attended "finishing school" in her youth, pointed out the three taboo subjects in polite conversation -- politics, religion and sex. As a rule, I usually try to veer clear of these subjects just as I know the proper fork to use. (I told my mother after the dinner about realizing that a soup was going to be served simply by looking at the place setting. Followed by a salad. And that there would be red and white wine as well from the same.) And so while I avoid the topics at company functions, I think I would be untrue to myself to do so here.

So this is all I have right now. My father is going to Mexico for Christmas and I'm trying my best to not feel like an orphan once more. But once he returns, he wants to discuss finances with me and my stepbrother. (My stepbrother is currently in the hospital, by the way. Maybe he'll get a kidney soon. Just like my mom's brother. I'm so done with this shit.) There are things that were supposed to be coming to me upon my father's death that may be coming to me now.

So along with the grief, I've been dealing with a wild roller coaster of other stuff. Good thing that I like roller coasters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My father's ringtone



When I was about 11, I "borrowed" a couple of albums from my dad. I say this because I did not return them to him until I was in my 20s -- perhaps my 30s. These albums spoke to me in some way.

One of these albums was Bob James's "Touchdown." It contains the song "Angela." Most of you know it as the theme song to the show, "Taxi." While I have always loved "Taxi," the song has always been "Angela" to me.

A few years ago when the technology was finally in place to use parts of songs as a ringtone, I assigned this song to my dad. Although I would have known it through TV, my love of the song started when he bought the album. (When I did hang out with my dad after my parents's divorce, my dad and I would go out record shopping once a month. And then go home to listen to each of our selections. I listened to his jazz and he got to hear the Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Oingo Boingo, Billy Joel, or whatever else I was into at the time.) The bad thing is that I love the song so much that sometimes I don't want to pick up the phone when he calls. I just want to let the music keep on playing.

It seems that my love of Bob James was inevitable. He is apparently heavily sampled in hip hop. So if I hadn't found him through my fathers -- both my dad and my "dad" love Bob -- I would have found him otherwise.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Laugh if you want

My friend Marin often accuses me of being a hoarder. "Why does a single person need to have 15 pounds of flour and of sugar in the cupboard? And what's up with the five pounds of butter in the freezer?"

The food stuff? Started when I used to bake during the holiday season. And those three items are always on sale around this time of year so I stock up.

OK. Maybe it goes back to my childhood. My grandparents kept a deep freezer on their farm. It contained the meat for the coming year as well as other items. I guess I'm kind of like Boris and worry about the food running out.




You Are 61% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression



Even though you may not be expecting the worst, you're the type of person who prepares for the worst.

You live a relatively modest life. You don't overspend, and you aren't very materialistic.



You are also quite self sufficient and independent. You have many useful skills.

You can take care of yourself and those you love... which is crucial to surviving another Great Depression.



61%? Think it's time to put some more stuff away. And obviously they did not recognize my deep love for Kate Spade.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Variety


When I make a soup or stew, I usually make two. I don't want to be stuck eating the same thing for days on end. Fortunately there was another recipe in "Bon Appetit" that I wanted to try. I whipped this up on Monday night.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Orange and Cumin

2 oranges
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 15.5-ounce cans seasoned black beans, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
Hot pepper sauce
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Chopped fresh cilantro

Grate enough orange peel to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons. Juice oranges. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and spices. Add beans, tomatoes, and half of orange juice. Simmer over medium heat until heated through and flavors blend, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Mix in orange peel and remaining orange juice. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with sour cream and cilantro. Pass extra hot sauce alongside.

****************************************

Now y'all know that I don't really measure. Like the onion? I chopped up a large one, eyeballed it, and decided that it was enough. The garlic? I went for five cloves but I really like garlic.

On Monday I thought that it was kind of sweet. I think in the future I'd use more cinnamon and cumin. Also I think the inclusion of the cilantro just might be necessary for this very reason. (As you can see from the photo, I skipped the cilantro. I had it. Just wasn't in the mood for chopping at that point. Might have something to do with the fact that I was on the phone at the time.) By Tuesday the sweetness seemed to have mellowed. Or maybe I was used to it. Oh, and because I like things really spicy, I did throw in a teaspoon or so of chipotle chile powder. Yes, I put in the hot sauce. Texas Pete, in case you're wondering. I only had about three or so tablespoons left in the bottle though. Not enough kick for me.

Bottom line -- yes, I will be making this again. I just have some tweaking to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Daddy's girl

My dad has always been a huge jazz aficionado. It's only natural that some of his fervor would rub off on me. At age 10 or 11 or so this became a favorite of mine -- right up there with Bob James and Claude Bollings.


Later I "discovered" the instrumental -- the original. And I fell in love with Dave Brubeck. I love him almost as much as I love Stan Getz. Many have come close but Stan will continue to hold my heart.


And now I'll let you into a little secret. If I'm not dancing to music, then I see a whole routine in my mind. And this song? Always makes me imagine something along the lines of Jerome Kerns' (I hope I have remembered the choreographer correctly.) choreography for "Westside Story."

Monday, December 8, 2008

I did it!


Saturday morning I awoke bright and early per usual. This time, for the first time in weeks, I did not go back to sleep though. I had an appointment to get to. And then I was home slightly before noon. I was up, dressed, and had energy. So I set to some cleaning.

The cleaning is not complete but it's at least good enough that I actually feel like doing stuff other than watching TV and reading. And wouldn't you know it? The latest issue of "Bon Appetit" showed up in my mailbox on Saturday.

I did some other errands on Sunday, made a brief stop at the Zombie household and then took the plunge. Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday afternoon can turn me into an evil shrew. Fortunately the parking lot was much worse than the store.

And I was really glad to have my new parking space when I got home. I double-parked in front of my building to unload because folks were parked all fucked up -- per usual. But this time I was able to pull into my space behind the building instead of circling incessantly looking for a space.

A little more cleaning. A little bit of wanting to throttle the neighbor who let their clothes sit in the dryer for over a half hour.

And in between I made up a pot of Mussel and Fennel Bisque. (Hmmmm. Apparently this recipe is not posted on Epicurious. And while I have more energy, I don't think I have enough to type the whole recipe right now. If you really want it, email me.) Normally I would have gone for the clam juice but this time I used the chicken broth. I just wasn't in the mood for something that fishy. I know. Me. The woman who loves just about everything that lives in water not wanting something to be too fishy. Doesn't matter though. It was great. Paired with half a small baguette and a salad and it was heaven.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Her favorite


Chili calamari crunch



Eggrolls

Garlic noodles with shaken beef

This was supposed to be the post on Friday and then when I slacked off, the post on Saturday. (It was all about the photos.) Never mind. Now you have it.

My stepmother used to say that I was a spoiled brat. I learned from the best -- my father's younger sister.

Last year she pointed out to my dad that she had not had a party for her sixtieth birthday. (She was too sick from chemo at the time to party.) So my dad told his baby sister to plan her party and he would pick up the tab.

My aunt ended up renting out Vo's for an evening. There were at least 80 folks there. And when the cake was served, we all took turns saying what we loved about her. Looking back a year later, I realize that she made it possible to be present at her own wake. So many signs that I missed along the way. Because as soon as she died, it all suddenly made sense. (And yeah, I'm pretty angry these days. Why couldn't she just be straight with me?)

I've known for several months that my company would be moving -- to a location that is about a ten minute drive to my aunt's house. My aunt and I discussed it all during the days before her death. I thought that we would move and it would be easier to spend more time with her. By the time it finally happened though, she was gone.

And that's yet another facet that I don't think that they get at work. I know our new area well because of my aunt. She lived there since the mid-70s. (Of course one of the project managers gave me a hug last Monday after he heard about my Thanksgiving.)

So Thursday for lunch, I called in an order to Vo's -- one of her favorites. I had enough food for lunch and dinner. Good thing since I haven't cooked in weeks.

And then it hit me. I had gotten angry in August because I had wanted my friends to go out once a month, like my aunt had suggested that we do. But going to her favorite restaurants? This is something that I can do completely alone and so not have to worry about getting pissed off with friends. And that Christmas dinner she cooked last year? The first time she cooked in about 10 years. She ate out most nights. And that means that I have so many possibilities waiting for me out there -- some of which I've never sampled.

And hopefully there will be no more photos taken with my phone after this point as I have now received my new batteries.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Single serving


I had thought about saving this post until tomorrow. OK. So I meant to post it last night but my belly was full and... Well, you get the picture.

Why couldn't this wait? Because it seems that this weekend all the grocery stores around here have the ever so fabulous Dungeness crab on sale. At the bigger chain, they're $2.99 a pound while at Astronomico's, they are $3.99 a pound. That baby came from Astronomico's. Why? Because while chatting with "Mom" on the way to the store, she asked, "Where do those ones in the big chain come from? You know the ones at Astronomico's are going to be local. The last time I had a non-local crab, it just wasn't as sweet." "Mom" knows best. Sometimes it's best to pay a little extra. The crabs at Astronomico's were indeed local.

Oh, and yes that is the crab at home. Because I never have them clean and crack them at the store. That's part of the fun for me. Besides for those times when I am need of crab meat, I have found that I can clean and pick a whole crab in about 15 minutes.

A single crab only feeds multiple folks if it is being used in a dish, in my opinion. That's right. I believe in one crab per person -- unless you're talking blue crabs. In that case, you might need about a half dozen or so per person. Usually I go with butter for dipping purposes but this time I went with an association from childhood. Thousand Island dressing always screams crab meat to me. (And somehow the cats didn't lose their minds while I dined. I'm really starting to think that Natasha wants to become a vegetarian.)

So anyway, y'all go out there and get ya some crab. You won't regret it (unless you're allergic to it). I'm heading back to the kitchen to get the other one out of the fridge. And to see if I can clear some freezer space for some more. Or to figure out where I can put a freezer...

Let the madness begin!

I found this over at Cursing Mama's and just thought it was perfect for this time of year.




You Are a Discount Shopper



You love to get things as cheaply as possible. You live for sales.

It's partially because you like to save money, but it's also because you like the thrill of finding a fabulous deal.



Of all the types, you tend to shop frequently but rarely by. You keep an eye on prices.

Brand names are not that important to you. You know how to have style without collecting designer tags.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

But where are the creations?

In my mind these days. Still settling in at the new office; things will be much better there when the friggin' T1 is finally installed. And my home is in desperate need of cleaning -- a result of the emotional slump. I cannot create in mess. Probably because I know that I'll just end up creating more mess. But I need to deal with the mess because it's like the neverending cycle. Perhaps Saturday. Right now it's just too much to handle after working all day. Or perhaps I should just go my aunt's route and hire a cleaning service. But I'd have to clean before I'd let any cleaning service in.

In the meantime, I've been busy exploring the new work neighborhood. When we have an internet connection, I look for new restaurants to try.


Yesterday's choice was Mama Lupe's Cocina. I tried their large combo of chile relleno and chicken enchiladas. These are the items I usually use for testing a Mexican restaurant. I figure that if they fuck these up, then everything else is going to be awful as well. But all the online reviews of the place were pretty positive. The receptionist at work was quite curious when I returned with my food. She marveled at how the enchiladas were not drowned in a heavy sauce. By the end of the day after seeing and smelling my food, she asked me to see the menu that I had. And then I called them to find out the pricing on the tamales for Christmas. (They have a sign in their window advertising them.) $15.50 for a dozen and $3.50 for the sauce. I may just have to order a dozen or two.

Because as if you haven't guessed it already, I will be returning there. Perhaps once a week. And next time I'll have to try the tamales. Or the chile verde. Or the albondigas. Since online reviewers seemed to like those items quite a bit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So-so day at work?



The move at work has not been a smooth one. We moved on 21 November. As of Monday, we were still having huge computer issues. As in for most of the day, we had no access to the internet, email or files that reside on the server as well as the accounting database. (In my eight hour workday, I'd say that all things were down for about seven hours.) What happens when I don't have access to these things? Oh, I rearrange my files. That took about a half hour. The rest of the day? Reading blogs and personal email on my phone. Oh, and playing games on my phone as well. We all kept muttering under our breath, "Can't we just go home?" But nope. Didn't happen.

I think I've mentioned it before but I'm kind of an emotional eater. Thankfully I have been blessed most of my life with a pretty good metabolism. Feeling a little stressed? It's either feast or famine. This time I opted for feast.

One of the websites I checked out during the day was the one for Gregoire. Because new month, new menu. Unfortunately the folks at Poulet are a bit slow at posting their new menu. Anywho. I decided I really deserved this one pound baby from Maine. And potato puffs. And banana and walnut bread pudding with chocolate sauce. So upon reaching home, I called in my order and headed down the street.

First stop? Poulet to pick up the printed December menu. Such an awful assault on my senses. They had this yummy looking chicken in a paprika sauce. If I hadn't already ordered the lobster... But I had. Next Monday. Next stop was Astronomico's because lobster deserves a glass of chardonnay. At least the folks at Poulet carry wine so that one only has to make the one stop.

By the time I reached Gregoire my order was ready. I hightailed it home. And I was not disappointed. And for once Natasha was not begging for a potato puff. Don't know what it is about those things but she loses her mind when I bring them home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some days I'm a ...



Another song I love currently. And if you want to see the actual video, click here. It almost seems like a dream. New Brit Brit, Beyonce and Xtina. It's like I hit the friggin' trifecta. Squeeee!



And speaking of Xtina, I still love this song deeply. But everytime I see her in the video, I want to ask, "Did Diddy make you hit the tanning booth?"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leftovers


Turkey hash


Red potato, diced
Green onions (scallions)
Bell pepper (I prefer to use red, yellow or orange)
Butter
Cooked turkey, diced
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper
Chicken broth

Boil potato in salted water until just soft. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in skillet. Add onions and bell pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add drained potatoes. Cook until just starting to brown. Add turkey and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes more to warm turkey. Add chicken broth and cook until all is bound together.

******************************************


Sorry for the lack of measurements. It's kind of like when I make chicken and dumplings. Look at how much meat you've got and everything else falls into place.

This time I didn't use a lot of chicken broth because I still had some of the yummy madeira giblet gravy around. And hash is not really complete for me unless it's topped with poached eggs. As I was putting the eggs into the water, I suddenly remembered the need for an English muffin. Because hash always has to have some sort of bread topped with Bartlett pear jam from The Wild Pear. Yes, I drive all the way out to Pt. Reyes Station for this jam. And it is well worth the $8 $10 a jar. It tastes just like a ripe pear.

I know I said that there'd be none of that emotional stuff here but right now it's a lot of who I am. I think Boris and Natasha realize what's going on since they haven't left my side the entire time. And Natasha has really enjoyed the endless movie viewing. Oh, and there were episodes of "Ned and Stacey" as well. For some reason, the second season is not available on DVD. Humph! And if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It will always be one of my favorites. Damn Fox for canceling it.

I was so thankful for the cats over these last few days that I almost "dropped" a piece of turkey on the floor for Natasha yesterday. But then Boris came in and we know that greedy bastard would never be satisfied with just one piece. It would just lead to endless begging. So no turkey for Natasha. She was more fascinated with the smell of the onion, bell pepper and potato anyway. I am starting to suspect that she could become a vegetarian very easily -- except for the need to eat an occasional fly. But that? She's just trying to keep things tidy around here.

Oh, and here's a question for y'all. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in possession of $25,000? I'm just curious because I already know what I want. Just wondering what you would do with it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Necessity

Yesterday I was forced to finally leave home because I needed some food items. (You'll see that tomorrow.) This still remains my primary communication with the "outside world" though. After taking calls from my mom's family and my mother on Thursday, I decided that I was done with talking to people on the phone -- except at work. I started letting calls go to voicemail and if I knew whom the message was from, I didn't bother listening to it. Because if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm pretty depressed and pissed off with the world in general. We all have triggers and mine have been pretty bombarded over this past week. But then I decided to suffer through the messages. One was from Zombie Mom -- and yes, I will admit it. When she called, I just sat and watched the phone ringing. That's how foul a mood I've been in. About an hour later, I listened to her message. Looks like I might just be heading out later today as well. And then later I actually answered my dad's phone call and told him exactly how I felt.

Anywho. I headed out. Because I had waited so late in the day, I first had to walk to the main post office as I needed to send off my response card for that $100 a plate dinner. (Sorry folks but my RSVP was for one.) The RSVP is supposed to be in by Monday and that post office is the only place, save driving into Oakland, that still had a pickup for Saturday. Then it was off to Safeway, Ciao Bella, and Poulet -- in that order. I told you I needed stuff. And the guy who rang me up at Poulet asked if I had had special plans for the weekend. When I responded that I did not, he asked, "Laying low, huh?"

On the way home, I regretted not having a battery for my camera at this time. (I'm trying hard not to go into the rant of how that happened.) As I strolled along Shattuck, there was a group of people staring at the night sky. Of course, I looked up. Sitting low in the sky was a lovely crescent moon. But up higher were these two lone bright "stars" in the sky -- Jupiter and Venus. This combination of sites is not supposed to be possible again until 2052. The real beauty of it all was that since it was early evening (around 6:00 pm), none of the real stars were visible.

Perhaps I am boring you but I have always been fascinated with the night sky. I remember that when I was a kid, occasionally my mother would stand on the front porch with me and show me the constellations. Summers with my father's mother led to my love of mythology -- and understanding of the names of the constellations. I also remember being at a party, when I lived in Virginia, that was at Lake Matoaka. It was the wee hours of the morning and we all started studying the sky that was filled with so many stars while we were hanging out in the Amphitheater. And one of my friends pointed out the really bright star in the sky -- the Morning Star. And last night I finally got to see the Evening Star.

And so I headed out with one necessity in mind and found another need partially filled -- a feeling of belonging. Or at least some clues of how to get there. Because just when I was finally starting to feel comfortable with being me, I also lost my sense of belonging -- my place in the world. And so I've cut off communication lines because I need time -- to mourn and to figure out what's next. And hopefully I can stop throwing tantrums at work. Because I like my job and really would hate to be fired.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My kind of dame

Your result for The Classic Dames Test...

Barbara Stanwyck

You scored 36% grit, 33% wit, 38% flair, and 2% class!


You're a tough dame, a bit of a spitfire, and you can even be a little dangerous, but you do it with such flair that almost all is forgiven (and even when it's not, you're still the most interesting woman in the room). You can be witty and charming, all right, but you have a tough streak that keeps you focused and sometimes deadly. You've had quite a climb to get where you are, but you're a hard worker and you mostly deserve all you get...and then some. You might end up destroying everything around you, but you must admit...you've got style. Your leading men include Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and when you forget yourself, Gary Cooper.


Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.


Take The Classic Dames Test
at HelloQuizzy



I must admit that I've always loved old Barbara Stanwyck movies. Her and Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn. I grew up watching their movies and aspired to be their characters in some shape or form. Audrey was another tale though. Except for her possible eating disorder, she was admirable both on and off screen.

Makes me think of one of my conversations with my mother in this past week. The young woman whom I have been tutoring along with her foster parents have been visiting my mother this past week. Right before they left, she received her report card. 3.7!!! But my mother says that her table manners are atrocious as well as some other basic etiquette skills. Apparently my mother told her to observe me when she returns home -- how to sit, how to eat, etc. That's right. The chick who sometimes has the mouth of a sailor is being held up as the epitome of proper social skills. Then again, I do clean up well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

More other people's food



One of my coworkers was shocked when I said that I would not be cooking this year for Thanksgiving. So much has changed. My aunt has died. My stepmother has died. My father is spending the holiday weekend in Alabama. The last time my mother and I were in the same place for Thanksgiving was in 1983. I used to spend Thanksgiving weekend sharing my leftovers with family members. But this year? My parents are still alive and I feel like an orphan. I had invitations to be elsewhere but let's be honest. Over the last few weekends, I have barely gotten out of bed. After Friday night, I rarely speak to anyone until Monday morning other than my father. Because he calls. And occasionally I make it over to the Zombie household on Sundays -- late in the day.

In the past, it was always a choice to not spend Thanksgiving with my parents. This year I suddenly did not have the choice. It was a bit devastating. I attribute this, along with moving at work, to my weakened immune system. Because I've worked with kids for years and almost never gotten sick. Then again, while the first day of it all was horrid, I have been recovering from the ick rather quickly as compared to others. So maybe those years with the kids has paid off.

After almost a week straight of dining at Poulet last week, I gave into their charms and ordered Thanksgiving dinner from them. Here's the menu I chose. (And yeah, I love me some gravy as evidenced by the photo.)

  • Turkey from Diestal
  • Focaccia stuffing with chard and sage
  • Giblet madeira gravy
  • Roasted root vegetables (yams, parsnips and carrots)
  • Green beans with shallots and pecans
  • Cranberry orange relish
  • Pumpkin sweet potato pie with whipped cream
They had pre-printed directions on how to reheat everything. The green beans were actually just blanched. They came with a small container of shallot butter. Once melted, the beans and pecans were tossed in it until warm. So I kind of cooked. Oh, and the pie? That's right beyotches. I have a whole pie for myself. And yeah, the pie came with a container of whipped cream. How cool is that?

As I finished off the plate of food -- funny how I can actually eat a whole plate of food if I don't have to cook it -- I came to a realization. Holidays, at best, just mean a day off from work for me at this point. And so when I hear other people going on about how they're excited about spending a day with family, I just don't get it. I mean I do but I don't. And that's what sucks about this time of year. When people don't understand why it's all OK with me. I've had years to get used to it all and have reached some level of acceptance of this is how it just is. This is how it has always been; I just forgot temporarily.

So please excuse me if I say I am tempted to say that I just vomited in my mouth in comments in response to various posts out there over the next few weeks. Because I suppose I'd love to have that Norman Rockwell/Hallmark kind of holiday season but that's just not reality for me -- and I'm sure for plenty of other folks out there as well. And hearing people say, "This is what the holidays are about." Really not fucking feeling it. Best part of this weekend to date? The food from Poulet and the time to catch up on some of my reading while having a cat curled up next to me. Because so far this is the first weekend in some time that I have not felt like curling up in bed. Well, I do but I just can't sleep anymore. I guess I'm too pissed off to sleep.

But you know what I really wonder? What's going to be on the menu at Poulet for Christmas? I know that next year I'll be ordering for Passover as well. Loved what I saw on their menu this year for that holiday but didn't order. (You don't have to be Jewish to order for Passover, do you?) Oh, and can January 2 come quick enough?

Please excuse the photos. They were taken with my phone. I don't have a battery at this time for my camera. I'd love to tell you about how that came to be but I'd end up being the screaming banshee that I was at work on Tuesday once more. In the meantime, I am trying to figure out where I will get the $80 to replace my battery and charger. Especially since I now have the one parking space at my building -- at a cost of $75 a month. But I'm thankful for that space as it means no longer having to circle for half an hour at times looking for parking. And I wish that some beyotch has the audacity to park their shit in my space.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Time keeps on slipping

I only have a few weeks until the first of the holiday parties to which I have been invited. I have to send in my RSVP for the party by the end of this week.

This party is a work-related one. It's a $100 a plate thing at the Fairmont. I know what I will wear to it, if I attend. The only question is the date thing. (I know I said that I would not discuss dating here but this is different.) My company is footing the bill and I am allowed to bring a date. As such, my mother feels that I should scrape up a date. But it's work. And the Fairmont. And did I mention that it's work? Because I never discuss dating at work. And to show up with a date? Kind of like showing up to a family wedding with a date, in my mind.
I used to have guys upon whom I could call in this kind of a situation but not so much anymore. So part of me says that it's better to show up stag.

The next weekend I have to attend a party with my dad. This one is formal. And I still don't have a dress. I'm leaning toward this dress though. Yes, I know it is Sacramento in late fall/early winter but it's all about looking cute.

The last party is the office holiday party. I'm planning that one. No worries there. Except for finalizing the menu over the next couple of weeks.

*sigh* I love the holiday season -- as long as I am working in the right place. This is all almost reminiscent of my days with the Death Star.

And for those of y'all in the States, have a happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ugh!

So it seems that I have fallen victim to whatever has been going around. It started yesterday while at work. I just couldn't seem to get warm. And then I started feeling achy all over. The final straw? When my GI tract decided that it hates me. I actually stayed at work with my low-grade fever, sipping on a giant cup of 7-Up throughout the day.

It kind of sucks because tonight I'm going to pick up all my yummy Thanksgiving food from Poulet. But then I started to think about those five pounds...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who are you to me?



Back in the early part of my partygirl days, I learned one thing. If a guy bought you a drink at the club, he suddenly thought you were his property. Say what? I used to say, "I'm not married to you so you can't come at me like that. Besides you paid for what? One drink? All I owe you is pleasant company." What I left out was, "Until the next best thing comes along."

Hmmm. Perhaps this has contributed to the fact of why I am still single. Whatever. At this point in my life, I'm just not ready to give up my independence. Unless your name is Clive Owen. Or perhaps Daniel Craig. Or Don Cheadle. Or Hugh Jackman. Or Terrance Howard. Or Benjamin Bratt. Just sayin'. A girl's gotta have standards. (And yes, I realize that all except one are presently married.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Silly me

Friday after starting to unpack the endless boxes at work, I headed out to have my roots touched up. On the way home, I realized that I should have taken one of the dolls from Zombie Mom so that I could make sure the clothing fits properly. So after wine and much laughing, I headed home.

I did the usual thing of feeding the cats first before settling in. There I was, poised with remote control and book -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in case you're interested -- when I noticed something was amiss. No cigarettes. So out I headed with no shoes to my car to retrieve them. I re-entered my building with no problem. But quickly discovered that there was no longer a key to my apartment on the key chain. It had fallen off somewhere. After searching outside, I quickly surmised that the key was inside my apartment.

I collapsed by the front door, all the while hearing Boris scratching and mewing on the other side of the door. I straightened a wire ring from my key chain and attempted to pick the lock. Alas, my lock picking abilities have disappeared. One of my neighbors let me in to use the phone. He called the emergency service number. They said to call a locksmith. I called a few. Prices ranged from $150 to $200. I decided that I'd rather not spend money that way. At first I was going to sleep in my car but it was a rather chilly evening on Friday. I then headed back the warmer hallway.

Finally around 2:00 AM I decided to do the three block or so trek to Random Boy's apartment. Fortunately I had left a pair of shoes in my car so I put those on first. And put my hood on my head. And tried my best to look as tough as possible. Fortunately he is a light sleeper and answered the door quickly. Might have something to do with the fact that for once on a Friday night, he was sober.

Saturday morning I headed back to my building and got the number to the building manager who lives in another building a block away. She had something on the stove so if I could run down there, she'd be more than happy to give me a key.

The lesson here? Time to find another neighbor to entrust with my spare key.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes it comes from other people

Originally I had thought of calling this "A week at Poulet."

It all started on Monday night. I don't know if I've mentioned it before (and I'm too lazy to look) but my company moved this past week. Everything had to be packed by the end of the day Thursday. This left me with little, if any, energy when I got home from work.


Monday night I popped over to Poulet because the special was coq au vin. But before I could order I saw the desserts -- apple tart and chocolate chip bread pudding. I was at a loss. Finally I ordered both. And then I ordered the coq au vin because I did need something to go with the desserts.



Tuesday night I went back with another idea. I was inspired by Abby's post but they didn't have any of the grilled chicken breasts. They did have chicken breast with a mustard and vermouth cream sauce served with butternut squash though. And apple galette.




Thursday night I went back in search of grilled chicken breasts. They had them -- as well as Cordon bleu chicken rollups and carrot walnut cake. And Waldorf chicken salad that I bought for lunch on Friday.


Saturday night I finally got around to Abby's "recipe." She said that she doesn't really think of it as being a recipe because it involves cans of things. I decided to take the non-recipe thing one step further by using chicken that had already been cooked -- by someone else. And it almost didn't happen because I spent a panicked ten minutes trying to locate the enchilada sauce. (See, Nat? Sometimes we all have those days. And as evidenced above, I don't know how I'd survive without Poulet.)

And this week? Normally I'd be busy shopping for Thanksgiving. This year, I decided to not cook though. Instead I placed an order when I was at Poulet on Thursday night. I'll be picking up my food Wednesday evening.

Perhaps soon I'll get back to cooking but for now my energy is all into unpacking at work and the great sewing project. One good thing about not cooking? This past week for the first time in some time, I was able to wear my size 4 khakis from Old Navy and they remained comfortable throughout the day. So maybe it's about a little heavy lifting and not eating my own cooking.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Damn lutefisk!

Your result for The What country are you? Test...

Sweden

Your country is 69 concerned with morals, 68 prosperous, 73 liberal, and 42 aggressive!

Your country is highly liberal, and, to tell you the truth, your citizens are happy to pay higher taxes in exchange for government-sponsored comfort. You're not a very aggressive country, however--until the scent of Lutefisk starts to waft over from your neighbor to the west.

For your information, the possible countries in this test include: Haiti, North Korea, Albania, Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, Poland, India, Singapore, China, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Libya, Tanzania, East Timor, Lithuania, Indonesia, Iran, Canada, Israel, Sweden, Australia, Germany, or the United States of America.

Take The What country are you? Test

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still a liar

I said none of that emotional stuff here. I changed my mind. Only on Friday. Because when I cook, sew, knit -- it's all filled with emotion. And part of me thinks the why of it all is so important.

These three things have one thing in common. I get lost in the activity. So much so that I can forget everything else. Even eating. Well, except when I'm cooking.

When I cook, I taste along the way. Thing is that I often taste so much that I'm not hungry once it's all done. I think I mentioned that before. Often the food in photos is just for that purpose. After the photo has been taken, I wrap the food up and put it away in the fridge for the next day.

Knitting is a little better. Except at some point my wrists or elbows start to ache. Back when I was in college, I gave myself tennis elbow from knitting. Or at least that's what the nurse told me. So with knitting, I pace myself.

There is no pain from sewing. I can remember times that I sat in front of the sewing machine for ten, twelve hours. And then I would remember that except for juice, I had not put anything into my stomach. I would light a cigarette and rest it in the ashtray after taking the initial puff. When I looked again, it would have burned out, completely spent. I lose myself in fabric.

At one point in undergrad, I went to talk with a design school. I remember saying how I can look at a bolt of fabric and see the finished piece in my mind. I remember describing this to my aunt. She told me that not everyone can see this. I was shocked because I had always thought that everyone else could see what I saw.

During undergrad, my wardrobe was mostly a mixture of things that I made and things that I bought at thrift/vintage stores. And the things that I made? Once folks learned that I had made them, they would ask me to make the same for them.

There were two things that kept me sane during my time in law school -- sewing and photography. During those years, I created a stuffed animal wearing an outfit. I made it for my little cousin around Easter and made her a dress that matched the one her new stuffed animal was wearing. Her mother suggested that I change the colors on the dress as the animal was a symbol for a sorority. I made one for her to give to a friend but before I gave it to her I showed it some of my classmates. I got orders for more. And I made one for my dad's older sister as well. She told me that all her sorors, upon seeing it, wanted one as well. But I was busy with school. When I decided to leave law school, one of my dad's brothers mentioned the stuffed animals. (Actually this would be the uncle who pissed me off in the planning of my aunt's funeral back in July. I think we found peace at my stepmother's funeral though.) He wanted me to calculate start up costs because he was willing to invest.

The thing that has stopped me over the years is my mother's voice in my head. "This is something you do as an avocation, not a vocation." That's something with which I've battled. How could someone who claims that they think highly of me have so little trust in my abilities? Because everyone in my family -- my father's side as well as my mother's -- believed in my abilities. It was just my mother who thought that I was setting myself up for failure. And so now I wonder what could have been if I hadn't walked around for so many years with that voice in my head.

And now after all these years, I am ready to stop listening to that voice. I'm ready to re-commit myself to that which I love so much that I can even forget about food. Because I am now starting to realize that this is what the whole blogging thing has really been about. Being able to take the real risks.

What's in a name?

Yeah, I know that I said that I wouldn't do the emotional stuff over here but just allow me this one post. Because it's not really all that emotional.

That name I used on that other blog? (Well, actually three blogs if you want to be exact.) I came up with that one on the spur of the moment. (It's from a book if you're wondering.) When I created that person, I was trying to find my voice again and my love of writing. Mission accomplished. But then I realized that there were other parts of me that had been forgotten over the years and I was now ready to reclaim those parts of me as well. Funny how I had to be someone else for almost four years to become comfortable with being me. To find me.

My parents were kind of hoping for a boy when I was born. They had not really given much thought to names for a girl. So when they were told that they had had a girl, they were kind of stumped. Originally my name was supposed to be Alexandra. I've always liked that name. (In fact that used to be my bar name -- just like "Jade" was my best friend's bar name.) The name they ended up giving me? Not so much.

I made my first attempt to change my name at age four. I came home from nursery school and announced that my name was now Suzanne. I also remember being Tonya and Linda at various times as well. I forget the other names I tried out over the years. For some reason, my mother refused to call me by any of these other names.

Around age 12, my mother gave me a suggestion. I misheard her. What I heard was "Kailyn." What she really said was a variation of my real name. After I realized my mistake, I decided to stick with Kailyn.

As I said earlier this week, I have been making doll clothing since age seven. By the time I was 12, I was starting to tweak patterns to make them what I really wanted. I was also making dolls to wear these fashions. (I've never been able to draft a pattern from scratch. Instead I find a pattern that is close to what I want and then alter it into what I really want it to be.) I started signing my drawings with the name Kailyn. By the time I was 18, it had morphed into Kailyn's Creations.

All those other names were me trying to escape from who I was but Kailyn, in being a play on my actual name. has always been a part of me. Kailyn was the woman the 12-year-old me wanted to be. And while I may not have all the things that the 12-year-old me wanted -- a husband, three to five kids, a house sitting on at least an acre so that besides having cats I could have dogs, horses, and various rodents and reptiles -- I like to think that the 12-year-old me would still be pretty happy with the present me. And those other things? They could still happen.

And so it seemed only natural to let go of that other name in creating this blog. Because for the first time in a long time, I think I'm honestly happy with being me. It has been a long road getting here and while part of the journey was painful, I now know that it was all part of the process. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Organic


So I'm trying to get back to my first love -- sewing. My dear friend, Zombie Mom enlisted me to make doll clothing for her daughters. Yep, the former partygirl has been making doll clothing since age seven. You have something to say? Because I'll gladly meet you outside. I'm from Richmond, beyotch. And even if I wasn't, I've taught in East Oakland. I have armor that most of the rest of you cannot even conjure up in your deepest fantasies. And I used to relate really well with those kids because just like them, I learned how to protect my heart at an early age. But I said I wasn't doing the emotional stuff here so please ignore that momentary lapse.

Doll clothing is different than clothing for humans. For humans, I usually start with a sketch and work from there. But doll clothing? Doesn't require much fabric. Therefore, over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of scraps and remnants. With doll clothing, I start by diving into my fabric collection until I find something that "speaks" to me. (Kind of like Crazy Carla on Top Chef.) Then I do a rough sketch of what I want to create. Of course, sometimes the doll clothing is a smaller scale of something that I have thought of for humans. Actually that's what I am trying to work toward.

Anywho, that's how I have spent the last couple of weeks. Going through the fabrics, looking for inspiration. And making the list of other things that I will need. It started with the velvet in the first grouping. I sketched out a couple of ideas. Then I hit Stonemountain & Daughter on Monday night for the second grouping. Because after sketching I went in with a shopping list. Still in need of materials for shoes. I'm thinking a boot. Oh, and I'm hoping to use the velvet in three different pieces. Wait until you see the other fantastic stuff I picked up. And that's all I'm going to say for now.