Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guilty pleasure

As I have said previously, I learned how to read music from my dad's older sister. This led to five years of piano lessons -- my choice.

The piano lessons? Four of those years were spent in the tutelage of a concert pianist. I have a great appreciation of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin as a result. Especially Chopin. Because there was always a chord in which I would have to drop a note as I lacked the reach. And my reach is an octave plus one, sometimes two. So that kind of scared me.

All the time folks would ask me to play popular music. I can make a fair attempt if I have heard it before. Because the biggest challenge is the rhythm. Classical music has clear cut rules about rhythmic notation. Not so in popular music.

There is another challenge with popular music though. Most of it is guitar-centered. When you play it on solo piano? Yeah, not quite right. And so I grew to love "standards" like Gershwin and Cole Porter because that stuff was written for piano for the most part. And then I expanded for a deep appreciation of Billy Joel and Elton John -- popular music in which the piano is the featured instrument.

Back in high school I had this fantastic Billy Joel songbook but then I let a friend borrow it. Never got it back. I've missed that book for years. And so when I realized that I would be reunited with my piano (albeit a out of tune piano), I decided that I needed to get some more Billy Joel. Back in May I ordered these books. I would have had them sooner if I had not made the mistake of ordering them along with Finger Lickin' Fifteen which was not released until last Tuesday.

But now I have the books. And I went through them this evening. And realized that I have spent a lot of time away from the piano. I'm thinking that I need to schedule some piano time in on a regular basis. Right after I find my 30 Day Shred time again once more.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The above photo? The source of much contention. And the source of my desire to really lay down some boundaries this summer. Because my mother would not know a boundary if it slapped her in the face.

Her behavior at my party was actually pretty good. Well, most folks would say this because they did not witness her full behavior.

My father had volunteered to bring wine. I quickly said, "Yes," since his taste is out of my usual price range. I was floored when he showed up with a full case. And then my real mom called late Saturday afternoon. She said that my mom had told her of my request to bring an ice chest. (I did this because I knew that she would freak out when she saw my dad had brought wine. Because it's always about her. And how she has been wronged.) They had an extra large ice bucket and volunteered to bring it. And then my real mom asked if I had anything sweet. I said that there was a cake. She suggested fruit and I told her to go pick it up.

And so in those two actions -- the wine and the fruit -- I made sure that I was the bad guy. I was told, "You let these other people bring things but you don't want my help and I'm mad at you."

I kind of figured this when she walked in the door so I asked for help on the eggs as I was still finishing food. Actually she didn't offer to help originally. As the second person to arrive, she announced, "I'm hungry. Can I eat now or what?" And crazy me just wanted to be done with the food and so enlisted her "help."

It started with the peeling of the eggs. The shells were sticking and I was informed that I should have peeled them while they were warm. Doesn't matter that I have been known to boil a few eggs for future salads and place them in the fridge for future use and peel them with no problem. No, it was just another case of how I was clueless and messed everything up. And then came the point to mix the yolks with the other stuff. I pulled out my ingredient selection and was promptly told, "No one makes eggs that way." In my mind I had a Gordon Ramsay moment and told her to get the fuck out of my kitchen. But that didn't happen. And then later in the evening, I found out that she was going around to folks asking if they had tasted the eggs. And that while they may be OK, they weren't perfect because I had not had the right ingredients on hand. Luckily I did not learn this tidbit until after she had left because if I had heard it before that time, I may have lost it.

And I know y'all are wondering what the photo has to do with any of this. My dad has a friend who owns a barbecue place in Sacto. The guy was working some food event and was grilling up something like 200 slabs of ribs. My dad called to ask if I wanted some for the party. I said, "No, but I need some for me." So my dad showed up with two slabs that I promptly put into the fridge so that folks wouldn't get the wrong idea.

When my mom called to tell me that she was mad at me, she started off with, "I meant to take some of those ribs with me." Say what? And then there was, "Well, we'll just have to have them tomorrow. And I really don't feel like coming all the way out to your place so you should just bring them up to my house. Oh. And you now have all that wine and I don't have any so bring some of that along as well."

Needless to say I ignored her calls most of Sunday. Early evening I finally called her and she had started her dinner. Like I figured. But she wanted to gossip about my dad's new girlfriend. (I met her at the party.) She crowed that my dad had met this woman before my stepmother died last year and that he probably took her with him to Mexico last Christmas. There was some stuff about how my dad had lied. And then she wanted my opinion. I told her that I did not want to have the conversations with me. Her reaction was, "Fine. Why? Are you afraid your father is going to ask you about what I said?" I calmly repeated, "I'm not having this conversation right now."

Sorry to dump this on y'all but the folks I would discuss this kind of stuff with in the past all died in the last year. All I know is right now, I don't want to deal with either of them. Especially her. Because right now I'm pretty close to how I was feeling two years ago when I told her that she was a fucking bitch. And my dad told me that even if it's true, I just can't say that. And that feeling? The same as when I was 15 or so. My mother was a self-absorbed shopaholic. My dad was a lying alcoholic. But now I'm not 15. And I don't live with either of them. Nor am I dependent upon them financially in any way.

So now instead everyone else is finally going to have to suck it up. Because when I don't speak to her, she calls everyone else and drives them nuts. And for years I have been doing the phone calls to spare everyone else. (Like last Monday my mom called my dad because she hadn't heard from me in two days. Not that she tried to call me. And my dad called to say that he finally understood and would pay me to call her on a regular basis just so that she wouldn't call him.) But now I'm thinking that they'll just have to suck it up because it's seriously time for some boundaries. I mean I am 29 after all and I'm too old for this shit.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Now I know that some of y'all are waiting for food photos. Soon. First I'd like to share the above. The ever-so-kind, Chilebrown realized that her had a prior commitment yesterday. So he stopped by before my party to drop off this lovely item. Guess I need to get some propane so that I can start grilling. Thanks so much for the lovely gift.

Now onto the food.

There was my usual fig and walnut tapenade with goat cheese.

There was the usual veggie tray. I decided to change up the dip though. This time around it contained a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, green olives, marinated artichoke hearts and a bunch of other stuff.

There was my usual Spanish tortilla...

as well as the mini crab and parmesan quiches.

And I brought back an old favorite, spanakopita.

For something new, I made these pork meatballs. They were supposed to be in the almond sauce but I made them last and just didn't have the energy to do the sauce. People seemed to like them just fine unsauced though.

Now I always make shrimp but I wanted something really different and when I saw this recipe, I knew I had found a winner. So much so that when I tasted a shrimp from the batch I made Friday night that I would have to get up early Saturday morning to buy more shrimp. (In total I made three pounds. If I was serving it as a main course, I'd probably go for the full ten pounds.) Good call on my part because at the end of the evening there was not a single shrimp left. In fact the only thing leftover were the quiches. Then again I did make 6 dozen of those suckers. Fortunately they freeze well.

There were also some deviled eggs. I'd share them with you but I'd rather not as they are one of the many reasons from this weekend that I'd rather not speak to my mother. Other than the jabs at me, I must say that she was rather well-behaved though. And now that I'm "home," I have decided that I'm just not going to let her drag me into her crazy.

Instead I am going to savor being in my own home. Where I get to make the rules. And that so many wonderful friends and family members came to help me celebrate the day. And that they all got to meet one another. As it stands now, I think I have two future girls' nights to attend as well as a princess tea party. And there's even a possibility of some catering work. And I think that all of this outweighs the other stuff. The stuff in which I am helpless and never right. Because I know that that's not who I am.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cooking it up

Since I'm busy in the kitchen currently (Hurray for the new laptop!) getting ready for my party, I thought that this quiz was quite appropriate.

You Are Made Of Intuition, Fearlessness, and Wit

3 parts Intuition

2 parts Fearlessness

1 part Wit

And a Splash of Naughtiness

Limit yourself to one serving. This cocktail is strong!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Birthdays suck

Some of you might not realize it but today is my birthday. And today? I've spent most of the day on an emotional roller coaster. There have been a lot of tears. It wasn't until late in the day when I realized the why of the tears.

Birthdays with my mom are all about her. With my aunt? It was all about me. And this was the first birthday when I suddenly felt that it was all about other people.

It started with the phone call from my mother this morning. There was the wish of "Happy birthday!" but then it became 10 minutes about her. And I thought to myself, "It's my birthday. Can't it just once be about me?"

So I got to work. Where most of my life there is about other people. But I thought long about lunch. And I looked over the calendar. I would pick up lunch and then go sit somewhere other than my desk. Perhaps read a few pages of the book I picked up recently while I ate. Instead I walked into the door and was assaulted by people worrying about stuff that really didn't need worrying over. And then they walked out the door to their own lunch as they do every day. And then I felt the first tears run down my cheek. All I had wanted out of the day was a nice lunch and now that was shot.

So my friend, the HR person, insisted that I eat lunch in her office. But they still found me there. But I guess she said something to them all. Because later they surprised me with cake and a card containing an iTunes gift card. Because yeah, the AT&T store had called me to say that my new phone had arrived.

I left work with the thought of getting my new phone being the high point of my day. I don't know why I thought that that would be the high point of my day. I'd love to tell y'all about the experience but I just don't have the energy. Bottom line is that this salesperson rolled her eyes at me (I had my back turned to her and turned around at the "wrong" moment. She thought that I wouldn't catch it. Bottom line is the bitch should not work retail.) and I had the consuming desire to slap the shit out of her. (OK. That last part may have been a bit hormonally induced.) Bitch had the nerve to say that she did not see me when I was in the store for at least five to ten minutes. I am tempted to go to the point of the race card because all the other folks she noticed were of similar ethnic background -- not the same as mine. And folks wonder why there are issues in that area of the East Bay between Blacks and Latinos? I told the person who finally helped me that the bitch (I did not use that word.) owed me an apology for the eye roll. He said that he couldn't help me. I think it's time to write a letter to somewhere. Because I don't care how "unrational" a customer may seem, you just don't roll your eyes at them.

But I got my phone. Even though when I asked for the apology, they threatened to hold my phone and have me escorted from the store. I told the guy, "Oh no. You've already charged me for the phone so I will be leaving with it." This was after his snarky ass comment about keeping things civil. What? Saying that I would like him to tell her that her eye roll was inappropriate is not civil? Saying that I would like an apology was not civil? I can show them non-civil...

So at that point I decided that my birthday was pretty much hosed. The sad thing is that I have received more birthday wishes from folks online than I have from my own family. Oh, and Jade and Emerald as well. After all these years neither can seem to remember my actual birthday.

So right now I'm pretty much done with the whole birthday thing. Because is it too much to ask to have one little part of one day be about you and not someone else?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nearly missed

When I asked my dad where he wanted to go for Father's Day, he said, "Pican." I looked them up online, salivated over the menu for a few minutes, and then made the reservation for 1:30.

My father did not foresee the amount of cars that would be on the road and so did not reach the restaurant until almost 2. When I told the hostess that my dad was running late, she informed me that we would not be able to order after 2:15. So yeah, I was a tad bit worried as I sat there waiting for my dad. What would be the contingency plan? I started mentally reviewing what was in my fridge and various recipes that would not take half a day or more but that would still be impressive. But there was no need for the contingency plan.

We were seated and then faced with the task of deciding on what to eat. I half jokingly said that I wanted one of everything on the menu. As you can see, I ended up with the barbecue plate. My dad went with the salmon croquettes with a side of grits. Oh, and I tried their lavender lemon drop for my libation. It was fantastic. My dad said that it was all well worth the drive.

So ladies. Next girls' night?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You are what you eat?

This quiz seemed fitting given that I took a quiz earlier this week of Facebook. According to that quiz my true ethnicity is Latino. Hmmmm. This is right after I found out that my gangster style is Asian. I guess I'm just one big ole melting pot.

You Are Chips and Salsa

You are energetic and a real go getter. You can even be aggressive at times.

You love taking risks and taking the rewards. You are a true daredevil.

You can be a bit greedy in life, and you go after what you want.

You are courageous and edgy. You will do what others are afraid of.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tonight after work, I headed to the salon for part one of the hair process. That's right. I said, "Part one." As in I will be returning tomorrow for the finish of the 'do. I usually bring my own reading material. Tonight I used the time to catch up on a couple of months worth of cooking magazines. I know. Strange. I usually tear through them as soon as they arrive. Four magazines later, I suddenly feel inspired to cook. Next week.

I knew that I'd be having leftover butter chicken with brown rice but what green stuff as the sag paneer was no more? Also it's been a little warm around here these last few days so I knew that I wanted something kind of refreshing. There were loads of salads in the magazines. I thought I'd do something with the romaine I have in the fridge. And then I saw the photo with the avocado. And I remembered that I had bought some earlier in the week. And there were grapefruit sections. At this point, I briefly thought of Cookiecrumb who taught me that there is actually a term for this -- supreming. Call me weird but I find the whole process to be kind of relaxing.

A quick stop at the grocery store after the salon to pick up butter lettuce and some grapefruit. I supremed a grapefruit. (The rest is in a container in the fridge.) Tossed the leaves in a little walnut oil and sherry vinegar. Chopped up some avocado. Right before eating, I decided to hit it with a little black pepper.

Now I just have to figure out when I'm going to make the mahi mahi with my favorite salsa that involves supremed citrus.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Old favorite

As I slowly phase back into cooking, I figure it's best to stick to tried and true recipes. Especially since I'm getting used to the new kitchen. Don't even ask me about the convection feature on the oven as I have yet to try it out.

So yes, last night after assembling the kitty litter lounges, I forced myself into the kitchen. To be quite honest, if the chicken had not been in the fridge marinating overnight, I probably would have skipped the cooking thing last night. But the chicken had to be cooked. And the consolation was that it actually only involves 15 minutes of cooking with 45 minutes of covered simmering. And the only chopping was the onion. (Silly me forgot to buy yellow onions this weekend so I used the lone red onion in the fridge instead.) Oh, and crushing the cashews. So not that much "hard labor" involved.

I always make this with the meat on the bones since bones add lots of flavor. Toward the end of the simmering, I slowly remove the meat from the bones. Because when I eat, I don't like to have to deal with the bones.

Another one of my weird things. I don't really like rice that much. Except brown rice. So that's what I made to go with the butter chicken. The sag paneer is leftover from Indian takeout I had for lunch earlier in the week.

Non-food related -- Today I ordered my new iPhone. Thanks, Fluffycat for the heads up. I guess this now makes me a member of "I am Apple's whore."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Everyone wins

During the moving process, I was frequently asked, "What new thing will the cats be receiving?" Ummm. Nothing? Except for the pleasure of continuing to live with me?

That was before I had to start sharing bathroom facilities with Boris and Natasha. One gets tired of looking at litter boxes. And Boris is always looking for new perches.

OK. It really started with an idea that Fluffycat planted in my head. While she was hanging out with me on moving day, she mentioned something about litter box things that look like furniture.

After a recent search on the website of one of my favorite stores, I found these babies. There's even a hook inside for the scoop. I like to think they're a great improvement. The cats haven't weighed in with their opinion yet but I'm sure they'll love them. And if they don't? They'd better get used to them because they're not leaving.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Caffeine-free life

Last week was all about the power of caffeine as my allergies kicked in. Now I don't have the "normal" allergy thing. No. When mine rear their ugly head, folks start thinking I have mono or some yet to be discovered strain of the flu. But I knew it was the allergies because I didn't have a fever and I was achy. I was just congested and coughing and really tired. Of course it could have been the long days at work as well. And the way it's looking, the long days at work will be continuing for at least another month. But hey. At least I still have a job. Unlike the receptionist who was laid off last Friday. And this week I'm trying to lay off the caffeine.

I have managed to do some things other than work though. Like Saturday. The furnace guy showed up in the morning to take care of some other stuff for me. All for the cost of $21. I guess a smile goes a long way. Or maybe it was hearing for hours on end about all the problems in his life. I can be a good listener if there is a discount involved. So he was hard at work and I started feeling a little guilty. Somehow, as a result, I managed to unpack almost all of the boxes that were inside my condo. Know what that means? I could finally move more boxes in from the garage. I'm hoping to start on those boxes tomorrow. But the box moving was later in the day.

After the furnace guy left, I headed into San Francisco. There was this huge furniture warehouse sale going on and I was hoping to snag a new dining set. No luck there but I found some great wool rugs for the bedroom.

Boris would like it if you could ignore his pear shape.

Like I said, I'm keeping things simple food-wise around here as shown by Sunday's dinner.

Lamb chop, peas and baked potato.

Oh, and I guess I should share one of those things that Zombie Mom already knows. Notice all that blank space on the plate? If you don't see blank space in the photo, then I'm probably eating off of my usual salad plate -- something I've been doing for too many years to count. If it's a full dinner plate? Then I definitely did not eat it all in one sitting. Depending on what it is, it would take me 2-3 meals, or grazing over a period of 4-5 hours, to complete an entire dinner plate full of food.

Monday night I had no peas left so I decided to start with a salad. And since I had some cooked shrimp, I decided why not a Louis. Tonight I made the Louis my whole meal -- larger portion -- because I had to eat the shrimp before they went bad.

And finally, I leave you with this.

I picked this up on Friday and tonight I wrote my first blog post from it. (I spent a few days installing software and copying files. Didn't want to use it until everything was in place.) I love my new toy. Mostly because I can recline on the sofa while being online. I have dreamed of this moment. And today I ordered a snazzy bag to carry it in. And I think I'm done with intentionally trying to help the economy for a bit. Unless there is a Kate Spade sample sale this month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finding my bearings

Well, I'm happy to say that I have a new furnace and so will have working heat for the winter. Which is due around August or so. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) Boris is adjusting to the fact that he can no longer sit atop the upper cabinets in the kitchen. Natasha has discovered that she actually enjoys canned food other than Pet Promise chicken and rice. She should. The stuff they've been getting lately costs more. But I love shopping at Pet Food Express.

I miss Berkeley Bowl and Andronico's immensely. I know. They're not that far away but I just don't see the sense in driving that far for groceries unless I absolutely have to. Especially now that I know that I can get all my favorite cheeses at Farmer Joe's.

Last night there was no leftover fish for dinner as I ate it at lunchtime when I came home to let the guys in to install the new furnace. (Have I mentioned the fact that I love that I can now come home at lunchtime if I so desire?) So that left me with the question of, "What's for dinner?"

I've been keeping things pretty simple around here these days. Time spent in the kitchen making elaborate meals is now spent unpacking the endless stash of boxes. Plus perhaps I am saving up my energy for later this month. Bottom line about making dinner choices is simplicity and not having to travel too far. The fact that it's pretty busy at work also adds to the equation. Today I arrived at work around 7:30 this morning and didn't leave until 6:00 this evening.

Every night on my way home I pass by Galvan's. Last night I decided to take the plunge. After perusing the cases, I decided on the NY strip steak -- one of my favorite cuts. It was the best steak ever. (Many thanks to Zoomie for inspiring me to buy a grill pan and to discover the joy of herbed goat cheese atop a steak.) Needless to say, Galvan's will now be a regular stop. Next on the list is to check out the farmers' market in downtown. If I can find parking because the parking situation during the market is worse than Berkeley Bowl on a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getting back on track

So Tuesdays are supposed to be about media. And here we go.

I often forgive Boris for his behavior because his original home? Blocks away from Billie Joe's. Boris is just a rocker at heart.

Being an East Bay kind of girl, I have loved Green Day for too many years. (Every punk kid in the East Bay knows about Gilman.) And so I need to get their album. Especially since I hear there is a song on there about Oscar Grant.

Because I'm a punk rock chick at heart. And was kind of bummed when I didn't get into the City to hear Jello Biafra speak last night. And I know some of you are saying, "Who?" (And if you had to click through on the link to find out about Jello, then I'm thinking, "How can you not know?") But I know my fellow punk rock souls are saying, "What? I missed him as well."

Monday, June 8, 2009


What does it take for y'all to get motivated? When it comes to career stuff, I have to get angry. Tears streaming down my face angry. Household chores? All I need to know is that folks will be heading over.

I have a little under three weeks until folks will descend upon my new place for my housewarming/birthday party. Think this would motivate me to do some more unpacking? Hell no. I still have at least two more weeks to deal with that crap. But tomorrow the HVAC guy is showing up to replace my furnace. (Thank you Obama for making this possible.) The furnace is reached via my bedroom closet. This would be the 8' by 10' walk-in that my mother proclaimed to be a room except that it can't be called one since it doesn't have a window. One can hide a lot of crap in that kind of space. But I thought that perhaps the guy should have a clear path and so I finally got motivated to deal with the closet.

Stashed in the closet was my luggage from my recent trip to NYC. It was mostly unpacked though. It was just those items that really belong elsewhere.

Months ago I picked up this piece of furniture from my aunt's house. The question has always been what to put into it. As I started the unpacking, it came to me. I have been a tea drinker since age 9 or so. As such over the years I have collected a number of teapots. And I realized that I just didn't have the cabinet space for all of my teapots. But they didn't actually make it into the cabinet until after my trip. When I picked up a new teapot at Pearl River. As you can see, there is still room for more.

And I was in need of nourishment after all that unpacking. I thought about dining on takeout but then I remembered that cod filet that needed to be cooked. In a beer batter. Always Newcastle Ale. And instead of fries I went with onion rings. It will be dinner tomorrow night as well. Because a single cod filet? Huge.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The power of the skirt

So I'm still texting away with that guy I met at the firefighter party. Here's the thing though. He's always working. So we text a great deal but rarely see one another. This weekend would be an example of such. And this weekend I will actually be home for the first time in weeks. and faced with the task of unpacking. Well, I'm all about procrastination. So it was off to Berkeley this evening after work.

The first stop was for some shopping. I'd love to tell you more about it but ... You know the rest of that.

The next stop was to get a pedicure. And once I was there, I decided that a manicure wouldn't hurt in the least.

As my nails were drying, I called Gregoire to place my order.

After picking up the food from Gregoire, I probably should have headed home but noooo. I had to go to my old hangout. It had been six months since they had last seen me. Just like me, my bartender had a new look. Didn't matter. He still looks hot. Kind of like me.

Then I met this really cool guy. (Ummm. Yeah. Still chatting with the guy from the party but like I said -- he's crazy busy.) Oops. And I forgot. Before I met this guy, my bartender came over to tell me that some random guy had bought my next drink. And I said thank you and started to chat with the new guy. But new guy disappeared while I was trying to settle my tab. Perhaps because while we had been outside, some other guy had settled into his seat when we returned. And new new guy let me grab my original seat -- the one that was next to him. And sad thing is that I don't remember new guy's name but I remember new new guy's name. May have something to do with the fact that I kept catching new new guy's eye while I had been talking to new guy. Bottom line? I promptly took my ass home.

Oh, and the dress thing? I had a pretty good idea of how my day would end when I walked into the work. My boss exclaimed, "You're wearing a dress! You have legs!" And then later one of the VP's asked,"You look nice. Do you have a date tonight?"

I usually wear khakis to work. And now I'm known as the smart girl at work. But I wonder if I had been wearing skirts/dresses all along if that would still be the case. When I got to work, I usually look pretty frumpy compared to the other women. And I get to be one of the guys. And I know they have total respect for me. Just how I want it. Because when you're a woman who has been told that she's pretty, you sometimes wonder about the motivation of others and so you learn how to dim it all. This might be why I go all out on weekends. Too much time being dim the rest of the week.

But every now and then you like to shine. Screw what everyone else thinks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I am still recovering from the DDBW. I have also realized that I did not take a great deal of photos over the weekend. This often happens if I have a cocktail glass in hand. So if y'all want to see photos -- and some fabulous recaps -- go visit Zombie Mom, Beth, Maddie or Mark. Hopefully David's computer issues will be resolved and he will then be able to post all of Howard's fabulous photos. Because Howard is now one of my approved photographers. Along with Zombie Mom. And of course, the fabulous In'Ja. (Ginger, I loved your inclusion of punctuation but I felt it needed to be taken one step further.) Actually if you need a photo taken, you should really contact that In'Ja. I mean she is a world renown joto-phournalist after all.

But I can leave you with these images from Saturday.

And since I didn't take that many photos over the weekend, I guess I could make it up to y'all by sharing photos over the next few days of my personal efforts to stimulate the economy. Because I'm patriotic like that and all. Someone has to do it.