Life in Bloomington
Fairfield County Girl Makes Good in the Midwest
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Notes from the Journey: Thursday through Saturday
Tonight is the first that we have had internet access since we left home. I have kept a journal of the trip so far. Here it is:
Thursday January 29, 2004
Greetings from the Residence Inn in Shelton, CT. Jack is confused and thinks that this is Bloomington. How I wish it were so.
Today, the movers came and put almost all of our stuff onto a semi. They arrived at 8 and worked until about 6. Unfortunately, they didn't finish so they will be there tomorrow morning with us while we clean around them. We hope to hit the road to Bloomington by 1. We are driving two cars. Chris will have Megan and Zoe. I will have Jack. Depending on the external weather (winter on Route 80 in PA) and the internal weather (three-year-old in car), we will drive anywhere from 4-6 hours tomorrow. We should be in Bloomington on Sunday. The moving truck won't get there until Tuesday, so we will be at a hotel. The hotel is actually a condo complex with 2 bedroom townhomes, so it will be comfortable. I actually can't wait to get there. I am really excited about living in that town. No matter what the ups and downs of packing and leaving have been, I have been confident that this is the right thing for us. Time will tell, but I am quite optimistic.
Jack was a real trouper today. He didn't seem terribly upset by having everything in his life reduced to things in boxes. I think that he sees this as an adventure. I believe that if we make it into an adventure for him, that is how he will experience it. When I say that we will miss our friends here, he says, "Don't worry, Mommy. We will make NEW friends. " Wait until he realizes that he won't be playing with his bestest friend Chloe anymore. He might not be so easy going about it.
Today, I returned the cable box. While I waited in line, I counted the TVs that were in the room. Thirty Four. All playing something different. It was so bizarre. You couldn't really hear the sound on any of them, so it isn't like you can watch them in any meaningful way. I don't understand the point of it. Are they trying to say, "We are Cable TV?" I mean, when you go to the phone company and stand in line, they don't have 34 ringing phones there.
Our cleaning lady, Nathalie, came today to help us get the house ready for the "walk through". She is such a hardworking and loving person. She took me aside when she saw the moving company we were using and said that they had moved her and were all lazy and slow. She told me that they would never finish today and she was right. She didn't want to accept any payment from me and cried when she said goodbye. I cried too.
Friday January 30, 2004 9:56 PM Carlisle PA
Here we are at the Clarion Inn. We got about 250 miles of the approx 780 behind us. The movers came back at 8AM and had the house packed & loaded at about noon. We finished cleaning up all the loose ends including dealing with the water that started dripping out of our entry way chandelier yesterday...and got on the road at about 2:30. Our realtor, Al Filippone, dropped by shortly before we left and gave us a great looking watercolor painting of our house in a beautiful frame. A nice touch from a real pro. He was a terrific broker to do business with and I recommend him highly. The new buyers had a walk through today at 4PM. I hope it all went well. They could not be nicer people. Our whole real estate transaction was a dream. Location, location, location.
Jack was a prince on the drive. It was almost too good to be true. If he is half as good tomorrow, I will be pleased. We listened to good music (Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon - his latest favorite ) while he played air guitar and sang. My little rock and roll guy has excellent musical taste. We were alone in my car and Chris took Meg and Zoe in his. We sailed through CT on 95 without a hitch and then on through NY and NJ to PA, where we saw a magnificent sunset. ( I know, a sunset on I 78, who knew?) It was thrilling to be setting out on our big adventure. There is something about a fresh new start that is exhilarating. And this fresh new start is such a personal thing for me and Chris. We will be getting to know people and making our place in the community at the very same time. Neither of us will be entering into the others' life. When you marry into a family-in-progress as I did, that isn't the case. It is almost like we are a new couple starting out. Very cool. While I wouldn't change a thing about where we have been, I welcome this new phase in our lives. (Okay, I know what you are thinking...Right now I welcome it, but when I have to drive 50 miles to find a good clothing store, I might be singing a different tune.)
Tomorrow we press on through PA and into Ohio. I don't know where we will stop or stay yet. That is up to Chris. ( I hope that we swing close enough to Cincinnati to get some Skyline Chili). I am not big on planning trips...that is his job. When we used to go to Europe, we would pick a country together and then he would do the research and plan the stops and tell me about it on the plane. Maybe I am lazy, but he always does a good job.
Well, I am going to close now and settle in with the DaVinci Code. I hope that I can break the code and figure out what the fuss is all about...
Saturday January 31, 2004 5:50 PM Fairborn, OH
We drove about 420 miles today. Just got in. Jack was an absolute prince again! I am stunned at what a good little traveller he has been so far. That makes the difference between a good trip and a hellish nightmare. I will BLOG more later but I just wanted to get some thoughts down before I forget. As I have traveled from the northeast to the midwest, I have noticed a change in the content of highway billboards. On I 95 in Fairfield County, I have seen billboards for expensive imported cars, audio design services for that must-have home theatre, and plastic surgeons advertising botox and microdermabrasion. In rural PA and OH, I saw billboards for used farming equipment, adult video stores with 25-cent viewing booths, and taxidermy services. There is a wide variety of experiences to be had in the US of A.
After the absolute worst breakfast we have ever (not) eaten, our day went off without a hitch. Of course, I do have some complaints despite the smooth trip. Why is it that Pennsylvania has highways that seem to be out of the dark ages? The PA Pike is clostrophobic with two lanes and Jersey Barriers (you know, those half walls made of concrete between lanes) boxing you in. The turnpike - and every PA highway I have ever been on for that matter, seems right out of 1970. Are three lanes against the state constitution? Why can't they have some decent rest stops? Why is Roy Rogers the vendor of choice here? And another thing, when you get off at an exit, there is no sign saying that regular lanes do NOT accept EZ Pass. As a result, I went into the wrong lane and the guy made me pay the whole toll of $12.35 instead of $4.70. Annoying but short lived annoying. But, I digress.
Now it is later...after dinner. While Meg stayed at the hotel with Zoe, who is very agitated on this trip, Chris, Jack and I went to a local Eye-talian Ristorante. It was such a local scene. I thought I was back in Herkimer, NY. I ordered homemade sausage with onions and peppers. It was actually very good but my stomach is protesting as I write. In a time-warp experience, they asked whether we wanted smoking or non smoking. Attention metro New Yorkers...some states still have smoking sections. I keep saying, "We aren't in Kansas anymore". That actually makes opposite sense, but is sounds so good. Ah, pay no attention to the girl behind the BLOG...
Seriously, I am still in the adventure mode. Jack is having a great time. Megan is reasonably happy and (for her) low maintenance, and Chris seems happy and relaxed. An unexpectedly enjoyable trip. I had lobbied hard for flying but I am so glad that we didn't . This drive gives me time to think about the enormous change we are making. I know that at some point it will hit me and I will be stunned, but for now, I will take the excitement I feel. Tomorrow we arrive in Bloomington! It is about 150 miles away...a pretty straight shot to Indy with an easy drive to south to the town that will become our own. More on this story as it develops.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Packers, Goodbyes, Poorly Written Novels
Today the packers arrived at 9AM. We expected to have two days of packing but because of the threat of bad weather, they packed almost everything today. Every room is in boxes with the exception of the bathrooms and the kitchen pantries. It impresses me how quickly professional packers can pack things away vs how quickly I could do the same job. They don't pause to consider the history of something. It saves lots of time. I am happy that they got so much done today. I will be freed up tomorrow to do some shopping and see my personal trainer and my therapist. Hey, I only have two more days to be a Fairfield County Doctor's Wife, right?
There is something liberating about having most of your possessions in boxes. I feel less responsible for everything and much more free. It is interesting. These folks who are simplifying their lives by reducing their possessions are on to something. Of course, it is pretty simple to have great boots and clothes, so I think that that category is probably exempt. Oh, yeah, and then there is china. One really can't have too many place settings, right? And, good cookware IS a necessity. Use only one kind of flour to bake? Blasphemy ! I need five different kinds, minimum. Maybe I am too complicated to simplify. Or too materialistic. Kaye Sarah, Sarah.
Chris has been teary eyed much more than I have been at our good byes. I find this surprising, espcially when it is a goodbye to someone who is much closer to me than him. He is quite moved by how emotional people get about us leaving. I love that about him. Ironically, I am the one to reassure him that we will absolutely love Bloomington. I think that he knows that but he feels responsible for taking me and Jack away from our lives here. To be completely honest, I am so occupied with the move logistics, that I can't intimately connect to feeling the losses associated with leaving yet. It feels sort of funny and detatched. I also feel bad when I don't cry at a good bye, but I trust that those I love know it isn't because I don't care. I care very much indeeed. It is just that it hasn't entirely hit me yet. And, almost every aspect of my life is about to change. Already has in a way.
I am now going to go to bed and read THE DAVINCI CODE. It is one of the worst written books I have read in ages. I don't know what the fuss is about. Chris was told lots of time that he HAD to read this great book so Megan got it for him for Xmas. He almost put it down after the first chapter because it was so poorly written. But then he got hooked and was able to ignore the awful prose and actually finish it. I will slog on until I reach that point of no return. After all, I don't want to be left out of cocktail party conversation. I was reading THE FALL but it is a little much with everything else going on, so I will save it for later. Besides, who wants to talk about that book at parties?
I remember that Kate got me a book once, I think it was called THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS. It was the most inspriational book I have ever read. I had always entertained the notion that I could be a writer and reading this book changed that forever. You see, the book was written SO poorly. As I read it, I realized that if I ever wrote a book, my best effort would be that bad or worse. To have a bad book published would be humiliating so I put down my pen. Blogging is okay as far as I am concerned. I don't know why it should be different, but it is.
Off to bed. Two more nights in this house. WOW.
Monday, January 26, 2004
I don't even know what to call this
If the word FART or the concept of one, offends you, stop right here. If not, read on. This is a little story about my husband Chris. He was at the Southport Racquet Club yesterday, in the locker room after his work out. The locker room was empty except for one other man, who had the locker right next to Chris. The man was older, maybe late 70s or 80. This man let out a huge fart while standing right next to Chris and didn't say excuse me or anything. Chris was taken aback by this man's rudeness. He turned to the man and made a huge fart back at the guy. Chris looked at him and said, " Well, I guess we aren't holding back anything here, are we?" I was pretty surprised that Chris did that but I can't blame him. Who does that kind of thing?
Sunday, January 25, 2004
The Last Sunday Night
Tonight is our last Sunday night in this house. I suppose I could have written the same thing about last Thurs, Fri & Sat. One of the things I will miss most about this house is the loud clanking heating system. We have hot water/baseboard oil heat. The water pipes were poorly installed so when the heat kicks on and the hot water runs through the pipes, the pipes rattle and clank. When we first moved in it startled us a bit but I quickly grew to love the sound. Something about it is so cozy. It sometimes wakes me up at night even. In my mind it is this aspect of the house that makes it specially ours. I hope that the new owners love it too. It is more likely that they will be irritated by it.
I think that we are in pretty good shape as far as the packing is concerned. But, there are little pockets of chaos that will probably bite us a bit at the end. Fortunately, we are being packed professionally. How bad can it be? At the end of the day, they throw all the loose ends into boxes. You don't have to deal with it until you reach your destination. And then, you have all the time in the world.
I went out to dinner every night last week with friends. Some nights were couple nights and some were just girls. I am glad that we did it this way rather than having a big going away party. I got to really talk to people I care about. So what if I gained some weight this week and developed a fatty liver. You only go this way once, right?
Today I cleaned out my knitting box from the attic. I have seven works in progress - six sweaters in various stages of completion and one partially finished Christmas stocking. I haven't finished a sweater since the late eighties. One of the incomplete sweaters was intended for a boyfriend I had when I lived in Mass over 13 years ago. He was a sweet guy but it wasn't the right relationship for me so I broke it off. Soon after that, he dropped by and asked me to marry him. I thought he was working up to asking me out to dinner or something. I was totally unprepared for it. I got so flustered that I actually suggested that he might want to talk to someone professionally to cope with the loss of the relationship. I can't believe I did that. Talk about a sensitive refusal. No, I won't marry you and by the way, perhaps you might want to see a therapist. Nice. But, I digress....Back to my sweaters. Another was a little boy sweater for my friend Michelle's son Weston's first birthday. I remember that I gave her the partially finished sweater in a box all wrapped up for the occasion. I promised that I would finish it and then I promptly put it somewhere and forgot all about it for two years. When I found it, I called her and we had a good laugh over it. I can't bring myself to throw any of these works in progress out even though I am pretty sure that they will never get finished.
Not much else to say. I feel very distracted by this enormous transition. The house feels crowded with boxes and people so I have the sense almost all the time of not having enough room for myself. I am irritable and short tempered in little patches throughout the day. At other times, I am excited about the move and feel that everything will work out great. But as I write that, I feel a dreadful feeling in my stomach. We are leaving so very much.
Last night we went to one of Chris's former partner's home. He and his wife are from India and they prepared a traditional meal for us and another couple. It was spectacular. I ate and ate and ate and ate and didn't once feel guilty about being unfaithful to the late Dr. Atkins. The company was as good as the food...superb. A delightful evening but like everything else right now, bittersweet.
I have no energy to write anything meaningful or witty so I will sign off now.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Countdown & Another Pair of Boots
The movers are coming to load the truck next Thursday. I cannot believe that it is a week away! Chris is done with work until the end of February. He is home every day with me and we are going room to room, packaing and organizing. Now that we are doing this, the move is becoming exciting. We see it as a big adventure. Something that belongs to just us. We know nobody there. We have no past there, no memories. Fresh Start. Pretty thrilling actually.
Having said all of that, it is heartwrenching to leave friends here. What makes it bearable is that I know that we are going to something good that we believe will be right for our family. Time will tell, but I am quite confident that we will be happy in Bloomington.
Went shopping again today and bought another pair of high black boots. These are leather, not suede, so I rationalized the purchase by saying that they would be much more practical, since winter salt would not stain them. They should be in style another year here in Fairfield County and probably another three to five in Bloomington. (Just kidding....well, sort of.) Besides, they were half price. I think that they look great but Meg says that they say "I charge twenty." Could this be a mid-life crisis? Am I dressing too young? She is entirely wrong. I would charge so much more than twenty.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
I Vant to be Alone & The Best Chocolate Chip Cooking Recipe
Didn't Greta Garbo say that? Or was it just in subtitles?
We have a house full today. Kate and her boyfriend Phil, Megan as always, Jack, Chris and I. It has snowed for most of the day and I have spent the day inside bagging stuff up for Goodwill and going through rooms throwing things out. I long for the time when I can be alone in my house with no packing to do.
Finally, I find myself completely off balance because of this move. As early as last Wednesday, I was still almost unaffected. I knew I was going to move, of course, but I hadn't digested it yet. It hadn't landed smack in my stomach if you know what I mean. But then on Thursday, Chris had his last day of work and WHAMMO! It hit me. All of the sudden, I felt panicky. I went from feeling that everything was going along right on schedule to worrying that nothing had been done. Why oh why had I wasted so much time shopping? What had I been doing with myself all this time? What would Chris say when he realized how little I had really done to prepare us for this move? AARGH. It feels like college finals all over again.
I made some cookies tonight for Kate's boyfriend Phil who did lots of shovelling today. I have never given this recipe out - but for you, my readership of two or three, I am going to do it. They truly are the very best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. If you want to add nuts, you can add them with the chips. 1 1/2 cups will do.
The Very Very Best Chocolate Cookies Ever (Nice and crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside)
1/4 cup Crisco
8 T. unsalted butter (1 stick) softened but still firm
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 T. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz really good chocolate chips or chunks (IF USING CHIPS, USE AN 11.5 OZ BAG OF GHIREDELLI DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIPS)
1) Preheat oven to 375. (IF YOU HAVE A CONVECTION OVEN, USE CONVECTION AT THE SAME TEMP BUT YOU MIGHT WANT TO BAKE THEM FOR A SHORTER TIME. IF YOU DON'T HAVE CONVECTION, BAKE ONE SHEET AT A TIME FOR THE BEST RESULTS. IF YOU DO HAVE CONVECTION, YOU CAN BAKE TWO SHEETS). Beat the crisco and butter in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until pretty smoth but with a few lumps (about 1 minute). (NOTE: YOU CAN USE AN ELECTRIC MIXER BUT USE IT ON LOW SO YOU DON'T REALLY WHIP THE BUTTER TOO MUCH.) Add the sugars and stir until well blended. Add the egg, egg white and vanilla and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the batter and mix together until smooth. Add the chips and fold in.
2) Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the paper. Shape the dough with your hands so each cookie is compact and not too spread out. If you have a cookie scoop, use it. You should have about 10 - 11 cookies per sheet for a total of about 20 - 22 cookies.
3) Bake for about 12 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Rotate pan half way through baking. Do not overcook.
4) Slide parchment onto wire racks to cool. The cookies will be pretty soft in the middle until they cool.
Bye for now.
Too Much Socializing, Shopping & Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
We went out last night to a little neighborhood Italian place in Bridgeport. It was good but I don't think that I have eaten that much food in months and months. It was a good evening but I was glad to get home early and get into bed, where I could read in silence. All this socializing is getting exhausting. I am tired of hearing myself talk, so you know it must be very bad.
I didn't do any shopping yesterday but I wanted to. I wonder if this is how serious shopping disorders start. I unwrapped the twelve new dessert plates I bought on impulse the other day. What I was thinking? Who do I think I am going to be entertaining in Bloomington? Do I not already have dinner service for 36? How many dessert plates do I need? On the other hand, at least I didn't buy the $500 earrings at Sak's the other day. They were really gorgeous chandelier earrings...looked great on me if I do say so myself. I came to my senses, however, and went home without them. I am moving to Bloomington, INDIANA! Where do I think that I am going to wear things like that? Perhaps the earrings could keep company with the recently purchased party dresses hanging in my closet. Hmm, that is a thought. Perhaps I should go back and get them...
The other night, I made a terrific chocolate cake and I will now share the recipe with my readership of two or three. It hails from Cooks Illustrated. It is a homey (and homely) cake - a chocolate cake that is like a perfect chewy brownie with a very crusty crust and its own gooey hot fudge right in the middle. Serve it with vanilla ice cream. For company, you could make the individual cakes if you need more elegance. I have twelve new dessert plates if you need to borrow them.
HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE
If you have cold, brewed coffee on hand, it can be used in place of the instant coffee and water, but to make sure it isn’t too strong, use 1 cup of cold coffee mixed with 1/2 cup of water. Serve the cake warm with vanilla or coffee ice cream. Leftovers can be reheated, covered with plastic wrap, in a microwave oven.
2 teaspoons instant coffee
11/2 cups water
2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Stir instant coffee into water; set aside to dissolve. Stir together 1/3 cup cocoa, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in small bowl, breaking up large clumps with fingers; set aside. Melt butter, remaining 1/3 cup cocoa, and chocolate in small bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water; whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. Whisk remaining 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in medium bowl until combined; whisk in yolk. Add chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is evenly moistened.
2. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread evenly to sides and corners. Sprinkle cocoa/sugar mixture evenly over batter (cocoa mixture should cover entire surface of batter); pour coffee mixture gently over cocoa mixture. Bake until cake is puffed and bubbling and just beginning to pull away from sides of baking dish, about 45 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Cool cake in dish on wire rack about 25 minutes before serving.
INDIVIDUAL HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKES
Follow recipe for Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, heating oven to 400 degrees and lightly spraying eight 6- to 8-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray; set ramekins on baking sheet. Divide batter evenly among ramekins (about 1/4 cup per ramekin) and level with back of spoon; sprinkle about 2 tablespoons cocoa/sugar mixture over batter in each ramekin. Pour 3 tablespoons coffee mixture over cocoa/sugar mixture in each ramekin. Bake until puffed and bubbling, about 20 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Cool ramekins about 15 minutes before serving (cakes will fall).
Saturday, January 17, 2004
I have no time lately to BLOG. I am squeezing in a few sentences before our company arrives. Some long time friends of Chris's are arriving soon to visit for the late afternoon and have dinner out with us tonight. I feel so under the gun to write fast. It is crazy. I have really missed having a leisurely writing time each day.
Anyway...Let's catch up.
We are socializing our heads off. If you think that your social life is slow, just tell everyone you are moving. All of those people who have promised to call you to set up dinners for years finally make good on the promises and follow up. (Unfortunately, they do so all at once.) Suddenly, you are out to dinner every night. Two things happen. With close friends whom you have seen rather frequently, you become even sadder that you are leaving them. With the friends you never saw all that much of, you realize how much you enjoy them and that you should have seen them more. Let this be a lesson to all of you readers (okay, all two of you). Make time for your friends...make the effort to get together.
Ding Dong...company is here. I hope I get to write more later. Maybe after a few martinis I can really let it rip!
Monday, January 12, 2004
I feel so "Cooking Network". I am using my new fancy copper tarte tatin pan as my roasting pan for my pork roast with pancetta and rosemary. I seared the roast in the pan and then added some potatoes & garlic and put it in the oven. The kitchen smells SO good. If it tastes as good as it smells, I will add the recipe to this BLOG. I am sure that my readership of two or three will appreciate it. Ah, to have a public following.
It is now after dinner. It was, if I do say so myself, quite good. The potatoes were worth the whole dish. The roast was tender and flavorful, although I must be honest and say that my husband asked if we had applesauce half way through the meal. I guess he wants to sleep on the sofa tonight.
I won't include the recipe because even though it was good, it wasn't really anything special. And, I am all about being special.
I have so little to say tonight, so I will stop.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Where were we? Oh, yes. Shopaholism. I went to the mall (!) on Saturday to buy cool stockings and some costume jewelry to dress up the black on black number I planned to wear to the dinner party that night. I found the most FAB stockings...a very sexy mock fish net style. And I bought some very very fake bling-bling chandelier earrings and lucite/rhinestone rings. When I got home I commented to Chris and the costume jewelry was so good, cheap and fun that it was almost silly to buy real stuff. Boy, did he jump on that band wagon. His face lit up immediately as he voiced his enthusiastic agreement. He seldom reacts that fast to anything I say. It was impressive.
Last night's dinner party at the fancy schmancy Thomas Henklemann was really enjoyable. While everyone RAVES about their food, it was the company that made it special. (I was a tiny bit disappointed with the food. I must admit, though, that they might have indeed made the very best martini that I have ever had. No small compliment coming from me. The wine was pretty terrific too. But, I digress.) I genuinely like and respect each and every one of Chris's current partners and their spouses. I will miss them. It seemed that these people are really sad to see Chris go both personally and professionally. They have genuine affection for him and a good deal of professional respect. I think that they are also sorry to see me go but for very different reasons. Based on a random sampling of this group, I can pretty safely assume that they appreciate my often irreverent party girl behavior and they think it livens things up. It is funny to me that I always wanted to be just the opposite of what I am. For awhile, when I would go to a party, I would try very hard to be reserved, lady like and dignified. Some times I could pull it off for 15 minutes or so, but never for very much longer. Last night, for instance, I felt compelled to tell several people at our table the story of my spontaneous explosion experience. Yes, it cracked everyone up, but MUST I discuss things like this at such events? Is this the last impression I want to leave with my husband's esteemed collegues and their wives? Apparently so. As Popeye would say...I yam what I yam. But, at least I was wearing great boots and sexy stockings.
This coming week, I am meeting friends on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, On Friday and Saturday Chris and I are going out to dinner with some other couples. The upside of this schedule is that I get to see my friends before I leave and I don't have to cook. The downside of the schedule is the risk of becoming an obese person with liver failure. Ah, life! It is always a risk-benefit analysis, isn't it?
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Hi. My name is Joni and I am a shopaholic. It used to be that I hated to shop for clothes. But these days, I find myself wanting to buy a new outfit every day. I am not kidding. Yesterday, I went to Banana Republic and bought a black flannel mini skirt, a black merino wool turtleneck, black pants with a cool little zippered pocket, and a black wrap dress. Am I done now? Nope. I want to go shopping today and buy more stuff. What is happening to me? Have I become the Fairfield County Shopping Wife at last? If I had just started a little sooner, I would have a terrific wardrobe to take with me to the heartland. Damn the bad planning. Now I'll have to do the shopping equivalent of cramming for finals.
Well, the clock is ticking so I had better get started.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Liar Liar Pants on Fire, Memory Lane, Residues of Last Night's Cooking, Tonights Dinner & Shopping to Save Money
Okay, I know that we all lie. That is the truth, right? But, nobody likes being lied to when they know they are being lied to. When you don't know, you don't mind, because - well - you don't know. The fact is, you - yes you- have been lied to lots of times and you have no clue about lots of those times. And that is okay, because, since you don't know, it isn't your problem. What you don't know can't hurt you, right? Of course, I am talking reasonably small lies here, not the ones that might be told to you when your spouse is unfaithful, has gambled away all the retirement, has killed your favorite pet and made it look like natural causes...not those kinds of lies. Those are bad lies and they hurt you whether you know about them or not. On the other hand, I have told my husband if he ever has a one-night fling he had better just wear a condom and keep it all to himself because I hate when someone fesses up just to ease his/her own guilt while the injured party is left to suffer terribly for no good reason. My husband has an especially fine character so I don't worry too much about that happening. Anyway, that is all beside the point.
Today, I was planning on a babysitter to be here at 5 PM. I won't mention any names in case she is my step daughter or somthing. I was to meet my friend Val for dinner at 6. I had to leave at 5:30 to get there on time. Chris wasn't going to be home until 7. At 4:10, the babysitter called and left a message (I was out) and asked whether I still needed her because if I did not, she was going to stay another night at her cousin's house, where she went to visit yesterday. The cousin's house is 2 hours away. I returned home at 4:30 and called her right away. She was still there (!) and again asked whether I still needed her. I pointed out that if I did still need her (and I did), it was already too late. She said that she had been trying to get in touch with me all afternoon. Funny, the caller ID didn't reflect that. She knows my cell phone number, and, hmm, there weren't any calls on that either. I told her to stay where she was (with aformentioned boyfriend...see previous BLOGS). I cancelled my plans, lucky for you readers because I can now BLOG, BLOG, BLOG. She stuck to her story that she had tried and tried to reach me. But, we both know what really happened.
When I was growing up, I had a friend, let's call her Chrissy. Her mom lied about all sorts of things. An example: If Chrissy had a date with some guy that her mom liked and it conflicted with a practice for sports or music, Chrissy's mom would just call up and say that Chrissy was sick or had a doctors' appointment. She did it all the time for all sorts of reasons. My mother would talk all the time about how Chrissy's mom would buy lots and lots of high priced stuff and hide the bills from her husband and my mother just couldn't understand that. (Okay, I can sort of get THAT...I mean, one can get too carried away with the honesty thing. I mean, a woman needs an expensive pair of boots or shoes now and then that might not be in the family budget, right? But, I digress....) My parents never lied for me like that and never did it for themselves. And the other adults I grew to respect didn't do it either. I never did respect Chrissy and her mom. I don't think many other people did either. They thought that they were getting away with it, but it was so transparent. Chrissy grew up to be just like her mom. They had bad marriages, bad luck, bad careers. Probably just a coincidence, that and the lying.
So, today I went through a big box of old stuff. Lots of pictures and letters and dust. I threw out a bunch of stuff but I kept all the letters from my old boyfriends. I read through them all. They were just delicious. Ah, young love. All of that depth and immediacy (is that a word?) of feeling. It was wonderful to stroll down that memory lane. I dated some really nice guys (some of whom could really write).
I can't say that it is as pleasant reading my old journals. EEK! Those I couldn't stomach and locked them away for a later time when I might be mature enough to laugh at all my nonsense and idiocy.
The kitchen still has a faint burnt odor from last night's cooking extravaganza. I forgot to pick up some BRILLO at the store so the non-non-stick pan remains covered in black crust, looking as if it will never be clean again. I went with an old stand-by tonight...Vegetarian Chili from Jane Brody's Good Food cookbook. It is easy, almost fool proof & nice on a cold night. The recipe is below:
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded & minced ( I LIKE TO USE PICKLED JALEPENOS...ABOUT TWO TABLESPOONS CHOPPED UP)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried corriander
generous pinch of allspice
generous pinch of cloves
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 Tablespoons of cumin
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
2 teaspoons oregano
(MEASURE ALL THE DRY SPICES AND MIX UP IN A BOWL BEFORE STARTING TO COOK)
1 28 oz can of tomatoes in puree (GROUND "KITCHEN READY" TOMATOES WORK WELL OR YOU CAN CHOP UP THE TOMATOES AFTER YOU ADD THEM TO THE DISH)
2 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans
brown or white rice or spaghetti if you are from cincy
1. In a large dutch oven or heavy saucepan, heat the oil, saute the onions, garlic, green pepper and jalapeno pepper until softened.
2. Add the dried spices and saute for a minute and then add the tomatoes and puree and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered.
3. Prepare rice as you like.
4. Serve the chili over the rice. I LIKE IT WITH SOUR CREAM OR GRATED CHEDDAR CHEESE.
Now, on to the outfit for Saturday night. I was able to resurrect the old cocktail dress with a pink wrap and a pink rose pinned on the hip. But, I kept thinking about the outfit at the store that wouldn't hold anything for me. So, I went back there to try the sweater on. It did look quite nice with the skirt but it was so very expensive that I just couldn't get enthuastic about it. If the woman had been much nicer, I might have considered it. I am so glad that she was the way she was because it saved me some money. I love that. Saved money by not buying an expensive sweater that I didn't need. I don't think that is the real definition of saving money, but I will take it.
Well, that virtual saved money burned a hole right through my pocket into the coffers of PLAZA TOO where I found a FABulous pair of sexy black boots that were MUST HAVES. They were half price and I rationalized that they would really dress up a couple of outfits I already had at home. I guess you could say that buying these boots saved me EVEN MORE money than not buying the expensive sweater because they will stretch my current wardrobe. I am a genius.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
A BLOG is a WeB LOG....and this entry is rather dull....
So finally, we have the answer. A BLOG is a Web log. Many thanks to Steven, who always knows these kinds of things. He was cool 20 years ago and unlike most of us, has remained in the know about things hip.
Chris's partners are giving him a farewell dinner on Saturday night at Thomas Henkelmann at the Homestead Inn. OO-La-La. Anyway, I have a couple of strapless party dresses, which, I think would be too much for this occasion. Then, I have a couple of suits, which, I think would be too dull. There is one cocktail dress I am going to try to resurrect with accessories but I am not hopeful. Today I thought I would look around for something new just in case the party dress resurrection didn't succeed. There are lots of sales going on now, so I thought I would hit a few.
After trying on a few mid-life crisis outfits at Anthropologie, I ventured into Mitchell's, whose doors I have not blackened since then went stratospherically upscale. I figured that I could probably pick up a little black dress on sale for half price. It would still be expensive but I rationalized in advance that I would have it forever...etc. Well, I walked in and saw Philyss, a sales associate who used to help me when I used to buy all of my suits there. I said, "Hi Florence!" Eek. Anyway, we chatted for a bit and I told her that I was looking for a little black dress. She told me to look around, she was finishing up with someone and she would be right with me. So, I looked around. After noticing that every (and I mean EVERY) dress on sale was over $1200, I slunk out, furtively glancing around making sure that she didn't catch me. I have to laugh at myself for not wanting to say that I just didn't want to spend that much. As I got into my dirty Honda Accord, I hoped that Philyss wasn't peeking out the window and thinking, "Well, look at what SHE is driving. She can't afford THIS place". I am a lunatic, I know.
After a workout, I went to downtown Westport to check out some other stores. I actually went to Brooks Brothers Woman because through some weird and uninteresting events, I have gift certificates there. Not fruitful, to say the least. Their stuff is sort of dowdy to begin with and with my Annie Lennox Do, I look like a Republican Dyke in Brooks Brother Attire. This is not the look I am going for.
I tried another store ("Great Stuff"). I found a cool skirt but the top I wanted wasn't in my size so they ordered it from another store. It will be in tomorrow. The owner said, "Of course you want the skirt today, right?" Wrong. I asked her to hold it so I could try it on with the sweater. No. They can't hold anything. I said, Okay, I will take a chance and will stop by tomorrow. I didn't mean it. I am not going back. I hate when stores can't hold something. It was 4:30 ! They closed in ninety minutes. They couldn't hold something for the equivalent of three business hours? These people do not deserve my business. The outfit wasn't that great anyway.
So, after dinner tonight (Stir Fried Pork with Thai Garlic Pepper Sauce), I am going to try like hell to resurrect the old dress. If only I were a practicing Christian, I might know what to do...
It is after dinner now. A complete disaster. The whole kitchen stinks - my eyes actually burn - and I had the vent on full tilt. The recipe said to use a non stick skillet but I threw out my 12" non stick the other day in some fit of anger at M. and her frying, so I was forced to use the regular skillet. (That'll show her, right?) Big mistake. Burned bits dominated the flavor. The textures were perfect but the flavor was almost unbearable. Oh well
I am off to try on dresses upstairs. Wish me luck.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Monday & No Chili Powder
Maybe this BLOG wasn't such a good idea after all. I am not a good writer and let's face it...I don't have a very interesting life, really. The stuff that could be interesting and funny, I dare not write about because who knows who will get this address and read it?
The young-love-brain-trust has gone to my sister-in-law Susan's house in the DC area for a couple of days so my house is rather peaceful and I don't have to clean my cooktop three times daily to keep up with the frequent frying that goes on here in support of M.'s Atkins diet. I was comforted to learn yesterday, however, that the frying continues at Susan's house. M. called to ask Chris if he knew where Susan kept the paper towels because they were frying up some burgers and Susan wasn't there to ask. She was midly surpised to learn that Chris indeed did not know the whereabouts of said paper towels.
Today I got the phone numbers for all of our new utility companies and rented a climate controlled storage unit in Bloomington over the phone. It was clear from the third degree that I got in order to secure the storage unit that many many people put their things in storage and then don't pay the bill and skip town. Isn't it cheaper to throw things out? What a weird thing this self storage is anyway. We all have so much shit that this is a thriving industry. Weird and sad. We are forced to store a couple of rooms because we are renting a small house for the short term. But, if it were up to me, I would sell or throw out most of our furniture and rugs, especially the real Rebpublican looking stuff, but I digress.
Nothing special for dinner tonight. I was going to make vegetarian chili but alas, did not have chili powder. I felt that to omit it would produce an entirely unrelated dish for which I had little hope.
So, omlets tonight. I am actually getting good at them, being myself a practicing and devoted Atkins girl. I just don't fry everything on high heat in an inch of whatever oil I can grab out of the pantry.
If you got this far, drop me a line and let me know if you are enjoying my BLOG, which my friend Val says probably means Boring Life of Geek.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
STIR FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH THAI RED CURRY SAUCE
No blogging yesterday. Jack and I spent most of the day by ourselves playing one of his games over and over and over and over...well, you get the idea. Chris was on call and at the hospital most of the day. The young lovers were somewhere else. It was lover boy's birthday. I felt stingy toward him and not inclined to give him his gift of a navy roll neck sweater from JCrew. So, I didn't. I figure we are putting him up for almost two weeks smack in the middle of our move to Bloomington and that should be enough of a present. Am I terrible? What I really want to give him for his birthday is an invoice for the amount of fifteen grand to reimburse us for the tuition that was wasted when M. dropped out of college to major British Boyfriend instead of her chosen academic major. Well, who knows? It might be a great adventure for M. to go and live/work in New Zealand. When the money runs out, she can just waitress harder and switch from Bobbi Brown to Maybelline. Ah, the tribulations of the Fairfield County teen.
Last night a long long time friend/collegue of Chris threw us a dinner party. There were several couples there. It was a wonderful gathering. So many times it was said, "I can't believe you're really going". I can't believe it either. This aint' gonna be easy.
**************RECIPE OF THE DAY***************************
Tonight for dinner I am making Stir Fried Cauliflower with Thai Red Curry Sauce. It is yummy, if you like that sort of thing. YOU CAN PREP EVERYTHING AHEAD AND PUT IN THE FRIDGE, INCLUDING THE SAUCE AND THEN JUST FIX IT FAST FOR DINNER. VERY EASY. Here is the recipe:
STIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH
THAI RED CURRY SAUCE
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish with rice (MORE LIKE 2-3 SERVINGS, IF YOU ASK ME)
1 recipe Thai Sauce Base (recipe below)
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons Thai-style red curry paste
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon peanut oil
3 pounds cauliflower (about 1 large head), cut into even 3/4-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 OF 15 OZ BLOCK OF EXTRA FIRM TOFU (OPTIONAL) CUT INTO BITE SIZE CUBES, SURFACE MOISTURE REMOVED BY PRESSING WITH A PAPER TOWEL
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 teaspoon)
6 ounces snow peas, strings removed (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1. Whisk Thai Sauce Base, coconut milk, and curry paste in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
(IF ADDING TOFU TO RECIPE, HEAT A LITTLE OIL IN A 12 INCH SKILLET OVER HIGH HEAT AND FRY TOFU UNTIL LIGHTLY BROWNED ON ALL SIDES. REMOVE FROM PAN AND PUT ASIDE. PROCEED WITH RECIPE BELOW, ADDING TOFU BACK WHEN YOU ADD THE SAUCE TO THE STIR FRY)
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring every 10 to 15 seconds, until just barely tender, about 3 minutes. Push cauliflower to sides of skillet, clearing center of pan. Add remaining teaspoon oil, garlic, and ginger to center of pan and mash with back of spoon; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir mixture into vegetables. Reduce heat to medium-high; stir in sauce mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes; add snow peas and continue to simmer until cauliflower is fully tender, about 3 minutes longer. Sprinkle with basil; serve immediately.
THAI SAUCE BASE
3 tablespoons fish sauce (I RECOMMEND "A TASTE OF THAI" BRAND. MAKE SURE THAT THE FISH SAUCE YOU GET IS EXTRA VIRGIN WITH TONS OF SODIUM IN IT. TASTE OF THAI HAS 1700 MG PER TBLSP. DON'T GET KAME BRAND...IT IS BLAND. BLAND FISH SAUCE RUINS THE WHOLE DISH)
1 tablespoon juice plus 1 teaspoon grated zest
from 1 lime
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients in small bowl until sugar is dissolved; set aside.
Friday, January 02, 2004
So, tonight, after I get home from a really great dinner with my friend Michelle, I am talking to my husband in his office while he is looking on line for vacation spots for us for our February vacation. While I am doing this, I am, for some reason, absent-mindedly looking through my Cornell year book, which was on the shelf next to his desk. As I flip through the senior portraits, I see Ann Coulter. I recognize her because of who she is now, but all of the sudden, I rememer that I did indeed go to school with her and I actually remember her from Cornell. I wasn't friends with her, but I do remember her. She was pretty and from the right area (New Canaan) and in the "it" house. In short, she was all the things I wanted to be at that time. Okay, so what ?? after all these years, you ask? Here is what: The thing that gets me, is that after I get this reminder that I went to school with her (and probably scores of people who are movers and shakers), I realize that she is exactly my age and had the same education and is famous and an author...etc...etc. And, for some really stupid reason, all of the sudden, I feel that I have done nothing with my life. Isn't the human condition rediculous?
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Dinner was really good last night so I will include the recipe below. Don't be put off by its length. It isn't difficult and it is so yummy. A really good winter dinner. I served it with green beans and white wine. Tonight I made Roasted Dilled Salmon framed in Duchess Potatoes. Very good but I don't think I shall include the recipe unless it is requested by one of the many fans of this BLOG. On to my day...
New Years Day. I spent some of the day throwing things out as do almost daily now. I was able to sneak out a huge garbage bag of stuffed animals while Jack was watching Clifford. I walked very carefully in order to not engage the Spanish speaking ELMO doll, which none of us, save our cleaning lady, could ever understand. Halfway down the stairs, he was bumped just right and yelled, YOOHOO!! but luck was with me and Jack did not hear it. It feels so good to get rid of things. So what if I live in fear that tomorrow Jack will look for one of these stuffed creatures he hasn't seen or cared about in months. Doesn't it always happen?
We took down the tree and I threw away ornaments I HATE with impunity. I kept only the really really good ones. It was refreshing.
This move has made me want to get rid of all unnecessary stuff. Could that be why I have become obsessed with hair removal? After a martini to dull what I knew would be excruciating pain, I did my own (very severe) bikini wax the other night...Chris saw it and said, "Jesus! What did you do?!" But, I digress.
I took a walk around our neighborhood and savored the scenery. I have taken for granted the beauty of this area...the mature plantings, nice architecture...rolling hills...Bloomington is nice enough looking but it can't hold a stick to this area of New England.
I can't imagine anyone is really going to read this. It isn't terribly exciting but I enjoy writing it. I think that it is going to help me through this move. I can't entirely face leaving my beloved friends here. I am trying to focus on what I am moving TO rather than what I am leaving. But, maybe that isn't the way to do it. The grief of the lost will come to roost (is that the expression) whether I face it or not, right?
Well, that is all for today. Chris is here and wants me to look at vacation websites. Here is my recipe.
"Chicken with Potatoes, Grandma-Style" From ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO (OR ONE POTATOE, TWO POTATOE, if you are Dan Quail) (my commments are in CAPS)
1 3-lb chicken (USE A KOSHER CHICKEN BUT IF YOU CAN'T GET ONE, BE SURE AND BRINE IT BEFORE USE. SOAK FOR TWO HOURS IN A SOLUTION OF 2 CUPS OF KOSHER SALT IN 5 QUARTS OF WATER IN THE FRIDGE. AFTER 2 HOURS, RINSE AND PAT DRY AND PROCEED. THIS IS NOT A LOT OF WORK AND MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. BELIEVE ME ON THIS ONE.)
Hot cherry peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped up (THE RECIPE CALLED FOR THREE PEPPERS BUT I SUGGEST THAT YOU USE AT LEAST SIX AND POSSIBLY EIGHT, DEPENDING UPON YOUR TASTE. THE ONES I USED WERE ABOUT 1 INCH IN DIAMETER AND I THINK THAT THE RECIPE COULD HAVE USED EIGHT.)
1 large onion
Fresh thyme (THE RECIPE CALLED FOR 1 TSP DRIED BUT I USED FRESH AND IT WAS REALLY GOOD. PROBABLY AT LEAST A TABLESPOON FRESH IS GOOD)
Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes
Loosen the skin along the breast and the backbone of the chicken and slip pieces of the hot peppers (about half of them) under the skin. Try not to tear the skin.
Peel the onion and cut off 2 thick slices. Put them into a 10 - 12 inch cast iron skillet (I USED MY FANCY SCHMANCY NEW COPPER TARTE TATIN PAN THAT I BOUGHT FOR MYSELF FOR XMAS AND IT WORKED GREAT. A DEEP DISH CERAMIC PIE DISH, LIKE EMILE HENRY WOULD ALSO PROBABLY BE GOOD). Cut the rest of the onion into very large chunks.
Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and some fresh thyme. Stick the onion chunks in the cavity, with the rest of the hot cherry peppers. Rub the chicken liberally with olive oil and thyme and salt and pepper it all over. Tuck the wings under the chicken and place it on the onion slices in the skillet. Drizzle it with some vinegar and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, uncovered, then pour the wine over it. Roast for another 30 minutes, basting two or three times, until the juices run clear. (I BASTED EVER FIVE MINUTES, BUT I AM A LITTLE COMPULSIVE).
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/3 inch slices. (I AM GOING TO TRY DICE NEXT TIME BECAUSE I THINK IT WILL BE TASTIER). Put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. (THE RECIPE SAYS TO DRAIN IMMEDIATELY BUT I SUGGEST THAT YOU BOIL THEM FOR 3-4 MINUTES OR THEY WON'T BE REALLY DONE IN THE OVEN STEP.) Drain the potatoes immediately and put them in a colander on the stove so they don't get cold.
When the chicken is done, spear the cavity with a large fork and hold the chicken, cavity down, over the roasting pan/skillet. Scoop out the contents of the cavity and let the juices drain. Tent the chicken loosely with foil and let it rest while you finish the potatoes.
Increase the oven temperature to 450. Stir the onion in the pan to break up the pieces. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with the pan juices. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring several times. The potatoes should be tender adn browned and look juicy.
Carve the chicken and serve surrounded by the potatoes, peppers and onion.
Eat, Drink and be Merry.
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005