Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Senses: Touch

Our heated mattress pad. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Senses: Touch

I can't talk about touch this season without mentioning our new bunny. She has been a wonderful new addition, and boy is she SOFT. Her fur is a color the breeders called "fawn" and that's true. Underneath the fawn, she is snowy white, and so's her belly. Her ears are soft, but she generally prefers petting about the jaws and behind her ears.

Also on her rump. Especially when I, whose nails have grown out since my guitar playing is on a winter hiatus, scratch her, she extends into what we like to call "loaf pose".

Le lapin est une baguette!

Petting her has taken time out of my day. She needs her human companions, and as the one with a fairly flexible schedule, I often go to spend time with her in the mornings or afternoons before the arrival home. Not a problem. I swear I think my blood pressure plummets when I'm with her. She's so sweet and loving, and the softness of her fur is truly remarkable.

So even though we've been busy and maybe even stressed (though not too bad - amazing how you can keep stress at bay if you don't let it take over your life) this season, our soft little bunny has helped us remember the message of the season: love.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Senses: Sounds

Holiday Senses: Taste

I'm not near a good a cook as many of my friends. Nor am I creative in the kitchen. Friends of mine make homemade limoncello, toffee, breads, and shortbreads. I cannot. But. I know what I like. The tastes of the holidays, of fall and winter, are perhaps my favorites. (Ask me about this when the basil and tomatoes ripen...but for now...)

I did some baking last week - shocker, as last week was filled top to bottom with musical events and in between those, parties. Fun parties, too! A rainy Saturday afternoon pre-party time was just right for cooking up a bunch of pick-up bars.

I made:

Lemon Squares

Easy 7 Layer Bars

and

Almond Bars

I took those to my book club event. Tasty. The event before that called for heavy hors d'oevres. My husband wanted White Trash Dip (which is really Buffalo Wing Dip) but someone else was bringing that. So we made his long-time favorite, Cheese Olivettes, aka Olive Balls.

People are very passionate about the olive balls. We made some last year that didn't turn out - because we attempted to use real butter and high-end cheese. Nope. Get the extra sharp giant block of yellow cheddar, and for best results, I daresay some margarine. You'll thank me later.

Cheese Olivettes
from "Under the Mulberry Tree", a recipe book published by Mulberry United Methodist Church in Macon, GA.


1/2 lb extra sharp cheddar chees

1/4 lb MARGARINE

Dash Worcestershire sauce

garlic salt to taste

1 1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour

1 bottle stuffed green olives (smallish)

Grate cheese and mix with soft MARGARINE. Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and flour. Blend well. Roll bits of dough, press thin, and wrap a piece of the thin dough around an olive, rolling in palm of hand to completely encase olive. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Makes 40 plus (or not - whatever).

I went to a social for my handbell choir that featured a few nice, newish things I'd not had. Tea biscuits (found in your freezer section) with country ham (though my friend said she often used honey-baked as well) with a blackberry preserve/dijon mustard sauce. I believe she said 1 c. preserves to 3 tbsp mustard. Pretty AND delicious.

Our hostess had a lovely mid-centry decor and everything to drink - mimosas, hot mulled cider, coffee, and....an iced tea that was wonderful. What was in it, I asked? Oh, just half a jar of Knudson's apple-cranberry juice! And some sliced oranges and lemons. I can't find apple-cranberry juice on their web site but I'm pretty sure that's what she used.

I did get creative for a cocktail recipe. You know I love the bubbly. Cooking Light featured a quickie cranberry liqueur that you pour in champizzle for a cranberry "Kir Royale". YUMMO!

And finally, we are having a snow day today. No school, and for me, no final Christmas concert with my preschool kiddies - who've worked so hard!! I'm a little sad about it. But it was really pleasant this morning to pour, instead of milk, egg nog into my French toast batter....and to use the wonderful cinnamon chip bread one of my talented friends had given me, and to linger over coffee with my husband and children, watching our beloved new pet hop around under the Christmas tree.

(And yes, the coffee was, naturally, Christmas Traditions. I know they changed the name 15 years ago, and I don't care. I LOVE THAT STUFF.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Holiday Senses: Sounds

I like moody, minor-key hymns and carols, and also obscure European ones. A lot.
The YouTube videos here are clunky and messing with my pristine design esthetic, so I'll just list, then show. Ok?

1. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
We used this one this past Sunday. Creeptastic, but also has a nice expectancy which I suppose is what Advent, anyway, is all about.

2. In the Bleak Midwinter
This one has an actually uplifting major resolution, but the title! Yes!

3. Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
I challenge you to not like this one. It's been my favorite for many years.

4. Coventry Carol
My dad has always liked the version of this that was on "A Very Special Christmas, volume ONE" - by Allison Moyet of Yaz and Erasure. I adore my daddy; that recording was one of the only songs we ever both liked.

5.Fum, Fum, Fum
This version is technically great but the one time I sang it, in English, it was fun to sing "on December 5 and 20". Trips off the tongue, doesn't it?



























Monday, December 06, 2010

Holiday Senses: Sight

We had a little snow on Saturday. It. Was. PERFECT. Pretty, short-lived, melting now, and on a weekend. Living in the South, one doesn't see a sight like I did this weekend very often: our tree, just put in the tree stand, with white powder clinging to the branches. My sweater, coming in from outside, dusted with snow. Our yard almost fully blanketed, with swaths from the sledding attempts (not bad!) cut through it. Through my window during a brief break in the madness, the flakes showering down from a steel-grey sky.

That night we braved the roads to head to an old friend's annual soiree...and the Christmas lights and the shiny roads made the snow twinkle. That's right, twinkle. Bundled in my coat (due to my bare legs, arms, and strappy shoes), I loved looking at the rare sight of the bowing trees and frosted branches.

It still hasn't melted all the way. Yay.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I sometimes say that my husband is not a good roommate. He is romantic, funny, brilliant, a walking dictionary/history book/U.S. Constitution/policy think tank/poetry anthology, and a snappy dresser...but maybe a bit messy and disorganized, yes?

But I can't think of anyone I'd rather be in the trenches with, and that's a fact.

We spent our 18th wedding anniversary in bed. With fevers, chills, severe stomach upset, and the energy levels of slugs. After having driven back from Georgia with two children who had fevers, chills, projectile stomach upset (Huzzah, new car! You have been hereby baptized in the fire!), and the energy level of slugs.

But, again: with no one else would I have wanted to share that singular experience. No one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Traditions

We don't really have any Thanksgiving traditions. There have been Thanksgivings in the mountains, here at our former apartments and homes, in New York City, at the beach, with friends, with family, and one time here at home just us four. The one constant could be turkey...and maybe brussels sprouts.

I love brussels sprouts. We roast them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. I used to make a brussels sprouts/artichoke casserole from Southern Living. Um, why did I do that? SO yummy just roasted or under the broiler...maybe with a bit of pancetta or bacon...or a squeeze of lemon.

Pumpkin pie is sort of a constant, too. I like all things pumpkin and maybe mostly because of the color and smell! Aren't you the same? I often make the Libby's can pie recipe, but this year we are trying pumpkin pudding and some pumpkin cupcakes -- not just for Halloween!

(Why would you make sweets at Halloween anyway?)

Placecards at the table are a bit of a tradition. The ones we use now were created by the children and I really am at a stage where I should laminate them. Cute leaf stickers, fall-colored construction paper, and crayons - voila!

My Fair Lady is a tradition we stole from a friend of mine...she used to watch with her mom every year when her mom was alive. As a gift, I gave my friend a special edition DVD featuring recordings of Audrey Hepburn actually singing! And this year, instead of renting My Fair Lady from Netflix AGAIN, I used my Borders Bucks ™ rewards and got our very own DVD for next to nothing. Loverly!

Hmmm, in thinking about it, we do have a few traditions. What are yours?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Immune to Gratitude

Dudes and dudettes, one thing I do not enjoy right now is needing to go to Caring Bridge and Care Calendar every day to check on three people, two of them under 10 years old, who are really, really struggling. I am thankful for health, even though my own has been dicey. I have not been completely well in over a month, but I am getting there and my complaints, while somewhat debilitating, are curable and treatable.

My weirdest, latest illness involved vertigo so severe I could not lift my head from my pillow for more than a second without vomiting. Today I turned a serious corner and did my beloved Body Pump with no dizziness. It looks like - knock wood, fingers crossed, mojo/voodoo/prayer whatever - that I will be healthy heading into the Busy Season.

So to boost this new-found health, i plan to do a few things with my immune system. Like, romance it. Give it a little one-on-one time. Really listen to it, actively. Buy it a bauble, something shiny.

I'm going to cut down on alcohol. I love alcohol! I do. And I can't drink much as I am a bit of a lightweight. But I think cutting back as we enter the most wonderful time of the year is a good idea.

I'm taking a supplement - and vitamin C. And melatonin on nights when I'm not resting well (thanks Nansch - my doc thought that was a great idea!).

I'm going to rest well. I don't sleep well every night, but that is going to change, dammit! Wait, whoa...stress...no...calming down...

I'm going to be ridiculous about keeping up the exercise. Sometimes I let it slide, if work is calling...but this is just as important as work. I'm also focusing on getting some good old sunshine -created vitamin D.

I'm not going to sweat the small stuff. Small Stuff, you know what you are. I'm not going to sweat you.

I'm eating lower fat, higher protein, less sugars. Although Trader Joe's dried mango, you slay me.

I'm drinking butt-loads of water. Perhaps "butt-loads" is not the best descriptive noun here.

I'm laughing at my children, and loving our new pet. Love and laughter - the best medicine.

My wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you'll find good health on your gratitude list.

More Video

Tina Fey is the one I would invite to dinner if I could have anyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

Weekly Inspiration

Sumptuous costume and cinematography via Sofia Coppola



The Tudors



Local music



Fighting fair



(Conservative friends: I have been so nice, and so quiet! I've restrained from putting anything political on any page or out there at all, save my distaste for the Wake School Board's politicizing where there should be no politics. I don't even LIKE Keith Olbermann! Or what he did! But from what I can glean from various completely biased news sources, he only did what others have done for a long time now. After a self-imposed hiatus from any "biased" news I am going back whole hog. Ignore me at your pleasure!)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

All Saints

Despite being sick, I mustered up the strength to go to our All Saints' service this morning. I usually have the role of ringing a bell for the dead. This year, with an inner ear virus, I gave that job to someone else. BONG BONG BONG is not what I needed today.

But the service, no matter what you believe about the afterlife, is incredibly peaceful. There is a painful beauty in remembering who has gone before. Our pastor does a lovely job of taking the fear out of death and while he doesn't extol the virtues and qualities of heaven, per se, he does remind us that love lives on no matter what.

And of course, the music. Today we had the harpist from the NC Symphony and she did a duet with our organist on the Fauré Requiem that had me shivering with goose bumps. Also? She's really nice and upbeat.

And one of my favorite sopranos sang the soaring solo on the "Lux Aeterna" from Rutter's Requieum. I was moved. But pulled it together to sing with her.

For they rest from their labours. Requieum aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rhi Rhi

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hallowe'en

Well, we don't even have a pumpkin yet. The fact that Christmas is in full swing at BOTH of my jobs has something to do with that. But there is no school today, so we shall see if something can get done about this huge gaffe in the holiday merry-making.

(I should tell you that we have celebrated, however. I was at school most of yesterday with the "Fall Experience". That phrase never fails to entertain me. Several concessions were made, as the temperature was something like 85. So hot cider became ice water, etc. There was also the fair fun complete with bunny and the annual Fall Festival at our school, where my shift was to ensure that children did not go back into the Haunted House after they exited. Also, we were able to watch half of "The Addams Family" together as a family, the other half to be viewed sometime this weekend. RIP Raul Julia! Angelica Houston - unparalleled! Christina Ricci - brilliant!)

With everyone's various activities in full swing, we also haven't finalized costumes. Hoping to remedy that tomorrow - here's my son's idea:

And my daughter continues her stretch of Costume As Social Commentary by producing her own "high stakes gambler" outfit. I cannot find an image to capture her homemade, painted, and glue gunned couture, but rest assured the point comes across.

Other ideas I had were:

World Cup fan: soccer jersey, Vuvuzela. TERRIFYING!


Tony Hayward: fake tan, Hawaiian shirt, blank expression. YIKES!





Wake School Board Majority: You need a blonde hottie, grey hair spray, padding, and the other one. AGGGH!!





Mark Zuckerburg: GAP sweatshirt, wads of cash hanging out of your pockets, blank expression. HORRORS!



Joan Holloway: red updo, gold pen necklace, baby bump. SCARY! (for her, anyway)




Ok, I've got to go buy this pumpkin.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Even the NY Times Loves Bravo!

Patti in the news!

I should add that I saw a recent episode of Millionaire Matchmaker all the way through - for the first time. I was gripped, as the millionaire PROPOSED!

But of course he's a politician wannabe (now a politician) and she's a Playboy model (unbeknownst to Patti, apparently) and things ended in a flurry of MySpace commentary and badmouthing.

Oh well. Mazel Tov, Shadchen!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Pivotal Day

Our pastor talked about days that change you in his sermon (that I heard twice, per my usual) yesterday. The day you are married. The day you hear you have cancer. The day you decide that you are not going to be mad anymore. The day your first child is born.

Last night, my daughter couldn't sleep because I happened to drop this gem on her right before bedtime:

"Tomorrow our lives will change!"

Because today we got our bunny. She was purchased at the fair last week and we have been in contact with her breeder? grower? previous owner? for a bit. But today was the day. Daddy went and got her and...

....fell instantly in love. Those of you who know him should be surprised at this - I sure was! But he has had a teensy turnaround in recent days. Maybe he was worried ahead of time and had acceptance spread upon him. Last night, his answer to daughter's not sleeping was to give her a mantra to repeat to herself. It was, and I quote,

"Breathe in, 'I'm getting a bunny', breathe out, 'I love my bunny'".

I'm pausing here whilst you laugh.

Anyway, she's soft as hell. And interesting to watch and interact with. No biting and poop output is minimal. It's only day one, of course. But so far, so good. For today, at least, we are happy and full of joy and love. A day that has changed us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance

My sleep has been seriously disrupted. This is NOT what I expected from my children's older childhood/tween years.

My daughter suffers from....high metabolism? Combined with a bit of anxiety? With a dash of the common sleep problems associated with adolescence? We've determined that she has to exercise, heartily, every day. Otherwise, she has trouble going to sleep and then decides it is best to come wake me up to tell me this fact.

I met several parents at a sporting event recently who told me they give their children melatonin. But isn't that a hormone? We're not giving her melatonin.

So last night, after Daddy had been in charge all day, she comes in at 1:30 a.m. (ok, it was this morning) to tell us she can't sleep. I asked if she had had caffeine...and Daddy said, no, just a Vitamin Water.


Sigh.

We had baby and toddler nieces here this weekend. Their parents are very good with them and I really didn't hear them at all. But there was the one night that toddler fell out of her bed. I have to say, I was impressed with myself for hearing the thump and racing to her aide...until her mom showed up, from two flights of stairs, 2 seconds later! Remember the sonic hearing of the new mom? Yeah, my sis-in-law's like, BIONIC.

Between poor sweet niece's fall and worry about the fact that my boss was sick and I was thus in charge of a huge musical extravaganza at work, no sleep.

I'm not a great sleeper anyway. My friend Lynn, with whom I've shared a room at various conferences and getaways, is always making me jealous. Her small black-haired head flops down on a pillow at some point in the evening and NEVER. MOVES. AGAIN.


I do know that exercise helps me. And I'm back on supplements and am taking yoga back up for relaxation. What helps YOU sleep?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

In a Pinch, I DJ

I just returned from Body Pump class. The instructor's iPod died during our first set.

"Who has an iPod?"

Um, me?

Um, all of my songs are explicit?

Oh wait, here's a playlist....with a bunch of Captain Underpants and Spongebob songs....KIDS!!! Grrr.

But: how about "HEY BABY"! (Squats commence!)


We move on to biceps and triceps...and I'm not sure I can find anything.

"Do you have any rap?"

Um, yes? BUT IT'S FILTHY!!

We settle on some "Empire State of Mind" and a couple of Rhianna songs.

I started getting creative at this point...and I tried some TV on the Radio for lunges. Yeah, that didn't go over as well. Then I found an old Madonna song (that I happen to love - unusual in that I like Madonna's singles but never her albums...this one was not a single) for abs.

And CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH to the SIDE!


Finally, cool down. I was thinking about it in my head the whole set of crunches. Dare I attempt Avett Brothers? Taylor Swift had already been rejected. There was the Mamma Mia! soundtrack to consider. I had U2's "No Line On the Horizon" - surely something soothing in that...

but ultimately I went back to my tried and true.

Reader, I went with REM. From Automatic for the People! And we all felt restored and renewed and fully stretched.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Rain

We've had so much rain. And yet, last week I was in the depths of despair because I feared it would never rain again. We had six weeks of hot, dry weather...with barely even a cloud in the sky save the one day a tropical storm came by us and spat six drops and snubbed its nose and went on about its business.

So on Sunday night we were all perplexed, amazed, and, apparently, instantly rendered unable to drive properly. Rain came down in buckets. FOR 24 HOURS. Then we had a day of sunshine. Then, more rain, in buckets...for OVER 24 HOURS. I believe that's all over with for us, but our friends in Wilmington should get slammed the rest of today.

Two funny things happened in the rain. On the way to school this morning, my son (who is in a very good mood in the mornings - this will change next year with the 6:15 wakeup) and I were listening to our dj friend as we do. She played a 70s rock song that I couldn't take at that moment, so I switched to our jazz station. A peppy swing number was on. Son sighed and said, "On a rainy morning, I prefer SLOW jazz."

I'm with you, brother.



Another funny thing is that my children reverted back to fort building for the duration of the storm. All sports were canceled...for the first time all season, I might add. This meant some free time and some rare inside time. They took all of the blankets, towels, stuffed animals, weights, hats, and spare paper in the house and constructed an enormous system of rooms and tunnels.

It was more than a little humbling to watch this week's Mad Men with it's destructive quality and then have to get on all fours to exit the den.

They are each writing notes to "my neighbor" and have decorated with comfy pillows, flashlights, and until this moment when I decided to blog, my laptop.

There's more rain called for on Monday. I'm letting them keep it up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rap Thursday

If I hear one more person act surprised that I like rap, I'm agonna let them finish...and then....

Seriously! What the hell! Did YOU not like the rap? DO you not like the rap?

Girl rap = bananas.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Summoned

I guess this is pretty much what I've been thinking about.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hopscotch

There is an indie rock festival in our town! Featuring not only some of the most intriguing new bands of today, but easily one of my top five influential bands, Public Enemy, as a headliner!

And we aren't going.

We are 1. broke, 2. overbooked, and 3. exhausted. One of the many "this is so awesome"/"Raleigh you rock" tweets last night as the festival got underway was a welcome, "I'm having to be satisfied reading tweets about my favorite bands instead of seeing them live. #havingkidschangesyourlifefortheworse" Or something akin to that. I agreed (though not really - I do love my urchins).

So tonight, as a local fave plays in front of my husband's office and then is followed by members of Animal Collective and the band Broken Social Scene, and then tomorrow night when Public Enemy fights the power that be, I shall be here with my children and then at my book club annual retreat. The children just aren't worth the $30 ticket. The book club has been neglected far too long.

So what is the light at the end of this dark, musically-bereft tunnel? The fact that we actually ATTENDED Hopscotch today! For the geezers, they had music DURING. THE. DAY. I blew off an appointment, grabbed my hubby, and went, in mom jeans, to a club. At noon! And there were beers! And good old friends, and some new ones too! And music! By a band I knew a little, and grew to love during their set!

I grew to love my husband a little bit more, too. That was truly one of the best hours I've had in months. Happy Hopscotch Weekend, all you hipsters! I joined you, if only for a little while, in rock solidarity.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Do You Remember?

Ah, Labor Day. A weekend where I....work. However, we have a lot of down time planned this weekend and hope to soak up some local culture, splash in our local pool, and dine on some local summer favorites before they go dormant.

September Sucks is my mantra...school/heavy workload/hurricane season, etc. There have been distractions from the usual mêlée, I must say. Such as:

Injuries and Illness

My Form + Function friend had gum surgery. As I told her, I KNOW YOUR PAIN. Ouchie, oh ouchie ouchie. My pastor broke his shoulder coming out of a Starbucks. His right shoulder - his healing, hugging shoulder. Bless. The many children we know with ailments are all doing ok...some in worse shape than others, but a few actually coming out just fine after, say, having a boat propeller slice up their back, or falling out of a high window....

Ok, on to a more positive diversion:

Nic Cage

I love him, I do. I saw "Valley Girl" four times in the one week it screened in Macon, GA. And I was hooked - for life. So we rented "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans". Yeah, I sat through about an hour until he smoked crack with a (very young) party girl in a parking lot with his gun out and....other things...out...and in. Anyway, harsh. But so great! I thought my husband would love it but he had trouble sleeping after completing the film. And to that I say: nice work, Nic!

The Emmys

I am starting to hate award shows...even though I am pulling most faithfully for people I love who might be up for said awards....but then there was this:



Happy!

Also, some lovely ladies....refer to Go Fug Yourself for highlights. Speaking of Glee, Heather Morris who plays Brittany, was possibly my very favorite.




Sparkly!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Overdue

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is first an artist. His new video proves it. I'm hopeful you've seen it before but if not, voila.
Please be patient and watch the commercial first. And then push it into full screen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Hate This Part Right Here

Everyone I know is in a funk...whether they are sending a kid off to school, tired of the heat, or tired of the rain (all day today!), or bellyaching about going back to work...they are just funky.

I'm the worst offender.

I feel so...sensitive. So delicate and easily broken. I know the anticipation of the busyness and crazed schedule is worse than the reality - I know it! But one can't tell oneself that, it seems.

So how to stay calm in a crazy time. Yes, yes, we all remind ourselves how lucky we are. And boy, we are REALLY lucky. I have some dear friends going through some shit. Sorry for the NSFW but this is legitimate shit they are going through. Like, health shit. The worst kinds. Also financial shit. The recession has affected me in ways that don't seem that high-impact. I mean, we were always frugal and we didn't paint ourselves into financial corners. But there are those that are AFFECTED. I do think gratitude is an important part of every day. One can always turn to The Gratitude Journal app for iPhone ™. Just tap tap tap what you are thankful for right into your phone for daily affirmation and reminders.

The Vision Board app, also featured on the above link, just makes me tired. Look at it! Stickies and pictures of money - blech.



Exercise is a great stress-reliever for me. It is a great energy-producer for my husband. I like to take Body Pump and Body Flow classes at my gym, but lately I've really enjoyed the Wii Fit that my daughter got for her birthday. I was anti-video game for so long and now my day is not complete without doing plank or Ski Slalom or Kung Fu on the Wii. My Mii is plump but lately I've noticed her getting trimmer. Plus, she is FINALLY at a decent "real age" after I was able to find a good center of balance.



As you know, I enjoy the alcohol. I look forward to a drink after a long day...especially if I don't have to drive a carpool later on that evening. My friend Lynn hooked me up with Canton, a ginger liqueur. She serves it with pear vodka, but I find that it is just as delicious mixed into straight vodka for a gingery martini. Hubby pours a splash into his Maker's Mark. Wowza! Ginger is a naturally calming root, too. And mixed with vodka, hell! It's a wonder drug!


Finally, where would we be without relaxing music. I would offer up some of the cool hip indie music I have in rotation, but a lot of it is disturbing or so deliciously rocktastic that it will not soothe you (Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Kanye, Matthew Dear). Some of it is chill. ax. Zero 7 is a favorite of my spouse's and they have a nice new compilation out, Record. On iTunes radio, under the Ambient section, they've taken away my beloved Groove Salad station (it got me through several tropical storms) but you can get it on the sona.fm web site. I also listen to Café Monet and the hilarious Birdsong radio (um, a bunch of chirps. Surprisingly calming!). Jazz-wize, I've been enjoying Nnenna Freelon (Durham's own!) and her latest release. She sang on Mad Men and I didn't even know it! Beach House can be sweet, and they are playing Raleigh in October. (I'll be at a soccer game, so someone let me know how that goes.)



So there you have it - a few ways to relax. Just writing this has been incredibly therapeutic for me, I must say. Of course, I have nothing for dinner and soccer practice in an hour and school starts tomorrow....let me go put on that bird tweet station....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Triumphs

There are three summer triumphs I can think of to write about at the moment. I'm sure there are others....for example, I have actually lost weight this summer despite drinking more than the daily recommended allowance for women over 40. Also, my children went two full weeks without screen time which now qualifies me to nod knowingly as I read John Rosemond's column in the paper. (This is probably worthy of another post, but EVERYONE I know agrees with this guy! And yet, one reads his column and recognizes not only one's own problems and parenting faults, but everyone else's too! I have yet to find a parent who says they don't like him, at least part of the time, but no one seems to really follow his precepts.)

Ok. Back to the three triumphs.

1. My daughter just handed me the copy of Twilight I loaned her, with a bookmark about halfway through, and said, "I don't think I wanna finish this, Mom." !!!! "Why?" "Because the girl just seems so....incompetent."

2. My son, when asked today if he wanted to accept an invitation for a swimming date/sleepover, said, "Nah, I don't think so." !!!! "Why not?" "I'm always really tired and grumpy after sleepovers. I don't sleep all that much and then I don't have any energy the next day."

3. My children, every day since our family viewing of "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", have imitated Pee Wee Herman. !!!!! "Mad Dog! GRRRRRR" "I know you are, but what am I?" "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel."

Take THAT, John Rosemond!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The List

Posting will be light whilst we in my household attempt to cross more things off of our summer goals list. Yes, we made a list. It is written in my husband's illegible script on scrap paper, and posted on the fridge.

So far I would say the big highlight was choosing to go to the Northeast on a (somewhat last minute) jaunt to see friends and chillax. The small highlight would be the classic movies we've screened - only two (what happened to all that movie watching???) but they were both HUMONGOUS hits in the house. More on those later.

Off to some expensive, loud fun park and then to the farmer's market to make some whack recipe my daughter chose.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mad Women

I have very few tv shows on my must-see list. Obviously, LOST was a huge priority, and you know, the Bravo habit, ahem. But from season one, episode one, I've watched "Mad Men".

The premise alone was enough to hook me - late 1950s New York! I LOVE a costume drama. What I didn't realize, tuning in, was that I would be getting a dose of feminist history.

For you see, I think the show is really about women. Hold on, don't tune out or throw things...just think about it...if you are a fan, you'll remember that season one turned on Peggy's changing role and affair with Pete (and the subsequent consequences of that affair). Season two had a lot to do with Betty and Joan....Betty arguably the less strong female, but the one who left her cheating, lying husband (albeit to go with another man) in season three. Joan married, but instead of living the dream, found she missed work, was not appreciated at home, and essentially was humiliated and violated by her husband. And now we have season four...back to Peggy (her hair! Finally!) and Joan, both of whom have major leadership roles at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce. Lane's wife (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS WEEK'S) left him. The real Don Draper's wife is the only person Don seems to love. The one woman Don has a legitimate date with keep's him at arm's reach (a feat unaccomplished by anyone else except maybe the retail store heiress...but even she gave in). Betty...well, we'll just see how Betty comes out in the wash as feminism becomes more prevalent.


I read online that this season seems to be the one where Don becomes pathetic and that the world is moving on without him. Watching the excellent opening credits (with the catchy, catchy licks by my fave RJD2), you see a silhouetted figure's office falling away from him and that theory seems correct. But the silhouette is a man. And the times, they are a' changin'.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Working

It's time I admit, after admitting earlier this summer that I 1. love Bravo, and 2. am a suburban mom and 3. have decided that cooking isn't all that bad, that I am a working mom. I'm not really a stay-at-home mom, though my schedule makes it seem that way. And that's a dangerous thing.

For you see, I am free some mornings - mornings that I often fill by volunteering at school or trying to catch up with friends. I am home in the afternoons with my children, making me available for homework help and carpooling to activities. Most of the summer, I'm free. Folks tend to forget that I actually have a paying job with duties that are somewhat important and co-workers and congregants who are relying on me.

If I had to complain a bit about my very flexible schedule, I would say the following: I have had to essentially quit my book club as it meets during a weekly work event, and I'm generally considered the go-to parent as my husband's job is not nearly as flexible. Yesterday, for example, I worked for a good chunk of time, constantly fielding phone calls and texts from home when, say, the power went out due to storms! Or someone wanted to open a new container of nuts! Needless to say, I was a half-ass employee.

And half-ass parent, I should add.

Which is why I quit full-time work just before I had my second child. I felt like I was not doing a great job at either place, home or work. I wanted to be 100% SOMEWHERE. As it turns out, part-time work is really good for me in terms of my emotional health...challenging, fun, adult time, and the money. But part-time work is not recognized by a lot of circles (I'm looking at you, PTAs of both schools!). So here I am again, in half-ass land.

My husband has been generally great, as a lot of the times I work are when he is home (Sundays, evenings). Still, there are the predictable squabbles over logistics, schedules, and who-does-what.

The money I make has enabled us to go on trips this summer and to send each child to a camp...so it's worth it. Right?

In an age when women truly are getting the upper hand, why does it seem like I still struggle to meet all of the expectations and goals I have? I believe some of it has to do with the area where I live. Most moms here don't work full or even part-time...partly the reason we moved here to begin with (I was very lonely in our other neighborhood where no one was even procreating). That tide seems to be changing a bit, especially as children age out of the preschool years.

I keep thinking what if, what if...what if my parents lived here and could help me...what if we made enough money to warrant hiring someone to help with the house, or with shuttling the children....what if I was able to indulge myself a little more with free time or time with friends....

but mostly, I think our situation is working.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fist World Gratitude

Things I'm thankful for on a cloudy August morning:

Cloudy and relatively cool temps before the heat onslaught today

Air conditioning (see above)

Zyrtec

The thingy I can plug into my iPhone that enables me to play music in the car

The car

The iPhone

Reading glasses in every room

New Yorker magazines in every room

iPhoto's ability to create slideshows from our recent vacation

Our recent vacation

My clogs, worn to ease my aching feet after my long walk at a pastoral field out in the suburbs

The suburbs, and

The free time in which I took said walk.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Embracing the Cooking, Summer Edition

I didn't cook a lot, or didn't cook much in a creative vein, on vacation last week. This week, however, I want to take advantage of summer produce. So we are having:

Baked Pommes Frites

Fresh red-skinned potatoes cut in half lengthwise, then into slices
Put in cold water for a soak
Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
Bake at 400 for 20 - 30 minutes, turning once
Serve with:

Curry Ketchup

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp Curry powder
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp finely chopped onion or shallot

No-Gas Gazpacho

Chopped fresh tomatoes (at our newest local produce market, Bickett Market, I was able to get "Cosmetically challenged tomatoes" for a good dollar less a pound.)
Chopped fresh cucumber (maybe one cuke to two tomatoes is what I did)
Chopped onion
One ginormous garlic clove, minced
fresh basil - about a large stalk
fresh parsley
the juice of a lime
a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar
Hot sauce (your fave)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all this up. Add some tomato juice (I used Clamato). Blend about half of it in a blender, and add it to the chunky bits.

I'll have this with Trader Joe's Crab Cakes, which I'll serve with

Horseradish Mayo

1/2 C. mayo
lots of horseradish
Lemon zest
lemon juice
salt
pepper

and then popsicles for dessert.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm posting on an iPad, in the Apple store. Days after Apple announced that the iPhone 4 kinda doesn't work right. But. There must be 50+ people here, including children. Very tech-savvy children who are turning iPads upside down, tapping on iPod Touches, and navigating giant monitors. Elvis Costello is playing but I can only tell from the bass line. It is loud in here.

Everyone seems happy and productive.

We are in training to learn to use iMovie better. And i won't lie - the minute I find a "genius" who isn't closing on a multiple-thousand dollar sale (it could be a while), I'm going to ask if they can get my iPhone case off for me. The new case protects the big crack in my year-old iPhone.

If this place isn't a church, I'm not sure what is.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I made a decision recently. Why? I'm not sure. I did finish the profane, sometimes funny, and ultimately unsuccessful book "Julie & Julia". Maybe Julie Powell's book influenced me? Maybe Nansch and her cooking experiments at Remlerville helped? Maybe being in my 40s? My decision is to embrace the cooking. The cooking that must be done all the time for not only my family, but for the bereaved and the celebrating within my social circle. So what if my stove only has two working burners! So what if my oven was built circa 1959? I can take my time, go to the store without the children (a new and wonderful development!), watch a little Bravo, and enjoy the cooking.

I tried last night with fish tacos.

Fish Tacos a la Whilst

Marinate two large fillets, cut into chunks, in:
olive oil, the sauce from peppers in adobo, a chopped jalepeño slice, cilantro, cumin, and oregano, whisked together
Dredge the filets in meal or flour
Pan fry in a bit of oil
Serve with:
whole wheat tortillas
chopped tomatoes
chopped cilantro
sour cream with lime juice whisked in
guacamole or chopped avacado

And don't forget the cheeps and salsa.

I made that last night whilst everyone was outside rip sticking or whatever, and drinking a vodka martini (because OH MY GOD they had Russian Standard in Atlanta!! Will it come here? Has it come here??? Well, I imported my own from Georgia.) We sat down with candles and some vihno verde - thanks for turning me onto that tasty summer treat, Carole!

It was a good summer night. I did NOT do the dishes.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Why I Love Twitter

Most people dismiss Twitter by saying, "I don't have time for that." Well, I'll tell you what I don't have time for -- reading all of the news, or watching CNN, or actually turning on ESPN to see where LeBron goes on a book club Thursday night. Instead, I open up twitter.com and read CNN Breaking News, @cnnbrk. Or I get a Haiti update from musician Richard Morse, @RAMHaiti. @SarahKSilverman and @ruthbourdain (an amalgam of Anthony Bourdain and Ruth Reichl that pokes fun at foodie culture) never fail to make me gasp at their obscenities. (And then I laugh my head off.) I love my Raleigh tweeps - @jetmars, @pinkpodster, @jrr4 among them, and I keep up with the Triangle culture and music scene almost solely through Twitter since I work Sundays (thus too sleepy to go out on Saturday nights) and raise children (thus too sleepy to go out on Friday nights). @_CCDs is my beloved Carolina Chocolate Drops' chronicle of their climb to fame and fortune, @BUSYBEECAFE always sounds so hip, young and fun, and @AmerDanceFest is enlightening.

I can even keep up with friends who live far away and have world-tripping, fabulous careers!

My own Twitter missives (you can read them in the sidebar) are mostly relevant to me and me alone. I love to "re-tweet" stuff I find interesting and I especially love when someone replies to me. I like to think of myself as a local Raleigh promoter/observer of culture/mommy Tweeter.

And yes, since you asked, writing 140 characters is a hell of a lot easier than writing a blog post!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July

Ooops, didn't make it under the wire to enter in another "nice thing" post in June. Suffice to say, I'm looking forward to a quieter few weeks than the past ones. I'm currently in my nightsuit (a family word), drinking cuppa coffee #3, done with the paper, done with the dishes and doing laundry, and planning our next....

CAR PURCHASE.

Alas.

So we lost a car in the great ice storm of ought-two, then the replacement car we got for that was faulty and has died this week (or, rather, could be resusciatated to the tune of four grand), at some point our beloved 13 y.old Mazda went South, and now we have a used car with 60K and the aforementioned illin' minivan.

Bad car luck.

Shopping has been quick and dirty. Test driving with opinionated children is somewhat hilarious. "Mom, is this the V-6? I think the headroom is not that great, look at Daddy's hair sticking to the roof! Mommy, you want a black car, just like your first car after college!" Finding a car that has great MPG and is affordable is just plain dirty. But I will say car shopping has meant some soul-searching, and I've discovered some truths about our little clan.

First, my daughter will be driving in four years!! FOUR! That's not that far away! Secondly, we do have serious environmental concerns. I actually walked away from a car that would have suited us yesterday due to fuel economy. Third, my husband is a tightwad. Love you honey! Fourthly, we are social people. The car we all liked the best is probably not going to work - because it cannot do the jobs of: carting around my parents when they are in town, carrying our baby cousins + the big kids, carpooling to school and sports, or carrying our bikes if we want to ride the greenway.

We carpool enough that I think it warrants the bigger vehicle, and we also feel like for four years (until daughter is driving) we can justify another minivan/crossover or SUV (as long as it gets decent MPG). Our 2nd car is small and very fuel-efficient, and we will take it on long trips just as frequently as the new car.

Our latest idea is a car that is not a minvan but actually gets better gas mileage than "ole Bessy", and will be a great people hauler for me during the week and a great sports-activity transporter on the weekends. It's not a hybrid - we couldn't afford it - but I'm going to strive to drive as little as possible whilst raising these crazy kiddos and do what I can elsewhere to offset my carbon shoe size.

There, have I justified myself? I'm a suburban mom...it's time I admitted it. And that's a title I'm glad to have. Thoughts/comments welcome!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Movies

Ok, ok, I haven't seen any of the new releases, save Shrek The Fourth or whatever it's called (which I loved, natch, because of the cat). But I have seen a bunch o' movies in the last couple of weeks. We've had early mornings and busy days so I keep falling asleep. Thus, many of these were seen over a couple of days. But I get 'er done.

Zombieland was recommended by a good friend who said she guffawed through the whole thing. Friend, you are a bit twisted. But so am I. It IS funny...it's just GROSS. Vile, disgusting...but the kid in it is going to be a major star. And congrats to Woody Harrelson for making a wonderful life from a walk-on guest starring role in a tv series.



Los Secretos de Sus Ojos won the Best Foreign Language Oscar. It was good, if not transparent...i.e. I felt as though I could read the filmmaker's thoughts. There were beautiful moments and huge human truths...all thanks to great acting. My husband kept comparing it to Almodóvar...but I think a better comparison would be with some other noirish director, like Taylor Hackford.




Invictus is what I'm going to call a family movie. For my two, old enough to deal and curious enough about the world to be interested, (not to mention their sports-fanaticism) this was a great choice. Also? MATT DAMON. I loved it...I think Clint Eastwood has great tricks for subtle exposition. The story is much bigger than the rugby matches shown, and I think the film did a respectable job of highlighting apartheid's horrors while showing the - gradual - improvements in South Africa. For a harsher view of apartheid, see: District 9.



Breathless was part of my annual desire to become more well-versed in film (see: the great Fellini experiment of ought-eight). It's outstanding! I like the strange pacing, the whole look of it, and the freshness. Yes, it still seems fresh lo these many years later. I know just about nothing about Truffaut or Godard, but I can see that this was vanguard filmmaking in its day. We'll be exploring more. By the way, we were able to see this on the Wii! You can stream movies, if you didn't know, through a Wii with a Netflix account. Since my children don't play the Wii all that much it works for us...the picture quality is not stellar but I hear they are working on it.



An Education was not my cuppa. Well, yes it was - it evoked the time period in which it was set quite fully (see: Mad Men; Friday Night Lights). And I'm not immune to the pleasures of Peter Sarsgaard. However, the characters were basically despicable and the plot was predictable. Am I the only one who felt this way? (oh, I guess not.) Maybe it's all Nick Hornby's fault. And what's with the dumb blonde? That was ridiculous.




Shattered Glass was a movie I knew nothing about - but again with the Peter Sarsgaard! This was a well-told tale and a fascinating one to boot. Mindless summer fun with just enough injustice to make you distrust the media. I was especially loving the interactions between the journalist Stephen Glass and his work colleagues. Office politics at the most smarmy and needy!! Recommended for your viewing enjoyment.




Next up: we're going to let the children see Avatar, we're going to go sob through Toy Story 3, and my pre-teen has requested to see The Notebook. (God help us all.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things That Made Me Laugh This Week

They will make you laugh, too:

Comic Sans essay on McSweeney's (NSFW in terms of profanity, but SFW in terms of hilarity.)


Colbert's Word: PR-mageddon. The only way to laugh at the oil spill.

The Onion (which is just overall generally very much something that makes me laugh) on the NCAA conference realignment.

This (loved mainly for Marion Cotillard) (moderately NSFW):

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hot

How to beat this heat? Well, there's no beating it. I remember sitting on a porch for over an hour in my childhood, rocking or bouncing in a wrought iron chair, and realizing it was safer to sit there than to play. I remember lifeguarding all day under an umbrella and seeing the bank thermometer read 104 at 4 p.m., then jumping straight into the pool at 5. I remember passing out after softball games in Savannah, revived with Gatorade (I love it to this day), bananas, and a mint-alcohol rub down.

This heat, really, after all that, is just not that bad.

But we've been hot for sure. Here are some of the things my family has done in a muggy June week:

1. Frozen our tubes of yogurt for a quick snack right out of the freezer.

2. Filled empty Gatorade bottles with water and frozen them to take in coolers when we go out and about.

3.Went to the new North Carolina Museum of Art and enjoyed the cool, then jumped in the fountains (where, by the way, one kid got a hell of a cut on his knee - friends don't let friends wear Crocs!)

4. Rented an Alfred Hitchcock movie. We went with North by Northwest as recommended by this site.

5. Pool time at our friends' delightful, landscaped backyard getaway and at our pool club. I took watermelon and cantaloupe balls in a cooler, and cucumber sandwiches with hummus spread. The children were noshing maniacs when they weren't flipping, diving, and throwing the ball.

6. Went to the mall to check out the Lego store, eat an international meal at the food court, and play with iPads.

7. Drove to the beach for a quicky trip, rode in the waves, ate shrimp, and fished in the surf.

8. Did a yoga tape in our arctic den. We used throw blankets for yoga mats.

9. Made banana blueberry ice cream - kinda sorta low fat - very tasty! Low fat sweetened condensed milk, 1 quart half and half, smushed banana, and I added blueberries at the very end of the freezing process.

10. Currently? We are lying around, reading, singing, and playing online Scrabble.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Confession

I've never watched an episode of OPRAH! all the way through. (The only episodes I attempted to watch involved celebrity guests whom I admire.)

I've been very guilty of scanning Internet articles and blogs instead of carefully reading.

But lately, whilst making dinner.....


,,,,,,,


,,,,,,I've been watching Bravo.

Ok, ok, you got me. I'm their DEMOGRAPHIC, right? So why shouldn't I watch? Oh, because it is killing my brain cells. Because I would learn more reading great literature. Because it highlights the worst parts of our culture and society.

True enough!

And yet:


Tabitha! It's so so good. She comes into a hair salon, immediately identifies the good people and the bad people, and then is a complete badass stylist whilst turning a failing business around. I've probably seen three complete shows, and in each one of them, her marketing advice is sound and (supposedly) the business and the bad people mend their ways. Perhaps this show is not so mindless after all.

Then there's the Millionaire Matchmaker.



This one is harder to watch when the children are home, as Patti, the host, encourages her millionaires to "think with (your) penis" and often tells the potential dates to dress more provocatively using words a bit offensive to this pseudo-feminist. A caveat: I quit watching this show once the millionaires select their prey and go on their dates. I'm only in it for Patti.

Which brings us to Padma. Of course I love Top Chef - and this one my whole family can enjoy. New season starts next Wednesday! Padma has given up her cheeseburgers and now has a new baby.




So, you may wonder, what do I think of The Real Housewives? I will admit to watching only the Housewives of New York. Why? I don't know. Probably because, you know, New York! But sheesh these women are annoying and all they do is fight. I tried to watch New Jersey but again: New Jersey. I like the Countess best of the Manhattanites.



Bravo!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hello June!

June has brought with it a hell of a lot of rain...and thus, many events canceled or postponed, and we haven't gotten to the pool much (oh BOO HOO...Wahhhh!). June has brought a new family member to love - a tiny, sweet precious infant. I shall not rest until I get my hands on said infant...we visit in a few weeks. June means that I made it through Memorial Day weekend in a house full of family with no where to go. June is my daughter's birthday month, the end of school, and camp week when my husband and I get three nights alone.

Much to celebrate!

(Don't worry, I'm still crabby. For instance, our lack of planning means we still don't have a family vacation on the books and now we are in a holding pattern due to soccer. Sports parent purgatory!)

But in the spirit of celebration, I'd like to make June a month of blogging happy times. I'm going to find something pleasant to share with you many times in June (notice I am not committing to every day. No, that would require planning!). June is still a work month for me (July is MUCH slower) so why not do a bit of blogging whilst planning an organ mini-recital?

For today's share moment, I bring you Bill Cunningham's On the Street video feature from the Times online. I am not a particularly spiffy dresser, but I do like to try, and I certainly love white clothes, especially shirts. Bill focuses on white and white's relatives in his video. I can't embed, but do click here and enjoy his feature entitled "Bleached".

Also, some pretty white clothes & accessories I've seen about recently:

Holly Aiken iPad Sleeve





Bobble Pearl and flower necklace at Charlotte Russe (via suburbanbliss.net)



Lands' End Hibiscus Batik slimming one-piece (the real title of this suit was really long and hard to remember).


International Concepts at Macy's ruffled, sleeveless, smocked-waist top.



Clarks Salon Joy flip flop (these might hurt your feet, though I do love Clarks' soles - cushy!)




Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Found.

I am NOT, btw, one of the haters of the Lost finale. Au contraire, mon frere....I found it satisfying, delicious, and deep. I was excited and happy about the action sequences (though not blown away - and maybe a good thing as the show can be more than a little violent), thrilled and moved by the many reunions (Sawliet!), and satisfied with the ending. Indeed, I felt as though the ending was a lot like my own life-view and spirituality. Call me wishy-washy, but I think there is room for many interpretations of the higher power and souls. Room also on our planet many religions, and for the questioning of your own chosen doctrine. Lost seemed to ensure us that such questioning is ok, but that ultimately we are all in this together and have to find a way to get together. Only connect, like E.M. Forster said, or realize your purpose on earth is to help your fellow man, a la George Eliot. Maybe I'll get my husband to explain how Blake and C.S. Lewis fit into the finale.

Ultimately, I feel better now, not only about the show ending but about a lot of things...the ending was cathartic and comforting all at once.

And people, I am talking about a TELEVISION SHOW!

So in order to convince you that I am not insane and that I have a sense of humor, I present:

The Shirtless Men of Lost:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lost.

I feel like I did when the 7th Harry Potter book was out and I was only a few chapters to the end. I wanted it over with, and couldn't push myself to finish it. LOST is ending - AS YOU KNOW (good heavens! The media are on overdrive!).

And yet....the media attention is warranted. What was great about Lost for me was more than stuff you might think - including the fact that I have a personal connection with the cast (one that I'm surely proud of but don't need to crow about on the Internet). What's great about Lost is the emotion of it. There were nights when I got all the heft and weight and feeling of a novel - from one scene! There were episodes that caused me to leave the tv room sobbing, and nights when I left laughing. Sometimes huge connections between characters didn't really absorb me at all, and then the tiniest moments would make me leap from my chair.




What may also be big for me about this show ending is how the past six years have been those of my children's childhood. The childhood they are basically leaving at this point. They hated Lost, because it meant shortened reading time, or no glass of water brought to the bed, or that they would have to sneak downstairs to get our attention. They loved Lost for one big reason, and we've let them see some of it because of that...and someday, we plan to watch all six seasons as a family (that day is NOT at hand, and I'm looking at you, John Locke!).





And now, we have a real-life smoke monster heading toward the Gulf, and we have Jacob versus The Brother in the world and within our government's and school board's halls, and as for the island? I really, really want to go back. I have to go back.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ADF!

For some reason, my husband and I latched onto ADF as young marrieds in the Triangle. Then a dear, dear friend came and interned there one summer (read: free tickets) and we were hooked. Not that we haven't seen crap at ADF - it's modern dance after all! The very Summer of the Internship was, however, when we first saw Mark Dendy and he became our favorite. I vaguely remember also getting free tickets from our DJ neighbor and first seeing the fully nude solo piece, "Bardo", front row center. VAGUELY.

Anywho.

Mark Dendy is a native North Carolinian and recently did a site-specific work for the opening of the spectabulous North Carolina Museum of Art's new wing. He's done some notable stage choreography and been a generally good representative egg for our state.

I think Afternoon of the Fawn is my favorite piece of his. Until he returns this summer. Holla!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The End of Things

Along with May's craziness comes the endings. I thought this year was going to be easy, since no one was graduating or going off to Kindergarten. But no, OTHER STUFF ENDS TOO! We saw our daughter play her last soccer game with a team that has been mostly pretty great for her. She remarked that she might never see some of her teammates again, and that's true! How to ease her through that transition? Well, you know me! I responded with, "Honey, you're right. You probably won't see them again. Or maybe you'll run into them in the airport, as I do with my old lovers." Or something like that.

And our son has decided not to play football in the fall. This is ultimately the best, safest thing. But his coach loved him and we were all "Friday Night Lights" about it and now what to do with Mr. Wiggly Pants?

Two of our elementary teachers and one preschool teacher are retiring. And a friend is moving away - not far, but away.

Stuff ends and stuff begins and the many, varied phases of life continue to bewilder me. I read somewhere recently (ok, it was in Real Simple. What? When your kids have orthodontia you'll read it in the waiting room, too!) that the best way to deal with a furious pace in life is to not "look at the tray". Waiters use this trick to keep their heavy-laden trays balanced - they don't look at it. We in modern America, raising families and media socializing and corporate climbing must not look at the tray. Just take it order by order, drink by plate, hour by hour. And now, a deep, collective, cleansing breath. Namaste.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First World Problems

I think it might have been Dooce who termed a phrase akin to "first world whining". I have just about nothing to be upset about. A friend has contracted the services of Hospice this week, the Gulf oil spill seems very real to me, and my friends' families in Nashville have it much worse than you have heard in the media.

So it is with a sense of humor that I present to you my upper? middle class white woman woes:

1. The yard guy mowed down my clematis plant!

2. I have plantar fasciatis from all my gym time.

3. My children have EOG testing and I have to make full, hearty, protein enriched breakfasts at the crack of dawn for almost a full week.

4. I am proctoring an EOG exam and better not say anything else about THAT on the Internet or the testing gestapo will get me.
Suffice to say, I am really, really nervous about not being able to drink or pee for 2 1/2 hours.

5. I don't know how to spend the remaining cultural arts funds without making the middle school administration mad.

6. We are down to two burners on our cooktop that work (see #3).

7. I have to go listen to a band of lawyers next weekend.

8. I'm hungrier than usual on a new reduced calorie diet.

9. My son left a cooler and a high-dollar water bottle at soccer practice, never to be found again. And my son & husband lost all of our freezer ice packs at a tournament.

10. Due to big events at work being reshuffled, and my rescheduling for these events, I now am missing them anyway and am getting extra vacation, which is awesome and yet I don't get paid!

BOY DO I FEEL LIKE A HEEL NOW!

Nothing like listing out your woes to make them seem so inconsequential. And yet, I would really love to take some water to the gym today, except we don't have any bottles and my feet hurt.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For Mother's Day I got a PowerPoint presentation (actually, it was Keynote). Complete with sound! Children and husband singing "Happy Mother's Day", and also a plaintive wail, "I want a bunnyyyyy".

I also got a teacher-led essay that featured such sentiments as, "...even if she is yelling at me I know she still loves me" and "...she makes me laugh when we are in the car and my mom makes a really sharp turn and she screeches like a car" and, describing our mountain hikes, "She always thinks she sees a bear because she would die to see on out in the wilderness but it is usually just a stump".

(That last one? That pretty much sums me up right there.)

I also got a homemade dinner after eating out a few meals this weekend, and working all morning. With china and crystal and sparkly water and fruit, this was a very special Mother's Day dinner indeed.

From Joy of Cooking:

Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche

Prepare homemade dough, or if you are a husband racing to have a meal on the table for your working wife as we were, use a prepared pie crust!

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Prepare and set aside:

I lb plum tomatoes (about 6), cored, quartered lengthwise and seeded

Crumble into a bowl:

4 oz fresh goat cheese

Slowly mash in wieth the back of a wooden spoon until smooth:

3/4 C half & half or heavy cream
1/2 C milk
*we used half & half and skim milk

Add and whisk until smooth:

3 large eggs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or savory, or 3 tbsp fresh basil
* we used thyme, but won't the basil be good later this summer!
1/4 tsp kosher salt
plenty of ground black pepper

Arrange the tomatoes quarters in the shell like the spokes of a wheel, with the pointed end (blossom end) toward the center of the quiche. Fill in the center with more quarters. Pour the cheese mixture over the tomatoes and bake until the pastry and top are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the quiche rest for 10 minutes to settle, then cut into wedges and serve.