Monday, January 23, 2012

Heard: lunchtime conversations

S: Aw man, they [the takeout place] put a ton of bean sprouts in my soup.
Me: I actually like bean sprouts. 
C: Me too.
Me: You know what else I like?
C: Celery.
Me: .... How did you--?
C: You talk about celery a lot.
Me: I talk about celery a lot?
C: Kind of.
Me: [aghast] 
C: "I love celery! I sit next to it at parties."
Me: I-- that's-- huh.  I have actually said that before.
C: Yep.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On passports and Pinterest

I woke up this morning in a panic about renewing my passport.

It took a minute to get my bearings. Where am I? In bed. Am I late for work? No, it's Saturday. There's snow on the ground. Go back to sleep. But my passport! What about it? It's expired. So? So, I need it! Why? For the trip to Italy!

... The what?  Then I remembered a lengthy and rather vivid dream wherein I was preparing for a trip to Italy and for which i would obviously need my passport. It  was at this point that I realized that I shouldn't peruse Pinterest right before going to bed. I had been pinning stuff to my "Places to Visit" board, and obviously it was messing with my subconscious.

This morning, of course, I can't stop thinking about planning trips, despite the fact that, given last year's excessive travel, I  recently implemented the Air Travel Moratorium of 2012 (Except For When Necessitated By Weddings), which is a key part of Austerity Measures 2012, in which I tighten the reins on my bank account.

I'm mixing my metaphors a little, but you get the idea.

So: any thoughts on cheap but awesome trips to take this year--preferably within driving distance of D.C.?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Life List: Memorize 25 Poems (#2)

For Christmas my grandparents gave me Good Poems, an anthology of poetry edited by Garrison Keillor. I've been reading a poem a day, and this one made me laugh.

By Arthur Guiterman

No matter what we are and who,
Some duties everyone must do. 

A Poet puts aside his wreath
To wash his face and brush his teeth,

    And even Earls
    Must comb their curls,

   And even Kings
   Have underthings.

Moo points

Despite initially poo-poohing the whole blogging thing, my sister has joined the ranks of the navel-gazing elite (and has become the second member of the family with a blog referencing a Friends episode).  

Welcome to the interwebs, G! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Life List: Learn to make Yorkshire Pudding

Of the assorted nationalities that comprise my family tree--French, German (I...think?), Irish, English, who knows what else--I'd say the one that I felt most tied to growing up was English. This was in large part because my great-grandfather, who I remember a little, immigrated from England, and my grandmother still has family there who I have met. Both my grandmother and great aunt, despite having lived in the U.S. their whole lives, still have distinctly British qualities about them--habits, preferences, etc--many of which have rubbed off on me.

Not the least of these is a deep and abiding love of Yorkshire pudding. England is not exactly known for its dazzling cuisine, at least in comparison to the rich traditions of places like France or Italy, but no food says England to me quite like a traditional English Roast: roast beef, roasted veggies, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy.  During my semester abroad, I spent many Sunday mornings exploring the various churches and cathedrals in London, returning home for lunch at our local pub, which--like many pubs--boasted a delicious Sunday roast dinner.

For Christmas this year, we decided to forgo the usual turkey with all the trimmings and, instead, pull out another family favorite: roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.  And since learning to make Yorkshire pudding is on my Life List, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a go.  So I enlisted my father, our resident Yorkshire pudding-making expert, to teach me (with some assistance from the Joy of Cooking). And as it turns out, it's pretty easy to make, so without further ado....

Yorkshire Pudding
Traditionally, Yorkshire pudding was cooked in the same pan as the roast, allowing the drippings to fall into the batter as it cooked.  It was also used as a sort of "filler" course amongst poorer families who couldn't afford much meat.  Nowadays it serves as the starch, alongside the roast, root vegetables, and gravy. We also double the usual recipe, because you can never have too much Yorkshire pudding.  There were five of us at Christmas dinner, and we ate every last crumb of it.

Start with all your ingredients at room temperature.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The year in review

True to form, I'm a few weeks late on the annual year in review post, which has popped up in various forms all over the blogosphere, including on Holly's blog and Jules' too.  I had planned to do it during jury duty the week after New Years, but instead I was picked for a panel and found myself sitting through a seemingly endless voir dire process. But better late than never! Perhaps that shall be my mantra for 2012.  Here we go...

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Lots of things! Booked a trip on a whim. Ate a $200 meal. Watched my sister get married.  Went to a Red Sox game. Set an ambitious goal and met it. Dropped a lot of dollars on car repair. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? 
Well. Yes and yes/no-ish.  I set a goal to read 50 books in 2011, and I totally did it, ya'll! Ten points, Gryffindor. I shall be blogging about that shortly.

The other resolution was to go join a gym and go regularly. And I did! Four times a week....for a month (it was March). And then I let my membership lapse.  But I rejoined last week. 2012 is the year, folks! 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? work friends count? If so, then yes: two people.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
No other countries, but I traveled quite a bit domestically, mostly with or to visit friends or family, or for weddings (SO MANY WEDDINGS): New York City; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Florida; South Carolina; Tennessee; Boston and Vermont; Norfolk/Williamsburg, VA; West Virginia; Saint Louis; and Georgia.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Better self-discipline with regard to a) going to the gym and b) finances.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 5: the day my sister got married.
October 22: the day my best friend from childhood, who i hadn't seen or spoken to for three years, got married in a tiny, perfect backyard wedding (with a bonfire!)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Honestly, I'm pretty proud of the book thing, minor as it may be. It feels good to have stayed on track with something for the whole year, even if it is something that I love and that comes naturally to me.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Biggest? Well, I don't know about that, but i most regret fizzling out at the gym. And it started out SO WELL.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from a handful of colds, and the Mysterious Leg Weirdness of Summer/Fall 2011, not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My iPad! Tickets to Company in New York, which led to an awesome trip. The perfect black cigarette pants. Le Creuset for G's wedding, which got the reaction I was hoping for ("Shut the front door. Are you kidding me?!"). Gorgeous shoes, marked down to $17, my size, and the only pair left.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel. Weddings. Unexpected car issues (new tires and smashed mirrors).

13. What did you get really excited about?
Travel plans and visits with friends and family. My sister's wedding.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," which--while awesome--was on the radio ALL THE TIME, and Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory," mainly because of that righteous sax solo.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Same. Same. Poorer (see also: all those weddings. It was an expensive year).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Kept up with the regular gym-going (are you sensing a pattern?).  Better meal-planning.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Frivolous spending.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Tennessee with my parents/sister/brother-in-law, and then in Georgia with the grandparents/aunts-n-uncles/cousins.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
There was a lot of good TV this year, but Modern Family, New Girl, and The Good Wife stand out. And I became OBSESSED with Downton Abbey.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Again, a post is forthcoming on the many books I read this year (get excited!), but the ones that most stuck with me were Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, and, for sheer can't-put-it-down-ness, The Hunger Games trilogy.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Adele's entire 21 album. New discovery Laura Marling. The Milk Carton Kids-- I will be forever grateful to Luke for pointing out their free-to-download albums.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I saw more movies this year than usual...but i really don't remember what they were. I really enjoyed Crazy Stupid Love. And I finally watched the last Harry Potter movie, though technically I watched it on the second day of 2012.  But other than that...?

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I spent a perfect, low-key 28th birthday (the best kind!) at our local bar & grill with a bunch of friends.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Wow. I really can't think of anything. It was a pretty excellent year, all things considered.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Whatever is clean.

....Oh, you want more than that? Ballet flats. Cardigans. Scarves. Lots of dresses all year. Lots of boots in the fall/winter. I just...wear what I like on a given day. But that's true every year, not just in 2011.

26. What kept you sane?
Reading. My friends and family. Lots of tea.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Always, always have something to look forward to.

Oh, and WebMD is the enemy.