Friday, November 30, 2012
In early January, I declared this to be the "year of enjoy." The final half of 2011 was stressful, and I was longing to impose some pleasure into our lives in an official way. It doesn't quite work that way, of course, but I'm happy to have made the effort.
The things on that list did bring me joy - I love vacations and making new friends as much as the next person - perhaps even more so. But even a year filled with goodness has many moments of stress and sadness and frustration. At times I wonder about my extreme commitment to all-things-fun. Is it shallow? Completely self-absorbed? I tend to maintain that it's a tough world out there, and you need to fight for as much happiness as you can get. It's my responsibility to make things in my life as good as possible. But sometimes I think my focus should shift more toward kindness, hospitality, forgiveness.
Oh, I don't know. Let's awkwardly transition back to my catch-up on the list, shall we? For the most part, I successfully did everything I set out to do. I still need to make pate - hopefully this weekend. We have an adventurous couple coming over for dinner on Saturday night, and I think they'll be up for trying my experimentation. We're also short one weekend trip. That should happen over Christmas break, though we are vacillating wildly between being brave and doing a long road trip down to Charleston and Savannah, or just going to...Maine. I know. We need to just decide.
I'm going to try to fully embrace this last month of the year with a full and happy heart. I want to watch Elf, do lots of yoga, drink a little too much Prosecco, and go to Christmas concerts. And I want to finish up all my shopping in the next few days. For the past few years, our list of people to shop for has grown (a happy problem to have, all things considered!), but all the angst of finding the perfect thing at the perfect price point was bringing me down. This year, I started shopping in August (!), picking up the pretty great thing at the good-enough price. I know most people were clued into this trick ages ago, but I'm thrilled it finally sunk in for me. I love actually giving people their gifts, but I'm very happy that the acquiring process is nearly done. It's cleared the decks for more Prosecco!
As we turn the page onto December, I wish you all a very happy weekend. Let's all try to enjoy it.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I have a long walk as part of my commute now, and need some good everyday boots for the journey. Going back and forth between brown and black, I found these guys. I can't tell if this is actually the worst of both worlds, though? Please weigh in if you have any brilliant boot thoughts to share.
Bringham's Peppermint Stick ice cream is just about the most perfect holiday treat, and it's in stores now. Peter's family introduced me to the magic of Bringham's, and I'm a total convert - best store-bought ice cream out there. I think this is a New England-based company, and I do apologize if you can't purchase it in your neck of the woods. I'm taunting you with the perfect seasonal ice cream.
Most of you probably saw The Big Lebowski sometime between 1998 and now. But I am uncool and had never seen it until last week. Oh my gooooooodness, I am obsessed. The chair scene? The phone scene? The bowling?! Public service announcement: it's only on Netflix Instant until 12/1!
A few fun links:
What are you loving lately? And seriously, please weigh in on the boots.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I've posted this before, but here's the recipe for your convenience. Happy Thanksgiving to all! XO
15 oz can of pumpkin
12 oz evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups pecans, crushed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 box yellow cake mix, *without pudding
2 sticks butter or margarine, melted
Preheat oven to 325 F
In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar and eggs in a bowl with a fork or whisk until smooth. Pour into a 9x13 inch glass pan (spray first with non-stick coating). Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle pecans over cake mix. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the middle is just slightly jiggly.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I went to an entire football game! And it was fun, you guys! Mostly because the team we were cheering for won. My main problem with my budding sports fan-dom is that things regularly don't go your way. I know this is the deal - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose - but I'm really bad at that. I'm always threatening to jump ship when things look dire to root for the other guys.
After the game, Peter's parents and siblings all came to our house for dinner. We made cassoulet, and it was really good - perfect post-game food. My brother- and sister-in-law were so impressed. "This looks so good! You should take a picture and blog about this!" I claimed it would be terrible - a photo that would inspire absolutely no one to make it. No greens, lack of natural light, live sausages poking through! I'm showing you anyway (obviously).
Try not to crash Pinterest with this one, okay?!
P.S. My favorite players on the team.
Friday, November 16, 2012
I had an idea to post a bunch of rah-rah America books to get you in the spirit for the Thanksgiving holiday next week (stuff like this and this). But Thanksgiving can be sort of intense, and I decided it would be more helpful to recommend a bit of escapist fiction that is truly good. Something I think everyone under the sun will get a kick out of, you know?
My most recent discovery in this elusive category is The Dud Avocado. Set in Paris in the '50s, narrator Sally Jay Gorce takes you along on her (many!) romantic escapades, wardrobe malfunctions, disappointing vacations, and acting stints. She's a brat, and I love her completely.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Peter and I are hosting two large dinner parties over the weekend. One for eight on Friday night, and another for a different eight on Saturday night. Oh my!
For Friday, we've settled on cottage pie and a giant salad. On Saturday, we'll serve cassoulet and a giant salad. I'm going to make two homemade ice creams this week, and serve those at both. No matter how many people we have coming over for dinner, I always do the same basic thing for appetizers - a platter with cheese, salumi, nuts, olives, and crackers.
In a strange way, it feels almost easier to do them both back to back, buying and making everything times two and then swapping out the main dish! We'll see if I'm singing the same tune in the aftermath next week :)
Anybody hosting Thanksgiving next week? We get to be guests on Thanksgiving, but I feel like I'm getting my fix of cooking for a crowd over the weekend!
Monday, November 12, 2012
I made these Brussels sprouts last week, and they were so good and easy, I had to share. Anybody still looking for Thanksgiving sides? These would be lovely.
The Brussels sprouts were quartered, doused in olive oil and salt, and went into the oven at 400 degrees. While those were getting started cooking, I peeled and chopped an apple, and added the apple and about 1/4 cup of chopped pancetta to the roasting pan. I gave it a shake, and let it hang out for another 15-20 minutes - just until the Brussels have some dark spots and a few crispy leaves.
I served it all on top of blue cheese grits (You know the secret to making any side a main, right? Add a grain).
Hope you are all have a fantastic November! Peter and I are home today for Veteran's Day, and we're going to bop out to Concord for a healthy dose of the natural world on Walden Pond.