Does tomatillo liqueur sound good or gross? If it sounds good, should I add sugar, or an onion? As my ham, cheese, pickle, and banana tapas lunch yesterday would indicate, I am perhaps too reckless with taste combinations and should not be trusted with good vodka.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
At school about a week before Thanksgiving, Thea's class drew portraits of their families. Here is Thea's:
That's Amy, Heather in the middle, and Thea, who wants to go live with them. At her teacher's urging, she drew the family she does live with on the back:
Todd, me, Thea, and Liam. The boys have short hair, and the girls have long hair and eyelashes.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"The law has limits. She doesn't."
For my first morning as someone who is unemployed (briefly and temporarily), I celebrated by watching a whole movie, start to finish, in one sitting. Silver Hawk is about a super model, Lulu Wong played by Michelle Yeoh, who moonlights as a superhero. While the movie is terrible in a lot of ways — badly written and acted, scenarios too implausible even for the premise — it's also tons of fun, gorgeously monochromatic, and the most feminist movie I've seen in a long time.
Lulu's love interest, Rich Man (no, seriously, that's the character's name), is a buffoonish policeman who knew and loved her back when she was a little girl who could kick his ass. He's not the hero, not the one who swoops in and saves Lulu, and not the guy who will out-smart her. But he is a loyal, sweet, and questionably funny dork.
Rich's partner is his long-time friend, gorgeous and competent Lieutenant Lisa. There is no chemistry at all between Rich and Lisa, no subcurrent of sexual tension or innuendo. Though she's totally underutilized, she's the stern Danny Glover to Rich's spazzy Mel Gibson in the buddy-cop paradigm.
Anyway, I could do a big long feminist deconstruction of the movie as a whole and every character in it, but I won't. You're welcome. But if you're looking for a goofy, female-lead action movie that doesn't make you think "Geez, Steve Trevor, out of the way already," Silver Hawk's your gal.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The other night I dreamed I was cleaning out my office — as I am in real life, about to switch jobs — and realized I had a number of plants that I had completely forgotten about. Although I hadn't watered them in almost a year, they were still green, dry but basically healthy. A little care and they'd be good as new, and maybe even better for the neglect. I woke up feeling hopeful.
NaBloPoMo friend Battered Ham tagged me with the 7-things meme. It's great timing, because I've been thinking about what I've learned with this most recent job search.
1. You are interviewing the job, too. I was seriously considering a position at an advocacy organization, but was worried about the hours. Those kinds of organizations are usually staffed with young, childless people who are out to save the world, and they can suck you dry. When I asked what they did to keep from losing themselves in their jobs — thinking they'd say "We go home at 5:00; the world will still need saving tomorrow" — the reply was, "We schedule regular happy hours to decompress." Great! Can I bring my kids, and can someone entertain them when they get tired and cranky?
2. Always negotiate salary. For one thing, the job always has a range to offer and will start on the low end. It is management's job to get you for as little as they're able to.
3. Negotiating salary makes you a more valuable employee. My friend Tara related this anecdote: She had been hired at a new job with a higher salary than she was originally offered, and a short time later had a dozen little fires to put out. Not a huge deal, just typical new job things. Her boss was telling his boss what a great job she was doing and how, even though it required some budget-juggling, he was glad she was on board. The big boss said, "Tell me something, what kind of car do you drive?" Tara's boss said, "A Toyota. Why?" Big boss says, "I drive a Mercedes, and while both our cars get us to the job at the same time, I'm glad to be sitting in my Mercedes when I hit Beltway traffic." Meaning (a) he paid more for the Mercedes, which makes it worth more than a Toyota that does the same thing, and (b) yes, upper-management is often staffed by jackasses.
4. Negotiating salary is easy. Basically, it goes something like this: "I'm really excited about this position, but I make X at my current job, so I couldn't make the move for less than Y (at least $5K more than your current salary)." Tara says that she has always been able to increase her starting salary by just asking for more money.
5. After salary, find out what other benefits they can offer. For example, a lot of companies are letting employees telecommute at least part time. This can save on commuting costs, obviously, but also on things like lunches and wardrobe.
6. Find out about the status quo. This was a hard-won epiphany. No matter what your ego says, an organization is not just waiting for the right person with the right ideas at the right time to come along and make everything better. If they're not already doing something you're interested in, they probably won't be, despite having hired magical you.
7. Trust your instincts and be patient. I agonized about turning down one position that seemed perfect: interesting work, great location, and truly fabulous people to work with. But one small thing was off — only 7 sick days per year — which could have a huge impact on the elusive work/life balance, especially for someone with two small kids and a disabled mom. It killed me to turn the position down, but it left me open for something that would give me the great job without potentially taking anything away from my family.
How about you? What have you learned in 2007?
Monday, November 26, 2007
- One pound fresh cranberries
- Sliced and scraped peel of 1/4 orange
- Sliced and scraped peel of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups sugar syrup
- 1 1/2 cups vodka
(Once you strain the liqueur, put the cranberries in a saucepan and cook them for about 15 minutes, until they're the right color, kind of dark magenta. At this point they're ready to be made into cranberry relish.)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Every year I make this cranberry sauce. It's amazing, and this year I improved on it by greatly increasing the cayenne pepper — what the hell, the kids never eat the cranberry sauce, anyway — and using cranberries that have been soaking in vodka, orange zest, and sugar syrup for 5 weeks for the homemade cranberry liqueur. So the recipe looked something like this:
Garlic-Ginger Cranberry Chutney
- 2 or 3 inches fresh ginger, or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger goo that comes out of a tube (I couldn't find fresh this year)
- 6 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 or 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 pounds chopped fresh cranberries that have been soaking in vodka and orange zest, strained
- 1 teaspoon-ish salt
- ground black pepper
Combine ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small pot. Bring to a simmer, simmer on medium flame about 15 minutes or until there is about half a cup of liquid left.
Add cranberries. Mix and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.
Cool, store and refrigerate.
The cranberry liqueur, by the way, ROCKED. I originally envisioned pre-dinner cranberry-limeade cocktails, but the liqueur ended up being pretty awesome on its own. Next year I have to remember to add ginger to the recipe for some flavor simpatico throughout the night.
This was also the first year I ever brined a turkey (free-range and organically grown; as Amy said, "It had one bad day"). I used a recipe from Susiej's blog, and it turned out really phenomenal. This is by far the best turkey I've ever made, and maybe even the best I've ever tasted. Crazy good.
The down-side to using a brined, organic turkey was that it wasn't terribly fatty and didn't make a whole lot of pan drippings. Nina made a great gravy with what there was. Her secret ingredient, which I was totally dubious about but it was fabulous, was a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. I have to remember that for next year, too, and to have some chicken stock on-hand.
Nina took a bunch of pictures of the ensuing food coma:
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Side note: Liam always mispronounces "Tina" as "Nina," and we've started doing it, too.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This picture cracks me up. Monkeyrotica took it while we were having Boston Cream pie for his birthday and dubbed it the Boston Cream Pieta.
Anyway, yesterday I was so excited about my new phone (which I'm already thinking I'll pass on to Todd when the new version with a video camera comes out) that I forgot to mention that Liam has started to show interest in the potty.
I have to say, I'm pretty ambivalent about starting the whole training thing over again. With Thea, we struggled for a year, escalating rewards constantly until we were begging her, "Poop in the potty for a pony!" Then at some point she was ready and, poof, she was trained without a single accident.
I'm toying with the idea of ignoring Liam's interest until he insists on using the potty, until he says, "Seriously, Mom, I'm totally ready, and this book I'm reading says it's high time we ditch the diapers."
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Taken from my new iPhone in the bathroom at work. The note taped to the mirror is worthy of passiveaggressivenotes.com.
Posted by Kelly O at 10:25 AM
Monday, November 19, 2007
Wreke tagged me with a fun meme a few days ago, bless her. I don't want to whine about how hard it is to post every day for NaBloPoMo, because, really, I post almost every day, anyway. But there's something about HAVING to do it that makes it harder. So memes have totally saved my ass. Keep 'em coming! And if anyone else needs a writing prompt, let me know and I'll tag you for the next one.
The rules: list a word that describes you for every letter of the alphabet. Offer as much or as little explanation as you wish. Please keep the words positive (for example, don’t use “fat” for F or “lame” for L), and feel free to get creative. Tag as many or as few people as you wish. Link back to your tagger and forward to your taggees.
Kelly O is ...
- beginning again
- keeled evenly
- objective ... no, wait, OBSESSIVE!
- quixotic (yes, both practical and quixotic)
- verisimilitudinous (I'm not sure this is the correct adjective form; what I'm trying to say is, I'm flawed, sometimes vulgar, and not prone to exaggeration)
I'm tagging these folks:
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Happy birthday, little man!
We started the day off at the natural history museum, always a hit with the kids.
In the hands-on room, Thea and I held shells up to our ears to hear the ocean and encouraged Liam to do the same. He kind of missed the point, though. Here he's saying "Hello? Hi! I see butterflies."
After naps (his and mine), we went to Watkins Park to feed the animals and pet the ponies. Unlike last time, the peacocks were quite happy to see us.
I was proud of Thea. Despite having been nipped by the geese last time, she fed them again, though warily. I think she was still holding a grudge, because afterward proclaimed them "nasty" (unlike the lovely and polite peacocks).
At home we had birthday cupcakes, Liam's favorite kind. He said the cake was his favorite part of his birthday, which surprised me because it was a pretty action-packed day and I make cupcakes at the drop of a hat. Perhaps he really just loved having his food set on fire.
My sweet little guy, we do adore him so. Happy birthday!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
How We Go Out
When Leslie and the LYs comes through D.C., let's all get baby-sitters and go to the show. (Unless she does a kids show, and then even better.) Come on, even those of you from out of town! We need a night out, yeah?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Monkeyrotica sent me a link to an article about a Taipei restaurant that caters to diners who think potty humor is hilarious. Both our girls would probably love it. Thea especially thinks poop and butts are funny. Most of our friends discourage their kids from the butt-talk, but I have to admit, I don't really care. I try to tell Thea that she shouldn't make poop jokes to her friends at school if her teachers tell her not to, and it's rude to force your bathroom humor on people who are offended or don't want to hear it. But when we're home, Todd and I are fine with the pre-school version of cursing.
Should I care more? Honestly, I just can't work up any enthusiasm for the subject. This is just a phase every kid goes through, right?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I was tagged by Kellyology, bless her, with this meme. Thanks very much, Kelly! I do appreciate the NaBloPoMo assist.
1. I was in a bar several years ago, chatting with the locals. We were talking about music, and I said I most loved punk rock. They asked whose albums I had bought recently. It was Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, and Dock Boggs. My sudden epiphany: I'm not into punk rock anymore, I'm into country-western! ... Well, it kind of makes sense, as both are the music of the proletariat.
2. I'm horrible at geography. At another bar, I was chatting with some people about our favorite cities. One of them said he liked Denver best. I shrieked "Denver? I hate Denver! I hate all of Texas!" And then I think I fell off my stool. (I hate neither Denver nor Texas, though I do find Texas to be mostly incomprehensible.)
3. One of my favorite movies is Casablanca. I cry every single time at the scene where the people in the bar sing the French national anthem to drown out the Nazis.
4. I think the height of civilization is a well-made cocktail. My favorite is a perfect Manhattan (perfect because it includes equal parts sweet and dry vermouth), but if I'm in a bar where I don't trust the bartender not to put Sprite in my Sidecar, for example, I'll just order a bourbon on the rocks.
5. The first piece of serious furniture I ever bought was a Tiki bar. It's beautiful, and for a while it made me think I didn't want kids because I couldn't bear the idea of sticky hands pawing my lovely bar, or even worse, coloring on its beautiful surface.
I'm tagging these bar-hopping NaBloPoMo lovelies:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
He kills himself. By drinking poison. This is the mural at my favorite diner. Awesome!
I adore Daniel, and I love that he has a blog so we can stay in touch with no effort at all!
I still miss him, though.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Yesterday while Todd went to play with his friend's band, I took the kids to Watkins Park to hang out with some friends. Watkins Park is really a great place to take the kids. They have an awesome playground on a bouncy rubber surface, a nature center, a carousel and train in the warmer months, and animals you can feed all year.
Liam loved feeding the chickens most, I think. I'm always wary of chickens, though, having been chased and pecked by a rooster when I was a kid. This is why, even though we limit our meat consumption, I never feel bad about eating chicken. Those creatures are foul. "Four legs good, two legs bad!"
The chickens really were the best ones to feed. They were interested in the corn, unlike the blasé peacocks, but not so hysterical as the geese. You would have thought the geese hadn't been fed in months by the way they squabbled over the feed. One of them pecked Thea's finger, which understandably surprised and horrified her. Filthy creatures.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Tonight was my first experience with a group of girls ganging up on Thea and making fun of her. It was over a cool glow-in-the-dark skeleton hoodie that I got at a Target after-Halloween sale, which she'll probably never wear again. It's adorable, and I wish it was made in my size. Not quite as girlie as this t-shirt I got her last year, but cute in the same way.
Though Thea was temporarily crushed, the ringleader is a good kid who apologized on her own later. Until then, I fluttered around not knowing what to say or do, and ended up giving Thea and Lila (who also got teased for something unrelated earlier) each 25 cents just for being them.
The hardest part is, I know it's only going to get worse. And, as a friend said, if I'm going to handle hurt feelings by doling out cash, I'd better win the lottery.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Lucinda Williams, "Changed the Locks"
This is a terrible thing to admit about myself: Back in the day, I broke up with three or four different boyfriends by just moving away because I couldn't face "the talk." I'm great at communicating my feeeelings while I think there's still a point, but when I'm done, I'm pretty much done.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The delightful Texas Poppet tagged me with a meme, for which I will be eternally grateful. Today's contribution to NaBloPoMo was going to be either about the Guatemalan election (the good guys win!) or the tragic floods in Tabasco, Mexico, but I'm feeling antsy so instead let's go with some fluff.
Four First Names of Crushes I’ve Had
Four Pieces of Clothing I Wish I Still Owned
1. These great boots that had 5-inch platforms and made me look like Frankenstein.
2. A '70s polyester shirt that had Nude Descending a Staircase on it. I saw it at a thrift store and didn't want to pay the whole $1 for it, but when I went back on sales day, it was gone. One of the biggest regrets of my life.
3. This cool pair of silk pants that was stolen from a dryer.
4. My husband's faux-leather jacket that got ripped; he looked so good in it.
Four Names I’ve Been Called at One Time or Another
1. It's pretty much always been Kelly. And once or twice:
4. Kel-Kel (which makes me cringe) (sorry!)
Four Professions I Secretly Want to Try
1. Makeup-color namer
2. Paint-color namer
3. Crayon-color namer
Four Musicians I’d Most Want to Go on a Date With
1. This one is easy. MY HUSBAND. Dear god, yes, I'd love to go on a date with my husband. Otherwise,
2. Dolly Parton
3. Johnny Cash
4. Lou Reed
Four Foods I’d Rather Throw Than Eat
1. Tonic water
2. Fake raspberry syrup
3. Wild Turkey
4. Apple pie
Four Things I Like to Sniff
1. My kids' heads
2. Todd's neck
3. Chanel No. 5
4. A good bourbon
Four People to Tag
Fellow NaBloPoMo-ers who might be looking for something, ANYTHING, to post:
1. Heather at The Bughouse
2. Kaleigh at The musings of yet another working mom
3. Kelly at Kellyology
4. Moxie Mom
Monday, November 05, 2007
1. It's Monkeyrotica's birthday! I adore him. He's a great wit, and bracing, like a fine digestif. (Image, which I love, stolen from Nylonthread.) Happy birthday, man!
2. There's a girl at daycare in Thea's room who just started about a week ago. She's from China, I think, and doesn't speak any English. When I dropped off the kids this morning, the little girl was crying like her heart was breaking, sobbing in that way that comes from deep in your chest. The staff couldn't figure out what was wrong, and they were all running around in a near panic. I think she must have been crying for a while, and the staff was going to call her mom to come get her. I felt awful for everyone involved.
3. I'm SO digging Italian photographer Onelulu's pictures.
4. I forgot to take my antibiotics this morning. Dammit!
5. It's my first day at work back from my "staycation." The sprained ankle kept me from getting done most of what I wanted to do, but it was nice to have an excuse to watch movies all day. I must have been feeling especially blue, because Effie's big "I'm telling you that I'm not going" scene in Dreamgirls made me cry and cry like a little Chinese girl, new to daycare, who doesn't speak the language and wants her mommy.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Lessons learned from making my own sugar skulls:
Nylonthread's skull. And Nylonthread directed the flower-making. Nylonthread is Queen of Dia de los Muertos, not me.
1. Plaster is a good substitute for sugar. It's easy to find, and it won't attract ants. HOWEVER...
2. It needs to dry longer than the 24 hours the box recommends.
3. Also, ink gets sucked into the untreated plaster and the design bleeds. Duh.
4. The more elaborate the skull, the harder it is to get out of the mold.
I think next year I'm going to spring for the full-sized molds.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
I love the Day of the Dead. Six weeks after 9/11, when we couldn't stand to be in D.C. another moment, Todd, Heather, Heather's girlfriend at the time — a Canadian with a deep fear of planes, anyway — and I all went to Los Cruces, New Mexico, to drink copious amounts of tequila, attend a big Dia De Los Muertos celebration, and get matching tattoos of José Guadalupe Posada skeletons. Todd and I each got one of the central figures from his Gran fandango y francachela de todas las calaveras. Best vacation ever.
This year we went to the National American Indian Museum's Day of the Dead celebration with Nylonthread and her brood.
Thea and Rosie
Liam and ... where's Dash?
Though not the raging good time of 2001, it was a lot of fun. The kids got to make paper flowers and see dancers, and we all marveled at the beautiful altars.
This weekend I think we'll make sugar skulls and paper flowers, and contemplate the passing of our loved ones into the great beyond.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Like last year, we went trick-or-treating with friends in a neighborhood more Halloween-crazy than ours. They go all out, and some houses even give away full-sized candy bars. In our neighborhood, we have so few kids that I think Thea and Liam would come home with nondairy creamer and cans of tuna.
Liam was a bat:
Thea was a unicorn:
Our friend Lila was a cat:
This is Liam's first time ever saying "trick or treat" and getting candy in return, at the same house that was Thea's first last year:
And here's Liam's dawning realization that this night will ROCK:
And rock it did, except for the part where I fell down some stairs. It was at one of the scary houses, with people dressed as corpses and drooling blood. I didn't realize it until we were already at the top of the stairs and the kids insisted on being picked up. They were torn by the oozing wounds and the promise of more candy. Ultimately, candy won out, but Liam wanted to be carried away from there.
Under normal circumstances, I'm not the most graceful person, anyway. I'm tall and have rather large feet (but entirely proportionate, okay?), and it all seems to combine to make me unsteady on stairs. Between carrying Liam and a bag of candy and the spooky ambiance absent of light, I missed a step or two and fell.
But I'm incredibly impressed by my mothering instincts. I managed not to drop the boy, even at the cost of a twisted ankle.