Thursday, April 30, 2009

My small screen debut (send all questions to my little assistant)

Last night at 11 I made my television debut on our local ABC station.  If you recall, last week I went in to Pout Columbia for a Sensual Hands treatment.  I have to say, my hands still look like a babe's.  And I've been really good about putting my Lippman Collection Rich Girl Hand Cream on when I get in the car (it has 25 SPF) so that the sun doesn't peel the skin off of my purty hands.  You can click this link to experience my debut.  They cut my speaking part.  Probably because I have such a strange voice and over expressive face.  Seriously, if I were explaining a trip to the grocery store and you put me on mute, you would think I was trying to warn someone that a cinematic catastrophe was about to turn our town grey and ashy.  I guess that's why I write instead of act.  

Today I'm headed back up to Pout to be a model for a commercial they are shooting with our friends The Columbia Cool.  I'm happily surprised to be headed back for another fun project, especially after last night's debut that highlighted my double chin and wild hair (at least today I'm getting my hair did).  We'll be going back and forth between Pout and Van Jean, so make sure to stop in to Van Jean for The Shop Tart's Champagne Thursday between 4 and 7 today if you are in town, and you might catch me on my pretend road to celebrity status.  Now, I'm off to purchase some big sunglasses and seek a publicist.  Maybe Eloise the Pug is available.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Comment if you have a way to build an extra 4 hours into the day!

Honestly, this week has already been such a whirlwind that I'm at a loss for words.  That would be a first!  I'm hoping to have the new website ready to go by tomorrow, but our family calendar doesn't seem interested in  allowing that.  Have you ever had one of those weeks where your to do list seems attainable until you get to midnight on Monday and see that you've only been able to accomplish half the tasks for the day?  

So, I thought I would give you an idea of what I'm working on.  I'm building a new blog that will focus more on lifestyle topics such as entertaining, recipes, design, parties, etc.  I'm extremely excited about this venture, and hope that you all will thoroughly enjoy it.  It is going to be a real learning process for me, so I'll be bumbling around and making my sometimes off-key observations as usual.  It's going to be a ton of fun!  I will keep you posted on the launch!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Snarky NPR and a Top 5 List

*Image from

Happy Monday everyone!  I have a beef to share.  Yesterday I was on the sofa cocooned in a blanket most of the day with a sore throat, so I decided to catch up on my NPR on my iPhone.  There was an interview from last week on All Things Considered with Matt Tyrnauer, the director of Valentino: The Last Emperor.  I've been  dying to see the movie about my favorite fashion visionary, but apparently will have to travel a bit because it's nationwide showing apparently does not include Columbia, SC.

What irked me was the interviewer's tone throughout the interview.  I generally enjoy All Things Considered interviews because the reporters' tones generally range from perfectly unbiased to sarcastically amused.  But this is Valentino we are talking about here.  The man is a true artist.  An aesthetic genius.  The most beautiful flowers bow to his idea of beauty.  He is on my list of top five people I would like to have over for a dinner party.  Seriously.

So, while I understand that the movie is supposed to show the human side of Valentino... his flaws, his actual personality.  I'm fascinated to see it this.  But the reporter sounded a bit... how shall I say it... incredulous doesn't quite cut it.  Neither does chip-on-the-shoulder.  Her snarky laughter after a comparison to Napoleon didn't elicit quite the same reaction from the director, and cast her as plenty biased on the subject.  Of course his personality is larger than life.  Of course Valentino can be arrogant.  Of course he lives his life with over-the-top extravagance.  It's part of his image, and in this case well-deserved after building a multi-billion dollar empire from rags and dirt.  It was the first time in a while that an NPR interview rubbed me the wrong way. 

In case you were wondering about the rest of my top five, here's the list:

Top 5 People I Would Like To Have For a Dinner Party (living):
in no particular order

Valentino- Because he's a genius and I want him to fill my closet with clothes

Barack and Michelle Obama (I know, this is two, but they are a couple so I count it as one!) - Because they are true visionaries for what our country needs right now

Salman Rushdie- Because he has lived such an interesting life and writes fascinating prose

Oprah Winfrey- Need I say more?

Christiane Amanpour- I can only imagine the stories she can tell, and she has such a great personal style and seems so self-assured.

Who's on your top 5 list? I'd love to hear!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting a 2-year-old through an art walk

We decided to head down to Columbia's Artista Vista during the early evening yesterday with Jr. in tow.  The spring air hugged us like a comfortable cardigan as we walked up and down Gervais Street checking out the galleries.  I found lots of potential art gifts for Mother's Day my upcoming anniversary, and just because you love me.

One of our stops was at If Art Gallery, which is owned by one of my favorite European transplants, Wim Roefs (seen having an extremely serious conversation in the above photo).  He is currently showing works by Carl Blair, a Greenville, SC artist.  Blair's work expressive and other-worldly, especially his sculptures. 

Wim also carries works by other local artists, including our mutual friend, Marcelo Novo, whose art I took a passing snapshot of last night!  I went a little crazy with the iPhone, and pushing a stroller doesn't add quality to a shot, sorry.

We also stopped into Carol Saunders Gallery to see Elizabeth Foster, who had already sold quite a bit by the time we arrived.  Think naturalism meets optimism.  Beautiful work.  I wanted to get a photo of her piece that has birds flying and carrying a nest with red sashes, but I was having a hard time with the glare.  Her work had been gaining national attention, and she is definitely one to watch.

Bonnie Goldberg's work was on display at Nonnah's.  She is one of the AboutFACE artists whose work was available at the Soirèe du Soleil last week.  She is beautiful and talented and I have plans to chat with her soon, so stay tuned!  The work above would make a lovely hostess present, by the way, so let me know if you want to bring it over! 

So, how on earth did we get a 2-year-old through all of this?  Well, we're lucky... he really likes jazz music.  And ice cream.  The Spring Valley High School jazz ensemble was playing on Lincoln Street, so with promises of music and ice cream, he was a perfect angel and charmed everyone.  So much so that he fell asleep as soon as we returned home for some wine and tapas on the patio!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts of a klutz

April in South Carolina has finally decided to fall in line and behave, so I'm anxious to put Jr. into a jon-jon and spend the day outside in the yard.  I'm hoping to accomplish some weed pulling and patio beautifying before heading around the corner to knock on the door of some neighbors to invite by tonight.  Who knows, since Mr. M is working from home today maybe I'll slip out during nap time and get some artichokes and try Gwyneth Paltrow's Artichoke with Basil and Mint recipe that showed up in my inbox.  It sounds divine, and I need to do something with all of the mint leftover from the other day.  

Eventually I'll get moving.  I'm a little slow today!  Last night I went to an Earth Day Happy Hour event that a friend of mine's organization held.  It was a great event put on by the office's student workers, who pulled together an informative land conservation documentary for the evening.

Afterwards we went to a party upstairs with some friends and my klutziness decided to make an appearance for the night.  Someone once described my humor as 'self-deprecating'.  I don't think that's the case, I'm just straightforward about myself.  I've tried putting on airs in the past, and I always end up tripping up the stairs or stepping on the front of my ball gown, so really, what's the point?  So, we are in the room with a lot of big decision makers whom I had never met, and in the middle of one of my boisterous "Hey!!!"'s I just had to drop my plate of vidalia onion dip all over my freshly dry-cleaned jeans.  Because the night is never complete until I have dropped or tripped over something.    And instead of being embarrassed, I just said "Oh well!" and headed back to the bar and then start a new conversation.  And eventually sing a little karaoke... badly.  I think people have started to expect this from me.  I call it the new college roommate syndrome.  Secretly, everyone is hoping that they won't be the one who plasters dip all over their pants, and they are relieved when it happens to someone else, and it  breaks the ice.  Or their just holding in their laughter at me because they are polite and pitying.  Or waiting to snicker behind me... because I've done all of the above when it happens to someone else!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting pampered and pampering fish

Yesterday I had the chance to receive a Pout Sensual Hands treatment from skin care extraordinaire Shannon for a news piece for WOLO's Wrinkle Free Wednesdays.  I haven't been able to stop posturing my hands like a 1950s television model since I left the store.  While having my hands microdermabrasioned, electro-pulsed, and LED light therapied under the glare of a camera was a little bit daunting, it was all in good fun.  Let's just hope that the camera didn't accentuate the double-chin I tend to sport at inopportune times.  Like when I was interviewed by a street reporter about how I "beat the heat" one August.  Or when my picture was published in the parties section of a local magazine for a children's charity event and I was making an unfortunate face at something Mr. M was saying.  You can be the judge next Wednesday when the story airs... just be gentle in your comments!  Or don't.  I could use the laugh!

When I returned home and released the adorably preppy and pearled babysitter (twin-in-law ended up being unavailable), I had the bright idea to finally experiment with that mint/lime juice/vanilla/sea salt concoction that I came across during Charleston Fashion Week.  In my mind I imagined the dish tasting fresh and vacationey, as if it should be enjoyed on a deck overlooking the beach.  The idea seemed to go along with just having been pampered and giggling and gossiping with the amazing Pout girls.  I mean honestly, getting a treatment there is the perfect combination of relaxation and girly fun, so why not end the day on a similar note?  I put two tilapia fillets in a Ziploc bag and set to work, adding:

1/4 cup sauvignon blanc
juice squeezed from one persian lime
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 mint leaves
1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Then I closed the bag, shook it, then closed the bag again and shook it without spraying marinade in my face, put it in the refrigerator, and took Jr. to the park for a couple of hours.  Mr. M arrived home before we did, so I called and told him to fire up the grill.  When we arrived home, I placed the fish on foil and Mr. M grilled it on medium-high heat until it was opaque and flaked easily, about 3 or 4 minutes per side.  I should add that when he flipped the fish, he poured the remaining marinade over the top.

We served it with couscous and steamed sugar snap peas... and it was delicious!  It was perfectly light and refreshing and mixed with the saltiness of the couscous very well.  We will definitely be grilling this for company this spring and summer!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lunch for my twin-in-law

I had the television on in the background a week or so ago when I noticed that whatever show it was had sisters-in-law on who look alike.  In this case the brothers happened to marry two unrelated girls, so it was a funny coincidence.  I don't remember the details because I think it was the Rachel Ray show, which I actually can't stand.  I find Rachel to be loud, obnoxious and pretty much inappropriate in general.  She's like metal nails, fingernails, and glass all scraping over a chalkboard at once in the middle of a church service.  

Anyway, the sister-in-law thing caught my attention because my brother was married last year to the sweetest breath of fresh air... and people are always getting us confused!  We look more like sisters than my brother and I look like actual siblings.  It freaks me out a little. 

I'm hoping that she will stop by for lunch today.  There is an ulterior motive, here, though.  I am supposed to be headed over to Pout! to have a hand treatment done for a news piece.  And honestly, with the month we've had around here, I could really use a little pampering!  That was the best phone call I received all day yesterday!  So, I'm planning on using some spaghetti carbonara to entice her to come eat with me and then watch tv while I'm out and Jr. is napping.  It's one of my favorite go-to recipes:

1 box of thin spaghetti*
6 slices bacon
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small to medium sized onion, chopped
1 package frozen peas (I like the kind you steam in the bag in the microwave)
2 eggs, lightly beaten.
shredded parmesan cheese (as much as you generally like!)

Cook pasta in salted water.  While it is boiling, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through, but not crispy.  Remove bacon and place on a paper towel and chop or tear into pieces, then remove all except about 2 tablespoons of grease from skillet.  Add olive oil, then garlic and onion and cook until translucent.  In the meantime, cook the peas in the microwave and add to the garlic and onion mixture.  Add bacon.  When pasta is finished, drain and add it to the skillet as well.  Add egg and toss the entire mixture until egg is cooked, about 90 seconds.  Add parmesan and toss some more.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Hopefully this will entice my sister-in-law to stay!

*I often use half a box, as this dish doesn't really keep well, so I adjust according to how many people are eating it.  When I cut it in half, I use 4 pieces of bacon, half an onion, and half a bag of peas.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Soirèe du Soleil is a wrap!

Oh gosh!  I've gotten Twitters and emails from some of you asking about last night's Soirèe du Soleil at the Columbia Museum of Art.  It was fantastic.  A huge hats off to Meagan Warren and the gala committee for putting together one of the best parties Columbia has seen in a long while.  We raised some serious cash for the museum and had close to 900 attendees.  Not to be indelicate, but 900 people in a medium-sized city at a minimum of $150 per person during a recession isn't something to sneeze at!  The food was delightful, the company grand, entertainment delectable, and of course, shenanigans ensued.  Honestly, if you are going to have an absinthe bar you have to expect some shenanigans!  See the slideshow below for a summary.  Just so you know, my knit "beret" wasn't just a fashion statement... I was having poufy issues with my hair!

One of the many highlights of the night was meeting a friend of The Shop Tart's, who you will hopefully see mentioned here in the near future.  She is a fantastic hostess who is rumored to have one of the best hummus recipes around.  I'm looking forward to our next chat.  Maybe I can talk her into a video for Camille Maurice!

Look out for some food and flowers on the blog this week now that my energy can be a little more evenly dispersed!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Epiphany of My Mother's Advice

Today during gala setup a wonderful local artist did quick caricatures of some of us committee members that are now hanging in one of the party rooms.  She is on the gala committee with me and her daughter Meagan is the development manager for museum, and also the staff member in charge of the gala.  I love that she did the caricatures showing us at work.  A lot of people have been digging in their heels this week to make this party happen, and I think that the drawings pay proper homage to that.  I am so honored that she asked me!

Here's the thing about caricatures... they are quick and exaggerated, so it never hurts to be dressed up when having one done.  Not in your gardening clothes, sporting poodle hair, and toting around a camera that you don't even like that much.  At least if you are wearing stilettos and a little black dress your legs end up looking rocked out and you are suddenly very well endowed up top.  Lord knows I could use some help in both those areas these days!

Debbie did a fantastic job with mine... she and her daughter Meagan are both multitalented artists.  It just drove home my mother's point... always make sure you look nice for every situation!  When I tell this to Jr. and any other Juniorettes we may have in the future, I plan to add, "You never know when someone is going to want to draw a caricature of you for 800+ people to see!"

We had a great time today.  If you've never been behind the scenes to see how much goes into setting up a fundraiser, here are some photos (at least of how it is turning out so far) of today's work!  This first shot is from the roof... I was hoping to get a shot of the entire plaza, but it would have required some major acrobatics and a lack of care for space between me and the ground.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lavender and Geraniums

I need a trip to Provençe.  Like, now.  Unfortunately, it's not looking like my calendar will allow it at the moment, so instead I'll settle for some lavender and geraniums.  That's how I spent my morning at the Columbia Museum of Art setting up for the afore mentioned Soirèe du Soèil.  The smell of the lavender and the pop of the geraniums made me want to float off.  I'll be setting some up on the patio, for sure, though at the rate I'm going my patio is going to look like a flower jungle by the end of the summer!  Hmm... maybe some new plates for out there, too.

The above picture is of the terrazzo stairs at CMA.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were practical to have this many flowers lining your staircase every day?  There are so many reasons why you shouldn't.  In the case of this photo, impracticality screamed at me when I went back down the stairs and heard the flower cart come crashing down behind me.  It was one of those moments where common sense would have told my body to move, but I was rooted in my spot.  Thank God there was a landing to stop it.  Yikes!

Who's working on a flower project?  Send out some ideas!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Your plans for Saturday Night

Columbia folks, I hope you have your DVR's set for this Saturday.  There are two momentous events occurring that night.  The first is the HBO premiere of the long-awaited dramatization of "Grey Gardens."  In 1975, Albert and David Maysles made a documentary film about a complicated and isolated relationship between Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis.  The two lived in filth and squalor in a 14-room East Hampton mansion.  For years the two toiled there, unbeknownst to most of the outside world, until an article in the National Enquirer outed their isolated realm.  

The HBO movie is going to be absolutely fascinating.  According to The New York Times, it will attempt to explain how the two women went from a life of 1930s splendor to sharing quarters with raccoons in a dilapidated summer home.

The problem?  The film airs on Saturday at 8pm.  This happens to be during the Columbia Museum of Art's Soirèe du Solèil.  This will be a spectacle of a completely different kind.  This fundraising gala is celebrating the Turner to Cèzanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection exhibition.  Are you a francophile who loves Edith Piaf? We've got that covered.  Mimes?  There will be one of those, too!  Arialists?  Check.  Cognac and cigars?  Check.  Artists at work on masterpieces during a party? Got it!  Seriously, don't miss this.  
Tickets are $150 a piece or $175 at the door.*  This includes a full night of fine foods, fine wines, and a plethora of entertainment.  As it is Tax Day, I'll throw in the fact that $75 of each ticket is tax-deductible.  It's a great night for a night cause.  All I can say is, thank God for DVR, because neither event should be missed!  Not convinced yet?  Check out some pictures from the last CMA fundraiser in January 2008, A Night on the Nile!

*Need tickets?  Visit or call 803.799.2810.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The unplanned plan

Do you know those weekends when nothing goes as planned, and it could generally be considered a disaster?  I had one of those, except I think I would consider it a success!

To start off, my pink paradise patio plan inspired by and DIFFA 
kind of went phhhhhhhhfffffffttttt and died.  Being the anal retentive/ADD/organizational nightmare that I tend to be, I couldn't find anything remotely close to the fabric that I had envisioned, and it was entirely too late to order any.  What did I gain from running around town? A beautiful Gerbera daisy plant that brightened up the patio table all on it's own. 

My friend J. from New England breezed briefly into town, and since she was coming over I invited another good friend
 from high school and another who is starting a really interesting career blog.  You law librarians will want to check it out when it goes live.  I'll give a shout out when she's ready!

I did not serve the beloved Principessa that I was all atwitter over.  I couldn't find that, either.  In a rush because I had spent too much time obsessing over the fabric and Mr. M had a date with the golf course, I hurriedly grabbed a few bottles of La Vielle Ferme Rosé*, some rosé salami, marinated olives (all from World Market).  The fare, with the addition of my personal staple, Fromager Daffinois from The Gourmet Shop, and strawberries with homemade
whipped cream** was wünderbar for a mild day on the patio.  Obviously... we were out there for seven hours!

So, that was "disasterous" event #1... remember we're heading into Easter weekend, here.

We got to Easter Day and I realized that for the first time ever we weren't obligated to run to three sides of the state in one day with a toddler in tow. Yippee!  What's most amazing is that we didn't even realize this fact until we woke up that morning to get ready for my nephew's baptism.  There were no plans for after the baptism.  A holiday was wide open from noon on.  Pigs must have been flying out of windows or something.  Has this ever happened to anyone else?  Well, of course I had to go and ruin it by telling the Dr. and Mrs. and my brother's family that they should come by.  I mean, who passes on an opportunity to do nothing on a holiday?  And what's more, who passes on it and it magically turns into the perfect day?  Seriously.  Jr. napped for 3 hours. I worked in the pitiful plot of dirt that is calling itself a garden. My parents showed up bearing wine and champagne.  My brother and his family arrived bearing more wine and food.  Mr. M disappeared for a while and materialized with burgers for the grill.  Untraditional, yes, but quite possibly one of the best Easter gatherings ever.  Men and boys playing basketball on a Little Tykes goal, a toddler running around with a pinwheel, mothers and daughters and sisters-in-law relaxing in the sun.  I may never plan another holiday again! Yeah right, whoever bets on that one needs some serious help.

*This is a great rosé for under $10.  It'll be making some repeat appearances on our patio this spring and summer.

**Homemade whipped cream?  Yes.  I think that purchasing whipped cream is a waste of money when most of us have the necessary ingredients already.  Just take 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, add 1/4 cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of good vanilla (I actually really like the Earth Fare brand) and beat it with a whisk until it starts to peak.  You can do this with a handheld mixer, a whisk, or a stand alone mixer.  It's all good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The frost is driving me out

Oh crap.  As you can see by the picture, I have a little garden problem.  Apparently the South Carolina climate forgot to look at the calendar last night and the temperature dropped down into the low 30s.  That's actually one of the better looking flowers.  This is NOT what I pictured when I started planning this weekend's get-together.  Mr. M is suggesting replanting tomorrow.  ***SIGH***

I think I'd rather go out with some girlfriends tonight and not think about it.  Mr. M can babysit.  He likes to dress Jr. in his jammies and then they eat cookies and "look at dancing girls."  Usually that means watching Abby Cadabby on DVD (Jr. is completely obsessed with "Abby Gabby").  A couple of times it has meant getting dressed up and going to one of Mr. M's tweenybopper cousin's dance recitals.  Probably no big game of hide-and-seek tonight as Jr. and I spent the majority of the morning on that one... mostly with Jr. hiding and me seeking while putting away laundry.

I'm sure as I'm writing this at 3:07pm I will be hard pressed to find someone to meet me out.  Most of my mommy friends are at the beach this week a lot of others are coming up on the end of their fiscal years (nonprofits).  I'm sure there's someone out there who can meet up for an hour or so, though.  The last time I called up some girlfriends to go out at the last minute I ended up with two of my oldest friends, who are both single.  After dinner we went to a local bar for some drinks, and two guys meandered over to chat after seeing the two single girls.  A few minutes into the conversation, I decided to ask a question.

Me: So, what do y'all do?
Guy #1: Uh, we play football.

That should have been our first cue, but we went on.

Girlfriend #1: Oh really?  
Girlfriend #2 (leaning in): What position do you play?
Guy #2: Right now I'm a half back on the books, but I've been on the bench.  But Coach says he's gonna put me in next fall.

You know that tingly feeling like someone is pressing a bunch of little pins inside your nose?  Suddenly I had that feeling.  Because in an attempt to keep from spitting out my cocktail I inadvertently snorted it up into my left nostril as I realized that these were not NFL players visiting from Charlotte.  The thing that is the most fascinating is that I, the out-of-practice old married  lady, was the first to figure this out.  My two friends kept the conversation going for about 30 more seconds before thinking to ask for the ages of their suitors.  Even with me perched next to them with tears rolling down my face, not really stifling my laughter.  Once the college dudes realized our age, they hightailed it out of there.  Old ladies (at least we were to them) are no fun, huh?

We'll see.  I should probably get out there and work on the frost ravaged garden so I won't be scrambling on Saturday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In a pink mood...

*Image from
I'm so excited.  One of my best friends is coming into town in a few days from New England.  You know the friends who make you smile at the mere mention of their name?  That's J.  Lighthearted fun always ensues when she is around.

The weather is looking like it will be great on Saturday, so I think we'll dress up the patio and I'll set Mr. M loose on the grill with a chicken or a big fish.  I've been working on our new garden all week and am currently addicted to pink rather than my normal red (don't worry dear red, you will always be first in my heart of colors).  

Maybe it's this weather that is displaying some major personality disorders this week that has me craving craving big and bold colors, but I'm ready to go 
all out.  Between the pink flowers (please, please let them survive tonight's frost!) and this fabulous website that I discovered yesterday, I'm really excited about dressing the
 patio. I came across through the site's founder, Carolyn Leber.  Recently she covered the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) Dining by Design event at the Architectural Digest Home Show in New York.  The table settings were inspiring, 
my favorite being the hot pink room with the cherry blossoms overhead, shown in the above image.  I'm looking forward to using elements from the photo on my patio this weekend!  I'm thinking table coverings, fruits, and adding to the overall feel of a bold spring with some Principessa served with my marinated strawberries to begin with.  Stay tuned for photos as I build upon the idea!

What are y'all doing this weekend?  Any fun entertaining going on?  Please share!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Some wine with my coffee

Um.... I think I've finally become a wino.

I love wine.  I'm not a complete wine snob like some people I know and love.  I don't go to a restaurant and spend fifteen minutes studying the wine list as if it were an instruction manual, then quiz the sommelier about the region, aroma, and palette of each wine.  I don't walk into my favorite wine store with a to do list, either.

There is a Wine Styles around the corner from my house, however.  Robert, the store owner, knows pretty much everything that has gone on in my life for the past couple of years.  If I have to dart in there during the day when running errands with Jr. to pick up wine for a last minute dinner, Jr. immediately calls out "Sucker!", because he knows that there may be a treat behind the counter for him.  I thought that this was the extent of the fallout from my affinity for wine.

Then came this morning.  We were leaving church and we stopped by Earth Fare to pick up a pie after determining that I would not have any time to prepare anything for the in-law's family reunion.  Mr. M came out with the pie, a cookie, and a large coffee for us to share, which made my morning.  We drove on towards East Stix towards the reunion, talking about the upcoming week, when suddenly a few drops of coffee mysteriously exited the cup and dolloped themselves onto the armrest.  

Mr. M shot me an incredulous look, "Did you just swirl your coffee?"

"What? No!  You must have hit a bump or something," I muttered.

"No, I saw you.  You were all 'blah blah la la la hee hee hee,' and you swirled your coffee!"

I wasn't about to verbally admit it, but he was right.  I couldn't believe it.  I had started to run my mouth like a water tap and got lost in the moment.  Somehow, subconciously, I thought I was sitting at my favorite restaurant with him on a date rather than in the car at 11:30am with Jr. in the back seat.  Somehow, my arm muscles mistook that the coffee cup for a glass of Pinot Noir that needed some oxygen swished into it to push some extra flavor out.

Would this be considered a new low?  Or did the wiring in my brain just suffer a misfire and the joy of the moment triggered the wrong muscle to move?  I'm not sure, but I may keep a lid on my coffee for the next few days just in case.

Friday, April 3, 2009

ISO a good book date

I consider my time spent with books to be dates.  I get so wrapped up in the book, learning everything about it, taking it all in... maybe I that's why I didn't date a ton in high school.  I think I just had an epiphany... I was the scary intense girl when on a date, wasn't I?  The one who stares at you too much?  Yeah, I think that was me.

Have you been on a good book date lately?  Sometimes it's easy to get into a reading/dating slump.  That's where I am right now.  I was with friends the other day and everyone was talking about these great new books they had found.  Why don't those books ever introduce themselves to me at the bookstore?  Lately I feel like the jilted wallflower at the high school dance.

I think I'm a little gun shy because two out of the last three books that I picked up were duds.  Most recently, after going through a closet at the Dr. and Mrs.'s house, I found a copy of The Reader and brought it home.  I was practically expecting soft porn after seeing the previews of the movie, but it was actually a fantastic (and fairly nonpornographic) read that shed some light on why modern Germans behave the way they do.  I've always found it slightly unsettling the way German offspring seem to have been encouraged to rebel and act out.  Maybe it's been obvious to most people that it is a direct result of the previous generation's horror at the way their predecessors simply fell in line during the Third Reich.  But, this book explains it further and with poignancy.

The book I picked up before that was The Emporer's Children from 2006.  It was on sale at Books-A-Million and was listed as a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year, so I thought I was getting a win-win.  I settled in with a cup of tea one afternoon when the sky was a light slate color.  Mr. M had taken Jr. to the park and the house was quiet.  I opened the book, trudged through the short first chapter and thought, "Maybe the momentum just hasn't picked up yet."

A few chapters later, I still couldn't figure out the point of the book and gave up.  It was the most narcissistic, aimless piece of crap I had picked up in a couple of years.  I know my share of single 30-somethings, and even the ones who have made a living of not working have more to do and say in their little finger than in this book.  I couldn't figure out the purpose of most of the characters.  And when I went online to look up customer reviews, I realized that I wasn't in the minority here.  The good think about book dates is you can leave before the date is over without faking a major catastrophe.

The other book date was thirteen moons, which I had been holding onto since Jr. was born and hadn't come back to yet. The book was riveting.  The imagery sticks with you throughout the rest of the day.  The prose is hypnotic.  The ending fell flat on it's face!  I won't ruin the ending if you haven't read it, but for me it was a big 'WTF?'  If there was some deeper symbolism there I completely missed it.  And I'm no dummy when it comes to symbolism.  Please, PLEASE someone send an email to explain it to me!  

So, my point is, I'm overdue for a good book date.  I want to spend some time completely wrapped up in a story that slowly paints a masterpiece in my mind.  Something with great prose and a strong finish.  Maybe I want a wine to go with it.  Hmmm.... have you ever heard of a good reading wine?  Add that to this weekend's search list, too.  Throw me some suggestions for both!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Quiche Day

Look at the picture to the left (excuse the Winnie the Pooh eggs, we're trying to make Jr. think that eggs are cool).  Now, I give you three guesses about the subject of this post and the first two don't count! 

I'm a bit strange about rainy days.  Until having a rambunctious little boy, rainy days were my absolute favorite, especially if I didn't have to leave the house.  Jr. has inherited this homey attitude as well, but his idea of staying in usually involves climbing refrigerators, chasing the dogs with Thomas toys, and jumping on furniture.  Before Tropical Storm Jr. lovingly swooped into my life, though, rainy days were for reading, sipping hot tea, and cravings.  Yes, cravings.  Any time I have a relaxing day at home in the rain I start to crave some sort of food.  Today it's quiche.  Mr. M will be very happy to learn that when he gets home, especially since he is the reason I learned to make it.

Back when we were babies and I was on the verge of being a child bride (I had to insist that I be old enough to legally drink the Moët served at the reception before getting married), Mr. M spent a year in Bamberg, Germany studying the language and something business-y like economics or finance.  I flew over to spend the holidays with him, and became friends with a very nice French girl who was dating his roommate.  At the time, I didn't even know how to use a can opener.  Seriously.  My parents left town one weekend and I had to call a friend to come over so that I wouldn't starve to death.   Well, Mr. M's roommate's girlfriend had been making quiche for the two of them every week, and young Mr. M thought it would be just great if he could have it every now in then when he was stateside.  He threw us into a kitchen together and went off to drink beer with his buddies for the next 2 hours.  Thank God she and I actually liked each other or else that would have been a tad uncomfortable.

Anyhow quiche is now one of my favorite things to make on a lazy day, especially with the use of store bought pie crusts (Marie Callender's) and Caw Caw Creek bacon.  See recipe below:

Basic Quiche

1 frozen pie crust
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 slices bacon
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese*
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook bacon in a skillet until just done, not too crispy.  Remove and set aside on a paper towel.  Drain grease from skillet and add butter.  Cook over medium heat until melted, then add onion.  Cook until translucent, then transfer onion to pie crust.  In a medium sized bowl, lightly whisk together eggs and cream.  Crumble the bacon and add to the egg mixture, then whisk some more.  Add the mixture to the pie crust and top with cheese, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes.*

This dish is best served with a simple salad of mixed greens tossed in olive oil and lemon juice or tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.


*Gruyère works better, but I usually make this dish on a whim when I don't have a chance to get down to The Gourmet Shop to get the right cheese.  It is also very good with sharp cheddar, though.
* I have a temperamental oven, so I usually stick a toothpick into the center of the quiche when I pull it out to make sure that the toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Green Day meets Broadway?

*photo from
According to The New York Times, Green Day is collaborating with director Michael Mayer to put their album "American Idiot" into a stage production.  Mayer directed "Spring Awakening", which I was surprised to find was a collaboration with Duncan Sheik.  You never know what musicians are up to when you haven't heard from them in the last decade, huh?  Or maybe I did know about the Duncan Sheik thing and I forgot.

Anyhow, I'm having trouble trying to imagine how Mayer and Green Day are going to accomplish the feat of staging the hit album.  Though I have a great deal of respect for the band for that group of work, I've never been a huge fan.  When the name of the band comes up I automatically recall their trips to town during the 90s when they would play at the legendary Rockafellas.  They were younger then, more wild, and more apt to do stupid things.

The article in The New York Times admits that they don't have all of the semantics ironed out yet. Mayer states that "It's not the most linear story in the world."  This brings me to wonder, will this be another stage production that focuses mainly on song and with little substance in between?  Granted, most of the songs on the album are packed with substance, especially "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", but they can't be the only legs to this.  It will be interesting to watch.  

I may have to think up some stage types to invite over to discuss.  That reminds me... I'm planning a fun brunch with a group of women here in town.  We're thinking of calling it a "Recession Brunch" and getting crazy and creative with decorations, invitations, etc.  I'll keep you all posted on what we come up with, it's going to be really fun!  If you can't have a little fun with the news these days, you need to get rid of your tv and computer.  It's time to turn all the negativity on it's head!