Dec 21, 2004

I have the Best Hubby Ever. He got me a brand spanking new meat grinder/sausage maker, the Nigella Lawson salt cellar, and a huge box of kosher salt. Is he cool, or what? I have honestly been dreaming of this salt cellar for months. It is beautiful, and it's mine! All mine!

So, if anyone has any great sausage recipes, toss them my way, because I will be experimenting in the new year. My kitchen is nearly complete now. All I need are the Nigella Lawson mixing bowls and a second oven.

Dec 20, 2004

Oh my god I wish I was my step-mother this Christmas. I got her the BEST box of chocolates EVER. I preach and I preach about health then I go and buy everyone sugar. That's me being a hypocrite. Again. And for my diabetic coworker: sugar free Godiva. Who knew that existed? I can't wait to give it to her. I'm sure she will be thrilled.

Why do I have to be so grumpy and anti-social right now? It's Christmas, dammit. I need to get out of this funk and into some cheer. Henceforth I will attempt to cheer myself up with good news.

Good news: My friend Cinnamon is making me a purse. This purse, to be exact. She brought over some fabric swatches last night and we discussed size and linings. I am thrilled and honored that she is so excited to work on this for me and I can't wait to show it off!

Good news: I've stopped gaining winter weight and have leveled off at an acceptable poundage. I'm feeling more and more inclined to pull out the yoga mat, and am looking forward to a couple of days off after the holidays to get back into a routine of muscle toning.

Good news: I'm finished with my Christmas shopping! Woohoo!

Good news: I have discovered frozen puff pastry sheets. I made a yummy salmon/spinach thing last night, and have about a billion and ten recipes in my head for the leftover frozen sheet. Salmon and feta, chicken and tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, apple and caramel, mushroom and spinach, pear and mascarpone, pork and apple, beef and mushroom, cheese and cheese, ham and egg and cheese, the list goes on and on. Three cheers for puff pastry!

Good news: I get to go home in three more hours.

Good news: Napoleon Dynamite is released on dvd tomorrow. Gosh!

Fun news: I was hit on at the grocery store by a chef. He saw me buying ladyfingers at the bakery and he said, "Homemade tiramisu?" and I said, "Yeah," and he said, "That's hot." and I teehee-ed and smiled and have felt really cool for like two whole days.

I've been feeling overly bloggy the past few weeks. I believe my slow workdays have something to do with this.
So it looks like the storm was just a 1/2 inch of snow on Saturday. Still, bitter cold reminded me of why I miss Virginia. Not that is doesn't get cold there, but it very rarely gets into the single digits before Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I'm just barely ready for it this year. There is some more wrapping and a teensy bit more shopping to do, and the 18 degrees that wait for me outside are making me rethink my lunchtime jaunt to Marshall Field's. But alas, today is the last shopping day I'll have before I leave for Virginia, so I guess I'll just have to wrap my head up in my scarf and run. I lost feeling in my butt this morning it was so cold.

I'm excited to see my family this week, and Hubb's, but I'm getting more and more down as Christmas day draws closer. I keep feeling that my presence isn't as important at my father's house as I'd like it to be, and considering I only see my family twice a year, that makes me incredibly sad and depressed. I'm probably just being selfish and silly. I've always had issues with jealousy, with my friends, family, and loved ones, and I can't ever seem to shake it completely. Yet another sign that I need some therapy.

Lunchtime shopping begins now. Although I am an admitted shopaholic, I get more pleasure out of buying for others than for myself. Especially when said buying includes chocolate. Truffles await.

Dec 17, 2004

It looks as if a bitter arctic storm is looming, threatening our weekend plans of finishing the Christmas shopping and getting together with friends. We may end up snowed in, forced to cuddle together in front of the fireplace with mugs of warm spiced wine. Darn.

I'm having a little bit of Christmas anxiety today, stemming from viewing my current credit card balance and thinking of Christmas gifts we have yet to purchase. I'm so bad with money, I like to buy too much for people during the holidays. It makes me nervous. I need a glass of wine.

I'm also getting anxious about New Year's Eve. We're having a few people over for a potluck dinner, and a few more over later in the evening for drinks and the countdown, which is a guest list that keeps growing and growing. I'm not worried about the number of people because we have plenty of space, just having enough booze and glasses to serve everyone without breaking the bank. So if you want to come to my house New Year's Eve, the more the merrier. But bring a bottle of champagne, and don't laugh when you are handed a juice glass or a plastic champagne flute. We're doing the countdown on the roof, weather permitting. Should be fun.

I'm sort of afraid to eat breakfast today due to the martini, g&t and glass of wine I ingested at a holiday party last night. This is becoming a worrisome routine, being slightly hungover at work on Fridays...but it's the holidays so screw it. I came home last night to an empty apartment again; Hubb was working late for the second night in a row. I was slightly sad at the party because I was dateless, but after an adorable gay man gave me his phone number my mood greatly improved. I just might call him next time Hubb is working into the wee hours of the morning, if only for a martini drinking buddy.


I keep going back to this, but I want to make it clear that I am a total hypocrite. And an asshole.

But I feel much better after I've vented, and in order not to drive my friends and husband batty, this is the venue for my venting. I think that most of the reason that I dwell on my co-worker's diet habits is that I care about them. I am part therapist listening to horror stories of shopping in the plus-size department, and then part jerk when I comment on the Frito consumption. I need to get over it. I think I need more therapy than this weblog can provide. And anti-asshole pills.

So my PayPal has been hijacked and I keep getting e-mails saying I've added an e-mail address to my account, and sending me receipts for payments I didn't authorize. I'm in touch with the PayPal authorities who promise I am not being charged and my account is still secure, but the e-mails are frightening me something fierce. The last one said I paid $279 for some phone thing. I assure you I do not need a phone thing, nor would I be spending $279 for a phone thing right now. Sometimes I really hate the internet. It sometimes drives me to drink.

I think I may take a long walk outside today, now that isn't almost above freezing. I need a little bit of exercise, and some fresh air would do me good. Maybe I can release some of this anxiety and fear and asshole-ness and come back refreshed and happy and calm and ready for the dinner my boss is hosting at her house tonight. Needless to say, I'm nervous about that, too. It would be freakish if I weren't. God damn I need a glass of wine.

Dec 16, 2004

I found it: New Year's Resolutions for 2004. How did I do?

1. Get in shape. Nope. Well...a little bit. I am slightly more svelte than I was last year...even getting back down to my pre-college weight for a few days during 2004. I have nearly eliminated all fast food from my diet (nearly, not completely), I exercise occasionally...I rode my bike at least 3 times...but as noted in my previous entry, I'm packing it back on just in time for the last few days of the year. I give myself a 50% with a chance for further improvement.
2. Be less judgmental, less critical, and more accepting of others. Yes and no. I've learned to forgive others, ignore faults, and accept people for who they are, but the critical thing could still use some work. I give myself a 65% for this one.
3. Monthly budget. Don't ask. Probably a -10% if you must know.
4. Find better employment. Finally! 100% accomplished! For those of you who new me last year, you know that my employment search was a nightmare, and in July I finally made the move. I couldn't be happier. Unless I was independently wealthy. And in culinary school.
5. Be more adventurous. I'd say 85%. I moved into the city (gasp!), got a new job, tackled New York City and stayed out past midnight at least a dozen times in 2004. If that's not adventure, I don't know what is.

2005 is the year to be Awesome. And repetitive. And awesome.

1. Get in shape. See Universal Resolution from last year. I'm not worried so much about my diet, as I normally make a point to eat pretty healthy anyway. It's more about exercising. At least a little bit.
2. Be less judgmental, less critical...blah blah blah.
3. Cut up credit cards, give up shopping online, no more shoes, no more cosmetics or bath and body products, no more decorations for the house, no more kitchen wares, no more pyjamas, underwear, sweaters, camisoles, scarves, hats, socks, no more books, purses, chatchkas...oh my god 2005 is going to suck. But seriously, being in debt sucks and we want to buy a house someday, so I vow to spend more money paying off loans and less on new crap. The wedding and the car will be significantly paid down by 2006. Or else I'll be making the same damned resolution for the third time next year.
4. Be more crafty. I've been ignoring my creative side (other than in the kitchen) practically since college, and it's time to get back into something, anything that will help me blow off steam and make my mind work in different ways. Projects, projects, projects. Time to pull out the sewing machine, the glue gun and the paintbrushes. And Hubb and I WILL paint the canvas that has been sitting in the corner of our living room for 6 months.
5. Be less controlling of my kitchen domain, and let Hubb do some cooking. Wine drinking will be a necessary part of this resolution, as well as doing crafts to keep me occupied. Two resolutions in one! 2005 is also the year to multitask!

There are a few weeks at the end of each year when I begin to make the transition to a new datebook by carrying around the old one for immediate appointments and reference, and the new one for future engagements and notes. The prospect of change is exciting to me in that I have a new bright clean blank slate to work with, void of scribbles and white out and receipts stuck in the pages. It is intimidating to me in that I know I will soon be putting the old book, with all of the notes and ideas and phone numbers and appointments, away in the darkness of my closet only to be tossed in the trashcan the following year. I used to carry both my datebook and a little spiral bound notebook with me everywhere, but this year I am combining the two. So until the first of January I carry three, the old datebook, the old sketchbook and the new date/sketch book. The transition from two to one will be difficult, even more so as I browse through my old sketchbook trying to decide which bits of information to transfer to the new book. This is a sensitive and arduous task, but it must be done.

This past year has delivered many surprises, many happy moments, a few upsetting ones, but was a pretty good year all around. I'm working on my second annual list of what the past year has taught me. Stay tuned for that one.

I really need a journal rather than a blog...

Dec 15, 2004

This week is going by so incredibly slowly I can't stand it. I feel like each day is Friday, but I'm sadly mistaken when I look at the calendar. Damn the people in my office who thought it would be a good idea to have the Christmas party on Monday's messing with my internal clock!

I've been finishing up the Christmas shopping this week during lunch, venturing into the cold and wind...working on the lake is providing flurries each day, which adds to the Christmasy feel and makes me smile, chapped lips, frozen cheeks and all.

Walking to Michigan Avenue yesterday brought me by a park filled with unusually fluffy puffy pigeons all fattened up and cooing and huge. It made me smile for some reason, probably because I compared their rotund little bellies with my own, as I pack on the annual extra pound or two for protection against the elements. I don't mind it so much this year, which is strange.

16 days left in 2004 and I've completely forgotten what my resolutions were last year. I guess that's a good thing, as now I have no clue whether or not I've accomplished anything. This year I'll write them down. Maybe I did last year?? I'll have to browse back through this thing and check.

Oooh...I'm off to the Indian buffet with my coworker. I'm obviously not saving up calories for Christmas.

Dec 14, 2004

It's no secret that I simply adore cooking. I live for preparing meals. It relaxes me and invigorates me and cheers me up all at the same time. And I am incredibly lucky to live with someone who lets me have free reign over the kitchen. Hubb has his responsibilities around the house, some of which I grudgingly hand over (being the fireplace king) and others I hand over willingly, thankful for the fact that he lets me have my cooking. Hubb eats anything put in front of him, and has only twice questioned the edibleness of a meal (both of which were experimental meals and were well deserved to be questioned.) As a food and cooking fanatic I couldn't ask for a better husband.

But sometimes I feel incredibly guilty at the control I demand over our meals, like I am depriving him of the same thrill and enjoyment I hold so dear when I am creating things in the kitchen. Am I setting him up to fail when I am gone someday? Am I enforcing some sort of dependency on me by being the primary meal preparer? It's not that Hubb is totally helpless in the kitchen, he makes a damned good pot pie and is perfectly happy with Kraft Mac and Cheese on occasion. It's just that I know how happy I am at the chef's wheel and I feel terrible for hogging it all.

I say all this and at the same time I know that I could never totally give it up...but I'm willing to hand over an occasional meal or two. I feel a New Year's resolution coming on: Work on giving up control of the kitchen once in a while. I can already see that this will be difficult. I may need to stock up on wine to get me through it.

Dec 10, 2004

Two posts in one day?! What in the world has gotten into me?

It's one of those days that stretches farther than I'd like it to, slowly slowly slowly at a snail's pace, taking pause at everything, sleepy and yawny and freakishly nappy and all kinds of other make up adjectives. Maybe it's my headache and maybe it's having something to look forward to do tonight and maybe it's just because it's Friday with little work to be done. Either way, I've read all the blogs/journals/websites I care to, painstakingly scrutinized lines of html code to find an error in my template, started a new experimental blog, took a walk, cleaned my desk and organized my datebook. And it's not even 3:00.

I don't like to be specific about who I am on this thing, and I definitely don't like to post photos of myself, but there's a great photo of me and my firstborn kitty Eva that Hubb posted the other day. You should check it out because it's really nice. Eva is the grey one.

I ate some yummy pasta for lunch which looked like it was in an alfredo sauce, but I think it may have been pure butter. I ate alot of it. I feel incredibly gross and yet so much better at the same time. And I am more than ready for that nap now.


5 things I really like today:

1. adjectives
2. marinated cherry tomatoes in my alfredo (buttery) pasta
3. red shoes with matching underwear
4. payday
5. my boss
A late night full of drinking, drinking, drinking, little if any eating, dancing and arguing has left me hungover, sleep deprived, sore and grumpy. I want to throw up, go to sleep and scream all at the same time. Ugga blah poo. Ick.

Things will get better for me. In time. Maybe at lunch when I gorge myself with a burrito or some other equally fattening and calorie laden meal that my stomach needs and my lovehandles don't. God I wish we had a carafe full off bloody marys (bloody maries?) in my office instead of coffee. And an entire extra large sausage pizza. Cold.

So last night I watched a couple dance who were not a couple but danced as if their bodies were totally made for each other. It was amazing and I sat in awe with a dumb smile on my face for a full half hour watching these two people spin and sway and make gorgeous movements across the empty dance floor, obviously smitten and not at all hiding my shame at being a rythmless white girl. I shed a tear it was so beautiful, which led to the argument, being emotional and drunken and probably over critical of Hubb's dancing ability and why can't we do that and I want to do that and why can't we...which led to arguing about arguing which we do when we're tired and fed up and bored with where the previous argument is going. Hubb and I rarely fight, but when we do we get stupid about it and analyze every little word and tone and phrase that come out of each other's mouths until we forget what we're arguing about and just argue for the sake of arguing. Then we fall asleep in each other's arms. Which is nice. It's always good to have a little fight every now and then, if only for the vast appreciation we have for each other when we wake up with in the morning.

That said, I have an amazing and wonderful and thoughtful and loving and incredible understanding hottie husband. He rocks. I think I'll keep him.

I got a large chunk of Christmas preparation shopping done, and am still in shock at how gift bags and tissue paper and gift cards can add up. I always get these wonderfully crafty ideas for Christmas gifts and then kick myself repeatedly during the two weeks before we head home as I scramble to get it all done. This year I thought I was being clever and making things easier for myself, but no. This is not the case. Next year everyone is getting Omaha Steaks. Except for the herbivores. They can have fruit.

This is becoming more of a journal than a blog entry, but I don't care. Though headachy and nauseous, I have random things floating around inside of my and I feel like they all need to be put down here. Now.

I keep thinking of an image of a toddler wearing a black turtleneck, black pants, black sneakers and hipster glasses, and it makes me giggle each time it pops into my head. Where this mental image came from I have no idea. Maybe it's my internal clock starting to tick combined with my love of fashion, I don't know. I can't wait to have a baby so I can make my mental image a reality. Children: little people you can play dress up with! I wonder if they make baby fishnet stockings? THAT would be cute.

You can play PacMan online. That is awesome.

So I've been writing this entry for an hour and half now, getting interrupted by (gasp!) work, of all things. Sheesh. Don't they know it's Friday?

I have also been sidetracking myself with thoughts about where I will go for lunch. With less than 4 hours of sleep I didn't have the mind nor the time to pack any food this morning, save for an orange which I have already consumed. I've been constantly hungry since I arrived at work this morning, despite eating a ham and cheese sammy for breakfast (thanks hubb, my hangover food chef), and then half a bagel and an orange for a "snack". I'm on the way to Holiday weight gain, my friends. Fattening up for the dreary Chicago winter, I am. Now I can't stand it anymore. I'm off to lunch. Bye.

Dec 9, 2004

I'm still recovering from the madness that was our trip. Bronchitis and a pulled knee kept me home on Tuesday, and in a medicated sleepy coma yesterday and today. I can barely think let alone write a thrilling tale of my adventures. Words that do not come so easily to me on a healthy sober state are failing me right now. I'm feeling much better, and hopefully will be more so by tomorrow night, the start of our Holiday Festivities at the first of many Christmas parties. I have the little black dress, new shoes and new "designer" handbag (thank you New York City!) and I'm ready to party...almost. I just need to finish getting over this last hump of exhaustion with a good night's sleep and cough up a few more huge globs of ickiness and I'll be just fine. With the help of a few holiday cocktails, of course.

I started my Christmas shopping after work yesterday, but the rest of my list is really stressing me out. I know what I'm getting most people and where to get it, it's just a matter of going out and assembling everything and getting over the guilt of pulling out the credit cards again and again. And there are always those 2 or 3 people who I draw blanks for when thinking of gift ideas. I'll think of something. I have no choice. I had a pretty successful run last night, however, stumbling upon the perfect gifts for almost 5 of my family and friends. Hurrah! And I surprised myself by purchasing a pair of uncharacteristically emily fishnet stockings which I plan to accompany one of my holiday party outfits. I feel a little naughty and it feels good.

Now for some photos. I had an amazing time and give my whole hearted thanks to everyone who entertained and housed us during our trip, both family and friends. (And friends I think of as family!) Now, less talk and more pictures:

The Brooklyn Bridge from an accidental amazingly awesome view. Finding our way to the water from Chinatown was interesting, but the the trek was totally worth it.

The B-Bridge part 2. Brooklyn attached to Manhattan island by bridges.

Central Park on a beautiful yet previously rainy day. The sun came out just for us.

C-Park part 2. Mazes of paths and bridges and rocks and ponds, I fell in love with Central Park and it's serene vacation from the bustling streets.

The museum which happened to be closed on the day we visited. D'oh!

Blurry Liberty at Sunset. The most amazing view I could have hoped for. And the most deadly winds I could have done without. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't hold the damned camera still.

I am quite proud to boast that I had the NYC Subway system totally under control. We didn't get on the wrong train, go the wrong way, or miss a single stop once while gallivanting up and down Manhattan. The colors, letters, and numbers baffled me before we left, but I quickly mastered them to get our full 24-hours worth of NYC.

Boston is a city with so much rich history, we had to make a trip to a graveyard. I found it fascinating that circa 1800 gravestones portrayed skulls and images of death while the circa 1900 gravestones of my recent Chicago Graceland Cemetery concentrated on peace and life.

Sunset in the sky. On our way home with an incredibly peaceful view.

And we're home.

Dec 6, 2004

It feels good to be back home. Despite my body's attempts to ruin my trip with a killer head/chest cold and a tricky bum knee, I had the most amazing vacation. Family, friends, animals, cities, shopping, sightseeing, eating. It was a whirlwind of excitement that I will never forget. I'm tired and sick and limpy and I'm going to take the rest of the day off and part of tomorrow to heal and be healed. I have many amazing photographs documenting our trip, and I promise to post some soon.

Remind me to tell you about the meat grinder at the Boston Court House and reminiscing in the same pub I ate at almost 8 years ago. And making soap with my 6-1/2 year old niece who turned around and tried to sell it to me. And the thrill (and selfish middle child thoughts) that I'll have another little niece or nephew sooner than I expected. And the most beautiful (and most windy) sunset I've ever encountered, and the $8 hat that produced a sunny sky. And the quarter in Central Park and the man who put puttanesca on the menu, and discovering that cold medicine and beer don't mix. And my dog's twin in New Jersey and surviving Times Square traffic and finding pizza at the perfect moment. And french fries for dessert and Chinatown becoming my favorite place on earth, at least for a day. And not finding a single pair of shoes in Soho and sipping pear brandy in a German bar. And liquor stores that close too damn early and being vegetarian and not even realizing it. And seeing more animals than humans and rediscovering friendship and love and missing my family and friends so much. And most importantly realizing that I'm changing for the better with each passing season.

I had more fun in a week than I can tell you, and New York and Boston were thrilling, but I'm glad to be home. I think I'll always love my own bed in Chicago the best.