Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Til He Appear'd and The Soul Felt Its Worth

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

     Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
     O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
     O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Letter From Chateau Marmont

This, Dear Reader, is the beauty of Lizzie. 

Emilia and I were out all day today running last minute errands. Because Christmas is in five short days, Bellevue Square was so crowded.  (Emilia has Caelen's name this year, and since he is the one who got me buying the opposite of really-boring-socks [which I, in turn, passed on to Emilia] it seemed rather fitting that she give him a couple of pairs of stripy socks to go with his book.) We then ran to Whole Foods, which was a complete mistake.  Seriously, it was more crowded at the grocery store than at the bloody mall.  It took us a hundred years to get only a few things, and then we sat and sat in the parking lot, waiting for the blasted traffic jam to let up.  ('Mama, go!  Go!' countered with 'Do you want me to crash the car?  I can't go!') I mean, really, did everyone leave at precisely the same moment?) 

Anyway, as we were pulling up to the house my eyes immediately went to the front porch, just to see if we got any packages.  Lo and behold, we got two.  The first was from Grandma Margaret and Grandpa Eugene (which caused Emilia to run around the house saying 'Should we open it?  Should we open it?'), and the second was from Lizzie -- all wrapped up in Charlie Brown paper. Her gifts (as always) are so much cooler than ours are to her.  She does have a knack for these things, though.  In fact, one of the last things she sent us had cut-outs of Edward on it, which was really quite impressive.  Somehow she has remained impervious to the whole vampire affair.  (Odd, I know.)  While I, on the other hand, once debated getting a life-size cut-out of dreamy Edward to go in the living room.  You know, just to cheer up the place and all.  And another time she made her own wrapping paper using a picture of Tina Fey, in the manner of Liz Lemon, in the manner of Princess Leah.  See what I mean, she's awesome.  But really, without even knowing it, the girl makes me smile every single day, and I am consistenly in awe of her.

Anyway, as I tried (in vain) to get the last bites of Emilia's lunch into her little tummy, I opened up Lizzie's package -- and I have been beaming ever since.  The presents she sent are all wrapped up, and we're not opening them before Christmas.  But that doesn't prevent one from reading the card does it?  Heavens, no!

And this is what it says:

December XX, 2010


This book is the result of my BRILLIANT smuggling techniques while I was at the book opening at the Chateau Marmont last night for XX XX's new book 'The XX XX.'

You must swear that you will never tell anyone how you got this book, or I will never be invited to one of their fancy parties!  (Yes, I have been invited to go to The XX XX's house for New Years!  Of course, I have nothing to wear!)

So with Love and Style, I give you 'The XX XX'.  To you, who instilled the importance of fashion in my life.

Love, Lizzie

Now, Dear Reader, is this not reason #3012416 to love the girl?  She has a certain panache, no?  That being said, I'm fairly certain that she will vow never to speak to me again as I've just divulged personal correspondence.  But really, it is simply too marvelous not to share.  (In the meantime, I do hope that it is noted that I've done my best (rather cleverly, I think) to protect the identity of what exactly was brilliantly smuggled from that ultra glamourous event -- at the Chateau Marmont, no less -- thereby protecting the identity of the ultra-fab and surreptitious sender.)

I love you, Lizzie.  You're one of my favorites in the whole wide world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Popovers For a Birthday (or Two or Three)

Here's the thing of it, popovers are very easy to make.  So, really, apart from burning them, the only real downside is that they take so blasted long in the oven.  This is why I found myself trying to quietly whip up a batch Saturday morning -- the birthday of yours truly.  I put all the ingredients in the food processor and stepped out onto the deck, making sure to close the door tightly behind me.  I then plugged the processor in and loudly whirred to my heart's content.  (I also do this when the small girl is still sleeping and I need to grind coffee beans.  Works like a charm, too.  Now, if only I could come up with a trick of silencing the damned microwave, we'd be in business.)

Anyway, I plonked the popovers in the oven, and then dashed to the computer with my blue-light and large cup of coffee in tow.  And I sat and waited.  And waited a bit more.  When it was getting closer for the timer to go off, I started causing a bit of a racket -- just to wake everyone up.  After all, it was going on 9:30 and we had a very busy day ahead of us.  Michael needed to yell at the telly for the Army/Navy game (Go Army, Beat Navy!, which clearly did not happen...), and we needed to load ourselves in the car and drive to the hospital.  My oldest sister had twin boys the day before -- weighing in at 4lbs 11oz each.  They are teeny-tiny little things, born a whole month early, and they remind me exactly of baby birds.  Well, apart from their legs, those look more in the manner of little frogs, if you must know.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Lazy Sod's Pipérade

Well, I've finally done it.  I've made our daughter throw-up due to my cooking.  Nice, right?  It went like this: we got home from church on Sunday and while Michael was talking to his parents on the phone, I was cooking up lunch for Emilia -- and it was something entirely new.  We bought these glass noodles from Uwajimaya a month or so, intending to use them for an Ottolenghi recipe.  However, that never happened, so I decided to quickly cook some of them up for the girl's lunch.  Now, mind you, I've never cooked with glass noodles before, so I had no clue what I was doing.  So, I treated them the same way I would regular spaghetti.  Big mistake. 

Once the noodles were cooked, I drained them, tossed them with a bit of olive oil, fresh tomato, and salt.  And let me tell you, revolting does not do it justice.  I couldn't even look at them, let alone eat them.  I tried, but spit them out.  And so, before tossing them in the trash, I asked Emilia (who was standing in the kitchen and at me looking like, 'why are you throwing away my lunch!') if she wanted to try them.  To my astonishment, the girl said yes.  I gave her a little bite, and she chewed, and she chewed, and then she started to look quite nauseous.  Two seconds later she threw up on the kitchen floor.  Michael was yelling, all mad-like, 'what did you feed her?!'  'Her lunch!' was all I could say before I started to laugh.  Poor thing.  I could hardly blame her -- after all, they made me sick just looking at them. 

This incident aside, I tend to get quite annoyed when Emilia refuses my cooking.  (She would have been smart to refuse it that particular time, though.)  Dinner ends up so stressful when I spend the whole of it trying to cram healthy things into her little mouth.  So when I decided to cook up Julia Child's recipe for Pipérade (which warrants another check-mark in my cookbook), I also cooked up some chicken for the girl, because otherwise I knew it would be a battle.  Any sort of frittata/omelette/quiche/eggy-dish turns into way too much of a headache.

The pipérade was so good, though.  The girl didn't know what she was missing -- well, apart from the bacon.  She happily ate as much of that as I would put on her plate.  It was also so easy to make -- perfect for an evening of putting up the Christmas tree and all that jazz. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Visit to Santa, a Sewing Genius, and Three Years Ago Today

Bitter disappointment -- there was absolutely no crying on Santa's lap this year.  It's such a shame, too, because a crying/wailing child on Santa's lap makes for the best photos ever.  I suppose I should have expected as much.  After all, my brother said last year that we'd be lucky if we got one more crying/wailing one out of her.  ('You could have a whole series!')  I suppose two out of three ain't bad, though.

This year's picture turned out to be quite pretty, really.  Emilia is dressed in a beautiful bright red corduroy dress, white tights, and black shoes.  Her curly hair is pulled off of her pretty little face, and she looks like a little beauty.  (However, I simply must stop doing this with her hair, because it makes her look like a big girl -- and not like my little two-and-a-half-year-old baby.  Unacceptable, I say.)  And though she has a teeny-tiny smile on her face for the picture, she is not sitting on Santa's lap.  In fact, I could have comfortably sat between the two of them.  While she sat, she had her hand on the edge of the sleigh trying to pull herself as far away from the man as she could get.  It's a very nice picture, but clearly nothing like the others. 

After the picture was taken, Santa asked Emilia what she wanted for Christmas.  She looked at him and then quietly whispered, 'presents!'     

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Leek and Potato Soup, à la Julia Child (To Help One Master the Art of Fitting One's Trousers)

A few nights ago I had a dream that Emilia and I flew to LA so that we could go to this cupcake shop.  The cupcakes were gorgeous -- all covered with exotic flowers and such.  So, in my dream, we bought five.  And I actually thought to myself, 'How are we going to eat all of these before they go bad?'  Anyway, we didn't dwell too much on that because we had to catch a plane back to Seattle before dada got home from work.  I was trying to work out in my head how we could get around telling him we went to LA for the day, and that it only cost $123 for our tickets.  But, in the manner of dreams, all of a sudden he was in the cab on the way back to the airport anyway, so it didn't really matter.

And then a week or so ago I dreamt about ice cream.  We were on a bus and it crashed up on this sidewalk.  While everyone was scrambling around, I looked out our window and saw the most beautiful ice cream shop.  It was filled with these enormous tubs of ice cream, and the one I reallyreallyreally wanted was the blackberry gelato, with a layer of white chocolate gelato on top, and a layer of dark chocolate gelato on top of that.  And then, going again with the theme, there were more of these amazing and gorgeous smelling flowers all over the top of it.  Oh, and some coconut shavings, too.

I wonder why I am dreaming so much about desserts.  It is not like I have been in deprivation mode.  In the least.  (Did I mention that I was trying to teach myself to make éclairs a few weeks ago, and managed to eat eight in three days?  Meanwhile, I wish so much that we had some of those right now.  All we've got are Christmas cut-out cookies -- not very tasty, if you want my opinion. I'm thinking of trying a different recipe next time round.)  However, I've noticed that my jeans have been a bit, shall we say, snug these days.  And I'm not just saying this because my mom took it upon herself to point it out, either.  I'm saying it because, even though I don't exactly look enormous, I much prefer to wriggle freely from my clothes instead of feeling like a seam is going to burst open whenever I move.  That feels most unpleasant, I must say.

And so, in an attempt not have to go out a buy the whole of jeans from Nordstrom (which are mostly that ghastly skinny sort anyway), I'm trying to whip myself into a bit of shape again.  Nothing drastic, you know.  Just little things like, trying to go running more than twice a year, for starters.  Drinking more green tea -- really ought to invest in some other stuff because what I bought from Uwajimaya a month or so ago tastes exactly the way cow shit smells, er, I mean, nature smells.  It's revolting.  And lastly, eating more French food.  Because everyone knows that the best way to make your jeans fit better is to eat more French food.  (Karl Lagerfeld once said that there is nothing more dangerous in this world than sauces.  He was speaking of French food and his own waistline, of course.  But he must have been mistaken, right?)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Dear Reader, I think I've lost me muse.  I'm so tired and I'm feeling quite put out by it.  Every morning this week I've been sitting in front of my blue-light, drinking cups of coffee (with two sugar cubes -- egads!), and feeling like everything I need to do/should do/would like to do will just have to happen later.  Ugh, right?
Today was actually proving to be different, though.  I started out with the blue-light, along with two cups of coffee (that'd be four sugar cubes, if you're counting), and was all raring to go when Emilia finally decided to wake up.  We had a quick breakfast, and got ourselves ready for a quick run.  She insisted on wearing her 'running pants', which are a pair of bright pink cropped leggings she wore throughout the summer.  So, I insisted on putting layer upon layer over her to keep her toasty warm, kind of in the manner of the mother in A Christmas Story.  (You know, 'I can't put my arms down!')  Anyway, our run was fabulous, and I was in desperate need of it.  You know that feeling when your body starts to hurt because it is begging for exercise, please?  That has been me for the past week or so.  (When I called my lovely husband at work and told him we had gone running, the wise ass, er, I mean the really nice guy said: 'You feeling alright?'  Hmpf!