Wednesday, December 9, 2009

dolce vita

Tonight's Menu:

Potato Soup with Bacon from the Rock Cafe's cookbook (sent to me today with the Splendid Table newsletter, which you should definitely sign up for).

Broccoli Blasted, as previously discussed, the best damn broccoli you ever did try.

Chicken Piccata with Caper Browned Butter Sauce


I was too hungry to take pictures. Everything came out exquisite. I made lots of extras because I need leftovers for lunch tomorrow and Friday. I'm already excited about eating all of this again.

A very successful meal to finish a truly fabulous day. I went fabric shopping with the amazing designer who is making my wedding dress, and we found everything we wanted and got fantastic deals. We celebrated by shoe shopping. Then I ran into Hatch to get some paper cut and ended up visiting there for almost an hour. I miss that place. When I finally got to work Emily had saved me a delicious sandwich from Sub Stop, and I worked on entering checks the rest of the day, which is always soothing and gratifying. And then home with my Boo for a feast and a roaring fire in the fireplace. This is the sweet life, we're fully aware.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Luddites Unite!

Okay, so I dropped off the daily blogging train right at the homestretch. I forgive myself. The combination of sick and busy does not lend itself to interesting self-reporting.

This mystery illness, which may or may not exist, has manifested itself thusly: tired all the time, but unable to sleep in all weekend or get to bed before midnight on a school night. Baffling lack of appetite, which is a sad reality on Emma Bake Sale Day. Occasional bouts of phlegmishness, coughing, sniffling, sneezing, then periods of total calm. And the inability to concentrate on anything for more than ten minutes. Even wedding talk.

Speaking of, pretty much as soon as everyone left the house on Friday (well, really when I woke up Saturday), I realized, we've got a wedding to plan. Thanksgiving was the last big thing in between. Now it's December and that means Goals to be Accomplished. Clayton sent us the engagement pictures he took when we visited his family in Colorado in October; I put some of the best up here. I'm so completely thrilled with these photos and amazed by Clayton's talent. Austin's going to use these shots for our Save the Date cards, which we'll mail this month. I've been keeping myself busy tracking down addresses and updating the guest list with the wedding tools on Martha Stewart Weddings. I always say, that Martha, she's crazy, but she keeps me organized.

I've got Thanksgiving photos to share too, but the engagement pictures maxed out my Flickr account for this month already and I'm having trouble figuring the damn thing out. I even tried to pay to upgrade to a Pro account and it appears to have timed out or failed somehow. Flickr seems to be the prevalent choice for photo sharing, and I like the ease of linking directly from iPhoto, but I don't understand why it keeps directing me to my (nonexistent) Yahoo inbox. Annoying. I'll figure this out tomorrow and share photos of the feasting from Friday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

my face is failing

Success = Thanksgiving. Hands down, the best Thanksgiving we've ever hosted. I got so much of the cooking done ahead of time, had a killer game plan in place for today, and never got frazzled or stressed in the kitchen. We had the house sparkling clean by 11 am (that's mostly credit to the Boo, he worked his butt off the last two days) and the cooking schedule was so well organized I even had time to watch an episode of 30 Rock in the middle of the afternoon. Complete master of my menu domain.

Fail = sudden onset of cold/sinus/mystery illness symptoms. As in, spent the entire meal blowing my nose every two minutes and sniffling. Where did this come from? I've been feeling a tad feeble the last four or five days, just some sore throat and tiredness, but this new development came up fast and hard, precisely as our guests started arriving. My face appears to be disassembling to a liquid state.

My point here is that I've got pics and menu details to share of today's big feast, but right now, Sudafed and I are going to bed. Goodnight, sweethearts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

listmaking falls firmly in the first category

Things I Do Well:

1. Baking/Cooking in general (I follow a recipe well, so that's something)
2. Menu Planning
3. Makeup application
4. Give directions
5. Tetris/pack a suitcase/load a dishwasher/rearrange a refrigerator (all uses the same skill set)
6. Keep score at baseball games and stats for roller derby
7. Spot a cat in any landscape (highly honed kitty radar)
8. Quickbooks
9. Hosting
10. Supervising

Things I Do Poorly:

1. Wait tables.
2. Batting, fielding, catching, throwing, sprinting, shooting, or any other sportsy action.
3. Make rice. This is my major failure area in the kitchen. It shouldn't be this hard.
4. Drink alcohol
5. Fix hair
6. Throw things away/part with things
7. Get over sadness (although I can get over anger admirably fast)
8. Resist Mischa when she wants to sleep on the bed with us
9. Sudoku
10. Coming up with Halloween costumes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I AM KING PRAWN!!!

Well, I spent a quiet night at home mentally composing a post for tonight, a list of Things I Do Well vs Things I Am Terrible At. But this is preempted by my unbridled affection for the Muppets:

(yanked from my darling girl Kelley)



Sam the Eagle! Animal! Bunsen Honeydew! You have to hang all the way til 3:58 to see my girl Miss Piggy, but totally worth it. And truly, is there a character, both real or fiction, in all history, with whom I relate more directly than the Swedish Chef? No. There is simply no way.

P.S. When we were in Seattle I made great pains to see the Jim Henson exhibit at Experience Music Project. I rerouted an entire day's plans, and went by myself while everyone else went to a pub. Casey said, "I think you have a different relationship with the Muppets than the rest of us." So be it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

excited about...

...being married in six months. All the time, I have to prevent myself from calling Austin my husband. We recently renewed our Frist membership, and they mailed the cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Austin Gray. I hung the label on the fridge. I'm gonna be a Mrs. Hooray!

...Thanksgiving. It's technically my favorite holiday. Even if we never observe it on the traditional Thursday. For the last three or four years, we've had everyone over on the Friday instead, so everyone can spend the holiday with their family and still come over for vast feasting. I don't break from the norm too much: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, you know the drill. Some new things I'm trying this year: thyme-roasted apples and onions, cranberry-vanilla bean sorbet, Maple Apple Pandowdy.

...tuna casserole on Wednesday night. Because these things make me happy. That's gotta be the best pre-feasting series of leftovers possible.

...my new Adidas slides. I've had an ancient pair for at least five years that I wear every day. All the nubs have worn off. This is one of the least glamorous truths about me. Off Broadway has that lovely program where every purchase you make, you get 10% of that purchase towards a future visit. I still had a big receipt left from my failure of self-control back in January, plus a tiny one that I found when I was cleaning out the office, so I am the proud owner of a new pair of pink and black Adissages for $5.38. New shoes. Five dollars. New shoes.

...four and a half day weekend. Can't come soon enough.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Partial Self-Portrait Vol. 2

Tonight, while merrily disassembling broiled crab legs with herb butter at our kitchen counter, Austin sprayed me with a particularly enthusiastic wrenching of his crustacean. Considering the possibility for payback, I said:

"Have we ever had a food fight?"

Austin, without missing a beat, responds, "Nope, but I don't think people really do that anyway. Only in Smirnoff Ice commercials."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Hero's Journey. of Pizza.

Forgot to post last night. Damn.

I've spent the last several weeks fixating on a very specific vision. Of pizza. We have great pizza right here in our neighborhood (Castrillo's, who we're having provide the chow for our rehearsal dinner) but we always get takeout. My Pizza Vision does not involve takeout. My Pizza Vision is of sitting in a pizzeria and having a hot pie placed in front of me on a metal pan. When I remove the first slice from the pan, the cheese strings out for at least two feet and I have to pile the gooey cheese strings onto my slice on my plate. Also in this vision: pitchers of Dr. Pepper with pebble ice.

I realize now that this vision is a California memory. This is the food we ate at Godfather's with the Jansens after church or before a movie. Or there was a place Elisa used to take us, somewhere on the way to Hidden Beach, where we made a video of the pizza because it was gooey to the point of being (compellingly) disgusting. I'm not fiending for authentic neapolitan cuisine here. I want the cheesy, floppy, Americanized version of the food I grew up eating.

So I took my quest to the masses, and posted a Facebook query:

I'll tell you, folks really respond when you talk about food on Facebook. Any time I'm feeling neglected (oh, as if I ever feel neglected...) I can just say something about whatever I'm cooking up for dinner that night and be assured of some attention. 35 people had opinions about pizza. Some folks could only mention out-of-town pizza joints, which is completely not helpful. Many people mentioned Mafiaoza's, where I've had enough negative experiences as to not be willing to give another try. There were several shoutouts to House of Pizza, which is definitely *great* pizza but not what I'm looking for here. A few folks offered up City House, including one (self-admitted food snob) who blithely dismissed all the other suggestions as inedible.

This is where Austin decided to get involved. First he requested my permission to simply respond with some profanity towards City House, which I denied. We've only been there once, and it was quite disappointing, but certainly not enough of an experience to pass permanent judgment, and we've had so many folks whose opinions we trust recommend it. After having his initial request refused, Austin turned to poorly veiled sarcasm instead:

I'll let you wipe the tears of mirth from your eyes while we ponder, together, what a great writer that man is. He made that all up! I don't even know where he gathered words like "Puglia" and "salame" and concepts like a stone oven that gets dismantled every day. Seriously.

A few people bit after that (poor James sent Austin a direct message begging for directions to Luca Montolivo's hovel), but I'd already moved on to a strong possibility for my pizza fulfillment: Pie in the Sky, a relatively new spot in Midtown. There are a few locations in the Nashville area and I've heard mixed reports on the other ones, but this one so far had some solid recommendations, plus the added bonus of 2-for-1 draft beers all the time. Friday night rolled around and we were in.



Success! Emily and I split a medium thin-crust pie with mushrooms, pepperoni and extra cheese, and the first piece pulled off that pizza with gorgeous, sticky strings of goo, exactly what I was hoping for. This was delicious food that satisfied a specific craving, and I don't feel bad for a bit that it wasn't authentic Italian cuisine. I didn't get my pitcher of Dr. Pepper (truth is, I can't drink Dr. Pepper anymore, other than very early in a day when I know I have to stay up very late... heartbreaking. Dr. Pepper and I used to be so close.) but it was on the menu, so that definitely counts. This one's going on the short list.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

one sneak, then

Okay, so you like the wedding talk? Thanks for letting me know. I'll let Austin edit me if I start putting too much out there.

For now, here's a sneak into one of the big decisions at which we've recently arrived. Not sure if you know, but the state of Tennessee does not recognize ministers who were ordained online to officiate a marriage. In 1997, they ratified the rules on this matter to state that any minister/priest/preacher must have a congregation (specifically, "care of souls") in order to qualify. Sure, we could use an elected official instead (that's what both my sisters did, and that worked out great), and we even met with our city councilman about performing the ceremony, but it never really sat right with me to be standing up there in front of a near-stranger (I could say "sat right with us" but that would probably not be accurate. It should come as no surprise that I'm the one overthinking this matter).

So we weighed our options. Near stranger = legal marriage, not very comfortable. Get a friend to perform the ceremony = cozy ceremony, not legally married. Yikes. The part about being legally married *does* matter. It does. I'm sure every one of us knows couples who aren't technically married but might as well be (or maybe who don't know any different!) but, if the whole point is for us to be lawfully wed by the end of all this planning and excitement, well, there it is. Luckily, I'm a Jansen, and when presented with an A/B equation like this one, I always pick C. I come up with a workaround. Workaround we have.

So we're going to have someone close to us perform the ceremony, have a great big party surrounded by all our loved ones, spend the next day (Sunday) with all our visiting guests, and then, on Monday morning, before we leave for our honeymoon, we're going to head to the courthouse and get hitched. Just the two of us. Say the words and sign the papers. By the power vested in the county clerk by the State of Tennessee.

Sure, it's nontraditional. As I've mentioned before, that's not really something we're going to worry about. My only worry originally was that maybe it would make our public ceremony, the one in front of all the folks, seem less significant. But that's just not possible. That will be a giant moment, the one we've been leading up to for more than six years by then. I'll be in the dress, he'll be in the suit, our moms will be crying on the front row. And then Monday morning will be just for us. A private, formal ceremony to bring closure and gravity, to solemnize the hoopla surrounding the wedding.

And because I'm sure you're wondering, that person close to us who will perform the family ceremony is my Uncle Bill. He's my mom's oldest brother, a true gentleman and also a bona fide pirate. He has offered to wear an eye patch for the wedding; I told him we'd see...

Thus we have arrived at a solution that feels absolutely right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

how much?

The thing with writing about the wedding planning is that I wonder how much of these details I should share. Isn't some of it supposed to be a surprise for our guests? Or, like with the dress talk, a surprise for Austin? What about the people who are reading who aren't coming to the wedding? Is it too private? Should I keep our plans to myself, at least until after the wedding? Or is this just what's going on in our lives right now, and it's just going to be what I talk about?

Also, thanks for so many of you for commenting lately. I read so many blogs that get 20-30 comments per post, and I'm green with envy. I'm trying to be better about commenting on other blogs that I read, even when Reader makes me horribly lazy about it (or when tumblr doesn't let you comment at all, Trey...). Surely blog comments are the cheapest currency that still feels gratifyingly indulgent when you get one. Hint, hint.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

my case for normalcy

Normal women my age develop the scientific circumstance known as "baby fever."

I, obviously, have kitten fever instead.

funny pictures of cats with captions


I would like to politely request that each one of those little kiddos comes and sleeps on my pillow tonight. Siiiiigh.

Monday, November 16, 2009

foods I crave

1. sushi
2. Indian (especially my newly discovered true love, vegetable korma)
3. artichokes
4. avocado
5. crab legs
6. popcorn
7. macaroni and cheese
8. chocolate chip cookies
9. the Gold Rush patty melt
10. poppyseed chicken
11. tuna casserole
12. hush puppies from Bill's Catfish
13. Sicilian pasta
14. pretzels
15. peanut butter

So basically, I crave comfort foods. Is that a redundancy? Are all comfort foods something you crave? It seems so obvious.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

just call me Ina (does that make Austin Jeffrey?)

We invented two more recipes tonight. One was rather eh but we think we know why. The other was delicious. The "eh" entry was a glaze for pork chops; in retrospect, it should be a marinade instead. We used butterflied boneless loin chops and even tenderized them in advance, but the meat was still pretty flavorless on the inside.

Peach Glaze for Pork that Should Be a Marinade

1/4 cup peach preserves
1 Tablespoon chili paste (the asian kind with crushed red pepper flakes in it)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce

We mixed this up and then heated it, and poured it over both sides of the pork. We recommend marinating for at least three hours before pan-searing the chops (we used two butterflied chops, which is the equivalent of four loin chops). Cook in a hot nonstick or cast iron skillet until the glaze starts to caramelize and the chops aren't pink in the center.

Delicious side dish:

Mashed Turnips with Thyme

2 lbs turnips
1/2 stick (4 T.) butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream

Trim and peel the turnips, then chop them into big chunks (about six pieces per turnip). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the turnips; boil until tender, probably about 15 mins. While the turnips cook, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and then saute the thyme in the melted butter until fragrant and the butter just barely starts to darken. When the turnips are tender, drain and mash by hand with a potato masher (ours is metal and wavy and works great, but it will scratch nonstick). Stir in the thyme butter and the sour cream and season well with salt and pepper.

We served the pork and the mashed turnips with Broccoli Blasted, which is a revelation of this oft-maligned vegetable. I seriously can't recommend it enough; we tried it at the Black Bottle in Seattle and literally inhaled a gigantic platter of it. The Epicurious recipe says it feeds four-to-six but that is very unlikely. We used more like 2 lbs of broccoli crowns and only had a bit left, just the two of us. Yum.

It's bedtime for Bonzo (why do I say that? Mom, what does that mean?). We went to the Titans game today (watched from an Executive Suite, if you can believe it) and did a lot of walking to avoid paying for parking or being stuck in traffic. We walked up to the Frist Center after the game and saw the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, which was lovely. Sometimes I miss her the way I miss Julia Child. And my grandmothers. That's weird, right? It's unseasonably warm in Nashville; honestly, it's been the most gorgeous fall that you could even imagine. But that means I spent most of this day uncomfortably sweaty, and hoofing it up Broadway in mid-afternoon definitely counts as cardio. The moral of this story: I'm beat, and for once it's for a legitimate reason.

P.S. We think that Cialis commercial with the old people sitting in side-by-side bathtubs in the woods or on top of a cliff is ridiculous. Bathtubs are heavy! Who hauls a bathtub (let alone TWO) out into the woods or up on a cliff just to sit naked in it next to their (presumed) wife of 40 years? And there is no running water up there, so did they haul the water in buckets too? Heat it over a fire? I doubt it. I bet those old folks are just sitting naked in empty bathtubs and feeling smug about what a great photo opportunity it all is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

impressionable

Austin suggests I write about the first time I ever ate Ben & Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio ice cream. That was tonight. Very historic date in the life history of a girl who loves ice cream so dearly. Loves it so much that I took a picture of the astonishingly well-stocked ice cream accoutrement section at Publix and texted it to Agnes tonight. Strawberry marshmallow creme! Cupcake flavored Magic Shell! At least nine different types of ice cream cones! What is this wonderful world we're living in?

I should blog about the soul-regenerating love fest of Guilty Pleasures last night. Or about my new haircut. Or about Kansas, a post I've been working on for a month now. I could talk about some of the new tricks our pets have picked up (Mischa twirls for food!).

Instead I'm going to go watch more Firefly and turn in early on this Saturday night. I'll leave you with an awfully sweet photo of my future husband and one of the things I love the most about him...It's not exactly the best picture of Digby, who is getting so fat, but how about our littlest kid over there with her big ears? This just warms my heart.

Friday, November 13, 2009

which is thirty-two, for the record

Ways in which I act younger than my actual age:

1. I ate three Pixy Stix (only orange and purple, thanks) and two mini-boxes of Nerds before I came home from work tonight.

2. I hate to take showers.

3. I stomp my foot when I'm frustrated and I squeal when I'm excited.

Ways in which I act older than my actual age:

1. I heard the new Britney Spears song this morning ("3") and said, out loud, in the car, by myself, "This is DIRTY! This is a dirty song!" like some kind of prim marmish person.

2. I am getting more and more forgetful. Like, solid information slipping from my brain. Today I asked Casey if one of her favorite authors was dead, and she clarified that he not only is indeed dead but I was the one who told her about his passing. Not that long ago. Data retention, it's failing me.

3. I am considering self-medicating with Dr. Pepper to ensure my energy level stays high for the rock show tonight. Because last night we literally climbed in bed at 9:30 pm (and couldn't even finish an episode of Firefly).

What rock show? Oh, just Guilty Pleasures. You know. My favorite 80s cover band in the whole entire world. They might be my favorite band of ANY genre. Talented folks on stage singing songs I've loved since I was a little girl, it simply doesn't get any better. And somehow I've tricked Agnes and Stacey and Kelley into going with me, which is nigh onto a miracle. I'm used to cruising these shows solo; the novelty of braving a crowded bar to see Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride" performed by local funk god Aaron Winters is apparently lost on my nearest and dearest. But not tonight, I'm rolling out with the best ladies (and having sushi beforehand, because this night needs to be better, don't you think?) and I'd better go apply some fierce eyeliner in preparation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things we're not going to do at our Wedding

(in no particular order)

1. Throw a bouquet

2. Throw a garter

3. Wear a garter, for that matter

4. Have a big cake

5. Cut the cake

6. A first dance all by ourselves (or with our parents)

7. A big entrance into the reception (No "Join me in welcoming, for the first time, Delaney and Austin Gray!")

8. Have a DJ

9. Have a band

10. Stay in separate places the night before

11. A traditional registry (we're only registering for our honeymoon)

12. Leave the reception before everyone else

13. Have a ringbearer or flower girl

14. Wait to see each other before I come down the aisle

15. Have photographs taken of our left hands stacked on top of each other

16. Make anyone wait in line for anything (if we can help it at all)

17. Feel rushed in any way

18. Hire a florist

19. Have a full bar

20. Serve butter that is too cold to spread on cornbread

21. The Chicken Dance, the YMCA, the bunny hop, the German Wedding March (much to my dismay) or any other coordinated group dances

22. Wear uncomfortable shoes

23. Listen to anyone telling us what we "have" to do

You wouldn't believe how many people have opinions about some of these things... I've been to so many lovely weddings with some (or all) of these features, and of course they were beautiful events that resulted in a newly wedded couple, which is the whole point. I'm certainly not issuing judgments. We're just tailoring our wedding to our personal tastes and the general vibe that we're trying to share. We'll have a fairly traditional ceremony (in the sense that we stand up at the front with our wedding party on either side of us, and exchange vows and rings and then kiss) and then we just want to have a big delicious dinner party with all our friends and family, which culminates in dancing and dessert. We're going to take a cab home at the end of the night and sleep in our own bed. And we're going to spend the next day with our visiting families, and then get up Monday morning and fly to Ireland (via Boston).

Or at least that's the plan. The catch to long engagements: too much time to change our minds. I've picked a different song to walk down the aisle to at least six times. Maybe if I'd only had three months to plan I could have made some decisions stick the first time around. As it is, we've still got plenty of time to work out the details and to get over the small stuff and to stick to our guns about the important parts (like cold butter. Unacceptable).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

excuses

If blogging is mental exercise (that's a stretch...) and 30 minutes on the treadmill at the Y is physical exercise, I think I can only suck it up for one or the other tonight. So I'm going to get in the shower. Maybe this is a new trend in me actually having the discipline to accomplish the things I set out to. Craft fabrication last night, workout tonight, what could lie in wait for tomorrow night? Those Black Bean Cakes that we keep postponing, perhaps.

Also, I had a great idea for a blog post earlier today, and it was likely related to food, and damn if I can remember it now. I need to start writing it down.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

you're never going to believe this...

Tonight is Podcast Night in the Gill/Gray household. If you didn't already know, Austin and two friends have created a weekly podcast of NFL smacktalking, and they record on Tuesday nights (even if you don't care about football, check that link because my amazing fiance designed the website and has written all the blog copy so far. He's talented! That's why I picked him!). This means Tuesdays have become my night to eat leftovers and catch up on Gossip Girl (I mean, who watches that trash? Not me. Obvs). But the stars must have aligned, or all this wedding crafty talk is seeping into my brain, because tonight? I hope my dad is paying attention, because tonight, I made something.

I can't even remember if I mentioned this (probably not, since I skipped blogging for all of October) but I came home from visiting Austin's family in Kansas with a small fortune in vintage jewelery courtesy of his great-grandmother (Granny). I'm talking about a gallon ziploc bag crammed full of filigree bracelets, antique coin pendants and enamel brooches. I've been incorporating them into my wardrobe (and was glad for the influx of authenticity for my Joan Holloway costume) but haven't had anywhere to store these beautiful pieces. My childhood jewelery box has run out of space and charm and trying to artfully drape long chain-link necklaces on my (darling) earring holder was turning into a mess. I started researching necklace organizers, and found this on etsy. I sent Austin the link and said, "I could make this, don't you think?"

I don't know why you're acting so surprised. My job in college was in technical theater. I know my way around a power drill and soldering iron. I may love not camping, but I'm not 100% girlie girl. I just let you think that. So that you'll be all that more impressed when I show you my craft composition.

I started with a random piece of plywood we had laying around (we're homeowners! We have scraps of plywood in our living room! I think it was intended for kindling). I couldn't find the staple gun (or maybe we don't have one), so I used craft glue to attach a piece of green and white fabric from my optimistic fabric stash. Then I drilled a series of pilot holes in the front, and screwed in a multitude of tiny cup hooks. I also learned how to use the Macro setting on my camera, score! I finished by attaching a couple of picture frame hooks to the top for wall-hanging purposes.

Tools I used: scissors, a borrowed drill (thanks, P. Block) and various pilot bits, needle-nosed pliers, a phillips-head screwdriver and a claw hammer. Injuries sustained: zero. Property damaged: none, other than a Gourmet magazine that is now riddled with drill holes and covered in dried glue. I even mounted the whole thing on the wall above my dressing table, and filled it up with shiny baubles.

Productivity on a Tuesday night! Unprecedented. The dogs thought I had lost my mind when I was hustling around gathering tools and materials. I also changed the light bulb in the garage, which is terrifying, trust me. And I might have managed to sneak in one episode of Gossip Girl, because I'm three weeks behind at this point, and that is simply unacceptable.

P. S. On a related note, has anyone heard of a crafty alternate use or adjustment for old-fashioned clip-on earrings to make them wearable? I tried to rock a pair on Halloween and my earlobes have yet to forgive me for the torture. But I have so many, and they're all so sparkly...

P. P. S. My abuse of the parenthetical aside is at an all-time high. Sorry (sort of).

Monday, November 9, 2009

small joys

If I were rich, I'm sure I'd be happy. I've always said I'd make a great rich person; I'm generous to a fault and take great joy in gift-giving and sharing. I would spread my wealth around like Dolly Levi and her manure. I'd probably have nicer clothes, but I also probably wouldn't treat them any better than my current Gap Outlet and TJ Maxx-provided wardrobe. I'd travel more, in short bursts, four days to visit Mom, a long weekend to see Jenny, that trip to Chicago that we keep swearing we'll take.

Otherwise, I don't see how different my life could be. Would I rather live in another house? No. Would I rather have a different car? No. Would I want to stop working? No. Would I spend time with different people? Absolutely not. And I don't think I'd ever voluntarily sign up for the weight that comes along with wealth. Right now I feel like I do what I can for the rest of the world; we've certainly earned our wings in the Stray Animal Adoption heaven, and we send small donations to our favorite charities (particularly Alzheimer's research) when we can. If I were rich, I don't know how I could justify the balance between giving and retaining. It would never be enough.

I'm seriously racking my brain to identify parts of my life I would change if money were no object. Because the only thing that's nagging at me right now is laziness about getting in shape, and that not only doesn't have to do with money but is actually WASTING the $17 a month we spend on a shared Y membership that rarely gets used. I make wishes every time I find an eyelash, and lately I just sit there and stare at the eyelash trying to remember what I need to wish for. And the other morning, I wished I would get into shape before the wedding. Wishes are for magic! Not for things that are perfectly well in my command if I just get off my lazy ass three mornings a week. Honestly. That's embarrassing.

My point here, though, isn't about the way I want to look in our wedding pictures. It's about the joy in my daily life that I never look past. If I won the lottery, would I still be filled with peace after dinner-and-a-movie with my future husband? Maybe. Would I get a rush of pleasure from a day's work done well? Who knows. But am I bursting at the seams with blessings? I am. Coming home to a house that smells like spaghetti in the crock pot, and rushing through my nightly cleansing routine in order to climb into freshly washed sheets... there in my life is joy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

meteorologically wasteful

Why have I spent almost this entire weekend inside? When it's been simply GLORIOUS in the great outdoors? It's a sad reality. And now it's dark and dinnertime and the Mad Men season finale is a scant two hours away. I know I'm going to regret this wastefulness of warmth and sunshine come January.

The good news: major wedding-planning progress this weekend. Austin and I talked through a bunch of details yesterday and made some serious headway. How would I have known that he thinks that tree branches with paper flower blossoms look "dead?" I'm so glad I asked before we started the next six months of crafting frenzy. We came up with solutions to problems I didn't think were ever going to sit right with me (particularly the issue of who is going to perform our wedding ceremony). Then I took all our good ideas and had a couple helpful ladies over for brunch this morning to come up with a game plan. This was a rousing success and I honestly think maybe these girls are more excited about our wedding than we are. That's impossible, obviously, but we have such a good team of crafty people and bossy people and so many more out there just waiting for assignments!

I keep saying when talking about this wedding, we have more time than we do money, but really what I mean is that we have more *volunteers* than we could even hope for. And I'm not just talking about our friends who live here in town; when the Jansens get off the airplanes they're going to be ready to get to work! I can't WAIT!

And because I'm sure you were wondering, here's the brunch menu:

Blueberry Corn Muffins
Potato and Egg Tortilla
Wheeler Biscuits
Fruit Salad
Mimosas with Lemonade instead of Orange Juice (is this called something else?)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dinner Success

Tonight we finally made the meal I'd scheduled for Thursday, which got bumped to consume all the leftovers that were floating around after Book Club. I snagged some good-looking tilapia for like $4 at Publix, and we dredged it in homemade blackening seasoning (the recipe from The Palm, yum) and seared in olive oil just until cooked through.

For a side dish we made Creamy Rice with Lemon, Herbs and Parmesan, which is like cheater's risotto. It made a ton; I'm hoping to make some arancine with the leftovers, maybe tomorrow.

The other side was Paula Deen's Broccoli Casserole. A few weeks ago Austin announced that he wanted "a casserole that combines broccoli and cheese and Ritz crackers." So I turned to my girl Paula, because I trust her with all things casserole-related. This came out *awesome.* It's got a few eggs in it, plus a can of cream of mushroom soup (of course), so it bakes up almost like a quiche. And it's only got two tablespoons of butter, so stop with your assumptions on anything with Paula's name on it. I love her.

We watched the new series "V" while we ate, the pilot episode, and it was pretty entertaining. It's got some comfortingly familiar faces (Inara and Wash from Firefly!) and had the same vibe as Battlestar Galactica, with a lot less outer space. I think we'll stick with this one for the time being and see how it goes.

I'm going to clean the kitchen and then head to the Mercy Lounge, to see the Mary Nails and the 90s cover band My So-Called Band (how great is that?!). I didn't get much done today, none of the housecleaning that needs to be accomplished before my Bridal Brigade shows up here for brunch tomorrow morning. But I know they're going to be here to talk about paper flowers and seersucker flag banners and not to judge the amount of pet hair underneath our bed. I'll keep telling myself that, anyway.

P. S. I tried to find that blackening seasoning recipe so I could link to it online and was stumped, so I'll share it here:

Jeffrey's Blackening Spice

From the Palm Restaurant Cookbook

Makes about 1/4 cup

1/4 cup Spanish or California paprika
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper, preferably fresh ground
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid, and seal tightly. Store at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shameless Unsolicited Promotion

A few things I'm wild about right now:

Maybelline ColorSensational Lipstick in Very Cherry

I have been telling everyone all week that this is a L'oreal product, which is probably because I refuse to believe that I could truly love anything by Maybelline. The vast majority of my makeup collection is that familiar matte black M.A.C. packaging (thanks, Shan) and I think I'm pretty spoiled with my taste in cosmetics. I picked this up at Walgreens for like $5, just because I needed a brighter, less sticky red than Racer Red lipglass to be Joan Holloway for Halloween. I wore it ALL night with only a few reapplications, and it never got bleedy around the edges or clumpy. It feels like elastic on my lips, but only in a very comfortable, non-plastic way. And it smells very vaguely of chocolate. I'm going to try some other shades, too (and I loved the way the store display was organized by color family).


Dove Cream Oil

This is a pretty recent discovery, as I only used it this morning for the first time, straight out of the shower. If it doesn't hold up after a full day or two, I'll report back. But right now I just keep pathologically running my hands up and down the underside of my arm because it is So. Soft. I love the way this felt going on, the fact that I wasn't greasy or sticky after less than a minute, and the smell is divine.

Kettle Chips Lightly Salted

I had a dentist tell me once that potato chips are just as bad for teeth as sugary sweets. Which would explain why I'm morbidly convinced that I have at least three new cavities since my last dentist visit (and that was only four months ago). I'm eating these things almost every day. I portion out a small pile into a ziploc baggie every morning when I'm packing my breakfast and I barely make it to 11 am before I've dug in. They only offer the mega-sized bags of the krinkle cut chips, which I don't like nearly as much as these suckers. Craveworthy!

Parks and Recreation on NBC

This one started with a short season last year, and it was hit or miss. Sometimes Amy Poehler makes me want to crawl under the couch. But this year, it's better than the Office (which is really having a good season) and 30 Rock (which is not) combined. The key here is that they've brought the peripheral characters forward more, and they are hilarious. Ron Swanson is totally my hero, and Austin just laughs every time Andy the loser ex-boyfriend is on the screen. This show is hitting it out of the park this year; set your DVR accordingly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Twenty-Four Hour Seven (to Ten) Layer Overnight Salad

This recipe is cobbled together from multiple sources. My Aunt Paula makes this salad for Thanksgiving and other family events. I started trying to track down the perfect version of this recipe and started with what I consider the classic source: my collection of plastic spiral-bound church bazaar and Junior League cookbooks. I tallied up all the different recommended ingredients and amounts from dozens of nice old church ladies who brought this creamy, crunchy wonder to decades of Sunday suppers. Then I basically averaged out the required ingredients, adjusting for personal taste (not so much onion) and came up with the Master Recipe. This is science, folks.

Seven-Layer Salad (but don't try to count the layers or it won't make any sense)

1 bag of chopped romaine lettuce
1 bunch of celery (is that a bunch? What is the word I want here?), chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 of a medium red onion, minced
1 10 oz. box of frozen peas, thawed
1 cup of mayonnaise (approx.)
2 teaspoons of sugar
4 oz (1 cup) of shredded cheddar cheese
(1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled, optional)

In order, layer the first 6 ingredients in a salad bowl (I like to use a glass bowl because it looks pretty from the side). Using a rubber spatula, spread the mayonnaise evenly across the top layer, making sure to completely cover the salad and to seal the mayonnaise to the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle sugar evenly over mayonnaise, and then layer with cheese and bacon (if using). Cover salad with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least overnight. Immediately before serving, toss salad together to evenly coat vegetables with dressing.

It's probably one of those dishes that you don't really want to know how to make. You just want to enjoy it in blissful ignorance. I have no problem with that. Just let me know when I should be there and I'll be at your house with a pretty layered salad for Sunday dinner.

of course...

...I wasn't going to remember to post after the Total Feast Extravaganza of Book Club. Darn. But I can try to make up for it with some food porn...

Seeing as it's that time of year, we did a Thanksgiving preview for book club. We read (or were supposed to read) The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, but we had a shockingly low retention rate on actually reading the book this time. Oh well. Sometimes that's just not really the point. Because the food, oh friends, the food.

I dry-brined and roasted a turkey breast, which was a little bit out on a limb for me. I'm a champ with the full bird but I wasn't sure how to make the proper adjustments to this smaller fella. I did a full kosher salt and cracked pepper crust and left it in a big bag in the fridge overnight, and in retrospect this was probably too long for all that salt. The skin after I roasted it was very salty, not that I've ever had a problem with "very salty" before. I doubt anyone else noticed because this thing was picked bare by the end of the night, and that's saying a lot for a group of 10 girls, several of whom don't eat meat.

I also made my famous macaroni and cheese, which was voted a necessity. Pretty dang good this time, I must say. Evaporated milk is my secret ingredient; makes everything that much cheesier and gooier.

And I made Overnight Salad (or 24 Hour Salad, or Layered Salad, or any other name that applies to this nationwide potluck staple). I think I'll post the recipe when I get home tonight so I at least have five posts for the month, even after I missed last night. That will probably be my sole accomplishment tonight; Austin and I are both totally exhausted and have that terrible feeling that we're getting sick. We're going to mainline vitamin C and get at least 10 hours of sleep tonight in hopes of warding off the inevitable.

Here's the yums:

Clockwise from top left: Kim's garlic mashed potatoes (in the white casserole), several sticks of soft butter (for the rolls, obv), Trader Joe's stuffing (more on this later), my mac & cheese, Kat's empty wine glass and Stephanie's Corn Pudding. In the middle: Megan's roasted brussels sprouts.



From the top: Sarah's butternut squash risotto in the blue dutch oven, my layered salad, and in the middle there is Kat's Green Bean casserole. Across the bottom, from left to right, Casey brought THREE different kinds of stuffing. Because she's crazy. On the left is from Trader Joes, in the center is Stove Top (these were nearly interchangeable) and on the right is Apple, Sage and Leek stuffing, which was simply awesome.


Here's those rolls, delicious snowflake rolls from Whole Foods, yum. And Kat's cranberry salad, her mom's recipe. And then that turkey breast of mine, nicely framed by Julia, my Sexy Stand Mixer. Not pictured: Lauren's sweet potato and yukon gold gratin, YUM. And I didn't even manage to photograph the desserts: Kat's pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon whipped cream (I'm going to let you think about that one for a minute) and pear pie with gruyere crust, courtesy of our dearest Badness.

We're going to start auctioning off Book Club memberships to deserving foodies worldwide. Starting bid: $10,000. Come on, folks, can you put a price on glory?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

shop talk

Should be: cleaning house and brining turkey breast.

Am: updating wedding budget and guest list.

It is NOVEMBER, friends. That's six months away from May, which is the month in which we're going to be married. When we'll have 200-ish of our nearest and dearest here to celebrate with us. Martha Stewart Weddings provides many helpful hints (okay, they're pretty strident) about what we should have accomplished by now in the planning process, but I'm feeling pretty good about it all.

If you were wondering, I've managed to restrain myself from marching back into B. Hughes and stealing the beloved Vera gown. That's just not meant to be. But I am going to go buy that veil that I love, and that's a start. I'm meeting an amazing dress designer on Thursday to see sketches of the dream dress that I brought to her, and to get a price quote, which is hands-down the most nerve wracking aspect of this entire wedding process so far. I *really* want to work with this girl, and if she's too expensive (why wouldn't she be? She's remarkable!) it's going to break my heart. And put me back to square one in regards to The Dress, which is the only thing that I don't have all planned out and lined up. Caterer? Check. Decorations? I have heaps of ideas that are entirely do-it-ourselves. Honeymoon? Ireland, did I tell you?! Now if I can just figure out what I'm going to wear down the aisle (and how I'm going to afford it), I'll sleep easy until the new year.

Sunday morning I'm having a handful of my Most Helpful ladies over for brunch to start talking about things like paper flowers and mason jars. I feel excited every time I think about this wedding, which is all the time. Truthfully, if I talked about wedding thoughts as often as I think them, I would probably have alienated everyone I love and lost Austin forever. I swear, I'm not losing sight of the whole point here: he'll be my husband, which is a greater honor than I could ever hope for. And the party is going to be a night we'll always remember, nothing more or less.

P.S. I can NOT get into a writing groove yet. Is this the most boring post ever? Where are my words?

Monday, November 2, 2009

tonight I...

a. made dinner and had the kitchen mostly clean in under an hour (Taco Salad from the 30 Minute Cookbook, god bless it)

b. had my first two At Bats of my entire life. Somewhere my father weeps with pride, despite my lifetime 0.00 batting average.

c. had a fierce argument with an impassioned gay man regarding my anti-animal movie stance.

d. didn't even peek at the inbox to inspect the coming hellstorm that is the day after Billing Run. I know what's coming. I'm ready.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Feast or famine

Once again, I'm undertaking the self-torture that is NaBloPoMo. That's right. I neglect the bloggings for almost three months and then decide to blog daily for the next thirty. The last time I did this, I complained the whole time about how November is such a busy month and who has time to find interesting things to write about every day? The answer: not me. But here we go, anyway.

And just to prove my point, that's all I've got for tonight. My future husband is unapologetically snoring away next to me, after a long day of football drinking. He didn't even finish the big dinner I pulled together (baked linguine, honey-roasted carrots, asparagus with parmesan butter and garlic bread) or the episode of Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth (Reichl). I blame Jon Burr and his nefarious influences for sending Austin home in such a state.

I'm uploading Halloween pics and videos as we speak. Expect to see some extended video of Ali the Dancing PeeWee shaking what her momma gave her. And John "Tape Monster" Baldwin, in a costume that was probably more conceptually successful than in actuality. I don't envy him the cleanup.

Hot damn, y'all. It's November!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

fine, then.

On Friday, Casey and I went to B. Hughes for the Vera Wang trunk show. I figure I have pretty limited opportunities to try on gowns created by the most famous wedding dress designer on the planet. In a million years, I could never justify spending that kind of money on a single item of clothing that will only be worn once. But after the first handful of taffeta and tulle, I can completely understand the appeal.

I suppose I shouldn't have even put myself in this position, but of course I fell madly in love with a $5000 ballgown with a bubble skirt and pintucked strapless bodice. It was breathtaking. All the ladies in the shop gasped when I came out of the dressing room, and Casey got weepy while I was standing in front of the mirror admiring the bell-sway of the skirt and the beautiful shape of the silhouette. I even tried on a simple flyaway veil that couldn't have been prettier.

I told the book club girls about it yesterday, and it was decided that we should host a topless bake sale to fund my Dream Dress. Or create the long-discussed Book Club Girl Pinup Calendar. Or start borrowing $5 or $10 from every single person I know. Their enthusiasm and conviction made it much too easy to imagine myself draped in Vera on May 22. Oh dear...

Yesterday we hosted Badness and Redbeard's Tennessee Wedding Shindig, which was an outright success, largely because of the astonishingly cool and breezy weather. And all that amazing food... This afternoon we took all three dogs to the dog park again, which was hilarious and went quite well. Tonight I'm making baked spaghetti and onion-cheese bread, courtesy of the green Lady and Sons cookbook. Thursday is the Cheatham County Fair Demolition Derby, about which I am unreasonably excited. As usual.

More wedding-planning details soon. Which will hopefully not involve me deciding to convert our entire catering budget into a Vera Wang hedge fund...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

belatedly stolen from Kim

This pretty much keeps me at a solid level of Ecstatically Happy:



And then I found this tribute, linked from somewhere in the Summer Mix Series. It's kind of a tribute to a tribute, technically, and the video skipped sometimes when I watched it earlier on Vimeo, but maybe it won't with the embed:

phoenix - lisztomania *brooklyn pack mashup* from ian parker on Vimeo.



Yay. That's a song to listen to over and over, anyway.

Monday, July 6, 2009

why do I always do this?

Gah! I wait so long between posts and then there is too much to say. Let's do the bullet point version of an update:
  • Wedding date: moved. Forward one week due to scheduling difficulties with the Bicentennial Mall. So now we're looking at May 22, which I'm told is going to guarantee us a long and happy marriage. So there.
  • Seattle: gorgeous. We couldn't have had better weather or a more beautiful rental house. With a Viking range and subzero fridge, believe it. We bought stunning produce at Pike Place, cooked up a storm, played lots of cards, took over the jukebox at a bar in the tiny town of Manchester, and had an amazing meal of tapas at Black Bottle in Belltown. I got to catch the Jim Henson exhibit AND the Hatch exhibit at EMP; both were fantastic and the Hatch show made me miss my old friend Huey. Oh, and we spent a lot of time on ferry boats. I never thought I'd be on a boat.
  • Alaska: awesome. I'm not really sure if I could live there, what with all their issues with day and night and the proper scheduling of each, but the scenery couldn't have been more beautiful. We saw a small black bear and were woken up by a 5.4 strength earthquake. The Great Wedding Adventure came off without a hitch and it was an absolute honor to be involved and to finally get to meet Agnes's big crazy family, especially Peter, who I feel like I've known for years.
  • I will say this: air travel = sucks. I swear. It's never going to be any better. We had the most absurd amount of drama getting on a direct flight from Seattle into Anchorage (and avoid a scheduled 5-hour layover in Juneau). We also took a red-eye home from Anchorage to Chicago and, despite being heavily medicated, it was just terrible. Neither of us slept at all (thanks to some well-timed squalling infants); by the time we got home at 1 pm we collapsed in a four hour nap. I have written red-eye flights off of my list of possible travel solutions for the future. At least when flying coach.
  • Bowling: rocks. We've been participating in the Emma bowling league, and a few weeks ago I bowled a career-high 156. How about that?! It almost feels like exercise. But in a fun way.
  • ELO night: insert enthusiastic hyperbole here. How I Became the Bomb and Kindercastle joined up with a seven piece string section to perform Electric Light Orchestra's double album opus Out of the Blue, one night only at the Mercy Lounge. And these are both extremely talented bands in their own right, but if they decided to take this (daunting and time consuming) act on the road, they'd be INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTARS, I tell you. I kept looking around at the crowd and everyone was smiling the *whole* time. Tell me the last time you saw a rock show in Nashville where you could say the same...
  • Fourth of July: vaguely apocalyptic. Casey and I sucked up an uncharacteristic bout of nerves and ventured back into Ashland City for a visit with our oldest friends that turned out to be simply delightful. Then we rode back into town ready to hit the baseball game and were subverted by absolutely ridiculous weather. Monsoonish rainstorms, thunder and lightning, the whole bit. I seriously can't remember ever being rained out of Fourth of July. We didn't see any fireworks, despite having planned to see both the downtown extravaganza and the Sounds blastoff. Weird and boo. The whole situation resulted in us reminiscing about happier Fourths of July in years past, particularly those spent out at the Paine Family Farm, and then I got really sad about missing Jenny and Patrick.
  • Bridgey: escape artist. After the Epic Independence Day Fail, we arrived home to discover Bridgette, running around a neighbor's yard, soaked and completely freaked out. We assumed that the fireworks + storm had somehow worked her into such a frenzy that she jumped the fence without realizing what was happening. We dried her off, put her and the others to bed, and were most disappointed when she spent all of Sunday showing off her new fence-climbing skill. That's right. Bridgette, the GOOD one, the shy, well-behaved, slightly backwards brown dog has learned to scale chain-link like a monkey. We've temporarily curbed the efforts by wrapping a tarp over the top of the gate, therefore giving her nothing to claw onto, but our eventual (and hopeful) solution involves rabbit wire and hard labor this weekend. Good GRIEF.
  • Hot Rod: ridiculous. Austin wakes up every morning and watches part of the Andy Samberg movie Hot Rod, about a quixotic pseudo-stuntman and his loony cast of surrounding characters. He just watches a bit and then stops it and picks it back up again the next morning, laughing like a little kid the whole time. I think it's his new Wet Hot American Summer, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
  • MJ: just sad. I've had this whole defense of Michael Jackson's character and skewering of the media lined up in my head for a week now, but mostly it's been said and it's kind of past the point of relevancy. But Jenny made me smile when she said that her first instinct when she heard the news of his death was to call our cousin Josh and see how he was coping.
There, how was that for the Greatest Hits recap version? I think we're all caught up to speed now. I have got to spend more time blogging and less time on Facebook. Can that be a mid-New-year resolution?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

never been better

Tonight I'm knocking around the house, solo for a little while. Austin's playing FIFA Soccer with JB. I had planned to spend the alone time working on the filing drawers in the desk in the office I excavated yesterday. Instead I poked around online, played a game, read some educational wedding-related articles. Then I straightened up the house, put away the remnants of our crackers-and-soda snack from this afternoon, and got out the ingredients for tonight's Mexican pineapple salad. And I realized, while I was moving around the house, going through mindless motions, I was smiling the whole time.

I don't talk about religion, on here or anywhere. I'm not a subscriber of any specific doctrine. We don't go to church, and we don't follow any scriptures. I don't have astral convictions, and I don't miss them. But the only word I can find to describe this feeling, this day, this place I'm at in my life, is blessed. I am saturated by blessings. It washes over me, so many times a day, and I wish there was a better way to express my gratitude.

I love our home. We cleaned it yesterday, got the office near to full function, and made some decorating progress. It is safe and warm and comfortable when it's filled with girls, sprawled on the couch with popcorn and ice cream, or when it's just us and our pets, on quiet tv afternoons, or when it's just me and my iTunes. There literally isn't a day that goes by that I don't think how utterly lucky we are that we found *this* house. It felt like an arduous search, and it turned out exactly right.

I love my job. One of the bigger wedding-related dilemmas I've faced (as with every bride in the history of the world, I know) has been the size of the guest list. And this is complicated by the fact that I have 70+ coworkers who are also friends who I can't imagine not celebrating with. It's probably not going to be realistic to invite every Emma staffer plus one, but right now I'm doing my best to find a way to include as many as we can. I think about the very best days at Hatch, when we all felt like a productive family full of friends, and that's how Emma is too. I love it when I make a breakthrough on a collaborative project, I love it when I've finished processing the daily check run, I love it when the power goes out and I wind up laying on the carpet of the second floor lounge doing half-assed pilates with Brooks and Rami and Rachael's puppy. I think I've said this before, but you don't realize how much of your self-esteem is caught up in the work week until you find a job that fulfills you.

I love our pets. We both do, equally, with an unreasonable fervor. We're those crazy pet people and aren't remotely ashamed. Digby is getting closer and closer to being a good dog, and Bridgette is such a sweet girl. We had a brushing session on the back patio last weekend (shedding time is definitely here) and they were both just inhaling the affection and attention. Mackenzie is completely back to her old self, running the house with her larger-than-life attitude and making sure she gets quality time with us before bed every night. Corvinius is, well, an oddball, but a loveable one, and spent a large portion of this afternoon rubbing his face on the corner of my computer screen over. and over. and over again. Oh buddy. And look, we don't like to play favorites with our pets. But every single day, Mischa and Charlie Murphy fill us up with love. Mischa got a new toy today, and she's currently sacked out on her spot at the end of the couch with this new red stuffy wrapped in her arms like a woobie. I just want to hold her so tight. Charlie Murphy loves weekends, particularly couch weekends like today, and the absolute peace and joy he spreads when he's sleeping leaned up against my lap... it's just the best.

I love my friends. Book club friends, work friends, people who don't fall in either category (there aren't many...), I can't get over the support network that surrounds me. I spent a lot of my adolescence thinking of myself as not a "girlfriend" kind of girl, and I'm so happy that I was totally wrong about that. We threw a surprise bachelorette party for Agnes last night, and the house was about to burst from all the girlie love. Lisa and Jenny were missed, but otherwise it couldn't have gone better and I was so glad we could all spend sweet time with Agnes before she takes off for the Great Alaskan Wedding Adventure.

I love my family. The reason I didn't think of myself as a "girlfriend" kind of girl was, obviously, because I have the best built-in girlfriends on the planet, my sisters. We talk every day and nothing feels complete unless it is shared with them. I'm so glad that we live close enough to my dad that we can just have low-key evenings of ceiling fan installation and (really good) chicken wings with him and Lynn. We're so lucky to have them both nearby. I miss my big crazy California family so badly, and one of my absolute favorite things to imagine about our wedding is having them all here together again. And I am just chomping at the bit to get to Seattle (next weekend!) and give my Mom one gigantic hug, followed by a series of smaller ones. It's been almost a year since we've seen her and I can't wait to spend a week on the lake with her and Kam (and Casey and Trent and a deck of cards!).

And of course you knew this was where I was going, but I love Austin. I'm not going to detail all the reasons that he's the man I'm going to marry (I've done that before and certainly will again) but the place where we are in our life together is just especially good right now. I am excited to see him EVERY DAY. How silly is that? I start to feel restless and shifty if it's been more than a couple of hours since I've checked in with him (thanks to IM and texting for completely spoiling me by having my fiance´ available to me at all times). We're on the same page about all these major decisions we've made in the past year and will be making in the next year. We're not exactly wealthy, but it's been a long while since we've had to look at anything and say, from a financial standpoint, "How are we going to make this work?" We carpool almost every day and talk about the stories we hear on NPR. If it sounds idyllic, it is. I can't think of an aspect of my life that isn't made better by just having him with me. We don't have to do everything together (see: FIFA Soccer) but when I'm walking around our house by myself, smiling, it's mostly because of him.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

staycation

The truth is, I would rather be laying on this couch with my Boo, my kitty and my puppy (and all the other pets happily sleeping around the house) than on any beach in the world.

May has turned out to be pretty busy. The road trip to Atlanta was pretty hairy, we ran into some nightmarish weather and traffic and got to the wedding a half-hour late. The party was a blast, lots of fun and dancing and picture-taking. We stayed up late, ordered some delicious pizza, and had a great time partying with my hilarious coworkers. We got up the next morning, had delicious breakfast at West Egg, and braved our first Ikea. We were so overwhelmed we only ended up with a blue and white checked rug for the kitchen, some photo frames and a desk lamp for my (as yet nonexistent) sewing table.

We didn't make it home in time for the market house celebration at the Farmer's Market, but we had lunch there the next day and got snowballs... yum! We're still hopeful to get everything worked out to have our wedding reception there, but no news on that front yet. I kind of have my heart set on it at this point, and it's really going to throw me for a loop if we end up having to look elsewhere. Casey and I have been brainstorming some alternatives but nothing has clicked. Hopefully we can just nail down the details with the farmer's market, put our deposits down and move forward.

The rest of the month has been haze of birthday parties. I swear everyone is born in May. Roller derby was last weekend, that was a blast. Another big blowout for our girls, they're skating so well this year and playing really good defense. Lots of fun to watch.

I'm mostly just blogging to blog. To not go a whole month without writing again. Tonight Tracy and I are meeting at Mercy Lounge for the Long Players, who are performing Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run. Should be a blast. I'm hoping to also make it to the end of the Alcohol Stunt Band show at the Basement as well.

Three day weekends are just a gift. We can be lazy today, productive tomorrow, then lazy again on Monday and it works out perfectly. We're hoping to spend some time (finally) in the garage tomorrow, and then grill out in the evening. Maybe some yard work too, although it's gotten hot here. Not as much fun for working outside.

Now I think it's naptime.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

looking back

So I *almost* did it. I missed a single day blogging in April, but I nearly made up for it with two posts in one day a few weeks later. It was good practice, even if it didn't exactly mean I shared something scintillating every day. I will do my very best to NOT take a month off now. But I'll be glad that I can delete that 10 pm daily alarm that says, "BLOG!"

I will say, it was entirely unlikely that you were going to hear from me today. It's 7:30 pm and I'm still in my nightgown, nursing a colossal hangover. Emma Talent Night was, of course, a total blowout, and I drank too many berry vodka drinks much too quickly. It was super, super, super fun, of course, and I've been told that I didn't *act* that drunk, so that's a relief. I appointment myself one of the official photographers for the evening, and got some pretty great shots that got progressively blurry as the night went on. I'm sure just technical problems with my camera, right? But the fun wore off when I woke up on our bathroom floor at 4:15 am. These are probably details I could have spared my parents. But it's possible that my mom was doing a little drunk texting of her own, as I received this at about 10:30 pm:

G p frkn good no tlk yet posl yr m

Thanks, Mom. She was at a Glen Phillips show. Obviously.

You will most likely NOT hear from me tomorrow, as we'll be out of town for the first time in over a year! We're Hotlanta bound in the a.m., cruising by the Holy Mecca (I mean IKEA) and then checking into our very posh hotel that we got for a song because they just opened yesterday! Woot! Then on to Emily and Neil's wedding of amazingness, and I'm just super excited. We'll be home Saturday afternoon, hopefully in time to catch the last of the Market Celebration at the Farmer's Mkt. That seems like good karma, right? Plus, Snowballs! Then Scott Miller at Mercy Lounge Saturday night, YAY. I'm looking forward to the brief road trip with my Boo, it's not an experience we share very often and I think we're both ready for a minibreak.

Happy Quite Nearly May!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

about that frosting...

So Casey and Trent have the same birthday (wild, right?) and they alternate years getting to request a birthday cake. Casey is all about strawberries and whipped cream. This is Trent's year. He wanted CHOCOLATE. I set about tracking down the most chocolate chocolate cake I could find.

I found this cake on Epicurious (always my go-to when I want something that has already been road-tested). 1277 reviews and 91% of them would make it again? That's a hearty enough recommendation for me! I made the cake layers on Saturday with some hot Drew's Brews coffee from Sip. They came out absolutely gorgeous (I went with three 9" layers instead of the recommended 2 10"), dark and slightly sticky. I wrapped them up and managed to not alert Charlie Murphy the Chocoholic Cat to their hiding place.

Sunday morning I made a quick ganache for the frosting, according to the recipe, but I wasn't wild about the results. The cake itself was already so dark and moist and gooey, I thought a simple drapey ganache would be too homogenous. I stuck it in the fridge to chill and consulted Agnes when we popped by the Walden Market before lunch. We discussed the pros and cons of whipping a ganache or incorporating whipped cream. I thought I'd see how spreadable it was after the chill and play it by ear.

When we got back to the house (a mere two hours before the birthday party was scheduled to start, poor planning on my part...) that ganache was a solid unstirrable mass in the fridge. Oops. The spatula was sticking up at a perfect vertical angle. Hmm. Time to apply all of my dessert-making problem solving skills.

First I whipped the solid ganache with a hand mixer. This didn't go great. The bowl wasn't big enough for much movement, and the chocolate, while lightening significantly, clung to the beaters and was still not really spreadable. So I went WAY outside the realm of reason and popped that bowl in the microwave at half-power for a minute. It came out totally uneven and kind of lumpy, actually quite ugly. UGH.

So I went with my last resort and whipped up probably a cup and a half of whipping cream. I partially folded it in to the lumpy and runny ganache and then put the hand mixer back in there and whipped until everything was evenly mixed and fluffy. Gorgeous!



Now I'm off to Emma Talent Night! It's a shame I didn't manage to pull together a Baking Demonstration. Clearly, the skills!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the lies I tell to my diary

Sorry friends, you're looking at another half-ass post tonight. I'm in the throes of a battle of wills with my iPod and my poor decrepit iMac (aka The Jukebox). Why won't they talk to each other? Why won't they be friends? GAH.

I need my own personal Reggie for nights like these. Austin doesn't seem too concerned about my technical problems. I have important mix cds to make!

Monday, April 27, 2009

from the swamp

I had planned on bringing my readers a cautionary tale (with a happy ending) about making a fluffy chocolate frosting out of bittersweet ganache. And also a recipe overview of the Brazilian Black Beans (with beets, quinoa, pineapple and cilantro). But the truth is, my eyes are closing while I type. We had to be up early (again) to take Kenzie to have her stitches taken out, and then it was a busy day at work.

Then tonight I met Casey at the Belcourt to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a film we loved absolutely to pieces as little girls. All the songs were familiar, the choreography (which is really fantastic) recalled crystal clear memories, but the storyline was horrifyingly un-PC. I just typed an incredibly long recap and realized it was just a bad idea. Let's just say this is probably the last movie to endorse kidnapping as a mating ritual, sans irony. Although maybe the whole movie was completely tongue-in-cheek-wink-wink, and it went over my head just as much this time as it did when I was nine.

In-depth foodie talk tomorrow, complete with pics, I promise.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

the procrastinator, on Sunday afternoon

what I should be doing:

- whipping cream
- whipping the ganache in the fridge
- folding the cream into the ganache
- frosting the very, very, very dark chocolate birthday cake
- boiling macaroni noodles
- stirring into the hot macaroni: cheese, butter, sour cream, evaporated milk, eggs
- mixing up the banana bread batter
- baking banana breads
- applying wrapping paper to the case of beer in the garage
- making quinoa
- sauteeing garlic and scallions with vinegar and jerk sauce
- tossing black beans in the garlic jerk sauce

what I am doing:

- finding things to look at online while parked at the desk in our office. because it's cooler in here. and there are no ovens on.

At least the potato salad is finished and ready to put in the car. We're taking that, a very chocolate cake and macaroni and cheese to Casey and Trent's for their birthday dinner. I also roasted some beets with herbs and butter, and those, along with the jerk-seasoned black beans and quinoa, should make up my lunches for the rest of the week, with some pineapple, cheddar, cilantro and sour cream. Yum!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

mental note to self

You know how they say you pay for what you get? And you get what you pay for? This apparently applies to appliances. This morning we were stuck at home with the FOURTH (fruitless) repair visit for our refrigerator. Our huge, nice, posh, glamorous, nearly brand-new refrigerator, the one that we would never have been able to afford if we hadn't bought it at the Sears Scratch and Dent store. A 25-cubic foot Whirlpool fridge for under a grand? Lucky us! Right?

Ugh. Today we had the pleasure of being informed by the repairman that the replacement part that we'd received (and had to wait a week to have installed) was unnecessary and not going to fix our problem. We also got to listen to him get in a bitch-fight with the tech support on his speaker phone. Then he called his supervisor to rat out the other combatant in the verbal squabble. Charming. He (and the tech support, and the supervisor) was stumped by our fridge's inability to maintain a proper temperature, and decided to blame the problem on faulty wiring in our electrical outlet. This is entirely likely, since there has yet to be an example of UNfaulty wiring in this house, other than the new outlets installed by my dad, but are you telling me that it took the FOURTH VISIT before someone checked the outlet? So now we have to bring in an electrician, have the outlet repaired (or have it confirmed that the outlet isn't the problem) and then sit tight for another two weeks until our next service appointment. Awesome.

The good news is, as with all the other visits, the fridge is plenty cold and making ice like a champ since they reset all the operations. It will probably work for another week or so and then start warming up. We threw away two garbage bags' worth of food out of the freezer this morning (last summer's peaches, sad). I dearly, sincerely wish we'd just not bothered with the bargain-hunting and just bought a perfectly fine appliance from Home Depot for the same price and infinitely less trouble. Lesson learned.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Video

Because I don't know what tonight holds (other than meeting baby girl Stella Jeanette Cecil!) and because this made me bounce up and down in my chair with glee, I'm going the lazy route and posting a video today.



Thanks to Yewknee for the video alert. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

partial self-portrait

Delaney: Honey, what should I blog about tonight?

Austin: Susan Boyle.

Delaney: Babe. I don't even know enough about her to make it interesting, and I'm not going to be the billionth person to blog about her.

Austin: You should look up who performed AFTER Susan Boyle and write about that.

Delaney: This is not helpful.

Austin: I think that would be hilarious.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

outline

1. Tonight marks day 5 of successful antibiotic dosage for Mackenzie. I don't know if you can truly appreciate the magnitude of this feat. On Friday the vet tech handed me that little green jar filled with pills and my heart just sank. The summer that Kenzie had kidney stones (she was three), the daily administering of (liquid) meds was like the apocalypse in our house. But miraculously, this time around, we just hide the pill in a small bowl of wet food and she has taken every dose without blinking an eye.

2. I had a movie date tonight with some lovely Emma girls. We watched Notting Hill at Hilary's house and ate pizza. Delightful company, delightful film, I can ask for nothing more.

3. When I got home, Austin was about an hour through Scanners. I don't know anything about this movie, except it is apparently not the same thing as A Scanner Darkly. I'm hiding out in the bedroom while he finishes it, and I can report that the soundtrack is very Buck Rogers-esque.

4. When I was five I somehow saw part of an episode of Buck Rogers, where a man gets incinerated by a laser beam or something. He is standing there, and then SHAZAM there is a charred puddle on the floor where he was. This absolutely TERRIFIED me. Clearly, I'm scarred, if I can recall it in detail 27 years later. I think we were at Uncle Dennis's house.

5. Has this seemed like a long week to anyone else? I can't believe tomorrow is only Thursday.

6. This weekend is the Walden Artisan Market in East Nashville, on Eastland across from Rosepepper. Last month it was a blast, lots of neat stuff from local craftspeople. The weather promises to be absolutely glorious (if a little hot, but I'm not complaining) so you can bet there will be a good crowd at the market. Come check it out! Some especially talented folks will be there (oh, you know, my sister Jenny and her husband Patrick. And Badness. And Carolyn. And Caitlin). Don't miss it!

7. I collect vintage slips and lingerie. Did you know that? I would estimate I have at least 100 slips. This weekend I sorted them into two of those big long tupperwares that go under the bed. All the practical ones that can actually be worn underneath dresses or shirts went in one, and the dressup ones went in the other. It inspired me to actually get them out and wear them more often, so the last few nights I've hung around the house in pretty silkies instead of scrubs. Just a little way to feel fancier (and Austin sure doesn't mind that I'm not wallowing in shlubby).

8. Mischa is so damn cute. She just hands out High Fives like they're free. She warms my heart.

9. I read this article today with a great deal of interest. Making your own cream cheese! What?! That seems outrageous to me. But I think homemade granola is in my immediate future, and homemade bagels are on the horizon. God I wish Nashville had some really good bagels. It's a bagel wasteland, I tell you, starting with the demise of Nashville Bagel on West End. Dad used to come home with bags of day-old salt and cinnamon raisin bagels, we'd eat them for weeks.

10. At least once every few hours, I get distracted just looking at the ring on my left hand. It couldn't possibly be any prettier. I look at it and think how lucky I am, and I can't believe anyone loves me this much.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I did it!

I invented a recipe! This was cobbled together from typing "chipotle chile slaw" into Epicurious. It came back with about thirty recipes; I pulled ideas from about four of them. I was mostly inspired by the chipotle mayonnaise we make with the Baja fish tacos from the Cook's Illustrated 30 Minute Recipe book. It's YUMmy.

Slaw with Chipotle and Cilantro

1/2 of a small head red cabbage
1/2 of a small head green cabbage

Slice the cabbage very thin (I did it by hand but you could certainly use a food processor). Place shredded cabbage in colander in the sink and toss with about two tablespoons of salt. Let the cabbage wilt for about an hour. Rinse cabbage thoroughly and drain (a salad spinner works great).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped
3 T. freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon of some of the adobo sauce in the jar with the peppers
2 T. honey
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper

When the sauce is combined, add the well-drained cabbage and toss until evenly coated.

We served this Mexican-inspired slaw with ground beef tacos and a package of Mexican rice. I'd like to also try it with simple blackened salmon. ¡Muy delicioso!

post 120, how bout that?

Some sweetness from the laziest weekend

Monday, April 20, 2009

lapse

Today, I'm opting to go home early and take a nap rather than post a lengthy blog. Shame on me.

This made me really happy today.

And if you're looking for some goodies tonight, come on over to the Mercy Lounge. Part 2 in the Send Some Band to Bonnaroo series of 8 off 8th shows... come see all eight acts and vote one of them into a slot at the Manchester Mudfest. Why do I care? Oh, How I Became the Bomb is playing. Don't you want to force J. Burr to slog through the hordes of hippies and rave dancers? I think that would be hilarious. Lots of other great bands on the bill tonight: Autovaughn, Pico and the Island Trees, K.S.Rhoads, four more. Details here.

Now you see why I need a nap? Plus it's free! Whoop!

Oh, and to be fair, of course I would go to Bonnaroo. If it was free. I did once before, and wasn't even motivated by BRUCE Springsteen that time! Gah! The Boss!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I realize I'm not much of a food blogger...

...because I never post recipes. I cook from other people's (copyrighted) recipes so much, it's not right to share them, right? Hmm. Maybe later this month I'll find something I invented (or tweaked enough to make it my own) and throw it on the ole blog. Tonight I'm too wiped out from the kitchenstravaganza of this afternoon and evening.

First up: Coconut Cream Tart. A quick shortbread crust, a coconut custard filling, toasted coconut layered between and sweetened whipped cream on top. It's chilling now, I'll report back after the first slice.

The tart left me with three egg whites so I also tossed together a batch of chocolate chip meringues. Easy enough. I had all the other ingredients on hand (including mini-semisweet chips, oddly enough). My coworkers can expect the bounty to be shared tomorrow.

Dinner was a new recipe I pulled out of the "Good for You" page of a recent Cooking Pleasures magazine (which is the same place we found the Sicilian Pasta recipe, so I was optimistic): Orange Chicken with Quinoa and Carrots (or something like that). Chicken thighs browned in olive oil, then onion, garlic, quinoa, shredded carrots, raisins, orange zest, paprika, s&p, all stirred in until they start to get soft. Covered with broth and orange juice, brought to a boil, then shoved in the oven for 45 minutes until the quinoa soaks up all the liquid. After it was out of the oven, we stirred in flat-leaf parsley and chopped green olives. Served in big bowls with more of those awesome honey-roasted carrots.

Austin was concerned about the dish not having enough flavor, so he made a sauce of sriracha, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey. I drizzled a bit on mine (he probably used more) and it was a very wise choice. I'm guessing this was something of a northern-African inspired dish? Definitely our first attempt at quinoa, and I liked it very much. I like the snap and texture. I think the meal would have been much, much better sans chicken. I don't care for thigh meat (and couldn't find boneless thighs meat, so spent a lot of time cleaning and de-boning those suckers) and the chicken didn't absorb much of the seasonings. But all put together, with the sweet and spicy carrots and sauce, it was a pretty satisfying meal. I'll keep trying different things with quinoa (maybe try to recreate the amazing quinoa tacos from Teresa the Taco Lady!).

Other than the cooking efforts (which really only started at like 5:30) it was a lovely and lazy day. We had leftovers for lunch and watched the third Bourne movie, which was fine if rather exhausting. So many chase sequences, so many fight scenes, it runs together. It's super rainy in Nashville today, so the dogs all hung out inside most of the time and we had some good family time.

Oh, and last night's undetermined dinner destination turned out to be Eastland Cafe, and apparently J.Burr's celebrity status is such that we got an entire patio all to ourselves for the whole meal. Delightful. We got an awesome appetizer (goat cheese brulee with local honey, roasted tomatoes and peppers and grilled flatbread) and I had a couple of absolutely swoon-worthy cocktails. The first was called the Three Rs, basically a rhubarb lemonade with rosemary syrup and rum. YUM. It was a tiny bit strong at first but as the ice melted became completely delicious. Then after the meal I ordered a Spicy and Sweet, which was muddled strawberries and a jalapeno slice in cava. So good. I just got a goat cheese salad (what, more goat cheese? who, me?) and mashed potatoes and fried green tomatoes for dinner, and Austin got a really delicious pork tenderloin. Jon had ricotta pasta, which was very good, and Ali also had side dishes: macaroni and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts and an iceberg wedge with blue cheese and Benton's (!) bacon. We couldn't NOT order blueberry beignets for dessert. Really a treat of a meal. Then we came back to the house and played another entirely lopsided game of Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture. Note to self: in the future, we're not playing Boys against Girls when one of the categories is Sports. Boo.

Kenzie has spent all day hanging out on my dressing table, which has to be an improvement over hiding under the bed. She stands up when we come into the room, and purrs when she's petted. All good signs. She's also taken three drama-free doses of antibiotic, and we head back to the vet at 8 am tomorrow to get those tubes removed and get her on the road to recovery. Whew!

Austin has just left the television on Spike TV: Zombie Strippers. I think I'd better recruit him for kitchen cleanup and some coconut tart before bed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

pre-date postings

Rather than risk skipping another day of the blogs, I'm going to throw this one up here before we leave for dinner (location yet to be determined). I'm wearing a fun new green sundress and feeling rather cute, even if I kind of think this dress makes an exaggerated bulge out of my tummy. Austin swears no. My hair looks good, anyway.

I spent the majority of the morning and afternoon on Myspace, of all places, exporting all my old blog posts to my desktop (using that Print Preview: Save as PDF trick). I had forgotten that I spent most of 2005 only posting dumb internet surveys instead of actual written blogs, which is pretty obnoxious. I indulge occasionally in the list-format surveys on here or on Facebook, but back then it was 15 postings in a row. It is no wonder that my dedicated readership at the time consisted of two: Austin and Agnes, who were both completely obligated to read. Sorry to both of you, four years later. Would it be annoying to make a blogspot page for these old blogs, so that non-Myspace users could peruse them? I haven't decided yet.

Before I forget, Kenzie is doing ok today. She ate an entire can of wet food last night and again this morning, so her appetite is back, which is a huge relief. We even attempted the trick of hiding her antibiotic pill in her food this morning, expecting a total fail, and it worked! Shocking. So far so good. She's still camped out behind the bed, except for two random (mysteriously motivated) wanderings down the hallway into the bathroom (maybe the tile feels cool to her?). This involved a lot of complaining. Nothing new there. I wish I could keep her under closer observation, but I know she feels safer behind the bed, and I'm glad for the separation that keeps her pretty much unbothered by the rest of the menagerie.

As Mom pointed out, I was due for a third crisis this week (1. slashed tire 2. Kenzie vet drama), so I tried to cut the tip of my left middle finger off last night. It turned out to just be a rather painful, fingernail-invading slice, but nothing life-threatening. I was chopping an onion lazily, with a dull knife, so that's what I get. I need to get my chef's knife sharpened, but don't want to be without it for a day. If you're keeping score, that does mean we had Skillet Chicken Pot Pie last night, so delicious. And watched the Bourne Supremacy, which wasn't nearly as good as the first. I usually love Joan Allen (especially in Pleasantville, swoon) but didn't buy her for a minute in this film. And the Russian assassin's apparently psychic ability to find Bourne in any crowded metropolis was not exactly thrilling. He's just a dude who wears black all the time, how much could he possible stand out? Unimpressive. We'll still watch the third one tomorrow, Austin has it stashed on the DVR.

I guess it's dinnertime. We'll see if we end up eating Mexican food on a patio (which is definitely what the Boo wants) or driving to Joelton for catfish (definitely what I want). This will be a matter of filibustering until our co-diners (Jon and Ali) take a stand. Possible compromises: Sky Blue Bistro or Eastland Cafe, both places I like to eat that also offer porch seating. Bon Saturday!