Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secret Admirer: Unmasked

After a little bit of detective work, I have learned the identity of my secret admirer. (No, it wasn't Bobby Brady.) It is my friend Alecia, who was spreading some "first week of spring" joy. She knows me so well: a British bookmark is pretty much a great gift for me. (Hell, most things "British" are a good gift for me, but British + books = LOVE.) I popped that right into my copy of Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, which is my new lunchtime reading at work. (My previous book was Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, which I thoroughly enjoyed.) It is a fitting lunchtime read as a former work colleague was the person who introduced me to Neil Gaiman's work when he passed along to me his copy of Neverwhere. Thanks again, Alecia!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Secret Admirer??

I was out of the office on vacation last week (my COUGHbirthdayCOUGH occurred during that week too). When I came into work today, I found a present on my desk.

There was no note and no indication who this was from. I thought it might be from either my friends Ellen or Diana, but both say it wasn't them. (They are big fans of "Keep Calm and Carry On" stuff.) OMG, I have a secret admirer!! At work!! I feel like Cindy Brady! I wonder who it is?????????? I would love to know, just so I could know who to thank!

Back to life, back to reality

Just back from a week's vacation on Florida's Gulf Coast. Here in Boston, it is cold and rainy. Fortunately, I have photos like this one to remind me of warmer climes.

Sunset over the Gulf

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Éire go Brách

Yesterday, I was invited over JR & RH's house for some St. Patrick's Day celebrating. RH made a delicious Irish boiled dinner of (red) corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in their fancy crock pot. (NB: we all know that this is not really "Irish" dinner; it is Irish American dinner.) JR's dad phoned while I was there and gave his report on the NYC parade; he is a drummer in one of the pipe bands. They had a gorgeous day for it!! Following dinner, we watched Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which was as ridiculous/awesome as the first one. I ended up leaving before the end of the movie, but I do intend to watch the rest of it soon. (Judd Nelson plays the bad 'un in this one. I was reminded a couple of times of The Godfather, Part II, which I suspect was intentional.)

At dinner, we were laughing about about St. Patrick's Day from a few year's ago when I invited JR and RH to my house for St. Patrick's Day Irish boiled dinner. JR had never eaten corned beef and cabbage before, and I had never cooked it before. But I had watched my mom do it for years and years growing up so I thought how hard could it be, right? Wrong.

First, at the grocery store, I wasn't sure what kind of beef to buy so I had to call my mom to ask her. (There is that whole gray vs red debate. I bought the red.) When I got home, I put the corned beef into the boiling water with the pickling spices. Now the pickling spices jar told me to put one tablespoon into the water, but that didn't look like enough, so I added two more. After the meal had been cooking for a while, I did a taste test, which FAILED, so I panicked, and I called my parents to find out what to do. Mom said take out most of the pickling spices, pour out some of the water and add fresh water and more potatoes. Unintentional educational moment #1051: following the directions on the package is a good thing.

I ended up calling my parents at least three more times asking for advice and help on things like how long to cook the potatoes and how small do I cut the cabbage. You know how Butterball Turkeys have that cooking helpline at Thanksgiving? Well, my dad started answering the phone "Corned Beef Hotline." If I wasn't having company that night, it would have been funny, but it was actually really stressful. Unintentional educational moment #1052: Test out a recipe before serving it to company. Fortunately, the meal turned out just fine, albeit a little bit on the pickled side, and JR and RH said it was very good.

That is the first and last time I have made corned beef and cabbage. I think that I am going to try it again next year for St. Patrick's Day or possibly one day next month when there is less pressure to do it. I really love to eat it; maybe one day I will love to cook it too!

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Oh, Boston, you're my home"

Friday evening, while the weather was still sunny and warm, I walked from work in Cambridge to my haircut on Newbury Street, and, rather uncharacteristically, I pulled out my camera as I walked. I have a tendency when walking in town to walk "with purpose" and that means getting where I need to go when I need to be there without walking into anyone or tripping over anything. (I am operating on a schedule, after all.) However, I find that when I have my camera out that I tend to become much more engaged with my surroundings than I normally would.

I uploaded all my photos to my Flickr site, but here are two of my favorite. The slightly incongruous mix of old and new is just so Boston to me.

Newbury and Berkeley Streets Newbury and Berkeley Streets

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"*

My mom is the oldest of five siblings, the youngest of them being 10, 11 and 12.5 years younger than her, respectively. So when my mom had me at the ripe old age of 27, she didn't have to find a high school student to babysit me; she left me with my aunts, collectively known as "The Aunties". (That is "aunt", not "ant"; I am from Connecticut after all.)

I spent a lot of time at my granddad's house with my mom's two youngest sisters, Aunts E & T, who were in high school and were totally into movies and music. That DEFINITELY rubbed off on me. And in case you readers out there think that a two year old isn't really paying attention to pop culture, I offer you this amusing anecdote. On one memorable occasion when my parents brought me to church with them, during a reading of a letter from Peter, I YELLED out enthusiastically, "PETER FRAMPTON!!?!!" (It was the 70s; I have since seen the error of my ways, both with regards to behavior in church and Peter Frampton.) Needless to say, not only I got in trouble that day, but so did the Aunties. But that didn't stop them from making me their little rock and roll protégé.

Growing up in the late 1970s & 80s, on Saturday nights, we got to watch "The Muppet Show", and then we went to bed. (That was the theory at least. I distinctly recall watching episodes of "The Love Boat".) One of the coolest episodes of "The Muppet Show" was when Debbie Harry guest starred and sang not only "The Rainbow Connection", but Blondie's hit, "One Way or Another", which I totally LOVED and subsequently made the Aunties play for me on the record player at Granddad's house. (The other awesome musical guest was Elton John, who sang "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Miss Piggy. Fortunately, my parents had his albums at our house. Parents, when your six year old can work the fancy stereo in the living room without adult help, you might want to start preparing for an adolescence with a lot of loud music.)

The marvelous Auntie E later made my brother and me a cassette tape ("Baby's First Mix Tape") with all the songs that she had turned us on to: Blondie's "One Way or Another" and "Call Me"; Pat Benetar's "Hit Me with Your Best Shot"; Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me", Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and a few other tracks. We wore that tape out in our little Fisher Price tape recorder as we rocked out in the living room of my parent's old house. (It is a good thing that we didn't really understand the lyrics too well.) I distinctly recall that Sister K was a big Pat Benetar fan; she was three.

The other night, I was driving home from a work event, and Blondie's "The Tide is High" came on the radio. I cranked up the volume as I sang along with the song and thought back to some great times, listening to music with the Aunties, being a little kid, and loving the Muppets. I learned a lot about contemporary music as a kid, not just from the Aunties, but from the Muppets. (I really don't think that you can downplay the impact that the Muppets had on Gen X, but that is a blog entry for another time.) That has made a huge impact on the person I am today, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Image from Muppet Wiki. Did you know there was a Muppet Wiki? Well, now you do!

*Billy Joel

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Give me Liberty or give me death!

In an exciting bit of Anglophile consumerism news, Liberty of London is joining not only with Target, but also with MAC cosmetics to launch new lines in the States!!

Woo hoo! Now shopping at Liberty, without the cost of the airfare or dealing with VAT! I am totally loving the colors and the patterns! And folks thought I was excited when Target started carrying Boots! (I LOVE Boots brand skin stuff, but Target doesn't carry the Tea Tree and Witch Hazel line. I still love you, Target.)

Disclaimer: I have never actually been IN Liberty; I just stood outside waiting to meet JR once. However, I do own a couple button down shirts from L.L. Bean that have been mistaken for Liberty prints.

(This entry is with apologies to Patrick Henry, who is very likely rolling over in his grave right now.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

My favorite moment during last night's Academy Awards ceremony was the tribute to the late John Hughes. When Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick first came out on the stage, I suspected what was going to happen, but I wasn't prepared for the tears that came to my eyes during the film montage or the fact that seeing John Cryer, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Macaulay Culkin up on the stage with Ringwald and Broderick after the montage gave me a major case of goosebumps.

When John Hughes died this past summer, I heard this awesome story on NPR's "All Things Considered" about how he had become pen pals with a teenage girl who had written him a fan letter. It just made me love him all the more, and it made me wish that he had made more films. I was in junior high school when the "Brat Pack" films came out, and I distinctly remember watching many of them at my best friend's house during weekend sleepover parties in her parents' living room. (Her senior prom dress was straight out of Pretty in Pink, even though it wasn't pink.)

There was something about his films that made being an outsider, or at least not being considered "cool", well, cool. And that suited me just fine, because I was brainy and into a lot of alternative music that was played on the college radio station at a time where it wasn't cool to be brainy and most of the girls in my school were listening to New Kids on the Block rather than The Smiths and The Cure...and Teenage Fanclub. (How I loved TFC. I stayed up one Saturday night suffering through Jason Priestley hosting SNL just to see Teenage Fanclub. I downloaded Bandwagonesque off iTunes not too long ago, but I still have my cassette tape.)

Even now, the films still have relevance in my life. When PunkRockMom and I first worked together, one of our mantras was: "Screws fall out. The world's an imperfect place." I also like to invoke European Vacation's, "Are you happy now, Dad? She's DEAD." Then there was the whole Hank Stuever article in the Washington Post a from few years ago entitled, "Real Men Can't Hold A Match to Jake Ryan Of 'Sixteen Candles'", which my friends and I talked about for months afterwards. (The first line of this editorial reads: "Listen to all the Thompson Twins songs you want, but let’s finally admit that Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles” is never coming to get you." NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!!!! It didn't stop me from listening to "If You Were Here" the morning of Sister B's wedding.)

The music in the John Hughes' teen films is an essential element, as integral as any one of the characters. I had the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink on cassette tape and played it in my car all the time, and nearly every mix tape I received my first year of college included Lick the Tins' awesome cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" (with the penny whistle) from Some Kind of Wonderful, which had a much more satisfying ending than Pretty in Pink because Andie SOO should have gotten together with Ducky and thankfully Keith was smart enough to get together with the very awesome Watts. And who can forget Yello's "Oh Yeah" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off or "This Woman's Work" from She's Having a Baby? (SOB!SOB!) These films totally raised the bar for pop songs in films.

Matthew Broderick closed out the segment of the program in classic Ferris style: "Danke Schoen, John". Thank you, indeed, John Hughes, from the bottom of my little freak heart.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The folks at Campbell's got it right; Soup IS good food.

My infamous cold returned at the end of last week, and I once again spent the weekend at home, either napping on the couch or sleeping in my bed. I did manage to read more of our book club book, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx (although I missed the meeting on Saturday afternoon), which I am thoroughly enjoying.

I needed to get some nourishment from something other than the Lipton chicken soup I drank all day Saturday so on Sunday I made the white bean soup recipe from the Williams Sonoma catalog. Needless to say because I made it when I was feeling ill, it is really easy to do. (Plus, with chicken broth, garlic, and root veggies, plus the beans all pureed up, it is very healthy.) I ate it with just some plain toast rather than with the roasted red pepper tapenade as the recipe suggested; will save that for when I am feeling better. Instead of grating the parmesan into the soup, I shaved it with a vegetable peeler (a Sister K trick) and sprinkled it on top, adding lots of fresh ground pepper. Mmm, delicious, thank you.

White bean soup


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...