Friday, October 30, 2009

My High School Boyfriend Paul

So after posting a completely self serving little ditty about my college roommate Jen, I announced that I would gladly post another missive about anyone else pledging to read my blog faithfully.

Who should request this service but my first high school boyfriend Paul. (I guess we all know the narcissists in my life now don't we) He also wants a Christmas card this year.

So here goes. Paul was my HS boyfriend. He was the first boy I ever kissed. He looked like George Michael in Highschool, complete with stubble. He was the only boy I knew who had 5 o'clock shadow by 8th period math class.... He was a Morman (he even went on a mission to China) but isn't any longer. I went to his house on Christmas and brought chocolates for his mom as a suggestion from my own mother. (Yeah thanks a bunch mom, Mormons don't EAT CHOCOLATE) How were we to know, It was like 1987 and we only knew Catholics......

Paul moved away when we were Juniors in high school. I went to visit him once in Philadelphia where we snuck out of his parents house late one night, went to the train station where we had been the day prior and stole these huge advertising posters. (I also think Mormons probably don't steal so I think he was already off the path) I also snuck out of my own parents house a few times to see him before he moved. (I was such a good girl that I left my parents a note though....Who does that???) He was really funny & dramatic and drove me to Canada once where we were stopped by the authorities because we had snuck (apparently there was a lot of sneaking with that boy) in a foreign exchange student whose passport we didn't get stamped and also did not have keys to the trunk. It was sheer luck, I think, that I am not still rotting in a dirty Canadian jail cell somewhere.

He lives in CA now with his lovely wife and son and looks strikingly similar to how he looked in high school. Except last year he cut his finger off so I expect his hand looks different.

Any more takers......I probably only have 2 readers left anyway. But a deal is a deal.

ps- Just so you know, I didn't crop his photo like that and add kitty cats and flowers. I stole it from his facebook page...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stupid Tax #2

I have a long blog post written in my head right now but I'm too tired to get it out so I'll leave you with this.

Hands Free Headset for Cell Phone-$59.95
Ticket For Not Having Headset and Talking on the phone while driving anyway. -$100

You do the math...

And yes, I still need to buy the darn headset now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Gal Jenny

This is my best friend Jen. Isn't she pretty? This is her at her 20th class reunion. ( I don't know the girl next to her but I was having an issue with the crop) Boy Howdy does she look good! (And yes, I've always lived in the shadow of her beauty, thanks for asking....)

She doesn't read my blog often because I don't write enough about her. Seriously people, she said that. (she's like that.) She couldn't believe her best friend hardly wrote about her. I could not believe mine didn't read my darn blog.

In an effort to improve my readership and sooth her wounded pride I'm writing about Jen tonight.

I met her at our Freshman picnic where I complained to her about how loud my next door neighbors were. She promptly asked if I would come upstairs with her to get something from her room. WHICH HAPPENED TO BE RIGHT NEXT TO MINE...I had no way of knowing at that point of course, but my life was never to be the same. Jen is undoubtedly, the best thing I got out of college.

We were ALWAYS together. Once a guy tried to pick us both up. We let him drive us home (hey, it was cold) and he walked us to our room ( I'm not sure why that happened) where he tried to get us both to sit on the bed with him. I promptly got into my own bed (clothed) said goodnight, pulled the covers over my head and faced the wall. She kicked him out and I think we probably ordered wings. We also retaliated by having a pizza with everything on it delivered to him every night for a week. I'm not sure why we did that but it still cracks us up.

We have a certain magic electricity when we are together that makes things happen. (just ask us!) Aside from just having side splittingly good times together, we've stayed free at the Waldorf, vacationed for free at Lake George, Gone to Las Vegas for free & stayed at the Venetian, Met Mario Batali at his restaurant and sat behind Rudy Guliani at a Yankee game where Derek Jeter grinned at us (He was probably grinning at all those breasts...) We've run into old boyfriends together when we looked our best and have even had babies at the same time. She's one of the funniest people I know. She's a great cook and has been in News Day for her recipe for Armpit Chicken.....Yes, that is indeed, what it is called. She's well read, wickedly smart & effortlessly stylish. She has 3 beautiful children and a globe trotting pilot of a husband who has lived in Africa where he contracted malaria. Very Indiana Jones...(Yes, I hate her too.)

She's also been there for me for every life issue I've ever struggled with.

She is incredibly dear to me. She lives entirely too far away from me. I miss her.

If we are ever at an old age home together we will be the ones wearing leopard print and she'll have too much lipstick on.

Thanks for sticking with this dear readers. If you believe that you too, will be more inclined to read my blog on a more regular basis because of a similar missive about yourself do contact me. I can make these public or private and even include them in your Christmas card this year if you like. I can tailor them to a particular good time we've had or something you would like the world to know about our relationship. I'm also pretty good off the top of my head, (especially if I like you) Contact me soon, because I have a feeling spots will be filling up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Outliers-Malcolm Gladwell

Whenever I have something to do outside of the house in the evening I have a rule that I follow. I never, ever, unless I have been very busy the prior few evenings, go home before my child's bedtime. I know that sounds mean but I'm a stay-at-home-mom. (Oh how I wish I had a better word for that-Housewife-UUGH, Homemaker-I think I like that one the best because it implies I'm actually making something....Unemployed? I hate terms like "household engineer" which imply you are embarrassed about what you do and wish to sugar coat it or make sure the world knows you are very important and value yourself and your time despite the fact that you are unemployed (and you are, I'm not sayin' you're not.)

But I digress, I don't go home. This evening, after a meeting at school that blissfully ended at 8pm I headed over to Starbucks where I sat and read for 1.5 hours. Sure I could have read at home I guess, after my peanut was in bed, but really, I would have also thought about
housework (although not too hard) or eBay or emails I need to send out about school that I have not or looked at one of the many decorating blogs that I frequent) At Starbucks there was none of that.

Tonight I began Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, The Story Of Success. It was interesting because Gladwell dispells the "myth" that all you need to get ahead is intelligence and ambition.

From Amazon:

Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."

I'll be honest. I found this a little offputting because when I read a book about success I'm generally looking for some information on how to BE successful. I felt as if Gladwell was telling me that if the planets were not lined up, then you're pretty much screwed. (He advises you not to even THINK about playing professional Hockey in Canada if you have an October birthday-It's just not likely you'll ever succeed and he makes a compelling case as to why.)

Of course it also confirmed EXACTLY what I have always known-That the jerk in the corner office is really NOT any smarter or ambitious than myself.....;-)

The best grain of advice in the entire book is the fact that if you practice something for 10,000 hours you will become an expert at it. Even Bill Gates & The Beatles had logged 10,000 hours before they really became Bill Gates and The Beatles .

That might sound like a lot but that means if you practice 2 hrs a day you can be an expert in 13.5 years (You'll be doing something in 13.5 years, you might as well do it well) Even at an hour a day you can become really good at something in 10 years. Really good-The difference between 10,000 and 4,000 hrs was literally the difference between being a music teacher and a world class musician. Considering I'm not anywhere near able to teach someone violin (Unless all they want to do is play the suzuki version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) I'd say even 4000 hours would make me pretty happy.

So decide what you want, stop watching TV, reading decorating blogs (my version of watching TV) or playing online Scrabble. (Another time suck of mine if let it-I generally don't even venture near scrabble because I like it THAT much) and spend an hour a day doing something to make your life better. In 10 years you won't be sorry!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Girls Gone Camping

Well not quite camping....

This past weekend, Jeannine and I pulled a Thelma & Louise. Granted I didn't pick up any sexy hitchhikers, she didn't kill anyone & we both arrived home alive. Aside from that, we did run away from home.

Her family has a cottage on Canandaigua Lake which we used as our getaway.

We took back roads from her home all the way to Canandaigua and stopped at a farm stand and various antique stores along the way. Since we are more Garage sale than Antique Store shoppers we laughed at the outrageous prices and moved along.

We strolled various little shops on Main street. I bought Handmade Orange Clove Soap at the
Wick-edly Scent Soap & Candle Company. The owner was terribly friendly and sent us on over to the New York Wine & Culinary Center where we each had a flight of wine and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. After dinner at the Muar House Cafe overlooking the water and a stop at Wegmans for provisions (Wegmans Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies, Boulder Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips, & Brie & a baguette) and we were off to the cottage.

We were not put off by the fact that there was no running water (we were under the impression that it was not being shut off until Nov!) and managed just fine roughing it. (hence the camping) We drank Jeannine's homemade dessert wine & pear cider and talked late into the evening about just about everything. It's amazing how I can still talk for 6 hours straight to someone I've known for 32 years....( we were 6 & 4 when we met in case you think I'm 52 or something. Not that those of you who ARE 52 should take that as a slight, I'm just not there yet!) Anyway, you would think there would be nothing left to say.

We awoke to a beautiful sunny fall day. The lake & surrounding foliage was beautiful. It was the quickest overnight I've had in ages! There was coffee, laughs, tears, cheese & so much fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello...My name is

Today at the post office my daughter walked up to the counter with me, looked at the woman waiting to help us and said,

"Hi, I'm Emma. I'm 4 years old. Almost 5. What's your name?"

The postmistress answered that her name was Liz. This started a nice little chat between all three of us. This was in sharp contrast to the woman earlier at the pizza place who ignored us until I had to ask her to help me buy 2 slices of pizza from her and even then, I could tell I was putting her out.

It got me thinking. A long time ago everyone knew everyone else. A really really long time ago people lived in tribes. Much of your survival was based on your relationship to the group. Even when people lived in small villages and towns this was the case, albeit survival meant something different than catching the big woolly mammoth. If you were an asshole maybe they forgot to tell you about the big hunt the next day.....

Today we are so well automated, so busy, and so insulated that we don't know the people we interact with, buy things from, spend time with on the playground.Most likely we will never see these people again, so why bother? Many times we never see or speak with people when going about our daily lives. You can 't do business with a nod and a handshake anymore because most likely, you don't even know that person.

The community, as a whole, is no longer a place we need in order to survive.

In places where I belong to a group like our wonderful pre-school community, my garden club, the library where they tell me I have books on the hold shelf before I even ask, and my wonderful friends with whom I have had dinner with every month for almost the last 10 years, I am part of something bigger. Part of a whole whose survival depends, in part, on me. (Strictly speaking, it's Bridgett's cooking that determines our dinner group's survival. And ok yes, the library would exist without me, however, the relationship that I have with the women there exists because we are interacting.)

Apparently I want to go where everybody knows my name.....

And I'm thinking the next time I'm in line at the pizza place or somewhere similar I may just say,

"Hi, My name is Christine, I'm 32 years old, almost 33..." ;-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Genesee Country Village & Museum

Today, after eating at my favorite sandwich at the The Leaf & Bean coffee house & cafe with Deanna, I had planned on going to the Rochester Museum & Science Center to see the Titanic Artifact Exhibit.

After Deanna suggested that perhaps that exhibit would be a bit depressing, it hit me that I was only 15 minutes away from one of my happy places, The Genesee Country Village & Museum! One Pumpkin Spice Coffee later and I was on my way!

When I arrived I was dismayed to find that they had closed this past Sunday for the season. I brightened up a little when the woman at the store told me I could walk the village for a mere $5!!!! No buildings were open but really, that was ok. I just like being there.

I had the WHOLE village to MYSELF (with the exception of 3 people working on the grounds). This was completely awesome and what a feeling of abundance that was! I walked around a few times, (there are 68 buildings!) saw the animals, sat on many of the porches, peeked in windows and looked at the remainder of this season's gardens. I saw my pioneer cabin & oxen. I spent a little under 2 hours there soaking up the atmosphere. It was really peaceful & a perfect way to spend a nice fall afternoon alone. Sometimes I just sat on the porches and breathed deeply...

I have not enjoyed $5 so much in a long time!

*note-I forgot my camera today so the pictures are all from prior visits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tomato Bisque

Yesterday I was staring at 4lbs of tomatoes that ripened on my windowsill this past week. What to do?

Then I remembered my favorite tomato bisque and quickly set down to making it.

This is not your run of the mill Campbell's soup people. You don't even have to like that stuff to like this. It's SO good!

This recipe is perfect as is so you really don't have to make any adjustments to it at all. I however, did not have any beef bullion and used homemade chicken stock I had made a few days before. I just cooked it down longer. I also did not put the tomatoes through a food mill as after cooking for the longer time I just mashed them a little with a fork, I don't mind some chunks anyway. You could also use a hand blender if you wanted a smoother texture like the picture.

Also, I used the same amount of butter/half& half (that is what I had and you really don't need to use heavy cream) that one would use for 2 lbs of tomatoes for 4lbs of tomatoes. It's still really rich and you won't feel as naughty eating it. You can even used canned tomatoes for this, although I prefer fresh.

I used yellow and pinkish tomatoes so the color of this soup is a little like sunset.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Frost Warning

We have our first frost warning tonight so my girlie and I harvested the last of the summer vegetables. I still have turnips, chard & leeks out there as well as some perennial herbs. Aside from that, my growing season is pretty much over.

There were a lot of green tomatoes, 3 butternut squash, 6 heads of celery (I was right, no one needs this much celery) basil, and a bowl of various peppers, beans, tiny eggplant & zucchini and a few potatoes I left behind the other day.

Tonight I made one last batch of pesto to freeze, blanched the rest of the green beans for my bag in the freezer and currently I have a batch of Green Tomato & Jalapeno Jam simmering on the stove top. It's got quite a kick to it for only having 4 peppers in it!

Now I need to find a few more recipes for green tomatoes!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy

I should really save this for Monday. Who can't use a good laugh on Monday.

This is so very true though & I can't stop chuckling!

Up Close & Personal





Rainbow Chard



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Potato Harvest & Garlic Planting

Today my girl and I harvested the rest of the La Ratte Potatoes. We have been eating them all along but I need some time to cure the rest of them a little so they will keep longer.

It may be hard to tell but these are large bowls so we have quite a few of these lovely potatoes. These were my favorite crop this year and I will definitely grow potatoes again.

In their place I planted garlic. Being that the deer won't eat potatoes or garlic, a spot outside the fence was ideal. You should not plant the same crop in the same place each year so this was also my plan.

I planted about 50 cloves which should grow 50 heads. That may seem like a lot but I have used up quite a bit of my garlic this year on pesto that I have been freezing and as you can see, I don't have much left. And I didn't even give any away. Now I'm thinking I may need to plant a little more.

Included in the 50 heads is an Italian garlic from Jeannine (that I grown each year) & I ordered some Siberian Garlic From Seed Savers Exchange-The cloves are HUGE and gorgeous white & purple. Recently I picked up 2 heads at the Farmers Market-I wish I could remember the names though, I'm funny like that. I planted the Siberian separately so I can keep track of it.

You can also see the last of my onions here. I think I planted about 60 of those this past spring. I used most of them for Green Onions this spring and summer, which was my plan and just left a few in the ground to grow. (I actually prefer Mayan sweet onions or Vidalia which will not grow locally. Onions, you may not know, are fairly finicky. A Vidalia is considered a "short day" onion which will not grow in the north.)

Those little things to the right are shallots which were fun to grow because I love them but turned out very small. (I only got them at Home Depot and I'm not sure those plants are always right for my area) but I will use them anyway. Next year I may find a more reputable source for those but I almost wonder if they work the same as onions in terms of where they grow best (Must google this.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Calling Myself

This morning while I was alone in the house the phone rang.

I looked at the caller id display and was somewhat perplexed as it seemed that I was getting a call from my cell phone. The one upstairs in my purse.

My mind immediately jumped to scenes of killers calling from inside the house, asking,

"Are you alone in the house."

I bravely answered the phone with a confident, and I imagine, somewhat menacing,


"Um yes, this is Wegmans, someone found your phone....."

"Oh well then, I'll be right there...."

This is actually the 2nd time Wegmans has returned something to me. Earlier this summer I dropped $80 while shopping and some nice soul turned it in. (perhaps I need pockets that button???)

The other rather funny thing about this whole incident is that about a month ago I found a cell phone in a parking lot and immediately called the last person that the cell phone had dialed. They gave me the home number of the woman whose phone it was and I did the same exact thing to her, surprising her as well as she assumed her phone was in her purse the entire time!

Library Date

I'm feeling kind of bookish this week! Sorry if I'm boring any of you!

In an effort to instill a love of reading in my daughter (and also because I'm not about to buy 6 new books every week) Monday has been designated as our weekly library date.

The two of us go around 5 pm, an excellent time to go-Everyone else is either on their way home or cooking dinner. It's relatively quiet and I'm not so worried about all of the noise she makes!

We usually bring a reusable shopping bag of items back and the leave with an equally full bag. It is helpful that we go each week because then I don't have to pay as much attention to the due dates. All of her books can go back in a week and mine are usually done within 2.

Generally our stash includes:

-Books for my daughter-Lately Dinosaurs, Stars & Halloween. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction so I'm trying to also show her that side of the library as well. We also get out a few fiction books.
-a few DVD's for my daughter
-Books on tape for my girl to listen to-Sometimes we listen in the car and sometimes she listens in her room during quiet time (What used to be nap time)
-$0.25 Magazines from the magazine rack for me. Today I scored the Oct 2009 copies of both Traditional Home and House Beautiful-A $10 value right there!!!) I also bring most of my old magazines here rather than recycling them.
-Some fiction & Non -Fiction for me. I have read the most interesting books by just browsing the new non-fiction.
-Books on tape for me.

She's always really excited to go. It's like a trip to the store for something special for both of us. When you think about it really, what a luxury it is for all of us to be able to go in at any time and come home with a load of new material. All because you promise to bring it back! I can't imagine the cost of my bag each week if I had to pay for it!

Thank you Ben Franklin!

Pumpkin (Squash) Side Dish

While we were on our library date, I had my favorite fall side dish roasting in the oven at home.

We call it Pumpkin with Apples but it's really butternut squash. If you call it squash my daughter will not eat it. As pumpkin, it's perfectly acceptable.

This was my veggie harvest from this afternoon. Both of the squash & the onion were harmed in the making of this blog post!

Small aside-I am SO SICK OF GREEN BEANS. I'm just blanching them now and throwing them into a freezer bag for use this winter. I just can't face them anymore.

This is a really easy recipe & everyone who eats it really likes it! I made it up myself but it's really not difficult so I imagine a lot of people make something similar.

1 large or 2 small Butternut Squash
1 Apple (I used a Sweet Tango which is a cross between my favorite Honey Crisp & Something else, generally at this time of year we get a bushell of apples so that I can make applesauce and other yummy treats but we didn't get it yet so I bought those apples at Wegmans.)
1 small onion
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Peel & seed squash. Chop the apple ( I don't peel it) and squash into cubes. Slice onion into rings & separate. Drizzle enough olive oil over it so that it coats everything nicely for your taste and salt & pepper.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for 1-1 1/2 hrs-If you like it really caramelized you'll probably want the longer cooking time. Don't try & speed up the cooking time by increasing the temperature, it won't work. Just let the slow roasting do it's job.

The apple adds a perfect amount of sweetness to the whole dish. At this time of year you can find a lot of roasted veggie recipes which contain maple syrup and while I like those, they sometimes seem too sweet. This is perfectly savory taste with a hint of sweetness.
I put this together right before we left for the library but sometimes I have chopped up all of the ingredients the evening before. The worst part is peeling the squash.

We served this with a roasted chicken & boy it was a nice cosy fall meal. I'm not going to lie to you people, it was a Wegmans Roasted chicken-Nobody here wants to cook on Monday night and I had a date with my girlie to keep!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Anthony Eglin-English Garden Mysteries

Recently I emailed Anthony Eglin, the author of my favorite English Garden Mysteries (Imagine my delight at finding these two subjects woven together in a book!)

Eglin's books are a departure from normal series mysteries, where the writing can be painful at times and plot lines completely obvious (Oh how I hate to figure out a mystery before the protagonist in the book, that just makes me feel like the character is such a dumbass for not seeing what I'm seeing and makes me want to toss the book at the wall)

Eglin's plotlines are airtight and rather clever. He also includes a ton of very interesting horticulture information-much of which has to do with Roses, as he is an expert. These are some of the most intelligent mysteries I've read in a long time. I completely enjoy reading his books.

I emailed him to tell him exactly that and to make a comment about his main character's love life.

Imagine my surprise the next morning when I received an email back. A rather long and friendly one at that. He thanked me for my nice comments and went on to explain his rational for his character's love life and he referenced back Sherlock Holmes to me, which I completely understood! (and people if you know me, you know I'm swooning right now because Holmes is my ultimate detective.)

In addition, he told me a little about the plot of the next book in the series that he is currently writing!

How nice is that!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thoughts About The Library

Today at the library (the library, Jacquie, is that place where they let you take home books and movies for free.) I saw an older white haired man looking intently at the books in the romance section. I watched while he read the backs and then decided weather or not to put them in his bag. He had a big pile.

It was a bizarre scene to me. I imagined him looking for a new tale of a Vicount and his scullery maid having forbidden trysts in dark stairwells.

And by the way, how come nobility in Romance novels are frequently Vicounts? Who uses that word? I don't think I've ever been with another person who referred to a Vicount. And why are so many romance novels set in Regency England? I mean really, don't those people smell? (especially the scullery maid.) I lived in that time period (albeit it on the prairie) and I'll tell you, I would have been hard pressed to find someone willing to meet me in a dark corner.

I myself am more of a murder mystery fan when I need a light read (which explains my fear of killers) And I sometimes wonder what it says about me that I would rather someone murdered than living happily ever after?!?!?!

But I digress.

The thing about the library is that you get to be anyone you want to be and think about anything you want to think about. Perhaps the old man is a Vicount in his head (or god, forbid, a scullery maid.) Sometimes I am a hard working PI and sometimes I'm Martha Stewart. Sometimes I'm Ghandi and sometimes I'm Suze Orman. Some times I live happily ever after and sometimes I learn to cook Indian food.

I have often said that the greatest gift that my mother has ever given to me was my love of reading. I once told her that and she looked at me strangely, perhaps thinking she's given me a heck of a lot more than that.

But reading makes me who I am. For me, the library is full of possibility. My own pure unbridled possibility.

And While We Are On The Subject Of Romance Novels

While we are on the subject of Romance Novels I must tell you about my dear friend Stephanie Draven.

I've known her since she says that I flipped my hair at her in the 11th grade ( I actually do not believe this...) Stephanie writes paranormal romance, among other wonderful things. She even once, dedicated a story to me! She's exceedingly intelligent and breathtakingly creative! She's also a gifted writer and I have been the lucky recipient of many a manuscript to read over and offer opinion on.

To be perfectly honest I'd never really heard of paranormal romance. Who knew how Romance novels had changed so much since I read my mom's Harlequin romances when I was 14. She has hydras, dryads and immortals woven together with serious social themes. And sex! Who would imagine those things together? Stephanie would!

She has her first full length novel coming out soon and I'll be sure to tell you when it does! For now, you can visit her at Silhouette Nocturne Bites for her first 2 published novellas!

My Fortress Has Been Breached

So my impenetrable fortress of deer fencing was breached last night.

Actually I left the door open. Really, considering that the deer have not eaten a thing from my garden this year I was surprised they ventured to that spot in the yard at all.

They ate most of the zucchini plant, they stripped that bean tee pee and ate a ton of tomato leaves. The thing that I found really irritating is that apparently deer don't like green tomatoes. And they are stupid to boot. I say this because I found a bunch of green tomatoes with bites out of them. Could they have possibly stopped at one???

They also must have had a terrible time getting out because the fencing all around the garden this morning was loose.

At least it's almost the end of my growing season.