OMG this show. THIS SHOW. I heart this show so hard, I demanded from Todd that he do tub time and pajama time on Sundays since this show comes on at 7pm and Alex takes her bath around that time.
I'm sure everyone knows about it but in case there are people out there, reading this, who do not know, I must explain: The evil queen from fairy tale land has cursed all the land, making it so that none of their happily ever afters will ever happen. How does she do that? By creating an alternate sort of world in a town called Storybrooke, where everyone from the fairy-tale world lives and exists, but without any recollection of their previous, true lives. Oh, and this Storybrooke place? It's in our reality, somewhere in Maine. Only the evil Queen (who is Regina Mills in Storybrooke) knows the truth of this. She is mayor of Storybrooke, and all is well until her adopted son Henry leaves, tracks down his bio mom, because only she can break the curse.
Why? Because she's the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, who magically sent her from the fairy-tale world the night she was born, before the curse took place. And how does Henry know this? Because of a book his teacher (Mary Margaret, AKA Snow White) lent him. All the stories we know, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Jiminy Cricket, etc, are in that book.
And what do you know? Henry is RIGHT.
So we have a wonderful set up for seeing fairy tale world storylines and how they translate to our world. Hansel and Gretel becomes a case involving child services and a father who never knew he had kids, Snow White is a single teacher and Prince Charming was a coma patient, until Snow White woke him up in the hospital from reading their fairy tale love story to him... and then they discovered he has a wife.
It's such a great show, and I know that my explanations make it sound absolutely bizarre, but I urge you to give this show a chance. The sappy lovey-dovey shit is very well balanced with Regina/Evil Queen's absolutel loathing of all things happy, and then there's Rumpelstiltskin, AKA Mr. Gold in Storybrooke, who is as wicked as she, who might not know as much as she, but.... does he?
Watch it! Sundays at 7pm central time on ABC!
P.S. I totally don't work for ABC, and am not doing any promo shit, except I just love this show
Here's a picture I found on my phone, the only one I took while we weekended up on Mt. Lemmon in the super awesome Rooster cabin.
First, notice Todd's holiday beard came back this year! Although it's already gone again. Secondly... well, notice that neither of them look very happy. This was when Alex was super mad, despite wearing mama's hat and her brand new mittens. She screamed and cried and threw a fit the entire trek from the general store back to the cabin. Scott, my brother in law, even said you could hear her when we approached the cabin. He was still at the damn store.
Anyways, despite capturing a stressful, loud, unhappy parenting moment, I still love this photo. The crooked hat and too-big mittens, the look on Todd's face as he, more than likely, is telling Alexandra either "calm yourself" or asking "What is WRONG?" or maybe even telling me to "put the damn phone away so you can take this 25lb screaming monster off my shoulders."
At least it was a beautiful day! Plus I started drinking champagne about 10 minutes after this picture was taken, so it was win-win.
Well, I did my mock triathlon at the gym last night, and some things surprised me, and some things didn't.
I was nervous, on a mild level, all week long leading up to yesterday's workout. I was actually a little scared too, to be honest. Not because I didn't think I could do it; hell, before training for it, I knew I could do it, just not do it well. I was scared and nervous because I knew it was going to be an ass kicker, because my knees have been bothering me lately, and because I was also scared that my swim portion was going to be longer than my estimation had been when I signed up.
That's where the first surprise comes in. I swam half a mile in 14 minutes. 14 minutes!!! I think I will name our next child Fourteen Minutes. I was so amped. There was an old guy in the pool while I was counting off my laps and when I stopped the stopwatch and stared at 14:07, I said "Yes!" and kept repeating that as I clamored out of the pool. "Yes!" I kept saying as I gathered my crap and trotted into the locker rooms.
I showered, dried off and changed. I didn't time that part because in the actual transition, there won't be any of that. I intend to get a super sexy tri suit which basically looks like the suits those heavy weight lifter dudes wear. There won't be any changing at all, just drying off a bit, putting on my helmet, sunglasses, socks and shoes. Oh, and my iPod.
Anyways, then I jogged out to the cardio theater room. I debated doing this because either the movie could distract me and make me slow my RPMs or it would get me too used to working out while watching all the Rocky movies in 40 minute increments, and that my speed and form would suffer once I was on the road. But then I realized I will be plenty occupied on a mental level, maneuvering around all those other participants, keeping track of my laps, etc.
So, another surprise: I did my 12 miles in 38 minutes and change. I figured my time would be closer to 45 minutes. I'm sure I owe a couple of those minutes to Rocky and to Eye of the Tiger, but again, I think I'll get even faster due to the adrenalin and competitive nature of a racing environment. Plus I will have my iPod. I think it's time to buy Eye of the Tiger on iTunes. Anyways, I kept my resistance between 10 and 12, going back and forth to simulate how it would be out there on the road, switching gears.
My quads were definitely tired but not completely trashed, so after a quick stop at the water fountain, I ran back to the theater room and hopped on a treadmill. For those interested, Rocky III had restarted so I got to see the start of Rocky's journey to kicking Clubber Lang's almighty ass.
Now, it's a little harder speeding up on a treadmill according to your own stamina and gait, because you have to speed it up with the push of a button, not merely running quicker. So I ran this in a little less than 30 minutes. And then the bitch of it was when I accidentally hit the emergency stop button, with only .82 of a mile left to go. So that irritated me, got me out of my groove, and exacerbated the pain in my left foot which is from nerve damage.
But I did it. I did it all in 82 minutes. I can't wait til that triathlon now. I'm no longer scared of it. Well, I'm nervous about the transition between swimming and biking, because I don't want to eat up a lot of time doing it incorrectly/too clumsily/forgetting something. But last night's triathlon did more than just prep me physically and mentally, but it gave me confidence in, and pride for, what my body is capable of.
I cried a bit on the car ride home, but that didn't surprise me. I knew that would happen.
Todd is 6'7" and I am 6'. Our dog is 100lbs. Our kitten is growing so rapidly I think Patton has inspired him. Alex is probably about 36" tall at this point, well beyond the 95th% for height. We're all big and/or tall creatures. We live in a tiny little house with two tiny bedrooms and one solitary bathroom with really horrendous tile (but that is another tale). My small, ugly kitchen has me teetering towards taking anti-depressants, our back room is a TV room, office, wine cellar, kung fu storage closet and on rainy days, a laundry drying rack. And up until this month, we've slept in a queen size bed.
Recall, if you will, how tall we are. How long our legs inevitably have to be to boast such height. Now imagine us pretzeled into a queen.
Yeah, I know.
We used to be major cuddlers, with little regard for numb arms, cramped hips, and too much body heat generated between Todd the generator and myself. And no, I do not mean cuddlers like Rachel and Ross were, where Rachel was the cuddler, and Ross was the hug and roll guy who eventually got Chandler into a mess when he sprainedJanet's hand by rocketing her off the bed. Anyways, that shit backfired on him because Janet totally spilled the... Oh my God, I'm that girl, prattling on abot Friends as if it still aired. I totes miss that show though, y'all.
Back on track: We're cuddlers by nature. We enjoy being close. Maybe it's cause we're dog people and wolves in the pack all sleep touching their packmates for reassurance (what is with my tangents today??) But life makes you tired, especially after raising a toddler together and living in a bad economy that keeps you up all night biting your nails and wondering how bad living life on the lam could be.
Soon it was less cuddling, leg-entwining and sleeping that way all night, and more "why is your arm touching my arm!?" and "I HAVE NO GODDAMN ROOM" and "I hate this bed and I hate this house and I want to move to Idaho." Granted, those were all angry-whispered by yours truly at 2am on any given weeknight. But Todd came to realize too that it just wasn't working out anymore. We're too big. We had to get another bed.
So we did! This past Christmas we were given the best gift of all: a better night's sleep. We ordered a tempurpedic style bed from Costco after a rave review from our friends Charlie and Amber. This is the bed we got (headboard/footboard/expensive furniture not included):
And oh, holy hell, is it divine. It's firm but because it's that tempurpedic stuff, you also get a degree of softness that allows you sink down, oh so right until you are in a shallow little nest of your own making, fitting perfectly to your body. Like an angel sinking into a cloud straight from Heaven, Like a baby chinchilla, cupped in the warm hand of God. Like a hummingbird resting in the cool dewy petals of a um, a lily. Anyways, you get the idea.
But here's the thing. And it's not like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth, far from it. But... I miss Todd. We talked last night, and he feels like we're miles away too. It almost started to affect the way our marriage felt. We were literally distanced from each other, and it started to feel like we were emotionally distant, as well. I'm not sure if we're the only ones that this happens to. I'm not sure if all the king bed owners out there reading this are laughing hysterically at us right now, either.
All I do know is that last night we each of us scooted from our secluded burrows in the soft but firm sinky-ness to sink down a little closer to one another, and all night long we slept, wolf pack style, either snuggled up, touching feet or holding hands. Actually at one point I was on my side with a leg tucked up against my chest and Todd, thinking it was my hand, grasped my foot. I fell back asleep with a smile on my face.
King beds are nice, but there is something to be said about the comfort of your one true love sleeping close by. It warms more than your side of the bed, it also warms your heart.
This is an awesome non fiction account of all sorts of aspects of life in England (Engla-lond) in and around the year 1000. Written in 1999, it has an understanding point of view for a people on the verge of, and experiencing, a new millennium. Reading the acknowledgments in the back I discovered the authors are more journalists than historians, but wanted to figure out life back in 1000, so they spent eighteen months interviewing dozens, literally dozens, of history professors and scholars.
It's a quick read, too, well written and humorous, but jam packed full of facts and interesting details from this period of history. Using the Julius Work Calendar as a frame for the chapters (the first chapter is January), and the pictures from the Calendar as talking points for life in 1000, the book covers topics such as etymologies, women's issues, dirty riddles, how battles were fought and won, harvest times, the coming of Revelations' dragon, and law.
Like I said, it's a quick read, which I think needs to be said again, because history books can, at times, be weighted down with loads of fact and bulky writing. But the writers offer up the information with a light handed, brisk way, and my only complaint is that the chapters end far too quickly, the book itself goes by too fast. I wanted more!
That, however, isn't so much their fault as it is the fault of all the assholes in the past who have destroyed much of what few documents there had been, which makes me laugh to think of how much information we feel the need to capture and share today (blogs, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Livejournal, Tumblr). Apparently only 30 wills survive from this time period, if you can believe that, but interestingly enough, 10 of those wills belonged to women. The bibliography in the back is extensive and you'd think it would belong to a far thicker book, but alas, it doesn't.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's not high-falutin' historical snobbery, it's not dense and drab stuff for scholars alone, but neither is it flippant or careless. It's informative, illuminating and extremely entertaining. I'm in December now, and I think I've got just one chapter afterwards before I've finished it, and I will be sad to put it down for good. Although Todd will be delighted since I swiped it from him after Christmas.
Because if he wasn't, he'd be dead after that huge watery crap he left for us on the bed last weekend.
Complete with poopy rosebud imprints on three pillow cases, both pillow shams and the duvet cover.
Is it me, or does he actually look pleased with himself?
I'm loud. I'm sassy. I am bursty, pouncy, can hop right out of bed to start my day without needing to boot up, so to speak (Todd requires multiple cups of coffee and an hour or so to absorb it). I'm high energy. I love socializing and being with loved ones.
But to probably many people's surprise, I'm also really quiet. I'm happiest without idle chit chat. I love losing myself in books, good TV shows like Lark Rise to Candleford, or awesome movies like Gone with the Wind. I cherish alone time, recouping time, time for reflection, to gather myself. I am very comfortable with my own thoughts.
I know these things are important to everyone but I suppose this side of myself is a relatively new realization. At least it's becoming more and more self-evident as time goes by. I would have never described myself as a quasi-introvert before. Insecure and sensitive deep down, yes, but I would never have shared that with anyone. I guess that is a new thing too, being honest about parts of who I am that I'm not that proud of.
When I was dating Todd and when things started looking serious and awesome, I had an account at okcupid.com, which was a free, fun site for dating, but also they had really fun quizzes and tests. I used to love passing down time at my receptionist job by horsing around on that site (I had a lot of down time), but I didn't want any guys bothering me or sending me messages, so when the profile maker asked me to describe myself in three words, for the first time I admitted: Bitchy, Loud and Sensitive.
I never did get any messages from guys.
I'm extremely honest. Lying feels fundamentally wrong to me, and so that high energy and burstiness seeps into that side of me, to where it is painful to keep truths to myself even when I know they could hurt someone. I do it, but it wells up inside me. Maybe that requires some downtime so I can let all that escape, slip out so I don't feel so bottled up, like a shaken bottle of carbonated beverage. A slow twist of the cap to let the pressure out.
Anyways, perhaps it's because, as life slips by, you start realizing what's important, and what is absolutely vital to you, as an organic thing, a fragile living creature, in order to thrive. I was always go, go, GO, but it made me tired. I remember breaking down on the phone with my mother because I was so exhausted and spread out too thin, not because I was doing too much, really, but I was doing it with all my energy. I prioritized, sure, but I did my laundry with as much gusto and determination as I did chin ups or paying off debt. It was impossible for me to turn it off, to sail half mast.
Now I find that I will do the go, go, GO thing for certain parts of my life: my family and friends, my fitness, maintaining a household. But I'm also much more protective of the silences I require especially as I get older. Things whittle themselves down according to importance. I'm not as fit and thin as I want to be, I'm not writing novel after novel after novel, but Alexandra and Todd trump that. In the future, more kids will make that very difficult down the line. Eventually, maybe I will start getting up at 5am for an hour or two of me time, of writing time, of thinking time. Because this precious time of silence and regrouping, the me time, cannot be whittled down.
Check that bad boy out! No, we didn't order out, I actually made us chicken cheesesteak sandwiches for dinner the other night. They were extremely delicious and far less caloric and fattening than what you'd find in a sandwich shop. Plus, cheaper, faster, and I didn't have to tip anybody. Although maybe Todd should have tipped me.
Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich with Oven Fries
2 potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 - 10 wedges
salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 12oz chicken fillet
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 jalepeno (we did 1/4 but there was very little heat)
1 green, red or yellow bell pepper (we didn't have any so I parboiled, chopped then sauteed some green beans, believe it or not)
2 oz Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 hoagie rolls
1/4 cup chopped lettuce
Toss your potato wedges with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, then arrange, skin side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Arranging them that way ensures a nice browing on both sides, and they just seem to cook faster and better that way. Put them in a 400 degree oven. They need about 20 minutes to cook so I waited about five minutes or so before starting on the sandwiches.
On a medium-high grill, cook your chicken breast. Todd didn't use any seasonings but if you'd like to, by all means, go for it. It will take about 10 minutes.
In the meantime, saute the onions, jalepeno and peppers (or in my case, chopped, parboiled green beans) in more olive oil over a medium high heat until the onions are carmelized and everything. By now, your chicken should be ready to come off the grill, but don't shut it off just yet.
Chop the chicken into small bite sized cubes. Take your rolls and fill first with the onion-veggie mix, then the chicken. Top with the Swiss and chopped tomatoes. Spray sections of foil with cooking spray and wrap the sandwiches snugly in the foil. Return them to the grill for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
By now your potatoes are done, so plate those piping hot bad boys. If you're feeling froggy, top them with some grated parmesan. Plop your foil-wrapped sammy on the plate, open the foil and garnish with lettuce (Todd did this, but I did not, as you can tell from the photo above).
Devour! This was so good, easy and downright hearty, but in a non-overindulgence sort of way. I hope you try it, and love it like we did!
Today I swam 1500 yards, biked 5.5 miles on the stationary and then ran a mile on the treadmill.
I can't tell you how happy I was, and still am, five hours later. I feel, finally, like this is possible.
The swimming thing has been conquered. I struggled, at the beginning, to complete 800 yards in 20 minutes. This afternoon, I did 1500 yards in 30 minutes. Actually, closer to 29, 28 minutes. Can you believe that shit?
There is so much you have to think of while doing the swim. Before I would just try (tri?) to finish it, without a single thought to form, but today, I was swiveling my body left and right, like a corkscrew sort of, I was reaching as far away from my toes as I could with each stroke. I attempted to keep my extended arm straight out while breathing for air, before following through with the stroke. I wriggled and swam like a quick little minnow. Well, a six foot long minnow with love handles, boob fat and blackheads.
It's crazy how fast 1500 yards goes by when you're used to chugging along for 2,025.
After that swim, I hauled ass into the shower, toweled off and rushed to the locker room to change. Other women, busy chatting about blahblah, seemed a little weirded out about my hurry. But whatever, I didn't care. I do know, however, that I will need ear plugs for my triathlon swim. No amount of stomping, head shaking, finger-digging, could let the water out of my ears. It was actually a slightly gross feeling, while biking and running.
I bustled into Gold Gym's cardio theater and got my butt on the bike. My sore butt on the bike, since I have recently been using my dad's hardcore super rad mountain bike for my outdoor rides, and the seat is basically a bike-seat-shaped brick of horror.
But I persevered! Plus I got to watch Rocky. I have never seen Rocky, and suddenly I am really wanting to see the whole thing. Anyways. 5.5 miles later, in that hot ass room of sweaty people, I hopped off, cleaned the bike and then hopped onto a treadmill.
Well, four minutes after going for 6mph, I had to scale back to 5.5mph. Turns out swimming and biking can negatively affect your running speed. Thank God for Rocky! I hung in there, finished up my mile and dashed back home so I could cuddle my baby, coat the second half of my black and white cookies with the cocoa glaze, shower, eat dinner and come on here and brag about it on my blog.
But NO, wait! The real reason I'm blogging about it, is because I want more people to try (tri) this. This has been such an amazing journey. I used to be unable to complete a 20 minute swim without switching to backstroke, sidestroke or breast stroke due to the sheer fatigue, and the massive amounts of pool water I'd consumed. I used to not be able to ride a bike for more than 20, 30 minutes due to boredom or a sore ass. Running... well, I've always been fond of that, but to consider a run the easy portion of a workout? That's rad.
I'll never do an Ironman triathlon, but now I have something in common with those hardcore honey badgers: my run is officially my cool down portion of the workout. True, theirs is a marathon. But I don't care. Tonight I did an itty bitty triathlon, and all it did was make me 100% certain that this goal, a full sprint triathlon, is MINE.
The other day we had some friends over for a tasty BBQ. As we chatted away in the den, this is what Alexandra was doing in the front room.
She somehow managed to crawl into the basket of the stroller while Bingley apparently decided to steer. My baby girl looks like a cast member of Jersey Shore after a few jello shots. I couldn't help but share it with the world on the internet. I'm sure she'll thank me later.
Maybe it was the wine, or the fact that this is a French dish, or just simply the fact that frequently these days I get all the ingredients for a relatively complex dish only to discover all the staples I thought I had, I didn't, but whilst making this dish the other day, I remembered the motto from the adorable movie, Ratatouille: "Anyone can cook!"
Which, of course, must be said in a Fronsh axont. Anyways, it's a good dish for that motto because, honestly, anyone can make it, with almost any kind of ingredients as long as you stick to some basics: beans and fowl with some sort of pork product. There are sure to be purists out there but I was comforted to know that, without sausage or even bacon, this meal can absolutely be a stunner with simply a shit load of dark meat chicken and some delicious black forest ham.
Anyways, on to the meal! If you want the ~original~ version of where I got my cassoulet recipe, saunter on over to this site here. If you want to be a kitchen warrior who, like the honey badger, just doesn't give a shit, stay right here, sweet-cheeks.
serves 5-10 depending on how gluttonous your friends and family are
4oz black forest ham
2 tbsp oil
10 pieces dark meat chicken, (I had 6 drumsticks and 4 thighs because I am insane)
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped 1/2" thick
2 carrots, chopped 1/2" thick
2 stalks celery, chopped 1/2" thick
4 cloves garlic, chopped up
4 springs parsley, tied up
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste
1lb great northern white beans, soaked 6 hours minumum, overnight maximum
2 cups breadcrumbs, panko, or crushed up crackers because you forgot you were out of panko
1 cup parmesan
So. Preheat oven to 400. Heat up your pot to medium or a little higher, and throw in your ham to heat it up and get it all gorgeous looking and bubbly. This is the ham I used, by the way, from Costco:
Remove the ham from the pot, chop up coarsely and set aside. Heat up the butter and oil together and once they're all golden and melty together, add your chicken. You will feel like you are looking down into a small round massacre site, there is so much goddamn meat:
Here are my drained beans, set aside and ready to go. I actually parboiled mine a bit, but it's not necessary. If you do, you will end up having to use a baster to suck out some of the water later and will end up squirting some of it on the wall beside your stove and it shall drip down into the unreachable depths and you will consider giving up, crying and getting drunk, but instead you perservere. I guess the moral of this tale is don't parboil your beans. Just... don't.
"Anyone can cook!"
ANYWAYS. Now that your chicken is browned, add the ham back to it (see that pretty chopped up ham bit just left of 6 o'clock in the picture below?), and add your veggies and herbs. Toss around a bit, cooking down for about 5-10 minutes.
Add your tomatoes and tomato paste. Now it REALLY looks like a massacre in there!
Let that cook down a bit too. Now, over at the Amateur Gourmet, he just filled the pot with water, but I added chicken boullion powder to mine. See, it looks like someone peed in the pool:
Why do I continue to use such disgusting imagery in a food post? I don't know. Sorry, mom. So, fill your pot until the water/broth/whatever covers the beans. Thanks to all my chicken, doing this made the pot insanely full, and I nearly had a heart attack.
Luckily for me, I had this to calm me down.
Bring all that stuff to a boil, then cover and put in the oven for about an hour. Remove it from the oven, throw your bread crumbs/panko/crushed up crackers because you forgot you were out of panko and drizzle with olive oil. You're supposed to drizzle melted butter over it but the previously used 4tbsp of fat made me opt for the more heart healthy version, plus who can fucking tell?
"I can fucking tell," whisper about 3578948 angry people. Haha yeah right! If I had 3578948 people reading this blog I would have earned WAY more than three dollars and seventy cents by now.
Okay, so put it back in the oven for about 15 more minutes. Apologize to your family that you will be eating around 9pm because for some reason in your head cassoulet takes 45 minutes to make instead of over 90 minutes. Remember, suddenly, that you're thinking of coq au vin, not cassoulet. Pour another glass of red wine.
Now, once you pull that bad boy out, cover with parmesan cheese, because that will make up for not using butter before, fat-content-wise.
Pop back in for another 5 minutes. Remove, give it a good stir and voila!
I made this for dinner last night and it was really tasty so here it shall live, on the internet, forever, for either your enjoyment or ridicule.
Sesame Salmon Stir Fry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1.5 tsp sugar
12oz salmon or steelhead fillet
2-3tbsp Sesame oil, divided
2 tbsp sesame seeds
6oz broccoli florets
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli slaw, loosely packed
2 cups cole slaw, loosely packed
3 scallions, thickly sliced
Sriracha to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Prepare your salmon. I cut mine into three smaller pieces to cut down on baking time. Shake on the garlic powder, sparingly dot with Sriracha and drizzle a bit of soy sauce on the fish. Drizzle about 1tbsp of the sesame oil on the fish, brush to coat and blend, and then shake the sesame seeds onto the fish. It shall look like this:
I actually drizzled the soy sauce and oil on after taking this photo, but whatever. Using the excess foil, sort of tent the fish. I had about an inch-wide gap, so it's not necessary to completely, tightly seal it up. Toss the fish into the oven and boil your spaghetti. Drain and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a hot skillet and toss in your broccoli and onion. Cook down about 3-5 minutes, and then add that delicious sauce you made at the start. Toss to coat, then add your pasta. Toss with tongs to thoroughly mix. At this point, kick the oven up to 400 and push the foil back down to expose the salmon. Now, add your cole slaw and broccoli slaw to the mix and toss to coat. Towards the end of the cooking time, add your scallions. I actually used my kitchen scissors and just cut them up directly over the skillet:
Once the salmon is cooked, remove the skin and chunk it up. Dish up the noodle mixture first, then top with the big salmon pieces, like so:
DEEEEELISH. I swear, this was surprisingly delicious. Surprisingly because the salmon didn't taste weird in an Asian inspired dish, and I was mildly concerned it would. Add a few dashes of sriracha and/or soy sauce for an extra flavor kick if you so desire. And try not to make little piggy grunting noises as your devour it beside your super sexy husband (I did not achieve this but whatever).
We don't have cable so we don't actually get a BBC channel, but we do have a big antenna on the side of the house so we pick up not just PBS but slews of PBS channels. The main one, though, is the one that gives me my fix on my days off: BBC shows. From 1pm to 4pm, I watch Lark Rise to Candleford, Ballykissangel, Monarch on the Glen, and Ladies of Letters.
They are basically crack. It pains me to go to work three days out of the week. Yes, because I am apart from Alex but also because of these massively addictive shows. So in the spirit of a tweaked out drug dealer, I figured I'd share with you in the hopes that you too will get addicted so we can buy the DVD sets together and wallow in a K hole together.
Oh, Ballykissangel. So this is what got me started on the whole BBC thing. While on maternity leave, I settled in for a nursing session with Alexandra on the couch, nothing was on the main channels, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this show, right when it started, with the very first episode of the series. Windfall! Needless to say, I always made sure to get my ass to the sofa, whether Alex was nursing or napping, whether I had to clean or do pilates, at 1pm PST.
The show takes place in Ireland and initially centers around the arrival of a new English priest, Father Clifford (Peter), to the town of Ballykissangel. There is instant tension and crackling intensity when the local religious skeptic/potential atheist gives him a ride to town while he is in regular clothes. She feels an instant connection with him, but upon learning he's a priest, feels instant rancor.
The series of course moves beyond that tiny plot point, introducing a whole slew of characters that are hilarious, stubborn, and poignant. This show makes me want to sell all our stuff, burn down the house and use the insurance money for three tickets to Ireland and a cottage in County Kerrie (where the show takes place).
Lark Rise! Woohoo! This show has actually turned into my number one love these days. I've seen most of the episodes but am always delighted when I catch one that I haven't.
This series is based on a trio of books by Flora Thompson, grouped together under the titular Lark Rise to Candleford. It takes place at the tail end of the 19th century and, since Thompson wrote the books much later in life, she was able to write from the perspective of progress creeping into English country life. Laura Timmons (a play on Flora's own name) is the central character, but much like Ballykay, the other characters in the series (specifically Dorcas Lane), really pump life into the show.
It's such a joy to see how life was lived back then, to see how things change for the better but, much how I feel about today's technological advancements, also change for the sadder. Moving forward often times means leaving things behind, and Lark Rise often showcases that journey. But it also really lets the characters shine in their own personal stories, struggles and triumphs. Also there's debtors'prison. Fun stuff!
Monarch of the Glen is mama's new lover these days. This bad boy takes place in Scotland, so often times I'm not sure if I want my cottage in Ireland or in Scotland. Lord knows I wouldn't be able to pronounce anything correctly in either place.
MotG is all about the seat of Glenbogle, how it's losing loads of money and how the parents, Hector and Molly, trick their son to come back home so they can tell him, to his face, that he is now the new laird, the new master of not only the castle but the entire town/village/thingy of Glenbogle itself.
It's actually teaching me a lot about how a laird-ship works. It's also making me fall in love with the idea of stomping around in muddy Wellies and big Molly-Weasley-style sweaters despite how much of an utter desert rat I am. I love the characters too. Crazy Hector, ditzy Molly, and the dashing Archie (their son the laird). There's a lot of tension between Archie, privileged, English-taught and English-accented, and his fiery tenants, specifically the beautiful school headmistress, Katrina. There's romance, socioeconomic tension, gorgeous country and loads of humor and familial love.
Okay, this one is absolutely hilarious. It caps off my three hours of good UK fun and helps me to be jolly instead of sad to see them go. The entire premise revolves around the two ladies seen above, Vera (left) and Irene (right), writing letters. But instead of one lady reading the letter to the screen, they recite their letters while going on about their crazy, drunken, madcap lives. We see them journey from house to trailer park, England to Australia, normalcy to a life of alcohol and accidental-drug-induced hallucinations. And through it all, thought they refer to themselves as friends and write very often, their letters mostly contain ill-concealed insults and jabs at one another, all while slugging back gin (G and Ts) and white wine (hey, girl, hey). It really is a funny show, and a perfect example of British humor.
So, that sums it up, ladies and germs. These are four of my favorite, favorite shows, and I hope you have an opportunity to see them and, if you like shows the way I like shows, chase them like a junkie chases the dragon.
My family is French and one of my relatives, a cousin of my mother's (well, her cousin Annie's husband but I don't even know how to break that down), Pierre, taught himself English. He's an exceptional linguist, and to help himself better understand metaphors, idioms, and other subtleties of the language, he'd listen to random tapes while driving around.
We visited Annie and Pierre on our European honeymoon. While driving around sightseeing, he played one tape for us, a tape about economics. The man was describing, if I recall correctly, the American economy (it was somewhat dated, even for 2007 when we were in France staying with them, so it does not describe today's current economic climate).
One of the phrases he used was "claustrophobia of abundance" and described it with an example: "you have so many sweaters they don't fit in the drawer, because you keep buying sweaters but lack the space for them." Yeah, I told you it wasn't about our current economy.
Anyways, now at last I understand what that feels like. Thanks to some generous family and Todd and I focusing a bit more on Alex than on each other, we now live in a claustrophobic environment. Observe:
There is hardly enough room for her to stand in there! And look, here's a toy I got her that wasn't even opened yet, at the time these pictures were taken. Oh, and see all those books? Half the time, the majority of them are strewn about her floor, or worse, throughout the house.
Shopping carts, airplanes, giraffes, elephants, dolls, kitchen supplies, and let's not forget, the toy chest in the corner there is also full of crap, I mean, full of her toys.
Needless to say, a lot of this shit found itself either crammed in the closet or on its way up to grandma and grandpa's storage garage. Next year I think I'm sticking to like, two big gifts and that's it. The year after THAT, I'm just going to burn down the goddamn house and we'll start over from scratch.
I'm trying to be a new, improved me, but so far it feels like some sort of cartoon where there is a leak in, say, a wall, and I plug up one hole only to create another hole from, oh I don't know, displaced pressure or something sciency.
Anyways, so while I'm doing the dishes after making dinner instead of leaving the whole pile of crap for Todd the next morning, which was a new goal of mine since a dirty kitchen is just so depressing, it's also seriously cutting into my Sitting On The Couch Blogging And Talking About Myself time.
I always had the goal of blogging daily, but that has seriously fallen to the wayside. I shall blame the holidays and repeated bouts of sickness in my house. Because taking responsibility for my actions (and inactions) was definitely not on my Resolutions To-Do list.
But on to today's post! I made these bad boys for the Christmas Eve open house and I'm proud to say they were absolutely devoured. I also did bacon, egg and cheese triangles, mushroom, chicken sausage and bell pepper triangles, and apple cinnamon triangles. All were gone in like 30 minutes.
Crab-stuffed (anything-stuffed, really) Phyllo Triangles
1 roll frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to directions
2 cans crab meat, drained
1 can salmon, drained
8 oz neufchatel, softened
5 scallions, chopped
2 tsp horseradish
2 tbsp milk
Take care of your phyllo first. It takes about an hour to thaw. As it thaws, mix up the rest of the ingredients. It will seem a little difficult at first, as the neufchatel takes some time to soften, but it'll whip up in time.
Back to the phyllo: I thaw it inside its plastic wrap and then when it's soft and gives when you squeeze it, unwrap it, and roll it out very gently. As you pull the sheets apart, if the sheets stick together, blow gently against the line where the sheets are still stuck together, like you're trying to blow the fluff off of a dandelion (AKA gentle as hell). Luckily, I let them thaw long enough and so I got this rad outcome:
At the point of this next photo, I had already laid down a sheet on top of parchment-paper and gingerly dabbed/swept melted butter onto it with a hair brush (NOT my rubber basting brush which I usually adore- it is way too harsh for such a delicate thing which is why it was promptly and permanently retired). I repeated the steps with another sheet, and cut the layers into five sections, using a butter knife.
Jesus, I took out most of my upper arm but you can see what two weeks of holiday fun and two weeks of no workouts do to a woman who likes to eat and lay around watching BBC while complaining than the holidays make her too busy to work out. Sorry. Moving on. Todd took the photos, per my shrill, bitchy demands of "HEY WHERE ARE YOU GOING? PICK UP THAT DAMN CAMERA I AM MAKING CRAB STUFFED SHIT OVER HERE" so there aren't a lot of photos, and none of them are that great, because he would literally stop mid-chore, snatch up the camera, take a photo and leave.
Holidays are just so warm and fuzzy. Aren't they?
Yeah. So now I have placed my second sheet of phyllo over the first, and am basting with more butter.
I have made my cuts, using just a butter knife because phyllo is so delicate, and made about five vertical strips. Then I took a tablespoon of crab mix and placed it at the base of each strip, like so:
It's hard to see, but the way you fold them is like a flag, into cute, yummy triangles!
Naturally I have no photos of the finished products because by this time either Todd had left the house or just started ignoring my screeching for more pictures. And I had like 8937584 more to make so I just said screw it. BUT, at this point, you put the finished triangles on a cookie sheet, brush the tops with, yep, more butter, and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the crust is goldeny-brown.
You can also do what I did, which was to do them three days in advance, put them in a single layer into freezer bags and freeze them until the big day. For the party I put the frozen triangles onto a cookie sheet, brushed with more butter and popped them in the oven.
Nothing to do with New Year's resolutions, but man is she a cutie pie:
It's sort of like Lent for everyone, this whole New Year's resolutions thing, especially when you compare it, overall, to both Mardi Gras and Lent. Whooping it up for a day, or in the case of everyone in New Orleans during that time, a full week or more. Binging on food, booze, and exposed boobies, it all ends on Ash Wednesday with the Catholics, crawling out of bed with bleary eyes, green faces, and dizzy steps, to go sit in church and feel bad about everything they've done and then promise to swear off some bad habit for forty days.
In the case of New Year's Day though, it's binging on food, booze and in the case of that one relative we all seem to have, exposed boobies for an entire holiday season. Regardless of religion or culture, there was some reason you ate too much, drank too much, stayed up too late partying or arguing with family, and then some other reason you did it about six additional times with seemingly no recollection of the 3524674897 calories you consumed at the last function.
Then here comes New Year's Day with her resolutions.What are you going to do better this year? Or in the case of acquiring a new gym membership as a resolution, what are you going to do better for the next three weeks before you say fuck it and cut up the gym card like a maxed out credit card?
All that sarcasm aside, there is something really refreshing about the start of a new year. While it's not necessary, not a requirement that January first be the starting point for a new outlook, a new mindset, a new goal, it still functions as a sort of reboot. Shut down on December 31st (usually after that third glass of champagne), reboot on January the first, and set off down the new road you've chosen for yourself.
It makes sense too, since January is named after the mythical Roman king Janus, who had two faces, one to look to the future and another, on the back of his head, to reflect upon the past. So while we forge ahead on new path, we do so keeping in our minds the unfoldings of the previous path we were on, the past year and what it meant for us. What will we keep? What will we discard? How shall we improve upon ourselves while still being true to ourselves?
For me, that means to keep working out on this triathlon training schedule. I have officially registered for the triathlon so there's no going back now! And after that event, a resolution I have is to keep challenging myself physically. My friend Gneiss told me once that she's come to the conclusion that she'll have to work out the rest of her life so she might as well find new challenges to keep it both, well, challenging, but also interesting. So I am totally stealing that idea from her and after the triathlon, I'm going to find something else to do.
I also want to learn another language. For some psychotic reason I have it in my head that I want to learn Mandarin Chinese. I guess I can blame reading American Shaolin or maybe even the characters in the TV series and movie "Firefly" and "Serenity" or maybe I can blame the sheer difficulty of the language. If it's that hard, maybe I'll never do it? I don't know. I could at least work on bettering my French. But that seems so easy.
Another one I'd like to attempt is learning more about photography. I have zero skill and zero money though, so while taking a class would be beneficial to the skill deficit, I'm not sure I can afford a camera that would make such knowledge worthwhile. But I'm going to definitely research it, and try to hunt down a good deal.
Additionally, I want to stop being a procrastinating asshole and just finish editing my story so I can find an agent and/or start mailing it out to publishers so I can get rejected 38547 times. You know, I started writing this story before I got married. I got married in 2007. Enough is enough. I need to finish it.
Lastly, and perhaps this is the real resolution here: I'm going to stop bitching about how I have no time. I'm going to stop feeling so self righteous for dedicating so much time and effort to working out while letting my other interests fall to the wayside. Yes, I'm busy. But hell, everyone is busy. And as the saying goes, if you want something done, ask a busy man. Busy people get shit done, and while I think I get a lot done, that's not saying I can't get even more done.
I just need to prioritize my time better. When I got Thursdays permanently off from work, the goal was to write while Alex had her nap. Wednesdays, my original day off, was for housework and errands, so Thursdays would be for me. Except now she naps during all those BBC shows I like on PBS like Lark Rise to Candleford, Ballykissangel and Monarch on the Glen. So I'm going to have to figure something out if I want to work out, have basic conversations with Todd in Mandarin, be a famous author and take captivating photos of Alexandra.
Good luck to you all on your resolutions. Let us all be like Janus, looking forward, but being mindful of the past. For me, that means getting busier, perhaps, but also remembering that I can always watch those BBC shows online.