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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce and Green Beans

I swear to God last night's dinner was like being transported back to the holiday season. Never mind the colors of the meal, but the flavors were rich, decadent and thanks to the port in the sauce, downright merry.

I got this recipe from Country Cook's Illustrated's 30 Minute Suppers section and in a true moment of laziness, instead of writing out the recipe here, I took a picture of the recipe card.

Now, CCI and I have butted heads in the past because there's no way to verify to them that you're already a paid member when browsing their recipes online; they want a credit card number for a two week trial membership, and that really pissed me off. But I will say that if you're in the market for a new food magazine subscription, then give these guys a shot. And not just Cook's Illustrated, but Country Cook's Illustrated, as the latter has those handy cards. Like so:

And yes, some cherry sauce got on the card during my haste to plate this dish up and snap a photo before I tore into it like a rabid dog. This recipe was beyond easy, and we all have seen that selfsame green bean recipe but if you want it OMG NOW, here:

Green beans: trim and parboil green beans til you can pierce them with a fork, then drain and place in ice water. Once cool, wrap them in a clean dish towel to dry.
When ready to cook green beans, put skillet over medium heat with a couple tsp - one tbsp butter. Once they're heated through, add half a minced shallot and about 1/4 cup finely snipped parsley. Toss to coat and cook a further couple of minutes to soften the shallots. Donezo!

Friday, March 14, 2014

First Kisses.

I know by know a vast lot of us have seen the video circulating Facebook newsfeeds and gracing the front page of Reddit and other websites, you know the one I'm talking about, the one where all those pretty strangers are paired up to share a first kiss even though they don't know one another. And how beautiful it is, to see strangers lose themselves in one another. Sure, it's actually a commercial for a fashion line, and sure, the strangers are all gorgeous actors, models or musicians, but the fact remains that they are indeed strangers.

The kisses range from shy to reckless abandon but all are beautiful. Some couple decided to gaze at each other first, others just dove right into it. It was beautiful and sexy and tugged at heartstrings to watch. Todd and I have been together nine years, yet I still remember our first kiss clear as day, and I remember a handful of other powerful kisses we'd shared during our first few months together.

But it seemed so girly to bring up to him, to be all "Hey babe? So these hot strangers on this video on Facebook kissed each other? And it got me thinking? About like, our first kiss and what that felt like nine years ago?" Still though, the video resonated with me, and it did not leave me all day. Finally that night, while ensconced in his arms as he twirled my hair and we watched TV on the sofa, I brought it up. He didn't roll his eyes or think me silly, but he did smile.

So I asked him if he'd like to kiss and pretend it was our first kiss ever. OH MY GOD JIL I JUST THREW UP YOU ARE SO SAPPY. Yeah, yeah. Todd grinned and was like, sure. And we briefly talked about the first kiss, where we were, what side of the booth we were sitting on, the identical cocktails we'd ordered just minutes before.

And then we kissed. And it was perfect, just like our first kiss, and then we both got lost.

It's not like I imagined myself transported back in time, because there's no way to erase so many years together, a marriage and a child, the world we'd created together, and also who would want to? No, it was just that we took the time to kiss each other properly, all focus and intent, just like sexy strangers would do in a fashion line commercial. The TV was gone, the dishes we had to do were gone, there was no dog lounging on the couch beside me, no chores to do the next day. It was just Todd and me, together, kissing each other for no other reason besides kissing.

And you know, it felt good for other reasons (get your mind out of the gutter) because part of me wondered if we were so far along in our relationship that those butterfly moments during a kiss were only in our past. Watching these lovely strangers open themselves up and fall into a kiss made me wonder about those precious beginnings to relationships where we are consumed with the now and with each other, and absolutely nothing else. You can't ever re-do a beginning, a lot of the magic and heady rush of it does get lost as we strip away the skin of a stranger and become someone far more interesting and intimate to the other.

But kissing Todd in my yoga pants and he in his stretched out long sleeved baseball t-shirt, my makeup washed off and his muscles tired from teaching kung fu, we got the butterflies back. No, wait. They'd actually not gone anywhere, they were just resting, and waiting for the moment when we'd call purposeful attention back to them. They are always there, ready to spring up and scatter just as soon as we devote some time to them, to us, to kissing.

I highly recommend you stop one day, look at the person who has been by your side all this time, and conjure up memories of that first kiss, that first taste of love you shared in your relationship. And you give him or her that first kiss all over again; not those kisses that are shared on the threshold before or after you come home from work, or before you go on an errand or drop your weary head on your pillow after a long day of wrangling the children. Kiss like that's all there is left to do in the world. Lose yourself.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pain Was Too Good For Her.

So I have this hilarious address book with color-touched vintage drawings of ladies with various text. One of them was the line above, except it's "Pain was too good for him" and it was a picture of a couple embracing. An even funnier one was two women chatting together with the text bubble saying "And then I ripped his lungs out."

Except this post is not about me getting my lungs ripped out, it's about pain. Pain! Wow! So I have a newfound surge of sympathy, empathy, all the athys except for apathy, for those who live in constant pain. Why, yes! This post is all about me and my stupid broken foot! How did you guess?!

Anyways, yes, it's a constant pain and it doesn't seem to give much of a shit what I do to avoid it, it still finds me. It's like the best seeker in hide and go seek EVER. Advil isn't seeming to do too much for me. Todd has some ancient Chinese voodoo liniment called dit da jow that seems to actually help with these excruciating bruises but God forbid you accidentally, with your fingers or even the sheets on the bed, brush the skin ever so slightly, because here come the flames from all levels of hell. Hurrah!

It's intense. And once again, it's a not so friendly, kinda bitchy and sanctimonious reminder of how good life is when there is simply the absence of pain. It's also a reminder that attitude is everything; yesterday I was tired from a rough night's sleep and for some reason the pain got me. As Todd's plumber friend Howard said once, after Todd accidentally punctured the water line in our backyard with an over-zealous shovel strike, and the water shot out of the ground like an impromptu fountain, some days you eat the alligator, some days the alligator eats you.

Yesterday, the alligator ate me and I felt every lusty bite. I rolled over and just let it devour me. Just the giving up made the pain worse, made my mood worse, and I found I couldn't deal with anything. I just sort of squirmed and writhed in agony at my desk, in my evil, wicked, naughty boot (rhymes with Zoot - now, from which movie could that line variation be?) and I let myself be consumed by the negative.

Today I'm going for a different tack. I would like to eat the alligator today. So I dressed smartly, had a good cup of Earl Grey this morning before leaving the house, got rounds of kisses from Todd and Alex. The pain is there and I don't expect it to leave until I fall asleep tonight, but I'm here too, when I wasn't yesterday. So in the immortal words of Kanye West, I'mma let you finish, but I think Jil should win this round.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fractured Foot Friday!

I don't even know how to start this. Do I start with the incredulous sort of shock I have over the fact that, after 34 years of a pretty spectacularly clumsy life, I finally managed to break something? Do I start with the story itself? Do I tell you how painful a drive from Phoenix to Tucson is with a fracture of the fifth metatarsal?

The story itself, we can start with. A simple attempt to alight a hotel shuttle ends with me slipping off that little jutting ledge they have TO AVOID THIS SORT OF STUPID THING, landing on the edge of my left foot, in high heels, and of course my ass, because I bought a new dress for this wedding and of course I land on my ass. Actually I bought new nude pumps for the occasion as well. They're only slightly scuffed and it's barely perceptible; had it been worse I would have just thrown myself off a bridge (these shoes are cute).

So there you go. I could go on and talk about how afterwards I had another couple of drinks and walked around on my broken foot for awhile, but WHY EMBARRASS MYSELF FURTHER.

The shock I have over getting such a stupid injury is palpable, especially after a veritable lifetime of questionable choices and some seriously misplaced trust: sure, I'll sit on the hood of your car, I am confident you will park your car and not take off, pedal to the metal, down the parking lot and then slam on the brakes, sending me flying several yards before skidding several more on the pavement; you know, I've never skied before, let's try that black diamond, I hear it has a jump and everything!; a hot Mexican honey shot? SURE sounds delicious.

In fact, that shock mingled beautifully with the pain on the drive home from the wedding venue in Phoenix back home to Tucson. The pain was physical, and more importantly, psychological. That's actually the whole point of this post, how horrifically painful the threat is, of losing all those basest, simplest functions that we wholeheartedly take for granted. 

For those two long, throbbing, uncomfortable hours of squirming, half-moaning and not-quite-crying, I went through a list of things I wouldn't be able to do. Since I wasn't sure how severe the break was, but was pretty sure it was a break, the time frame of crippledom stretched from two to six months, and after my dad regaled me with a tale of an ankle sprain so severe it kept him on crutches for two months and not-quite-right for a year, I may have even swooned. 

The list started from the "big" stuff:, to the "small" stuff, which I realized later was the opposite: I wanted to do Warrior Dash in April. I enjoy running and biking on a weekly basis. Taking my child to school, to the park, to the museum. Walking. Grocery shopping without a goddamn wheelchair. Cleaning the house. Making dinner. Going to the bathroom by myself. Showering. Rolling over in bed. Being independent.

You know that cinematic trick of zooming in on the main character while the background seems to fall away? That's how the reality of a stupid broken foot felt as it came flying towards me. My God. One stupid moment of not paying attention, of being flippant because hey, I KNOW how to get out of a van, OKAY, turned into potentially a quarter of a year being benched during the game known as My Life. 

Todd of course was amazing, jumping up for me every time I needed something, or walking me to the bathroom. And he waited so long with me at Next Care, and then went grocery shopping while I waited for the doctor and the X-Rays, and was just so sweet. But it made me feel so guilty, so stupid that just some mistake, some accident, could make my entire family's life turn upside down, dumping everything onto my husband's shoulders.

I got the X-Rays, and the doctor guy comes in and is all "Well, you did break it. It's in pieces. Surgery is highly likely." And my sweet husband is at the store and I'm alone and I see surgery and pins and boots and crutches and casts and months of recovery and loss of independence, and humiliation and fear swarm me like a thousand angry bees. Tears flood my vision. I nod my head, ask for my X-Rays, and get fitted for crutches and a boot.

The next day was better. In fact, it was fabulous. I went to Tucson Orthopedics and the wonderful doctor, who, after what he said, is now up for Sainthood in my opinion, told  me it was just a fracture. Its horseshoe shape is what must have made Next Care Guy think the end of the metatarsal was in pieces. But this doctor told me it's the most common fracture there is, no surgery necessary, to walk on it whenever, that I wasn't special, and I have never been so happy to hear of my status as a mundane, boring old Regular Person. 

Relief washed over Todd and me. Several high fives were executed throughout the rest of that day, and the morning after. I had been faced with, and was blessedly relieved of, the threat of a life that was filled with things I hated; the inability to exercise and move my body, to be an active participant in my kid's life, no longer being able to take care of my family, not being able to carry my own weight, do my part, not being able to be independent. And the whole walking and showering thing, that was huge too. 

So now I have an ETA of six weeks for recovery. I'm walking on it, I'm going to work today, and I've only taken three pain pills (only at night) so far, though Ibuprofen is my friend and counsel. I'm managing, I'm kicking its ass, I'm going to the bathroom by myself and shaving my legs and washing my hair and I made dinner the other night. And, you know, I am thinking I might still do that Warrior Dash in April. 

Thank God, the universe, the angels and the devils and whoever else moved in or stepped aside to let me escape relatively unscathed. And I'd like to think I've learned some lessons about, you know, going a bit slower, taking stock of a situation even if it's as simple as getting out of a hotel shuttle.

Hey, anyone wanna let me sit on the hood of their car while they park?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Workout Wednesday WHAAAAT

So I did this workout routine last week and afterwards I was delightfully sore in the three main areas: arms, trunk, and legs.

Hey, so I just used an Oxford comma there. I'm not really a fan, because I don't know why, but I'm just not. However I read this cool essay Todd wrote on Tai Chi and he is apparently a fan and uses them. I found that fascinating! It's nice to know that even after eight years you will still learn things about your spouse. I also just forgot how to spell fascinating for a hot second there.

Anyways! I have another workout that I've posted here, that I un-affectionately refer to as The Ballbuster, that is similar format of 10 moves, 50 seconds a move with 10 seconds rest, completed a total of three times. It sucks.

This one though, you guys, I love! The other workout had some really tough upper body stuff back to back to back and my form suffered significantly by the time the third round rolled around, and that is a recipe for injury.

So here is one that I actually enjoyed! Start your clock and at the 10 second mark, start the exercise and keep it up for 50 seconds. Lather, rinse, and repeat. OXFORRRRRD

Around the World (grab a weight or medicine ball and hold hip height to the right of your body. Swing up to the left above your head, circling once like a halo before lowering and bringing down to the left of your body, hip height; repeat going the other way - this works everything if you use everything to stabilize)

Abs (any ab work you like; after lots of different stuff I've found that crunches on an exercise ball with my butt as high up as possible will never fail to exhaust both upper and lower abs)

Burpees (the devil's playground)

Sumo Squats with 7lb weight (squat down with the weight grasped between two hands; push up quickly with your weight in your heels, swinging the weight to the right as you lift your left knee as high as is comfortable to counterbalance. Squat down and repeat on the other side)

Pushups (the devil's mistress)

Butts Up! (lie on your back with your lower calves and feet resting on a medicine ball. Dig your heels into the ball, lift your hips and pull the ball in towards your ass, then slowly return the ball to start position. Do not drop your hips. If you get tired, keep your hips up and ball in start position and just pulse your hips up, squeezing your ass as you go)

Shoulder Press (I have two different weights so that if I get tired I can do down to the set that's a couple of pounds lighter and not slow down too much)

Plank (the devil's nightmare)

Weight Punch Shuffle (with weights in hand, do a sort of shadowbox routine. Punch with the right fist, with your arm crossing over your body towards the left. Twist your torso to follow the movement and put your right foot back as you punch with the right, and vice versa. Go as quickly as you can and play around with your rhythm to have fun)

Backwards Lunge (pretty self explanatory. I like backwards lunges because I really have to concentrate on placement and go pretty slowly; that way I can avoid injury since I already have a fussy knee)

Anyways, it's by no means easy but I think I figured out a really good order for the moves so that while you're always tired, you're never wiped out, and therefore can finish all three rounds. Happy sweating!

Friday, January 31, 2014


I haven't posted in forever, because I am not quite sure what I want to post about. Some stuff has happened, some big, most of it small, but I haven't really felt like sharing. Wait, let me back up. I have felt like sharing, but I have lost a bit of courage in sharing something in particular, because it involves a serious topic, one that is frequently the center of vicious, passionate debate, mostly by people who aren't even involved in the issue at hand.

Oh, hell. Let's talk. It's a Friday, I got paid, and tonight I'm having pizza and red wine for dinner. All in all, a pretty good day, so whatever, right? Let's do this.

What I'm talking about is same sex marriage and the reason that I hesitated to mention it on here is because it isn't my story to tell, not really, just like it's really not anyone's business what grown ups do in their bedrooms or at the court house or at the altar. I guess you can tell where I stand on this issue, and let me tell you, my rainbow flag flies high and proud.

It's the story of my godfathers, Bob and Jeff, and my family and I were lucky enough and honored and blessed to attend their wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, on the rooftop of an old hotel under a breezy San Diego sky before sunset. And that sunset struck me, in a bittersweet way, because Bob and Jeff are in their seventies. They had to wait this long, close to the sunset of life, to get to marry one another. That makes me want to cry.

I am, however, immensely proud that my daughter was a flower girl, the only one that walked down the aisle aside from my godfathers. I'm so proud she was part of, in my opinion, a little sliver of history, part of this union that took 45 years before it could come to fruition. Bob and Jeff, hands clasped, vows on their lips, friends and family behind them. Two partners standing in dappled sunlight that shone on the silver of their hair, the silver that should not have been there on their wedding day. Theirs should have been dark heads of hair above strong, youthful shoulders that had yet to carry the weight of the world upon them. They should have been married nearly half a century ago, but for some ridiculous reason it has been denied them until now.

I don't care how you feel about gay marriage. Get your own blog if you want to complain about it. I just wanted to put my thoughts out there, share my happiness that they were finally wed after so many decades, my sorrow that it took that many decades, and pride that I was there, that I saw it, that my kid danced to disco with family and friends, and with a bunch of amazing gay men who dressed much better than I and I don't care how stereotypical that sounds, because I did NOT match a rhinestone brooch to my burgundy suit jacket.

So, 16,425 toasts to you, Bob and Jeff, one for every day of your 45 years together.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Do You Remember When 21 Was Old?

Apparently I've been inspired by music lately. I'm listening to Phoenix's "Countdown" and in it is the line above: Do you remember when 21 was old?

And so much of me responded instantly. My emotions, my heart, my memories, my wistful smile. Because I DO remember when 21 felt So Grown Up. So OLD. My GOD I'm 21, I'm so old, how did I live this long? And it's not even medieval times.

I'm 34 now and I know everyone older, even by a year, will be all "OH BUT YOU ARE SO YOUNG" and I know that, I feel that way. I've been the person I am my whole life, so I still identify as a 10 year old, 15 year old, 20 year old and so on. Luckily for me, I will always feel young. Anyone else, or is that just me? I mean, the root of my name means youthful, so maybe I'm one of the lucky ones, who knows.

I hate, though, how people are so eager to over-age themselves, to edge themselves out of the game, so to speak, by claiming old age, even though they're only 28, 32, 45 or so on. I hear from a lot of 65 year olds how they wish they could be 50 again. So if a 50 year old ever tells me "Oh well, I am too old for that sort of thing," then I am going to be like, "Girl, there are a ton of 60 year olds that want to slap the shit out of you."
But then here's another thing, I do tend to look back on my 20s wistfully. I miss those years because my God man, they were fun and they flew by way too quickly. Sure, they were tumultuous and full of emotion because that is what youth is for. Remember your first crush? I LOVE HIM FOREVER MOMMY I WILL NEVER WANT TO LET HIM hey what's on Nickelodeon right now?

So, my point is, I'm already looking back on the first chunk of my 30s with some nostalgia and... not sorrow but perhaps regret that I lived it too quickly, always waiting for the weekend to roll around, for summer, for Christmas, for a party, for my pregnancy to end so I could meet my child, for the newborn stage to finish up already so I can just fucking GO TO SLEEP, and so on and so forth.

Todd and I joke around about how by Tuesday evening, the week is over. I stay home Wednesdays and Thursdays, so those days fly by for both of us: Todd works those days so they're jam packed. Mine are busy with chores and spending quality time for Alex, and that makes them sweep along all too quickly for me, as well. And then it's Friday. And then we take a deep breath, and suddenly it's 2014, my child will be in preschool soon and will be four years old in as many months.

I'll be 40 before I know it, then 50, 60, 70 and so forth. I just hope I'm not constantly looking backwards, being nostalgic, wishing I could go back. I want to look forward too, but also make sure I look around, appreciate every little minute of my life, and appreciate that right there on THAT DAY, whatever day it is, is the youngest I'll ever be for the rest of my life, that I am in the sunrise of the rest of my life, the spring, never the summer, never the autumn, never sunset, and not think about growing older, time passing by so damn quickly, as it is wont to do. I will always be the most vigorous version of myself, for however much more time I'm awarded.

I wish I could live forever, I do. Sounds immature, lacking in wisdom? Remember, my name means youthful! But since I can't, I guess I can just try to live it as much in the present as I can, with as much enthusiasm as I had when I was a baby of 21, but with better skin and a better credit rating.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We'll Always Have Paris.

There's this great song I heard the other day, driving Todd's truck since he took the Child Friendly Vehicle to Alexandra's dance class. It's called Paris, by Magic Man.

I sat in the driveway, transfixed by its beauty, engine off because Todd's truck is so cool that the radio still plays when you shut the truck off. Finally I memorized the name of both song and artist (GOD JIL IT IS THREE WORDS) and then enthusiastically ran into the house to share with Todd my new found musical treasure.

"Babe, I just heard the coolest song and I have to buy it!" I say, putting my sunglasses on the mantle by the door, kicking off my flats because UGH THEY HURT MY FEET SO BAD GOD FLATS UGH.

"Oh yeah? What's the song?" he says from the kitchen, where he is enjoying a quick snack before teaching Kung Fu.

"It's this song by Magic Man, called "Paris" and I wanna buy it," I say, rounding the corner right into the kitchen, where I come face to face with a grinning husband.

"Too late, because I already bought that song two weeks ago."

And then we high five, because love and awesomeness and we are perfect together, and because that's not even the first time that's happened.

I'm sure loads of people will be all "we love the same stuff too," and that's great. But for me, I think about how my favorite band will always be Pixies and Todd's will always be Metallica; I know that those dudes do from time to time scream on the same intensity level, but they're still pretty different. I mean, has James Hetfield ever sung about how birds dream of the Olympus Mons? (Did I lose you yet, mom?) Anyways, taking that into consideration, and simultaneously considering the overwhelming amount of music out there, especially when you have Sirius and Pandora to explore instead of the singular playlist of 10 songs that every goddamn radio station seems to glance off of, it feels pretty spectacular when it happens to us.

The first time this sort of thing occurred, Todd and I were pretty new to iTunes. We also had yet to buy Sirius, which we have on Todd's truck, which has an option to hit "info," which tells you the name of the band and of the song. WHICH WHICH WHICH

 So we're Googling away on a Saturday night, trying to remember lyrics of songs we'd heard on the radio. I wanted one song, he, another.

Me: "It's like, "baby cause I'm yelling at you, it's not your fault, it's not your fault, yeah"


Todd: "I don't know, it's just sort of slow and dark and I think he says "sail!" a lot."

Well, we Googled it, and for those who know, well, you know, but those who aren't, not only did both songs happen to be by the band Awolnation, but they also happened to be on the same album. They sound so different, those songs, but our interest in one band dovetailed, unbeknownst to us, during that search.

We did a high five that night, too.

I don't know, I just love those moments, however simple and arbitrary, where God or the universe or both take over in order to say, "Hey, it's a good thing y'all met on that sidewalk eight years ago. Because you're perfect for each other. It took us some time, but we moved your worlds so they'd collide. Enjoy the soundtrack."