Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pics & Things

Here are the delicious tamales that Middlebrow and I assembled with our own hands. It was labor intensive, but delicious. Also, these are the new plates my mom gave us for our birthdays.

We decorated the cookies! And they were the best Christmas cookies ever. Notice the kangaroo. We have two kinds of cookie cutters: Christmas and animals. We used both.

The Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake. Delicious for Christmas breakfast.

Middlebrow is manly. He got an Ops Knife ("not a weapon. For use as a tool only.") and some binoculars. If you have any Special Ops, he's the man for the job.

The post-present mess. The table is filled with Son's presents. MB is wearing the Smartwool running shirt I gave him. We had a Smartwool Christmas at our house. I also gave him Smartwool running socks and he gave me a sweater. Warm and toasty, but soft.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Foodah Update

Well, yet again the cooking and baking brought me to the edge of a Nervous Breakdown. But, in talking to MB about why, I discovered it's not that I don't like doing it, it's that I want everyone to be as excited about it as I am. And they just can't be. But I convinced MB to help me with the tamales today, and to at least pretend that he was as into it as I was.
Son only likes cutting out, frosting and eating the cookies. Therefore he couldn't be bothered to help me mix yesterday. Also, his finger hurt. So I had to do the mixing myself, which made me testy. Why do I do it if no one cares? Later, of course, I realized they do care, but not about the same stages I do. Also, I'm the mom, which requires that I do the non-glamorous parts of the job.
Yesterday I also cooked the pork and made the red chile sauce for the tamales. Then today I shredded the pork, cooked and shredded the chicken, and prepared the chicken filling. MB did help with mixing the dough and making/rolling the tamales. He was a good sport.
Then we could finally relax while the tamales steamed. I made some rice. We bought refried beans at Rico yesterday, so we were prepared for the meal. I was going to make a salad, but I let that go.
Verdict: delicious! The fancy (golden raisins and sherry, olives, poblano chile) chicken filling was too much for MB, though he liked it. He preferred the more basic pork filling. Both were great, and we have about 29 tamales left, so I'm putting some in the freezer for our normal lives when we don't make such labor intensive meals. (I'll post some pics later)
But I'm glad we made tamales! And I'm glad we're done!
Tomorrow we eat leftovers and veggies and that salad. But now I have to make frosting so Son can do what he does best: frost his little heart out (and cover the breakfast nook in sugar, etc.).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Present

I was going to go shopping with Son for Middlebrow, but then it started snowing. I also need some instant espresso powder for the glaze I'm supposed to put on the cake I made for Son's teacher (for tomorrow). But apparently it's snowing like crazy outside, so instead I'll post a picture of the adorable wrapping job that Son did on my present. And maybe a picture from our sub-zero snowshoeing trip last weekend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Presents

The best thing ever happened to me: Son bought me a Christmas present and wrapped it himself. I'm not sure what is better: the gift, or the wrapping. I don't really want to open it because if I do, that's it, the end of the first present Son ever wrapped for me. It's adorable. He just slathered it in paper and taped it together and then wrapped some ribbon around it and taped it. It's so cute! I love it! The best present ever! I don't even care what it is!
The other best present: dinner with the girls at Martine. Delicious! We had...what? Chorizo and red peppers with polenta(so good), portabello mushroom stuffed with shrimp (also good), clams with some kind of red sauce (also the best!), lamb meatballs, scallops and so much more! (i.e., red wine)
Then I came home and there was another present for me!! And MB had organized the whole house. We went to IKEA again on Monday for shelves and other organizational aids, so our house is basically tip-top.
Actually it's warm and cozy and very Christmasy.
We will make sugar cookies on Saturday, maybe other cookies on Sunday (MB's diet really interferes with the baking!), and tamales on Saturday. Then maybe some kind of meat, etc, for Christmas. Oh! I also want to make a cranberry cake for Christmas morning! We'll see how that goes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My World

Today I did all kinds of pre-Christmas errands, and some things that are not covered by that name.
  1. Ate breakfast at Over The Counter. Yum! A Spanish Omelet with home fries and sourdough toast. Delicious.
  2. Bought Son some gifts (neither beer nor vodka).
  3. Went to Toys R Us. Bad idea! It was the lunch hour and everyone else was there too. At least we weren't buying some $349 mini Ranger Rover (or whatever!) like the guy in front of us. I felt most sorry for the under-trained cashier. It's hard out there. You know.
  4. Searched the house for my Christmas card list. Did not find it.
  5. Wrote out a few Christmas cards.
  6. Bought all the stuff to make Chex mix and 7 Layer Bars. Must choose which to make first. (I made the 7 Layer Bars and then the Chex mix, which is still in the oven. Two down!)
  7. Saw two local figures at neighborhood Smiths (Ed Smart and Dooce. At least I think it was her.)
  8. Bought fixings for healthy dinner to counteract the sugar and spice of Christmas season. This week we are eating rice and veggies. Really! Oh, and tofu.
  9. Burned and ripped some CDs. On our new "simplifying" plan we are trying to rid the upstairs of CDs. I am ripping what we want (and we will store those downstairs) and the rest go to wherever obsolete technology goes to die (that would be in the basement with my cassette tapes!).
  10. Found green wool blanket that will serve as tree skirt. Present count: Son 9 (not including stocking stuffers or unwrapped booty). Me: 1 stocking stuffer (from my mom!) and Middlebrow 1 (from his family gift exchange person). I can see how this Christmas is shaping up....
  11. Weighed myself. (Big mistake!! Do not do this!! Wait until January 1!! or 2!!)
Well. I must finish my Christmas cards, rip more CDs, and make some rice for dinner. Happy shopping.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I can't get my mind organized to come up with a coherent theme for this list, so I will just call it Things.
  1. Don't run errands on your birthday. I made the mistake of going to the Pharmacy to pick up my prescription and it made me crabby, because of the intricacies of health insurance and compounds.
  2. IKEA is fun, but it's exhausting, and apparently it's inevitable that you will fight with your spouse while trying to load the large, unwieldy flat packages containing the bookcases you will soon assemble onto the cart that is too narrow.
  3. Tequila is fun, but too much is not fun. Note to self: do not drink too much tequila.
  4. If you don't bake the cake, you won't have one. I was too tired to bake a cake either for myself or for MB. Maybe tomorrow.
  5. Movies are good, but sometimes they are just excuses to fire guns and smash cars into one another. (Bourne Ultimatum). Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  6. MB likes the Miriam & Amadou album I downloaded last year and listened to all around Spain. I guess he never listened to it. It's fun. And it's in French!
  7. Hugh Grant is the best lead in a romantic comedy. Sometimes you just need to watch a romantic comedy and forget about grading and life, etc. (Love Actually)
  8. Chinese food is good for what ails you. (Little World)
  9. MB and I had a fine, but ultimately disappointing breakfast this morning. We will use one of Son's remaining school days to go out for breakfast again.
  10. MB has now assembled and secured the new bookshelves. He is filling them with books right. now. I am watching. His OCD-ness is emerging.
  11. Today we received our first box of Christmas gifts from out of state. Son enjoyed unpacking the box and reading the names off the presents. My mom sent me something for my stocking. It was shaped kind of like a bottle. Son said, "What is this mom? Is it vodka?"
  12. I'm really tired. I'm going to go to bed early.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Science of Sleep: A Review

MB and I watched "The Science of Sleep" last night. It took a bit of convincing, because Middlebrow is usually in favor, believe it or not, of a more lowbrow kind of entertainment. I'm not sure how I convinced him, perhaps with my love for Gael Garcia Bernal, but he agreed.
Now, first I just have to say that visually the movie was stunning and really interesting, perhaps one of the more aesthetically interesting I've seen. And parts of it were very funny. I'm thinking especially of the scenes where Stephane has huge hands. And when he's driving the cardboard car.
But, overall, I can't say I loved it. I didn't dislike it. But mostly I have to say I was confused. I realize that Stephane, the main character, was also confused. And it wasn't just that I was confused about what was dream and what was reality, but that I was never quite sure of the narrative. Does he like Stephanie, and does she like him? That seems like a really important base for the movie, but it's never quite clear.
My critique of this movie reminded me of a criticism of one of my professors (Omar Castaneda) on a story I wrote in an undergraduate workshop. He said, "These people are boring, but if you write about them in a boring way to convey they are boring, then you are boring the reader." Actually, I don't think they were boring, but I probably was writing about them in a boring way.
In any case, this is my point about the confusion. Stephane is confused, but if he's presented in a confusing way then the viewer is confused. I think the narrative could have been more "transparent" and by that I mean that we could see that Stephane was confused, but perhaps we could have been a little less confused than him. I think this would have increased my sympathy for him as a character. As it was, MB thought he was mentally ill. I thought maybe he just had a sleep disorder. But he was mean to Stephanie, and I was never sure what their relationship was. Was he a mean friend or a mean lover? It does matter.
In any case, I did like many things about it. But as a "story" it was not satisfying. I, too, am not enamored of the inconclusive ending.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Things to Do on a Snowy Day

Not necessarily in this order. But maybe.
  1. Sleep in.
  2. Drink green tea.
  3. Skip breakfast. Still full from last night's late night pizza (leftovers from Son and Babysitter)
  4. Try to finish the novel I'm reading (The Post-Birthday World)
  5. Shovel the walk/driveway/sidewalk in less than ten minutes
  6. Drive to Lone Star for lunch (because who doesn't need a burrito and the world's best iced tea?)
  7. Make second trip to Steve & Barry's (for gifts, sweater and vest for self, t-shirt for Son, sweater for MB)
  8. Stop by Red Balloon (more gifts, Playmobil Advent Calendar for Son)
  9. Finish book on drive home (more on this later)
  10. Put together advent calendar for Son
  11. Watch Son open days 1-8 in less than 5 minutes
  12. Wander around the house wondering what to do
  13. Read everyone's blog, comment on blogs, click links on blogs, surf
  14. Watch Son constructing new knight scenarios with calendar booty and castle stuff from two Christmases ago
  15. Drink some 7-Up
  16. Stare into space
  17. Laundry?
  18. Think about making more rice to go with curry leftovers from Thursday
  19. Consider the movie viewing options for the evening ("The Science of Sleep")
  20. Finally give in and grade a few Creative Nonfiction portfolios
  21. Sigh

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cultural Diversity: Yes, it exists!

I love to go to the Asian Market in town. Mostly because I know that soon after I will be enjoying some delicious food.
Today at the Asian Market I had one of those experiences that made me do a double take. I was wandering around the aisles looking for curry paste and bamboo shoots when I heard a man ask, "Finito?" I looked up to see an older Asian gentleman talking to the young Latino boy who worked there. The boy gestured to the cart he was pushing and said, "Si, finito."
Sometimes I think I live in a place that is not all that diverse. Other times, like today, I'm amazed how much mixing of cultures takes place, in many small ways, every day. This experience made me feel nostalgic for all the times I traveled overseas: my first trip out of the US to Korea, my vacation in Thailand, backpacking around Europe, last Christmas in Spain.
There is something wonderfully alienating about being in a place where everything is new: the food, the language, the culture. There is also something awesome (in the literal sense) about being immersed in another world.
After I witnessed this exchange, I wandered the aisles just looking at everything. I love the unfamiliar smells: the sharp tang of unknown spices; the mixing (in the aisles) of food from many cultures, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian; the strange flavors of potato chips (shrimp!); the delightful confections (Pocky!).
When I first moved here, I drove all over town one day looking for ingredients for Thai food: galangal, lime leaves, Thai basil. Now I go to one place. The superstores of Asian markets. I haven't been there in awhile. I guess curry is really a winter food.
But this holiday season, I plan on trying to cook big meals from all the kinds of food I love: an Indian curry, Mexican tamales, and probably at least one more Thai curry.
I'm thankful I live in a city with such a diverse selection of food (and restaurants)!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And Finally....Some Good News!

In addition to being my last day of composition teaching this semester (hooray! hooray! F**ing hooray!), I received some very, very, VERY good news today. My manuscript is at the publisher's, and the much anticipated, very delayed letter has been typed up. AND my manuscript actually went to first readers two weeks ago. I am so very, very, VERY relieved. I think I already celebrated last night, before I knew, with a few glasses of wine (Tuesdays can be hard!) and a few episodes of "Weeds." (The verdict: already addicted, already in love with M.L.P.)
So, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. And then get grading so I can actually celebrate next week when I am done with everything and I turn 29. Again.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

In Which I Announce I Have Nothing to Say

I took a day off from blogging, which was nice. And also a day off from pretty much everything else. I sat on the couch and watched it snow and drank green tea. I didn't leave the house until 3 pm, when I walked around with Son and then went to the store.
Then, as MB said, we went to the play "Billion Dollar Baby." I too thought it was funny. It was amusing. Kind of a play within a play, as the character is writing an essay about "one person plays" and it was a one person play. And a reference to another play by the same playwright. It looked effortless, the play, and I thought, "Hey! I should write a play!" Maybe I will. Who knows.
Today we got a tree from a local place and put it up. We got lights on it, and approximately six ornaments before Son's bedtime. I promised he could decorate it tomorrow.
When I was a kid we got the tree on my birthday, which I suppose was meant to mitigate the fact that my birthday often got lost in the Christmas mania. And I think I did look forward to getting the tree and cake on the same day. Wow!
But it was fun, the tree getting. It looks a bit lopsided, but we'll fix that tomorrow, I suppose.
Right now we are listening to the new Holiday music I just downloaded from iTunes. (Right now it's Aimee Mann). I also got Diana Krall and Bing Crosby. We already had Christmas with the Rat Pack and some Barbra Streisand.
I'm so looking forward to the last week of school. Love it.
And now, having said I had nothing to say, I find that I did. Sort of.