Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

"If every time it came to the New Year, you had to change everything, like buy new dogs, buy new cats, buy new clothes, buy new everything, that would be very annoying. I would hate to change everything, I like things this way, we have some very rare stuff."-Griffin

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve is here, and it's getting very festive at our house!

Yesterday I was in the kitchen w/a million eggs. Bûche de Fug...


Now I'm off to the market to get everything for our supper.
Love to my friends around the world, and sleep well tonight, knowing the world is being protected from aliens by this band of brothers.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So happy!

Just looking at these pictures calms me down.

Lucky loves so much to swim and romp around on the beach. Troy took him for a boat ride and then they combed the little island in the bay. I should have gone! But I was at home stressing about stupid stuff -- such a waste of time!
Lucky came home so content, and when I saw these pictures, I realized I'd made the wrong choice today (and so many days!). When will I learn?
It makes me happy to see my beautiful, loving dog -- who does nothing but give me happiness -- so happy!
Pure pleasure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Haute water

The repair of our fridge coincided with the discovery of this beautiful Christian Lacroix-designed Evian bottle at Target.

Isn't it pretty? And so cold & delicious.
I remain committed to San Pellegrino (bit of an addict), but do have a weak spot for French luxury goods.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Friday

The nutcracker.

Here's Friday frozen in an "Uh-oh" moment (that's similar to an Oprah "Ah-ha" moment) after frolicking with a hazelnut from the holiday nut bowl. He's not really sure about its legitimacy as a chew toy -- is he going to get a lecture?
What he should be pondering is whether or not it's a great idea to wake me up at 3:16 a.m. to go outside on a Sniffabout.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Distillery update

Troy & his Dad have been working like madmen this month! Here's Jim working on the platform & stairs that they're building behind the tanks.

Lucky & Grif guarding the lumber.

Yesterday, Troy had his final interview w/the Feds in the process of being granted a license. If all goes well, we may have rum by January.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My hero!!

The fridge is fixed!!!!
I am SO happy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bad haircuts

Poor Bert & Ernie!
They got haircuts this morning. Bad haircuts.
Look at Bert's face: slightly traumatized. I think we've all been there.
The sad part is, I couldn't say, "Don't worry! It'll grow back!"
Ernie looks like the Marc Jacobs of Sesame Street.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Here we go!

Packages are arriving and departing. Bubble wrap turns out to be one of those very simple pleasures we've been discussing. I should just fill everyone's stocking with reams of it!

Baking biscotti.

Pretty plants & shiny ornaments.

Lights shimmering & reflecting.

Palms bedecked.

The nutcracker.

Arches strewn with lights.

Books we're putting on hold until after the 25th.

It's getting exciting!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lucky says

What's with all the Friday bullshit?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Day 18, no fridge

Continuing on the theme of a simple life, we're now on the 18th day of having no refrigerator. I'm not handling it as well as Ma Ingalls would.

Troy has taken it upon himself to order the Mother Board, which cost $100 -- not $700 as the Scary Repairman reported when he advised me to authorize his $1,000 repair job. Scary Repairman was the second "professional" to check out the fridge. I was just glad when he left that he didn't kill me and hide my body in the empty side-by-side.
The first repairman, Sheldon, seemed definitely more trustworthy, but he was just in way over his head. He looked at the compressor for an hour and just kept shaking his head. Towards the end of his visit, he asked Troy if we were church-goers. At the time, I couldn't figure out what he was getting at -- was he wondering why we have so many kids? Now I'm starting to think it was his subtle way of suggesting that we pray for a miracle.
The third repairman arrived when I was just pulling out of the driveway. Troy was home, and when I saw that repairman's truck pull up, I burned rubber down the road because I couldn't handle being involved in another clusterfuck. When I returned, he was gone and Troy said that I hadn't missed anything; #3 was clueless, too.
I know it's probably hard to muster sympathy, b/c you're probably thinking: why don't you just go buy a new refrigerator?
But you see, the one we have is built in, and so it's a strange size, and it's significantly cheaper to fix it rather than replace it. I'm constantly trying to pare down, and can't bring myself to buy a second refrigerator (assuming this main one can be saved).
So every day, we buy a bag of ice for $1.79 and I've pretty much thrown out all the condiments, as time has ticked by, save for the Tabasco sauce. Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. I buy frozen items that the boys like in small packages (like blueberries) so they can eat them right away. No storing!

Troy confessed the other night that he kind of likes the simplicity of living out of the cooler. Any charm has worn off for me. Tonight we're going to a party and I know there's going to be some good food passed around, like crabcakes, but I am most excited about the prospect of drinking a cold drink with fresh ice cubes that don't come out of a dubious plastic bag. I just want to shovel clean ice down my gullet. (You know how we Americans are about our icy cold drinks -- if I'm going to quaff a room-temperature beverage, I want it to be because I'm sitting on a tuffet in Morocco.)
The mother board is supposed to arrive Wednesday, and the hope is that it is the one & only board that needs replacing, not it + any of the other four boards in the compressor.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Friday Pt. II

After experiencing my shopping paralysis, I was telling my friend that I wish we could just give everyone we liked a pretty pencil. And a book & an orange. Just a nice way to to say, "Merry Christmas."
When my Mom was a little girl, one Christmas, during WWII, all she and her three sisters got was an orange each!
I love reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's, "Christmas in the Big Woods," to my boys, b/c everything is so beautiful and simple. For Christmas, the girls get red mittens & peppermint sticks -- and Laura gets a doll. And they're all so happy!

Friday thinks pencils are fun & tasty.

Friday Friday

Friday and I are overwhelmed by Christmas shopping. Last night I got stuck in a loop online, and somehow ended up going through a string of preppy blogs, where lots of things are monogrammed...and clipboards seem to be popular. What do they do with those clipboards? Make lists? I need to get organized!
I don't know why this vid comes up black, but press play for commentary.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cardmember since last week

Today, I took the boys out to lunch and to see Santa. We went to the Nordstrom cafe -- where nothing bad can ever happen! -- and had a very pleasant meal together. Everyone ate their food, nobody spazzed out, and it was all good. Well, I did have to threaten them through clenched teeth several times to "stop it!" And I ordered a Chardonnay alongside my peach iced tea. But other than that, everything went smoothly.
At Nordstrom cafes, you order at the outset and pay, then you're seated, and at the end of the meal, your server, with whom you have minimal contact, gives you a copy of the bill as a friendly little reminder, and you leave a tip.
I only had three dollars on me, but I knew that my 5-year-old had a pocket full of dollar bills, so I asked him if I could have two. He said no.
So I asked again.
He said no.
So I pleaded, and promised that I'd pay him back when we got home. "Just two dollars!" I whined.
I could've gotten a billion-dollar bail-out easier from some people. We stared each other down, me furrowing my brow.
In a sort of exasperated manner, he reached into his trouser pocket and said, "Hang on, let me get my credit card."
He had one of those fake American Express cards that they send you when they solicit your business in the mail! And it was platinum. I wonder if he can get us fake concert tickets to a fake Streisand show.

Just to clarify: the goal of the day was to shop for Christmas presents, so his money was from his birthday stash -- all $1 dollar bills + the AmEx Platinum. Yet the boys deemed Nordstrom and the entire International Plaza, save for RadioShack, unsuitable and boring. "There's only clothes here. Aren't we going to Target?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving preparations

Our refrigerator died on Saturday, and no one knows how to fix it, so for the past few days, we've been living out of coolers on the veranda, and that doesn't look likely to change anytime soon. The ever-vigilant Friday has been on duty, and woke me up several times last night, beginning at 2:45.

There's no chance any critters will get near our coolers with Friday on patrol. But it means I didn't get much quality sleep, either.
Knowing that I was going to be challenged this Thanksgiving, I decided to make life easier on myself and order our Thanksgiving pies from Yoder's, which is a restaurant run by Mennonites. The Mennonites make awesome pies. I have always made my own pies, and am very picky, but Yoder's pies are so delicious, I feel fine about relying on them.
Today is pie pick-up day, and Yoder's is a madhouse all day long, so Wyatt & I decided that our strategy would be to hit the ground early and arrive when the restaurant opened at 8:00 a.m. Having made numerous trips outside w/Friday, I woke up late, so of course needed a good cappuccino before leaving, and Wyatt needed breakfast.
And then I noticed I needed to fill up the car -- 8:18 running late!

Once we arrived at Yoder's, we saw that everything was under control. There were three pick-up windows open -- one for cash-only.

The girls were so sweet & friendly, and organized.

We had a laugh at the massive amounts of whipped cream they go through! The women have been baking for days, obviously.

Check out that mixing bowl!

We then made our way over to Fresh Market to get everything for tommorrow's feast. Wyatt & I loved the little cranberry bog.

Lots of gorgeous displays.

Pretty glacé fruit...but we'll save that for Christmas.

Since I had to hold off until today to buy my turkey, I ended up w/a massive 19-pounder, the "smallest" one they had left. Oh well. I'll give some to the guard dog, maybe the tryptophan will kick in and he'll conk out and let me get some sleep over the next few days.

I'm excited about Thanksgiving, I think it'll be really nice. If you're celebrating, I wish you & your family & friends a very Happy Day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gingerbread boys & Labradors

We've lived in this house almost three years, and I should probably be embarrassed that I'm still unpacking boxes, but...what can I say? I'm slow. The other day I found a box that contained my cookie cutters, and was thrilled. Good timing!
I actually don't really like baking, and am not very good at it, but I woke up determined to make gingerbread boys for the boys -- they love them.
I used the recipe from the Martha Stewart's Cookies book, which is really fantastic, and would make a great gift for people to bake cookies. Wyatt gave it to me for Mother's Day, as a present/hint.
We usually have a stern rule about not playing Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, but have bagged it this year (something I'll probably be regretting by December 5th), and listened to it for hours. I would like to note that this is the first year since my Mom died that I can listen to songs from Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" cd and not want to jump off a cliff.

Cut-out cookies are the most laborious, aren't they? Maybe my "baking problem" stems from my impatience. I dropped an entire baked tray during a poorly executed transfer from counter to counter. Merde!
I made gingerbread boys, Labradors, stars, and one gingerbread woman (the queen). It looks like some of the "boys" morphed into gingerbread aliens.

Alas, I had no Mutt cutter to make a "Friday." Look at his intense expression! "Drop it! Drop it!" And Lucky is so polite.

The smell of gingerbread cookies baking was sublime, and after eating a couple cookies each, the boys ran off. All except for Cooper, who sat next to me in a chair, and fell asleep while I was reading and waiting for the oven timer to ding. Then it started to rain outside, and it was just a perfect moment in time -- and I was sooo appreciative.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Pistachio

A rose that likes the sun.

Today I found this hybrid tea rose to plant in my garden in memory of Pi.

All around the world, she is thought of and missed, and will be remembered.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Charleston ghost story

"All Southern tales are like intricate recipes -- part myth, part truth, and part lies."-Michael Lee West

This is a Lettered Olive (Oliva Sayana), a symbol and the official shell of the state of South Carolina. Prolific along the South Carolina coast, it was found and named in 1834 by Dr. Edmund Ravenel, who was an early pioneer in conchology. The "lettered" part of the name stems from the appearance of fine markings, resembling hieroglyphics, on the shell's surface.
Ravenel is a prominent family name in Charleston, and the doctor had a house and small practice out on Sullivan's Island, a tiny barrier island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Legend has it that Dr. Ravenel's young daughter, Anna, met a U.S. army soldier named Edgar Perry, who was stationed out at Ft. Moultrie on the island, and the two fell in love.
Perry, who was born in Boston, had enlisted under a false name due to his young age, a common practice amongst young men throughout history.
While Perry progressed rapidly through the ranks, advancing from private to sergeant major, his position as a soldier -- and a Yankee -- deemed him an entirely unacceptable as a suitor for Anna. Dr. Ravenel forbid his daughter to see Perry, but she ignored her father's orders and continued to spend time with the Perry.
The discovery of the couple's ongoing relationship incensed Dr. Ravenel, who reacted by secreting Anna away, some say locking her in her room for an extended period.

Perry, who had achieved the highest rank possible for a non-commissioned officer, sought an early end to his enlistment, and in doing so, confessed his real name to his commanding officer. His true name was Edgar Allen Poe.
Poe was discharged from service, and returned to his family up North, while the forlorn Anna, still sequestered, weakened, contracted yellow fever and died. When Poe heard the tragic news about Anna, he immediately travelled back down to Charleston, hoping to pay respects to the girl he had loved, but a bitter Dr. Ravenel refused him the opportunity, vowing that there would never be a grave for Poe to visit.

The Ravenels have a family plot in the cemetery of the Charleston Unitarian Church, and were said to have buried Anna there in an unmarked grave as a final familial rebuke of Poe. Although they always denied this act, they never would reveal where Anna was buried, and to this day she is renown as one of the famous ghosts of Charleston, who occasionally haunts the churchyard.

Poe would go on to become much more famous than any Ravenel, and in 1843 published a short story called, "The Gold Bug," a tale involving code deciphering and buried treasure, set on Sullivan's Island. One of his final pieces of writing, before his death at the age of 40, was the sad poem about -- possibly -- Anna Ravenel, titled, "Annabel Lee."

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.