Saturday, September 27, 2008

Madame Charlotte!

Among the divine desserts ("puddings?") Rachel made during our visit, was a charlotte. A chocolate-raspberry charlotte.
It was so delicious!
I've been meaning to learn how to make one of these for some time, and have procrastinated, so it was great to see Rachel demonstrate how it's done. Like having a front seat at a cooking show.
The recipe comes from Rachel's friend's mother (who is French, so I consider this methode authoritative), and calls for soaking the Ladyfingers in rum & water. With no rum on hand (can you imagine?), we used brandy instead. The charlotte mould is lined with the biscuits, and then filled with a chocolate mousse. Some fresh raspberries were also sunk into the mix.

So pretty! It tasted as good as it looks!

Cooper loved it so much, he was giddy. Or tipsy from the brandy. Or hyper from the chocolate.

Whatever the case, he would've married Rachel if she weren't already taken.
I've been given the assignment, by my instructor, to make a charlotte within one month. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

These shoes rule. These shoes suck.

Cooper and I got back from Montreal Sunday night. We had a great time, and received royal treatment from our friends.
Travelling w/Cooper proved to be slightly less civilized, at times, than travelling with his older brothers, but he was well-behaved most of the time.

A Canadian Customs official lectured me about travelling alone with my son without a note of permission from his father. I've never run into this before, and was shocked! First of all, if I were going to kidnap one of my sons, it probably wouldn't be the three-year-old. I mean, he's still in diapers, and is susceptible to meltdowns. Secondly, I wouldn't hide out in Canada; way too cold.
After admonishing me for my carelessness, the woman asked me what I did for a living, and who paid for my trip. She asked where "the father" was, and if we could reach him. I told her she could call him if she wanted, and stood there wondering why nobody had alerted me to the need to bring a permission slip. I was also glad I didn't have any heroin in my pants. I wondered if I was going to be escorted to a room for questioning, but apparently, I just needed to stand there and be good & quiet while the woman asked me personal questions. Then she let me into her country.
It's good that people are on the look-out for illegal activity, but I think that if the concern over kidnappings, parental and otherwise, has reached this point, then perhaps governments should lay down a law and inform people about what legal documents they might need. Otherwise it feels a little like random harassment. Or at least it did to me, because of her tone.
On Wednesday, I went to this new chiropractor who was recommended to me. This is the second time I've seen her, and the last, because I've decided I can't stand her. She is one of those seemingly conceited-yet-insecure types, who asks all these questions about your life and then compares her life to your life, like it's a competition.
I had wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but now the jury is in, and she's way too annoying. This week, she asked me if I worked, and then went off on a tangent about how, being a mom is such hard work...but unlike her, I don't get paid and I can't leave my job at 5:00 and just be free! Gawd. I've heard all this before. It's like she's waiting for me to say, "Oh yeah, it really sucks -- but your life sounds so great!" so that she can feel better about herself. At first, I didn't say anything, because -- really, where do you begin? But then she announced, "It's really a thankless job!"
I said, "Uh, no, not really!" and went on to say that there are a lot of choices in life, and that there are pros and cons to every scenario, and that it always comes down to priorities. She doesn't have kids, and I don't even know (or care) if she wants kids, but I guess she'll have a huge learning curve if she ever becomes a mother, if she wants to be any good at it. Being smug and judgmental never benefits anyone.
Questions about your lifestyle never end. It's always something. I don't mind the questions so much as the feeling I get when they're asked by people who have their claws out and are ready to pounce on me.
One of the things I consistently tell my children is that they can do anything they want in life. They can be anything, and do anything they dream of. Or at least try. And whatever kind of life they build for themselves, I'll be really proud of them, because they're good people. They're smart, kind, funny, and unique -- these are the things that matter, and most importantly, that they're happy!
Last night, we went to see comedians Margaret Cho and Liam Sullivan, who were both hilarious. Margaret Cho is so cool & funny & sweet; she had a lot to say about women and men, sex, differences, and self-acceptance.
Liam Sullivan had everyone in the audience howling as he performed as "aunt Susan," the lesbian musician, and also as the awesome "teenager" Kelly, whom I adore. She sang her "Shoes" song, which is about more than shoes.
Poor Kelly is often surrounded by idiots...people slagging her. I can relate.

Before the show, "the father" of my children and I went out for tapas and sangria. We had a really nice time,

and I was happy with the choices I made.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dolphins before coffee!

This morning, Wyatt & I were out w/the dogs, and dolphins came by! There were three of them that we could see. What a thrill!

It's hard to capture the excitement in a picture, but it was a wonderful sight.

The Fine Art of Travel

Tomorrow, Cooper & I are off to Montreal. We're both very excited. He's psyched about the plane ride (I, on the other hand, will take Ativan), and we both are excited to see our friends and the beautiful city of Montreal -- which everyone tells us we'll love.
Bad news: our hotel staff is on strike. So, according to my email advisory, there will be "No restaurant or bar service, and limited housekeeping."
Yeah, yeah, The Chambermaid can make her own bed, that's no concern. I am, however, spooked about the prospect of a sort of Anderson Cooper-in-Beirut scenario -- or worse -- "The Shining" with ghost twins in the hallway.
One thing is for sure: there will be no club sandwiches, damn it.
The last several trips I've taken have required suitcase check-in, but this trip is up for carry on -- of which I am a BIG fan. I like to breeze through.
Therefore, I have gone to great pains to check the size of my duffle bag, as well as the parameters of my airline's carry-on luggage. The federal security guidelines, however, present a bit of a freak-out fest for me.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), there are a lot of guidelines for those wishing to carry on their baggage.
First of all, there's the 3-1-1 rule. You can take THREE ounces of liquids & gels -- no more! -- and you get ONE quart-size zip-lock bag. Period. So, I need to get mini versions of saline solution, etc., and I guess I will ditch my liquid foundation and any perfume bottles for "sample" or "travel" sizes.
I was not shocked to read that I cannot take boxcutters or sabers in my carry-on bag. Nor are guns, liquid bleach, or dynamite acceptable. One cannot take swords -- antique, gift, or otherwise, or sabers. Nor are Chinese throwing stars (a.k.a. Ninja stars), or nunchucks allowed.

Ice picks, hockey sticks, spear guns, and meat cleavers are also prohibited.
I am most curious to see what the security personnel say about the cookie cutter I will be packing. I guess travel is still an adventure, even if certain aspects have become monotonous and bizarre.

Monday, September 15, 2008

License to ill

Driving alone today, I had the windows down and was listening to one of my son's playlists, when the Beastie Boys came on. "No Sleep till Brooklyn"! When I hear that song, which must be played loud, I'm mentally transported back to my teens, to a time when my sister and I were into driving and blasting music. We were carefree.

Whenever we went to visit our cousins, who lived on the other side of the state, it was our tradition, on the last leg of the journey, to crank up "No Sleep till Brooklyn," and fire up. It was funny, and it was fun!
Someone once advised me that, as an adult, you should never forget what it's like to be a teenager -- it's good for your creativity. Stay up too late, she urged. Play your music too loud. Carpe diem!
Kindergartners are always getting credit for teaching us "everything we ever needed to know" in life, while the oft-maligned teens are blacklisted as annoying and troublesome.
But what about their good points?
They care about their friends, they have intense feelings, they're fashionable, and most of them don't think too far into the future. Also, they don't drone on about golf.
I like the age I'm at now, and probably the only teen attribute I have these days is that I'm easily irritated, but I remember my teen days pretty well, and think that there's a pretty good point to the inherent self-absorption. Some adults...grown-ups, if you will...get a little too wrapped up in what it is they think they're supposed to be. I don't think it makes anyone happy. There's a certain balance to be found, with responsibility on the other end of the teeter-totter.
So, remember that: crank it up, but get to work on time.
The key teen goal I re-aspire to -- and I hope it happens soon -- is to be able to sleep in until noon.
Or Brooklyn.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mail from "The Girl"

Cooper received a postcard yesterday from Sacha, whom he calls "The Girl" (such a rarity in his life!). He was so happy and excited to get his very own mail, and to see a picture of beautiful Montreal.

The two of us will be travelling there next week, and we're looking forward to a fun adventure!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lisa Lisa

My friend Sarah mentioned that when she thinks of pearls, she thinks of Lisa...Simpson.
Of course!
Lisa always wears her sizeable pearl choker.

When I Simpsonized myself last year during a Burger King promo, I chose pearls, too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pearls steal the spotlight

As a pearl aficionado, I've been thrilled to spot my favorite gem appearing in a major way on some of the most influential women in the U.S., from fashion and popular culture to politics.
Stylist Patricia Field chose a classic beauty for Carrie Bradshaw to wear as her signature staple in the Sex and the City movie: an opera-length Mikimoto 8-8.5mm Akoya strand.

It's perfection -- a strand that can be worn with virtually everything in a woman's wardrobe.
In some scenes, like the one pictured above, Carrie pairs her pearls with rhinestones, a Fall trend that includes the bold vintage looks which can be viewed in full force on the ladies of "Mad Men."

In other early 1960's style channeling, presidential candidates' wives Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain can be seen in dresses & pearls reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy. Good call!
Jackie's famous Kenneth Jay Lane faux three-strand became such a part of her iconic image as First Lady, it inspired precise replicas by the Franklin Mint and Carolee. QVC also offers a version, as well as a selection of necklaces from Kenneth Jay Lane.

Barbara Bush, though no longer in the spotlight, is rarely seen without her signature pearls...

...and Hillary Clinton has been wearing the same 16-inch strand for the past several years, which indicates to me that it's probably made of genuine South Sea pearls.

South Sea pearls are prized for their large size, however, they never achieve the mirror-like luster of the Japanese akoyas, like Carrie's Mikimotos. Conversely, the akoyas rarely grow past 10 mm in size, so there is an exponential price jump reflecting the scarcity starting at the 9mm size.
I may not share the same political ideology as U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, but I must say I applaud her stylish strand of 11-14mm multi-colored Tahitian pearls (as well as her Hermes scarf-as-hijab worn during a visit to Syria).

Pelosi's necklace made such an impression on American women last year, it drove up pearl sales and prompted Los Angeles pearl dealer Leon Rebibo, of The Pearl Source, to offer a "Nancy Pelosi necklace."
Last night, when Sarah Palin spoke at the Republican National Convention as the party's vice presidential nominee, she donned a golden South Sea pearl necklace for the occasion. Very pretty.

Yet, while all eyes were on Palin, mine were on the gorgeous, massive strand of Tahitian pearls draped around the neck of Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judi. No wonder she was smiling.
As the election season promises to drive me nuts in the weeks to come, I'll be looking at the various pearls on display to serve as a beautiful distraction from all the hot air.