Sunday, December 31, 2006

happy happy

We went to Lyette and Jay's wedding last night on Cape Cod.

The Greek Orthodox ceremony was fascinating (and beautiful). We gave the Freeds a ride to the church, and on the way back the four of us tried to remember when the split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches happened.

The conversation went something like this:

Alisa: "That wasn't all that dissimilar from the Catholic ceremony."

Leigh: "I guess that's not all that surprising, right?"

Jim: "Wait...who was Justinian?"

Dick: "The pope, or the emperor?"

And so on. Yes, we're that geeky.

Anyway, we returned to the lovely Coonamessett Inn, and in true Mercier/Spiros form, we celebrated. (Read: much food, wine, and awesome music. Woo!)

Lyette and Jay just glowed. It was a great way to start a holiday weekend.

Mazel tov, y'all! And happy new year!

Friday, December 29, 2006


A few years ago -- OK, more than a few, since it was before I knew him -- my husband got his parents a stovetop popcorn popper for Christmas.

After his mother made some pretty fantastic spicy popcorn, Jim became enamored of the popcorn popper. He wanted one. A lot.

More than life, libery, and the pursuit of happiness, or at least so it seemed.

All season long, I've been telling folks at work -- both of the coworker and customer variety -- that my husband has wanted a Whirley Pop for years. I got assorted reactions to this statement, mostly of the "You look so young, you can't possibly have known you husband for years unless you married him when you were both underage" type. (I generally ignored those.)

It's true, though; Jim has been jonesing for a stovetop popper pretty much as long as I've known him, and I kept shooting it down. I like my microwave popcorn just fine, you see, and I just couldn't conscience anything more.


Today, when I got in to work, I was put on the task of repricing all the post-Christmas sale items. It was mostly cookbooks and random holiday food items, but one thing jumped out at me.

Whirleys were down to $11.99 (and on that I get a 20% discount).

I hemmed.

I hawed.

I got Jim a Whirley Pop.

And I have to say? He looks pretty happy right about now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

all i want for christmas

My parents got me a crepe pan, collapsible silicone measuring cups and colander, and a fondue cookbook.

My husband got me an electric garlic roaster.

My in-laws got me chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.

My parents got me a fantastic clothing gift-card.

My husband got me makeup and a makeup gift-card.

My in-laws got me a makeup gift-card.

Do you think I'm predictable?

I do.

I also think it's time to hit the gym.

And then the mall.

Monday, December 18, 2006

the best things in life are fried

Last night I made a gazillion latkes, and now my house smells like fried oniony potato. Yum.

I've actually never made latkes before, despite their ovewhelmingly delicious nature. (Does anything take as well to frying as a potato? I think not.) I have extraordinarily fond memories of scarfing up perfectly crisp potato pancakes in my grandma's kitchen every Chanukah. Mom reminded me this morning that my grandfather actually did the frying, which I can vaguely recall; more, though, I see both Gram and Poppoo in my mind's eye doing a complicated dance around the stove, trying to stay out of each other's way -- and most likely failing, but that was all part of the fun.

I did not follow my grandma's recipe exactly, since she used to use Crisco and I used vegetable oil last night. I also chose to forgo the time-honored secret ingredient of so many Jewish-family latke recipes (knuckles), so I chucked the box grater and used the grating disk on my Cuisinart for the first time ever. Spinny! Woo!

Yes, I have a warped sense of what is and is not fun.

And what is fun? Making several batches of regular potato pancakes and several of potato-zucchini pancakes with accompaniments of applesauce, sour cream, and horseradish sour cream. I also served a smoked salmon cucumber roulade, but I think I rolled it the wrong way, so when I tried to slice it it kind of, um, fell apart. (My guests and I inhaled it anyway, so I can assure you it still tasted good -- it just looked terrible.) Seems there's just something about having a bunch of good friends over for a lot of latkes that makes it a party.

There's also just something, at least with me involved, about it not being a party until something runs wildly amok. Last night, that moment came after the menorah candles burned out and we lit all the other candles -- and, briefly, the tablecloth, which was the second casualty of the night. It followed closely on the heels of the first, a wine glass, unfortunately full of wine, that fell prey to the power of the Wii-mote.

(Given how many wineglasses I have destroyed in my life just through my own klutziness, last night's Nintendo-related accident is still, to my mind better than putting a big hole in a wall we don't own, shattering a television set, or tearing one's rotator cuff. And I usually burn me when entertaining, not an utterly replaceable piece of inexpensive fabric. So I'm not unduly perturbed, I gotta say.)

I even found myself inclined to load up some holiday-ish music. The playlist comprised Hanukkah Rocks and New Orleans Christmas (thanks Rachel!!). The cheesy carols playing on endless loop at the mall get to me -- not that I have any experience hearing the same fifteen songs over and over and over for nine hours, no, not at all -- but last night's combination was the perfect musical antidote to all that.

My original reason for the having the party, I can now admit, was slightly selfish. I've been feeling rather Grinchlike lately, almost like I've been caught out of time in an entirely different part of the year. Having friends over, though, makes a holiday out of any moment. So while I still have to break out The Messiah at some point this week, and there's no snow on the ground? Last night was a pretty great holiday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

maybe choosing to take pucks to the head is a sign

I am not entirely sure what this phenomenon says about me, given that my favorite players are always goalies.

In fact, interviewing CuJo was far and away the highlight of my brief career as a sports -- all right, a hockey -- columnist. This is, I should add, the same career (for the illustrious (snrk!) establishment of the John Burroughs World) during which I actually finagled a press pass and got to sit in the fabulously luxurious press box at a Blues game in the then-new Kiel Center. I did so on a night that will live in my memory as the night I met Bobby Hull, who was drunk and hit on me while his son scored a double hat trick. I also met Bobby Orr, who was a true gentleman and herded the lascivious Hull away from the wide-eyed, relatively freaked-out girl in the elevator who was frantically taking notes on a steno pad, which she only had because she thought it was somehow reporter-esque.

Not to say I didn't turn the experience into a column. I did. No one much cared, including me.

But the day I got to linger outside the locker room after pre-skate and ask what had to be the dumbest questions ever ("So, uh, do you get tired during games?") to a young and probably at least moderately unbalanced guy who had the image of a rabid evil dog painted on his helmet?

Pure joy. Did I turn it into a column? Probably. Did anyone care? Hells yeah. CuJo was a god back then.

Goalies may be crazy, but their fans? Positively wacked.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

warning: theatre geek-out

Oh Doogie....

(Although the best part might be stage veteran Megan Mullally nearly losing it when they hit the counterpoint.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

either they like me, or i'm a pushover

Speaking of aprons, if you need me over the next few weeks, you might want to try Williams-Sonoma at the Maine Mall at the following times:

Thursday 12/7, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday 12/8, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Monday 12/11, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Tuesday 12/12, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. E.T.A.: 11:30 a.m. -6 p.m.
Thursday 12/14, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. (Happy birthday, Mom!)
Friday 12/15, 11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday 12/16, 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.*
Tuesday 12/19, 12:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday 12/20, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Thursday 12/21, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday 12/22, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday 12/23, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

On the upside, the net pay just might cover everything I've bought there this season. Woo-hoo!

*I don't normally work this type of late-ending shift, but I traded with a friend who forgot she needed that day off. Might as well, right?

Monday, December 04, 2006

i think i need a new apron, too

I woke up this morning to snow.

I am overwhelmed by a desire to spend the day baking.

Betty Friedan is probably spinning in her grave because of me.

Still, I bet she'd like my cookies.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"choose monkeys or penguins"

But what if I wanted one of each?

In reality I neither want nor need these, but I do think they are the cutest things I've seen in the "entirely non-essential gadget" category in a long long time.

Plus the ad copy is unintentionally hilarious. Good times, good times.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

ho there spirit, weather wander you?

Tuesday, November 21st: Earliest snowfall in decades recorded in South Carolina (during our visit there).

Thursday, November 30th: Between one and two feet of snow predicted for St. Louis and other parts of Missouri and the Midwest.

Monday, November 27th throughFriday, December 1st: Highs in the upper 50s to 60 in Portland, Maine. No snow yet this season.

That alternate universe on DS9 is starting to sound more and more credible

Saturday, November 25, 2006

an utter and complete nonsequitur

Because there is nothing for post-Thanksgiving recovery like Tim Gunn, Stephen Colbert, and Thomas Jefferson.

Friday, November 17, 2006

our reservations are only for two, thanks

I would put money on the idea that the timing of this article will inspire even more grandbaby-lust in my dad. "Look! The Times says Charleston's a great place to go with children!" (He's adorable when it comes to wanting grandkids.)

Which is indubitable, as I can attest -- I loved going to Charleston with my parents and paternal grandparents when I was younger. You can look out over the water and see Fort Sumter, then wander past the beautiful pastel-colored houses surrounding The Battery, where actual Civil War-era cannon still stand on display. The weekend open-air market has a number of Gullah arts stands, while the longest continuously operating Reform congregation in the United States is just off King Street. Plus the weather is usually gorgeous and the city is fantastically walkable. It's very much a southern Boston in terms of history, but friendlier.

Of course, Dad will likely follow up his original comment about children with, "So when are you having one?"

I have run out of pithy responses to that question, but I can say for sure that somewhere between the law-and-policy schooling, the moving, the full-time working, and the new ponderings about the Culinary Institute?

Yeah, we'll get right on that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

justify my love

It's never too early for a New Year's Resolution, right?

Well, perhaps it is, especially given that I neither believe in the institution nor actually ever feel like resolving anything come January 1st. (Really, does anyone? Is anyone even awake on January 1st?)

However, an e-mail I received today from Wine Spectator's Sips and Tips prompted me to change my mind just this once. So, here goes:

I resolve to try every wine on this list before the next year's results come out.

Which is really just a seasonal way of justifying my desire to host a blind tasting party. Who's free in January?

Á votre santé!

Friday, November 10, 2006

southern comfort

I am so very much looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.

I always look forward to Thanksgiving -- it's by far my favorite winter family-gathering holiday. This year it holds even more appeal, for several reasons:

1) We get to spend time with my parents at their house. Which contains them, the dog, a heated pool, and a jacuzzi. I may never leave.

2) My mother actually delegated responsibility to me for several holiday meal dishes. I will be making a salad of haricots verts, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and dijon vinaigrette; roasted butternut squash with shallots and sage; and my soon-to-be-famous cranberry relish, which actually consists of opening a few jars of Apple-Orange Cranberry Relish and putting it in a bowl. (I don't work on commission; it's seriously that good.)

3) We are going to spend two nights in Charleston to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We are going to stay at a lovely inn (that also has a heated pool), eat ridiculously sublime food and walk around one of the most architecturally wonderful antebellum cities in the nation.

4) Did I mention staying at my parents' house? With the pool? And the jacuzzi?

Mom and Dad have invited an assortment of friends to join in the turkey-day festivities, which makes me happy, because I think Thanksgiving is always a "the more, the merrier" situation. What can I say? I like parties.

Then again, I stumbled upon Banana Republic's new "Celebrate"advertising campaign, and -- seriously? What were they thinking? First of all, at least one guy in the picture looks like he's ready to leave, given the scarf, and the human being with its back to the camera is, from that angle, entirely androgynous; I can only assume it's female because it's carrying a purse. One girl looks angry, bored, stoned, or all of the above; one girl and one guy are staring longingly at the androgyne; another girl is staring longingly at the first starer; and none of them appears to be interacting in any way. They don't even seem to have coordinated on the dress code, which, come on, Banana. This is no way to sell clothing.

Moreover, if any party I ever hosted looked like that one? I think I'd become a hermit. Or get all new friends. Yargh.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

is santa on PB's catalogue list?

After six months of occasional (read: obsessive) scrolling though our honeymoon pictures online, I finally got my act together and started printing some of the ones I would eventually like to frame and display.

That's the good news. The bad news, of course, is that now I need frames.

I'm not normally picky about my picture frames -- the more minimal, the better, at least if you look at the art already hanging in our apartment. When I was most active in photography (back in the pre-digital days of high school), I displayed a lot of my work, but never framed, only matted. I'd like to say it was all to highlight the primacy of the art, but really it's just because that was what we could do in the darkroom.

So now I'm actually trying to have confidence in my ability as an artist and give some of my work the credence it deserves, while being both creative and conscious of interior design in not only our current home but also in whatever home(s) we may occupy in the near or the distant future.

If you made it through that sentence without gouging your eyes out, you probably understand why I've come thisclose to just hurling the prints out the window and forgetting I ever had this idea.

Pottery Barn, however, has a series of multi-size opening frames that come in black or white and accommodate the collage-like display style I'm looking to achieve. They epitomize my personal framed-art design aesthetic.

They are also slightly outside my price range.

Still, I went to the mall yesterday to acquire the three-opening white wood frame for a few of the 4x6 prints I have. It looks fantastic. And despite our recent absurd eucational spending, I need not cringe every time I look at it, because I did not spend my own money.

When I started my seasonal job, you see, I learned that gift cards from one Williams-Sonoma store are accepted at the others. My brain immediately translated this nugget of information as, "I can shop at Pottery Barn!" So I hurried to the frame section, gift cards clutched in my hot little hand, and now have a pretty fantastic start to capitalizing on the one artistic hobby for which I have a shred of actual talent.

I have my eye on the multi-size nine-opening black wood frame for my next project -- which, sadly, my gift cards will not quite cover. However, the other piece of information I learned is that if I were a long-term employee, I would also get my discount at the other stores. It would not be gift-card-funded, but my brain immediately translated this second nugget of information as, "I could shop with abandon at Pottery Barn!"

I may have found incentive to stay on.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

a generally perfect evening

Chinese food. Yummy, spicy, prepared-by-other-people Chinese food. Enough for leftovers.

Election coverage. Stephanopolous, Williams, Colbert, and Stewart in particular.

And the cherry on top? Britney dumped Kevin. My faith in the universe is moderately restored.

Monday, November 06, 2006

i'm surprised they didn't just ask for our firstborn

Dear Multiple Prominent Graduate Schools of Law and/or Public Policy,

Tonight, after much sweat and toil over testing and personal statement writing, we threw wads of cash at you as the last step of a concerted effort to get you to accept Mr. Maltese as a student. We wrote checks and gave you the embossed numbers from several different pieces of rectangular colored plastic. We did this all for the privilege of waiting to hear if we will be packing our bags and moving to your location sometime next summer.

Here's the really funny part: If you do in fact grant admission to your illustrious halls of learning, we don't recoup our wager. It would seem only fair for you to then throw wads of cash at us. This is, after all, the premise of the state lotto and the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes.

But for you, that's not how it works. (Are you dealing with a slightly different demographic? Hm.) If Jim actually gains entry -- thanks to his stellar background and hard-working nature -- into your exclusive club of academe, we actually get to throw more cash at you for the next four whole years!

Clearly -- despite the elusive and only vaguely possible promise of merit scholarships -- you have worked this out to your advantage. You are indeed very clever. I doff my hat.

As for my next order of business (post-hat-doffing, that is)? I'm going to go cut up all my credit cards and place an urgent call to Ed. If you need to reach me tomorrow, check the library. I seem to remember a children's how-to book for turning straw into gold.



Friday, November 03, 2006

...which is why we're friends

If you thought I was the biggest grammar nerd in your life, then you haven't met my best friend.

I trust everyone to go read her fabulous piece. Or at least to rethink his/her stance on prepositions.

Monday, October 30, 2006

two weddings. six days. three thousand miles.

Your mother will notice immediately that you've darkened your hair. Which is why she's your mother, and why you love her.

You will have to wait an hour for luggage from a plane parked so close to the baggage claim that you could walk to it and unload your bags yourself.

You will love your mother's haircut and Audrey Hepburn-esque skinny pants.

Your father will almost instantaneously locate two high-end electronics stores in a mall he could never previously find his way around without help.

You will do that thing where you read signs aloud while your parents drive around ("You asked for got it...Toyotaaa...").

You will do so because everything in your hometown has changed and you're nonplussed by it. (Scary in more ways than one.)

You will be somewhat reassured, though, when you realize at your oldest friend in the world's wedding that some people look exactly the way they did as children.

Your husband will never again make the comment "Gosh, we're making such good time!" on a road trip.

You will decide that nobody should ever have to spend two hours in traffic in Delaware.

Your best friend and her boyfriend will be waiting for you at one of your favorite restaurants, and you will be so excited to see them after ten hours in the car that you will talk like you're on speed and gesture like you're a Borscht-belt comedian.

You will call your parents from a hotel bar when the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series, and later they will ask, "Just how much had you been drinking?" -- since the last time you cared that much about baseball was probably the last time the Cards won the World Series. (You were three then.)

Your best friend will contemplate borrowing your favorite earrings, prompting you to whip out your box o' jewelry, because if you're anything, it's prepared for a jewelry emergency.

You will feel as though you've known your best friend's fantastic boyfriend for as long as you've known her, and only worry after the fact that joking around with him as though he's familiar with your nerdtastic sense of humor might not have made the right impression. (Cf. "Do you really covet the blueberry French toast??" Hi, I'm a dork!)

You will be asked by the manicurist if you and your best friend are sisters.

You will not quite know how to answer that question, since it's kind of "No but..." situation.

You will run out of witty answers to "So what do you do up there in Maine?"

Your sweater's hook closures will attach themselves to your lace dress and you will cause unintentional hilarity when you are forced to announce to your tablemates, "Don't mind my husband; he's just attempting to detach me from my sweater."

You will hate, hate, hate having to say goodbye to your parents one weekend and then your best friend the next and return to your home hundreds of miles away.

You will remember just how very much you love your husband, and be glad you have him at your side to share all of this.
Especially Delaware.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

whatever happend to blocks and marbles?

Given my current state of post-travel fatigue, I would think I hallucinated this and chalk it up to exhaustion, except my husband saw it too. We were both somewhat horrified.

I'm having a massive internal debate right now, because I don't know what's worse: that this toy even exists, or that it is marketed in conjunction with this one.

Sometimes, I fear for the future.

Particularly the future of the kid who stars in the ad for the Superman muscle suit, because given the prevalence of video preserved on the internet these days? His post-pubescent life is ruined.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

big brother goes shopping


Seriously the most dangerous thing to happen to my bank account since, um, ever.

Clearly it's not enough for the leviathan company that is Gap, Inc. for there to be days on end when I leave the house and realize every item of clothing, including underwear, comes from some outpost of their empire.

No, they need more, more, more! Now they have to go making it easy for me to browse and order designer shoes? I might as well just sell my soul, or tattoo their NYSE call letters on my body.

Somebody hide my Luxe card.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I asked Desiree yesterday to save all of Nina's baby clothes for me. Ostensibly this was all in good save-the-Earth recycling faith, but in reality, it was entirely so that, in the (not imminent so don't freak out Mom and Dad!) future, I can dress my child in this t-shirt.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

i have an odd description of the word "fun"

Today's project: Purchase and hang a spice rack.

Tomorrow: Prepare an elaborate fall dinner for Laura, Jim and me.

Best weekend ever. And yes, I know I'm weird.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

dream a little dream of squee

Occasionally I start to put together a list of things I want to find in my next place of residence.

I don't mean restaurants or school districts. I don't even really care if there are decent gyms or a Whole Foods in the region. (Update: Whole Foods is coming to Portland in February. Yay! Only 32 months after I came here.)

No, I'm not looking at the big picture so much; I'm talking about my individual site of habitation, often known to others as a "home."

Unfortunately, I fear that the requirements vastly outpace my own purchasing power. For example, items that routinely show up in my daydreams include the following:

My dream kitchen, complete with stainless-steel appliances, a silent yet capacious dishwasher, impeccable lighting (hey, I am a theatre geek at heart) and wine refrigerator;

My own washer and dryer, preferably Energy Star-rated but still capable of doing a massive load of color all in one go;

A Roomba.

OK. I kind of don't so much care about the Roomba, but I had to throw something remotely afforable in there, so as not to seem entirely out of touch with reality.

Sigh. I think it's abundantly clear that I both want and do not want to be a real adult. A Roomba? Seriously.

But I would give my left pinky finger for a washer-dryer. There are some things on which one just cannot compromise.

Monday, October 09, 2006

this is why i support public radio

The weekend before last, Jim and I were coming in from some errands and we ran into the Green-Independent candidate for the one of the city's seats in the State House of Representatives.

I've never actually met a politican going door-to-door before; it seems somewhat quaint and old-fashioned, but then a) this is Maine and b) the dude was wearing Birkenstocks, so it wasn't really all that surprising.

What was a shock was that my name was not on his list of registered voters.

I registered in Maine when we moved here and I got my driver's license converted from Massachusetts. I voted in the Presidential election in 2004 -- I got the little sticker that said "I Voted!" and everything. Yes, I know I should have voted in any number of smaller municipal races since then, but I didn't, and besides, I was fairly sure that failure to do so would not result in being purged from the voter registration rolls.

Then, driving home from a proctoring event this afternoon, NPR taught me that, indeed, it just might.

Disappeared. Gone. Poof! No record of me, either in married or unmarried nomenclative form.

To be fair, it's not so much my lack of voting as the fact that, in trying to do the logical thing and consolidate the numerous lists of voters in the country, the various and sundry state offices didn't quite get it right. Maine probably never told Massachusetts to take me off their rolls, and so when duplicate registrations were eliminated, both of mine fell into the gaping maw of the Secretary of State's office.

Still. Bureaucratic idiocy notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure I still exist, and I'd like the state to reassure me of that prior to November 7th. I'd better get right on that.

And, hey, on the bright side -- now I'm voting under an entirely new name. No one will know where I've come from! I'll be the mysterious registered Independent. Isn't that always the best kind?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

piping-bag dreams

Yesterday, since it was an absolutely perfect fall day just about at the height of leaf season, Jim and I decided to go apple-picking.

There are a zillion and one pick-your-own (or not) orchards in Maine -- many of which are members of the American Pomological Society (which: hee) -- and they grow just about any type of apple you could want. However, we had it on good authority from the culinarily omniscient Mr. Freed that the Macoun apple is well-nigh unmatched for all apple-y services rendered. Therefore, we set out on a search for the mighty Macoun.

Luckily, the orchard, which we chose almost entirely at random, not only seems to specialize in Macouns, but also seems to have planted them so that they were at the height of ripeness yesterday. We filled two half-bushel bags, and while we did diversify a little bit so as not to be unfair to the McIntoshes and Golden Deliciouses looking longingly at us from their own branches, we definitely brought home quite a haul of Macouns.

We also picked up a half-gallon of fresh sweet cider and a few bite-sized steaming hot cider doughnuts to bring home. The cider made it; two of the doughtnuts, though, did not last long in their happy paper bag. However, it was much needed sustenance for the next phase of the day, which involved a prolonged and exciting stop at Williams-Sonoma on the way home.

Through some crafty gift-card-swapping, I wound up with a couple of hundred dollars in Sonoma gift cards. It's not as though there was anything there I really, oh, needed, per se; but I did want many things. Some new mixing bowls, for example, and fancy dipping oil and balsamic vinegar. Jim actually needed a new meat thermometer. And -- since the backseat of the car was filled with apples -- the pièces de resistance: new pie pans, of course.

I did almost -- almost! -- throw frugality to the wind and run off with a roasting pan and rack, which item I do not have. However, I didn't feel like exhausting all of my gift cards on one item, and so I refrained. (But damn they were pretty.)

Today dawned also crisp and clear, and my mission, as I chose to accept it, was to bake a Macoun apple pie from scratch and then make an enormous batch of five-alarm turkey chili to share with friends in the evening.

Looking around right now while my pie is in the oven, I can see that the mission included a hidden directive as well, which goes as follows: Dirty every utensil and item of cookware/bakeware in the kitchen, some more than once, before the day is out. This message will self-destruct when the dishwasher cycle is complete.

In any case -- who cares about dishes! -- the pie smells fantastic. I've never been overly fond of double-crust apple pie, so mine has a single shell and an oat-walnut-streusel topping. Once it's out of the oven and cooling, I will start the chili, so that by the time Laura and Don come over, everyone will be able to dive right in. I hope the pie is enough for them tonight. Next on the list (probably tomorrow) I think I shall make an apple crostata, or perhaps a modified tarte Tatin. We have so many apples! What an excuse to bake!

I'm starting to think that even Donna Reed would find my concept of the perfect day frightening. I actually considered buying the mechanized pastry bag at Sonoma, although I couldn't for the life of me figure out why one would need such a thing. Instead, I filled out an application for part-time and seasonal sales associate.

Because, dude. I would so kick ass in that little green apron.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I started feeling somewhat less than healthy yesterday evening, and today I woke feeling pretty awful. It's about the right time of year for that: Between the third and fifth weeks of school, fully 90% of my SAT students bring germs to class, and different germs at that. Even the hardiest immune system would take a beating.

Mine? I believe it has learned to cry uncle without even putting up a fight.

My husband indulged my desire for Greek food, did the laundry I'd meant to start before I realized that carrying it down the stairs had sapped all my daily energy allotment, and then went to buy me juice.

He called me on his way home.

"I just wanted to tell you to expect a surprise," he said.

"A...surprise?" I asked.

"You'll see," he replied.

Given my general inability to muster anything even vaguely resembling patience whatsoever, it was a good thing that the store is a mere five minutes from home. Nothing is better than a surprise when the most excitement one has had all day is discovering one has awakened from a nap just in time for DS9.

Jim arrived, and in the bag with the yummy juice (it tastes like liquid raspberry Jell-O!) I found one of my all-time favorite movies.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold -- just for widescreen versions of films seemingly released to DVD in miniscule numbers and all but disappeared from mainstream shelves (stupid profit margins). I'm thinking that the feast of Crispin Crispian may come a little early this year.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

days of eeyore

Every once in a while of late, I've been getting hit with a little wave of sadness that I lack, in the moment, a nickname.

It's tough to shorten a one-syllable name, I'll admit, and my given name does not lend itself to er, nicking. Nicknames also are not always a welcome adjunct to life. I am probably wholly responsible for an entirely new generation of non-St. Louisans knowing my best friend by her nickname rather than her beautiful given name, and I will most likely continue to apologize for that until we're too old to remember there was ever an option.

My husband uses his full given name at work, but it's nearly impossible for me to remember to address him as such when in the presence of office colleagues, leading to innumerable blank stares and forced laughter about the confusion his dual nomenclated status confers.

Regardless, I never really had a nickname beyond those created by my family. One cousin's initials (prior to her marriage) spelled a homophone for my name, and that became her nickname before I was born, so in order to avoid confusion, that part of the family often used my first and last name to address me. On the other side of the family, the same moniker got adopted for...well, frankly, I haven't the slightest idea why, but it did. All the same, since full name address is generally reserved (when one is young) for those moments when one is really seriously in trouble and I mean it young lady, it never struck me as the kind of thing I should spread as a nickname. Fine from family, but way too formal for friends.

My parents have a pet name for each other that got diminuted (clearly I'm making up words here, but I don't care) for me. They call each other Boo, after a long-retired pantyhose commercial (, really), and thus they called me Baby Boo. They rarely employ it now, I admit, but if I sign a birthday card that way, they don't wonder who sent it.

However, I am also, or was also, Lele -- since, with a name like mine, you can't shorten it to make an endearment, might as well double it. It's been ages and ages since anyone had reason to call me by this particular nickname, and recently, I'd started to miss it.

It seems a silly thing, really, to reminisce about a nickname. There are so many other terms of endearment that get used regularly -- my husband and I rarely address each other by name -- but only a nickname is particular to an individual. And so, occasionally, I found myself sighing that I wish someone, anyone, would have a reason to reinstate my nickname. Or, perhaps, bestow upon me a new one.

This morning I was sitting at the computer reading my morning news items when a small window popped up on my screen:

Jim: Hey boo bear.
Me: !!!
Jim: I thought of that on my way to work today. "Lele the Boo."
Me: Hee! I like it.

I never told him I wanted a nickname.

I guess I didn't have to.

And I have to say? I'm pretty darn happy being his Boo Bear.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

eat your heart out, shiloh

Because I think this new boy is even cuter. Congratulations, McHales!
I'd offer free babysitting, but I'm pretty sure the mileage would be the end of me.

gourmet i reserve a table, please?

Below, Gourmet Magazine's list of the Top 50 restaurants in America.

I am seriously considering making it my mission to eat at each place. After all, if Julie Powell can turn cooking everything from Julia Child's cookbook into a published tome, I'm sure there would be a market for people willing to read about someone else's expense-account-funded fine dining.

Oh, wait, that gig already exists. It's called being Frank Bruni.

So until the Times or other paper of quasi-record decides to throw money at me and send me to fancy restaurants, I am guessing I'll have to have a gimmick. I could do it by only traveling on foot or bicycle from site to site. Given that the rest of the vocation involves eating, this may not be an entirely insane idea...

Right. So back in the real world, I'd like to point out that Portland's famed Fore Street makes the list yet again, and that Durham, the District, and Philadelphia all rate at least one spot each (good news for future endeavours, no?).

My best friend and I have an as-yet unscheduled date to dine at Number 3 while wearing extraordinarily expensive shoes. Sometime after my 30th and before her 35th, I think, we just might make it.

1. Alinea
– Chicago, IL*
2. Chez Panisse – Berkeley, CA
3. The French Laundry/Per Se – Yountville, CA; New York, NY
4. Spago – Beverly Hills, CA
5. Joël Robuchon at the Mansion – Las Vegas, NV*
6. La Rêve – San Antonio, TX
7. Masa – New York, NY*
8. Alan Wong's Restaurant – Honolulu, HI
9. Daniel – New York, NY
10. Le Bernardin – New York, NY
11. Magnolia Grill – Durham, NC
12. Michel Richard Citronelle – Washington, D.C.
13. Charlie Trotter's – Chicago, IL
14. Arrows – Ogunquit, ME
15. Cyrus – Healdsburg, CA*
16. Striped Bass – Philadelphia, PA*
17. Babbo – New York, NY
18. Locke-Ober – Boston, MA*
19. Canlis – Seattle, WA
20. L'Auberge Carmel – Carmel, CA*
21. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare – Las Vegas, NV*
22. Restaurant August – New Orleans, LA*
23. The Inn at Little Washington – Washington, VA
24. The Dining Room in the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead – Atlanta, GA*
25. Vetri – Philadelphia, PA*
26. Fore Street – Portland, ME
27. Jean Georges – New York, NY
28. Higgins – Portland, OR*
29. Da Marco – Houston, TX*
30. La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, MN*
31. Parker's New American Bistro – Cleveland, OH
32. Michy's – Miami, FL*
33. Frasca – Boulder, CO*
34. Gramercy Tavern – New York, NY
35. Providence – Los Angeles, CA*
36. Restaurant Guy Savoy – Las Vegas, NV*
37. Zuni Café – San Francisco, CA
38. Urasawa – Beverly Hills, CA*
39. Bacchanalia – Atlanta, GA*
40. Sanford – Milwaukee, WI
41. York Street – Dallas, TX*
42. Manresa – Los Gatos, CA*
43. No. 9 Park – Boston, MA*
44. Trattoria Nostrani – Santa Fe, NM*
45. Cafe Juanita – Kirkland, WA*
46. Paley's Place – Portland, OR*
47. Lantern Restaurant – Chapel Hill, CA*
48. L'Etoile – Madison, WI
49. Herbsaint – New Orleans, LA*
50. Nana – Dallas, TX*