Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wishing I Could Scream Just For The Sake of It

Today has pretty much blown and I'm terrified (apropos word choice, wouldn't you say?) of this man:

Recommendations

I know I've mentioned before how valuable it is to have a good friend who just happens to be a wine expert. If it weren't for Angela, I'd wander around the wine bins, choosing the wine based solely on if I like the label or not. I'm hoping Angela starts a newsletter soon, so I can have some ideas for what to drink in terms of good, affordable wine. Every single thing she's ever poured for me has been really good. She came over for dinner the other night bearing three delicious bottles of perfect summer wines. I told her in advance that I was making some sort of spicy mahi-mahi dish (I hadn't figured out the recipes yet), and this is what she came up with:

We started with the Cruz de Piedra rosado garnacha. A dry, tasty rosé from Spain. Rosés could be THE perfect summer wine. This was D.'s favorite.

Then we moved on to the Bibi Graetz Casamatta bianco from Italy. This was a mix of several variatals. It perfectly complemented the spice and sweetness of our meal.

Lastly, with watermelon slices for dessert, we had this yummy Spy Valley gewürtztraminer from New Zealand.

I wish I'd taken pictures of dinner. I grilled mahi mahi and served it with a mango tomatillo salsa, avocado cream, and a chilled yellow rice & black bean salad. We ate outside by candelight, though, and it was too dark for photos.

Thanks again, Angela, for the perfect selections. Can we do it again soon....like Sunday?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend Roundup

I feel great. You know how sometimes Monday rolls around and you think, "Damn. Where did the weekend go?" That's not happening to me. I wish I could bottle this. Or can it so I can open it and savor it in January. I've been able to balance TCOB (takin' care of business), creative time, AND rest and relaxation into my weekends. By Monday I feel rested, pleased because I got to check things off the neverending list of Things To Do, and ready to tackle the demands of the work week.

Friday evening was a reception for my students and the American families with whom they spent the weekend. Maybe I'm overstating the significance of these kinds of things...but it was amazing to think that maybe the smallest seeds of peace and healing were being planted. We had a Palestinian man spend the weekend with a Jewish family, and a Vietnamese man spend the weekend with a man who'd fought in the Vietnam War. I overheard some conversations that threatened to melt away the thick layers of cynicism inside me, formed from watching too much CNN.

Friday night was a bust because for some awful reason there were NO EPISODES OF THE DOG WHISPERER. What gives, National Geographic Channel? Now that's just wrong.

Saturday I intended to have a yard sale at my dad's but it started pouring down rain so instead we sat on his front porch drinking coffee, surrounded by boxes of unwanted things. I babysat a friend's five year-old boy and we went to the library and read Where's Waldo for a few hours, then came back to our house where I managed to get laundry done AND arrange a treasure hunt for pirate's booty. Saturday night I elected to stay home all alone while D. had a gig and Stella was at a friend's. Inspired by Megan's posts, I worked on jewelry. I made earrings while watching the A&E biography on Elizabeth Taylor. Her life is far more dramatic than any Danielle Steel novel (ummmm, not that I've ever read one. No way).

Sunday, a long-ass day, began so perfectly. D. made omelets and we drank coffee and read the paper out on the screened-in porch. The crossword answers came to me instantly. I painted bookshelves, did more laundry and mopped the floors. I made sun tea and went grocery shopping. Last night's dinner was pretty close to perfect. I marinated chicken breasts in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, and fresh herbs. Then I made a variation on this potato salad recipe. I don't remember the last time I got so excited about a potato salad. I added steamed green beans. I wish I could feed every single one of you this potato salad. The combination of the lemon and herbs with the creamy dressing....OH MY GOD it was so good. I grilled the chicken breasts with corn on the cob. The iced sun tea was a natural complement.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Shameful

It's shameful how little I post these days. I'll beat myself with a rope later. Promise.

Especially since I know people read this! It's so flattering/embarrassing/flattering when someone I know will mention something they read on here, or that this is how they keep up with me nowadays. Aw, shucks!

I've spent a large portion of my life wishing I were someplace else (physically, emotionally, mentally) so to feel satisfied and happy exactly where I am is kinda blowing my mind. Fayetteville is a good place for me to be right now. Perhaps because of the influx of people moving here all the time and threatening to change the "localness" of Fayetteville, there seems to be an equally powerful force of people who are working to keep Fayetteville a real community. Last night I went to a kickoff party for Fayetteville's faction of the Slow Food movement. I expected a few dozen people, but it was standing room only. I'm very excited to see people taking such an active interest in local, organic, fresh, homemade food and what it represents.

Also on the local topic, my fellow Fayetteville blog, All Sides of Life, alerted me to a fun event coming up. Next Saturday night, the wonderful local theatre company TheatreSquared is hosting an opening night fiesta for their play The Jungal Book. Sounds like it will be a fun night for all ages.

My friend Megan also alerted me to the fact that she's also a Fayetteville blogger. I'd actually call her much more than just a "Fayetteville blogger." She's an amazing painter and a really good writer as well (bitch!). I've been trying to get one of her paintings for years and a photography piece of her husband's is the best birthday present I've ever bought for myself. Even if you're not an artist, I think you'll find her ideas for self-promotion and creative time really valuable.

So what've I been up to? Oh, the usual....ferrying international students around, working on jewelry, making delicious meals, watching films and bad tv (hooray for the return of Top Chef and don't bother with Marie Antoinette!), listening to music, trying to raise a pre-teen without killing myself (or her), trying to keep my head on straight and my laundry done. Stella gets braces next week. Fuckin' braces!! Her rapper name will be 5G Teeth. She should just go ahead and get a nice set of grillz. Yes.....her mouth will cost the same as a decent used car. I'm hoping I'll have time for a vacation. Chicklet brought in a baby shrew last night which was by far the most exciting thing that happened in our house all week.

Father's Day brunch - I made blueberry-lemon corn muffins.


Stella with a friend's kitten. Doesn't she (the kitten) look like a little raccoon?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Kids These Days

A few days ago we took Stella to the public library to see this band, Harry and the Potters, comprised of three guys in their late 20s who play songs all based on the characters and plots from the Harry Potter books. They've already got a built-in (rabid) audience; it's a brilliant idea, actually.
Stella in her Hogwarts gear.

The wild crowd.

OMIGOD! Touched by a cute boy in a band!

Stella wanted me nowhere near her during the show so I took pictures. So many examples of awkward adolescence but I'm not going to put up any pictures of their faces.

It was a lovely evening.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I know, I know...

I'm long overdue for an update. If I told y'all everything I've been up to, you'd be as tired-yet-excited as I am. I love being busy. LOVE IT.

My friend Carrie told me about her friend, an Arkansas writer named Suzi Parker. She's published two books on two of my favorite topics: sex and cocktails (god I'm glad my grandmother is sans computer these days). My assignment this summer is to read Sex in the South and compare notes and 1,000 Best Bartender's Recipes and test them out. Looks like I'm due for a summer I'll never remember. I'll report back later.

Where do I start with everything else?

Remember when I told you to never pass up an offer of homemade Brazilian food? Well I'm glad I take my own advice because Saturday night we were invited for a night of feasting (feijoada and collard greens, Brazilian soul food [anthropological-historical comparison on reinterpreted slave culture in the U.S and Brazil will have to come later]), music, dancing, and caipirinhas. SO MUCH FUN. When I looked around and saw not only Brazil but Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Bolivia, Turkmenistan, AND Arkansas represented around the room, I was filled with a melting pot of gooey love and happiness. Then someone brought out a guitar and started playing samba, someone else picked up a bucket and started drumming, and everyone danced, keeping the beat with whatever percussion was available. I can't adequately describe how special the entire evening was.

Feijoada and fixin's.

Dancing the samba.

There's more coming later....I promise. I'm also hard at work on my Summer 2007 mix and having lots of fun tinkering around with song order.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Puzzling Thoughts

I might have an addiction to documentaries. I find them more interesting, provocative, and emotionally-bonding than narrative films, for the most part.

The other night we watched Wordplay, a documentary about crossword puzzles and the people who make and solve them. I think Wordplay would make a perfect double feature with Spellbound, another great documentary about contestants in the National Spelling Bee. Both feature people who are really good at a skill that is unrecognized by most. Spellbound is great because the kids are each so different and delightfully nerdy. Wordplay is great because the adults who could have been those same kids are now comfortable in their grown-up nerd skin.

People who love crossword puzzles love language, love puns, and love visual games. I first discovered them my freshman year of high school. When I moved into my first apartment I would take my book of New York Times puzzles and go to the D-Lux on Sunday mornings to drink coffee and work on solving them. Looking back, those days represent total freedom to me....no responsibilities but paying for coffee. The satisfaction that comes from solving a New York Times crossword puzzle is difficult to explain to anyone who has never attempted it. Each square filled with a letter, forming blocks of connected words. It's nothing short of miraculous with the tough Saturday puzzle. I believe Bill Clinton was right when he said in the film that crossword fans are people who tend look for unique methods of solving problems.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quickie

Today is chaotic and I don't have time to write but I am anyway.

Knocked Up was everything (and more) that I wanted it to be. It's so rare to be thrilled and satisfied after walking out of a movie theater. It's funny, sweet, terrifying, close-to-home, and the most "real" film I've seen in a long time. The characters sound like real people having real conversations, only funnier.

D. deserves a public shout-out for cleaning the house both before AND after my family descended for a four-hour long brunch yesterday. I worked all weekend and he put up with my insane shenanigans and vocal complaints. I am a lucky girl.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mushy

I got students comin' and goin'. I've become an expert in international travel without ever stepping on a plane. I know every airport employee by face and speak a little too slowly and carefully most of the time.

I can't wait to show y'all pictures of Stella's latest project. It's nearly completed and I don't want to give anything away. I'm in love with her imagination.

This is a joke she made up a few months ago:

Q: Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella?

A: Fo' drizzle.


Lori Mocha told me I should write more about D. How did we meet? What's our story? What's he like?

Well I'm working on it. I haven't wanted to write about some personal events and, really, our story's not all that interesting on the surface. Instead, the thrilling, life-altering bits that make for juicy reading are underneath and internal, little invisible miracles occurring every day. It's tempting to think I'm lucky but I know I've also worked really hard to get where I am. I have a lot to be grateful for.

Who else is excited about going to see Knocked Up this weekend?