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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2010-12-12

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Intervention, Party of One

It snowed yesterday - our first measurable snowfall of the year.  Of course it was, like, a coating.  But that was enough to make life sorta miserable when it came to commuting.  Especially when it's the first snowfall of the year and everyone's super uber overly cautious because of it.  But that's neither here nor there, and not the point of this post.

The point: I was walking rather cautiously to work from the train, knowing that there was still a slick coating of snow everywhere and knowing that I am, in fact, the Klutziest Person in the World.  This has been proven by a crack team of medical specialists and will soon be reported in top medical journals. 

So I wasn't in any hurry. 

On my right shoulder was my enormous and completely packed bag.  A bag which contained among other things my wallet, phone, journal, makeup, train passes, pasta salad for today's holiday luncheon, and my contribution to a gift exchange*.

Notice the placement of the cup next to it so you can get a sense of scale and the sheer enormity of this beloved bag.  That's how dedicated I am to reporting hard-hitting issues.

In my left hand was this:

That's right.  A venti non-fat, no-whip peppermint mocha.  Nectar of the gods.  And only one sip had been stolen from its papery vessel at this point.

And as I walked, I had one thought:

If I go down, I have to save the coffee.

Yes.  The coffee.  Not the bag, containing most of my life.  The coffee.

And now I'm thinking I have a real problem.

But you know what? It's all good.  Because one of my New Years Resolutions is...

Going cold turkey on Starbucks and, in fact, coffee in general.  I know I can do it because I have in the past, and the longer I go without it, the less I want it.  All I need to do is decide, every morning, that I'm going to walk right past the coffee stand.

Hold me.

*A $15 giftcard to...Starbucks.  Intervention, anyone?

Funny thing: Two friends happened to post about their relationships with coffee today as well.  The Empress is giving it up after a long affair, and Jenny has been a little, well, jittery lately.  Check them out and get ready to laugh and empathize!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

This One Time, In The School Yard...

I've never participated in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop before, but as soon as I saw prompt #5, A Fist Fight, a special memory popped up and I knew I had to share a warm, fuzzy story...

When I was 8 years old, my family moved from a tiny 2-bedroom house to a slightly larger 3-bedroom house in the same neighborhood.  I can see why my parents decided to make the move - not only was the first house the size of a postage stamp, but it existed on a street full of certifiably insane neighbors.  That's a story for another time.

The biggest perk of moving? Living directly across the street from school.  Talk about being the envy of the rest of the kids!  If you played your cards right you could be out of bed and in the school yard in 10 minutes or less.  Plus, our church was right there as well, which was a total bonus on sleepy Sunday mornings.

The second biggest perk to moving was that I was finally living around other kids.  I was thrilled to pieces to find out that just two doors down would be a family with a little girl exactly my age, who I'd known since 1st grade.  And I wasn't even half as thrilled as she was...I guess that should have been my first clue that there was something amiss.  She had all these kids living so close by but was still in need of a friend.  Turns out it was because she was insane.

Okay.  In hindsight she wasn't any more insane than the average little girl.  But she was a "type", and I know you've all experienced her.  The needy, overly-fussy, everything-has-to-be-my-way, I-hate-you-today-but-will-be-your-best-friend-tomorrow-but-only-until-someone-better-comes-along-and-then-I'll-pretend-I-have-to-go-home-but-will-really-hang-out-with-that-other-person type.

And she was my best friend.  Lucky me.  Maybe I was the insane one.

Naturally, because my best friend was batsh*t crazy, I experienced my share of drama in the years that followed our move.  And I got into my fair share of girlfights.  But nothing as dramatic as the time we fist-fought in the school yard before the bell rang.

I don't remember what started us off, but the situation devolved into the two of us standing nose-to-nose, shouting insults at each other.  And of course, the insults revolved around our families because, hey, that's the easiest spot to pick at if you really wanna hurt someone.

Me: At least MY Dad doesn't make me go in and fix drinks for him when he's outside with the neighbors! (referring to the fact that she had preparing her father's mixed drinks for him for years)
Her: At least I have a Dad I can look UP to! (referring to my father's 5'2" stature)
Me: At least MY parents don't send me outside to knock for my friends in bad weather because THEY DON'T LIKE ME AND WANT ME OUT OF THE HOUSE! (I think this one is pretty much self-explanatory)

That was it.  The tipping point.  Her eyes widened for a split second - I had hit my mark.  And then she hit me.  This devolved into a hair-pulling, blind-punching match, with the other girls cheering us on from the circle which had formed around us.  After no more than 15 seconds or so (though it seemed like an eternity), we were pulled apart by two older girls and - gulp! - sent to the Principal's office.

This was new territory for me.  I was a Good Girl.  I had never so much as been reprimanded and here I was, being sent to the Principal's office.  Where I got a demerit. invitation to detention.

WHOA.  This rocked my world.  It was unthinkable.  So unthinkable, in fact, that I ran back across the street to tell my mom that I (I!) had gotten detention for fighting.  This was world-ending for me.  I was in a panic. 

But Mom was not as ruffled as I.  I guess she wasn't all that surprised, since this was just one of so many fights I'd gotten into with this girl.  So she told me to calm down, that I wasn't in any trouble with her, and to go back across the street before I was late for school.

So I did.  And we both sat in detention later that week.  Where we passed notes and made up, after our mothers had forced us to stand face-to-face and apologize for everything we said.

Oh, did I mention that things I said were only things I had heard my parents discuss in the past? And that my Mom had to stand there and listen to me repeat them in front of HER mother? And probably cringe?

Sorry, Mom.

Mama's Losin' It


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Addictive Candied Nuts

Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement and support last week when I opened up regarding my tendency to overdo things during the holidays, especially when it comes to throwing a party.  I didn't go as far as I usually do, but I did manage to fall asleep before the party was over.  Like a lame-o.  One day I'll manage to stay awake, I swear.

Oh, how I wish I had managed to get pictures of the spread I put out.  I truly do.  There were stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, chicken skewers, barbecue went on and on.

I'm not gonna lie.  It was a lot of food.

Sadly, I wasn't finished putting it all out when guests showed up and started eating.  So I sent Rob into the dining room with the camera to try to get some shots of what was there before it was decimated.

I used sharp cheddar, brie, garlicky boursin, fresh mozzarella and Maytag blue cheeses (the Maytag being separate from the rest due to an allergy among the guests).  Accompaniments were sliced pepperoni, candied nuts, sliced pears, grapes and honey.  On the side, hummus and a delicious roasted tomato bruschetta (which I found at She Wears Many Hats).  Crackers and a basket of fresh-from-the-oven crostini completed the spread.  

And it all fit in with my "less work, greater effect" plan for the night.  So it was a win-win all around!

I fully intend to put this together again on New Years, and promise to take actual pictures next time!

To make amends, let me share with you my absolute favorite recipe for candied nuts.  They're pretty much ridiculous, addictive and incredible.  Put a bowl of these babies out at your holiday gathering and watch them disappear (which is why I always hold some aside for later, but that's just between you and me).  They went well with all the cheeses I well as by the handful, several days later.

Not like I would know or anything...

Candied Nuts

1 lb shelled walnuts or pecans (or a combination thereof, which I used)

1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, milk and vanilla.  Heat over medium-high for 8 minutes, or until mixture reaches soft-ball stage of 236 degrees F.  

Immediately add nuts and mix thoroughly, making sure to coat as evenly as possible.  Pour nuts out onto prepared cookie sheet and break up into pieces.  Allow to cool completely and enjoy!

So what about you? Do you have any go-to appetizer or snack recipes which you use during the holidays?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Painting the Town Red and Green

How excited am I?

About what, you ask? Well, I'll tell ya.  I'm excited because this weekend, Rob and I are going to spend time together in the best city I know - Philadelphia.

You may remember that we spent a weekend there over the summer, hanging out with friends and just generally enjoying the time together without having to answer to anyone else.  It was pretty awesome, and something we knew we had to do again (if only for the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower at the Westin.  Seriously, have you ever experienced them? Because if not I'd dare to say that you haven't lived.  It's just that amazing.).

I love Philly so much.  I can't describe the feeling very articulately.  It's just where I was born and raised, the skyline I know by heart, the city I'm insanely proud of for all the times it tries (even if it doesn't always succeed).

It's the place that, whenever I visited somewhere else (including NYC), I missed and wanted to return to.  It's home and it always will be.

So on Saturday and Sunday we paint the town red...and green, since we're going to try to see as many Christmas-y things as we can.  First up is two tickets to Holiday Pops, which is always fun (they have a gospel choir that is so good I swear I wanna jump up and sing along)...then we hope to get a chance to visit Christmas Village at City Hall, and my favorite...

I haven't seen the light show at Macy's since it was the light show at Wannamaker's (maybe it was already Lord & Taylor at that time...who can tell?).  It's simple enough - a whole wall of lights in the shape of animals, Christmas characters and snowflakes blinks in time to music and narration by none other than Julie Andrews.  Compared to more hi-tech spectacles this may seem...pedestrian.

But it is so.not.even.  It's magical.  There's something about the music and the lights, and seeing the awestruck faces of the little guys all around, that resonates in the soul.  Plus it's pretty.  And Rob's never seen it.  So I'm really looking forward to seeing it again.

We would love, like looooove, to visit the Italian Market as well.  We went last year and had a blast even though it was, like, 2 degrees outside with constant icy winds.  I hope that this time around we can take more time to enjoy it without suffering hypothermia.  All the spices, fresh meats and seafood, cheese and produce I can get my hands on.  It's a dangerous scenario, actually.  Seriously, y'all would have a fit down there.

How could you not be happy around all this olive oil? How??

Regardless of whether or not I get to frolic in the Christmas Village, or drool over the multitude of beautiful food shops in South Philly, or get a good night's sleep in a Heavenly Bed*, it matters not.  The important thing is spending time with Rob and taking a breather from the madness of the holidays.

That's what it's all about.

*I better get a good night's sleep in that bed.  I was totally lying about it not mattering.

How about you? Any special plans for the holiday season?

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Wrappin' It Up




So to sum it all up, in case you aren't following: I am not a fan of wrapping gifts.

Buying? Yes.  Unwrapping? Sure! But actually wrapping? Not so much.  Because I stink at it.  There.  I said it.

But then I take a look...

...and I see all the work he's done for me.

It's so pretty.

So here I go again, wrapping and decorating so he'll have pretty presents under the tree, just like I do.

How about you? Are you any good at wrapping gifts? Or is there another holiday to-do that makes your skin crawl?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Perspective is Key

So many things in life can be taken for granted.  I mean, it's all relative, right? Whatever you think is your sorrow may seem like bliss to the person standing next to you.

For instance, I often bemoan the fact that Rob and I live with his father as a result of his illness and subsequent recovery.  Okay, maybe not "bemoan" necessarily, but I do talk about it a lot.  I need to get it out of my system.  (I just typed up a bunch of stuff and erased it because you don't need to read about it and it's not right for me to air it out like that.)

But then I hear stories of people who have it so much worse.  People I know personally.  For instance, a couple who just attended our party over the weekend.  Turns out they're having such financial difficulties that they don't even live together anymore - they live with relatives and see each other only on the weekends.  Both have jobs...they just don't make enough money to have a place of their own right now.

Not to mention so many more people who are so afraid of what's going to happen when their unemployment is cut off...right before Christmas.

And here I am, complaining.  Even though I get to see my husband every day and sleep in the same bed with him every night.  So what if we normally don't get to go to bed together because one of us has to stay up until FIL goes to bed, regardless of what time it is? At the end of the day, we're together and comfortable in our home, and planning a lovely holiday with our family, and probably going a tad bit overboard with gifts.

We're even going away for a night this weekend.  Sure, we had to plan it well over a month in advance so as to secure plans for FIL, but hey, so very many people don't get to experience such luxuries.

It's all about perspective.  I can think of a few people I know personally who wouldn't be able to handle what we handle on a daily basis...but I can think of many more than that who would probably jump at the chance.

And it humbles me.