Yes, I mean you.

December 29, 2008

Dear Drivers around the Delaware Water Gap at apx 4:45 pm yesterday,

Since it is painfully clear you have suffered a case of amnesia and completely forgotten everything you may have learned during drivers ed.  Here are five things you may want to remember the next time you get behind the wheel.

1) When roads have 2 lanes, the left lane is reserved for those who are passing.  The right lane is where you want to drive 10 miles per hour under the speed limit.

2) If people are flying by you in the right lane and using their middle finger to show you something in the sky as they pass, you might want to consider moving over.

3) Since we are on the subject of lanes; you only get to use one of them.  This means you have to make a choice.  Driving in both is unfair, dangerous and a little greedy.

4) Sometimes, accidents happen.  It is unfortunate but true.  When you are passing an accident it is polite to focus on the seemingly impossible task of merging three lanes into two and pay attention.  Stopping dead in your tracks to look a the pretty flashing lights or smoking car is not going to give you a lot of information about the accident.  It will however give you an up-close and personal account of the accident you are about to cause.

5) GET OFF YOUR G-D DAMN CELL PHONE.  You can not talk and drive.  You can not text and drive.  You can not put on your hands free headset and drive and you can not, under any circumstances, use your Iphone to look up directions while going 82 miles per an hour into the Tappan Zee Bridge.

*As a special little side note to the the man driving the white BMW with CT plates…yes you, the one who nearly killed D and I as you swerved into my car going 94.  Listen close little man.  If I ever find you in a dark ally or alone in a parking garage…you’re dead.  I swear on my life…I am going to hurt you.  No, I am not kidding.  At all.

“Let me entertain you”

December 22, 2008

I am probably not the worlds best hostess.  This is partially due to having a mother who was born to entertain (gives me the shakes) and partially due to living in a very cool, but very small apartment (only three people can sit at the table at a time).  But, the new house will have plenty of entertaining space so I am trying to learn all I can about how to properly host a party.  Here are five bits I picked up at a fabulous event this weekend. 

1) Serve some sort of signature drink in a  fancy glass.  Do not tell anyone what is in it.  Make sure there is a lot of alcohol and refill glasses when no one is looking.

2) Do not freak out when some of said signature dink ends up on your Persian rug.  Laugh like this happens all the time and slyly sneak in under the coffee table to use your magic cleaning liquid when no one is looking.

3) Set up the food in lots of small rooms and intimate spaces.  This encourages conversation and allows your guests to talk about each other while being at the same event.  “Is she really wearing those shoes” or “apparently they have been living together for months” is a sign that the conversing is going really, really well.

4) Serve good food.  Make sure that some of the food requires an explanation.  Why is the caviar and creme  fresh next to the pizza?  It is a topping?  Oh, of course.*   A cheese tray with no less than 8 varieties of cheese is a good place to start. 

5) Wait until everyone is half (or fully) in the bag and start telling stories about your neighbors.  Throw in one about the guy across the street getting caught ‘pleasuring’ the next door neighbors husband.  Make sure to mix up the pro-nouns a few times to keep people guessing.  This will keep them talking about your party for years to come! 

*side note, potato pizza with creme fresh and cavier is actually quite delicious.  Ihave asked for the recipe and am happy to share it with anyone who is interested.

Food Friday: Ginger Truffles

December 19, 2008

I don’t bake, at all.  So when I feel compelled to create and distribute sweets this time of year I usually turn to candy.  These truffles look fancy but are fairly simple and a little goes a long way. 

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2 bars (4 oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup plus 2 tsp heavy (whipping) cream

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 Tbsp cognac or other very good brandy

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend above pan on 2 sides

Stir chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.

Stir in ginger, Cognac and vanilla until blended.  Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours until set. 

Lift foil from pan. Remove from foil to a cutting board.  Cut with a sharp knife into 6 rows lengthwise and 6 rows crosswise*.  Sift coco or confectioners sugar over top, dip in chocolate coating or serve as is.**

* I know they looks small, trust me…they are rich

** If you choose to leave them plain you can twist them in small strips of wax paper for gifts.  Decorated, they look very beautiful in a  tin.

Forget the calander…here are five ways you can really tell it is fall in New England.

1) People suddenly forget how to drive. Rain in April, no problem. Rain in December…FREAK OUT. And this is coming from arguably the worst driver to ever recieve a liscence legally.

2)Commutes increase by 20 minutes due to the number of mommies and daddies driving their kids to school. Apparently children born after 1990 have a lower core temerature than anyone born during the Carter or Regan years and have a serious risk of contracting hypothermia if the temperature drops below 40 and they, heaven forbid, have to wait outside. They have also stopped making hats and scarves and mittens or maybe they just don’t sell them at Limited Too.

3) There are pot holes in the road the size of Rhode Island. I don’t know how it is possible to have such large holes in the roads surface with out losing a small un-hatted child. Forget about  government works projects developing new roads and infrastructure….lets start by fixing the ones we have got. I and my tires thank you.

4) You are forced to check Accuweather three times a day to see what you should be wearing any time you want to leave your house. 65 and sunny Monday does not mean it won’t be 41 and rainy on Tuesday. Finally get out those rain boots out and they freeze solid on Wednesday when it is a whopping 8. Don’t get too comfortable.  Thursday they are calling for 52 with sun showers before that nor’ester moves in on Friday so you better stop for a show shovel on your way home from work.

5) Every local bar and pub has replaced their lovely regular beers on tap with some sort of winter-wonder-fest monstrosity promising to taste of cinnamon, clove or wrapping paper. Even worse, they insist on serving this potpourri of alcoholic artificial flavors in a sugared and spiced glass. I am not making this up*.

*I am really not making this up. Last week when I ordered a pint of beer at one of my formerly favorite bars, the bartender said, “would you like that in a sugared glass?”. “oh no” I replied, “I did not want a margarita, just a beer”. “I know” she said, “the winter ale comes in a sugared glass”. No lie.

– March 2001- I am living in London and visiting the National Portrait Gallery.  The Brits do not look highly upon ringing cell phones in museums.   Like any good American, trying not to look like an American, I take my phone out of my bag, dutifully turn it to vibrate and stick it in my pocket.  1 hr later…. I go to use the ladies room and at the exact moment I start to unbutton my pants, the cell phone ‘rings’ and vibrates itself out of my pocket and into the toilet where it vibrates and glows for three more rings before dying a slow death. 

– January 2003 – I am in graduate school desperately trying to finish up my masters degree while working part time.  I am getting ready to teach a class on Mercantilism in Colonial America and decide to use the ladies room before the class begins.  With my phone resting on my books I begin to enter the stall and immediately remember my previous experience with cell phones and water.  I go to lower my books and place the phone safely on the floor when the phone slides off and begins plummeting for the bowl below.  I reach out and knock the phone into the tank where it bounces twice and ultimately falls into the swimming pool.  This time, I know better.  I leave it exactly where it is and use another bathroom.

– April 2005-  My screen goes dead.  One minute it is fine and the next minute I cannot see who is calling me.  One minute later I can not access my phonebook and I realize that I have lost the ability to remember anyone’s phone number.  I vow that if I ever get the phone numbers back, I will work on my memorization.  I will also write them down.

– July 2007- There is no sound coming from my cell phone.  I increase the volume, I wear one of those ear piece things even when I am not driving.  I plug my other ear, close my eyes, turn off anything in the vicinity that could be making noise and still…I can not hear one word the person calling me is saying. 

– December 2008 – I meet my friend C for a drink (ok, maybe 2) after work.  On my way home I decide to stop at the ATM and get some cash for the weekend.  The ATM eats my card.  Right before my very eye’s and it will not give it back.  I take out my phone and flip it open to call Bank of America to tell them about their hungry ATM.  In my haste, aggravation and red wine haze…I over flip the phone.  Screen goes blue.  I can now only use my phone if I hold the part where you talk and the part where you listen at exactly 90 degrees.  No, I have not written down any phone numbers.  Yes, I know…I should have learned my lesson.

Am I overly hard on phones?  I don’t think so.  Is there a phone that can withstand the wrath of Sara?  I don’t know.  You tell me.

Food Friday: Chestnuts

December 12, 2008

Growing up in NY, many of my favorite winter childhood memories include walking through the city with my parents death grip in one hand and bag of hot chestnuts in the other.  I know that the song says you are supposed to roast them on an open fire, but I will take them from an open street cart any day.  This weekend D and I are heading to NY to see some family, and I can not wait to get my hands on a bag.  If you have never made them at home; it is suprisingly simple.  There is one one ingreadient and five steps.  Enjoy. 

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1) Take a cutting board and a knife and make a cut in the round side of every chestnut.  If you are afraid og cutting yourself, use a serrated knife witha  short blade.

2) Scatter the chestnuts on a baking dish with the flat side down.  Drizzle drops of water over the chestnuts with your fingers. 

3) Put the baking dish with the chestnuts in the oven at about 425 degrees.  Place the baking dish as close to the heat source as possible. 

4) After roasting the chestnuts for 10 min on one side turn them over. 

5) After 20 minutes in the oven they are ready to be eaten.  Serve them hot.  When you get them right, peeling them is very easy.

Oh really? Thats great.

December 10, 2008

I have a great boss.  Really, I do.  He knows a ton about what he is doing and is very well respected in the field. I know that working for him will make me a million times better at my job.  However.  If he comes into my office one more time to tell me that he just met someone really impressive, with brilliant ideas that blew him away who just happens to be doing MY job at another institution…. I am going to:

-Scream

-Puke

-Cry

-Run

or

-Throw an excel spreadsheet at his head

How do you think that will be for my job security?

The end of a friendship

December 8, 2008

Dear Cranberry and Vodka,

I never wanted it to come to this; but our friendship is officially over for the following five reasons.

-You make me sick.  Literally, you make me sicker than a five year old with a stomach flu on a transatlantic flight. How do you mange to turn two lovely things like cranberry juice and vodka into such stomach retching poison?

-You continually lure me back to your evil ways.  Even when I think that we will never spend another night together, you sit there cold and fresh, mocking me with your tasty goodness until I fold.

-You speed up the earths rotation and make time move faster than Usain Bolt.  One minute it is last call and three of you and your friends later my clock is showing 5:15.

-You leave the worlds worst headaches in your wake.  If the empty vodka bottle shattered and shards of its glass were repeatedly jabbed through my eyeballs it would not hurt nearly as much as you do.

-You climb into my brain and take my happy memories.  The headache and the stomachache and the loss of 6 hours of my life would not be nearly as insulting if I had any recollection of it.  But no, you rob me of the one simple pleasure of remembering the night I had while I suffer with the consequences in the morning.

For this and many other reasons we are no longer friends.  This time, I mean it.  You never cared about me anyway.

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This week work has been INSANE and when I am really short on time I like to have a few quick recipes with minimal ingredientsI can throw together at the end of a long day.  I make this one often; sometimes I swap out the fish fillets for crab or scallops.  Whatever you like or is on sale will work.  Or, you can skip the seafood all together and add chickpeas for a vegetarian meal. 

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1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

2/3 cup instant rice (brown or white)

1 package (10 oz) frozen corn

1 1/2 cups salsa (any kind you like, chunky is good)

1 lb skinned, mild flavored fish fillets* cut into 2 inch pieces

In a large saucepan, combine broth with enough water to equal 5 cups.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in rice, reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and salsa.  Return to boiling. 

Add fish to the pot.  Cook, covered, for five minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with when touched lightly with a  fork.  Serve with lime wedges and crusty bread if desired. 

*haddok, cod or halibut will work well

PS:  WordPress users: How do you feel about the new dashboard layout?  I am not loving it…at all.  Does anyone know how to get to your own blog from your dashboard now?  There used to be fairly obvious button that said “visit site” but now it is gone.  Why does technology hate me?

Dear D,

The truth is; I had no interest in meeting you.  My heart was heavy with worry for my father and quite frankly…I did not want to meet anyone.  Our friends dragged me out that night and for the first time in weeks, I laughed.  I don’t know if I knew right then that I would spend my life with you but I knew you were special.  Since that day I have learned so much more about you than your interest in running and winter sports and your affinity for the Midwest.  In honor of your birthday, here are five of my favorite.

-You are incredibly kind.  You give everyone you meet the benefit of the doubt and I have never heard you say a bad word about anyone. 

-You are amazingly patient.  I can not even begin to count the number of times I have made us late for parties, dinners and flights or how often you have heard me say “I’m ready” only to watch me run around the room for 5 more minutes straitening up, putting away the remote or fixing the throw pillows.  You have never lost your temper or left with out me and that is pretty amazing.

-You are totally honest.  When you flew out to surprise me in AZ you managed to plan the whole thing with out telling one lie.  When I threw you your surprise 30th I must have told hundreds of them.  This honesty holds true for everything you do and every interaction you have. 

-You are extremely talented.  By profession you are one of the lucky people who get to make the world a more beautiful place and you have certainly done the same for our home.  I love having a husband who actually cares what shade of gray the living room is and makes custom breakfast bars from left over pieces of ceder. 

-You are reliably funny.  I can honestly say that everyday we are together to make me smile, chuckle or giggle.  I never imagined life could be so much fun.

cute_sara

Happy Birthday to my husband, my partner, my friend.  Love, S