Saturday, December 31, 2005

A reason to love my town

There are times I hate this town. The sun has not been out in about a week and the gray is beginning to permeate my soul despite my daily attempt at mood alteration via endorphins at the gym.

But there are also times I love this place and this morning my neighbor helped to remind me of why I stick it out through the dark months.

I looked out the window this morning and saw this:
Let's get a little closer:
Yes, that is a dollar bill embedded in the snow on the windshield of the Fembot (aka the minivan).
Upon even closer examination
one can discern the words:
"Brian and Kate
Keep eye out.
1 week.
Happy Holidays!"
written around the edge of the bill.

This is how our neighbor (Jon) asks us to keep an eye on his house while he's down in Florida. One year when we were doing construction and had a big pit where the front door should have been, he tossed a similar dollar bill note down in the hole.

I think this man is brilliant for this alone. Sure, we'd be happy to keep an eye on his house and make sure there aren't any knock-down drag-out parties going on there while he's away (at least not parties that we aren't invited to) and if he'd come to the front door we would have told him so. But getting the request via dollar bill note is so charming and quirky that I'll actually enjoy the process of keeping an eye on his house.

We aren't particularly close with this neighbor--he's a nice enough guy, but on the private side. But somehow, he gets our sense of humor. And that is why I love this town and that is why I live here--the unpretentious quirkiness of the residents is wonderful to behold. It is nice to be living in a place where eccentricity is more than ok, it is appreciated. Even though the sun doesn't shine here for months at a time...

And Brian pointed out that if we collect enough of these dollar notes, maybe we can afford to go to Florida ourselves someday!

Happy New Year to you all, and I hope the coming year provides you and me both with more odd yet appealing moments, and of course, lots of good food, books and yarn.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


That would be the disgruntled sound I made when I finished reading this book:
I thought this book was unappealing and the ending was gimmicky. I'm still not sure what the point was other than to make fun of middle aged men and their self-involved pomposity. I found particularly annoying the sections in which we have to listen to Clive trying to compose his latest symphony. Writing about music is not one of McEwan's strengths and I think it takes an unique author to be able to write about a very visual or auditory art form and not make it dull as cold toast.

Stella assures me that McEwan's Black Dogs is worth reading and I liked Saturday so I'll give it a try. I also haven't read Atonement yet and a number of people I know have praised it.

And now Grumpy Kate would like you to send me some fiction recommendations so that I don't have to start the New Year off reading sucky books.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

'Twas a goofy British Christmas

You can tell we had a pretty good Christmas since it started off with this fellow:
My very own Were-Rabbit figurine with movable arms. He's sitting on the kitchen counter and is approximately the size and shape of a beer-can chicken. Apparently, he is also fond of Cheerio's...

and ended with scenes like this:
Paper crowns and plastic mustache courtesy of the Christmas Crackers. Half-shut eyes and silly look courtesy of a few too many egg nogs with lots of whiskey...

In between the above photos I made a very British meal for my parents, Brian's mom, his cousin Kent, and Kent's hysterical co-worker, Miss Neffel. (Ok, she has a first name, Diane, but I like to call her Miss Neffel.)

Our plates were groaning with piles of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, green beans, Brussels sprouts and roast potatoes.

I made some little appetizer nibbles of cucumber, dilled creme fraiche and Scottish smoked salmon, which did not stick around long enough to pose for a photograph. And we ended the meal with my mom's mince pies (made with homemade vegetarian mincemeat) and whipped cream (also speedily consumed).

There were a few deviations from the British theme. The salad course was not British: baby greens dressed in a terrific orange vinaigrette (recipe below) with orange zest and topped with goat cheese, walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
And Brian's mom brought over a Buche de Noel from Whole Foods that was more chocolate ganache than cake (No complaints here! Bring on the ganache!).

We were all too full and tired by the end of the meal to indulge in the last course, Stilton, pears and port by the fire. So I'll save these for another evening around my parents' fireplace.

Terrific Orange Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t maple syrup
zest from 1 orange--use an old fashioned zester here so you get strips of zest, not a microplane zester

Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake really hard!