Thursday, December 25, 2008

Three Highlights

I also received this throw from Hub's parents.  So soft and perfect!

This was Pup's gift from Santa.  As a bonus, you can put a water bottle inside, and she likes nothing more than the sound of crushing water bottles.  Also, Pup herself is sleeping underneath this nest of fluffy white blanket.  I tried to tuck her in for her nap, but I apparently lack nest-making skills, so she had to dig and root around to make her own fully submerged nest for herself.  Ah, Pup is quite the discriminating doggie. 

Perfect Day

I spent the ENTIRE day making cookies on Tuesday.  Can I think of a better way to spend five hours as I'm approaching Christmas?  No, I cannot.  What else could have been better when it was freezing cold outside and I could sip coffee and chat with Lu while rolling out my dough and dying my icing?  

Tangentially, this holiday season has been so much more enjoyable than previous ones, and I think it's b/c I have so much more time to do things the way I want to do them, to carry out my vision, if you will.  I like to do the chores required around Christmas:  making lists, shopping, wrapping, baking.  This is my stuff.  Normally, it's all shoved into the few hours between work and dinner and ends up being just a big pile of stress.  Maybe I could handle the housewifing gig.  I'm just saying...

Anyway, I made cut-out cookies for the in-law extended family gift exchange.  Edible gifts are my go-to gift of choice for pretty much anyone outside the immediate fam circle.  Is is inexpensive?  Yes.  Can I produce mass quantities?  Yes.  I meant to take pictures of all of them before I packed them up, but I forgot.  Oh well, here are some samples of the process and resulting delicacies.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Things that Annoy Mom

I just found this picture of my mom on our computer.  She looks like she's annoyed with something I'm doing.  She's probably about to give me sass about it.  These are the things that annoy my mother:  1) winter, 2) pretty much all animals, 3) when I don't return her phone calls, 3) misbehaving children, 4) when people joke about her abstinence from cooking for the last couple years, and 6) when things happen to her plants.

If she ever reads this, she won't like that I posted any of this information.  Fortunately for me, it is highly unlikely my mom will even turn on the computer before the end of the year.  I showed her my blog one time.  I don't think she was that impressed.  Additionally, I don't think she really understood what a blog is.  

And honestly, shouldn't I have better things to do with my time?  Like look for a job?

The Latest Pipe Dream

I've been scanning Craigslist lately looking for jobs, and I'm not finding much that would be worth leaving Lanny's... which means that everything's pretty much crap and pays pennies.  However, I did find a contract job writing as a food critic for for the Dallas Fort Worth area.  Can anyone imagine a better job (even if it is just part time)?  "I give this my lowest rating ever--seven thumbs up." The only con I can think of is the 900 lbs. I would gain from eating fried starters, butter-drenched sauces, and choco heavy desserts.  

Um, I'm literally salivating right now.  What's wrong with me?  I just had dinner a few hours ago--oh yeah, the problem is that tonight we had a sensible veggie-laden dinner of cassoulet.  It's one of our favorites, but lentils and leeks don't stick to your ribs like our other favorite chicken curry with its heavy cream base (or as Lanny has called it "full fat cream"... He informed us that's what it's technically called and that's what we should tell customers is in the pasilla soup.  Um, no.  I don't think the term "full fat" is going to sell anyone.)  

Anyway, what was I talking about?  Oh, yes, my application to  Well,  I had to submit two 150 word sample restaurant reviews with my cover letter and resume.  I've decided to post them.  I picked two of my favorite Camp Bowie standards of which I was most comfortable: Lucile's and Winslow's.  Please enjoy my staggering food and bev knowledge.



For years, Lucile's Stateside Bistro has prepared Fort Worth's favorite brunch.  From the entryway of the historic building, the dining room opens up into two sections:  to the left, a raised more intimate area and to the right, the high-ceilinged, open sun room.  Although Lucile's lobster bisque and salmon salad from its everyday menu are sure crowd-pleasers, the bistro shines brightest with their Sunday brunch menu.  Not only do servers circulate with baskets of warm, tart sourdough rolls, but their chef cooks sides of beautiful, diaphanous, sugar dusted beignets to order.  As a quick disclaimer, Lucile's is no place for carb cowards.  However, for those without starch angst, Lucile's is happy to offer their most popular entrees, the Dutch Baby and the breakfast pizza.  The Dutch Baby, a delicate, platter-sized crepe, cloaks itself in lemon butter and powdered sugar, while a side of bacon or ham balances the flavor.  Additionally, they offer a variety of breakfast pizzas from their Morning Glory to the Southwest Pizza, all wood-fired in their stone oven.  Whether young or old, just coming out of church or just rolling out of bed, everyone can find something to love at Lucile's Sunday brunch

Quick Bite

Winslow's Wine Cafe set up shop this fall in the seemingly ideal location on the corner of Camp Bowie and Clover, just blocks from Fort Worth's cultural district.  The owners repurposed the historic gas station for their sleek new restaurant, bar, patio, and retail shop.  Editing their wine list to include around fifty varieties of some of the most popular bottles, the menu contains Far Niente, Cakebread, and Darioush Cabernet Sauvignons as well as a Susana Balbo Malbec, a Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, and a Trefethen Riesling.  With this obvious focus on their beverages, the  food menu remains streamlined, comprised of hot and cold tapas, salads, and pizzas.  All the stock starters are accounted for:  bruschetta, check; crab cakes, check; carpaccio, check, and yet the menu contains some surprising inclusions, as well.  The vanilla-scented scallops and small brisket sandwiches satisfy customers looking for a starter with a little more Cow Town personality.  Within the wood fired pizza varieties, the Jim Bowie disappoints, bastardizing what pizza should be with its jam-like BBQ sauce.  However, the Spinach and Chevre pizza is the perfect combination of sweetness from carmelized onions, freshness from the spinach, velvety creaminess from the bechamel, and salty nuttiness from the shaved parmesan.  West-siders seem to love the idea of this neighborhood wine bar with its simple, elegant fare, and really, who can blame them?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trimming the Tree

Pup and I are decorating the Christmas tree this afternoon!  I originally planned on sticking to lime/avocado (guacamole?) and metallics scheme for my tree, but I discovered it takes a fairly heartless person to faithfully stick to a Christmas tree color scheme.  How do I deny the little baseball ornaments from Hub's childhood?  How could I keep my mom's angel ornament from when she was a girl wrapped up and in the out in the shed?  It takes a stronger person than I to refrain from straying every now and then.  I am weak.  

One other point of note... I'm listening to Christmas music on a random internet radio station, and I've noticed that they don't play the lyrics on any of the old school traditional carols.  They have words for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but only instrumental versions of "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger."  I'm not usually one to sigh and ask what the world is coming to or any of that head shaking damn-them-liberals sort of stuff, but I'm searching for the logic in this.  At any moment, one can turn on the radio and hear women called any number of offensive terms and all sorts of sexual acts described, but three wise men and Mary on the radio--how offensive!  Color me confused.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hub's dinner

Enchiladas are my go to dinner choice.  I say enchiladas...  They're not an authentic enchilada--more like my quick and easy version of an enchilada.  If my boss were to see the abomination I call an enchilada, I think he would laugh at them, but nevertheless, they're tasty and cheap and convenient to leave for Hub to cook on his own while I'm waiting tables.

First, you take the beans and the Rotel...  (Why do all my pictures get reversed when I try to upload them?)

Then you take the gigantic bag of pre-grated cheddar and shake out a little bit into the bowl...

Next, you drain the canned goods...

Then add various spices.  I like fennel seeds, cumin, and paprika.

Mix it up nice so that it looks like this...  Enchilada innards look pretty gross.  It's just the way it goes.

I prefer Central Market butter tortillas.  After using them once, I can't go back to the bland cardboard of supermarket tortillas.

Then spread the mix in tubular fashion on the buttery tortilla.  (Maybe sneak an extra tortilla from the bag for a snack at this point.)

Squash all the rolled enchiladas into ceramic baking dish.  Smother with salsa of choice.  Bake it up for about 30 minutes on 350 or so and enjoy pseudo-enchiladas!

Crossing Fingers

I interviewed (with hundreds of others) for a concierge position at the new Fort Worth Omni Hotel.  The interviews went pretty well, and I think I'll get offered something.  (By saying this, I realize I've destroyed any chance I had at actually getting a job.  ever.)  I like the idea of being a concierge, but I have a feeling they're going to try to coerce me into working on the food and bev side of things.  I'm also a little worried that a concierge gets paid approximately $0.37/hr.  We'll see.

This is a rendering of the future lobby.

They're going to have a Bob's Steak and Chop House and their own restaurant plus a sports bar and this wine room.

Bad Dogs Have More Fun

Pup has many wildly creative hobbies.  First, she is an opinionated style diva.  Every once in awhile she objects to my poor fashion choices, specifically pointy toed stilettos.  Her distaste for these specific shoes compels her to furtively sabotage my clumsy attempts at style.  Or maybe she thinks I'm too tall for heels of this variety.  Apparently, stilettos belong only to petite hotties like Pup herself. In any case, her mode of attack may take one of two fronts:  the pointy toe or the tip of the heel. Either attack is equally successful because either will render the said shoe totally unwearable.  I am strong-armed into submitting to the whims of my canine stylist.

Aside from her interests in fashion, Pup also studies interior design.  She enjoys secretly redecorating our spare bedroom.  She surprises me regularly by improving our guest room quilt.  She objects to certain patches on the quilt and systematically removes offending patches and pulls out the extra fluffy stuffing underneath.  

The quilt is far too shabby chic for a urban dog with mid-century modern tastes like Pup.  I've seen her browsing online for an Eames chair and cashmere throw on which to sleep instead of her ridiculously cramped crate in this tacky guest room.  I'm constantly sewing new patches on the quilt to try to repair it, but she will not be satisfied until it is gone and I've redecorated with an updated motif.  

Here she is closing her eyes so she doesn't have to see the tacky decor.  Redecorating is exhausting work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bedroom Crafting

My parents' very retirement community-ish neighborhood hosts a community wide garage sale twice a year.  It's beautiful.  Yard after yard of junk--unbelievably cheap furniture and tacky jewelry and old dishes.  I haggled with a resident to 1) separate this stool from the vanity set to which it belonged and 2) to lower the price to a reasonable rate for 4:00 in the afternoon.

When I brought it home, I painted it gray (currently spray painting everything in the house gray and/or gold), lacquered it up all shiny and nice, and then recovered the seat with a shrunken cashmere sweater for luxurious softness for Hub to perch on.

I love Top Design on Bravo.  On the season finale, Nathan makes a huge painting to hang in his dining room (I think) where he essentially just dribbles paint down a canvas and then hangs it on its side.  It was cool.  I copied.

I hung it over the armoire behind the birds with a plaid suitcase posed underneath.  I felt like our room needed a little edge, and nothing says edge like dressed up splatter paint.  (You can see the curtains in this picture, too.  They are actually tablecloths I got a Target for $5 each.  That's $20 total for my huge, perfectly coordinating curtains.  It was like an angel handed them to me.)

I've had these antique doors hanging in our room since we moved in.  They were nice but pretty boring.  I was longing for a little dose of print in our fairly tame bedroom, and West Elm has this overlapping squares pattern on some of their furniture.  Alas, I cannot afford their cool chairs, but I can afford a bottle of dove gray acrylic paint, so problem solved.

These are the first thing you see when you walk in our room, and they were begging to be dressed up.  I like that it's strong and graphic and masculine but still in the muted palate.  

This is our flock.  Hub does not like the birds even though I explained that they have a very Anthropologie feel.  He doesn't share my obsessive love.  He continued to insist that the white one looks at him while he plays XBox, and secretly, I agree.  The white one does stare somewhat eerily at you.  Nevertheless, I insist on liking them.  I feel like they add a sparkly feminine element.

This little fat one is my favorite.  He's perched on my best Christmas ornament with a Spanish moss nest.

I'm not sure what to call this.  I think it's just a section of antique molding, but I prefer to call it a mantle.  I glued some favorite quotations to it and tea-stained the paper to mute the white and give it a little character.  Now that I'm looking at the picture I feel like it shouldn't be hung so high over the headboard.  Speaking of the headboard, it's sort of a work in progress.  I recently recovered it in this velvet-esque cream fabric, but it needs upholstery tack trim or...  something.

Here's a close up of the mantle.  

This last one is not necessarily a craft project, more like just a vignette on our chest of drawers.  

Family Photos

Hub and Pup

Holding New Nephew with Little Sis and Pup 



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Outside the Canon

This summer I made a list of goals, one of which might have been to learn how to make cheese.  Needless to say, I didn't get around to churning any out (ha), but another more easily achieved goal was to start reading books outside the classic canon.  

While teaching, time limited what I could read, which I didn't find to be too much of a problem.  In the classes with a set curriculum, I ended up writing the scope and sequence so I had some control over what we covered.  (However, in high school Brit lit it's hard to maneuver around Beowulf and Canterbury Tales.  I attribute the majority of my desire to resign to the dread of reading Beowulf again, only slightly more intense than the dread of having my tires slashed again.)  In my other classes, I had total control over what we read and freedom to adjust our syllabus from year to year.  Feminist rhetoric anyone?  Just kidding.  Sorta.  We read what I would have read for pleasure anyway: things that I had slipped past while in school and things I'd always been curious about.  However, out of high mindedness or snobbery or duty, almost all selections came from "the canon."

Anyway, back to my summer goals...  so I started expanding my limited repertoire (sp?), so to speak, this summer.  Here are a few of the highlights:  

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
I'm in the middle of this one, but I likes.  It's been a funny distraction while waiting for reservations to arrive on slow nights at the restaurant.

What is the What by Dave Eggers
I love Dave Eggers, and I liked this, but it's a departure from his normal style.  I knew very little about the Sudan, and although I'm still confused about all the political details, the book paints a depressingly tragic and realistic picture of the situation from what I can tell.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
What to say other than I loved it like everyone else did?

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
He's the weirdest.  ever.  I like him b/c he writes with an original and independent voice.  With that said, I won't be reading/watching Choke.  It is too much for me.

Independence Day by Richard Ford
People went crazy over this, but I couldn't get past how much I disliked the protagonist.  He was obnoxious and cowardly, and,  yes, I understand that's part of the point, and, no, I don't have to have a grinning hero protagonist in order to love a novel, but I still intensely dislike Frank Bascombe.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Softest Thing Ever

I want this (middle one, brown and gray) faux fur blanket from PB for our bed.  I want it REAL bad.  I hovered over it online for awhile.  Then I went into the store and couldn't stop touching it.  Husband laughed at my obsession.  I have decided that we need this exact textural interest and color in our room.  Plus, who doesn't want to cuddle under this during winter mornings?  

Tangentially, what is winter?  Do we have that anymore?  When will this so-called winter be appearing?  ...b/c I have some cuddling to do.


I took my one and only cruise with some oldtime girlfriends about five years ago.  Parts of that trip were acutely un-fun.  When I walked in our cabin, I thought there was a mistake b/c three people definitely couldn't all stay in that closet-sized space.  I was wrong--we slept and showered and dressed in there all together as one big irritable family.  While we were in Honduras, I got sand flea bites over MY ENTIRE BODY.  I had to have others apply Calamine lotion for me, and it was the fugliest thing I've ever had happen to my body, not to mention really uncomfortable (not helping my irritability problem.)  

I turned thirty in July.  All of the oldtime girlfriends turned thirty during the past year or so, and we decided to take a trip to Cancun to celebrate the milestone.  I was a little nervous after the cruise experience, but overall, everyone had a good time.  Say what you will about all-inclusive places; they allow you to eat, drink, and get tan with a minimum of decision-making stress.  We had a lot of fun in our thirty-something way.  We did typical beach resort things... 

We ate mediocre food.

We drank pink alcoholic bevs.

We participated in silly resort activities.

One of us went para-sailing, while the rest of us were cheap and just watched (and ate guacamole).

We read chick lit through ridiculously large sunglasses while sweating on lounge chairs.

Lesson learned from Cancun:  cuidado with any kind of straw hat.