Thursday, December 28, 2006
The year is almost over.
A very full day. Lots of driving, smiling, etc. Tomorrow we are going to Chicago for the night. We're taking the train, which would normally mean reading time, but will probably mean sleepy time. Speaking of, I'm wiped out.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Anyway, on the past few Christmas Eves, it's just been me and Paul. That's totally fine; I don't celebrate xmas anyway, and we usually spend Christmas day with his family, and that provides enough excitement for two days anyway. But last night we had some friends from out of town over for dinner, which was nice mostly because we got to see them and hang out with them, which we don't get to do all that often, but also because there's usually a lot of food around here on Christmas Eve, and sharing it means we have to eat leftovers for only two weeks instead of three.
On Christmas Eve, since Paul and I have been together, I make what I like to call (and Paul finds weird) "Paul's Memory Dinner." It's basically the food he remembers having at his grandmother's house on Christmas Even when he was little. It's all good food, and though I don't know that I'd normally serve this as dinner with guests coming over, I guess it worked out okay. We had shrimp cocktail with snappy sauce (extra snappy), which most people like a lot, so that was fine. And then some cheeses with bread and crackers, which I like a lot, and I made sure to get a wedge of Brie, even though Paul's not a fan; I am, and I will take any excuse I can get to eat a wedge of Brie. I even got up early yesterday to run out to Panera and pick up a few loaves of fresh bread. And then dried fruit and nuts. That seems kind of strange to me as something to put out with dinner, but I guess it's harmless. We had dried figs and dates and cherries with some mixed nuts that Paul picked up from the local nut roaster. (Yes, we have a local nut roaster in Kalmazoo. His motto? "Nuts to you from Kalamazoo." No I'm not kidding. Have a look for yourself.) We had an enormous pot of soup that I made from scratch. I'm never real clear on what kind of soup it's supposed to be, but Paul seems to remember it being a vegetable-minestrone kind of soup, which is probably the easiest kind to make anyway, but because it has so many different things in it, you kind of can't make a small amount. So I made about six gallons of soup. But it was good.
And then there was the ham. Paul remembers eating one of those ghastly canned hams -- you know, the kind shaped like a football? Yeah, one of those, but covered in pineapple rings and cherries and pierced with cloves. I have to tell you, it's such trashy food that I can't even appreciate the irony of eating it. And, I think all that hammy binder made my stomach a little upset. We've had those the past two years, but since we were having guests over this year, I refused to buy one of those and suggested a real ham instead. Paul reluctantly agreed, so I got a half spiral cut ham (which was big, but the quarter hams at the store were all dated December 21, and I didn't want to make us all sick on bad ham), made a quick ham goo with mustard, orange juice, brown sugar, and a teeny bit of ground cloves, glopped it on top, and stuck it in the oven until it was brown and crusty. And you know what? Holy crap, real ham is fucking good! I mean, I guess I knew that anyway, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that Jews who don't keep kosher absolutely love pork (especially bacon -- if you take my mom to lunch, fifty bucks says she gets a BLT), but it's so rare that I actually get to eat actual ham that's not lunch meat. It was just so good! I'm never buying one of those pressed loaf ham stumps again. Paul liked it too, and I guess it's good that we liked it, because a half of a spiral ham is a lot of ham. I froze most of it in dinner-sized packets, and we'll be eating it for a while. Along with the five or so gallons of soup left over.
Anyway, it was a nice memory dinner, and our guests seemed to enjoy it all. Hope you all had a good one. And Mr. Goode, please remember that this is a time of year for tolerance and acceptance. Muslims aren't bad people. Non-Christians aren't bad people. And you know that Jesus guy you love so much? He was Jewish.
Friday, December 22, 2006
And the time off. That kicks ass too. Starting today, I'm on holiday break, and I don't have to go back to work until January 8. Yes fucking yes.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
First, I went out and got a whole lotta chocolate. You can get whatever kind you want, but I got the following, all in 20 ounce bags of chips and all Ghirardelli: three milk chocolate, two bittersweet chocolate, and one white chocolate. I got it all on sale, so it wasn't too bad, but this is one of those recipes where you should probably use good chocolate. The store brand might not cut it, but do what you have to do. Then I got a package of Oreos, a box of graham crackers, a bag of mini marshmallows, and a can of dry roasted peanuts. I buttered three cookie sheets, not so that the chocolate wouldn't stick, but so the parchment paper on which I'd be pouring the chocolate would stick. Then in a makeshift double boiler, I melted a 20 ounce bag of milk chocolate, put a third of it on each cookie sheet, and spread it out until it was thin but not too thin. Then I put the topping (Oreo or graham cracker/marshmallow or peanut/marshmallow or your-combination-here) on the chocolate and lightly pressed it in. Then I melted some white chocolate and drizzled it on top, and then I did the same with some bittersweet. Then I let it cool and cut it into big chunks. Then I put it in nice little plastic treat bags and tied them with ribbon, which I then curled. And now I have really nice gifts that maybe cost me a buck a bag but look like a $5 or $10 bag of chocolate that you'd buy in noe of those upscale overpriced places. Yay me! They all taste good too, though with all of the nibbles here and there (I allow myself the crumbs and a few chips along the way), I'm getting sick of chocolate. I guess I'd better slow down.
Anyway, if you're looking for a fun and great-looking and super tasty treat to give your friends this holiday season, and you've got a few hours on your hand, I would highly recommend making up a few batches of chocolate bark. You will be so impressed with yourself. You: a chocolatier! How cool is that?
And, due to my excessive partying ways on Saturday night, I missed Saturday Night Live. Actually, I miss SNL a lot, since I have a tendency to fall asleep early. But apparently this past Saturday's show was kind of funny, and my brother Randy alerted me to this Digital Short. Oh man. That's some funny stuff. And to think I forgot all about Color Me Badd. (Err, probably NSFW.)
Sunday, December 17, 2006
But sure, it was fun. Who wouldn't have fun going to that many parties? Today I just want to do nothing, except maybe see a movie.
Oh, and just because I try to write down my thoughts here so that maybe one day in the future I can read through all this nonsense and try to get an idea of my mental picture at a given time, or maybe just because it's nice to write down one's thoughts, and also because if you've been reading this site for a while and are interested, or even if you've just stopped by for the first time and are interested, or fuck it, just because we've been telling everyone and I don't want to leave anyone out: Paul and I are getting married. Pretty big news! And exciting. Now you know. And I find that the in-the-loop-ish-ness is always nice.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So today I went out and picked up a $12 Sunbeam 220 watt mixmaster, mostly because I need a handmixer (because you really can't bake if you don't have electronic appliances in your hand, not without giving yourself an arm cramp anyway) and partially because I liked that it was called a mixmaster. It sounded vaguely hip-hop and cool, and while that's not necessarily important in a small kitchen appliance, I appreciated the name. It was actually a tough choice, because I've had my eye on one of those super sweet Kitchen Aid 325 watt hand mixing dynamos, but $99 for a small appliance isn't in the budget right now. Hopefully my new mixmaster (mix-m-m-mixmaster) will last until I get an upgrade.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I also found a lot of hypocrisy with this group, as it seemed the filmmakers wanted you to. Immediately after the theatre darkened, there was an overweight youth pastor lamenting the state of the world and blaming it all on the fat and lazy people. (Pot, check. Kettle, check. Both black.) And then, as Paul pointed out, there was the whole notion that these people were preaching all kinds of Christianity and yet no one once opened up a Bible and actually read it. And then there was the whole Ted Haggard thing. Haggard was featured prominently in the film, condemning the homosexual lifestyle and sin and all that. Of course, the footage was shot before the whole world found out that he actually sort of enjoys the homosexual lifestyle and illegal drugs (a big sin, no?), so the entire section featuring him comes off as one big hypocritical rush. Although, you kind of feel badly for the kid who approaches him at the end of his sermon. This kid dreams of being a preacher and obviously looks up to Haggard. Haggard responds to the kid's wide-eyed gushing with cockiness; he was a real asshole, and knowing what I know now, it's not surprising.
I guess what bothered me most while I was watching this movie was the extremism of these people. In one scene, the youth pastor seemed to acknowledge that there were similarities between how they train their children and how Muslim extremists train their children. Except, she declared, "We're right." But of course, she never tells how she knows she's right. Yeah, I saw those similarities too, but if you were to ask me who was right and who was wrong, I'm not sure I could say. It's a good movie, and well worth seeing, but like so many other documentaries with a particular sway or agenda, to use a somewhat fitting phrase, it preaches to the choir. No one's going to have their mind changed after watching this movie, but it might make some people think twice before going to church.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
And tomorrow is my birthday! I will be 32, and I think people have finally stopped assuming I'm a high school student. But now suddenly I'm getting the urge to share my birthday with all the kids in the class. So, on the way to work tomorrow, I'm going to stop off and get some mini muffins or something for my students. And then I have to teach tomorrow night (boo!), so those kids are getting donuts (yay!). Yeah, it's a lot of sugar for me in one day, but Paul's in a meeting 75 miles away all day, and neither one of us will be home until around 9 or so, so I don't think I'll be having any birthday cake.
Also, my brother Evan sent me these super sweet electronic drum stick things! I'd seen them in Marshall Fields and had been tempted, but Evie figured I'd like them too. I think I can hook them up to my Mac and run them through Garage Band, and I was all psyched to try it, but then when I opened up the packaging, I saw (boo!) no batteries included (BOO!). No batteries? I didn't think they did that anymore! And it takes AAA batteries. Who the hell has AAA just lying around the house? Not me. I don't even think I have any minor electronics that I can pull some out of. So AAA batteries are on the shopping list, because of all the things I might get for my birthday, a blister-pack of AAA batteries is probably not one of them. That is probably a good thing.
Monday, December 4, 2006
I'm feeling the pressure of a new month and all this white space below, but I'm sorry, I'm feeling a bit quiet today. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be more chatty. Until then.
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