Saturday, November 29, 2008

wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'

every year i struggle to think of what i would like for christmas. generally i'd like to think that i am a relatively easy person to shop for, but i know some people (especially those of the husband variety) tend to like more specific direction. those people also tend to get tired of the old standbys for me, books and gift cards. (are gift cards not the absolute greatest invention ever? the giver gets the satisfaction of giving you a gift, and you can use it for a treat whenever you want to!) so around this time each year i rack my brain to think of what would make me smile and what would be useful in my life.

a couple rules for my gifts:
1. they generally need to be useful.
2. generally, stay away from gadget-y things that have only one function, like a garlic slicer (which i treated myself to one year and promptly scraped up my finger using).
3. pink is always good.
4. sparkly is always nice.

this year i am hoping to find under our tree:
- a pink garmin nuvi 200. i would even share it with brian.
- my sewing scissors sharpened. all three pairs, including the pinkers.
- my kitchen knives sharpened. the serrated ones are fine, but the plain ones desperately need sharpening.
- cute maternity clothes, especially blouses and tops. i'm kind of afraid that i will get very tired of the few things i have very quickly.
- a wii fit. oh yes, it's trendy. and i hear from coworkers about how much fun it is, and i think brian and i would have a blast. and we would get healthy!
- a new handbag. i'm tired of my old one but it is such a nice size, and i haven't found one that i love enough to justify spending $30 on. (probably my sister just choked on the thought of spending only $30 on a handbag, but she is single and works for nordstrom and has standards to uphold, and i am a cheap date and shop at places like target and kohl's and have a husband to answer to.)
- that mineral makeup starter kit from bare escentuals. i think costco carries it, even. how shallow, i know, but i've been wanting to try mineral makeup for a while and i generally don't splurge on makeup for myself, so this would be a treat.
- a gift card to joann fabics. i know there are way better fabric stores, but not close to my house. and i know that on the 26th i am going to want to get started sewing little blue or pink clothes.

my super dreams:
- an elna q6600 computerized sewing/embroidery machine. yeah, i know it costs more than my first car. just think of it as an investment. i mean, look at everything it can do! i'd never have to even think about a new machine again.
- a zap zapino electric scooter in sky blue. omg, isn't it cute? and it plugs in, saving money and gasoline (and the environment)! please note that i would also require a matching sky blue helmet. wouldn't i look great zipping and zapping down the street to work? yes, i think i would.
- a nissan murano le in platinum graphite. perfect for our family to grow into and brian fits into it comfortably (and likes it too). if it were just me, i'd get a sentra, personally.
- oh, and while we're on the subject of dreaming, i would also like a 1963 aston martin db4 vantage or a 1957 jaguar xk 140. man, aren't those pretty cars.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

being thankful

this year i am thankful for:

1. my family. even though none of us is together for the holiday this year. i have a great family.

2. my mother-in-law. i so lucked out in that department. she is amazing.

3. my husband, even when he drives me nuts. these days that is more a product of my pregnancy irritability than anything he actually does. i really won the husband lottery and i know it (even though i forget to tell him sometimes).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

weekend warriors

for our housewarming gift, my lovely father made us a box/bench for our new spa. i had originally requested a step so i could get in and out of the spa easily and safely, as i have short legs and brian did not get a step when he got the spa. dad said he'd do one better and make us a bench with storage underneath. he delivered it last week and all we had to do was stain and varnish it (he couldn't match the color without us, so we did it). my mom made the weatherproof cushion on top.

i think it is beautiful and it is currently storing some lawn seed and the spa chemicals and there is a ton of space for us to fill up still. brian was disappointed that the color we chose does not match the spa perfectly (too dark) but i just wanted it to blend and i think it looks great.

did you know home depot custom-blends wood stain just like they do paint? maybe you did, but i didn't. finding the stain was a challenge in and of itself. i wanted individual stain samples (little ketchup-size packets) that i had gotten before, so we could test a couple different colors to find the right one. i couldn't find them here in our town and i didn't feel like searching too hard so i got the spa access panel and took it with me to ace hardware to match the stain. then it turned out i got the wrong kind and ace did not carry the correct one, so i had to go back to home depot. personally i hate the paint counter at our home depot, because they only have one computer to put in your order and there is this old guy that always takes his sweet time no matter how long the line is.

when we went to home depot the first time we also got stuff to put up a storage shelf in the garage. i had been talking about doing this for a few weeks now and brian seemed to be all on board - and then at the last minute (literally, as we were walking out the door to go to home depot) he decided he didn't want a shelf in the garage. he finally relented and up the shelf went.

i would like it to be longer, like 24' (it is 16' right now), but we can extend it later. for now it gets a bunch of stuff up off the floor that we don't use on any kind of regular basis (but unfortunately do use often enough to warrant keeping). as a treat for brian, i cleaned up the garage and the ping pong table so he can play ping pong this weekend when mil comes over. maybe that way he will forgive me for that "awful" shelf.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

thanksgiving dinner confessions

i have been to the grocery store twice so far and both times i have forgotten dr pepper, onions, and parsley. disclaimer: i know dr pepper is not a traditional thanksgiving dinner ingredient, but the b-man loves the stuff and our home is not a home without dr pepper.

we are only having three for dinner so i bought a turkey breast. i have no idea how to cook it. i did it once a couple years ago and it was dry and awful so i never did it again. i found this recipe that sounds yummy and pretty foolproof.

i don't like yams or sweet potatoes and have no clue how to make them "properly" (read: the way brian likes them). i have tried the joy of cooking recipe and the cooking light recipes with no luck yet. this year i'm going to try this one and see if it works.

i also don't understand why candied yams have miniature marshmallows in them. that just seems gross to me.

i am the only one this year who will eat green bean casserole, but we're still having it.

only my side of the family likes cranberry sauce, but i still serve it even though they won't be here. i feel like i have to and it won't be thanksgiving without it. why?

my husband complained about having to do the "traditional" turkey dinner this year and i think he would like something different. but last year when i tried to mix it up a little (mashed root vegetables instead of plain old potatoes, fig/sage/walnut stuffing instead of plain old regular dressing), he got annoyed.

thank heavens for pumpkin pie, is all i have to say.

Friday, November 21, 2008

girls' night out

after the rehearsal dinner, us girls went back to mil's to change out of our pretty rehearsal clothes into our cute "club" clothes for my bachelorette party. i just wanted to have a fun evening hanging out on the town with my girls and pretty soon we were off.

kirsten was our designated driver, as she was 9 months pregnant with my niece and couldn't drink anyways. we went up to north beach in san francisco, a fun, vibrant area of the city. it was friday night and everyone was out having fun, the perfect evening for a party. after circling the block a few times looking for a place to park (parking in san francisco is horrendous to begin with, and on a friday night in north beach it's a total nightmare), we piled out and headed to steps of rome on columbus avenue. yum! my girlfriend julia met us there for dessert.

kirsten, me, and julia. i don't know why the photos got all funky with the lights but i think it looks kind of neat. maybe alice just had too much to drink. i love kirsten's belly in this photo.

before we left mil's kirsten passed on her "veil" from her bachelorette party for me to wear the whole evening. (i passed it on to my girlfriend nichole when she got married last year.) the girls also produced a "scavenger hunt" list of things i had to do, like remove my bra without going to the restroom, get a strange guy's phone number, and kiss a stranger (on the cheek!).

it felt a little scandalous at first, but it was fun. and speaking of scandalous, the waiters at steps of rome! they brought out a tiramisu for me and one pulled me up to dance on the bar with him, since i was not thrilled with the idea of the lap dance that his friend had done for another girl that evening.

after we had our fill of yummy dessert we walked over to suede, a trendy nightclub on bay street. it ended up being a bit of a hike but it was a nice night.

we had a table reserved for us upstairs in the loft, with a bottle of captain morgan's. i think i might still have some of that rum in the bar in our dining room!

kerry & julia taking a time out from the dance floor. maybe to mix another drink? we all got our dancing shoes on, even me - and i'm sooo not a dancer. fun times, for sure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

giving thanks

this week i am thankful for:

1. a healthy baby who seemed pretty happy to see us, too.

2. perversely, that we are having a tiny thanksgiving at my house this year. generally this would depress me, but on the flip side, it means i don't have to do super cleaning to impress anyone who doesn't come to our house on any sort of a regular basis.

3. this girl, christmas cookies, mulled cider, and old-timey christmas carols. tentatively, but i am keeping my fingers and toes extra-crossed. should be fun times.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


unfortunately i don't have a lot of good photos from our rehearsal dinner, and the best ones are in my scrapbook already and therefore unable to be scanned. or at least, i don't know how. these few were taken by alice's mother and sent to us on along with a bunch of other photos. the neat thing about weddings is that you get copies of pictures from all different people, with all different points of view. i saw things in some of our photos that i didn't realize because i was so preoccupied with the ceremony/reception/whatever else. it was like a surprise every time someone sent new photos. i loved it.

that friday was a little crazy. we had the actual rehearsal down at the golf course where we were getting married and then all skedaddled on over to the dinner. kerry and i were running a little late because we had to stop in san carlos to pick up orchids for corsages. brian was so relieved to see me when we got there. i think it was just starting to hit him that he was actually getting married.

soon-to-be mil hosted the rehearsal at the beautiful reception room at the oyster point yacht club in south san francisco. we "themed" it in red, white, and blue - what we thought would be fun originally for our wedding colors (we ended up doing something else) - to go with the nautical feeling at the yacht club. the reception room was right on the water overlooking san francisco bay and candlestick point and was gorgeous. we filled plastic clamshells with red, white, and blue m&m's as treats for our guests.

a rare photo of mom, myself, and my dad all together. my parents divorced when i was 16. it was nice to have everyone together with no hard feelings.

for some reason i felt like such a queen when my fiancé made a short speech thanking everyone. it seemed like such a "husband" thing to do, and he's good at talking.

i don't remember much about our rehearsal (except that brian could not spit out "steadfastness" for the life of him) or the dinner except that the food was excellent. my uncle took a lot of photos too for which i was grateful. it was nice to have those remembrances.

we gave our attendants their thank-you gifts at the dinner. i am not sure what i am doing in this photo. it's not like i didn't know what we did for the girls (individual, handmade jewelry). kirsten is seated in the pink, then me standing next to her. jackie has her back to us and my sister is in the beautiful blue dress. what did i tell you about the fashion sense?

my fiancé with his boys. who is brian looking at? (me, i hope!) we really had the best people stand up for us. because of brian's love for baseball and since we were trying to incorporate it into our wedding, we gave the boys engraved baseballs thanking them. they sweetly asked us to autograph them. dave, paul, jimmy, and ed are standing; my honey is seated.

after the fun we all went our separate ways, because we had bachelor and bachelorette parties to get to!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

we left up $65

we spent this weekend in reno, nevada, on a weekend getaway sponsored by my company as a reward for our excellent results during our recent life promotion. brian did not originally really want to go. he said reno was boring and there was nothing to do there but gamble and we were too short on funds to be spending money frivolously like that. fortunately, i talked him into it. our room at the peppermill resort, dinner saturday night, and breakfast sunday morning were taken care of for us, so it was a really inexpensive getaway. we paid for gas and anything incidental up there and since we were feeling frugal, there were no incidentals.

it was really nice to get away and get a change of scenery. it's also nice that the reno/tahoe area is only about 1½-2 hours away from us now up on interstate 80. we drove up early saturday afternoon and it was a gorgeous day in the sierras, cool and clear and sunny. the leaves were turning on the trees and it was so pretty though i'm sure nothing like what happens back east. well, we take what we can get here.

truckee is about a half hour outside of reno. we stopped at this vista point over donner lake, just outside of truckee. you can see the snow up on the tops of the mountains in the distance. there were tiny patches of snow in the shady spots along the highway too.

i was playing with the exposure (or something?) on my camera because it was really sunny and i was afraid the picture would get all washed out. i guess the opposite happened. i'll have to learn more about that.

i really like stopping at vista points because you often get to see pretty views that you would otherwise miss. plus, it's a nice chance to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

brian does not like stopping as much as i do. i think he usually just wants to get there, but he is a good sport about letting me take my pictures.

the hotel was really nice. apparently it's been recently remodeled and brian said it looked a lot better than it did before. i had never been to reno or the peppermill before so i didn't know the difference. brian really liked that there was a 45" flat-screen tv in our room. all the better to watch espn, i guess.

saturday night we had a really nice dinner with work. there was so much food and man was it ever delicious. what were they thinking offering up an 18 oz. steak? who can eat that much? i made a pretty good dent in it though and ate all my vegetables. brian could not decide what he wanted for dessert so the waiter brought him two, one on the house. i had a cherry blintz and it was so delicious. how do i get that served at my house?

the breakfast buffet was an island theme with all kinds of plants and trees and even a waterfall. it really felt like we were eating outdoors in an island paradise.

brian could not believe all the food that they had. if you can handle the smoke (though it was not smoky in this one), i think they are a really good deal for the money.

we didn't spend too much time in the casino. brian wanted to keep me out of the smoke, and either way it was really bothering both our eyes. he did stop to play some quarter slots and ended up winning a little over $100. with the money we had paid to play that meant we were up about $65. we left before we could spend it on something else, but we didn't get too terribly far. we stopped in at the kids' arcade.

i love skee-ball, so we tried to play a couple rounds but the machine was broken. so we played some other arcade games. i think that's way more fun than gambling. brian beat me at the football throwing game. what can i say, i'm kind of a girly girl. that was our last stop before heading home and was a nice way to wrap up our mini-vacation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

belly dancer

this is my mil:

she took up belly dancing a couple years ago as a lark and absolutely loves it. she's pretty darn good, too. she is part of a troupe of about 12 women and performs at functions and events. it used to drive brian nuts that his mother was out there swinging her hips and baring her tummy, but now he is okay with it. i love that she dances, i think it is awesome and empowering and i would like to do it also, if only to teach me a little rhythm!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

automotive contentment

this week i am thankful for:

1. our cars. brian and i are fortunate enough to not just have one vehicle that runs well, but two, one for each of us. lots of families have to make do on only one car. we don't, and while a two-car family is pretty common, i still consider us lucky.

2. my car's (relative) health. it had an oil change last month and passed smog yesterday, and the registration is taken care of. today it got two new tires put on and all four realigned. it still needs a transmission flush and the rear wheels could stand to have camber arms installed, but at the moment i'm counting my blessings. the engine won't seize, i won't get a ticket for expired registration, and i won't slide off a wet or snowy road.

3. that we are not making more money than we do right now. we went to the car show this weekend (it was so not as great as when it comes to the moscone center in san francisco, just so you know, but they did have a cool antique motorcycle exhibit) and saw lots of things to lust after. we also saw lots of things that would be very real possibilities if we traded in one of our perfectly good cars and took out an additional loan. we're not poor and we're certainly not rich. we manage, but if we had more disposable income those possibilities could well become realities. i love my husband and want him to be happy but i don't see why we would need to trade in our 2-year-old car just because he is tired of it and wants an suv again. at least i can play the "no money!" card and guilt him away from those thoughts right now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


somehow it seems weddings are all around me, everywhere i turn. my policyholders are all getting married. the tv shows i watch and the blogs i read are all featuring wedding events. my best friend is in the throes of planning her nuptials for next summer (finding the dress is the big issue of the moment). all of that combined with my slowly expanding belly has turned my thoughts naturally to my husband, our family, and our wedding. we had a fabulous time so i thought i'd share some photos and remembrances.

we had a bit of a crazy week planned before the wedding: much of our family and many friends were arriving from out of the area so most of the festivities were happening right before the wedding. it ended up being a bit of a whirlwind but i had taken the week off of work and it was fun. two of my four bridesmaids stayed with me at my soon-to-be-mil's house and helped finish up those last-minute wedding things: making favors, programs, that kind of thing. my mom was also nearby at a hotel with my grandparents and aunt and uncle, and my sister was going to stay with her since we had a full house and a cat (she's allergic) at mil's.

we got married on a sunday, so we did my bridal shower on a thursday, at mil's house. my lovely, 9-months-pregnant bridesmaid kirsten came over early to help set things up and i zipped off to the airport to pick up my sister. she was flying in from kazakhstan where she had been the previous four weeks, on a missions trip. it was so good to see her, and she cleaned up pretty nicely in record time. i was amazed at how she held up, considering she had been travelling (or at least, awake) for the past 22 hours and was on a completely opposite time zone from california.

the food was delicious and the girls set everything up so beautifully. i wish i had a picture of the decorations.

me, my grandmother, and my future mil bonnie. i have been blessed with a truly amazing family, not only the ones i'm "stuck" with (my blood relatives) but also the ones i chose (my in-laws).

then the games began. wow, get a bunch of ladies together in a room and we sure do get silly. first kirsten had us make wedding-themed "sculptures" out of pink and blue play-doh. kerry won that game with her husband-and-wife bobblehead cake-toppers. (brian eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball and i had originally looked for actual bobbleheads for our cake topper. i found them, but with a price tag of about $350. we ended up nestling an actual baseball in a bed of flowers.)

next up was identifying the mysterious white powders (no, not anthrax!). some of them were easy, but the entire game was harder than it looked initially.

that's all three generations of girls in my immediate family: my sister, my grandmother, myself, and my mother, all stumped on those powders. don't worry, i didn't hog it! we all got our turns to peer closely at the powders.

then kirsten had everyone draw my "wedding photo" - on their heads, without looking! it was silly to watch everyone trying to draw with pencils poking through the papers into their hair. there was lots of moaning and giggling.

this is mil and kirsten. i'm pretty sure kirsten's drawing won.

lastly was the one game i had specifically requested, toilet-paper bride. i just love toilet paper bride. it is such a nutty game. bonnie had a bunch of colored toilet paper so that made the game a lot of fun.

much good-natured moaning and groaning from my mother ("how am i supposed to do this?!") as she made my grandmother into a beautiful bride. it has been a lot of years since grandma has been a bride, but i think grandpa would think she was just as beautiful as a toilet-paper bride as she was on her wedding day.

kerry and alice really concentrated on making alice a great dress! my sister is the fashionista in the family and alice has super style sense also so they made a great team. they won, by the way.

all those beautiful ladies really decked me out in some scandalous "nighties." is that stuff really for me or is it for the husband-to-be? no photos of those!

it was such a lovely day - very emblematic of our entire wedding events. i did not feel so much like a princess (center of attention) as i just felt loved. here was all my family and friends who loved me and my fiancé so much and just wanted to share our special commitment and help make it special and memorable to us. i think that's what a wedding (and a life!) ought to be about, really.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a top and a skirt

this top is simpliciy # 3075 and was pretty easy to make. i worked on it mornings before work. i'm not sure if i'm in love with the purple ribbon, it was a bit out-of-the-box as far as a color choice. usually i would have chosen something more neutral and earth-toned. in the future i would make the longer tunic version, and i would also add an inch or so to the upper bodice/yoke/bust portion. the seam line seems to ride a bit higher under the bust than i would like.

it's not a maternity blouse and i fit it right now though i won't in a couple months. i wanted to make something for "me" instead of "me and baby and growing belly."

this skirt was insanely easy. i adapted the tummy panel from burda # 8097 onto the straight skirt from simplicity # 3834. the skirt is two pieces, the front and back, and the walking slit is just a portion of one side seam left open. normally the pattern would have darts, a waistband, and a side zip, but of course i eliminated those with the tummy panel. i still need to get buttonhole elastic to finish off the waist. the tummy panel was smaller than the skirt so i stretched it a little, which i think worked just fine since there now seems to be a bit of "ease" built into the top of the skirt.

this skirt was so easy i almost cried and i bet i'll be making more of these. i think i used about 3/4 yard of 60" denim but i think i could squeeze it out of the same from 45". i adapted the pattern yesterday morning before work and then churned out the skirt last night in about an hour.

both of these were relatively easy on the wallet also, as i had most of the fabric on hand. the gold print cotton i had purchased years ago for a quilt and then never made it. i get pretty bored with quilting. the denim my mom sent up last year or so. i just had to buy the ribbing which i had to get anyways to adapt a (future) pair of old jeans to accomodate the belly. i think i only used about 3/8 yard of ribbing to make the tummy panel so i have a lot left over. i think the skirt in particular would be uber-cheap to make since it takes so little material and zero notions.

Monday, November 10, 2008

lesson learned

don't leave a little dish of catnip near kitty's food bowl overnight. it's cute in the evening when he gets all nuts before bedtime, but then he goes downstairs for a snack at 230a and discovers the catnip, and then he's nuts all night long while you try to sleep.

Friday, November 7, 2008


belated t3 again this week. i guess my mind has been elsewhere. this week i am thankful:

1. that it is friday! i am so in need of a break. hubby and i are going to the car show this weekend too which is always fun. i imagine this is the same car show that comes to the moscone center in san francisco the last two weeks of november and if it is then we'll have a good time. we always like looking at the new cars, spending our imaginary lottery winnings, and figuring out what would realistically fit our budget, lifestyle, and brian's long legs.

2. that i get to spend the entire weekend with my hubby. last sunday he had to work and while it was kind of nice to have a quiet day to sew and do whatever without him bothering me to get laundry or cleaning done, it was too quiet and i really prefer having him around.

3. that my favorite holiday is practically upon us! that would be thanksgiving. i love the lack of present pressure and all the delicious good food. i love spending the day in the kitchen with the women in my family, cooking and chatting and bugging each other and generally having a great time. to me thanksgiving is exactly what every holiday should be about: celebrating the good things in your life with the people you love and some darn good comfort food. we will likely be only four at my house this year and i love a big noisy table so you're invited. seriously. email me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the morning after

i think there is a law somewhere that says you have to post about the election if you are a blogger and it was as big of a deal in your country as this one was.

personally i don't know what to think. i think i would have been disappointed either way, unless some dark horse somehow pulled off a steal. that didn't happen. instead we're stuck with a tall, skinny, slippery guy from illinois who has a total of four years of national political experience, almost half of which (20 months) have been spent on the campaign trail for this election.

otherwise we'd have been stuck with a older, balding, wolf-in-sheep's-clothing from arizona. maybe it's a coyote, not a wolf. i don't know yet if i'm disappointed or what.

i'm willing to give obama a chance, at least. he has some interesting, unconventional ideas. i worry almost more about the fact that he has a congress who will largely be yes-men for him. it would be nice if congress could swing back to the republicans, just to temper obama.

i don't mean for this to be very political in nature. i don't want this blog to become a forum for political discussion. there's enough of those out there. i want this to be about my life and the interesting (to me, at least) things that are going on in it and in my head and heart. at the moment, however, this is what is going on in my life and head and heart.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

asian pot roast

omg this is so delicious, and this is what i am having for dinner tonight:

it's called chinese-style stove-top pot roast with noodles, and it is so flipping good. i call it asian pot roast; brian loves it and begs for "that stuff with the bok choy." it's a bit more work than i think pot roast ought to be, though i probably have a skewed version of how much work it ought to be (none). also, i make it in my crockpot even though the recipe says to do it in a dutch oven on the stove. i did it like that once which was fine, but i don't want to leave the stove on all day, so crockpot it is.

due to copyright restrictions i don't want to post the recipe here in case i unwittingly run afoul of some strange law that i don't know about. it was in the october 2006 issue of cooking light magazine. if you don't subscribe to cooking light (you ought to) or you don't save your back issues obsessively like i do, they have a recipe search option on the homepage. i suppose you could type in the recipe name; i just typed in "pot roast star anise bok choy" (some of the ingredients in the recipe) and it came up. it's relatively cheap to make too, once you buy the star anise and the chinese five-spice (spices being the most expensive part of a recipe anyways as well as the part you don't always have to buy). if you make it please let me know how you liked it!

pssssst: it's not really that much work. i'm just a lazy cook and a complainer, kind of like how i'm a lazy seamstress. i did all the prep work this morning and when i went home at lunch i put the meat in the crockpot and turned it on. when i come home tonight, viola! dinner will be done, mostly. there is still some cooking to be done, but it's really easy stuff. the noodles take all of like 5 minutes to cook, if that, and the mushroom/carrot sauté only takes about 5 minutes too.

Monday, November 3, 2008

halloween 2008

this year was the best halloween thus far in our married life, possibly since i have known brian. when i was in college living in san francisco, we did not get any trick-or-treaters. now i realize it was probably because i lived in kind of a ghetto area of sf (not super-scary, but not exactly the friendlist spot in town), though at the time it did not seem so ghetto to me. funny how much you can overlook in the thrill of being young and getting your first apartment. when i lived in daly city i didn't get any either. maybe there weren't a lot of kids in my building. when we lived in san francisco we didn't get any either, and we lived in the outer excelsior district which is not sketchy at all. maybe we did and i just always worked too late.

when we lived in marin we didn't get any trick-or-treaters either, which i always thought was odd because we lived in a nice suburban town in a nice apartment complex with lots of kids. i always thought if i was a parent that it would be great to just take my kids around the complex. it was safe and well-lit and i always thought you'd get a great take from the 100+ apartments there. maybe it was all the stairs to those second-floor apartments that were too daunting for little kids, who knows.

now that we are smack in the middle of a suburban development, this halloween was more like i remember as a kid. we even got to decorate the exterior of our home (something very hard to do in an apartment). i didn't dress up for work (it's kind of hard in an office, so i wore my orange sweater and black pants to be festive) but brian did for his residents. he usually doesn't do all the makeup or wear the cap, but he went all out this year. this costume cracks me up on him:

he stood outside behind one of our entry columns and mooed at people as they walked up to the door and scared them. our neighbors called him the mad cow. he is nuts, that man of mine.

i have not been very creative the past few years for my halloween costumes and have just been recycling my old ones. this pirate wench i made about 12 years ago:

i thought my gypsy/esmerelda costume would be warmer, but i couldn't get the cummerbund around my waist. boy, did i feel fat and pregnant friday night. brian really liked the eyeliner, though.

this the one guy in our house who did not appreciate halloween:

he didn't mind his "costume" but he did mind the doorbell ringing all the time and the kids yelling, "trick or treat!" at first he hid behind brian's chair but later he slunk upstairs and hid under the bed. he finally came out later when the doorbell stopped ringing so much, because brian and i hung out outside and chatted with our neighbors and gave out candy before the kids got to the doorbell. poor little man, he's really in for it when spot comes.

how was your halloween?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

souper yummy

the first rain of the season is upon us up here; it started intermittently late thursday afternoon. it was dry most of the day yesterday but we did get some sprinkles and showers off and on last night. i felt so bad for the kidlets trick-or-treating, but fortunately it didn't really start until most of the little kids were already done. the kids in our neighborhood are real gamers anyways. they were more than willing to walk around in the rain to get some candy. i think it was the parents that were ready to call it a night. one little kid just pushed up his power ranger mask and used it to protect his head.

it has rained pretty steady all day today and miserable dark weather like this makes me crave soup, a cozy blanket, and a good movie. i think i'll watch love actually tonight. i adore that movie. i get my soup too - tonight we are having polish soup for dinner. i don't know if that is what it is really called; i don't know if it even has a name. i thought for a long time that it was just something my mom made up on the cheap, but then i made it one night a couple years ago and brian exclaimed that it was soup his grandmother (who was full-blooded italian) used to make and it brough back memories from his childhood. i think of it as polish because it uses kielbasa (polish sausage) and cabbage, and for some reason cabbage seems very polish to me. it also seems like poor peasant food, like leftover scrapings, which makes me think of old-world poland, which has historically been rife with poverty. no matter, it's super easy and super yum.

polish soup

1 package polska kielbasa, sliced down the middle and then sliced into half-moons
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 carrots, halved and sliced
4 c. vegetable broth
4 c. beef broth
1/2 head cabbage, coarsely chopped

generally i don't prep anything; i do it all as the other stuff is cooking.

heat a stockpot of medium heat and chop the kielbasa, then lightly brown the kielbasa. don't add any oil as they release enough of their own grease and you may even want to pour some off. while the kielbasa browns, chop the onion, then add it to the kielbasa along with the garlic and start chopping carrots. when those are done then the onion should be ready; add the carrots in and start on the cabbage. when the cabbage is chopped, the carrots ought to be done, so you can add the broth. turn up the heat and bring it all to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cabbage. simmer for 15-30 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

i also serve it with a nice hunk of bread for sopping up the broth, because brian doesn't always like to finish all his broth and i believe that is where a lot of the nutrition is in soup. yummy!