Friday, September 30, 2011

Not very ladylike...

Who doesn't love a great cocktail? Well, a few people I am sure but years ago I was introduced to a fancy white elixir...the White Chocolate Martini. This temptress, so perfect and chic, is also what I like to call "Devil in Disguise." I have a little story about it...like to hear it? Here it goes:

One night out at a fancy fete, I am offered this white chocolate martini option. I resist because, unlike Willie Wonka, I am not down with the candy factory and that doesn't sound like a cocktail as much as it sounds like some kind of milkshake served at Chili's. But I am assured it is fantastic. I reluctantly take one sip.

BOOM. BOOM. POW.

It is fantastic. I enjoyed one or two and soon realize I need not be limited to where I can have this delicious concoction so I ask the bartender what is in it. In the weeks to come, I fetch the ingredients and proceed to make them to the delight of many a guest at parties at my home.

So one night, while fraternizing with a male guest at my home. I proceed to make these for him. Things to keep in mind 1. he is a man and not likely interested in smarmy choco drink. 2. Might want to test drive that martini shaker you just bought.

So let's assume I failed on both accounts. What happens next is I show off shaking my martini shaker full of girl drink. So I shake it to the left, I shake it to the right, I shake that little martini with all of my might. Martini shaker I did NOT test drive. Martini shaker that was on sale for a reason. Martini lid is not being securely held by me because I am more focused on 1. showing off and 2. playing coquettish Flirty McSwagger.

In mid strong arm shaking, lid flies off like a missile to my right. Followed by a clear trajectory of contents of martini shaker that are intercepted by my male friend and his crisp button-down shirt. Not a drop or two mind of you. But the entire contents of martini shaker.

Mission to be stunning and foxy and worldly? Try again. Survey says: Not very ladylike...AND that's what you get for showing off.

Fast forward a year. I  am dating a fun, fantastic, hilarious cat nicknamed Milkman. Milkman has a very cool brother who has a very cool girlfriend. We convene one night for dinner at said brother's home and I proffer up the delicious martini I know to be a hit among at least one other attendee (the girl.)

The drawback of a martini that basically includes white chocolate liqueur and vodka is that is it DELICIOUS. Like a sultry little balm for that terribly busy day. So we make martinis. And more martinis. Oh, might want to eat a little something. Oh, no? Just thirsty? Well, slow down Missy. But that doesn't happen. At one point, I aim to set my drink down on the table and somehow miss it completely. I say I aimed to do it because the table was quite large. But I blame the table since it was made of glass and was really more like an optical illusion. MY WORD that made a mess. So we clean it up. And because we have all enjoyed several cocktails, it seems very hilarious. Even though clearly, milky drink poured in carpet is about as funny as a hair barbeque.

Later, I feel rest is necessary. I decided to slink away and find a resting spot. Hmmm. Where should I go. I scuttle around and find the perfect spot. Perfect at the time. Later, Milkman clearly has to send out a search party because NO ONE thought I would be comfortably and quietly laying down in the loo. Guess what? I had foresight. I was going to need to be in that location. It was only a matter of time. I declined the invitation to leave this area. In fact, I encouraged Milkman to exit. STAT. I will skip the next part of the story but lets say I was 1. over-served. 2. Probably just had food poisoning.

Now, I straighten up. I fly right. I rejoin the cast and crew downstairs. I am fine. Well, fine-ish. I think. I am sure I was fine.

However, the next morning. Milkman's brother comes downstairs and asks a simple and innocuous question:

Why is my toothbrush wet.

No one has an answer. He asks again, clearly because he is smart: WHY IS MY TOOTHBRUSH WET?

Through a hazy film of cotton, I climb out of the bag of hammers known as my mental state and I recall very clearly. Uh oh. I think I know the answer. I carefully weigh keeping quiet vs. speaking up which is only going to make my head hurt more.

Me: I used it.
Him, his girlfriend, Milkman: WHAT?
Me: Don't worry. I didn't brush my teeth with it.
Him: Oh for ____ sake. What did you do with it?
Me: Long pause. Not for dramatics, Meryl Streep, but because I am trying to recollect.
I used the handle.
Him: FOR WHAT?
Me: To make myself throw up.
Him: Holding toothbrush by handle, immediately drops toothbrush on floor and kicks it away.
Milkman: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Thankfully someone laughed. I didn't have the strength to join in.

Mission: to be cool, fun, chic and a great addition to the party not to mention an awesome girlfriend: TRY AGAIN. Survey says: NOT very ladylike.

And in the event you don't need a spritz of Lysol to erase that imagery from your mind: The White Chocolate Martini (I am sure) is still delicious to many people:

Pour 2 shots of vodka
2 shots of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
over ice in a martini shaker. SECURE the lid!!! In the words of OutKast: Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Pour thin swirl of chocolate syrup in martini glass, pour contents of shaker. Sip like a lady (or gentleman). Do not get over-served. Do not drop on carpet. Do not borrow toothbrushes without asking.

And have a gorgeous weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cover to cover


I have been an avid reader my entire life. I remember lugging my Richard Scarry Encyclopedia to my Father one day and asking him to read to me. He told me I could read it myself but he would help. And with his tutelage, I was able to sort my way through hippopotamus, kitchen, and school bus. I had just turned four. (And hippopotamus was tough. Thanks Dad. Call it his motivation or perhaps he had reached his saturation point of reading that same book for the 1,000,000 time.)

And my interest in books has maintained from the days of Dr. Seuss to my red leather bound Kindle that I tote with my everywhere. I was initially resistant to an electronic version versus old school, but my crush has turned to love.

I appreciate great authors who can create a vivid picture. The first time I read Love in the Time of Cholera, I remember a single passage and a sentence that resonated with me to the point I remember it to this day, and exactly where I was sitting when I read it.

And I love authors who can make me laugh out loud. Witty, sardonic, clever, sarcastic: I want more.

And I will read everything from Ekhart Tolle to Julie Powell.

And I remember the first time I read Bridges of Madison County. Call it smarmy, but that book hit me right in the heart at a very wrong time. I was young, and in love. In love the way 19-year-olds do love, all encompassing and powerful. But I was aware that a slow motion process had begun that would derail us. And while I was not experienced enough to fix it, I was naive enough to think I could.  And at that time, moving backwards would have been the only way to keep our situation from ultimate fragmentation. And then I read that book, also about all encompassing love, in one afternoon sitting on the front porch swing of his his parents' home. Closing it, I admit I was resistant to accept the changes coming in my life, but was hopeful in that sweet, young girl way that love could exist like the hundred pages I just read.

Books are a tool, a reference, a light, or a tiny portal into the life of other people.  I love it that a book can leave you inspired or infuriated, elated or exhausted. And I remember reading  Justin Halpern's hit, Sh*t My Dad Says and will tell you now, I laughed uproariously throughout most of that book. To the point I was choking at certain passages. And then wanted to read those passages to my husband. And then laughed so hard again rereading them, he had to patiently wait. And guess who doesn't like being read to? JMac...Especially when you are not reading but really guffawing and snorting.

And I read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. The cruelty and violence he was subjected to and the tenacity he had to employ to save his own life was chilling and inspirational.

The era of the electronic book reader came and I thought I would be reluctant to embrace it. I am very fond of the turning of pages and books stacked up on shelves. But I got the Kindle from JMac and loved it. Which was then advanced to the Kindle app on the iPad which I also love. And as much as I appreciate the advance of technology, oh, I do still love a book requiring you to actually turn pages.

Can a book change a life? I don't know. But I do think they can change perspective, insight and maybe even change cynicism.

And now as my little son is plowing his way through books (My favorite 4 year old is now reading 1st grade level books! I will spare you the video but believe me, every one related to us by blood has seen it. ) He wants to have his turn every night to read to us and I hope his interest never wanes. I am grateful my parents lead by example when I was a kid (and forced me to do it myself...thanks again Dad.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

What it feels like to be a rickety old man.... (and just in time for the weekend: MAGIC!)

So years ago while I was actively playing co-ed adult soccer, I suffered a few scrapes and bruises. Let me assure you when co-ed adult sports include the words "no contact" they are misleading you. I started playing soccer as a wee lass but I promise you, the one co-ed adult soccer game my Mom came and watched did NOT remind her of the angelic days of yore. During one game, I suffered an injury to my foot. That I basically ignored. For years. This is relevant. Why? Because that injury was the start of a strained relationship. Let me explain.

My left foot started bothering me a great deal two years ago. I finally to to my Doctor, Doctor M., and he sends me in for x-rays. On verdict day, I am pretty sure it is a hairline fracture at worst.

Wrong. He tells me I have arthritis. I laugh for two reasons. 1. I love Dr. M, he is fantastic, brilliant and witty. And 2. because I think he jokingly told me I have arthritis.

Me: HAHAHAHA. Are you reading your grandpa's chart again, Dr. M?
Dr. M: HAHAHAHA. No. You have arthritis in your left foot.

And then an odd feeling sank in. Oh my, this is what it feels like to be a rickety old man? Uh oh.

I go on to ask how this could happen, since, well, I am not Archie Bunker or any other old man. He explains several causes. He then asks a key question.

Dr. M: Do you wear high heels?
Me: (Thankful my jacket on chair is covering today's shoe choice) Sometimes.
Dr. M: Can you give a fuller description of "sometimes"
Me: Not when I am sleeping.

He advised the drawbacks of constant high heel wearing. Ok. It is a bit like someone telling you the risks of eating chocolate chip cookie dough. You know there are drawbacks, but that isn't likely to stop you. I have since learned that wearing the wrong running shoes can also cause arthritis. HAHA Damn RUNNING SHOES! Good to know now after I racked up over 700 miles on them last year.

So I actually went to the pharmacy. So I googled how to treat arthritis naturally. Apply Eucalyptus oil to the joints! Awesome. Except it doesnt really work. Take herbs. Ok but can you speed up the healing? So finally, I bought arthritis relief over the counter medicine. Not wear high heels? Ok, I will try that. One day. And I am sure the pharmacist thoughtit was for my grandpa. You should have to be at least 90 before inflicted with arthritis but no one told my foot.


BUT: Then I learned a touch of magic. A friend from high school, a lovely and talented wordsmith named Nico, posted this gem one day. I thought I would watch it. Could this be true?






I too have Louboutins. Yes I bought the right size but feet can fluctuate so while they feel fine most of the time, there is still a time or two when while wearing them I certainly didn't feel like I was dancing on pillows. So I tried. this. AND IT WORKS. So I tried it with two pairs of my fabulous croc platforms. DELICOUS. And just in time for the weekend. So pull out your favorite peep toes that pinch and give them a little icy spa treatment. I did try it with close toed shoes as well but let me suggest if you try this: Don't be in a hurry. They are sandwich bags after all and not made of titanium. One shoe full of water? Check. But quickly remedied.

And by the way friends of mine who love beauty tips and tricks, Michelle Phan has a litany of other fabulous YouTube posts and viewership in the millions.

But if high heel shoe therapy just isn't your bag, well, pass it along to one of your gal pals. They will thank you for it.

Have a gorgeous weekend friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RIP Slinky Dog

Grandma V. buys MiniMac a Slinky Dog toy from the Toy Story movie trilogy. He loves it. He decides to take it to school one recent Friday for "show and share" time. There are two versions of this story: The short version and the slightly longer version.

Short version: RIP Slinky Dog.

Slightly Longer Version: This is how it all went down. MiniMac is in a mixed age class at his private school. Last year he was the youngest (and really, the actual youngest child) and now he is in PreK and "graduating" to Kindergarten in June. I was asked my his teacher last year to be the room Mom this year. (More on that to come.) I agree against sage advice from other Moms I know, older wise parents and of course, you know JohnnyMac rolled his eyes and shot that down stat. BUT, I wanted to do it. This gave me the benefit of some insight from the teachers about the kids in the class. The insight was 97% positive on all the incoming kiddos. Except this one: BratBrat. BratBrat is considered by most of the teachers to be "the worst behaved child in school." REALLY? So having him transition in our class is like winning the Lottery. Or the opposite. And after interacting with this child for small increments of time, I would rather listen to 24 hours of Justin Beiber. And that is just hurtful.

So Slinky Dog goes to school. I pick up MiniMac later that day. Ooops. SlinkyDog has a kink in him. MM's teacher had to put Slinky away and "hopes we can fix him." I see Slinky and because his middle portion is an actual Slinky, somehow one coil is completely reversed. I ask MM what happened and he explained, "I was letting BratBrat play with him (no my son does NOT actually know or employ this nickname) and BratBrat broke him." I immediately set about to fix Slinky. Guess what? It is no easy feat. Did BratBrat go to MIT? How in the hell did BratBrat get the very center coil reversed??? So I set about to engineer a total reverse. BOO. Wrong plan. That doesn't work either. Guess what I don't want to do at the end of a hectic day:

1. Listen to Justin Beiber
2. Unravel a SlinkyDog

But I commit to the second thing. I literally sit in the car for ten minutes straight trying to McGyver my way to a balanced Slinky Dog. NO SUCH LUCK. During this process, I explain to MM that NO in fact you do not have to share your toys with every single person in your class. If people do not treat your toys respectfully, you have the right to say NO THANK YOU when they ask next time.

Finally, I pull into the gas station to fuel up and not completely waste all of my time. While I am standing outside, bending and prying this toy as my son looks on, I pull Slinky far apart and remedy is close at hand. And what? Whooooops. Slinky Dog's tiny string inside breaks in half and he basically flies apart and is now about two feet long. Guess what happens next?

A. I dust my hands of it and explain to MM that Slinky is beyond repair.
B. MiniMac sees this happen and bursts into tears all the while wailing loudly with his car window down "YOU HURT SLINKY! YOU BROKE HIM AND NOW I THINK HE IS RUINED."

Option B my friends. Option B took place much to the delight of about 10 other patrons at this very busy gas station.

I try to explain that in my effort to fix the previous inflicted damage, yes, in fact Slinky is now broken and needs to be thrown out.

Thrown out? Just like the mean kids did to their broken-hearted toys in Toy Story I, II and III? Uh oh. WRONG choice of words.  I finally calm MM down (even though I am super irritated with BratBrat the source of this shenanigan) but I finally calm MM down with my soothing voice and logic.

We arrive home with ruptured Slinky Dog in town. As soon as MM opens the door and sees Daddy, he says, "Mommy hurt Slinky Dog." All that soothing logic straight out the window.

Good friends of ours came over that night and saw Slinky on top of the garbage cans (NOT to be thrown out mind you but properly "buried" later. KR asked JMac what happened to Slinky. JMac replied, "Two words: BratBrat." KR smiled and KNOWINGLY laughed because he knows all about BratBrat.  Ironically, these two men have this philosophy: Don't take it to school if you care if it gets broken. Really gentlemen? Yes really.  But for now, we will just marry my philosophy with that idea. Sort of. The good news, BratBrat was bothering MiniMac last Friday to which MiniMac replied "GET OUT OF MY FACE." No, I didn't teach him that.  In fact, I don't know where he learned it. Perhaps he is secretly watching the Sopranos.

RIP Slinky Dog. And once MiniMac explained his sad story (which I have asked him to leave my name out of ) his Grandma V has already replaced Slinky 1 with Slinky 2. NICE work. That toy is NEVER going to school again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Take A Bite Of: Steak Involtini


I am back after four, count 'em FOUR back-to-back trips. All of them great in their individual way. But whew...what a tour. And I have some fun stories from Fashion Week. (Had the BEST time with you MarciaGarcia!) But I will admit, sleeping in my own bed two nights out of 17 days? That takes some adjusting. What did I miss? Well, my family of course. BUT also, my kitchen. I have MUCH to catch up on but planned an impromptu dinner party for tonight. Of course! Let's keep the fun train on schedule. (And I will back to multiple posts per week next week.)

And while I am not a big fan of red meat, JohnnyMac is as well as every other person in my entire family and his. Since I love to cook and everyone loves to eat steak, here is a twist on the normal grilling method my Hub prefers from my favorite Italian culinary maven, Giadi. And this version, he fully endorses. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

Steak Involtini  
Ingredients 
Breading:
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) London broil steaks, trimmed and pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • Special equipment: 4 (4-inch) skewers
Directions


For the breading: In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Set aside.


For the filling: In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of Parmesan, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, basil, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cut the steaks in half crosswise and place on a work surface. Spread the mixture evenly over the steaks. Roll up the steaks and secure with skewers.


In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat. Roll the steaks in the bread crumb mixture until coated and add to the skillet. Cook the steaks until brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the marinara sauce to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes for medium-well.


Remove the skewers, place the steaks on a cutting board and slice thinly. Arrange the steak slices on plates and serve with the marinara sauce. YUM. And this is a great option for the plethora of you who will be watching football this fall (either by your own election or by the sports nut in your house.) Have a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oo la la....couture

Hello All! I have missed the blogosphere last week. I dont think I have ever had a week long break! But I left Orlando and flew straight out for a work trip. Wrapping up last night with a tasty sip of Hoegaarden at the airport. (Thank you one single aiport bar in the US that carries some hops/barley concoction that is NOT Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light.  I appreciate it. )

But this am, I turn my sights on play land for grown up girls.....NYC Fall Fashion Week 2011. 

Wait, two times in one year? OUI! Thanks to JMac in a big, big way. My BFF MarciaGarcia is meeting me at the airport in mere hours as we enlight onto NYC for some Oooooo la la couture for the next four days.

I had a long week but I. LOVE.my.new.job. It is going to be an arse-kicker but I think it is going to be worth it.

So enjoy your fabulous selves and I will be back with post-event updates very soon. In fact, when I return I will have been traveling non-stop since August 29. Break and vino in my own house are coming soon.

And God Bless America. Barack Obama will be in NYC for the 10 year anniversary of a crushing moment in our nation's history but also one that demonstrated the power of community and patriotism in a way I have never seen before.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soarin'

What a week. Loved it. And in addition to a full week of learning, meeting great new people, I was also refreshed on not only how sitting on a tarmac for 1 hour = unpleasant use of time (and by the way, don't blame the airline you are on people, its called the Air Traffic Control Center and its the airport calling the shots.) but I was also refreshed in the hilarity that goes along with the airport bars. More to come on that later. For now, we are celebrating not only our wedding anniversary (Sept 1) but also, we packed up our family and laid a big suprise on our 4 year old last night in the form of a trip to see him:

Yes. Next four days in DisneyWorld. My surprise is JMac booked up in an unbelievable resort. Mamalita likes very much. Oh, and I have a new favorite cocktail. Its called the Moscow Mule and I was introduced to it one night in Seattle out with my brother. Vodka, Rose's lime juice and ginger beer. Sip sip sip = delicious. So I had one last night. Now I am not saying you need a little nip at Disney but, well, you need a little sip at Disney.

I am traveling all week next week too in the new gig so I am enjoying every minute of this weekend before hard work gets under way. Oh, and first stop? Not Magic Kingdom. We are heading to Epcot shortly so we can go on MiniMac's I mean my favorite ride: Soarin'. (It will soon be his favorite too.)

Have a gorgeous long weekend if you are celebrating Labor Day.

Cheers.