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A few words on Wednesday

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(See what I did there?)

This conversation took place roughly ten minutes ago, as GP and I did some work (like, actual work-work, rather than housework) in separate rooms of the house:

Me: Did you see the NYT article about the flash wine sales? [GP is a Wines ‘Til Sold Out enthusiast.]
He: I just opened it from my Reader. Did you see the NPR thing about the grammar books?
Me: …it’s open in a tab.

We know each other disgustingly well. Also, this particular Portlandia sketch hit pretty close to home.

Like Naomi Campbell loves throwing phones at assistants, like Tom Cruise loves jumping on couches

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This guy. I think he’s all right.

How you know this picture is old: I am still blonde.

Hey, dude, thanks for making it hard for me to keep a straight face. You know, in the best way possible.

In defense of Valentine’s Day

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It has already begun. The red- and pink-packaged candy in the aisles of CVS, the “you’re the best thing that ever happened to me” cards taking up more space than usual at Hallmark, the prix fixe menus featuring the second-cheapest bottle of champagne. Yep, Valentine’s Day is a mere three days away. And, while I can understand some of the venom aimed at what is most certainly the most Hallmark of Hallmark holidays, I have to protest all these protestations.

“But shouldn’t we show our love all year?” terrible and not-quite-as-terrible boyfriends of the past have asked me. My response was always (and has continued to be, now that I am a married lady), that, sure, it would be wonderful to arrive home every day to a nice little flower arrangement, a thoughtful gift, and some extra quality time…that is not what happens. To anyone. It’s not that I feel unloved during the other 364 days of the year– far from it! But why deny a day that’s dedicated especially to lovin’? For the record, this year we’ll be in Disneyland on Valentine’s Day, and having dinner at the Napa Rose. A fun day together, and an awesome dinner– I will be a happy girl.

P.S. Re: “Singles Awareness Day” vs. the most…um…vomitrocious (yeah, let’s make that a word) couples. I know that I’m going to see both ends of the spectrum in my Facebook News Feed, so know this, friends: I’ve learned that the easiest way not to be homicidal about Facebook is to block the shit out of my most annoying friends. When I don’t have to read it, it’s like it’s not even there. Ahhh. Calm sigh. All better now.

P.P.S. Here’s a weird, only slightly Valentine-y video that made me laugh hysterically. (Seriously, watch it. It’s totally weird.) You’re welcome.

Before the food coma sets in

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This year I am thankful for…

…a house that has no shared walls with neighbors, a garden that offers more fruit that we can ever hope to eat, and a kitchen big enough to contain all my cooking tools and ambitions.

…a family that, no matter how crazy they drive me, acts always out of love.

…a husband who has “had my number” for more than five years (only one-plus of them married, but you know what I mean). I’m glad he’s on my team.

…a cat who provides both entertainment and warmth.

…a group of friends who, no matter the time or distance, are always there.

…DVR. Tivo more so than the crummy DirecTV ones, but really anything that lets me watch the shows I love and skip the commercials.

…the internets– the source of much of my news, entertainment, communication, and procrastination.

…Amazon Prime, for allowing me to skip the worries of shipping costs and delays, particularly for my Christmas shopping.

…the fact that I have the time and money to cook and experiment to my heart’s content.

…butter. Sugar. Olive oil. Flour. Cheese. Garlic, tomatoes, beans, tortillas, avocados, maple syrup, and all the other ingredients that make the sticky fingers, accidentally Microplaned knuckles, and smoke alarms worth it.

…travel, and the fact that it is possible to wake up one morning and, by the next, find yourself on the other side of the planet.

 

Here’s to a happy, healthy Thanksgiving that is filled with love, laughter, and more food than anyone should reasonably eat in one sitting.

My grownup Christmas list

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I grew up in a sharply divided household when it came to gift-giving. On the one side, I had a brother that began compiling his list of demands wish list around July; on the other, I had a mother that took great glee in tracking down and neatly wrapping the perfect thing that the recipient didn’t even know she wanted. Personally, I was always uncomfortable making a list of items that I wanted for Christmas– I had survived my entire life without That Single Magical Item, so who was I to be demanding things? (Seriously, I don’t know how I had this much guilt about asking for presents as a child.) I was content to be vague (“I don’t know…books?”) and generally be pretty psyched on Christmas morning when I tore into a new set of belongings that had been selected with my tastes and preferences in mind. Gift-giving, to me, was more than fulfilling a wish: it was tapping into unstated wants and showing that the giver really knew the recipient.

Now that I’ve typed that out, I can see that it is at least partially crazy. How am I supposed to know what every single person on my list deeply desires? What if there really is One Big Thing that they really want? (I know that, if I had been a more normal child, I would probably understand this better. Alas.) I’m happy to report that a) I’ve found ways to work with those in my life who are list-makers and expect me to be, too, and b) I’m getting better at making lists myself.

When my parents divorced, I was in the position of having “two” Christmases; what this really amounted to was a semi-elaborate scheme in which my brother and I would spend Christmas eve and the early part of Christmas morning at one parent’s house, and the rest of Christmas day at the other parent’s house (now that I’m married, it’s a whole new…adventure, but that’s another post). Here is a completely unsurprising fact about my parents: they are completely different. In contrast to my mom’s aforementioned knack for picking the Exact Right Thing, my dad had spent most of his adult life working from a list (my mom is a “better happy than surprised” person), and he expected to be able to do the same now that he was shopping on his own. In an attempt to end up surprised when we opened gifts, I would suggest and try on so many things that I couldn’t possibly remember all the possibilities, and did manage to achieve a decent level of surprise when I pried open the Fed Ex boxes that he enjoyed covering with gift wrap. (He gets the packaging materials free from work, and gets a sick amount of joy from watching us struggle with the tricky openings. We earn our Christmas gifts.)

GP comes from a Christmas-list-making family– they even buy things for each other months in ahead of time, call it a Christmas gift, and are done with it. Now, for a “must be surprised!!!” person like me, this has taken some getting used to. MaGP is a great gift giver because she is well attuned to the things I like; she’s gotten me some lovely purses, great books, and one of my favorite kitchen tools. GP, however, requires a bit more guidance, so I’ve moved into the dad-method of gift-suggesting, creating a list so exhaustive that I can’t possibly know ahead of time what’s under the tree. And, so far? It’s working really well. He knows I’ll be happy with what he buys, doesn’t have to give in to what he sees as a crazy “this gift is an indication of how well I know you and how I feel about you” belief system, and I am thrilled and surprised when I get to unbox my new treasures.

Are you a Christmas list maker? How do you pick gifts for your friends, family, significant other…?

Rule Britannia

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Over the course of the last, oh…month (yeah, sometimes I am a big blog-neglector), much has happened. But today, I realized that it was Wednesday, so we’re reaching into the themed days-of-the-week post bag o’ tricks and pulling out… Where in the World Wednesday! We got back from London about a week and a half ago, and while all the pictures have been dutifully uploaded to Flickr (as well as a smaller set to a Facebook album by GP– I’m on the “pretty annoyed” side of Facebook use right now, but that is another post), I want to share a little sampling of my favorites. Good thing I noticed it was Wednesday, right?

While we were in London, we stayed with friends (who are doing various academic things in and around London– one is a postdoc and one is pursuing a couple masters degrees) on the east side of town, which was really fun and interesting because it felt much more neighborhood-y than my previous stays near Russell Square, the West End, and Kensington. One of my favorite ways of experiencing any country is through food (surprise!), and this was no different. When in London, we had this breakfast a total of three (maybe four?) times:

Full fry-up at Gardiner's

What’s not to love? An egg with a yolk begging to be destroyed by perfectly crispy toast, beans for piling atop the remainder of toast, and proper back bacon (an important component of the bacon-egg sandwich that I would opt for the next couple times we visited this cafe). The sausage, I will admit, is not my favorite– I think there’s more bread/bread-like sausage filling in their sausages, so the texture was weird. But the tea! Ohhh, the tea. I floated away on a sea of tea when we were in England.

With so many museums that were admission-free (don’t worry, we always put a little into the “suggested donation” banks), I couldn’t resist dragging GP to a couple. On our first day, we hit the V&A, where he got into a staring contest with this enormous dog sculpture:

Staring contest

the British Museum, and the Tate Modern, where I became art in a fricking mirror that was mounted on the wall:

A mirror

Until finally GP had had his fill of art. Note the disdain for what is essentially a solidly-colored panel (what can I say, the dude’s not a Rothko fan, either):

Greg is unimpressed

Our friends kindly showed us around their part of town, which is home to some delicious salt beef (seriously, how did I not know about salt beef before? It is miraculous), adorable mini cupcakes (plum and lavender-flavored frosting) with a Chez Panisse connection,

Minis from Violet

and an urban farm complete with some immense ginger pigs, who I petted despite signs warning me not to.

Ginger pig!

We also passed by one of their local public libraries, which is cleverly named. (U.S. public libraries, get on this! It could be a thing.)

It's a library, really

Other wanderings around the city found us enjoying some lovely and typically British scenery…

Millenium Bridge and St. Paul's

Because GP is a roller coaster enthusiast, we made some side trips to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, home of what may well be the last operating steeplechase ride (and numerous other thrills and bone-jarring attractions)…

Steeplechase

…and Alton Towers, which has many more roller coasters nestled into the woods surrounding a hundreds-of-years-old estate.

I’m slowly climbing out of the post-vacation malaise, mostly with the help of copious amounts of tea and a renewed interest in the type of reading that so enthralled me as an English major undergrad (read: nerdier than I already gravitate toward). Tell me, friends: how do you get over the semi-disappointment of returning home after an awesome vacation?

One.

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We attended one of the apparent zillions of 10/10/10 weddings last night, and as we watched the happy couple share their promises of a life together, we held hands and thought of a very similar night nearly a year ago, when we did the same. A year ago today, I woke up early (before the crack of dawn, believe me), had coffee with my dad, spent the morning getting ready with my mom, friends, and soon-to-be sister-in-law

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met up with my soon-to-be husband

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made a promise, sealed with a kiss

Marriage accomplished

celebrated

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and was pretty much the happiest I’ve ever been.

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Happy anniversary, love.