Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

The end of the year is the perfect time to take stock, to reflect, to resolve, to aspire, to hope. And for the last day or two, it's been a great time to remember all that has gone wrong.  It is so easy to pinpoint every disaster, every disappointment, and every letdown and to promise to never have them happen again (at least not for the next year). In general, 2011 was not a red-letter year (and neither was 2010).

But then, I reconsidered the year. While everything wasn't perfect, it was actually pretty great. I rang in 2011 in New Orleans. 2011 was the year I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Savannah. It was the year I graduated from law school and the year B started kindergarten. It was the year B learned to ride a bike and lost his first tooth. It was the year I left Montgomery. It was the year Baby C was born and one of my oldest friends became a mother. It was the year several friends got engaged and a few got married. It was the year I finally got a sewing machine. It was the year I got Liza Jane. It was the year B told me that even before he was born, he knew I was his Mom . It was the year Auburn won the National Championship and B declared his love for the Geogia Bulldogs. And it was the year I found my first gray hair and went back blonde. In it's own way, it was a great year.

It was a painful reminder that time does, in fact, march on. It was a constant reminder that sometimes life really isn't fair. It was a sweet reminder that hearing your child say "I love you," can get through the hardest days. Looking back on it, I am reminded that things aren't always as they seem.

Looking forward, I am excited. 2012 has such potential. Such madding and unending potental. I have so many resolutions, so many ideas, dreams, plans, hopes. Here goes nothing.

Happy New Year, y'all!

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. -Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Movie-A-Palooza*

*I use the label "Christmas movie" quite loosely.

It was brought to my attention last year that my definition of "Christmas movie" may be slightly off. While I, like every sane person everywhere, enjoy A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, these are not the movies I want to watch on a loop during the holiday season. For my money, I want something happy and sweet and sentimental. I do not want to shoot my eye out.

First and foremost, my Christmas Eve must-have: It's a Wonderful Life

This one is an obvious pick. But it's so wonderful. George Bailey, I really will love you until the day I die.

Next: Love Actually

Since this movie is set at Christmas, a lot of people put it on their short list of favorite Christmas movies. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, and Alan Rickman? Merry Christmas to me. Plus, isn't it nice to be reminded that love really is all around?

Here is where I go off the rails a touch: The Wizard of Oz

This I blame on TBS. I couple of years ago, they started playing The Wizard of Oz with limited commercial interruptions at least 4 times during the holiday season. Now, Christmas isn't complete until the wind begins to switch, the house to pitch, and of course, the hinges start to unhitch. I have loved this movie my whole life and have thankful passed my love of it on to Beckett. 

Tin Woodsman: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I - I think that it - it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em - and it's that - if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with. Is that right?

Plus, who wouldn't want to live in a world where you get up at 12 and go to work at 1, take and hour for lunch and then at 2 you're done? Jolly good fun!

Fourth, there's this: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Growing up, anything Roald Dahl became an immediate favorite of mine. The 1971 version (not the remake, although I can appreciate it in it's own right. Lord knows I love Johnny Depp) with Gene Wilder is not just a movie I must watch at Christmas, it's one of my favorites in general. It is also one of 2 movies that I will drop everything to watch when I catch it on television (Steel Magnolias being the other).

This makes the list for one simple reason: there is no place I know like the world of pure imagination. There are a million things to think about at Christmas, but I think I like this movie for purely selfish reasons. At Christmas, there is almost enough joy and happy and giddy anticipation to make anyone think they, too, can be the boy (or girl) who got everything they ever wanted and live happily ever after.  Plus, Gene Wilder is just eerie and eccentric enough to be thoroghly thrilling in the most intriguing of ways.

And lastly, the most traditional Christmas tradition of them all: The Nutcracker Ballet

Trying to choose one image for The Nutcracker Ballet is truly impossible. I'll go with this one:

Ovation has been presenting the Battle of the Nutcrackers this week. I'll consider this an early Christmas present to me.

I'll get sucked into watching a million Christmas movies this season, but those are the ones that I have to watch.  No Christmas would be complete without watching each of these movies at least once. What are your favorite Christmas movies? And if you say Elf, we probably won't be friends anymore.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Blog Name

Well, I did it. I finally figured out a name for the blog. Welcome to "My Little House of Ill Repute." The decision has been made.

Years ago, Hillary Ryan, introduced me to Sandra Cisneros. She told me these poems would set me free. For this, I am eternally grateful.

They say I'm a beast.
And feast on it.  When all along
I thought that's what a woman was.

They say I'm a bitch.
Or witch. I've claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I'm a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I'm in.

I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and my success --
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I'm Pancha Villa.

I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I'm la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among men.
I can't be bothered what they think.
Que se vayan a la ching chang chong
For this, the cross, the Calvary.
In other words, I'm anarchy.

I'm an aim-well,
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I'm Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pizza Party

Since Georgia was playing in the SEC Championship on Saturday, we decided to celebrate by making pizza. The game might not have turned out the way we had hoped (congrats, LSU), but the pizza was a total success.

Pizza Dough

3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Combine ingredients and put in bread maker. If you don't have a bread maker, stop what you are doing and go buy one. It will not disappoint.

We made 3 batches of dough for various pizzas and by the time we were on the last one, Brandi had memorized the recipe.  According to her, this couldn't be easier.

Remove the dough from the bread maker and place on a floured pan. Knead for 1 minute. Then, let it rest for 15 minutes.  Roll out the dough. Place on a pan that has been greased and sprinkled with corn meal. Then, let it rise for 20 minutes. After you add the sauce and toppings, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

I took care of the sauce. We looked up a recipe, but I just poured a bunch of stuff in a pot and it turned out delicious. The measurements provided are rough estimates.

1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can tomato paste (well, this isn't an estimation)
1 can tomato sauce (I used 2 cans whole tomatoes and 2 cans of diced tomatoes instead)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (I definitely used more than this)
dash of red pepper (and more of this, too)

I also added Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt (a dash or so)

Simply combine the ingredients and simmer. I ran our sauce through the food processor because I had used whole and diced tomatoes, not a tomato sauce.

For a while, we didn't think it would be thick enough. But let it simmer for a while and it will have the right consistency.

We made two pizzas for dinner.

Black olives, pepperoni, and mushrooms

Fresh mozzarella

 We also made garlic cheese bread.

Garlic Butter

Butter, softened
Garlic, mashed and minced
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan cheese

This is really simple. Just mix all the ingredients together.  Spread on the pizza dough and cover with mozzarella cheese. Cook on 425 for 20-25 minutes. We used the pizza sauce as a dipping sauce. The result was delicious.

We also made a dessert pizza (see, we got a little pizza happy).

Dessert Pizza

Nutella (a gift from God)
Semi sweet chocolate chips
White chocolate chips
Almonds (or other nut you find appealing)

As you can see, we started chowing down before I could get a picture. It was really good.

You can use whatever sweet things you enjoy. We like these things and they were delicious on the pizza dough.

So, even though Georgia lost (curses!), the day was not a total let down.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bottle It Up: A DIY for the DIY Impaired

We have gone little craft-crazy this holiday season. The first thing we created? Silver bottles for the entry way. This project was really easy, but it did take a moment of trial and error.

What You Need:

Epsom Salt (We used Dr. Teal's Cooling Peppermint -- our bottles smell amazing!)
Silver spray paint

Yep, that's all.

Side Note: Glitter is more expensive that I remember it being when I was 9.  This could be because I don't actually know how much it was when I was 9.

Put your newspaper down. Now, we mixed the glitter and the Epsom salt on the newspaper like so:

We sprayed the bottles completely silver and then rolled the bottom of the bottles in the glitter and salt mixture. This is what happened:

I don't know if you can tell (or maybe that's the wrong picture), but we didn't think things through. Our patio is concrete (or "concreek" according to B). Rolling a spray painted glass bottle over the concrete only scratches the paint off the bottle.  So what could have been a one-person project quickly devolved into a two-person laugh riot.

Basically, one person sprayed the bottle and the tilted it back (so as not the scratch the paint) and rotated it. Meanwhile, the other person threw the salt and glitter mixture gingerly upon the bottle as it was being rotated. Hilarity ensured when the person spray painting (me) paid no attention the the direction the spray nozzle was pointing and continually painted everything save the bottle.

But, we were ultimately successful. See:

The picture doesn't really do them justice. All in all, the project took about 20 minutes (half of which was us realizing concrete is not the ideal surface upon which to craft, followed by a good 2 minutes of laughing).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 25 Most Exciting Days of the Year

December 1st is here. December, y'all! The years keep moving faster and faster and I just can't seem to keep up. Or get used to that fact. So, we're officially in the Christmas season -- the most wonderful time of the year. Crafting and cooking only get better and accomplished more often in this short season. Could a blog-a-day be upon us? Probably not. But Lord knows I have enough projects going to try.

B has made is Christmas wish-list. It is as follows:

(1) Any Wii game. Any game except Wii Sports "because it's the only one I have, Mom, and I need another one."
(2) "A smaller rug, just like this one, that I can put next to it so I have a bigger rug." B has a rug with streets and whatnot on it so he can play with his cars. He feels he needs more roadway.
(3) A bigger Whack-A-Mole game.

Basically, things he already has, just on a grander scale. That's it. Until I pressed him further. Then, he wanted everything he saw on TV. Sounds about right.

I am getting ready for the holidays by listening to Christmas music (I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, Donde Esta Santa Claus?, and Elvis' Blue Christmas being my favorites) and watching Christmas movies (It's a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, and The Wizard of Oz. I have a somewhat odd definition of "Christmas movie").

This will be B's 5th Christmas. Here's a picture from his first:

Guilty Christmas baby ripped the present's wrapping as a sign of protest at having his picture taken 7 million times.
 Merry Christmas, everyone!

Cranberry Lime Vodka

Well, I'm making fruit-infused vodka. I mean, why not? I found the recipe on Pintrest (where else?). It comes from Fancy Napkin.  Not that anyone who ever attended a fraternity party needs a recipe. This girl also makes a Sour Cherry Vodka, so I'm excited to try all different kinds of fruit variations.

This couldn't be easier, but it could be a little less time consuming.

What You Need

Cranberries (enough to fill whatever size jar you're using to make your vodka; I used 3)
Lime Rinds

You have to start by poking a hole in each of the cranberries. If this sounds daunting (particularly if you're making a lot of vodka), that's because it is. Sort of. It took me about 30 minutes to poke holes per 12 oz. bag. I watched Friends (The One With the Rumor, specifically) while I poked my holes. I took a lunch break, too. I mean, it took an hour and a half. A break was much needed.

I layered one bag of cranberries and then the rind of one lime and so on and so forth until the jar was full.

Then, cover the fruit with vodka and add sugar. I added about 2 spoonfuls of sugar, just to cut the bitterness of the cranberries. Then set the jar aside so the vodka can steep -- for 2 weeks to 2 months. Make sure you shake the jar every day or two, just to make sure that the sugar mixes in well.

This would make a great Christmas gift. If you get this from me at some point, it means I like you a lot.

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