December 31, 2007

Fortunately, Unfortunately

Did you ever read or write a 'fortunately, unfortunately' story in grade school? I remember writing one in second grade that involved a New Kids on the Block concert. I feel like writing another tonight, just without Joey and Donnie.
  • Fortunately, there was food in my house.
  • Unfortunately, it all appeared to be inedible.
  • Fortunately, I had milk in the house with which to make a hot drink.
  • Unfortunately, I got too excited about that hazelnut steamer and burned my tongue.
  • Fortunately, my house is so cold that the steamer quickly cooled enough to drink safely.
  • Unfortunately, I have a five years' supply of hot chocolate mix in my pantry, and that hazelnut steamer ain't gonna put a dent in it.
  • Fortunately, I made fast friends with toast smeared with butter and some crazy apple cider jelly.
  • Unfortunately, I had only enough jelly for one slice of toast.
  • Fortunately, I cleaned out the jelly jar and got to throw it away. One less thing in the fridge!
  • Unfortunately, I will be in Lubbock for New Year's.
  • Fortunately, I will have someone cute to kiss (the only fulfilled resolution from last year?).
I'm pretty sure my second grade story was better. Fortunately, it is time for bed. Unfortunately, I should have gone to bed before writing this second post.

Deathly Cold

My house feels particularly tomb-like tonight, quiet, cold, and depressing, and it's adding to my serious case of the blahs. I'm suddenly ready for summer or at least spring, with their long sunny days and warmth. Every morning, I dread the mile hike from the parking lot into work against the north wind. That's only a slight exaggeration. At least work gets me out of this cold house.

Last night, I tried out Alton's Steel Cut Oatmeal recipe. Scottish oatmeal is my new favorite breakfast. Alton's variation kicks it up a notch - wait, wrong host - Alton's variation turns humble horse feed into good eats. He notes that you shouldn't add salt to your oatmeal before cooking it, because salt soaks up too much water and keeps your porridge from getting creamy. He also toasts the oats in butter before adding the water. He adds milk, buttermilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon to the final product. I ate it for dinner last night and again for lunch today.

Today marks the first New Year's holiday that I've been in Lubbock in awhile. I've been in Houston, Las Vegas, Austin, and Vegas again over the past four years. I say, if you have to ring in the new year in Lubbock, you'd best be drunk and unawares. But if that's not your thing, Google "non-alcoholic cocktails new years" as I did, and you'll find some interesting mocktails. I found a link to the Great Pretenders Pamphlet with several mocktail recipes. Shows how tired I am, I thought it said it was put out by AA, but it's actually AAA. Now there are a couple of groups who know how to party!

December 22, 2007

Deck the Halls

I've still got a few more ornaments to hang on the tree. Okay, it ain't Martha Stewart or the Rockefeller Center tree. My star tree-topper isn't even vertical right now.

I've been drafting this post for about three weeks now. I figure it's time to let go of my perfectionism and update everyone. My life has been busy lately with holidays and the associated get-togethers, my piano students' recital, finishing up the school semester, and a week-long trip to New York.

Yes, I got to see amazing holiday window displays (as seen above) and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. I had a fabulous time in New York. I can't remember a trip that was more fun. I could write a ton about all the things I did and saw, but I'll try to stick to the highlights.

One of the best things we did was watch a live taping for the weekly broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. Listen to the December 15, 2007 broadcast here. Garrison Keillor and the other cast members were hilarious, and the two musical guest groups were spectacular as well. We also saw Les Misérables on Broadway. We lucked out and had front row center seats in the spit zone, seriously. It put every other play or musical I've seen to shame. Our hosts, Gordon and Kamara, gave us a private concert, and their respective bands, Smyer and Earl Greyhound, are definitely worth a listen.

The museums were incredible. I got a little overstimulated by it all, but we went to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (took an afternoon to see only a tenth of it), the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. We also saw an interesting Jack Kerouac exhibit at the New York Public Library.

The food was great. My favorite food was probably at Choice Market in Brooklyn. We grabbed breakfast there a couple of times, and I think I could eat there everyday for a month and not get tired of it. We also went to Stand, and I tried the toasted marshmallow shake that I burned my fingers trying to create. Their shake tastes better and has no risk of third degree burns! The burgers were unremarkable. We got some good, inexpensive food at Bistro Lafayette and Cafe Martino. We ate brunch at a fabulous Italian place by Prospect Park, but I don't know the name of it. I have to say that I preferred the restaurants in Brooklyn to those in Manhattan/Little Italy/Soho.

Although we did eat at a great Indian place near Broadway and Times Square, Bombay Masala. I ordered the Chicken Vindaloo, listed as 'highly spiced' on the menu, "extra hot, really spicy." That prompted two Indian men seated at the next table to come over to our table and introduce themselves. They were impressed that we could eat our meal so spicy. Later in the conversation they found out we were from Texas, and they said that explained it. Chet likes his chicken spicy! I'll admit that he can take the heat better than I can. We had a contest. He won. But I'll train and beat him next time.

The only time I got cold and miserable was the morning we went to see the Statue of Liberty. It was really early in the morning, and riding on the top level of the ferry with the cold ocean breeze in your face was just not pleasant. That passed quickly, though, and seeing Lady Liberty and Ellis Island was very cool.

The only blah that I can think of was the Empire State Building. In the movies, characters go there to be all romantic and meet up with their lover at the top. Maybe we just hit it at the wrong time, but we waited in line for a couple of hours to get up and then back down. And it cost about $70 for the two of us to get to the 102nd floor. There are so many people and you have to wait in line for such a long while. Nothing romantic and spontaneous about that.

I loved being able to walk and take the subway everywhere I needed to go. It's fun to gawk at the buildings and sights. I got in this mentality that everything was cooler just because I was in New York. Like I would probably mock the same outfits in Lubbock, but in New York, they're eclectic and original. The other phenomenon is sticker shock. You'll see some things that are exorbitantly expensive, and it makes the merely expensive items look like bargains. I probably ate the most expensive sandwich of my life at Katz's Deli. A grilled Reuben was ~$15, but then again, I barely finished half of it. How come they don't stack the meat that high at Subway?

You knew I was going to be that person that came home from vacation and made everyone look at her pictures, so here you go. Sorry, I know there are lots of duplicates and duds.

I'm off to do some more Christmas shopping...