Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not So Engaging

Engaged Encounter - the bane of any "Catholic" couple's existence, right (the recent church shenanigans re: homosexuality and child abuse have forced me to use the inverted commas)? I've been to two of them (don't ask), and I thought they were pretty awful and totally removed from the reality of an actual relationship, but this guy had it worse.

"There is no fucking way I am hugging any of those fucking people and I am sure as SHIT not praying with them," I hissed.

No hugging, no lessons. Nice if you can get it. We had a "prayer service" at the close of ours (after being forced to watch half an episode of Mad About You, which is maybe one of my most hated shows of all time), but, thank jebus, no hugging. The Irish, we don't hug so much. Unless we're drunk. Then we can't stop.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holy crap!

We bought a new car tonight.

I haven't spent this much money in one go since I bought my house.

Unfortunately, Booby spirited me out of the house about 5.2 seconds after I walked through the door, so we didn't eat until about 10 p.m., and my headache is juuuust now beginning to subside.

But yeah! New car! Wheee!

I will miss the Saturn, if only because it was free and, for a while, reliable (in truth, it never broke down even once in 3 years). It'll always be the car that replaced the car that was auctioned off illegally by the lovely City of Philadelphia Parking Authority. Fare thee well, '93 Saturn SL-1: I hope someone takes care of your transmission soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

In which I discuss food at length, again

I took a few days off, both from work and from blogging, and mostly vegged out over this food-tastic holiday. A bit of that time was spent cooking, although we ended up at my mother's for Thanksgiving, because a) I am physically unable to show up at anyone's house empty-handed and b) my mother asked me to make appetizers for the 15 or so people who were attending. This has long been my role in family gatherings. For many years, I made complicated hors d'ouevres that required deep-frying right before serving, or esoteric ingredients best culled from the local Asian grocery, or both. I learned the hard way that Martha Stewart has crappy recipes (although I am intrigued by her Everyday Food magazine - I hold out hope that she was imprisoned for much of its inception and early-to-mid existence). And didn't she steal a lot of her recipes, anyway? I dislike her, and yet I find her fascinating. Ugh. But I digress. In the end, I found that the best way to make people happy was to keep things simple, so now I make pigs in a blanket, and then something else simple and easily popped into an open maw. Sweet 'n' sour meatballs, say. This year I did Mexican pizzas. They were good, but I must remember that the oven is full of turkey on these occasions, and there is really no other way of cooking anything in my mother's house, save for a 15 year old microwave with an inner capacity of about .2 cubic feet.

I also made squash & granny smith apple soup, using Mark Bittman's recipe, although I tweaked it, as I often do with most any recipe (I used acorn squash instead of butternut, sue me). It was nice, although Booby proclaimed it merely "OK." Everyone else raved, and, most importantly, I liked it, so it's been added to my mental "easy recipes that turn out well" file.

Booby has been obsessed lately with ginkgo trees, which are all over the place here. The story goes that the Philadelphia and surrounding city planners got a good deal on a big order of trees, and planted them without doing their research first. For anyone not in the know, these trees let down berries that stink to high heaven, and a little interwebbing reveals that they contain butyric acid, which is also a component of vomit. Once the berries are crushed, the wonderful vomit smell rises to the fore (and often lingers on your soles after you've unwittingly trodden through a sidewalkful of berries). In any case, twice this weekend I have seen a little person (gender indeterminate, but I'd guess female) out on the median strip, collecting the berries into a basket. It would seem that they are edible! Well, not the disgusting smelling fruit (thank god), but the inside seed, which, when toasted, is evidently quite tasty. Raw, they are poisonous, though, so beware.

In researching the edibility of ginkgo berries, I came across Wildman's Foraging site, and it makes me want to take one of his tours. This has only been reinforced by reading of SJ's adventures picking wild chanterelles. I am not a mushroom person, but the thrill of discovering my own "organic" wild food has made me push that minor detail out of my mind. Ths whole thing also dovetails nicely with the idea of using my neighbor's sour green apples to make my own jelly - an idea that's been banging around in my brain since my sister kindly gave me a tutorial on home canning (she even bought me the basic supplies for my birthday!). More details as they develop ... but I am thinking this plan will have to keep until spring.

* Image courtesy of the New York Botanical Gardens site.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Typical Exchange

Booby: "I don't know, I just feel like he's a really nice guy, but she's kind of a bitch."

Me: "Don't you think that's what people say about us?"

Organically Yours

I dragged Booby with me to Whole Foods on Saturday, though doubtless he would've been happier to stay at home and tinker with the radio. I like the place well enough, but I have to say that the prices were higher than I remembered, and there wasn't as much organic produce as I expected there to be. Plus, the place was crawling with yuppies (what did I expect, on a Saturday morning in the 'burbs?) We bought some produce (all organic, because I refuse to spend $3.99/lb. on "conventional" green beans for my casserole for Thanksgiving), some meat, some banana chips (we are making our own trail mix these days to wean ourselves off the packaged Quaker granola bars), and whole wheat pretzels. Pretzels are my husband's kryptonite, so finding these was a huge deal. Eventually, I'd like to learn to make my own, but we'll see how that pans out. We got out of there for a little under fifty clams for 2 bags. Ouch!

Yesterday, I thought I'd see how the other local supermarket that claims to be mostly organic fared against Whole Foods. The Fresh Grocer is an up 'n' comer in our area, and they have the best and biggest produce section that I've seen in a "regular" supermarket. They had a very nice selection of organic stuff, no smaller than Whole Foods', and the prices were better for the non-organics. I think I'll be going there frequently, as the prices are decent and it's closer (fewer yuppies, too, or maybe it was the time of day).

The best discovery of the weekend, though, was from some magazine that arrived at my house unbidden, and whose title I forget. However, it had an article on sustainable gift-giving, and suggested buying a CSA, which is basically a seasonal subscription to organic and free-range foods. To find a farm group near you, go here.

Farm to City is my local group, and Chris and I probably won't do a CSA, but will participate in a buying club instead, so we can do a one-time order and I can get gifts for people in my family (like my father, who is mad for rack of lamb). The prices are pretty reasonable, and I noticed that pasteurized, 1% organic milk from the farm group is considerably cheaper than buying it from the Supermarket. They even take your order and get it all ready for you - all you do is pick it up at one of a list of pickup addresses, check off each item to make sure you have it in your bags, and off you go. The pickup thing is a little inconvenient, as there isn't one exactly close by, but it's not so far that it's a dealbreaker, and, in fact, it's closer than the Whole Foods. I'll let you know how it goes.

A Bad Start

My cat climbed up on the bed with me this morning and sneezed in my face six times in quick succession.

Hopefully, that is not indicative of how the rest of the day will progress.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Food, glorious food

I haven't been writing because I've been waaaaaay too busy at work (sigh) and when I haven't been working, I've been obsessing over food, because I am now reading Morgan Spurlock's Don't Eat This Book! I really dig Morgan, although he clearly needs an editor for his blog (that conversational tone that he employs so well can easily slip into run-on sentences; my red-pen fingers itch in response).

But the book is great. It's totally terrifying, and not exactly well-written, but it's great. It's made me extremely conscious of what I'm putting into my body (even more so than the anti-migraine food diary has done). This morning, I made coffee and automatically pulled out the Coffee-MateTM to whiten it up. Ingredients of that stuff: Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids [i.e. sugar], Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And/Or Cottonseed Oil [i.e. trans fats], Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Titanium Dioxide, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Polysorbate 60, Carrageenan [this is a natural thickener made from seaweed], Beta Carotene Color.
As soon as I put it in the coffee I was sorry - I felt like I could smell the chemicals in it, and when I took a sip, I could definitely taste the chemicals.

So the short answer to all this is, I'm taking a trip to the Whole Foods in Wynnewood this weekend, and buying up the place. Free-range chicken, lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Whole grains. I'd been thinking about whole grains even before the Spurlock book, because they're getting so much press as a result of the new Food Pyramid, but according to Don't Eat, the Food Pyramid is kind of a sham, too, what with it being put together by the FDA and heavily influenced by the Cattlemen's Association, The Dairy Council, etc. It's enough to make you not want to eat.

Of course, I do realize that there are a million theories on the internet about food, health, what's bad/good for you to put into your body, etc. And I know that Morgan Spurlock isn't a completely reliable source of information. But I do think that this was the wake-up call I needed to get off my ass and start thinking more about what I eat - I have been thinking and not doing.

To top it all off, today I'm going out to lunch, which should be interesting, considering my food phobias and the likely prevalence of fried foods at the restaurant. Yay!

Monday, November 14, 2005

My Library - Love It or Leave It

My darling husband read my post about The Historian and the Seattle Library and sent me this. Nice! Unfortunately, it only operates using Windows Media Player.
Also, it seems to be quite a large selection of crappy titles. Like James Earl Jones Reads the Bible.

Weekend with Lulu

This weekend was unusually action-packed with last-minute outings. It was fun, but I've become so used to weekends full of laundry and other housekeeping with occasional forays into cooking for the coming week that I am easily tired out by doing anything more labor-intensive than that. How very lame!

Friday, my sister and her niece (my goddaughter) came over for dinner, as my mother had given me tickets to see Beauty and the Beast at the Walnut Street Theatre (the parental units have a seasonal subscription). I like having my sister over because she thinks I am the funniest person on earth, as well as the best cook (I'm not either of those things, needless to say), so my thrown-together meal of chicken breasts, Jolly Green Giant Niblets corn (4 minutes in the microwave!), and tri-color couscous was well-received (I was ashamed at my lack of green vegetables, but I didn't have time to go to the store). Generous portions of Riesling helped considerably, I think (the state store is only a block from my office).

I haven't spent a chunk of time with my goddaughter in forever, so it was nice to just hang out with her and watch Spongebob and That's So Raven. Even if Raven is, like, totally annoying. warning! terrible R&B Disney stylings will emit from your speakers! She's a cool kid, 11 going on 30, and super-smart. We went out to lunch before the show, and the lady seated next to us said: "As a school principal, I just have to compliment you on how precocious and full of life you are! You're obviously very smart." I don't think Lulu was impressed by that, but I sure was. I guess she's used to being perceived as a wise-beyond-her-years mini-adult.

Saturday night found us driving to Delaware to deliver Lulu back to her parents, and from there going to dinner with them at Harry's, which is a great place, full of atmosphere and friendly people, though a tad pricey.

Friday, November 11, 2005


After being on the library waiting list for-evah, I finally laid my hands on one of their numerous (no doubt) copies of The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. This book was the big "get" at this year's BEA (though it was long-gone by the time I heard about it), and it's gotten a lot of press since then. Most of the press seemed to be about how, at 642 pages, it might make a better doorstop than good read (link via Gael at Test Pattern).

I was a bit daunted by the bad press - long ago are the days when I happily buried myself in some endless novel like The Stand (I loved it so passionately that my friend Kim dubbed it "The Ultimate Book of All Time," and I was mightily annoyed that she refused to read it. Ah, to be 14 again!). Now, the idea of slogging through hundreds of pages of text, full of descriptions of Wallachian scenery, all while I'm riding the El and trying not to listen to that cell phone conversation 2 seats away? Not appealing.

I brought the book along to a work appointment that was certain to feature long periods of time waiting and doing nothing: that way, I'd have no escape from The Book. I would force myself to read it, if only to escape incipient boredom. But I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't have as much time as I would've liked to read it, and I got into it pretty quickly.

Now, at page 492, things have slowed a bit (the translated letters of the Snagov monks are rather soporific), but I'm still happy that I invested some time in the book. It's not the overblown dramafest of Interview with the Vampire, but what is, now that Anne Rice has taken to writing novels about Christ as a youth? Verdict: recommended.

An interesting thing that the Seattle Library is doing: allowing you to download audio books. Sweet! Perhaps if they don't continue to cut the funding of SE Pennsylvania's libraries, this is something we can eventually expect from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oh, my achin' head

Today I left work early after the slight headache I awoke with this morning blossomed into a full-on migraine, complete with nausea and GI disturbance. What fun! I finished my work in a blind stupor of sinus pain (my doctor thinks I have some combination of allergies and migraines, but it looks like it's probably just a migraine).

On my way home, I experienced slight sensitivity to light and motion and a somewhat overwhelming sensitivity to odors, the latter of which is not usual for me. This seems to indicate migraine. And the El is not the place to be when this is the case, I assure you. Several of my fellow riders were eating while traveling, and that, coupled with the smells of everything from axle grease to body odor to a little man who seemed to be processing the garlic he had eaten the night before, made for a nasty ride home. I put my head in my hands for much of the trip.

I've been meaning to start a food diary, and today provided the catalyst I needed to begin. Hopefully it'll make recognizing my triggers easy (if, in fact, food is a trigger for me - though I think it is for many migraine sufferers) so I can avoid them. Last night I made a lovely pizza (with really nice dough from Testa's), and I suspect that the 4-cheese blend I used may be the culprit of today's episode. Hopefully plain old mozzarella is still on the menu, because I don't know if I can live without it. Of course, there are also many schools of thought that say that food is unproven to be a headache trigger. How wonderfully confusing!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A small request

Gentle readers,

I have noticed that I have a couple of regulars when I check my site stats. Some of you I already know are reading the blog with some regularity (hi, Stacey!), and others are a mystery to me. Nothing makes me more agitated than a mystery! I'm the person who can't allow the phone to ring endlessly, even if I know who it is and I don't want to talk to that person - I always pick up to satisfy my curiosity.

So now, can you satisfy mine? If you can find it in your heart to leave me a comment and make me feel validated, please do. If not, I appreciate your stopping by. Cheers.

Mold o'lantern

We didn't take a photo of our jack o'lantern until Booby suddenly realized the entire inside was carpeted in fuzzy grey mold. Mmm! Better than last year, though, when I placed my little pumpkin on the mantle, only to have it go bad almost immediately. I only noticed the carnage after it left a trail of slimy pumpkin fluids down the fireplace onto the hearth. It was not unlike the CSI where they find the decomposed bodies in the trunk. Damn you, Produce Junction! You're worse than the Italian Market with supplying produce that looks fine until you go to use it, and your finger perforates its skin on contact (true story!).

This year's pumpkin got lots of compliments from the neighborhood kids. I ended up not using the templates I had downloaded, because suddenly it just seemed like a lot of work, and thoroughly un-visceral.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nature Grrrl

Booby and I spent much of Saturday at the Morris Arboretum, walking around and checking out the autumn foliage. It seemed like all the colors suddenly popped over a space of 3 days - when I was driving to New Jersey for a work appointment on Thursday, a lot of the foliage was dull green. But the Arboretum was gorgeous, full of color.

Here are some of the photos.

I, dirty thief that I am, also filled my pockets with the pirate's booty of seed pods that abounded in the gardens there. I assume that they frown on that sort of thing, but they don't expressly prohibit it, so I don't feel particularly guilty. I "harvested" an entire seed pod from a Dutchman's pipe, which are normally expensive seeds to buy commercially. I can't say I understand why they are so pricey, as the pod contained at least 50 seeds. In any case, I'll be able to fall sow my ill-gotten gains this weekend, if the weather holds.

We also finally cut back our vegetable plants this weekend {snif!}. It was sad, but necessary, and at least we still have carrots to look forward to in another couple of weeks. With the temperature in the 60s, though, it's more than a little depressing to anticipate the coming months of root vegetable-eating. I'm sure I'll be happier about it once Thanksgiving is here.

All I Want for Christmas

... is Vincent Gallo's sperm.

I kid, I kid.

But good lord in heaven, is he serious?

Mr. Gallo is 5'11" and has blue eyes. There are no known genetic deformities in his ancestry (no cripples) and no history of congenital diseases. If you have seen The Brown Bunny, you know the potential size of the genitals if it's a boy. (8 inches if he's like his father.) I don't know exactly how a well hung father can enhance the physical makeup of a female baby, but it can't hurt. Mr. Gallo also presently maintains a distinctively full head of hair and at the age of 43 has surprisingly few gray hairs. Though his features are sharp and extreme, they would probably blend well with a softer, more subtly featured female. Mr. Gallo maintains the right to refuse sale of his sperm to those of extremely dark complexions. Though a fan of Franco Harris, Derek Jeter, Lenny Kravitz and Lena Horne, Mr. Gallo does not want to be part of that type of integration.

If I didn't think that the whole point of this exercise was to get people talking about him, I would further address Mr. Gallo's issues. The (lengthy, run-on) paragraph describing the potential transaction of sperm from seller to buyer is a treasure trove of humor which one can only hope is intentional. With Vincent Gallo, you just never know.