Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving was pretty great. I have to admit, I was worried that we wouldn't pull everything off - we had an extensive-ass menu - but we did. We did. Here is what the four of us cooked:

*Turkey (11.1 lbs.: the smallest bird we could find) & gravy
*Mashed potatoes (garlic, and also mashed potato casserole, which is regular mashed potatoes + sour cream + grated cheese, baked with cheese on top: one of Ali's concoctions)
*Old skool stuffing (so much butter)
*Corn bake
*Raspberry salad
*Cranberry, apple, and orange relish
*Steamed broccoli, steamed carrots
*Snowflake rolls (these, admittedly, were store bought)
*Chocolate cupcakes
*Pumpkin pie


*Nachos, with Ali's specialty dip.

The nachos don't really fit into most people's Thanksgiving schemata, but they were a delicious accompaniment to football. My all-time favorite, of course, is my mom's stuffing: there's no written recipe, but the constant is BUTTER. I know she seasons it with thyme, sage, poultry seasoning, s&p, but the exact proportions are a mystery. Srsly, though: I look forward all year to this stuffing, and I did not leave the table disappointed.

Later, after we'd slept off our food hangovers and cleaned up, we saw Four Christmases. I wasn't too eager to see it, not being much of a Vince Vaughn fan (I guess I don't mind Reese Witherspoon?), but it wasn't too bad. I think this assessment was strongly influenced by my initial low expectations, though. Bottom line: Vince Vaughn does and always will play VV, and if you're not in the mood for his schtick, then this is not the holiday movie for you.

Happy post-Thanksgiving kickin' around to all, and to all a good morning! I'm not sure what's on the schedule for today, but I hope it doesn't involve shopping or simple carbohydrates...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


A minor freakout. The plan was this: the plan was that Ali would work the morning shift today and I would work the morning shift today, and in the afternoon we would tidy the house/purchase last minute groceries/get our holiday wine situation in order/BAKE. As it turns out, Ali's [admittedly-fickle] boss called her in for a double shift today, and A. will be working until at least 10pm. = UGH.

I know I'll be able to get all this stuff done by myself, but I am filled with loathing at the thought of grocery shopping on the day before Thanksgiving. How was I to know that I'd use most of the milk I'd intended for stuffing? Or that my mom no longer likes salad mix and wants bunches of red leaf lettuce and romaine? = UGH. On top of all this, I was hoping to get at least 1/3 of my student papers graded; looks like that won't be happening.

Ah, well. Things could be worse: the house could still be in the state it was Sunday morning. We could have forgotten the turkey, or the pie crusts. I could be one of those people who feels guilty about taking a long time to grade (hah). But, none of these things are true. So, I'll forge through the next three.five hours of work, and then it's prep time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Man, I just used the word "hair" a lot.
But what other choice did I have?


I think I've found a winner for Best Local Salon. After working the 12 to 2 shift yesterday at the Grad Conference Bake Sale, I headed to The Lift in Easthampton for a simple trim. I shouldn't say "headed to," since my trip was circuitous and I stopped twice for directions: once at a strip mall dry cleaning shop just over the Southampton border, and once at a weird machine shop type deal right near the Easthampton roundabout. Finally, though, I made it to Eastworks, an old home-goods factory recently converted into shops/galleries. I'd somehow managed, in my two.five years living here, never to visit Eastworks, but I'd like to go back. True, the few shops I passed en route to the salon appeared to peddle mostly "country-cutesy" gift items, but the galleries might be interesting.

Anyway: The Lift. Decor is pleasant: leather chairs in the waiting area, blond wood, grape-cluster shaped lamps hung above the reception counter. The chairs at the shampoo station are massage chairs (a la Sharper Image or whatevs), and I was given a warm towel for my eyes as my hair was shampooed. Product line: Bumble & Bumble. My stylist was friendly, not too pushy, and didn't take too much off the ends.

But there's more. In addition to having my ends trimmed, I had a special conditioning treatment applied to my hair, and oh. My. God. I don't think my hair has ever been so smooth and shiny. Not even when I was a kid, and had yet to damage my hair with heat tools and processing. This treatment, which reinvigorated my hair with protein, effectively repairing the cuticle(s), is something I would have poo-poohed a few years ago, but no longer. I even asked if I could buy this wonderful protein serum and treat my own hair, but I guess the product is only available for use in salons, so powerful it is.

Bottom line: if you're in Easthampton and needing a haircut (or treatment), head on over to The Lift. The staff are friendly, the wait time is short, the products they use are great, and they're considerably cheaper than other places in the area.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to reality.

Yesterday I was a total slob: slovenly in the way I haven't been in at least a year. Saturday night, we (Ali, Eric, and I) threw a surprise birthday party for Sara, which was pretty badass. We had decorations (balloons, streamers, birthday banner), a full nacho/taco bar, a cake shaped like North Dakota, and plenty of boozes. The revelry lasted well into the night, then the later night, then the morning, and before we all knew it, it was five. Hence the subsequent slobbery.

Mostly I like to be awake and alert early: I'll wake up at 5:30 or 6, check email, eat breakfast, putter around, go to the gym, and so on. But yesterday, sleeping until 2, driving to BK still in my fleece pants, eating on the couch while staring at the blank TV, and not showering until 5:30 were the only acceptable choices. To be fair, I wasn't wholly unproductive: Ali and I cleaned up all the party-related mess (A. even got a Swiffer mop for the job: the mop is awesome), watched "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (I would have resisted if I weren't such a zombie), baked for the grad conference bake sale (today!), and I did some homework for practicum. We also finished our Thanksgiving shopping, which took an hour or two longer than it should have, due to our hazy fascination with the just shelved Xmas merch. And our haziness in general.

If there's one thing I learned, it's that fleece pants are the greatest invention ever. I've never owned a pair before, but I'm starting to think I should pick up a few more in different colors. Has slovenliness invaded my life? Only time will tell...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Again: RAAAAAH! Damn, it is Friday, and I'm more excited than I normally am on Friday mornings because this week was a minor shitstorm. So, hallelujah to doneness: doneness of the week. I'm freaking out a little because I didn't sleep well last night, I think I might be getting sick again (despite my efforts to chug as much Emergen-C as humanly possible), and there's revelry planned for the days to come. Not to mention all the stuff that needs to be done for Thanksgiving: a thorough cleaning of the house (so that my mom does not think that A. and I live in total squalor, which we sometimes do & which I HATE), purchasing of all the T-day foodstuffs, decorating of our mini-tree. The mini-tree (3' tall) is mostly decorated, being that there are so few branches. But, finishing touches.

Ali and I might get our turkey today, before all the turkeys are sold out. I wanted to pre-order a fresh, local bird, but my mom was like, "meh," and Ali doesn't eat meat, so frozen it is. Our fridge is pretty full, so Eric has graciously volunteered the bottom shelf of his fridge for the defrosting process.
ALSO: Has anyone ever cooked a turkey in a crock pot? My mom wanted us to do this (we were initially planning to get a turkey breast, rather than a whole bird), but I don't think it will work. Guess it's time to buy a roasting pan...

Monday will bring haircut joy! Or, trim joy, since Project Long Shiny Ponytail is still underway. My hair is longer than ever, but the last time I got it trimmed was late September & the ends are starting to look a little frazzled. Going to The Lift in Easthampton, based on LDS' recommendation. Excitement!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hugh Jackman is the sexiest man alive?
99% of the time, People magazine does not occupy my consciousness. In fact, I would not have known that the "sexiest" rankings had been reassigned for the year, but en route to checking my Yahoo mail I stumbled upon the story and of course had to read enough of the article to find out WHO IS THE SEXIEST MAN. Hugh Jackman? Really? At least it's not Daniel Craig. Several ladies in my workshop were discussing how "shopworn" and "ripped" he is, and though I agree that he is both of these things, I could not chime in with agreement that he is "hot." He's old! (Or "shopworn," some would say.) And he has a weird face with a too-pointy chin. Abs and biceps be damned, I cannot give my full approval.

Part of my resistance to People's "Hottest" rankings is the fact that they're ranking celebrities: people whose very livelihood depends on their statistically-improbable physical goodness. If People ranked random dudes (perhaps sharing a common geographical location, or occupation (other than celeb)), maybe I'd be interested. Or less disinterested than I am now. But celebrities? Of course they're better looking than we are: it's their job.

Enough of that nonsense. I've got Retinol-enhanced eye creams to research.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Um, yeah: I just slammed my fingertips in a key drawer, and my hand FUCKING HURTS.
Monday, everyone. Everyone, Monday.

I'm getting pretty excited for Thanksgiving, though up to this point I was feeling fairly nonchalant about the whole affair. That's the nice part about holidays: the excitement doesn't set in until a week or so before (1.5 wks, in my case) but when it does, it does for real. This is going to be the first T-day I've had away from my childhood home; my feelings about this are mixed. I realize that it's more economically sound for my mom to come visit me and my sis, rather than flying the two of us home. I'm a little sad that I won't be celebrating Midwest style, but I'm also a wee bit gleeful about having T-day dinner in my own apartment. Ali and I have already started planning the menu, and shopped around for turkeys this weekend. BOOYAH!

I'm considering taking a step that I've never taken before (in terms of my personal appearance, that is). Folks, I'm going to buy bronzer. It is true that most of my life, summers excluded, I've been pale as hell, prompting some of my friends to consider me "white as the driven snow." It's time, I think, to abandon my corpseness and enliven my complexion. I'm anti-tanning, but bronzer I think I can deal with. I'll keep you posted on the progress of this journey.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Birthday wishes! And one harvest recipe.

Glad tidings to LDS, who celebrates her birthday today! Last night was the party proper, which was excellent because of (but not solely because of) great company, Dark and Stormies*, and a soundtrack feat. MIA. Hellz yes. HELLZ YES! I did stay out later than I have pretty much all semester (rolled into bed around 2:30), and today I dragged. In fact, I considered going to bed about half an hour ago, but remembered [thankfully] that I offered to pick E. up from work at 10. Ah, exhaustion. Despite my less-than-optimal state, I managed to do my grocery shopping, read a workshop story, sort through a massive pile of paperwork, and go to the gym. Not bad, considering.

Also, I cooked a legit harvest dish tonight: sauteed Swiss chard w/sweet potatoes. My mom made this a lot when I was a kid, and though I didn't really dig the greens, I loved the bite-sized pcs. of sweet potato. Here's the recipe:

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 - 1/3 c. apple cider
1 cup chopped sweet potato (tiny cubes work best)
1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
seasonings to taste

In a 10" skillet, cook the onions in the oil until said onions are soft but not browned (about 4 minutes). Once onions are soft, add cider and sweet potatoes. Cook sweet potatoes until they are tender (about 5 minutes). If cider evaporates before potatoes are cooked, add a few tablespoons of water. Once potatoes are cooked, add the Swiss chard, cover the skillet, and cook 3-5 minutes (until the chard is wilted). Season to taste; serve immediately.

That's the gist of the recipe, anyway - I am reclining in bed now and was too lazy to find the printed version, whose wording might be a little, uh, more professional. I should note that the real recipe only calls for 1/3 c. cider, but I used 1/2 (because I had more than 1 c. of taters, and because the bunch of chard I used was larger than average). ALSO: in terms of seasoning, I used garlic powder (shaken liberally), fresh ground pepper, fresh ground sea salt. YUM. One other thing: I used a 13" skillet, which verged on being too small. Next time, will use the wok.

Well, I'm off to find an activity that will keep me awake for the next hour or so. Toodles.

*Almost forgot to explain. The Dark and Stormy is possibly my new favorite boozy beverage, composed of rum and ginger beer (in roughly equal parts). Sweet - but not cloyingly so - and lip-tingling, it is perfect for a rainy fall night.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indeed, it is that point in the semester where it's all I can do to prevent myself from constantly obsessing about the impending winter recess. The days are getting shorter, the air is ass-cold, the workload gets heavier by the hour. Yeah. I'm staying in Western MA for winter break, and I'm not predicting that this stretch of time will be, in and of itself, awesome. What will be awesome is the cessation of most formal duties. Amen! Already, I'm planning little projects for myself: some knitting, some crafting of Xmas tree ornaments (from felt). Some other stuff? I recently found a recipe for phyllo dough Apple turnovers that I'd really like to try, and come to think of it, I'll probably do that this weekend, not this December.

This upcoming recess is my potentially last winter break ever. I say potentially because, from time to time, I toy with the idea of applying to various other advanced degree programs, once I get the heck out of here. In the event that I enroll in another program, the cycle of academic holidays will reinstate itself. But for now, work in the real world looms on the horizon: a real world without winter break.

Right now I'm reading Oliver Sacks' "An Anthropologist on Mars." I'm a big fan of Sacks not only because of my fondness for "pop" psychology (& related areas), but because of his approach to writing about neurological disorders: rather than focusing on the negative aspects of the disorders he studies - which would be easy to do, given the symptoms of some of them - he writes about what new abilities (creative, perceptual) these neurological changes engender in his patients. Of course, Sacks doesn't deny the real pain these diseases cause his patients, and fairly portrays the hardships his patients must endure en route to recovery; but that he can find positives at all in brain trauma is admirable.

Beyond tonight, weekend plans are nebulous. I'm stuck on this turnover idea, though: so maybe the pastries will materialize.

Monday, November 10, 2008


1) On campus, walking from work to the bus stop, I saw a black squirrel. Admittedly, it could have been the darkest gray - it was lit from behind, and I was walking quickly. But then again, it was a dark enough gray to disguise itself as black.

2) Walking home from the bus stop, I found a dead squirrel at the base of an oak. (OK, I actually almost stepped on it. Gross. I know.) I've been called "the bird whisperer" for my uncanny ability to locate dead birds wherever I happen to be, but perhaps this title could be amended to "the bird and squirrel whisperer."
(PS: I'm not sure what the "whisperer" has to do with anything...a conflation of "The Horse Whisperer" and "The Sixth Sense," maybe? Because I don't communicate with dead animals: I just see them (all the time) on the street.)

3) While out checking the mail, I saw a train pass by. And on that train? You got it: a hobo. Probably not a real hobo, as there was no evidence of a bindle. But there was definitely a person, fleece and beanie clad, just sitting and chilling just before the linkage between cars. This is when I wish my train terminology were better: the cars were the sort used to transport ore: almost like troughs on wheels. But these "troughs" were mounted on wheeled platforms (more platform space at each end of the car), and it was on this "platform" that the passenger was riding. The train was pretty slow moving and I thought (briefly) about jumping it myself, but decided not to. After all, there are student papers to grade.

Friday, November 7, 2008

And another thing:

Lately I have this urge to go West: preferably to Idaho or Montana. I'm not talking about moving: just a weeklong trip. I haven't been in the West in the fall for a long time, but I'm ready.
Man, it's only November 7th, and already I've failed to reach my goal of updating every day. Oops. Yesterday was the busiest of all days, though: did a little last-minute lesson planning in the A.M., kept changing outfits because the weather was unseasonably freaking warm/muggy, went to acupuncture, taught my classes, and then Eric and I celebrated our 1.5 yr. anniversary(!) We went to dinner at Caminito, an Argentinian steakhouse here in Noho, and the food was delicious: I ordered Brochette de Lomo (filet and assorted veggies on skewers, served on a bed of seasoned jasmine rice). I do love cooking, but every so often it's nice to go out for a really well-prepared meal. Especially since I do not cook filet for myself. (Heh.)

Afterward, we drank a little wine and watched a little "How I Met Your Mother," which is surprisingly entertaining. I must say, I had my doubts about this show, but Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris do deliver. And now, we have only one episode left of season one: onward & upward to season two! (If there is one. Which I think there is, but I'm not positive. Which, if there isn't, will require us to find and latch onto a new series-on-DVD. Which most likely won't be "24," because I also have my doubts about that show.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I didn't go out to watch election news last night: my workshop ended at 9:15 so I didn't get home 'til ten, and after an 8-hour day on campus...yadda yadda. In reality, I wanted to go to bed and wake up to discover (Xmas-style) who the new president elect was. You know, surprise! After I returned home, got ready for bed, and read for a while, I tried to fall asleep: to no avail. People were running down the street screaming; cars were honking their horns. Riot-like, or riotous. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard. Anyway, I'd left my phone on vibrate, so when Obama won I got a flurry of texts that woke me from my [light] slumber.


Also exciting, but on a less-national level: I just got an album of Vivaldi's cello concertos, which I'm listening to now. Perfect lesson planning music...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm making it my goal (or one of my goals: one of my short-term goals) to update every day in November, in honor of National Blog Posting Month. Hopefully, I will not cop out too often by posting pictures of jewelry I covet, but you know. Monday morning. The creative juices aren't flowing just yet. (Aside: isn't this necklace perfectly autumnal? BAUBLES.)

It's a plain fact that I never get as much done on the weekends as I plan to, despite my best time-management efforts. This weekend was no different, but I'm more satisfied with how I used my time since I did a wide variety of things: completed a workshop critique/letter, graded a bunch of student papers, took a mini-shopping trip, got coffee and a sandwich with H., researched possible alternative career paths. Went to the gym (x2). Went out Friday night (w. Sis and Eric) to Fitzwilly's. Went out Saturday evening (w. Sis and Eric) to the Hangar. Read. Baked cookies and watched a movie. Talked to my mom. I'm coming to realize that my sense of productivity isn't shaped as much by how much academic work I get done - else this weekend might have seemed like a failure: oops - but by the variety of things I do. It's all about balance, I guess.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

PS: These are [were] our pumpkins...


Continuing with last night's documentation of my musical confusion, I should mention that in most cases I mis-identify Madonna as Cher (and vice versa). I believe this is a result of my musical innocence as a kid: I was not allowed to listen to either artist when I was very young, and my parents also didn't listen to these artists, and I never developed an affinity for the music of either. So, I've pretty much been in the dark re: Madonna, Cher. Deliberately, of course, for the past several years: but still.

It could also be the case that I have a misfiring, music identification neuron, or something. Meh.

Today, I would really prefer to 1) sit around my house and 2) knit while 3) watching "How I Met Your Mother," but I think instead I have to 1) get my ass in gear and 2) head over to the Smith library before all the tables in the periodicals room are claimed and then 3) grade an asston of student papers. Divergent planz, to be sure. I may still have time this evening for some good ol' fashioned bummery, but bummery is how I spent my entire Saturday. Order is in order.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This is embarrassing:

OK: I'm willing to admit this in a public forum:

I did not know (until tonight) that "Lay Lady Lay" is sung by Bob Dylan. To me, it always sounds like Eric Clapton, or someone random & unidentified. Kermit the Frog, maybe. It does not sound like Dylan. Anyone with me on this? Ali and Eric seem to think I'm a freak.