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My friend & former housemate Maja just posted about how I taught her to make Middle Eastern lentils & rice on her blog, Pantry Permitting. Still one of my favorite comfort food dishes & the one I make when I haven't shopped for groceries or thawed anything from the fridge and just don't want to think too hard about what's for dinner. Lentils, rice, olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper... I think that's it.
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Vacuum cat hair off rugs. Feed cat. Pick up bath mats from bathroom and drop in laundry pile. Spot-clean bathroom: sink, toilet, fresh hand towels. Relocate magazines in living room to a tidier pile. Clean glass-top coffee table. Carry handbag, tote bag, and piles of mail & books "backstage" (computer room). Start roasting chicken breasts for later use in salad. Prep vegetables for crudite platter. Amuse self by using paring knife to carve decorative patterns into radishes, Easter egg-style. Run upstairs to find tablecloth. Decide that tablecloth doesn't need ironing. Relocate [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman's stuff to a side table. Wipe down and set table. Get on stepstool to find wine glasses. Run dishwasher. Sweep floor. Toss cat toys into cat's basket. Realize that clay kitty litter leaves a greenish dust on every surface in the half bath. Mop floor and wipe down sink & toilet in half bath. Prep pineapple for dessert. Phone parents to ask them to bring wine. Bring out coffee mugs. Remove chicken from oven. Remove chicken breasts from bone & skin. Refrigerate. Offer a taste of chicken to cat. Toss refused taste of chicken into wastebasket. Wash hands. Search spice cabinet for something to concoct veggie dip from. Mix Green Goddess salad dressing base from spice cabinet with sour cream. Pour into blue ceramic dish. Stack dish precariously on other foodstuffs in crammed fridge. Get on stepstool again to retrieve salad serving bowl. Find stoneware bread basket next to 2 liter bottle of sparkling water. Open fridge to shove sparkling water inside to cool, knock dish of dip to the floor. Curse. Shoo cat away from splattered dip & broken dish. Clean up, rinse dish pieces, place carefully in a side drawer. Wipe down & refill salt & pepper shakers (two sets). Refill pepper grinder. Take return call from parents asking if I have liqueur to pour on a little cake they're bringing. Allow them to talk me out of also making slow-baked salmon, as they are bringing quiche. Accept their offer to bring guacamole, as I am now without veggie dip. Notice as I'm speaking to them that I've somehow cut my thumb. Conclude call, re-examine pepper grinder, discover metallic finish peeling off in a particularly thumb-slicing manner. Wash hands, run upstairs for a plastic bandage. Bandage thumb. Find Crazy Glue (to mend grinder, not self). Attempt to squeeze a droplet of Crazy Glue from tube - no action. Carefully and promptly put Crazy Glue tube away, imagining insane scenarios involving cat and glue. Prep custard for dessert. Pour custard over pineapple, bake. Remove chicken from fridge, cut up, hand-shred. Finish prepping chicken salad (navel oranges, red onion, hazelnuts, dried cherries, chopped fresh anise, sherry vinaigrette - served on baby spinach.). Forget to add salt & pepper. Refrigerate. Wash hands. Play with cat. Wash hands. Empty dishwasher. Remove pineapple flan from oven. Notice cat is in an "it wasn't me" pose. Notice cat's water dish has somehow sloshed all over cat's mat. Talk sweetly to cat, clean up water, replace mat. Take away empty cat food dish to wash. Explain to cat that my taking the empty dish away does not mean it's feeding time again. Regret disappointing the cat. Shower, get dressed. Chop leeks, onions; peel & dice potatoes; start making soup. Top off not-quite-enough chicken broth with water. Forget to add salt & pepper. Answer doorbell.
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Come read my first guest post on the love & sex astrology blog Seduction Central. The question: "We have great chemistry, do we have a future together?" Enjoy!

(BTW, I love feedback. Give me some if the spirit moves you. Or comment on the post, or anything you like. Thanks.)
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This is so disappointing. I love his show, Dinner: Impossible, on Food Network. And now, because of this, the show won't be renewed.

White House chef experience? Royal chef experience? Knighted? Remember, folks, if it sounds too good to be true...

EDIT: This reader's comment cracked me up:
This could only happen in the land of the free and the gullible. The knighthood was hilarious, but the castle in Scotland was tremendous! it must have been a joke. Mind you, Her Maj did give me India, but I gave it back, as I already had one.
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Do you think you might have a cavity?
Do you snore?
Do you feel on edge, unable to relax? Are you tense and nervous, can not sleep?
Pain after shingles?
Do you have active Crohn's disease?
Need air?
Are you depressed or have mood swings?
Are you depressed?
Do you sleep less than 7 hours a night?
Are you a woman who is 18-45, suffering with PMS?
Avoiding the scale?
Are you thick in the middle?
Do you have toenail fungus?
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Mina the tabby has relaxed a lot since arriving at our house 10 days ago. Less clingy, more calm, getting used to us and our comings and goings. Very accepting of us as her new staff. Still an incredibly well-behaved cat, just she's starting to ACT more like a cat (a little more entitled, a little less inclined to come when asked). Favorite toy: [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman's laser pointer - not the pointer but the bright dot it shines as we aim it around the house for her to pursue.

Me, I feel like I've been inducted into a cat-owners society I never gave any thought to before now. Delighted friends, colleagues, etc. tell me all about THEIR pets and show me pictures. I had no idea people would be so interested.

I'm getting to understand her meows. The obvious one is at feeding time, for "where's my wet food?" and "you know the wet food? I was hoping you'd bring some of that." The other one is "where'd you go?" when she looks up from whatever she's up to & realizes we've left the room. Wherever there is a lap, there is, usually, the cat; even if we are typing at the computer. (Not at the dinner table, I'm glad to say, though she does like to scoot up onto an empty chair under the table and keep us company, unobserved.)
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Over in Neil Gaiman's journal he's got a voting thingy going on to celebrate the journal's seventh birthday. He & his publisher will make one of his books available for free download for about a month, and readers get to vote on which book they should go with (chosen from a short list of eight).

But the part that tickles me is that the webmasters have photoshopped some colorful, candle-flickering birthday cakes into some of the images on the site. Like Gaiman's childhood photograph. Or one of the portraits of the Endless around the dinner table from one of the final issues of Sandman - adding party hats to their heads and all. Completely funny.

boutique

Feb. 14th, 2008 02:23 pm
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Looking for a synonym for "boutique," I'm at merriam-webster.com, which says the word is derived from the Greek apothēkē (storehouse), probably by way of the Old Occitan botica. Which sounds a lot like the Spanish bodega to me. That's so cool.

(Look, [livejournal.com profile] siderea - a shout-out for Old Occitan!)
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Saturday morning, [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman and I went over the day's plan. We'd visit (just visit) the cats up for adoption at the local adoption event run by a no-kill shelter, then go over to [livejournal.com profile] rosinavs's party in the evening. I reviewed my reasons why we don't want a cat: his allergies, our long hours away from the house during the day, blah blah blah.

Nice try. Instead we walked into the church classroom where the event was held, talked to a couple of kitties, and B beelined to this one little tabby. An adult, but still young, and very responsive to his murmured words and gentle petting. Could we take her out of the cage? No, we were told, but we could certainly open the cage and reach in. So endearing. So affectionate & demonstrative. How did she come to be at the shelter? Her original owner had been evicted in November, brought her two cats in, sobbing, no longer able to keep them. Would this cat be okay in a house by herself for long hours at a time? Yes, life at the shelter was stressing her out, she'd be fine alone. I had a turn reaching in to pet her, and she, I swear, leaned in to rub her face against both my cheeks, marking or greeting or maybe she'd learned it from the French. B said, "I want to adopt her."

A conversation, some documents exchanged, a quick trip home for B's checkbook, then a ride to PetSmart with our first-time-cat-parents checklist sketched out in the car - carrier, food, litter, toys... We returned to the event. Our little cat was there waiting for us. And home she came.

She is... affectionate, inquisitive, very well behaved, sneezing a bit (but we received meds we're giving her), not at all hiding under beds. Friendly to our friends (hurray!). Has yet to strike out at us for an unwanted caress. Graced with a sweet voice. Both B and I are smitten. We think she's a couple of years old. We're calling her Mina for now. She comes when she's called. She also comes when she's not called. She really likes people.

At [livejournal.com profile] rosinavs's party, I got lots of new-cat-parent advice from [livejournal.com profile] eudociainboston and others. Yay! And my best friend has already recommended the vets' office up the street from us.

I'm really happy to say that of the 14 or so cats at the adoption event, only 4 were still there by the time we came back to pick up Mina.

I think I'm going to like being her caretaker.
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It's raining so hard that the pigeons have congregated on the windowsill, up here on the 8th floor of our building, to stay dry. They're gurgling and cooing at each other. Probably doing the same stuff we're doing here - complaining about the wet.

I'd take a picture but my phone is right where I left it: plugged into the charger at home.
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I think I've seen U2 live in concert about five times - was trying to remember on Saturday night when [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman and I went to see U2 3D. Watching them on IMAX, in concert footage shot while they performed in South America and Mexico in 2005-2006, felt *almost* like seeing them live for a sixth time. Loved the music, loved being close enough to see The Edge's fretwork, loved the energy and the tricks of polarized filtering glasses that allowed you to watch what really felt like a three-dimensional experience.

What I didn't love was how weirdly un-intimate, un-personal, it felt. U2 is a rock and roll band, but one thing they're not is spontaneous. I'd forgotten that until I watched this film. Yes, Bono sings his heart out at every moment; yes, you get the feeling that each of the four "Irish rockers" is pretty much present at the show for the duration; that Edge is really not sick of hammering out "New Year's Day" on a keyboard at stage right before switching to his fuzzy, abrasive guitar chords; that Larry's got the beat in his veins. But... for all they're so busy loving the world and the stadium-sized crowds (who are joyously bouncing along and recording the show on glowing phones and digital cameras and basically loving the band right back), there's no inside peek, no glimpse behind the U2 Corporation to the four friends who started it up. You watch the programmed and complex video background in perfect synch with the set list, you zone out from the pounding drumbeat (which intentionally resonated in our theater seats, the better to mimic that "live" experience) to wonder how large an institution it is that now supports this four-man band. Who builds and breaks down the sets. How many 18-wheelers must travel with this traveling show. Was this a band that once played the Rat in Kenmore Square? You're up close - thanks to the 3D technology, closer than you probably ever got to the band in concert - but never are you personal.

By contrast, I'm going to love the Rolling Stones IMAX film if I ever get to see it. With Scorsese as director - we got to see a trailer of images shot both onstage and, excitingly, offstage. Scorsese's not going to make a mere concert film, no matter what effects are at his disposal. I'm not even a Stones fan, never owned a record, but this should be a grand, grand story to see.
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Don't let anyone tell you losing weight is easy. It isn't... Anyway. I'll start again tomorrow.

Finished (I hope) and sent off a couple of small written pieces for my sister-in-law the florist to use on her site, in self-promotion, whatever. Need to think about what I'm going to do for one of my freelance clients, but I'm fresh out of ideas for that one.

I'm chilly. Maybe a sweater and another mug of tea are in order.

Question for anyone who's still reading, particularly women: how far out of your way would you go for a good haircut/hairstyle? And how do you find out about salons, day spas, nail salons, etc.? This past weekend I was talking to the woman cutting my hair about my sis-in-law the florist and how I was planning to help write stuff for her business, and she asked if I could do the same for her salon. So I'm starting to conjure up a few ideas.

Meanwhile... I lost a battle with a bottle of hot sauce Friday morning, just as I was trying to get out the door to go to work. I had reached into a cabinet for some pasta; the pasta bumped the can of salmon, the salmon bumped the hot sauce, the hot sauce tumbled out and onto the granite countertop where it shattered and exploded all over my knit top and black cords (my favorite pair). I had the presence of mind to phone my boss & leave a message saying I'd be along just as soon as I got the hot sauce and glass splinters all cleaned up. I was laughing. In retrospect, VERY grateful that neither hot sauce nor glass flew up into my face.

Another question: do you use Yelp's reviews before going out to a restaurant or trying a new place/service/shop you haven't been to before? Who else's reviews do you like?

Now to move laundry around, attempt to address some of my endless to-do list (which has become a to-do-manana list). Hee. Then I just reread my opening paragraph. May I always have enough tomorrows, but not so many that I don't know how to amuse myself.
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Say it isn't so.

Edit: That link doesn't seem to be working. The story, copied from Bostonist.com:

January 17, 2008
Toscanini's Shut Down for "Nonpayment of Taxes"


Update: The Cambridge Chronicle hopped right on it and, while they couldn't reach the owner, things aren't looking so good for the burnt caramel: "Toscanini’s Ice Cream, a mainstay for cool treats in Central Square since 1981, may not ever open again, and its owner, Gus Rancatore, owes the state’s Department of Revenue more than $167,000 in back taxes." (Thanks, Ron!)

Another Update: The Web Outside is already running a campaign to save--or at least encourage--Toscanini's.

The Updates Can't Stop Because We Need Burnt Caramel: Boston Chowder (with Boston Daily) did get in touch with Rancatore, who says he's working on fixing things "possibly within days."

The beloved Toscanini's, home of some of the finest ice cream that can be had in this area, was shut down this morning for not paying taxes.

Joanne McNeil tipped us off to the news and sent a picture. Bostonist headed down there to check out the scene. Aside from the word "SEIZED" in huge typeface, the sign read: "Seized for nonpayment of taxes and is now in possession of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." The orange sign was dated today.

Passers-by expressed shock and slowed down because they couldn't believe the sign. One man refused to believe it.
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  • my health
  • my husband
  • this piece of spearmint gum I was given
  • that it's past 5pm and I can go home
  • a warm & inclusive email from an Artist's Way co-voyager
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Today the body wanted dark chocolate. So the body got dark chocolate. The body and the mind are feeling much better.

Trying so hard on the Sisyphean Weight Watchers journey. Sometimes the body wants what it wants. So today the body is popping dark chocolate and feeling very good.
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My employer just issued me a new flat-screen monitor. I can see, I can see! Details in photographs, degrees of color value I couldn't perceive before... what a relief.
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A tasty food Sunday. This afternoon I walked to Kickass Cupcakes on Highland Ave just outside Davis Square (and found $2 on the ground as I walked, whee free money!). From at least half a dozen tempting options, I selected a Mojito cupcake and a Green Monster and took them to a nearby bench to enjoy in the sunshine. Mojito is a rum-infused white/yellow cupcake topped with some incredible lime and mint frosting - not cloying, not tooth-achingly sugary, but a grown-up cupcake & frosting combo I loved. The frosting had an almost cream-cheese note in it - so wonderful. Green Monster, honoring those baseball people and their baseball place in Boston, tops a chocolate-ganache cupcake with green-tinted chocolate stout-flavored frosting and cocoa nibs. Very good too, but I found myself nibbling the last little bits of Mojito cupcake off its paper wrapper when Green Monster was gone. Not an everyday (not even every-week) indulgence at $2.75 per cupcake... but sigh, I'd happily eat one of these instead of most birthday cakes I've ever tasted.

Then [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman met up with me and we drove to Harvard Square to try the burgers at Flat Patties in the Garage. I was afraid "flat" would mean mercilessly grill-pressed until the juices ran dry, but happily Flat Patties manages a beefy flavor and juicy bite in a good-sized, - and yes, quite flat - burger. Mine ($2.85) was tasty with lettuce and tomato on a soft white bun that also touched the grill long enough to crisp lightly. [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman left no condiment unsqueezed, no jalapeno unspiced on his cheeseburger. French fries were skin-on and, I'd guess, sliced on the premises: slender long shapes that cooked & crisped unevenly but arrived with a dusting of crunchy salt. Non-beefeaters can have grilled chicken, fried fish, or a portobello mushroom instead.

We've been cooking at home lately, too, which is a trend I like. Earlier today, [livejournal.com profile] snarkyman moped that it was too late to get himself a Sausage McMuffin with cheese. I pointed out that we had eggs, chorizo, cheddar, and English muffins; and with that, he produced a couple of quite tasty breakfast sandwiches. Yum. Saturday night I came up with a quick pre-Halloween-party dinner of chicken sausage and whole-wheat couscous with steamed broccoli; a few nights ago, we pulled together baked haddock, mashed potatoes, and vegetable soup; and the day before that, he brought me graffiti eggplant from Whole Foods and I tried out a recipe for stir-fry eggplant that came together in minutes and proved to be decidedly addictive.
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Just shared sushi with a former colleague whose oyster is the world. So upbeat and inspiring and full of possibilities and plans. That was fun.
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I'm off to find some. What are you having?
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Just ate my crazy healthy homemade lunch. Turkey sandwich, carrots & celery, grapes, pretzels.

What did we used to bring for lunch in school? Peanut butter and jelly, apple, other stuff? Tuna fish sandwich. Egg salad sandwich. Milk tickets were five cents. Oh, and we had to bring a snack. Fruit, I guess. I loved Pringles in kindergarten. My teacher used M&Ms to teach us a little about statistics (how many brown, tan, yellow, orange, green in the bag). Wednesday half-days we came home to eat Campbell's soup at the kitchen table. In preschool the pineapple juice tasted like the metal can it came from, and was served with graham crackers.
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