aamusedinatx: (kitchen witch)
Tonight I made Mer(i)ry in the Kitchen. I have adapted my trusty Scone Recipe and made two new versions:

1. Eggnog Scones.
I follow the same recipe but instead of 6 tbls of heavy cream, I made half of those egg nog. Also, I upped the cinnamon and nutmeg. I felt the eggnog was sweet enough so I skipped the glaze. Instead I did an egg wash with a sprinkling of turbano sugar before putting the scones in the oven for 12 minutes. YUMMY!

2. Chocolate Scones.
I followed the same recipe and added 1/2 cup high grade Dutch Cocoa. I used a few tablespoons extra a LOT of heavy cream and reduced the amount of cinnamon & nutmeg. I threw in 1/4 tsp of vanilla. Again; a light egg wash and a sprinkling of turbano sugar.

Two batches of each...and I'm ready for the office holiday party tomorrow!
is with a Birthday! It is my hope that today is a great kick-off for the new year for [livejournal.com profile] jblaque and [livejournal.com profile] pecunium and that from here on out it just gets better and better. Happy Birthday Guys!

Meanwhile, for me, my New Year's Day begins with a brunch with a the Virgin Airline's pilot at a little micro brewery here in Berkeley. That will be fun! And tonight, Jambalaya and black eyed peas upstairs with Kay and friends.
It's Christmas morning and we have mostly all finished opening gifts from family and friends near and far. So...tell me...

What's the worst gift you received. (You don't have to say who gave it to you, unless you want to.)

What's the best gift you received?

If you can, post pictures, and we can have a virtual white elephant gift exchange!!


Dec. 25th, 2005 10:05 am
I've had a nice Christmas so far. Coffee,scones, blissed out kitties stoned on cat nip. A dork dog dressed in a jingle bell collar. I read the news, peeked in here, opened my gifts.

My sister knows I love Penguins and I always get something Penguin themed from her. This year it was flannel PJ pants in a rich red with ice skating penguins; very cute and a nice Penguin christmas bowl from Fitz and Floyd.

I did get the micro plane I've been wanting forever, the 3rd Harry Potter movie on DVD, the soundtrack to SPAMALOT, and a bead bracelet and earring set hand made by my sister.

Besides socks I got a creamy fleece scarf with a dorky type cap from my Mother. I'll wear the scarf and probably let the cats snuggle with the cap.

And now, breakfast, I'm hungry! And then, I'll get warm in my new socks (borrows Beccka's twinkle teeth smile) my penguin pants, a warm shirt, and tear into my day.

No fancy Christmas dinner for me, just warm comfort food. The rain has returned. I'm making a version of Wassail for tomorrow, but I want to let it steep today so the mulled spices are nice and rich for tomorrow. More scones to be baked as well so in a few hours my house will smell very festive and again, be very warm.

Merry Christmas everyone.
aamusedinatx: (winter)
Lovely. And, if you could see the rivers running down my street right now, you'd sip your coffee, nod your head and mutter "damn, for once those weather people got it right!

And I *still* have to get out in this soup today. I have two errands I can no longer put off: Berkeley Bowl and Target. Out of the two, I think Target is easier even though it is farther away. Berkeley Bowl is six blocks from here, and it means a long walk in the rain lugging groceries home. (Whine, whine, whine).

Still, once they're done, I can hide in my little cottage by the bay, cook, wrap gifts to ship tomorrow, and hide from the weather. I just hope that I don't freeze to death before then!
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Image hosted by Photobucket.com
And yah! I'm done (well except for the cleaning up part) and no missing digits in the process. I don't think I even shed any blood in sacrifice to the DIY god(dess)s.

I'll place the photos behind a cut only because there is 5 of them, and if you are low-bandwidth, I don't want you to struggle too much.

Read more... )


Dec. 4th, 2005 12:13 pm
I can't seem to motivate myself to do much of anything today for longer than 20 minutes. I have so much I need to do around the house. All of yesterday was dedicated to the hurry up and wait of software deployment. In other words, work was the excuse I had for not getting much done around the house. Today, no such excuse exists. Well it could if I choose to. I did bring some work home. But still my little cottage is crying out for some attention and TLC.

Winter is here to stay and so in fits and spurts today I have cleaned my wardrobe of all spring and summer clothes. Now I actually have room to hang my winter wear. December may seem a bit late to swap out my clothing, but remember we had 3 weeks of summer in November. Now, I have less worry of that happening again any time before March or April and so, I staggered upstairs loaded with clothes to hide in the canvas zip closure I hide up there for clothes that don't fit anywhere else. The one bad thing about this cottage is lack of closets as in NONE. None you say?! Well, the downstairs flat I have in here was the living room, dining room and kitchen. the upstairs, where Kay resides had the sleeping rooms and bath. I kept the bath, she re-did the rest of the upstairs so she got sleeping room AND closets. Fortunately I'm not really much of a clothes whore. And I can control those urges I do have towards buying clothes by considering just where I'm going to be able to hang it or fold it.

Holiday decorations. I am not a traditional Christmas type person. My first Christmas in San Francisco was spent hiking in Point Reyes national park. About 3pm on Christmas day, I sat in a hilltop meadow gazing out over the Pacific ocean on a brisk, clear day. I drank hot tea out of a flask, ate a tangerine and some pita with hummus. All I could smell was sun and dry grass, redwoods and salt water. It was the most uplifting and peaceful Christmas I'd spent in 25 years. No family battles, no stress, no whining, no slights, no feeling inadequate, insignificant, or intrusive. No screaming, no crying, no snapping, no punishing silence. In fifteen years, I've gone "home" for Christmas only once. It was enough to remind myself why I don't do that.

And so, the question for me has often been, do I dress up my abode for a holiday I watch slide by in a somewhat passive manner. As I was saying to Kay today though. I may be indifferent to the holiday in a parochial manner, but I love this time of year. I love the smell of evergreens, the twinkling of light, the warmth and scent of candles. And so, this year, I'm going to tot up the upper part of my fireplace. I won't have a traditional tree but I will have a mantle filled with pine and bay, candles and other living things. It'll be just the right touch of festivity, I think, without adding more clutter to an already cozy and overly cluttered cottage by the bay.

And...now that I've managed to spin away another fifteen or twenty minutes at the keyboard, it's time to go refill the wardrobe and consider doing the dishes. Who knows, I might even vacuum, if for no other reason than to terrorize the beasts!
Already I've hit the middle of my short week this week. Seems odd since it's Tuesday and I know I should just be recovering from Monday, but nope...it's a *SHORT* week! It feels good not to travel this year. It sounds harsh, I suppose and I'm not anti-holiday, anti-family, or anti-tradition. I'm just...tired. The stress is not worth it. Because I'm single and I'm the only one who has moved away, I am naturally the one who must travel. If I do or if I don't, the guilt thrown my way doesn't really change all that much. "There's no excuse for you not coming here for the holidays. Its not like you have a husband to take care of or anything." That's one of the nicer cajoling attempts my mother has made. "Your father would enjoy having you here and it would be nice if you saw him before he drops dead." Is another classic.

When I travel to Texas, I stay with my sister and brother-in-law. They are delightful people. I really enjoy their company and their hospitality. They have a nice house in a quiet neighborhood and it's *just* far enough away from my parents to save my sanity. If I had to spend even one night in their cramped apartment I would be a guest of the Texas Department of Corrections for matricide. My ability to cope with my mother's Witch/Queen BPD is in direct proportion to how much time I spend in her presence. Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in Dallas. Delta oversold the return flight, and I was stuck in Texas another day. I called my therapist and told her I was a refugee in a red state and they wouldn't let me leave! When I told my boss that he laughed for a good 10 minutes then told me not to worry about work and he'd see me Wednesday.

So this year I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here and I'm happy to do so. Of course this then invites the false pity. "I don't know how we're going to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner knowing you're out there broke and all alone." Mind you, while I have definitely carved back my lifestyle and reduced my salary, I am NOT broke nor am I all alone. However, I've also learned that the verbal and mental effort to disabuse her of this notion is fruitless. She lives to be the martyr and if she can play the agonized, concerned mother with such back handed comments that's her problem. Yes Mom, I'm staying in California simply to visit indigestion upon you during the holiday dinner. I'm cruel, ungrateful, a hateful daughter, yes ma'am. Your worst opinions of me are once again confirmed.

Yesterday in IM she asked me what my wish list was for Christmas. I told her I hadn't made one up yet but one thing I know I want is a paper shredder. Okay I admit that may be an odd-ball item to put on a christmas list...rather mundane really. You would have though I'd asked for a counterfeit press!! A paragraph of all-caps, red text and an abrupt log-off later and I was left staring at the screen and really wondering why I talk to this woman before coffee anyway.

For most of my life, I have watched my mother strive for the superficial. She is the greatest illusionist since Copperfield. She wants the appearance of the perfect Norman Rockwell home. She can decorate well, she can cook a holiday feast much better than she can cook your average nightly meal. She bakes wonderfully; makes wonderful pies and cakes. Of course if you compliment her on what she truly does well, she spends 30 minutes abnegating herself in front of you. Her humility is as false as the rest of her. The problem has always been...the rest of us have never felt this was done for us out of love. The stress we endured, the screaming matches, the things thrown at us, the scalding waves of emotional hate and anger that permeated our house...She would turn herself into Donna Reed--like the flick of a switch, as soon as company arrived--while the rest of us stumbled about numb, like shell-shocked soldiers too long in the trenches.

It seemed that only we noticed the fractures and the holes in her Norman Rockwell Illusion. For instance, her long elaborate 'grace' was a hipocrisy. When my little sister got involved in church as a young teen and asked to say grace one week night during dinner she got a lecture from mother about false piousness. The china shown, the silverware gleamed, the glasses shimmered. Fred Ware and his Young Pennsylvanians played on the entertainment console my father had bought for her in Japan. The rest of us sat there, numb, our faces frozen in the most benign expression possible. We fumbled as we passed things and prayed we didn't drop anything so that we weren't humiliated in front of guests by her tongue lashing.

Mother commanded the table like a Queen. People often came for dinner and left hastily afterward. It seemed no one wanted to linger. My sister and I would be in the kitchen for three hours after dinner cleaning while she sat in the living room holding hostage who ever had not already made a hasty exit. I would listen to her eviscerate those who had declined her invitation or left as soon as their fork was laid across their plate. Was it any wonder that every year it was a test to see who would accept an invitation once again? She considered herself everyone's friend but in truth she had no friends. she had social conquests and political allies. And, now, in her later years with no real friends to call upon, I feel rather sorry for her. She has my father and he will only be around for so long. She plagues my sister, whom she adores, and still treats as if my sister were the fragile premmie baby she was in 1966. My sister has grown into an incredible woman who is now capable of seeing my mother for who she is and withstanding most of the guilt my mother throws her way, but still...it's unfair.

Then again, no one ever said life was fair. My mother, I have no doubt, is convinced life is not fair and that life has cheated her out of everything she feels she deserved. The life she got is not the life she wanted. She's still waiting for that life to be handed to her because she is convinced she deserves it. She has never figured out that the life you get is the life you create for yourself and as such she has actually gotten what she deserves.

My only real guilt I allow myself...is that I feel guilty that the only active emotions I feel towards my mother most days is benign pity and other days active contempt.


And so I will spend my Thanksgiving giving thanks that my sister and I have broken that cycle. That in our own very different and unique ways we have seized life and created a life for ourselves. We both have close friendships with a small but solid network of people who truly love us and whom we love in return. We both know that we are envied those relationships by the mother who gave birth to us and we are at a loss to show by example, thought or deed, that she could have had the same if she had only taken care to cultivate people instead of an illusion. To this day, no one buys the illusion but her. Then again, she has to. It's all she has.

Gee...and I'm actually in a good mood today--but there is something about holidays which brings out the sad reality of 'family life' in me. My apologies if I ruined anyone else's mood.
Odd, how I pick the moments I'm sitting here indulging my mood with junk food (I am totally addicted to Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper!) and making my grocery list for tomorrow's shopping, since I didn't do jack-shit today.

It's a short work week this week. M-W only. A four-day weekend looms. I have plans alone and plans with friends. I am contributing to a dinner, rather than making it so I want to be sure I do not spend a fortune on food and groceries I'm not going to eat. At the same time I need to get a better grip on my diet...better than I have been anyway, and when I did my best at that I did so by making a menu for the week and adhere to it. (She tries not to glance at the hot dog and macaroni salad as she writes this). Another consideration...for cooking at home...is my oven is a bit, shall we say, undependable. It heats, it cooks with gas, it has some tremendous hot spots and requires constant vigilance. So, I tend more towards stove top cooking.

My two contributions to Turkey day is a spicy pumpkin soup and a homemade cranberry-orange chutney.

Other items on my menu for the week include:

Turkey burgers with swiss cheese and marinated mushrooms
A big batch of chili (even though it's rather warm out)
Creamed spinach with pine nuts
Roasted garlic mashed cauliflower (mock potato dish)
tequila-lime chicken quesadillas
creamy mushroom soup
Babaganoush (sic) with fresh pomegranate seeds and whole wheat pita

That'll be enough cooking, I think, for this week. For those already on my recipe filter, I'll be posting the recipes soon. If you're new and not yet on there, let me know and I'll add you!

The mainstay of holiday cooking in the US is the good ol' turkey. When I was growing up we only ate turkey on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. We had ham on Easter and prime rib or a crown roast for New Year's.

Not so these days. In giving up carbs and eating more animal protein I do try to keep my fat content down and so I eat a lot of turkey, either carved turkey meat from the deli or ground turkey meat made into burgers, chili, and meatloaf. So over the last five years or so, the 'tradition' of stuffing a bird that is predominately bone and slaving over a hot oven for 8-12 hours has lost its 'tradition' to me I toyed with the idea of an anti-thanksgiving day meal and making something totally weird like oh...I dunno... apple and garlic pizza with fresh basil and toasted pinenuts, or...a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The problem with that idea is that I *LIKE* to cook! So, why not do so?

The dishes I list above cook relatively easily. They also portion for easy storage in the fridge, in the freezer. They provide the traditional tastes of turkey, cranberry, pumpkin in a different way A few of them, like the creamy mushroom soup are alternates to gravy.

So, tomorrow and Tuesday, I have a pilgrimage on the way home to Safeway and to the Berkeley Bowl (all fresh veggies, all the time). And on Wednesday night and through the weekend, I shall have not one huge cooking feast, but many smaller cooking celebrations

For now, however, I'm going to finish my diet cherry-vanilla dr. pepper (burp) and my organic corn chips with sour cream and relax.



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