Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best bubblies for the buck

I buy champagne once a year and never really know what I'm buying.  Fortunately, the local liquor store heard about my perennial problem and emailed some suggestions, in a range of prices.  I think I'll go with the Blanc de Noirs ("white to black") which is made exclusively from Pinot Noir, my favorite red. Cheers!
Veuve Clicquot 'Yellow Label' Brut Champagne, NV  (Suggested Retail - $58.99)
Moet & Chandon 'Imperial' Extra Dry (Sug. Retail - $54.99)
Taittinger Brut Champagne (Sug. Retail - $54.99)
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, NV (Sug. Retail - $19.99)
Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante, NV (Sug. Retail - $14.99)
Zardetto Prosecco, NV (Suggested Retail - $14.99)
Riondo Prosecco  (Suggested Retail - $14.99)
Freixenet Cava Brut, NV  (Suggested Retail - $11.99)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Champagne with tequila? Yes, please!

The combo sounds deadly, doesn't it? But, this recipe for the Sparkler looks delish and simple, which is the best combo for a party cocktail.  Besides, I love the name. It matches my outfit!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A 70's sensation: Stroganoff!

This year, for our annual New Year's Eve dinner party with friends, we'll be kicking it old school with Beef Stroganoff, the one-and-only dish my husband-to-be knew how to make in college (although he also baked a mean loaf of wheat bread).  I'm going with a recipe from the classic 1975 cookbook, "Company's Coming," from the Kansas City Junior League, that adds cognac to the mix. Served with a green salad with champagne vinaigrette and green beans almondine, it will be a tasty blast from our boomer past, and the perfect "last meal" before the New Year's diet.

If only it didn't hurt when I laugh

This hilarious video is therapeutic for my soul, but murder on my swollen jaw....

PTSD: Post-tooth (extraction) stress disorder

A freak fracture of my #18 molar forced me into unplanned oral surgery yesterday, a hair-raising experience heretofore unequaled in my 55 years on this planet.  It started when the oral surgeon came in, introduced himself, looked at the X-ray and said, "Well, this won't be easy." (Nothing like instilling confidence in your dentophobic patient.) Then, after shooting me up three times with Novocaine ("What? I'm going to be awake?!? Is the colonoscopy cocktail available?") he proceeded to excise #18 from my jaw.  This took 15 minutes of drilling, cutting and yanking so hard, I thought my head would pop off like a champagne cork. After a fitful night's sleep with the weirdest dreams you can imagine, I am recovering today, fighting off flashbacks and looking for an appropriate support group.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Guy after my own heart


December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

I am totally jealous of New Yorkers for getting this kind of snow.  And, equally jealous of this over-the-top (no pun) snow nerd for taking the time and effort to do this video.  Cool!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

That was nice. Now let's be naughty!

Made the family smile with delicious food and presents.  Entertained mother-in-law for brunch.  Made the trek to Grandma's for dinner with 25 relatives. Time to put on my new DKNY lounging pajamas and hunker down with a much-deserved White Russian.  Xmas '10 is now on the books.  Cheers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Beef Wellington night!

    Our Christmas Eve tradition: A feast featuring Beef Wellington (see last year's Wellie above), delectable side dishes, the best wine we can find in the rack, and home-baked cookies with White Russians for dessert.  (It's great having adult kids.) Dinner will be followed by the watching of the G-rated movie. This year: "The Sound of Music" (my son's choice, if you can believe that), to be viewed in front of a roaring fire, then a blissfully early bedtime.  It's my favorite day of the year.
   Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Weight Watchers circa 1974

I really wasn't going to post much in the next couple days, but then a friend of mine posted this link to WW recipes from '74 on Facebook and I had to share.  '74 was the first time I joined Weight Watchers, no doubt trying to shed the 'Freshman 15'.  I don't remember eating Cabbage Casserole Czarina (huh?).  Clearly I wasn't up to the culinary task, because it looked so damned appetizing, didn't it?

Best invention ever

It's a lip gloss - made of therapeutic lanolin - with a lighted applicator and a mirror on the tube. Seriously!  Pure Illumination lip gloss - what a great stocking stuffer idea.  It was invented by a brilliant woman from Raymore, Missouri.  And it feels great on your kisser, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chillax, Mom! You're making me nervous.

    "You're going to love what I got you," I said. "I mean, you'll really love it. And you'll REALLY love me for getting it for you. I can't wait to see you open it. Seriously, you'll be so excited...."
     To me, this is what you call building anticipation. Creating a buzz, if you will, for the opening of the gifts. To my daughter, it's an anxiety attack waiting to happen. I've officially taken a vow of Christmas silence until Saturday morning.  Xanax, please! 

Not now, Sesame Street's on!

To write a great children's book, you have to let your mind find its inner child again - embrace that child - then write from her perspective. That's been embarrassingly easy for me to do these past few weeks. I'm sleeping with stuffed animals, bathing with rubber duckies and have developed a totally major crush on Cookie Monster. (Again.) The worst part? My kids forbid me to sit on Santa's lap. 'Said I'd look like some crazy unemployed lady asking for hand-outs...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Score one for the old lady!


Once in a blue moon, when planets align just the right way, your adult daughter will admit that - yeah, OK - her mother might have at least one hip bone in her body. And, so it was a few weeks ago, when channel-surfing one night, I happened upon "Sun Studio Sessions" on PBS, featuring an incredible young musician named Grace Potter working it out with her band, The Nocturnals, in the famous Memphis recording studio.  It took me one minute to realize I HAD to record it for my daughter. Miracle of miracles, she hadn't heard of Grace Potter (who channels Grace Slick in this video) and it was love at first listen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT: Denied. Deleted. Done.

Finally, our government decided to let its citizens be true to themselves as they sacrifice, in the truest sense, for their country. And, it took how many years?

Cookied out!

   The house is still standing. No cookies harmed. Only one fingertip burned (a new record.) And, this is what's left AFTER packing a big cannister for the nursing home. Seen above are carrot cookies with orange icing, peanut butter cup cookies and date & walnut cookies. (I had a last-minute change of heart on the double-dark chocolate.) 'Actually used the convection feature of the oven, too, and it wasn't really that scary.
   Have I turned into a shakin', bakin' Betty Crocker? Uh, no. Frankly, I feel like I've run the Boston Marathon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm cuckoo for Christmastime, cuckoo for Christmastime...

   After I don't know how many years, I'm going to bake Christmas cookies tomorrow. It's my attempt to make use of the new double oven and save precious cash. This probably doesn't seem like a monumental effort to you but, to me (never a big baker), it's the equivalent of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. In other words -- insanely ambitious, not to mention, dangerous!
  If I don't burn them beyond recognition - a 68% probability - said cookies will be distributed to my mother-in-law's nursing home staff, my hair stylist, and assorted neighbors and friends.
  Here are the recipes I plan to try:
  Carrot cookies with orange icing (the hub's fave),
  Gingersnap gems, and
  Double-dark Chocolate-Walnut cookies.
  Check back to see photos. It could be funny. Or tragic.

For every dieter, inspiration...even canine

Lucy the cocker spaniel returned home from her annual check-up with an overall clean bill of health, except for one thing: She's at least five pounds overweight. (Family curse, I'm afraid.) So, I did what any loving, supportive mother would do. I posted an "inspiration photo" of a super model on the refrigerator - at eye level, so she can see it - along with a favorite motivational slogan from my daughter's high school softball coach. You're welcome, Lucy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm a proud stage aunt!


I always wanted to run away and join the circus (still do, sometimes) and now my niece has actually done it! My sister's kid is an extra in the new movie, "Water for Elephants," seen in the trailer at the 39-second mark. She's the tall showgirl carrying the star on the far right. Congrats, Molly!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quotable

I'm not a big tweeter, but I admit to following the cast of "Modern Family" religiously. Jesse Tyler ("Mitchell") is one of my favorites. His latest tweet,"Bullying is bad, but people who wear Santa Hats as part of their every day December apparel make it difficult to hold back," resonated with me today. Those Santa hats are freakin' everywhere!

Adding this to my must-see movie list


Now, that I'm getting the big 55+ discount at the theatre, I'll be first in line to see "Another Year" by Mike Leigh, opening Dec. 29th.

Now, THAT'S the spirit!

I've spent the last couple days housesitting for Mom (while she lives it up in NYC with "the boyfriend") and entertaining my Kansas City friends at my childhood home. I've returned to my adult home with a new lease on Christmas.  (A little JibJab "elf yourself" action didn't hurt, either.) Now, it's time to tackle all that shopping I've been putting off!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Elton loves Leon

Here's a terrific story about two of my all-time favorite performers.  Makes me want to dig out my copy of "Delta Lady."

Caroling in the kitchen

It doesn't look like much, but the round thing in the ceiling - and the other one, barely visible in the lower left corner of this shot - are our speakers, just installed in the kitchen. This was the feature I was least excited about (kind of a guy thing), but I have to say that sitting at the breakfast bar, sipping coffee and listening to
and..
and...
in stereo, on the turntable, is beyond lovely.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sacked Santa: Unemployment hilarity

I'm feeling a special kinship toward Santa this year. No, it's not the white tresses and unruly chin hair.  He was sacked right before the holidays, just like me! Check out his hilarious blog here (caution: Santa's language can - and does - get pretty salty.)
If you know someone who was recently sacked like Santa and me, why not give them Sacked Santa's story in book form from Andrews McMeel Publishing?  Whaddya know?! The Jolly Old Elf and I even share the same publisher. Hey, Santa!  Wanna meet me at Starbucks sometime? I'm there every morning. Call me, ya big lug!

Birthday bounty!

And, really, what else would they give me this year, but cookbooks!  My two sisters and son delivered the goods:  Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?, New England Soup Factory Cookbook and The Cook's Book of Intense Flavors by local chefs, Robert and Molly Krause.  I've got my eye on Sweet Potato Soup with Carmelized Onions and anything with the word 'bisque' in it.
My daughter bestowed a retro-style stainless steel toaster for the new kitchen. My son gladly took the old white one home, saving it from the landfill.  For the record, my kitchen contractor/spouse gave me a 100-year-old silver "dowry necklace" from India, which I might model later for you (once I get dressed.)  He knows way better than to give appliances.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Morning glow and gingersnaps

I just love the look of freshly-oiled soapstone in the morning. I especially love the butter gingersnaps in the golden tin on the wooden tray. They are from a great organization in Houston that provides rural living experiences for adults with mental disabilities and - without a doubt - the most delicious gingersnaps I've ever tasted.  Check them out!

President "The Donald"?

Did I just hear Donald Trump all but admit on the Today show that he's running for president in 2012?  I think I just did.  Good Lord. The only things to look forward to in that scenario are the political cartoons. And (caution: snark alert) maybe the revolving door that will have to be installed in the White House for his first ladies.

Brenda, call me. We'll have lunch.

Looks like I'm not the only veteran newspaperwoman whose position was eliminated recently.  "Brenda Starr, Reporter" just got her pink slip after 70 years in the business.  (She looks damn good, doesn't she? 'Think she's had work done?)  Here's to you, Bren!  You've even got old Helen Thomas beat.

Dinner and a movie...and an oil change!

My inner cheapskate is thrilled to know that, as of today, I will get 30% off at AMC Theatres and - be still my heart - 10% off at Arby's, IHOP, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Hardees and Long John Silvers. (Hopefully, the deal will extend to cholesterol meds.) Not to be outdone, Jiffy Lube will discount me, too.  Membership in the double-nickels club does have its privileges.  I'm just hoping someone will ask for proof of age.  I haven't been carded since 1984.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hot Salsa Dog


This dog reminds me of me at Curves' Zumba on the Circuit this morning. I wonder if her thighs are screaming in pain, too?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

You fought the good fight.

Morning in the children's room

   It was Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah today at story time in the library, and standing room only, as you can see. The librarian did a splendid job of reminding me how good writing - all writing, but especially for children - has a distinct rhythm to it.  I find myself reading the kids' book I'm writing aloud - over and over - just like I used to do with TV news scripts. Funny how two completely different endeavors share the same process. (Altho' there are some who would argue that writing for TV news isn't a stretch from writing for 5-year-olds.)
   That's the local rabbi on the left who showed us how to refine olive oil in a hand press to make a wick to light the menorah. So interesting! 'Can't wait to go back next week.

What's your favorite children's book of all time?

    Because some of you have asked, what I'm doing these days - now that I've lost my 9 to 5 - is writing a children's book - the one I have dreamed about since 1994 ( although my daughter and husband insist it's been longer than that.)  The protagonist is a little girl, but that's all I'm going to say about that for now. My self-imposed deadline for completion: Dec. 31.
    I've been spending a lot of time in children's book stores which are wonderful, reassuring places to hang out.  Today, I'll be attending story time at the public library. If only there was some kind of "Rent-a-Kid" service from which I could borrow somebody's grandchild for an hour or two. I think people are starting to wonder about the lady who lurks alone in the children's library....
   What is your favorite children's book?  Mine is pictured above.  I've always had a weakness for wild things.
This is the one my son couldn't get enough of.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great advice for our daughters

(As seen - where else? - on Facebook this morning)
“Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep.  Wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you're just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have you. The one who turns to his friends and says, 'that's her.'” 
 - Tom Robbins

Men in pumps

Ya gotta love a town where the men's basketball coach, fire and police chiefs, a handful of University deans and other manly men don crimson stilettos to support the local domestic violence center.
   (I just hate it when a man's legs look better than mine.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

'Wonder if Martha ever had this thought

   It occurs to me that decorating for Christmas is a lot like sex for middle-aged women. Sometimes you're tired and not in the mood. But, someone else thinks it's high time, so you bite the bullet and get started, hopefully after a glass of Shiraz or a nice foot rub. (Am I right, ladies?)
   Somewhere in the process, something switches on and you start to really enjoy it.  You remember how much fun it is, and the end result is spectacular! When it's over, you're exhausted and gratified in the lovely afterglow.
Then, you find yourself craving a cigarette, tho' you haven't smoked in over 30 years. So, you settle instead for a nap.

Illuminate me!

We took another step toward kitchen completion last night by installing the pendant lights over the sink (above) and breakfast bar (below).  I held the fixtures while my "electrician" wired everything up. He allowed the blond to screw in the lightbulb. (For the record, it only took one of me.)
We got a little wild over the breakfast bar, choosing glass with KU colors since our home has become Watch Party Central. Hey, at least, we resisted those Tiffany lamps with the Jayhawks on them (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

My new career: Spokesmodel

   Don't you just love this headline from eHow.com? Something tells me they might be needing to hire a copy editor. ("Spokes Model?" As in, model of spokes?)
   I've been thinking that with a little dental and dermatology work - maybe a few thousand dollars worth of cosmetic surgery...gastric bypass surgery, perhaps - I could be a spokesmodel, too. For the right product, that is. I mean, let's face it, who's going to hire me to replace Halle on the Revlon board in Times Square?
   So hey, all of you thought leaders and decision-makers at Prius, Ponds or Pillsbury - Dewars, Dove or Detrol (and I know you're trolling BoomerGirl between tweets and Facebook updates) - I'm your gal!  I've got years of experience. Maybe not modeling, per se, but speaking. Oh, I've spoken a LOT. And I'll work cheap!

Letting it be in Norway

This 6-minute video is making the cyber-rounds this morning. It is, apparently, a very long commercial for the premiere of a Norwegian TV show, featuring scads of celebrities lip syncing Let It Be. "So what?" you'd say, and I'd agree. Until you start watching in amazement at the spectacularly strange array of celebs participating in the project.  Like Kelly McGillis, seen above, who, by the way, is looking pretty sexy in her gray tresses.
 Or, Malcolm Jamal Warner from The Cosby Show, who hasn't changed much at all.
Or, this goofy-looking kid who was - oh, yeah!! - the young Forrest Gump! And there, my friends, is your pop culture dose of the day.  Enjoy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can't-miss presents: Make 'em edible

I love giving (OK, and receiving) gifts of food - particularly a culinary treat I've never heard of or tasted before.  A beautiful jar of fruit compote or fancy mustard just sets my heart all aflutter. That's why I was delighted to discover this list of food gifts from all 50 states on Delish. What a great idea for someone who just relocated to a new state, or for a newly relocated someone who is missing home.  Or, for me.

Speaking of lights...

...this is how downtown looks in my fair city. Crews had an early start this year and, apparently, a surplus of strands.  There are more twinklers on those trees than I can ever remember.  My house, on the other hand, is still sans holiday decor.  I just haven't mustered the mood, so far, to deck the halls. Maybe I'm short on cheer. Or, maybe I remember all-too well this horrifying scenario from years ago.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pendant lights, my glass!

My husband has known glass artist, Dierk Van Keppel, for decades and had his heart set on buying five of his hand-blown pendant lights for the kitchen.  (The above photo is the spectacular 5-story installation Dierk created for my my husband's company.) I was afraid the cost would be prohibitive, especially now that we're watching every cent even closer.  As luck would have it, Dierk is having a big sale to coincide with Kansas City's First Friday gallery walk tomorrow and we got a sneak preview plus a "friends and family" discount this morning.    
I won't reveal which pendants we chose (and they weren't all the same) until we hang them but, at rock-bottom prices, it was the score of the kitchen project, if not the century!  
If you live in the KC area, check out his gallery, Lightworks, tomorrow evening.  Dierk says everything must go and everyone is 'friend' or 'family'. You just might score, too!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

To all my Jewish friends...
With love,
From your favorite shiksa.
Light the lights and watch out for candle wax stains.