Monday, December 31, 2012

Wet and wild in '13!

    I'm sick of the same ol' string of new year's resolutions, randomly numbered and prioritized with no rhyme or reason. So, this year, I've decided my list of best intentions will have a theme: Wet and wild. As in, more moisture and less predictability. (I know. It's not as sexy as it sounds.)
    Moisture first: I resolve to consume more water every day. Eight glasses of H2O at a minimum, supplemented but not replaced by green tea, wine, and the occasional stronger adult beverage, but in doses low enough not to be dehydrating.  I will add humidity to my work and home environment every day via warm air vaporizers. I will take the time to cover my body and face with lotion at least once, if not twice, a day. (I tend to skip this step and it's starting to take its toll. The skin on my lower legs is reptilian.) Finally, I will sweat more, which sounds counterproductive to retaining moisture, but it's not. Sweat detoxifies and softens the skin. The trick is to sweat from vigorous exercise, not sleeping under a down comforter. And, while I'm at it, I'm going to spend more time in hot baths, hot tubs, and my fabulous steam shower I hardly ever use. And then, more lotion.
   As for the wild part, I resolve to be more daring and adventurous. To care even less about what people think and more about devouring the oyster that is my world. To seek surprise, and not be as afraid. To speak more to strangers, wear what I damn well please to the grocery store, and say what I feel when I'm feeling it (which, some would say, isn't really a problem for me.)
   Happy new year, friends. And, may all your resolutions be wet and wild, too!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Watch on. Watch out.

I wanted a watch for Christmas. Not just any watch. It had to be big, as in man-sized, because big watch faces are easier to read, they look cool, and the scale is suited for a statuesque broad like myself.  It had to be indestructible, because sometimes my limbs flail around and hit things when I'm not paying attention. And, it had to be waterproof, because, sure as the sun sets in the west, I will forget I'm wearing a watch and stick my left arm in a sink full of water before the warranty runs out. So, this is what I received: A diver's watch by Mallard, purchased by my husband (after I picked it out) from our friends at the jewelry store underneath my office.
 It's everything I wanted AND it has military time so I won't be so confused on our next sea cruise (or, when I join the Army, which is probably as likely as another cruise.)  I haven't worn a watch in years, instead using my phone as my timepiece. A watch is better. It's always right there on my wrist, not buried in the black hole of my purse. Of course, I've been looking at it constantly since I put it on this morning. Combined with post-Christmas fatigue, this has been one of the longest work days on record. Is it five o'clock yet?

5 pounds in 5 days?

The over-indulgence of Christmas is over. There are six days before our annual NYE affair - this year, a casual and laid-back pajama party - and these lovely microgreens are going to be my best friends between now and then. It's what I'm calling the 5-Day BoomerGirl Cleanse which I'm making up as I go along, but it will consist mainly of salad greens, green tea, yogurt and blueberry smoothies, and wine (because it's still the holiday season, after all). I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What a difference a decade (or two) makes

When the kids were young, these stockings would have been filled with apples, oranges, candy, gum and cheap, little toys. And, they NEVER would still be hanging in place by 9:30 on Christmas morning. This year, we'll be lucky to see their ratty little heads by 10. And their stockings are stuffed with personal hygiene and housecleaning products. That'll teach 'em for sleeping in.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My favorite night of the whole year

    Never have I felt more prepared for Christmas by noon on the Eve. The gifts are wrapped, tonight's feast is being prepared, and my contributions to tomorrow's extended family feast at Mom's, which will include our new step-family, are in-house. I'm thankful for the "small and large" of it - four of us tonight; over 35 of us tomorrow. And, very little traveling.
   This year, I'm forgoing the traditional but complicated Beef Wellington Christmas Eve feast for a wheat-less beef tenderloin dish and compensating with not one, but two potato dishes - whipped sweet potatoes and truffled mashed potatoes, because the two children have different tastes and, well, if you can't spoil your kids on Christmas....
My secret weapon. Two tablespoons of this in your mashers and they'll do anything for you, even the dishes.
 With a nice green salad, steamed artichokes and a bottle or two of the "good wine" the hubs keeps in the crawl space, we'll be mellow and primed for the traditional "watching of the wholesome family movie" picked out this year by my son. (Favorites from years past include, "Finding Nemo," "A Christmas Story," "Elf," "The Dish," and "The Godfather." (That was the year we went to the dark side.)
  Here's wishing you and yours the loveliest of celebrations, no matter how you enjoy each others' company.  Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Toys from simpler times

A segment on "CBS Sunday Morning" reminded me of one of my favorite presents from back in the day, which prompted me to post it (Give-A-Show Projector) plus a few favorites from my boomer past, before I hit Target for the last-minute siege:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The party's over

Despite the fact that we WAY overestimated the food and drink, our open house last night was a rousing success. Neighbors, young and old, seemed to love my husband's glowing farolito (luminaria) display leading to the front door from the driveway ....
The snow cover was a nice touch, too.  Fire and ice.
And, the "new" kitchen worked a lot better than the cramped old one in accommodating the crowd that inevitably forms there (and never leaves):
Why do they DO that?
I didn't get to take a picture of the buffet because it was a bit of a mad house, but the excess is going to the homeless shelter today. Those folks will be up to their ears in pulled pork sliders, fruit and Christmas cookies by tonight.  The extra booze, we'll take care of time.
Party booty
Today, we rest. And, open our lovely host & hostess gifts, the best part of 'the day after.' No shopping, until tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

(And I feel fine.)

This is not my favorite R.E.M. song, (that was would be "Shiny Happy People" of course) but it's the tune I was singing in my head this morning, nonetheless. So, the Mayans were wrong...or, at least, interpreted wrongly by modern man. No surprise there. I admit giving the 'end of the world' scenario a brief thought last night before I went to sleep. Still, I set my alarm. Big party tonight. 'Glad we didn't disintegrate before my neighbors had a chance to eat all this food I've been cooking!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Countdown to Christmas party: The menu

Three different grocery lists - Costco, Trader Joe's and local market - have been completed. Cooking begins in earnest tomorrow for our neighborhood open house Friday night.  Here's the line-up:
Cheddar wheel with strawberry jam (shown above) and crackers
Warm Mexican crab dip with Fritos
Pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce and mustard cream sauce
Cranberry/chili cocktail meatballs
Veggie tray with red pepper dip
Braunschweiger pate' with sweet pickles
Cheese board, black olive jam and crostini
Assorted spiced nuts
Red and green grapes
Lemon bars - Costco mix
Mini-brownies - Costco
Ginger snaps - Trader Joe's
Winter margaritas (with grapefruit)
Hot spiked cider

Monday, December 17, 2012

Color, comfort and joy

The annual girls' gift exchange party was held yesterday afternoon at a high school friend's gorgeous home. I was struck by the vibrant colors, and how much I needed them after the gloom of the last few days.  (And the food was comforting, too.) Here's to rituals - holiday and otherwise - that give us hope and connect us to the ones we love. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Nuff said.

The cure for what ails me

It hasn't been the best week, for obvious national news reasons as well as personal ones. But, a morning with "White Christmas" and an afternoon with lifelong friends and holiday cheer promises to help, and heal. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Know the signs

I post this only because it's a highly entertaining reminder of something really important. It has nothing to do with all the bacon fat I consumed this weekend.  OK, maybe it does.

If I never eat another gourmet meal again, it will be too soon.

It was a fabulous time. Don't get me wrong. Two all-expenses-paid nights in Des Moines as guests of one of the city's top chefs is a sweet way to travel. We did Italian at Centro (seen in post below), French at Django and Zombie, as in Zombie Burgers + Drink Lab in the East Village area. There wasn't a bad bite all weekend. In fact, it was fan-foodie-tastic! But, it's time to come back to earth (and start the 2-day Dr. Oz cleanse asap.) Because you can't eat food like this all the time and expect to live past your 60th birthday. Seriously. Some highlights:
Our cheese flight at Django
My Sidecar - pre-cheese flight
The view from our table at Django - dark, clubby and sexy
Zombie Burgers + Drink Lab - Packed at 2 p.m. and dozens of people waiting to get in.
The cocktail list - you get the idea.
No. 13. Fulci: Proscuitto, brie, carmelized + raw onion, truffle the patty. And, yes, I ate the bun, wheat be damned. Best bun of my life, honest to God. My stomach paid for it later, but it was still worth it.
My husband decided to let the bartender order for him. "Whatever you think, man," he said. To which I replied, "But, keep in mind, he's got his annual physical next week. Lab work, you know." Next thing we know, a double Zombie Burger arrived. (Did I mention the burgers are fried not grilled?) I dread seeing the old man's cholesterol numbers.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Chef

We made the drop off this morning. After a 20-year search, Chef Formaro finally has his beaten biscuit brake....and our weekend in Des Moines isn't even half over!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Des Moines Day 1

The chef's best table, personalized service and an exquisite meal at Centro.

Wine and cocktail list was on an iPad. Cool!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Give that kid a fiver!

For those of you who don't watch GMA, check this out and watch it through to the big finish:

Deep happiness.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before and after

My daughter, the future esthetician and makeup artist, came over and did my make-up for a holiday party tonight. By George, I think she's got it! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trader Girl

I love trading things. As a kid, "Wanna trade?" was my signature expression. I'd trade marbles, jacks, clothes and, especially, sack lunches. Later in life, my husband and I traded houses with a couple in Taos, New Mexico, and had one of the best family vacations of our lives.  This weekend, I'm at it again, trading my great-great grandmother's biscuit brake, pictured here in a previous blog....
for two nights in Des Moines, compliments of the chef/owner of some of the city's top restaurants. In exchange for our antique biscuit machine, the chef (an admitted biscuit addict) will put us up at a downtown hotel and treat us to dinner at two of his hot dining spots: Centro and Django. We've never been to Des Moines, except driving through it to vacation spots in Minnesota, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the city has to offer, especially the East Village, which reminds me of my professional domain, Downtown Lawrence. I get a birthday weekend away with delicious food, my husband gets more precious space in his garage, the chef gets beaten biscuits...everybody's happy.  Is there anything you wanna trade?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A helicopter mom's lament

If you haven't been reading Booming, the new blog on, this essay is one reason why you should.

Party: On

In a weak moment earlier this year, I promised my husband we could resurrect our traditional holiday party after a multi-year hiatus. In our early-married youth, we used to fill the house every Christmas season with virtually everyone we knew in a shoulder-to-shoulder affair reminiscent of college keggers.  (I guess the hubs missed squeezing up against all those women.) For me, it was a huge panic, especially when it came to maneuvering in a cramped and crowded kitchen. Now, that the kitchen is expanded, it's on again for 2012, albeit with an abbreviated 'neighborhood only' guest list. In true form, I ventured out this week only to discover most of the holiday invitations were SOLD OUT, including those nice 2-up printable invitations that are so easy to D-I-Y. Have you any idea how long it takes to hand-write, address and stamp 60 non-matching invitations? Just as I deposited them into the mailbox yesterday, I realized our party is on the same day as the end of the world. "OK. I'll do it this year....but never again!" I told him, half-hoping the Mayans will be right. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nutritional intervention for Alzheimer's Disease

I told my new doctor that my two long-term health goals were 1) to not have a stroke like my father, his brother and both parents had; and 2) avoid Alzheimer's disease which, tragically, struck my maternal grandmother around the age of 65.  Now, comes a new book, "The Alzheimer's Diet"(which I will review later) that offers a brain-healthy diet that will benefit anyone who's over 40, has a family history of AD, or is experiencing problems with memory. Here are 11 tips from the book by Harvard-trained neurologist Richard Isaacson MD and Christopher Ochner PhD:

1. Proportion your macronutrients. Every day, make sure that you aim for 25% of your total calories from fat (but less than 7% saturated, or "bad" fat); 30-45% from complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and whole foods that are low on the glycemic index); and 25-35% from high-quality lean protein.

2. Wean yourself off high-glycemic carbs. These include sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, processed cereals and grains, anything baked, ice cream and sorbet, crackers, salty snacks such as chips and pretzels, and anything made with white flour.

3. Eat Mediterranean style. A brain-healthy Mediterranean-style diet includes fruits and vegetables, lean protein (fish, chicken, and turkey); low-fat yogurt and cheeses; and nuts and seeds. Stay away from red meat and processed foods.

4. Have more good fat and less bad. Brain foods high in good fats include: olive oil, avocados, certain nuts, natural peanut butter, certain seeds, and certain fish. Foods high in bad, or saturated, fat include: most fast foods, anything hydrogenated, dried coconut, butter, animal fats, milk chocolate and white chocolate, and cheese.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pillow balk

I spent all afternoon sewing covers for two old pillows (it was slow going; there was piping involved) in order to introduce a little black and white buffalo plaid into a room I thought was too red, even for Christmas. Now, all I can see are those damn black and white pillows. They're screaming at me, as if to say, "you couldn't leave well enough alone!" I think they need to be joined - and partially hidden - by other, non-screaming pillows. (It's true. I really can't leave well enough alone. Story of my life.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Table for 18

My mother keeps saying she'll do Thanksgiving "one more year." I hope she continues forever. Nobody sets a table like my mommy....and, more importantly, nobody else has that kind of room.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Best bird ever?

Here it is: The alleged best tasting turkey on earth from Trader Joe's, dressed and ready to go into the oven.  I'm using the old Reynold's cooking bag technique because it's never failed me to date and I filled the cavity with a halved fresh lemon plus big wads of rosemary and sage from the garden.  My hopes are high, people. My hopes are high.

Stuff me

I'm determined NOT to get stuffed after tonight's Thanksgiving meal, but it's difficult to do, especially when there will be not one, but two giant pans of stuffing to choose from. (My 'wheat free' mantra may have to be modified today.) Every year, I do a slight variation on the same cornbread stuffing theme. Here's the 2012 version:
Sweet onions and celery sauteed in olive oil and lots of seasonings.

Trail mix sans coconut, chopped coarsely.
Cornbread cubes (from a Trader Joe's mix because....why not?)
Butter, water, and herbs from the box (because, again, why not?)
My secret ingredient.
Toss together and warm in the oven before serving. (The little dish is the "bites" bowl.)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am thankful for you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheddar + carmelized onions = Combo to die for

One of the many reasons I love Trader Joe's is their low, low prices on cheese.  This variety is my absolute fave, priced at exactly half the price you'll find at your fancy neighborhood cheese store. Try it with sliced tart apples and a jumbo glass of good Merlot while you're cooking dinner. That's what I'm doing right now, as a matter of fact. Cheers!

Big Brother sometimes makes us smile

This one's making the Facebook rounds today. It gave me a lift and reminded me how much I loved the anthem-like tune by Supertramp (Really? Supertramp?) Seems like a good one to share during Thanksgiving week.

Boomer Girl Review: Ultimate Oriole Feeder

I've still got a way to go before I'm feeding pigeons on the steps of St. Paul's (which I never thought was a bad thing to do ...