Monday, December 31, 2007

Books - December 2007

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Misty story about a quirky family of women.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Landing


I felt a little sorry for myself on the plane because Jeff was seated in the row behind us instead of next to me. Then I chatted for a while with my seatmate, who was traveling from Cairo with her two-year-old and her six-week-old. The tiny baby was on the second long-haul flight of her life, having been born in New Zealand, returned home to Egypt, then packed on the airplane for this Christmas journey just ten days after landing.

Ten days after our own touchdown, we've celebrated half a year's worth of occasions. This tends to happen in big families, I think. We save up all the festivities - birthdays, baptisms, baby and bridal showers - until everyone can be there or it just doesn't feel right. Now, appropriately after such overindulgence, we're feeling exhausted and could use some greasy fast food.

Still on the to-do list: a serious visit to Powell's bookstore; a multi-course Mexican feast; a visit to Montana to complete the Grandma matched set.

And, can you believe it snowed on Christmas day?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Festive

I can't come up with a way to capture the sheer Christmasiness (add that to Urban Dictionary stat) of Nurnberg this time of year. The Christkindlesmarkt is big and smells like spiced wine and grilled sausages and gingerbread, and choirs are singing and people are walking around the red-and-white striped awnings wearing cozy mittens and scarves. There are so many people, in fact, that taking a decent picture is impossible for an amateur like me.

The big market with stalls selling pottery and ornaments and toys and even strange dolls made out of prunes is the big attraction where all the tour buses spill their passengers. The children's market, around the corner and down the street is just as charming and crowded, but many of the people are shorter so it's easier to take photos. These ones still don't capture the magic, but maybe they give you a glimpse. Just imagine eating a hot cone of fries smothered in garlic sauce and listening to children exclaiming over the Eisbahn (model winter railroad) while you look at them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thoughts

-The two biggest concerts in the world (according to that reliable resource, My Favorite Gossip and News Websites) both took place in London recently: Led Zeppelin's reunion and opening night of The Spice Girls' 17-date run. I find this amusing.

-I'm in that phase of travel preparation that involves piles and piles of empty luggage and lots of laundry. Also, I'm wearing a bunch of strange clothing combinations because I am "saving" my clean clothes for the trip.

-Apparently Jessica Simpson is the new Yoko Ono (where the Dallas Cowboys = The Beatles and a pink football jersey = round wire-framed glasses).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou?

I have completely lost track of December. I can't tell you what I've accomplished so far this month. I do recall attending a Christmas party or two, and shopping at a Christmas market, and drinking some Gluhwein. Maybe that is the problem? Too much Gluhwein?

I was concerned that December would drag on and on and the day of our holiday departure would never arrive and I would gnash my teeth in frustration. But now we leave next week and I suppose I'd better get my act together. No teeth-gnashing, just mad packing.

I'll probably be away from the blog until the middle of January, unless something awesome happens (like my first taste of Nachos Bellgrande since August).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Like Popeye

I met Heather when we were both five years old and her family moved to town and bought our house. We played Barbies and went on to put on plays in her attic, found our own cake-decorating business, and go to the prom with two boys named Mark. We were bridesmaids for each other and since I don't have any brothers and sisters she is probably the person in my life besides my parents who has known me the longest.

Heather lives in North Carolina now and I'm not sure when I'll get to see her again because we never seem to be in the same place at the same time. But I think of her whenever I make her spinach lasagna which is easy and works every time. I usually cut the recipe in half, and make it in a square pan.

Spinach Lasagna
1/2 lb lasagna noodles
1 (26 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
chopped parsley

Prepare noodles as directed on the container. Combine ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella, parmesan, & eggs. Mix well. In a 15 x 19 baking dish, layer 1 cup sauce, half the lasagna, half the remaining sauce, all of the spinach mixture, the remaining lasagna, and the rest of the sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and top with remaining mozzarella and parsley. Bake 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This is not a holiday gift guide.

This is a list of things I use every day that I love love love. I suppose if you know someone exactly like me, you could give one of them to her as a gift.


Reisenthel shopping bag
This bag folds up into a little pouch that I hang on the hook next to my house keys. I take it out with me every day, and I use it to hold bananas or baby food or gummi bears after I've bought them.








Microplane Grater
In my past life, I never zested citrus fruits or grated my own Parmesan cheese or garlic or ginger. And now I do, because this thing makes it easy and the clean-up doesn't make my knuckles bleed.




Case Logic TBC-4 Camera Bag
I ordered this bag sight unseen after reading the Amazon reviews and recommendations so I wasn't sure it was going to be just what I needed. The Amazon reviewers are lovers/haters but they didn't steer me wrong this time. Despite it being advertised as a camcorder bag, it fits our Canon Powershot S3 IS just perfectly, with room for cords and batteries. AND the little carrying loop fits nicely over our stroller handles.






Moleskine Weekly Planner + Notebook
I bought this when I felt disorganized but didn't have enough going on to fill the kind of planner I used to use when I had a job. I am now a Moleskine convert and just opening and closing the little leather cover of this thing gives me joy. Yes,I'm a freak, but this planner makes me happy.







Baby Rear-View Mirror
This allows me to see Theo while I drive and he rides in his rear-facing carseat. I feel comfortable allowing him to screech in the car because, with this mirror, I can tell he's just annoyed, not injured.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Double Feature

Our weekend was busy and rainy and included a trip through Nurnberg's famous Christmas market or, as I like to think of it, Nurnberg's famous mob of tourists drinking hot wine and standing around. I have the luxury of being able to re-visit the market on a weekday when there are fewer tour buses and no lines at the bratwurst stands. I'm looking forward to it.

There's no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than watching movies, so I accomplished a double feature yesterday. Katie and I caught "Atonement" at the theatre. I started the book a few years ago but never finished it because I couldn't stand the weight of impending doom every time I picked it up. The movie also has the doom factor but it's much easier to take for a couple of hours than for days on end. I loved its visual grace and complex story and characters. James McAvoy is my latest movie star boyfriend so that helped it along too. Keira Knightley bugged me less than usual and I wasn't too bothered by the few THIS IS CINEMA moments the director indulged in. The best review I can give is to say that I'm still thinking about it 24 hours later which, to me, makes it a good movie.

Then I came home and watched "Elf" on TV. I'd never seen it before and I'm not a big Will Ferrell fan but even his scenery chewing (he is the new Jim Carey, we can only hope he finds his own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) couldn't ruin the charming story and great details. I'm glad to know the North Pole really is exactly like those stop-motion holiday specials of my youth.