Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NPR's eggnog public service

So, I SCHEDULED this to post during Christmas. But of course that didn't work. A little bit of final holiday rambling in early January...

Did you know that homemade eggnog is made with raw eggs?

Me neither.

I haven't consumed eggnog since the time when I was very small that my dad spiked my holiday beverage with pink liquid amoxicillin. You know the stuff I'm talking about... Not sure how everyone else was, but it didn't matter to me what flavor they tried to make it - bubblegum, cherry - it always was retch-inducingly disgusting. Anyway, nog did nothing to mask the flavor and the two in combination were a taste I will never forget.

I think that any attempt to work myself back around to getting back on the eggnog bicycle should be done with the best of the best. Homemade stuff.

NPR agrees, and takes it a step further - researching the potential dangers of drinking eggnog with raw eggs and determining (with the help of a microbiologist, no less) that nog is safter with alcohol, and plenty of it. This development encourages me to get back on the eggnog bandwagon...

Listen to the story here

And check out the experiment, which you can try at home!

Personally, spiking eggnog with lots of booze sounds WAY better than spiking it with pink medicine.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pre-Christmas family extravaganza

So, today at lunch I'll be shopping for the first ever Pre-Christmas family extravaganza at our house.

We're thinking that Christmas Eve and Day will be a flurry of family related activites, so we're going to add one more to the mix tomorrow. A Christmas pre-party, if you will. Christmas' cool younger sibling celebration, perhaps. Um, yeah sorry. I'll stop there.

Anyway, I'm excited - J will be handling the big part - carnitas (yummmmy) braised in orange juice and various and sundry mexican spices.

I'm helping out with the additions, mainly, a salsa bar. And guacamole and queso and other dippy awesomeness. It's all going to be fresh and I'm looking forward to the adventure. Even though our only blending device is a hand blender (not a Cuisinart or an actual, live blender) I think that should cover my salsa making needs... right? Right?! Here's hoping.

So, fresh tomato salsa, salsa verde and a corn and black bean number will be available for garnishing the carnita awesomeness. Also whipping up a guacamole and a Velveeta queso (sweeet!).

Best of all will be the pomegranate margaritas and the (tentative) dulce de leche with ice cream! Sounds like a lot of boiling but I'm interested to see how it will
work out.

That's the menu for our festive pre-Christmas extravaganza... A lot of it's kind of experimental so there's no telling how it will all turn out, but we're (and by we I mean J) pretty talented in the kitchen and if all else fails, the pomegranate margaritas will take the fams' minds off of the food. :)

I shall report back.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How I Met Your Mother does 08

So, Entertainment Weekly has the How I Met Your Mother cast restaging the memorable moments of 2008.

Two highly entertaining things that I need to visit/watch more often: and HIMYM (Katie is on to something.)

Here are their top five:

The boys as the 2008 Men's Olympic swimming relay... Nice bod, Jason Segel. You look just like that hot blond guy.

The new Indiana Jones installment. Robin Sparkles actually cuts quite the intimidating Cate Blanchett.

The SATC movie. Take that, Mr. Big! I haven't seen this show in so long... are Robin and Ted together again yet?!

HIMYM boys as the Jonas Brothers and girls as the groupies. I may have questionable taste in entertainment sometimes (cough, Twilight... cough cough, Gossip Girl...) but at least I don't really know who these guys even are.

Aaaand finally - no 2008 retrospective would be complete without Sarah Palin.

Well, I think that was a fabulous way to end the week. Thank you for that, Barney and gang.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Revisiting favorite places

There's not really much reason for this post other than to show off one of my favorite places in DC - Sidney Harman Hall, home of DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company.

It's gorgeous. And I'm going to attempt to make a stop there during my upcoming visit to see The Twelfth Night.

In a semi-related thought... I have so many favorite places in big cities for various reasons - great entertainment, amazing architecture or interiors, good memories. I get nostalgic and make plans to revisit, but as far as some of the beautiful places go, I'm pretty amazingly lucky with my own place of employment - it's an inspiration in its own right. And my house, while modest, is adorable now as well with my lit up tree and increasingly fun decor.

Life here is pretty nice, too... Trying to learn to cool my heels and enjoy where I am while casually planning for the future.

The past was fun. The present is fun. The future will be amazing. All in all, I can't complain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, I did find a news piece during my Hotdogger writing last week that announces the introduction of the Simpson's-coined phrase, "meh" into the Collins English Dictionary 30th anniversary edition.

The greatest part about this news piece is that it actually explains "meh" purely by its existence.

Let me clarify. If any dictionary I've ever heard of added meh to its lexicon, I would be impressed. If meh were recognized as a word by, say, the OED, or even Merriam-Webster, that might warrant more than just an expression of indifference or boredom.

I s'pose these are all media stunts by dictionary PR people... (dictionary PR people... interesting... meh.) but at least Merriam-Webster has some national clout. They are the ones responsible for determining the word of the year, after all - which was w00t last year.

Merriam-Webster creates a list of the 10 most popular words of the year... new words enter the lexicon when MW editors "read and mark" news sources to find new words, define them, and track their usage. If a word looks like its starting to catch on in popular vocabulary, then editors consider adding the word into the MW lexicon.

The top 10 are voted upon by web visitors and aren't necessarily included into the official dictionary - (like w00t or facebook) but others are already part of the english language... like terrorist, or insurgent.

Sure, it's gimmicky, but I really like their top 10s - they're like a barometer for the national mood of each year.

The lists for the past few years really are interesting. For example, in addition to w00t, 2007 featured conundrum, hypocrite and charlatan. Hmmm, time for another election, perhaps?

2006 highlighted more war words - insurgent, terrorist, vendetta, sectarian, quagmire and war were all chosen by voters. On a lighter note, voters selected the Colbert-coined truthiness and google as a verb. (Gah, these voters are late adopters...)

2005 was the year of the natural disaster - top words included refugee, contempt, pandemic, tsunami, levee and inept (cough, FEMA, cough). The top word of '05 was integrity. Interesting.

I like how these top 10 lists are a a retrospective of their years...

Wonder what 2008 will bring - I'll bet on a few:
  • recession
  • depression
  • downturn
  • economy
  • hope
  • change
  • joe six pack
  • main street
I wonder when we'll ever get a nice, happy year again. There hasn't been one for a while... but I like hope and change. They would have sounded so lame and Pollyanna a few years ago, but by now we're all so sick of this we're ready for some optimism. Anyone else? Guesses for 2008?

I love words, but sometimes the best descriptor is not disgusted or fatigued or even desperate. Sometimes a simple meh best describes how over the state of everything we are. And a word like w00t describes how ready we are for something new.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener...

Sent to me from J, with the oh-so-enthusiastic (enthusiasm being wayyy out of character for him) message:
I think I just found you the perfect Job! it involves traveling meeting interesting people. and it is looking for someone with a BA in PR!!!! I would totally come with you!
Oh dear. My boyfriend wants me to be a Hotdogger. As in, a brand ambassador for Oscar Meyer, roving the lower 48 in the Wienermobile, spreading good hot dog cheer to Americans young and old. And yes ladies and gentlemen, the Hotdoggers have a blog. Sweet. And kind of hilarious.

In store visits, radio and T.V. spots, promotional and charity events... the whole nine.

One of the main requirements (beyond having a degree in a communications related field - check) is being insanely perky and being quick with the hot dog and bologna puns. Puns I could probably handle. My sense of humor verges on the embarrassing most times. I really don't think I could be perky all the time though. Pleasant and polite? Yes. Goofy? Yes. Perky? Meh. (I'll be back to meh in another post. Best. Word. Ever.)

Perky makes me think of Camp War Eagle counselors, or Mousketeers. And both of those groups are kinda terrifying. I like to think of myself as happy because I just am, not happy in the weird Disney-on-uppers those camp counselors. And that's probably precisely what the hot dog juggernaut is looking for.

ANYway - for those who are interested... bachelors in some PR type field, perky, willing to travel for a year. What do you get? A "competitive" salary, keys to the Wienermobile for a whole year, and all bills and expenses paid.

Maybe I work harder on my perky and brush up on my reverse- and parallel parking-skills for large vehicles. This could be pretty fun after all.

Friday, December 5, 2008

One of those days

It's been a rough week, and now that it's coming to an end, I am relieved. And exhausted.

Exhausted enough that this morning when I was brushing my teeth and dribbled a glob of Aquafresh smack on the front of my shirt, I was unable to face the idea of trying to figure out what else to wear. So instead, I gave the spot my best with the Tide to go pen, which J so kindly noted might actually bleach my dark shirt. No dice. I proceeded to walk out the door this morning with the offending (now off white) blob still front and center on my shirt.

I'm wearing my scarf all day today. But if I do get too hot and am forced to take it off, and someone points out the stain, the official response will be, "Oh crap! I didn't even notice! Don't you hate it when that happens?"

It's one of THOSE days. Don't say you haven't done it before.

Two more thoughts on the holidays and I'm done for today -

(1) This one came upon me as I was drifting off to sleep last night and I think it's genius. Even considering starting a
campaign to make the idea take off.

Thanksgiving once a quarter. Genius, right?! Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday because you get the huge meal, but you don't have to express your gratitude or appreciation with additional presents. Just the food.

I think that people should (not necessarily feel obligated, per se, but if it has to come to that, so be it) feel inclined to spend time with their close friends and loved ones more than once a year to reflect on things for which they are thankful.

November Turkey Day could still be *main* Thanksgiving, complete with Macy's (they shouldn't have to blow up the inflatables every quarter) and long distance visits. But I think mini get-togethers with local friends and closer family should happen more often.

Additionally, I would totally be up for multiple Thanksgiving feasts per year. It's almost unfair that you only officially get that food once yearly, isn't it?

(2) I think I am finally old enough to decorate my own house for Christmas. I'm not fully ready to commit to the
ginormous tree and outside lighting extravaganza (if ever) until I am actually a homeowner.

However, now that I'm a bit older I think I could manage a small tree and some lights.

I'm thinking lime green, aqua and silver, mercury glass type stuff for my theme. Who knows where I can locate some acid green ornaments?!

One parting shot for Christmas music inspiration - Jack Johnson and co. has come out with a Christmas album! I just downloaded This Warm December, which features Jack, G.Love, ALO and other surf-y sounding regulars. Additionally, 25 percent of this collection's sales are going to support music education for youth. Nice. I will report back.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

wish list

We found this print in the Portland airport about a year after my dad died, and I brought it home. It has wonky looking people on a bike riding over some mountains with these words:

I wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills
For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road
For the people laughing & crying & remembering at the end
But, mainly, I wish you could have been there.
I have the best family ever, even though we are tiny now, numbering only three.
Regardless of our size, we have been through some heavy stuff together and have emerged stronger and more tightly knit than before... which was a hard feat to accomplish.

It sucked. But I think I learned the most crucial life lesson of all from loving someone so much then losing them way to soon - life is hard. People leave and die. People get sick and bad things happen to everyone eventually. What counts is how you are there to help other people through their hard times. Because, as I've said - they will happen to everyone eventually.

As these terribly bad, saddening things happen to my friends as the years progress, I can at least appreciate that my pain and slow healing will help someone else process pain, and begin to heal, slowly.

At this time of year I think of my dad, both his birthday this week and his death closer to Christmas. Now, I think of Christina's mom whom we lost last year. And Katie's dad who passed last night. And Alex's mom. And Jenn's stepdad, who is in the hospital now.

Sometimes there's too much sadness, but I am reminded daily that this pain has miraculously strengthened the relationships of those left behind.

So, Dad, Bea, Edith, Jim - we all wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills. Jimbo, keep up your strength, and get better soon, because it will be our voices scattering your names across the road as we continue on our ways. Love you all.