Going to work is so hard when you have a half-decorated Tree and a cuddly kitty.

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Each day this week has been such a struggle. I want to stay HOME!! I think I need to save myself one whole day at home whenever we travel. Does anyone else feel like a week of travel followed by a week of work is just too much?

This situation is probably compounded by the following: (1) it is really cold outside. (2) my nose is stuffy and I just want to wear PJs and drink tea. (3) our apartment was a little [ha!] messy when we left so I feel like I’ve been cleaning and shopping and decorating during every spare minute but haven’t had a chance to enjoy it. And (4), I mean seriously, that tree needs some ornaments!

But mostly, I think I’m much more of a literary/historical genius cute-and-social Emily Dickinson type than a 9-to-5er. I need to buy some white dresses and write poems about Leo so I can justify staying indoors and making cookies and cakes and pies. And tea.

I mean, if I did stay home I would totally write you a book, dear reader, but I’m pretty sure my poems would not be best sellers. I did win some kind if award for poetry in like Kindergarten or something, but let’s be real. Those days are long gone.

Holiday Wrap-Up

I didn’t take any pictures on Thanksgiving Day.

We had 2.8 beautiful meals on the big day and several more the rest of the week, played corn-hole like champions, rummaged our parents’ garages for tools to “chop wood” so we could build fires and make s’mores.  It was, honestly, wonderful.  I’ve always been one to say “oh, we are too [fill in the blank] to have those picture-perfect holidays like you see in the movies,” and to be honest, we are, but it was about as great as I could have imagined.

I took a few pictures on Friday afternoon when I went with H’s family to choose a Christmas tree.  We have a few glamour shots (see below) but, weirdly, I never got a photo of the tree we chose, other than a quick snapshot of H and his dad carrying the tree to the car.  In case you are wondering, the men in our family carry chopped-down-Christmas-trees like the men in the mafia carry dead bodies:  one at the head and another at the feet.

The drive back was slow due to traffic, but happily uneventful, and we are back in DC working all day and, unfortunately for H, doing a lot of homework at night.  I’ve ordered a few more Christmas gifts that should be arriving soon, and am very excited to be entering prime J-O-Y territory and hope that I can keep the Christmas spirit going even if we hit a few rough patches along the way.

I spent the evening getting the house apartment ready for decorating, which will probably happen on Friday evening while H is at the UT-Georgetown basketball game.  I mean, I can save a few ornaments for him to place on the tree when he gets in, but is H interested in my obsessive-compulsive approach to hiding the cords between the light bulbs in the Christmas tree branches?  Not at all.  [You do understand, don't you, that Christmas tree lights should look like they are growing right out of the tree, and that the women in my family will stop at N-O-T-H-I-N-G to ensure that everyone believes God miraculously placed glowing lights in our holiday decorations, no electricity required.]

It has been a tumultuous but quite lovely year thus far.  Here’s to finishing it out with a bang, and showing those Mayans who knows what about calendaring.

Pre-Thanksgiving

It’s Wednesday and we are at home in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee, cooking up a storm with our families and having a wonderful time [hopefully, if things went well on our drive!].  Here are some shots of our pre-Thanksgiving celebrations to help you get excited.

And, for a little extra enjoyment, here’s a glamor shot of the greatest cat that ever existed on the face of the earth.

A kind protest

This is only a half-post, a tiny dot on a Tuesday evening where we are twenty miles from h’s grandmother’s home and I’ve already dealt with a work crisis I couldn’t solve, eaten Cracker Barrel for dinner, and taken two unfortunate naps that mean I will certainly not be cute when I see the grandmother-in-law for the first time in a year or more…

But this. Can you just take a moment to read it?

Truth will set us all free, but wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if our hardest truths could be wrapped up in love the way Preston has wrapped up his disappointment in the Church today? Wrapped in commitment and long suffering and confusion and mystery.

And love.

Is it right to protest in this way? Should we instead fight tooth and nail for truth and justice no matter the collateral damage to that thing, those people, we love? I’m not sure. But I like this. It feels right, in this moment.

Go with peace, He says. Peace is beautiful.

My First Soccer Game

This past weekend H and I attended the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals between DC United (our local team) and the Houston Dynamos (a team with orange and white checkerboard just like the V-O-L-S!!!  It was so weird cheering for the non-orange team.).  We had a fantastic time, and soccer is actually super fun.  I mean, the soccer part is pretty boring because all sports are pretty boring, but the cheering and the crowd actions are incredibly entertaining.

Our seats were pretty great and we had so much fun singing “Ole, Ole Ole Ole, Ole, Ole.”  I mean, it’s pretty catchy.  Trust me.  It might be hard to hear it here, but if we were hanging out right now, I would be singing it and you would be totally into it.  Seriously.

All during the game, the people in the stands did crazy-fun things.  There were giant flags waving and all sorts of different cheers and dances and so on.  Below, you can see the crowd holding up red and black flags to cover the entire half of the stands plus signs that say “YOU CAN’T HOLD US BACK — WE ARE UNITED.”

What a fun day, and we were lucky enough to attend the game with some of our very lovely friends.  Also, soccer is totally fashionable.  Instead of wearing God-awful ugly jerseys and giant hands, soccer fans wear classy scarves.  That is fan wear that I can definitely get behind.

 

Creating “The Library”

Today the Washington Post released its list of the Best Books of 2012. I personally didn’t find the list to be all that exciting — it’s a little dark for me, and not very funny! — but it did coincide nicely with the posting of my own list.

I started keeping a list of books I came across during my blog reading, studying, and news-article reviewing, and I’ve been planning to share that list with all of you for a while. I have about a million books to read already on my bookshelves, but these are a few of the titles I’ve been jotting down over the last few months that i really want to read! They are posted on a new blog page entitled “THE LIBRARY,” which you can see by clicking the link with the same title along the top of the header.

I’m currently reading The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman, while completing the Yale Open Course on New Testament History and Literature. It’s been taking for-ev-er, to be honest, but making me smarter and really holding my attention during the few minutes each week I can devote to it. I really recommend the course for a historical perspective, and find the materials to be very helpful and interesting. I’m going to try to finish at least one more course during our drive to and again during our drive home from Tennessee. And, just being honest, I’m also going to be reading about a million magazines so I can be fashionable and awesome.

On that note, I really need to buy some new shoes. . .

A world to be proud of…

Friday night something happened. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t tell it, but I will say that I was the grownup in someone else’s situation and that even while pretending that everything was okay and that things were totally under control, it was pretty scary and I wasn’t actually in control of anything. Saturday was a bit of a roller coaster dealing with all of the feelings and fears and Thank Gods from the night before, but some fantastic friends and the greatest husband ever wrapped me up in love and understanding. I was quiet here on the blogging front, but Lord knows I didn’t have anything nice to say so silence was probably the better alternative.

We Union girls, as sheltered and ill-prepared for society as we were when we graduated, we were about as safe as you could be. I certainly knew women who were not safe — women who were victims to physical or mental or sexual abuse — but overall, we were a happy group with not a thought in the world about danger. I left my dorm room unlocked all the time, and also my dorm room window, so if one of my roommates forgot to leave the door open I could still get in without my key. My greatest fear was that a woman from another sorority would grab my favorite KD t-shirt from the dryer while I was doing laundry. Sometimes I would do my homework around the laundry machines just to be safe, or save my best laundry for when I went home to visit my parents.

That is just not the life of many young women in America today. I don’t have any sort of epiphany or conclusion or lesson about that to share with you — this isn’t a lecture or a solution and there is no cathartic ending to this story. It’s just a statement I feel the need to say out loud: the world that our young women are maturing in, the world where they are learning who they are and how to navigate right and wrong, how to respond to crisis and how to develop personal relationships, is very dangerous, and very scary. And we need to support them, and find a way to give them the tools they need to protect themselves. Their bodies, certainly, but their minds and their hearts too.

I don’t believe in fathers saying “WHO ARE YOU TO DATE MY DAUGHTER,” as if daughters are some kind of property that belong to a father, and that only he can consent to her choices about her own body and her own mind. That is the remnant of suppression and it is not romantic or beautiful, it is degrading and disrespectful. I am not asking for any paternalistic you-can’t-take-care-of-yourself-so-we-will-step-in actions, because our young women are taking care of themselves. They are unbelievably strong. They are doing what it takes to survive and thrive in their world. But, tonight, I just wish that their world — our world — was safer, better, something to be proud of.

Cheers!

Here’s to a lovely night out courtesy of an unusual friend who was [fortunately for us!] unable to use his symphony tickets. H and I salute you for honestly the best seats in the house.

Also, props to the person who decided to locate Founding Farmers right by GWU. You rock. I mean seriously, what a great idea.

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Priority Chicken

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I made this chicken tonight. It tastes pretty great, but it wasn’t ready until 10:30. So there’s that.

I’m working at work again — and working pretty hard, actually — and it is so weird how different each day feels now. There are so many things I’d like to fit into each day, but it is hard to make it all happen, isn’t it?

Today I worked from 9:15 until 6:30 before heading home. My bus was late but I was in the door by 7:30. I had a call with my advisee and grabbed some onions from the market, then had the chicken in the oven before H got home. I practiced my guitar (still in the key of C but getting to the chord structures and strumming patterns, finally!) and we watched last night’s New Girl.

But now it’s almost 11 and there is just so much more I wanted to do. I wanted to sweep and mop the kitchen and do all the dishes. I wanted to finish the chapter in my New Testament textbook and start reading Daniel for my Open Course. I wanted to write a blog about something. I wanted to paint my toenails and choose an outfit for tomorrow and pack lunches for me and H.

But we can only do so much. And we only have so many days. And so, it might be time to start choosing certain things to be the first things and certain things to be the little things, the forgotten ones, the tasks we let go.

I had a dream: the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Tour

 

I had a dream that this post would start out with photos from a beautiful recipe that I pulled together out of the cabinets using Deb Perelman’s brand new, beautiful cookbook, but let’s be real.  I worked until 6, stopped by Politics and Prose to pick up my signed copy, and then had an hour-long conference call.  We had Papa Johns and Blue Moon for dinner.

But the status of our dinner really doesn’t diminish the wonderful awesome fantastic experience that was my evening with Deb at P&P.  The place was packed — seriously, there wasn’t any standing room left anywhere — and Deb was obviously a little shocked and wowed by the crowd.  She was adorably modest and looked a little confused about why so many residents of the District had gathered in one room.  She spent as much time talking about her son, Jacob, as she did about the book and that’s one of the beautiful things about Deb’s blog and her writing — she teaches you about the food she is cooking but her recipes are more stories than instructions, wrapped up with love and family and deliciousness.

Deb told the story of SmittenKitchen.com.  When she purchased the domain name, she didn’t think her blog would last because she didn’t have what she considered a “unique voice.”  And then once she became a fabulous blogger [my words, not hers], she didn’t really want to write a cookbook either.  But, she explained, the prospects of motherhood inspired her to create something that her son could hold in his hands.  That is kind of a beautiful reason to write a book, isn’t it?  And what could be a better gift for your son than a book full of family and tradition and photos and CAKE.

Deb Perelman at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.

Deb took questions from the audience that ranged from adorable to awkward.  When asked by a young man about her religious beliefs [she is Jewish] and her use of bacon, she politely but honestly turned the subject back to the food.  When asked about her favorite restaurant, she named a place in New York that is no longer open.  She seemed very careful not to alienate her readers, but I’m not sure that would have been possible given the huge out-pouring of love in the room.  DC loves the Smitten Kitchen.

One of my favorite parts of Deb Trivia was when she was asked about her favorite cookbooks — these cookbooks are now on my list of What I Wish I Owned if my Kitchen Wasn’t Terrible:

As you watch SmittenKitchen.com for future posts, keep an eye out for a breakfast stuffing recipe [yes, like at Thanksgiving!] that sounds delicious, and take a second to look for the chocolate peanut butter cake, one of her most popular recipes.

Deb, you were a great speaker, and your cookbook is beautiful.  I look forward to improving the lives of my husband and friends with your beautiful recipes.

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