Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Swamp

Despite the fact that I thought I was ahead of the game, I still fell into the usual hell of stess and to-do lists that inevitably preceeds Christmas. After weeks of preparation, shopping, gift making and planning, the 22nd of December was still like this for me:

pick up meds from vet
pick up dry cleaning

wash delicate clothes

hold mail at post office

buy gifts for pets

buy last gift for brother

finish wrapping gifts

make card for Brad

clean house

pack for Colorado

print recipe books and have bound and wrap

contact clients about late projects

contact snapfish about mailing address change

and for every item I sucessfully crossed off, I added another at the last minute . . . why must the approach of the holidays always be so stressful?

But now the to-do's are now crossed off and the Holdiays are here! Two nights ago Brad and I had our "Christmas" including a Christmas dinner date and the much-anticipated gift exchange. Exchanging presents with Brad has come to be a satisfying ritual of both giving and recieving the most thoughtful gifts of the season. I was spoiled with many new pieces of jewelery, a book, some other great housewares I wanted and of course, some pretty underwear!

Now we're onto the next phase of Christmas (and the actual day has yet to arrive), the family celebrations. Last night we traveled to my family's house in NJ for dinner, a long night of poker (in which I went head-to-head with my Dad after everyone else had been elimated and Brad passed out in a drunken stupor on the couch - then I lost) and this morning's Christams Eve gift exchange. At 6pm this evening we will get on a plane bound for Colorado to spend Chistmas Day and following week with Brad's family before returning home to Brooklyn, with even more presents, for our Rockin' New Years Eve Party.

Whew! My New Year's resolution may be to take a nice long nap. In the mean time . . .
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Entertainment City

Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have been busy setting up my new computer (!!!) from which I am now blogging.

Brad and I have gone to 3 theaters in the past five nights. Luckily, we did this before today's
transit strike, which has Brad home from work with me. I of course, have no work, again, but anyway . . .

Last Thursday we attended a performance of the
Compagnie Marie Choudinard, which we saw in a mulitple company performance earlier this fall. The show was at the Joyce Theatre, a really great theater dedicated to dance, in which there is not a bad seat in the house. The program consisted of two pieces; a solo and a group piece titled, Chorale, which Brad desicribed as a "bath of weird". I loved it. Performed by an amzing group of dancers, it was both silly and sexual (it even contained nudity), definitely not for children, funny and like nothing I've seen before.

On Saturday night, we attended an annual performance of the
Alvin Ailey Amercan Dance Theater at City Center. I have personal sentiments about the Ailey company, and the dancers were as amazing as ever. Unfortunatley, a new work by a choreographer I usually love left us wanting more. But the final piece, a new dance by Judith Jamison, Reminicin', delivered everything I hoped for that evening and then some.

Finally, last night, with our friends
Royce and Masako, we saw King Kong at the Union Sqaure Movie Theater. I will tell you this, it was huge, exciting and fun. Then I will tell you that you should definitely go see it for yourself on the big screen.

There will be more theaters in our future, now that we are
Play by Play members. Brad joined for us to be able attend discounted last-minute performances at the suggestion of a hockey friend. We'll see how it works out when we start theater-going.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Like A Drug

Brad just pointed me in the direction of something so amazingly cute it actually made me cry. This is the best thing I have ever seen on the internet. Ever.

You'll thank me when you feel all warm inside for the rest of you day after looking at
this website.

You're welcome.

Christmas Zone

Last night the freezing cold temperatures of the last week finally broke and a rain fell on Brooklyn to melt all the ice and snow. The sun is shining today, and it looks as if the city has narrowly escaped the threatening transit strike, for now anyway.

Like everything else governed by randomness, my freelancing "schedule" follows the general rule that there will always be droughts and when it rains it pours. This past month had been the worst drought I have yet to experience. So far I have worked a total of three days and it looks like there may not be more until the new year, as the design and advertising industry general grinds to a halt over the holidays.

With the length of
Brad's christmas list, December is an obviously bad time for my bank account to depleat. However, when it comes to having endless free time for a few weeks, there couldn't be a better month. Aside from spending lots of quality time with Francine and catching up on movies I've never seen, like Whale Rider, I have been able to exist in extreme holiday mode. I have made homemade Christmas presents, created and sent out Cristmas cards and baked Christmas cookies. While walking the dog this morning I actually had the thought that maybe I'd make some homemade wrapping paper, but that may be a bit much . . . We'll see.

Anyway, here is the recipe for some delicious Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 (12-oz) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 325˚. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor chop the oats and hazelnuts. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl combine butter and sugars and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, add the flous mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Drop dough in rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets, spaced one-inch apart. Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Dependency Only Grows

Last night Brad finally got his first flickr photo sets up for viewing! This awesome interface for sharing and archiving our best photos is yet another thing to add to our growing list of internet memberships, subscriptions, extra curricular activities and general dependancies. The future will hopefully be a happy little collaberation of blogging and photo streaming.

This photo is part of the Hawaii set. For more photos of our Hawaii vacation, click here.

I only fear that spending the days of our prime years in front of computers will leave us hunchbacked and blind by the time we are parents. Our children might just want their computers surgically attached . . .

And speaking of, in just a few short days I'll be blogging to you and internet living from this baby, the 20" 2.1GHz G5 iMac with buil-in iSight , that I purchased last night. Sadly, my G4 powerbook, which has been so good to me over the past 3+ years is entering into it's final days. But this is how it goes, every few years comes the time to upgrade. I can't keep up withall the news, entertainment, correspondance, professional developments and the like on a computer that chugs along. Beauty and speed are headed my way via UPS ground shipping, and I can't wait!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Soup of Love

Last night the first real snow of this season fell on Brooklyn while we were sleeping. We woke to 3 of 4 inches of snowfall and when Francine and I arrived at the park for our morning walk, we discovered a nearly untouched winter wonderland. I know her little doggie heart was overjoyed as she leaped and bounded through the fresh white powder.

After our usual loop around the park, France was so happy. We took a little extra tour across the soccer field and played fetch with a few snowballs (she doesn't bring them back to me of course, but feverishly eats them instead), after which I headed out of the park to go home. It was then that Francine exhibited most irresistable display of cuteness ever – she stood still and refused to follow me, looking longingly at the field of snow. I called for her to come repeatedly and she slowly began to make her way until she saw a perfect stranger enter the park. Ignoring me, she actually turned back and started to follow that person instead, being all adorable like she can and playing around them as if to say, "Hey, I'll come with you as long as you don't make me leave!"

What could I do? I turned around and headed back to the field, ran around and threw more snowballs until Francine's little doggie pawprints had all but covered that once virgin field of snow. Twenty minutes later, soggy and hot inside my down coat, I turned to leave and thankfully, Francine followed. So now, as I sit and watch the snow fall oustide my kitchen window, I feel as if I have earned some good snuggle time on the couch today.


Last night I also made my third squash soup of the season. (These were the first and second soups.) The recipe I use was adapted from an Emeril recipe called "Puree of Winter Squash Soup of Love". Not only was this soup rich, creamy and delicious, but it has the silliest and most amazing name ever.
While making it and scooping out the squash you can say, "Look, a scoop of love!" and when your hands get messy doing it you can say, "Wow, love is messy. . ." Finally, when you sit down to taste your creation, exclaim, "Mmmmm, love is good!"

Here is the recipe:

Soup of LOVE

2 acorn squashes, about 2 pounds each
1 buttercup squash, about 2 pounds
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 stick of butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup molasses
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 parsnips, peeled and halved
1 onion, julienned
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 cups white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon allspice
Salt and white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

optional garnish 1:
sliced almonds
cayenne pepper

optional garnish 2:
2 cups roasted spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squashes in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds. Season the squash with salt and white pepper. Place the halved squashes, skin side down, in a shallow roasting pan. Place one tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of molasses in the center of each squash. Arrange the carrots, parsnips, onions, and garlic cloves around the squash. Pour 1 cup of the wine and 1 cup of the stock in the pan, cover with foil, and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and cool the vegetables for 5 minutes. Scoop the flesh out of each squash and place in large sauce pot. Discard the skin. Place the other roasted vegetables and the cooking liquid in the pot. Add the remaining wine and chicken stock to the pot. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with allspice, salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup until smooth.

I added a dash of cayenne and served it with sliced almonds. However, if you're interested, here is Emeril's suggested garnish:

In a saucepan heat remaining butter. When the butter has melted, saute the spaghetti squash for 2 minutes. Add the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup in a shallow bowl. Garnish the soup with the Sauteed spaghetti squash, creme fraiche, and chives.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Two Good Reasons For Not Having Children

Reason Number One:

Because then it might actually be weird that we treat our pets like our kids.

Last night Brad and I faced our fears and finally attempted to give Francine a bath in the World's Smallest Bathroom with the World's Worst Plumbing. That bathroom, by the way, is ours. It is so small that it doesn't even have a sink. There is just enough room to step in, close the door and stand in front of both the toilet and the bathtub at the same time. On the up side, it is pink . . .

Anyway, this bathtub I speak off devours an entire bottle of Draino Max about once a month just to keep draining, sort of. So you can inmagine our fear of what all the doggie hairs could do to that drain. Until last night we would give Francine baths, whenever we had the chance, during visits to my parent's house. This proved to be less-than-practical because it was both infrequent and a big mess in their bathroom.

Turns out that thanks to a new hair-catcher in our tub drain, the doggie hair wasn't a problem. The real challenge was fitting Francine, Brad and myself into the bathroom while trying to simultaneously wash the dog, hold her down in the tub and keep her from
shaking the shampoo (and hair) off and all over the walls.

This is Francine being very tolerant of the two things she hates most, baths and photos:

Of course, afterwards we had to treat her like the little princess she is for being such a good girl in the bathtub. So we toweled her off, gave here a greenie chew to brush her teeth with and then encouraged her to snuggle up for a nice, clean nap on our bed.

Did I mention we refer to ourselves as Mommy and Daddy in front of the pets?

Reason Number Two:

Because then we might have guilt for buying new babies like this one;
The Epson Stylus Photo R1800.

Now, Brad and I had been comtemplating buying an archival photo printer for some time now, being that we take as many digital photos as we do. Mostly, however, we had been considering an affordable 4"x6" - or even an 8.5"x11" printer. We had dreamed of the oversized of course, but knew in our hearts (at least I did anyway) that they were realisticly out of our budget.

Brad told me that he though we had "pretty much decided" on the 1800 - which prints 13"x19" photos (!!!) - when he ordered it online from work last week and called me afterwards to tell me of the purchase. What Brad had not done was see the monster in person, so he had no idea that is is absolutely ENORMOUS. Have I mentioned how small our apartment is?

To give you some perspective, our old printer was about 16"w x 7"d x 7"h. The new printer is 24"w x 12"d x 10"h, about 6x bigger than my head (which is huge), and that's when it's closed up. It's also so heavy that I had to have the UPS delivery guy carry it up the stairs for me.

With this new baby we can print huge, arhcival prints from our digital photos, which is very cool (even if it does break the bank - savings-shmavings). The geeky catch, that Brad informed me of yesterday, is that our 5megapixel camera is maxed out to print about 11"x14" without losing quality. So now we need to buy a better digital camera. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Brad had no idea that the printer would be so big. Because of this, he says he needs to purchase a flat screen monitor too, to accomodate the space for it - even though it's on a shelf above MY computer on MY side of the office. (Hmmmmmm . . . maybe I just don't speak geek.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Who Wants To Live Without The Internet?

Not me. But, I feel it my duty to warn you that if you want to help prevent global warming, you may not be able to read this blog, or any for that matter. According to this NY Times article, carbon dioxide, the main climate threat, "is generated by activities as varied as surfing the Web, driving a car, burning wood or flying to Montreal."

Sadly, it seems that global warning is much like cancer - everything causes it. We're doomed, so to keep reading you'll have to take your chances . . . .

Last spring Brad bought me a Holga, a plastic point and shoot camera that uses medium format film. Since then I have slowly been shooting with it - mainly on trips and special occasions. It took me some time to find an affordable place to have the film processed and now, nearly six months later, I finally developed the first five rolls and the results are delightful.

Maybe when Brad finally gets some photos
up and running on his flickr site, I'll make my very own Heather's Holga album. Until then, here are some gems, from Hawaii and San Fransisco, respectively:

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Nest Eggs

This past week I worked for an agency that I was designing with for about six months last year before they blew off my services for those of a free intern - but that's a story for another time. Having not seen the folks there since last Febuary, the big question was "How's married life?", because I was a single last time I graced their offices.

"Not all that different" was my standard answer. Brad and I were living together before getting married, and after the wedding parties died down and the dust setteled, not much seemed to have changed. However, I realized upon further thought, that one thing we have begun to do increasingly in our married state, is nest - in the form of shopping. In the past two months we have purchased new furniture, a new table lamp, new bedding, a new photo printer, and as of this weekend, a new humidifier and dog bed - to name a few.

(It may be time to curb the habbit. Maybe our New Year's resolution will involve less purchasing, so we can finally add to that savings we have been talking about.)

This month we decided that we won't be moving from Brooklyn, or our apartment, in the near future. So, lately we have also been nesting in the form of cleaning and reorganizing. The past two weekends we have been spent moving furniture, dusting out corners, reorganizing stored items and generally sprucing up the place so we can be cozy for winter. As a final step, we took all of our couch covers and pillows to NJ
this weekend, while celebrating my Mom's brithday, to wash and free them of dirt and pet odors.

Now we little eggs sit, on our fresh and clean couch, laptops on laps while we enjoy the newly purchased Brat Pack movie collection and a big bowl of popcorn. The nest is good.

*Oh, and one other purchase worth mentioning. I just ordered wallet-sized prints of this photo:

See why I love Brad!?