Sunday, November 28, 2010

These are Two of My Favorite Things

Every year after the holidays, I make notes and lists about things I might do differently the following year (if I get my sh*t together sooner): ideas for gift giving, things I might try to make. You know, homemade gifts. Last year, I found a recipe for a cranberry liqueur that I thought looked festive, and much less labor intensive than limoncello. I don't think I saved the magazine, but I had the idea tucked away somewhere in my brain and a note in my journal.

As fate would have it, I went out with friends for a drink after school one day last week and the special "vodka-tini" du jour (du week? du season?) was cranberry. A big jar of cranberry red vodka with cranberries afloat reminded me that last year I thought I might make some this year. So I did my taste test (it only seemed right) and fell in love with the perfect balance of tart and sweet. I asked for the recipe and the next day, when I was out buying ingredients for green bean casserole (I know, I promised a post on that, and promise I will deliver), picked up a bag of fresh cranberries and made a batch.

So easy, so delicious (I had to taste test the first batch, no?), and so deserving of a new glass from which to drink it to make it even more festive, which I just happened to pick up from Crate & Barrel this weekend while I was in Boston. (What? I had a coupon!)

[cue The Sound of Music "Favorite Things"] When your job bites, when the wind stings, when I'm feeling sad...I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad!....Cheers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Little Things

It's 4:45. I worked today (we had a "half-day" today, which is actually 3/4 of a day), did my last minute grocery shopping so that I can make the green bean casserole I was assigned (yeah, I'll blog about that another time), had my hair done (highlights and low lights and a bang trim), and did some laundry. The most important part of my day was probably doing laundry, because that means I have plenty of leisure wear/pajamas to choose from this weekend. And I am ready for a long weekend--now in more ways than one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Count your blessings, big and small.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Energy

Sometimes I get sidetracked at school and sucked into a big vat of negativity. It’s not unwarranted: there certainly is a lot going on that’s not right or fair or professional; it’s just when I go swimming, I’d rather it be in my own chlorinated water, not a vat of muck. See, the issue is, even when you can come out of it at 2:30 or 3, it’s still stuck to you a little. Try as you might to shake it off, you can’t clean up very well before it is time to go to bed to do it all over again. I know it’s not unique to my profession, and it’s a shame so many of us spend so much time mired.

One of the reasons I love this time of year so much—Thanksgiving is a couple of days away, the first of four days off from work, and the beginning of a month or so of shopping and celebrations—is that it refocuses my energy. I leave school, and I get festive. I busy myself looking for the perfect gift, treating myself to a bite to eat along the way maybe, or go home and sit among sparkly, glittery, happy things. Maybe I’ll wrap gifts or make lists or watch something on TV that makes me feel good (maybe while sipping a seasonal cocktail)(Brandy Alexander, anyone? Jill?). I’ll write out cards and send everyone warm wishes for Christmas and the best and brightest New Year yet—and I really feel that in my heart. (Stamping the cards and putting them in the mail becomes another issue entirely. Meaning sometimes it doesn’t get done).

Somewhere along the line, during the next couple of weeks, in the busyness of it all, I become impervious to the muck. My energy is refocused and I’m in good spirits all day long.

That is my holiday wish for all of you, too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

[Heart] Shrimp Cocktail

There are times you need crunchy, or creamy. Salty or sweet. Or both. Sometimes the only thing that will satisfy is twirling your fork around in some sauce-covered spaghetti, or biting into a burger that will drip down your chin. Sometimes it is hot and steamy that we crave, liquid penicillin that works as well on sinuses as your stomach. Cheesy ooey-gooey goodness is a category in and of itself.

And sometimes the simple bite, or two, of cold shrimp doused in a little spicy cocktail sauce with a hint of lemon does the trick. The ritual of picking up a piece by the tail and dredging it in sauce creates just the right amount of anticipation before dropping it in your mouth. Plate, sauce, mouth. Plate, sauce, mouth.

I [heart] shrimp cocktail.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And the Next Iron Chef is...

I couldn't be happier with the final two chefs: Forgione and Canora. I had a feeling these last few weeks that it would come down to them, that despite Ming Tsai's Zen-like confidence, which often came across as arrogance, we would be watching an epic cook-off between Canora and Forgione. Sure, early in the season I was hoping that maybe another woman iron chef would be born to stand in Cat Cora's company, but Cambridge's Dumond didn't cut it, and then both the pig tails and braids got on my nerves a little so when they didn't make it to the end I wasn't really disappointed.

That is to say, I got sucked into yet another Food Network competition series. Most Sundays I stayed up past my bedtime to watch the exciting hour, but on those Sundays when the Sandman was not to be deterred, I'd catch up later in the week.  But tonight I'd have put on a pot of coffee after the Pats game, if it was necessary, to see the final showdown in Kitchen Stadium.

Things are heating up, as Alton Brown says, and in thirty minutes we'll have a new Iron Chef. May the best chef prevail.

Congratulations, Chef Forgione!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joanne is...CRANKY

Before there was scrapbooking there were college dorm room collages made from magazine clippings, which today would be considered affirmation or vision boards. Before there was texting and tweeting and Facebook, there were fancy message boards. Real message boards that you could touch, and that hung on doors. The best and most creative were on RAs' doors, because in addition to being able to scribble a message somewhere to her, she was important enough to publicize her whereabouts in case anyone on her floor might be looking for her. Maybe there was a pocket in which various cards were stored, with a place to tack the card that applied at the moment--in the library, in class, off campus--or a pie representing all the possibilities with a spinning arrow in the center to let you know if she was sleeping, or in a meeting. The best RAs had a sense of humor and honesty; they weren't afraid to let you know they needed quiet and didn't want to be disturbed or wanted distractions to help them procrastinate.

I wish things could be that simple and straightforward these days. I wish I could say where I am and what I'm feeling, and not necessarily to the whole world through cyberspace, just to those who should know what they're up against.

Joanne is...
  • out
  • shopping
  • watching Food Network
  • cooking
  • reading
  • writing
  • correcting papers
  • balancing her checkbook
  • paying bills
  • broke
  • feeling sorry for herself
  • cleaning
  • procrastinating
  • drinking
  • drinking while cooking
  • drinking while paying bills...(well, I guess I could just pin drinking next to whichever other card applies) (or maybe we could just call it...)
  • multi-tasking
  • hiding from the world
  • on the phone
  • gassy
  • hiding from the world because I'm gassy
  • bored--happily
  • sleeping
Today, I think I'd just be

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Murphy's Law Morning

I started ahead of schedule this morning. I resisted the urge to hit snooze and got right up and into the shower. I decided to cut my morning ritual of enjoying my coffee and watching the news a few minutes short, and got my lunch together before heading back upstairs to dry my hair and get dressed and do all that get-ready-for-work stuff.

I had an idea of what I wanted to wear—my grey pants with either a black blazer or a black v-neck sweater. First I tried on the pants. They looked good. Then I decided to go with a blazer. I reached in my closet and grabbed the wrong one—one that hasn’t fit right in a couple years—but it fit! (Yay, me!)

That’s when naysayer Murphy took control of my morning.

As I gave my outfit the final once-over in my full length mirror, I realized that my pants were ripped between the legs. Sh*t! So back into my bedroom I went and to put on some black pants, now apparently dressed for a funeral, not school, and headed downstairs. I couldn’t find the slide I wanted to wear on my silver collar, so I grabbed another that was on my end table, but I noticed that it needed polishing, so I grabbed my polishing cloth and put it in my purse. I also noticed, as I had then been walking around in my new shoes for a few minutes, that I need inserts for my shoes. I ran back upstairs to grab a set of those out of another pair of shoes and threw them into my purse too. Finally, I could go. I poured my coffee in a commuter mug, grabbed my lunch that I had already prepared, and headed out the door.

Only when I got to my hallway mirror, I noticed that I had some unidentified crud on my v-neck shirt. Good thing I had a camisole/tank on under that (don't ask), which would be fine to wear alone under the blazer—but the partial disrobing would have to wait. My early start was no longer early enough to get me to school on time.

I got into my car and realized I didn’t have my folder full of labs that I took in last night to correct but didn’t even open. I went back into the house to get the damn folder, got back in the car, and finally started my journey to school, knowing I would not be on time. So I broke Oprah’s No Phone Zone rule (sorry!) and called school to say I’d be a few minutes late, but didn’t need coverage since I didn’t have a class first period…

Thank God, because once I finally got there, I still had my necklace to polish, my inserts to put in my shoes, and my shirt to take off in the biology prep room. Then I had to go to the bathroom to make sure there was nothing else I overlooked—toothpaste on my chin or lapel, mascara in my bangs. Which I didn't.

Tomorrow I'm going to hit snooze. Twice.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Hour Delay...Tee Hee

Who knew that giving Amy a pair of super soft spa socks with a note “there’s no time like the present to start thinking about snow days” one afternoon last week when we met after school would portend an early November weather event?

Well, wasn’t that the point?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Did It

I was in a department store the other day, killing time. As I browsed through the wallets (as if maybe I’d find money in one of them) my ears perked up a little. I was taken by a vague notion to pay attention.

“Is that Bing?!” I asked two women I’d never before seen in my life.
They both took a few seconds to listen in and confirmed that I wasn’t losing my mind.

“It’s Election Day,” I snapped. From political ads to yuletide carols being sung by a choir. Overnight.

The next day—yesterday, in fact—I was in the craft store to see what I might find for fall flourishes for my home. Because it's fall. We haven't even changed the clocks yet. My terra cotta Jack-o-lantern is put away, and the remaining fall-themed pumpkins could use some company.

Suddenly, as if possessed by the subliminal messaging of Bing Crosby, I walked past the fall garlands to the Christmas ornament display. On one hook, all alone, hung the most beautiful ornament. It seemed misplaced, but I couldn’t find the others. I walked all around the display to put it back in its home, picking up a few others to admire their sparkle, but couldn’t find any other jingle bell-adorned stars like it. Huh. “Is this the last one left?” I wondered.

And I bought it.

On November 3.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I’ve had enough of the political ads and the candidate bashing. I know I’m not alone. On and on and back and forth, ads so contradictory one has to be a lie, right? You don’t know which to believe. Or you do. It’s in your gut and has been since the ads began running, and so the ads haven’t influenced your decision one way or the other. They’ve been pointless. A giant waste of money.

The hatefulness bothers me, but spending as much money as the candidates did being as hateful and negative as they have been boggles my mind.

Forty-million dollars to run for senate??? And that’s just one senatorial candidate, whose company parades women as objects (and for whom I will not be voting), in one state. Imagine all the senate and gubernatorial races. All that money.

How many uninsured people could we have covered for a year, two, or ten with that money?

How many more houses in New Orleans could we have rebuilt?

How many schools could we have renovated? How many books could we have purchased?

How many not-for-profit agencies could we have supported without raising taxes?

How many unemployment benefits could we have paid for those who can’t find a job?

How many jobs could we have created?

How much biomedical research could we have supported with that money?

[insert your own ideas here]

You get the point. People are struggling, while others are donating to campaigns that amount to a bunch of reeaalllly expensive trash talking.

Let it be over. I’d much rather watch a commercial that tells me to have a happy period.

Enough said. All around.
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