Monday, January 28, 2013

I know I just wrote about drinking alone but you have to trust me when I tell you: I don't really sit at bars by myself. Like ever. But I'm working out of town right now (in Atlanta) and so to avoid being a recluse in my hotel room, I saddled up to the lively bar in my hotel's lobby last night to have dinner and a glass of wine. I was pretending to care about a basketball game and simultaneously reading a magazine when the bartender slid a second glass of pinot noir my way. "This is from the gentleman across the bar. He wanted to welcome you to town," He said. I looked over to see a GIANT African-American fellow in a long, black, leather trench coat. He raised his bourbon to me and smiled. I waved awkwardly and mouthed a thank you. I'm not quite sure what the protocol is in these situations. I wanted him to know I was appreciative but did he expect something? Was I supposed to go talk to him? Or send him something in return? After another twenty minutes I finished my burger and as I stood up to go, I went to simultaneously say another thank you and also goodbye and my combination-gesture short-circuited. What resulted were prayer hands under my chin and an accidental nod. I gave him a Namaste. A freaking Namaste, you guys. I'm pretty sure he felt my soul acknowledge his soul and that resonated with him because he summoned me over with a curly finger.


I hesitantly approached.

"Hey girl." I think he had a pencil mustache. And he was 50 if he was a day.

"Hey! Thanks so much for the wine," I said, "That was really nice. I'm just going upstairs now." I pointed to the elevator and nodded incessantly like a weirdo.

"You should take my number." He put his arm around me and kinda snuggled me into his side. My head came up to his belly button.

"Oh, no thanks. I'm actually married." I tried to gracefully wriggle my way out but he had a good grip going. "Plus, I have an early morning tomorrow. But thanks again!!!" I broke free, ran between his legs and bolted for the elevator.



super cool handwarmers (and why you should always carry knitting needles when drinking alone)

Monday, January 21, 2013

This past weekend I found myself drinking alone in Phoenix. I was visiting a friend but had an afternoon to myself. So I decided to settle in on the outdoor patio of a Tex-Mex place. After a spell, I spied my waiter. He was on his own, taking care of the entire patio and the beads of sweat along his hairline betrayed his forced cheer.

Harried Sweaty Waiter: "Welcome to [Tex Mex Restaurant in Phoenix]! Is this your first time dining with us?"

Me: "Yes. I'd like the Top Shelf Commemorativo Margarita."

HSW: "I really like the Orange Beso instead."

Me: "Oh."

HSW: "It's got fresh orange juice, Grand Marnier and prickly pear cactus juice."

Me: "No offense, but that sounds gross."

He smiles tightly.

HSW: "The Commemorativo is good too."

Me: "Great. I'll take it. And can I order some food too?"

HSW: "Alright, but I may try to talk you out of it."

I think this is the oddest tactic a waiter could employ, especially one that is so busy he's SWEATING. I guess not too busy to spend time judging a customer's menu selections.

Me: "Wow. Okay. I'll take the blackened chicken caesar salad with avocado."

He squints at me for a beat.

HSW: "Hmmm....that's okay. But the crab enchiladas are better."

Me: "Nope, not really into that. I'll stick with the caesar."

HSW: "If you say so."

I'm glad he approves.

The margarita arrives and despite the fact that it is the size of my head, I spend the next twenty minutes burning off at least half of its calories fighting off scrappy pigeons who keep making a run (fly?) for my chip basket. Brazen little bastards.

Sweaty stops by again to make small talk.

HSW: "So, are you here for the marathon this weekend?"

Me: "Yeah. Me and this margarita are gonna try and beat our best time."

He looks at me, deadpan.

Me: "Just kidding. I'm not here for the marathon. Hey, do you always have trouble with the birds here?"

He pauses and looks like he might lie to me but then concedes.

HSW: "Yeah, we do."

He looks over to the table next to mine where a few of them are conspiring to attack.

HSW: "Huh. Ha Ha! That one looks like he was dipped in oil."

I follow his pointy finger to see a greasy, sickly one attempting to choke down a chip triangle. There is not a more vile thing to behold. I hurry down my salad with my right arm while defending it with my left. After leaving me to fend for myself, he comes back a while later with the check and to set down a small plate.

HSW: "We have a dessert for you, compliments of the chef: white chocolate pecan tamales."

Me: "Oh, thanks. How nice."

HSW: "Here. Let me show you how to eat them. I'm really hungry myself so I'll show you."

No joke. He picks up one of my gift tamales, peels off the husk and pops the chocolate into his mouth.

HSW: "See? Just like that."

I wish I'd had some knitting with me. I'd have brandished a couple needles and poked the pesky birds and the irritating waiter. Both needed to learn some serious boundaries.

Thank God the margarita took the edge off.

Aren't these handwarmers great? I whipped up a couple pairs of these for some presents last Christmas and they were so satisfying to make. And so stinking cute with that little thumb hole. I could hardly stand the cuteness.

BTW, I used this pattern and the same yarn, Classic Elite tweed.


*P.S. A group of pigeons is called a kit. Which sounds helpful or organized or fun, none of which are true about those assholes.

vegetable broth

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Important things I've learned while juice-cleansing this week:

  • The first rule of juice-cleansing is: Don't talk about juice-cleansing. It is annoying and tiresome to most, unless they are also juice-cleansing.*
  • Make sure the lid of your half-drunk beet juice is screwed on tight. Otherwise you will leave what appears to be a crime scene in your wake/on your person. "It's not blood" is a horrible thing to have to say to a panic-stricken stranger.
  • Every commercial is a food commercial.
  • All people do on TV and in the movies is eat.
  • Whatever you do, DO NOT get into an elevator with a lady carrying a giant box of Sprinkles cupcakes. This is a new form of punishment/torture. We struck up a conversation and I was so worried she would/wouldn't offer me one. By the 4th floor I (weakly) had decided/justified that it was okay to eat a carrot cake one should it be offered to me. Alas, it was not (Boo/Yay).
  • 6pm is a perfectly permissible bedtime. 
  • Extra blush will most certainly be needed to counteract the ghostly pallor you're sporting.
  • Do not bring a green juice to a bar where you're meeting friends. This is not only weird, it leads to being forced to talk about your juice cleanse. (See Rule #1 above.)

*You can, however, write about it on your blog.

I have not had solid food in almost 72 hours (and they do mention something in the cleansing paperwork about Brain Fog) so I may be a little over zealous about that last one. But lean in and listen up: Vegetable Broth is the Next Big Thing.

I'm doing a Pressed Juicery cleanse (after a lot of toxic Holiday shenanigans) and while all the juices are super delicious, they're all cold. So having a little warm and savory broth to sip on makes it all so much better. I swear: It's like pizza. Ok, it's not like pizza but it's like pizza compared to kale juice. So there.

And while I'm all for food and drink shenanigans of all kinds, I also love the idea of supporting the body by letting it take a break. We expect so much of our bodies that it's nice to give them some love.

Vegetable Broth
makes 6-8 cups

This savory broth is a great, nourishing light meal. Perfect to support your body in the winter whether you're cleansing or not. I hate throwing away vegetables so this is a killer solution: keep a large ziplock bag in the fridge or freezer and throw vegetable scraps and stems and ends in there as you cook all week. Add any other veg that looks like it's on its wilty last leg, and make a broth with it! I can't wait to try some other versions with other root vegetables (parsnips, turnips), mushrooms, and maybe even some seaweed.

If you plan on using this as a base for soup, leave out the garlic and ginger and salt so it remains a bit more neutral (you'll season it when you make soup later).

You should experiment and use what you have on hand, otherwise this could be too expensive for what it is. Unless you are on a juice cleanse at which point you will cut off your right arm for a mugful.

My version included:

3T olive oil
1 yellow onion, skins left on, quartered
1 head garlic, skin on, cut through its equator
6 carrots, skin on, rough-chopped
6 celery stalks, including any leaves, rough-chopped
3" of ginger, skin on, sliced
1/2 bunch broccolini, rough-chopped
3 cups chopped kale
several sprigs fresh thyme (use any fresh herbs)
several sprigs fresh parsley
8-10 cups water (depending on your pot)
1t sea salt
cayenne pepper (optional)

Rinse and chop all the vegetables. Sauté 2T olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté 5 minutes. Add all the remaining veggies along with the remaining 1 T olive oil on top, stir and sauté another 5 minutes. Add water and salt, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for an hour. (Depending upon the amount of veggies and water, you may want to simmer a little longer. This is all a bit loosey-goosey depending upon your preference and provisions. Taste after an hour and see.) Strain (you can line your strainer with cheesecloth if you want a really clear version. I just used a fine mesh strainer solo and it worked great) and then refrigerate or drink with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch more sea salt. Add a tiny dash of cayenne if you like heat. Freeze whatever you won't consume in a couple days.


double chocolate walnut biscotti

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm coming to you from an outpost of Panera Bread, where when you log on to acquire free wifi, Panera's website informs you that during peak hours you're only permitted to be online for one 30-minute session so as to accommodate all computer-wielding customers. You know what I say? Don't sweat it, Panera. I'll make it snappy. This is because right now there are:

  • No fewer than 18 people with a hacking cough
  • One heavyset man watching woodpecker videos on a laptop while periodically harrumphing like they are personally disappointing him
  • 3 lazy eyes
  • 2 mustaches employing wax
  • 1 crying baby
  • 1 sad family walking from table-to-table with a cardboard sign begging for food and/or money
  • 1 bearded lady and 
  • 1 dirty, older, tooth-free gentleman gumming a sandwich

It is dismal in here, people.

[Confession: despite my adult acne, reading glasses and sweatpants I do feel like one hot mama. That's a valid benefit that comes from mingling in this carnival/hotbed of disease. If it weren't for the occasional cute hipster I'd feel downright supermodel-y.]

To add insult to injury, my ordering interaction was like a series of cruel riddles:

I approach the register.

Me, cringing: "Yeah, I'll take the....'You Pick Two'."

I hate it when you're forced to say gimmicky menu lingo aloud. I won't step foot in a Denny's specifically because I may hear someone utter the words "Rooty, Tooty, Fresh and Fruity."

Panera Guy: "Great! Which two today?"

Overwhelmed, I scan a wall menu the size of that flippy departure board in Grand Central Station.

Me: "Um. I'll have the turkey artichoke panini and the chicken soup."

PG: "Did you want to make that cup of soup a bowl for just 80 cents more?"

Me: "Um.......Ok."

PG: "Would you like bread as your side?"

Me: "No. That's okay. No side."

PG: "How about an apple?"

Me: "No thanks."

PG: "How about some chips?"

Me: "No thanks."

PG: " But it's free. It comes with the 'You Pick Two'."

Me: "Uh. I already have the sandwich. So no bread."

PG: "Well, what about chips or an apple? You could save that for later."


Me: "Ok, uncle!"

He scrunches his brow.

PG: "Uncle, Ma'am?"

Me: "Nothing. Sorry. Just...gimme the apple."

PG: "And to drink?"

Me: "Just water."

PG: "Just water? Sure you don't want a soft drink? Or coffee?"

I wonder if he gets paid more the longer I stay at the register. He reminds me of a secret agent trying to keep someone on a phone call so they can track a perp.

Me: "Nope. The water will do it."

He checks his magic register.

PG: "Oh! For just 99 cents you also qualify for anything in our bakery! Look around."

He sweeps his arm over the baked goods, trying to put me in a spell.

Me: "Nope."

PG: "Are you sure? Just 99 cents!"

He sing-songs that last part.

Me: "No thanks. It's okay."

PG: "Ok..."

He lifts his eyebrows and shakes his head at my preposterous refusal.

PG: "Are you a MyPanera member?"

Me: "Um. No. What's that?"


PG: "I'm glad you asked! It's our rewards program."

Me: "Oh. Yeah, that's ok. No thanks."

PG: "It's at no cost to you! I just swipe the card now and you can register later online! You'll just answer a few simple questions and you can begin earning rewards immediately!"

I stare at him.

Me: "Well, when you put it that way, sure."

Guess what my greatest reward is? Never coming back here again.

BTW, nothing in the Panera bakery assortment looked anywhere NEARLY as good as these cookies! What is so perfect about these biscotti (other than their serious chocolate factor), is that they are a little bit softer than their regular counterparts. You won't have to work hard for them. Hey, even our toothless Panera friend could enjoy!

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
yields about 3 dozen

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cups flour
6 T cocoa
1 t baking soda
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 T finely ground dark-roast coffee or espresso
1/2 t kosher salt
3 eggs
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the walnut pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 6-8 minutes, or until fragrant. Watch them carefully so they don't burn! Meanwhile, mix the flour, baking soda and cocoa together and set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, ground coffee and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl when necessary. Add the flour mixture bit-by-bit, taking care not to overmix and then softly stir in the chocolate and nuts. Chill the dough in plastic wrap for at least an hour and then divide into 3 parts. Shape each part into a 12" log and bake on 2 parchment lined baking sheets (still at 350) about 25 minutes. You want the logs to be firm yet a tad spongy in the center. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 325. Slice the logs into 1/2" slices on a slight diagonal and then toast them in the oven, cut sides down for 10-12 minutes or until dry to the touch.


silverlake stroll

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year, Dear Readers:)

It's been a slow slide into 2013 for me. Haven't quite been up to the raucous, super-positive THIS IS GONNA BE THE BEST YEAR EVER!!! thing. Really trying to just be in the moment. Be present. Witness. Find peace. And trust that the year will unfold in the best possible way without forcing it or pushing it along. Care to join me?

My dear, wise friend Holly says that above all else, we should hold happiness as the intention for our lives. That our mind thinks it knows the external things that will make us happy and when we get fixated on those, we might miss out on some true happiness that's right beneath our nose. It might look different than our minds can imagine. It might just surprise us.

Wishing you happy surprises,

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