Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Catching Fire, Cooking, and Friendsgiving

This weekend was freezing and raining, and I spent as much time as I could inside with warm food and toddies. On Friday, my roommate and I went to see Catching Fire, and ohmygoodness it was so incredible I wanted to faint. I love the books, and the second one was my absolute favorite so I was so happy the movie stayed true to the book. I could talk about the Hunger Games for days, and have, not only because it's a great story, but it also reminds me of my book club back in DC. The Hunger Games books were our first few reads, and we are all obsessed. (I miss those girls!)

On Saturday, the freezing rain continued. Since the roads were really bad, I didn't go to work. After drinking coffee and reading until well into the afternoon, I slowly and carefully made my way over to my parents' house to help my mom cook and bake for Thanksgiving. I also made a pumpkin pie for our friendsgiving on Sunday night, my first baking experience, and I have to say it turned out rather deliciously.
An incredible broccoli soup while catching up on the new Anthro catalogue; my first pie, and my lovely kitchen companion.

It was so warm and cozy in my mom's kitchen and I was thrilled to learn some new skills.  Not to mention we got a jumpstart on all the Thanksgiving cooking.

After a few glasses of pinot and then an excursion to get Mexican food, I decided to stay the night rather than drive all the way across town. So I caught up on some shows and then turned in for the evening.

I paused to get more wine, and look where it landed...couldn't resist.

On Sunday, I spent the morning in front of the fire with my parents and the paper. My mom and I tackled a few more things in the kitchen, then it was time for me to depart. I took the pumpkin pie, drove a few streets over, and proceeded to have my first ever friendsgiving. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by having it twice??

The girls (and Thunderhorse)

I am ecstatic for this week, as my family comes to town to celebrate, and couldn't ask for a better weekend to ease into the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

99 Problems but a Turkey Ain't One.

Today is the first freeze of the year. It started sleeting a little this morning, and it's 28 degrees outside. Sitting on my couch, I'm watching ice flurries blanket our street while drinking a hot cup of coffee. Ahhhh.

You see a dead tree. I see glorious winter approaching.

Not only that, but it's less than a week until Thanksgiving! It's one of my favorite holidays because it involves three of my favorite things in the world: family, copious amounts of food, and lazy afternoons. And also being thankful for all the blessings in my life, blah blah. But also PUMPKIN PIE.

As the holiday approaches, however, I'm having some issues. This year, my parents are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at their house, something they haven't done in years. My mom is making a few dishes, my grandmother a few, and my aunt a few. Everything seemed pretty much covered. But since this is my first year or so of being actually into cooking, I wanted to bring something to the table, literally and figuratively.

Two problems, though: 1. My only day off from work in the next week is on Sunday (and then Thursday, of course), and 2. I'm attending a "friendsgiving" on Sunday night and will probably be spending the day in the kitchen making something for that. I had neither the time nor the brilliant idea to impress everyone at the dinner table with my incredible (maybe?) skills in the kitchen.

Then, yesterday on Cupcakes and Cashmere, Emily talked about making a special variation of an old fashioned for Thanksgiving. A lightbulb suddenly switched on in my head. Cocktails! Of course! Done and done. I've decided to copy her (I'm not quite as original as she is in the kitchen or the bar) and make that my contribution to the day. I hope my family likes whiskey. Wait, who am I kidding?

I can't wait to pour a few drinks, relax, and dine on sweet potato casserole, turkey and stuffing. Now if only I could figure out how to get some extra rolls onto my plate without anyone noticing...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mimosas and Memories in Palm Springs

There are few things better than driving down highway 111 with the windows down. With a temp of about 75 and not a cloud in sight, the cool breeze flowing through the car is both relaxing and invigorating. The sun on my arm and face usually burns, but I never mind. The wind blows my hair in my eyes, but I don't move it. The trick is to keep both front windows rolled down about half-way so that the cross breeze will reach you in the drivers' seat. Being alone on this drive can only be beat by having a great friend in the passenger seat. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start here:

Last Thursday, I flew out to California to visit Palm Springs for a few days. My parents had already been there for a week, and I was happy to catch the tail end of their trip. Not only that, but one of my favorite DC friends, Beth, was coming out for the weekend! The last time we went, United Airlines screwed Beth oh so badly, erm, flight-wise, and they gave her a free flight. What better place to go than Southern California for the weekend? Most of my weekends in Palm Springs (and generally on vacation) revolve around food, wine and great conversation. I felt this weekend would be no different.

After my arrival and a quick lunch on Thursday, my parents and I played 9 holes of golf. I didn't play that great, but I also hadn't played in months, so I'm using that as my excuse. Also, a bee decided to be a total asshole on the fourth hole and STUNG ME. I have never been stung by anything, and it hurt, Charlie. Luckily, there was wine at the condo and I was able to nurse myself back to health that night.

9th hole. I should have gotten out of the cart, but I was still traumatized by the bee sting.
Beth didn't arrive until Friday night and my parents were in a golf tournament all day Friday, so I wondered around downtown Palm Springs, ate lunch at Trio's Restaurant, whose fish tacos were incredible, and then went back and swam in the pool until it was time to head to the airport. Beth and I went to dinner at a place called 3rd Corner, which is a wine shop and restaurant. They let you walk through the wine displays and pick your own bottles. We chose a cabernet and a pinot noir, since they said anything we don't drink they'd cork and we could take home. Music to our ears. We dined on pasta and drank our wine, catching up and talking about my olden times in DC.

Bar art at Trio's made from children's toys. I was very amused.
The rest of the weekend was spent much the same as our dinner at 3rd corner, eating, drinking and talking. On Saturday, we went back into Palm Springs to walk around and eat brunch at a place called Cheeky's. This place has a bacon flight that we really wanted to try. That's right. Bacon. Flight. It was as delicious as only bacon can be. We walked around and visited a few small museums, then headed back for a dip in the pool and hot tub before dinner with my parents.

Dessert Meat.

Museum displaying the contents of an old general store. This was the pharmacy section. Entry fee: 95 cents. No joke.

A 50-foot Marilyn Monroe in Downtown Palm Springs

On Sunday, we saw some family friends, drank some more, swam some more, and found a hole-in-the-wall Italian place for a yummy last supper. Washing the weekend down with mimosas on Monday morning, all four of us reluctantly headed to the airport to go back to our lives. I'm always sad to leave California, but I'm so happy I was able to hang out with Beth and enjoy the sunshine before the winter to come. When it gets too cold in Abilene, I'll just have to think of that drive down 111.

Paper placemats = great food.

Red wine as the sun went down. Basically heaven.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moral of the Story: TV Junkie Turned History Buff...?

I've been running around like a madwoman lately. I work Saturdays, which cuts my weekend in half forcing me to run errands at night when all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch Hell on Wheels (I'll get to that in a sec). That being said, I'm really liking the job. It's a nice change of pace from before, where my only job was sitting at home and drinking copious amounts of coffee in front of my computer. Even though I was job searching, it was boring. Here are a few things I've learned in the past few weeks while working my weekends away:

1. I am a history enthusiast, by way of a television junkie -- I started the show Hell on Wheels a couple weeks ago and am almost finished with the third season. We all know my penchant for really great television, so I'm thrilled I found another show after Breaking Bad. For those who don't watch it, it's set in the 1860s after the Civil War when Union Pacific was building the transcontinental railroad West. 
Last night over a fire pit with some friends, we were talking about how sometimes we wish we lived in different times. I would have loved to have been out West in the late 19th century. I mean, okay, probably not really, because I seriously doubt I could live without modern conveniences. But, think about it, you'd be taking part in creating a new region in America: you'd be on a piece of land all your own, or a shop owner in some new town, or become the head of a railroad endeavor and marry someone like Cullen Bohannan (talk about ruggedly handsome). Maybe Marty will let me borrow the DeLorean for a quick trip just so I can see what it was like, and then 1.21-jigawatt-it on back to 2013. That would make my life.

I mean... 

2. I'm really, really sad that I live in a world where people like Pink and Honey Boo Boo are successful -- Pink might be my bias, but I really cannot stand her music. It doesn't help that Abilene stations play her stuff Non. Stop. and it makes me want to pull my hair out. Honey Boo Boo, on the other hand, could be seen as more of a commentary on where our society is likely going, and that's really depressing. If this spoiled little brat with ADD and serious therapy bills coming her way in 20 years is entertainment, I must be missing the point. What is so appealing about her? If someone knows please tell me because I seriously don't get it.

3. I'm okay with my major relationships in life right now being with liquid -- Coffee in the morning, Diet Coke in the afternoon with Water in between, Wine at night, Beer when I'm sitting around the fire referenced in number 1.

A recent find with a cute label.

4. Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut -- some great advice from my dad years ago, but I tend to forget it sometimes. No matter how many times I put my foot right in my mouth and vow to never do it again, I somehow always do. Ughh.

5. Sometimes a food truck is all you need to feel right with the world -- Oh, Happy late Halloween by the way. Wednesday was the Trick-or-Treating night in my parents' neighborhood, and although my mom was out of town and my dad and I had both forgotten to pick up candy, I heard there was going to be a food truck at the neighborhood park--get in my belly. Gypsy Blu belongs to the guy who used to have Bonterra Blu in Clyde, TX, but they closed recently and only do the food truck and catering. Their food is incredible, and I really wish the truck would come around more often, like the UPS guy when you're waiting for a package. I scarfed down some lamb tacos and maybe the best mac and cheese ever, all while catching up with other neighborhood dwellers and watching the sun go down. Although I didn't dress up, it was a wonderful Halloween that passed in the blink of an eye. My next holiday celebration? Bonfire night, the 5th of November. Maybe I can get the food truck to make another appearance.

*photo source.