Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Time-ly Posting

Okay. So I thought I had talked about this before. But I've gone through last October and both March and April of this year and can't seem to find anything about it. Of course, I'm talking about the time change.

As it is currently almost "bedtime" on the Saturday night of the fall time change (I honestly can't remember if we're going into Standard Time or into Daylight Saving Time, so I'm just going to stick with "the time change"), Christopher and I have set about walking through the house and adjusting the clocks. And, yes, there are enough of them that both he and I need to go to work changing them.

Upstairs we have just the "usual" number of them. The alarm clock in the bedroom, the TV and VCR, the clock on the stove, the clock on the kitchen timer, and the chiming clock in the living room. Not so bad, right? So I let Christopher tackle all of those, and I headed into the basement.

You see, I have a thing for clocks. I'm not obsessed with time, mind you, but I simply like timepieces. So while Christopher was already done with the six clocks upstairs, I was downstairs resetting the... well... let me count... there's the 1 in the pantry, 2 in the bathroom (one is a radio), 1 in the spare bedroom, and then the 1 in the VCR and the 1 in the TV. That's not bad, right? Only 6.

Oh. But then there's the chiming clock. And, ummm, the 5 clocks all grouped together on the end wall, showing current local time, the time in Paris, Greenwich Mean Time, Mountain Time, and Pacific Time. I'm really not sure why I don't have one set to Eastern Time. I guess that one's just too easy for me to figure, so I don't have a clock set to it. That makes, what? 12? Okay. Not so bad.

Until you count the watches.

Let's just say it's a good thing I've got the extra hour.

(Okay. Even I'm not that bad. But here's the thing: If I say I have more than 2, it sounds like I've got a lot. If I say I have less than 10, you'll all just think I have 9. Suffice it to say that it took me less time to change them than it did to change the rest of the clocks in the basement. All things considered, I think my final line, above, is a much better punchline, don't you?)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Trick (or Treat) Question

I was in the car, on Tuesday, and was hearing all about the favorite candy to buy in this area -- and throughout the U.S. -- for Hallowe'en. There was a whole discussion of whether you should buy what YOU like, or what the kids will like. And people were talking about buying bags and bags of candy, and then having to figure out what to do with all of the leftovers.

At Target on Tuesday night, I noticed that the Hallowe'en (yes, I like using the "we'en" spelling) candy was already being marked down, as the Christmas decorations had begun to encroach upon the orange-and-black space. And bags and bags of candy were being bought and sold all around.

Today, when I got home from work, I had the news on and they were talking about how low the supplies are in the food banks already this year. That they are not only lacking in food and donations, but also lacking in volunteers. And that they're really worried about how they're going to make it through the winter.

On the up side, General Mills, Cargill, and Land o' Lakes (all headquartered, here) are planning a major summit to discuss how to combat hunger. Which is kinda cool.

But I got done watching that segment and thought "What if every person who spent $10 on candy also bought a $5 food donation bag at the grocery store?" I mean... really... what if each of us, while we're planning for a night of total and complete gluttony also put just a little aside for the kids who won't be having dinner before they go Trick-or-Treating?

Imagine what the food banks could do with all of that food. Do you think any of those kids who only got one mini-Snickers instead of two would really care?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Donated Space

It's been at least 48 hours since I last griped about work. Well... Since I griped to you, at least. And I'm sure of that because I haven't blogged since Monday. I'm going to do my best to keep that "non-work-griping-in-my-blog" track record for at least the next 15 minutes...

To keep this promise, I think my best bet is to donate today's blog space to someone else (in this case, even without the person knowing I'm about to do it).

I'm very excited to announce that someone I have had the great good pleasure to meet and spend time with in my own little hometown has a new book out, in collaboration with a few of her friends. It's a book of poetry called from the lonely cold, and my friend who contributed is listed fourth on the listing. (Again... I'm trying to be good and not name folks in my blog without asking. But since her name is listed there, I figure you can go look at it, for yourself.)

I fully admit that I haven't had a chance to read it, yet (it only just came out), but I've read some of her other pieces and I'm totally enamored of her poetry. I highly suggest checking it out.

And don't worry... I'm sure you'll be hearing me gripe about work again any day now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mini-post Monday

I should be writing, tonight, about a movie. But the last movie I saw in a theater was simply a nice little move which didn't really do anything for me one way or the other. It was "The Boys are Back," and when it was over Kelly and I fought for words to describe it. All either of us could come up with was "It was nice." Which, well, seems that it doesn't deserve its own blog posting.

I feel a little the same way about the "Broadway Rocks!" concert I went to at The Minnesota Orchestra on Saturday night. It was mostly Broadway, and it sorta rocked, but mostly it was just a cheesey crowd-pleaser version of either of those things. But it was a nice way to spend the last night at home alone without Christopher, at least.

I DO need to say that the sun came out for a short while today. We got up to 51 degrees, with no snow or rain. It was great. Tomorrow we could get into the upper 50s with sun all day. I'm definitely planning to go out for a walk at lunchtime, even if I don't plan to buy any lunch. I plan to enjoy as much of our 2-day fall as I can get!

And, finally, I'd like to say that Christopher's flight got in on time on Saturday night, and we spent all day yesterday completely ignoring the outside world. Some days that's all that you need.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Sun'll Come Out... Tuesday?

I'm very happy to report that when I woke up this morning the sun was shining. There was actual sunlight coming through the windows. It wasn't raining. It wasn't snowing or sleeting or "snaining." It was actually sunny.

So I spent part of my day outside raking -- but only in the front yard where the one big tree has already dropped its leaves. I didn't do the side yard or the back yard, where all of the trees are still leafy. I just figured I should do what I could since it's the first day that being outside hasn't seemed like a completely stupid idea.

While I was out there, I also took the opportunity to clear out some of the flower beds and get things a little more ready for winter. Strange to be celebrating a warm (okay -- 52-degree) fall day by preparing for winter. It seems that we've completely missed all of the "normal" fall weather and gone straight into November. And, although fall isn't my favorite season, I certainly like it better than the wet, snowy early winter we've had, lately.

By the time I was finishing up in the yard, the sky had become hazy, and by the time the sun went down it was cloudy. We hope to see the sun again on Tuesday. Or, rather, I hope to see it every day, but the forecast says we probably won't until Tuesday.

But, as I'm typing this, I'm also kind of cyber-stalking Christopher's return flight. According to the airline website, he's about 90 minutes out from here. I think the next few rainy days will be a little brighter -- even without the sun.

(Sorry. I know that's cheese-y. But you'll deal with it, right?)

Friday, October 23, 2009

New York Nosh

Since this is Friday, and I typically like to write about food on Friday, I thought I'd talk a bit about the food I got to enjoy last weeked in New York City.

I know we already talked about last Friday night's dinner at Vynl, so we'll jump past that. On Saturday, Christopher was up and about first, and he went to a charming little tea shop called Alice's Tea Cup about a block away, and came back with 2 Pumpkin scones (drizzled in some kind of maple syrupy glaze), and 2 "regular" scones. Yeah. Okay. Even I thought that that was a nice way to start the day!

We spent the first part of Saturday on the trail of a kind of chocolate Mecca. We made our pilgrimage to La Maison du Chocolat near Rockefeller Center. Okay, so it's not quite the same as being in Paris, but it's still wonderful. And the ice rink had just opened, so we got to watch people skate for a little while, too. We bought chocolates and macarons and -- once the staff realized we were shopping and not just browsing -- we even got samples. It's not a cheap place to go, but it's worth it!

That afternoon we got a little "food for thought" by going to Carrie Fisher's one-woman show "Wishful Drinking." I'd guess that we were some of the youngest people in the theater, but we had a great time. I laughed for almost 2 hours straight. If you get the chance -- and are even remotely familiar with who she is and who is in her family tree -- I recommend it.

Of course, it wouldn't be a day of chocolate shopping without a second chocolate store. We stopped at the Jacques Torres Chocolate store on Amsterdam Avenue just a few blocks from Colleen's. It was a totally different feel than La Maison. Much more accessible, complete with an espresso and hot chocolate bar. But... Yeah... Pretty much just as expensive. The hot chocolate I had and the "chocolate chip" cookie Christopher and I shared were amazing. WAY too rich to have on a daily basis. But perfect on a chilly afternoon.

We had dinner in on Saturday night. Or, rather, we co-hosted a party with Colleen. We had a ton of food -- expecting about 15 to 20 people -- and only ended up with about 8 people, total. But it was fun, and everyone enjoyed the food. We had a couple of different baked brie, and baked cheesey puffs, and fresh vegetarian spring rolls, and apple crisp, and "bourbon hot dogs" in the Crock pot, and guacamole and chips. And, in the middle of it all, I broke a corkscrew when I was trying to open a bottle of wine. Luckily, there was a back-up.

Sunday brunch was nice, but nothing incredible. But, again, the conversation was the point, and that was as good as ever. Then Christopher and I were good and aimed for a little more culture, so we went to the Frick Collection (which is housed on the first floor of what used to be someone's mansion. I could have stayed in the library for days...) and the Asian Society Museum (which was odd, but had a couple of amazing things in it).

After a lovely -- if chilly -- walk back across the Park, we decided it was the perfect blustery night to order in. Colleen, Christopher, and I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Salad (and fries), Pork Chops with mashed potatoes and applesauce, and a Chicken Quesadilla with pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream, which all showed up at the door -- all from the same neighborhood restaurant, The City Grill. I love New York!

Oh. I do have one other chocolate story as I wrap this up.

On Friday, when Christopher and I braved shopping at Fairway Market (on Broadway at about 74th), we were kind of swept up in all of the chaos. Luckily, we've been there before and knew what to expect! We didn't opt for a cart, but did it all with a hand basket, and we bought a lot of stuff for Saturday night. So, as we were waiting to check out, Christopher had gone of in search of a couple last items, and I set down the basket and waited. An older (possibly elderly, even) woman came up to me, shoved a chocolate bar in my face, and said "What's this say? I can't read it. I'm blind." She was on a quest for a dark chocolate with a filling. We walked the few steps over to the chocolate bars on display and found her a nice 70% cocoa bar with orange infusion from Lindt. And then she disappeared again into the chaos of the store. It makes me happy just thinking about her determination -- at least toward chocolate.

Man. I don't know about you, but I'm suddenly feeling kind of hungry. Sorry 'bout that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Thursday Too Far

Maybe I should actually say that Friday at 5pm is simply too far away. But, as I'm sitting here at work desperately trying to not explode, implode, or plode in any way, I thought I should share some of the strangenesses of the moment:

1) A true series of phonecalls I've just had. (I've mentioned that I now play receptionist for 2 phonelines, right?)

9:54am - Name on Caller ID "Owen S" - I answer...
May I help you?
"Extension 201, please"
He's in a meeting. May I transfer you to voicemail?
- call ends -

9:57am - Name on Caller ID "Owen S" - I answer...
May I help you?
"Extension 201, please"
He's not at his desk at this time. May I transfer you to voicemail?
- call ends -

9:58am - Name on Caller ID "Owen S" - I answer...
May I help you?
"I just left a message on Extension 201. We were talking before but got cut off. I'm sure he'll call me back."
I'm sure he will.
Have a nice day.
- call ends -

2) My office is a casual workplace. When I show up in business casual attire, I frequently feel overdressed. Now, I'm the last person to complain about being able to wear shorts all summer and come in unshaven, but some days it's a bit odd coming in here. Right now someone is meeting with an author. She's in a baseball cap and a cardigan over a plain white t-shirt. Not exactly what you'd expect. Oh. And then there's the person who walked in this morning looking like Little Red Unibomber in a cut-off grey hoodie made of "flowy" fabric, with the hood up. She's still at her desk that way.

3) My email inbox is going crazy this week. I don't know the last time I really looked at my personal email, because by the time I'm done at work, I just don't care to do any more of it. Having been gone last Friday, I came in on Monday to 73 new emails. Between last night at 5 and this morning at 8:45, I received 28 emails. My goal each night is to leave no more than 10 un-acted-upon emails. I think I'm currently leaving about 15 of them un-acted-upon as I type this.

4) Christopher is still in New York. One of the things getting me through my week is knowing that he's having great weather and enjoying some downtime in the big city. When I talked to him last night he was awaiting a delivery of Chicken Vindaloo, which he was planning to eat out on the terrace overlooking the city. Yes, I'm jealous, but I'm also thrilled that he was able to do that. And I had one of my favorite meals last night, too: leftover Orange Chicken while watching "Glee."

I know I owe you more tales of the trip to NYC. I'll try to get to them, soon. For now, though, I'm diving back into my inbox -- which is now up to 21 un-acted-upon emails.


10:56am - Name on Caller ID "Owen S" - I answer...
May I help you?
"Extension 201, please"
He's not at his desk at this time. May I transfer you to voicemail?
- call ends -

I think it's going to be one of those days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marking Time(s)

I've been home (or at least on the ground) in Minnesota for about 38 hours. Considering that I was only in New York for about 63 hours, it would seem that I should have readjusted pretty well by now. But...well... that would be wrong.

You see, on Sunday night/Monday morning, I only got about 5 hours of sleep (plus about another hour on the flight), which was followed by a full day of work. Then, Monday night (last night), I couldn't fall asleep. I was up until after midnight. Which would have been fine if not for the serious sleep deficit. My alarm got me up by 7 this morning, so in the past 48 hours, I've slept for about 13 of them. Oddly enough, I'm not totally wiped out. Hopefully I won't be up for another 2 or 3 hours tonight, though.

But enough about all that. What I really want to talk about is the first evening that Christopher and I were in New York.

As you probably already know (if you've been paying attention), we didn't get to New York until Friday afternoon. By the time we had dropped our bags at Colleen's and run out to do some grocery shopping (for a party we were co-hosting on Saturday night), it was almost 5 o'clock. Colleen met up with us at her place, and we told her of the dinner plans we had made (having rescheduled the lunch plans we missed due to our flight change), and about 6 the three of us headed out to go into Hell's Kitchen (it's a neighborhood that's along 9th Avenue where, I believe, the streets are in the mid-40s -- but don't quote me). We met up with another friend -- whom for the sake of this blog we shall refer to as Tiz -- down there, and the four of us headed to a restaurant/diner called Vynl for dinner.

** Timeline Sidenote ** Let me be a little more specific about the friendship timelines: I've known Colleen for about... ummm... 15 or 16 years (we met through her older sister). Tiz and I met when I was working in Baltimore about 8 years ago. Christopher and I have been together for about 4 1/2 years. And the three of them all first met a little less than 2 years ago on our last trip to NYC. ** End Timeline Sidenote **

It took a little while for a table, but we didn't really notice because we were all talking and getting caught up. Our waiter was great -- very friendly and just attentive enough without being annoying -- and the food was pretty darned good. (I definitely recommend the place!) But the focus of the evening was the conversation.

Wait. That's not right. The focus wasn't the conversation. The focus was simply the four of us being together.

We talked about jobs and lives. We talked about food and travel. We talked about the internet and we talked about the weather. But, overall, the conversation was simply a way to be able to look at each other and say "I'm glad you're here."

I am lucky enough to have a lot of really good friends in my life. And it is times like last Friday night, hugging hello on the street, sitting in a diner, talking about the mosaics in the bathrooms, truly feeling like a part of a bigger whole, that make my life worthwhile.

The trip was really short (don't worry -- I'll tell more stories, soon), but spending that time together will forever mark it as one of the best nights I've ever spent in New York.

** Looking-for-sympathy Endnote ** As you may remember, Christopher is still in NYC until the end of the week. I was too tired to truly miss him last night. Tonight... well... Let's just say that the countdown to Saturday night has begun. ** End Looking-for-sympathy Endnote **

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the Up Side...

Remember how, yesterday, I said I was going to be offline for a few days while I was in New York City with Christopher? We spent all last evening packing and getting ready. We went to work early today to be sure we could out the door on time. And about 90 minutes before we were supposed to leave work, Christopher called me to say that we weren't going to be flying out.

Apparently, the slight drizzle in Minneapolis, combined with rain in New York, was enough weather to result in our flight being cancelled.

** Spelling sidenote ** I prefer "cancelled" with two "l"s in it. I feel the same way about travelled. Spellcheck does not. ** End spelling sidenote **

We had considered this type of issue, which is why Christopher and I had opted for the second-to-last flight of the day, and not the last flight. But apparently the last flight was already over-booked by the time Christopher got our notifications. So the automated re-seating put us on DIFFERENT flights out tomorrow. He was scheduled to leave at 7am, fly through Indianapolis, and arrive in New York at about 2:30. I was scheduled to leave around 9am, fly through Columbus, and arrive in New York at about 1:45.

Christopher, thankfully, didn't want to take that option as our answer. He called the airline (we booked through Northwest, now it's officially Delta...), and expressed his dislike of those new arrangements. Eventually, with enough pushing back, he got us both on a flight that leaves at a little after 10 tomorrow morning and gets us to JFK at about 1:45.

Of course, about half an hour before this news came through we were finally able to firm up plans for lunch with a wonderful friend of ours -- at 1:30 in Manhattan. So after I heard from Christopher I emailed her once again to explain that we needed to reschedule, which we now may or may not be able to do. I also called our hostess, who picked up my call saying "Hey! What's going on? You're not delayed are you?"

You see, the last time we went out to visit her in New York, we called her right after we had landed. Unfortunately, after being on the plane -- and in the air -- for about 4 hours, we hand landed back in Minneapolis. So I think she thought we were having that kind of problem, again.

So, as my 3 1/2 day weekend in New York becomes a 2 1/2 day weekend in New York, I am doing my best to look on the bright side. After all of the stresses of the week, Christopher and I were able to come home, relax, have dinner, and spend a restful evening before travelling.

Okay. So a night in Manhattan might have been more fun, but... well... at least we aren't stranded in Columbus or Indianapolis.

** Superstitious endnote ** I refuse to jinx myself by leaving this open-ended. So I'm adding one final word (coming up, below), just to make sure the universe knows that I'm looking over my shoulder. ** End superstitious endnote **


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Break

Tomorrow after work Christopher and I are taking off for a few days in the non-Minne-Apple, during which I probably won't have a lot of internet access. So... Well... Probably no blogging in the next few days.

On the other hand, I'm hoping to see a couple of the people whose blogs I follow, which should be fun. I'm sure they'll probably end up in my blog sometime next week.

Speaking of people ending up in my blog. Now that I know that Darci is okay with being in my blog, I can mention that Christopher and I just got back from dinner at Broders' Pasta Bar where we celebrated Darci's birthday with another friend of ours (who... you guessed it... I haven't yet asked whether I can put into my blog).

It was a great evening. After a day where I was dealing with sinus issues (and sinus med issues), it was great to finally be feeling better and just go out to dinner with everyone. Broders' is one of those places that doesn't take reservations, but has a "waiting list" which they ask you to call and put your name on an hour before you want to be seated. Luckily, Darci was the one who called, and she happened to mention that it was her birthday. That may not have changed anything, but it certainly didn't hurt.

We started dinner with roasted garlic on some kind of crisp bread, then we each had our own pastas. Mine was fairly simple with tomato and garlic and -- for a seasonal touch -- butternut squash. It was amazing. Darci's had chicken and artichoke. Christopher's was a spicy pork. And the fourth plate of pasta actually had wild boar sausage mixed in. Dessert was a "bestia nera" (flourless chocolate cake) and a couple of very small cannoli which we split. (One of the cannoli actually came out with a candle in it!)

It was a really great evening. Sure, the place is kind of small and won't suddenly be on my "gotta go there" list, but it was a great evening. Perfect start of the long weekend (now if only I didn't have to work tomorrow, first...).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stranger than Fiction (or is it?)

Work has been a little strange this week.

And I mean this as in stranger than usual. This week, along with the usual yelling and screaming fits that we get from people calling in each day, we've had some interesting little facts come to the surface.

** Sidenote ** About the yelling and screaming fits... Luckily, for me, I don't answer the main phoneline. So I only get a few of the yellers and screamers -- instead I mainly get the emailers who passive-aggressively type ALL IN CAPS. ** End Sidenote **

In the past two days, though, I've found out that one of our authors is a zookeeper and that one is the ex-wife of a guy about whom a Lifetime TV movie was written (and, no, it was not a romance).

I guess, maybe, some of this stuff really is just crazy enough to be true.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Second Snow of the Season

Today is October the 12th.

We had something like 3 inches of snow today.

Tonight it's supposed to get down to something like 27 degrees. (Which means any wet surfaces will freeze in time for rush hour tomorrow.)

I promise to not keep complaining about the weather. Eventually. I might have to wait until it gets to at least within 10 degrees of the average high this time of year (which is around 60), though. Of course, this time of year, that might be a losing battle.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Change Can Do You...

I guess it all depends on the change to figure out what, exactly, it can "do you"... Let's look at three examples:

On Friday night, on my way to Happy Hour with Christopher and a friend of ours (whom I haven't asked if I can name by name, hence the vagueness), I realized that finding a parking meter in Minneapolis at 5:30 on a Friday evening would be nigh impossible. So I decided to park in the $5 ramp. I had three dollar bills in my wallet and 52 cents in my pocket. (I hadn't planned for a cash need on Friday, obviously.) I figured it was no problem, because I always have quarters (for meters) in my ashtray. In fact, I had 5 quarters. Close, but not quite. I kept scraping and found 1 dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies. So... doing math while driving... That meant I had $3.52 in my pants and $1.48 in the car... Exactly $5. I pulled into the parking ramp, and handed the guy all of the change, followed by the three dollar bills. He gave me my ticket and I parked.

When I woke up this morning, Christopher said "You may not want to look outside." Remember how I've been complaining about the weather? I opted to turn on the TV and check out the weather channel. It was informed that it was a whopping 26 degrees outside. When I finally looked outside, I saw snow on the ground. And not just a dusting, but actual snow. As we ran errands today, Christopher and I were watching leaves falling like rain from the trees, amid the snow. I looked outside late this afternoon and there was still snow along the fence in the backyard (where the sun only hit for a short time today). In case you're wondering, average highs this week should be in the 60s, with lows in the upper 30s. This is not normal. I am not happy. But, as one friend pointed out, how often do you get to see green leaves with snow? Even I have to admit that it was kind of pretty...

Tomorrow (Sunday, the 11th) is the National Equality March in Washington, DC. The "official" march begins at Noon, and the rally begins at 2pm. CSPAN is apparently going to be covering the rally portion of it, and I'm hoping to see it show up on most network news shows, as well. I won't be there, but you've already "met" a few people I know who will be marching for Change. I'm really proud of my friends who will be marching. If you're reading this and you're in the DC-area, I really hope you'll go stand and be counted and work to be heard. If you're not going to be in the DC-area tomorrow, I hope you'll continue working to be heard, wherever you are.

After all, a little bit of the right kind of change can do us all a lot of good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Perhaps I Shouldn't Blog Tonight...

It's Thursday night.

I'm tired and feeling like I really haven't gotten nearly enough done tonight. Or this week. Or, perhaps, in the past 42 years. It's been that kind of week.

It did NOT rain today (a good thing), but the weather forecasters are predicting snow for the weekend (a bad thing, in my opinion). Average highs this time of year: low 60s. We're hoping (yes, actually hoping) that we can get highs in the upper 40s this weekend, and that our lows only go slightly below freezing.

The yard needs fall work done, and I'm not sure that's going to happen if it's snowy and in the 40s this weekend.

I forgot to buy bread, Tuesday, so I may not be able to make sandwiches to take to work tomorrow. But I also forgot to buy lunchmeat, so I'm not sure what I'd put on them, anyway.

Christmas is 11 weeks from tomorrow, and I haven't even thought about shopping, yet. (Okay. You know that's a lie. I've been thinking about it since at least July. I just haven't started, yet.)

And my sinuses are acting up. Again.

How are you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mid-day Getaway

As I was walking across the street to take some mail out to the mailbox, today (yes, it's part of my job -- which is why I may have mentioned it, before), the rain had lightened up a little and there was something in the air. I took a deep breath and it smelled like... well... It smelled a little like Paris.

I don't know what it is about days like today. For some reason, on days when it is damp and grey and chilly (or at least damp and grey), and not all that nice to be outside, I occasionally catch the scent of something that reminds me of my year in Paris.

Maybe it's because that was the first year I lived in a city, and so the smell of wet pavement and the chilly air reminds me of winter, there. But it must be something more than that, because it doesn't happen every day.

When it does, though, it's amazing. For those few seconds I'm transported. And I can daydream about it for the rest of the afternoon if I work it right.

Hmmm... I think it's a good thing that Christopher and I are going away for a little while in the middle of the month. Don't you?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Comfort Food

This morning, at work, I took the mail out and found the weather to be absolutely perfect for the fall. It was almost sunny, warming up nicely, and felt like it could be an amazing day.

Then, as the afternoon wore on, it got more and more grey. On the drive home it was drizzling and chilly and periodically rainy. Somehow we had gone from the part of fall I love to the part of fall I hate.

Luckily, when I got home, I found that we had some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the pantry. I know... I know... It's not exactly gourmet food. It's definitely nothing like the amazing Mac and Cheese that Christopher makes. But it is a direct connection to my childhood.

When I was a kid, my dad went to Rotary every Monday night. With dad out of the house, Mom would let us kids choose our own meals. And, always at the top of the list was "blue box" Mac and Cheese.

I strayed away from it for a few years, but these days there is always at least one box in the pantry. It's not something I want to eat all the time. It's simply one of those foods I occasionally crave.

Tonight was one of those occasions. And, wow, it was good.

Add to that a quiet evening at home with Christopher, and...

Who cares about the weather, anyway?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Two Evenings Out = One Morning In

It has been a couple of really great and social evenings, which means that life has gotten in the way of the blog.

Friday night, Christopher and I went to my college French professor's home for cocktails and food and a few hours of really great conversation with friends. We've done this a few times in the past, and it's always a lovely, relaxed, evening. The conversation is always good. The food is usually just the right mix. And there's always good wine.

One of the other guests brought along a "pork terrine" with apricots on top, which she had picked up at a new cheese shop on Grand Avenue in St Paul (which is an offshoot of the France44 cheeseshop in Edina -- I couldn't find a website for them, but I did find a blog). It was really amazing, and went so well with the rest of the food.

After most of the hors d'oeuvres were gone, we also tried out some liqueurs, including a "yellow" Chartreuse. I had tried some "green" Chartreuse back in college and remember it tasting like pine (and feeling like pine needles in my throat). The yellow version was much nicer, and a perfect capper for the evening.

Last night, I was invited by our friend Darci to go to a fundraising event which a friend of hers was on the board for. (Don't worry -- I didn't leave Christopher home alone. He was at the opera with his sister.) It was for the Phillips Eye Institute, and took place at Cafe Lurcat and Bar Lurcat just off of Loring Park (oddly enough, their website has basically no information). When we drove by and saw a large tent outside, we were a little nervous that there'd be a bunch of people crammed into a tent on a chilly October evening.

We walked past the giant puppet greeters (from In the Heart of the Beast puppet theater) and into the tent where, thankfully, they simply checked us in before sending us inside. We were on the early side for arrivals, so we got to pick up wine and champagne from one of the servers as we perused the art and made our way toward the food.

There were nifty little appetizers being passed (the Parmesan crisp with red pepper cream cheese was a favorite), and the actual "buffet" was amazing. We tried a little pot roast, some roast cauliflower and mashed potatoes, some roasted red pepper pizza, a shredded apple salad, and a nifty little lettuce wrap. There were a few clunkers, but overall it was really amazing food. (And did I mention we had gotten in for free thanks to Darci's friend?)

We met up with Darci's ticket-supplying friend, and then wandered back past the quartet singing in the corner to check out the other side of the place. Beyond the jazz quartet where we had come in, the food was more finger-food (chicken wing "lollipops" and mini burgers and fries and onion rings), and, outside beyond the Scotch tasting, was the "s'mores" bar -- which was, quite frankly, the best food of the evening.

This morning, Christopher and I are hanging out and just relaxing. Two social nights in a row mean that this morning is going to be a slow go. And I'm fine with that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dinner Out

I answered my phone at about 4:30 this afternoon and found Christopher on the other end of the line. He asked if I might want to go out to dinner, since we haven't done that in a while -- just the two of us.

I picked him up after work, and we went to Sawatdee - a Thai place kind of in downtown Minneapolis with good food and decent prices. It was really nice. We got there around 5:45, so we were the only ones in the restaurant for about 15 minutes or so. We were seated next to a window, so we watched the traffic go by and watched the rain come down.

Our food came out right away, and our waiter was nice (not really great at paying attention to our orders, but nice). And we sat and talked and ate and enjoyed just being there. No pressure. No deadlines. No rush. Just the two of us sitting and enjoying each other's company.

I think that's one of the things we miss most because of my current financial status (some days I feel like I have less disposable income now than when I was unemployed). We both miss being able to go out to a nice dinner and just sit and enjoy being out. We didn't have to cook and clean up, and we weren't distracted by all of the things we should have been doing around the house. I hadn't forgotten how nice that is.

Things are beginning to turn around, though. Soon we'll be able to do more of that, again. I'm sure of it. Now if only my bank account would agree with me.

** End Note ** Christopher actually paid for our dinner, which was completely unexpected. How sweet was that? ** End End Note **