Saturday, December 31, 2011

Outlook Hazy, Try Again Later

As the Magic 8-ball would suggest, I've decided that a cloudy, damp, dreary day is not a good day to look at the past year - or the coming year - and try to be witty and pithy.

It seems, instead, that cloudy, damp, dreary days simply result in cloudy and dreary (though not necessarily damp) outlooks. And as you've probably figured out I'm not really an "it's always dreary" kind of guy.

The past year, I would have to say, was not bad. And, yes, I think I'm ending the year ahead of where I was at this time last year. Do I think that life is perfect? No. Do I think it's pretty darned okay? Yes.

The coming year, well, that's a whole strange cloudy area of its own. Of course, predicting the coming 365 days (or 366, since 2012 is a leap year) on February 1st, or June 17th, would be just as cloudy. (Have I mentioned, recently, that I'm not really sure what the big fuss is over New Year's Eve?)

I guess that, for now, I'm going to simply hope for a mostly-sunny outlook in the coming months. Whether that includes snow or rain or more clouds is beyond my predictions.

But, in the meantime, here's to starting 2012 with hope, good health, and positive thoughts for what lies ahead.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When the Spirit Fades

There comes a time each Christmas season when it kind of just all wraps up. A point when the Holiday spirit has come and gone and you're ready to move on.

For some people, Christmas goes out the door with the wrapping paper on Christmas morning. For some, the spirit moves out immediately after Christmas dinner, when the tree gets stripped and tossed out onto the curb. For lots of people, the spirit goes away when the alarm goes off on the next workday. For a bunch of folks, it extends through New Year's and all of the countdown parties. For the Three Wise Men, it most likely made it all the way to Epiphany.

For me, it kind of changes from year to year. There are some years when I want to leave the tree up until late January. There are some years when I'm ready to take it down as soon as we wrap up the final event where we want people to see our house looking festive (so far, that has never happened before December 25th, at least). I'm never really sure what triggers it in me, or why it changes depending on the year, but there definitely is a point where I'm ready to have everything back in boxes and done.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all - if it was Christmas every day, then it wouldn't be special. (Just ask the gang on Sesame Street - they had a problem with this a few years back.)

But, no matter who you are, you probably have a point where you're ready for the house to no longer be red and green (and gold and silver and covered in sparkly lights).

For me, this year, I experienced it at about 11am this morning.

My parents (who live in South Dakota) had been in town for a while prior to Christmas, then they had flown from Minneapolis to LA for Christmas with my siblings and their families. They got back in town late yesterday, and spent one more night with us. Christopher barely saw them (he stayed up and welcomed them last night, but his alarm goes off at 5am so there was no sitting up and chatting), but I got to see them for a while this morning. We looked at their Christmas pictures and talked about the great time they had in LA. And we discussed what Christopher and I have been up to in the past couple of weeks.

The house looks great - decorated, and with Christmas cards all over the living room - and we've got leftover Christmas cookies (and candy... and ham...) which will take us a while to get through all of. We've got fresh flowers that are still gorgeous from last week, and there's egg nog in the fridge. And we have something holiday-related going on every night through Saturday. And getting to sit back and enjoy it all again last night and this morning was great.

But as I stood in the kitchen eating a Christmas cookie, washing a couple of dishes, and watching Mom and Dad drive away toward South Dakota this morning, I kind of felt the urge to take down the tree and box it all up for next year.

Maybe I'd feel differently if we had snow so that it felt like December instead of March. Or maybe this is just one of the "early take-down" years. Or maybe I just need to finish the egg nog and watch another movie.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Tis A Christmas Tiz List

(Don't know what a "Tiz List" is? It's a list of random stuff that people may not know about me. Check the left-hand margin and read back through some of my earlier ones...)

Since it's Christmas, I thought it might be time for a Holiday Tiz List. Let's see what we end up with...

1) Although Christopher and I aren't travelling this year, I'm perfectly okay with the fact that it's a brown Christmas and it's been warm the past couple of days.

2) I do miss the snow, though, because going for a quiet walk on Christmas Eve to look at the lights and see them sparkle off the snow doesn't really work without snow.

3) I enjoy buying just the right presents for people.

4) I really enjoy wrapping presents and thinking about what the recipients will think when they open them.

5) I sometimes worry about unwrapping gifts in front of people, for fear that I will have inadvertent "Present Face."

6) Sometimes I accidentally get Present Face even when I like the gift.

7) I have been told that I am a fun person to watch open gifts.

8) If you're not sure what "Present Face" is, it's a song by Garfunkel and Oates, found here:

9) When Christopher and I plan vacations, we have to debate between visiting places and visiting people.

10) Usually I prefer to visit people.

11) Sometimes I'd prefer to visit places.

12) I hate that I don't have enough vacation time to choose both.

13) I mean I *really* hate that I don't have enough time to choose both, even around the Holidays.

14) I sometimes think it would be fun to live in a period piece with all the cool costumes.

15) Yes, I realize that most period piece people have to wear the peasant garb.

16) I'd really rather get to dress like the nobility.

17) I think I'd look rather silly if I dressed like period nobility in day-to-day life.

18) This is the same kind of reason that I could never be the person who *starts* a flash mob. (Like the sax guy, here: )

19) I think experiencing a flash mob would be cool.

20) I tend to be a good audience.

21) Sometimes I laugh too loudly when I'm in an audience in the hopes that other people will also laugh.

22) I can only laugh - even in an audience - if I think what I'm laughing at is funny.

23) When I courtesy laugh, pretty much everyone can tell.

24) I'm totally okay if I can tell when someone courtesy laughs at things I say. (Like you may be doing right now.)

25) Sometimes common courtesy is the best gift you can give and/or receive - especially around the Holidays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Food - The "One Last Thing" Trip

I was feeling terribly well-organized, yesterday, when I made a shopping list for the grocery store before going to bed. I figured this was the best way to get up in the morning, run one other errand, go to the grocery store, and be home before the chaos began.

My plan hit a minor hiccup (for me, at least) when I noticed, while passing the grocery store on the way to the other errand, that a car had just had a run-in with a utility pole (things weren't looking good for either of them, really), and emergency vehicles were pulling up at the intersection. This meant that, if I wanted to re-trace my path and go back to my usual grocery store, I'd have had to go through the by-that-time-closed intersection.

No big deal (again, for me - and hopefully for the occupants of the car, as well), since there are actually three grocery stores all within a very small radius from the house. I simply chose the next closest store and did my shopping. The parking lot was pleasantly mostly empty (after all, it was barely 9am), and even though I was in a fairly unfamiliar store I was still able to get in and out and home pretty darned quickly.

But then I did the stupid thing and starting thinking about the dinner we're having on Sunday. And I was trying to figure out whether we had enough of everything to have a Holiday dinner. Christopher and I frequently have different opinions on "enough" when it comes to entertaining guests, but I had to agree with him this time that we were good to go.

Until I started thinking about olives. Because I really like olives, and they tend to be at "fancy" family meals in my family. And since the people we're hosting are being invited for pre-dinner hanging out, we need to have something to much on, so olives seemed to fit the bill. The more I thought about olives, the more I knew we needed to have them.

Which led me to 1:45pm on the Friday before Christmas and a trip to the grocery store. This time I went to the closest store (they have an "olive bar"), and the parking lot was pretty much packed. Got my space and headed inside, where every checkout lane was open with at least 3 or 4 people in line. Remarkably, though, I didn't get stuck in any crunches. (This morning, I got stuck twice in aisles where people were debating things and just standing with their carts blocking everything - but not this afternoon.)

When I got to the checkout, I hopped in an express lane and it was the first time in... well... maybe ever... that I've heard Minnesota shoppers tell other people that they need to move out of the express lane because they have more than 10 items. It was that kind of strange urgency in the store. But, even so, the cashier was still cheery and I was out the door (past the completely empty cart storage area) in what seemed like less time than my morning trip.

Even so, as much as I enjoy grocery stores (and I really really do - I even like going to Fairway in Manhattan), I really don't plan to go back tomorrow. If we need anything else, we're either going to have to find it at the local gas station convenience store, or Santa is going to have to bring it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Karma Claus

Believe what you will about Santa's Naughty and Nice lists, I have to think that there is something kind of karmically appealing about them this year.

I'm not sure if you watch commercials, but I frequently do. (Christopher can attest to that.) And this holiday season, it seems that many of the Christmas-themed commercials have been really snarky and kind of nasty.

While we have the traditionally tear-jerking Folger's ad (and it's newer version from a year or so ago), we also have an ad where a grown son comes home in a nice car, and his parents - instead of greeting him - disappear from the house and take off in his car. "Grand theft auto" as Christmas message. Charming. The irony of that, though? I couldn't even tell you what company it's for. It took me multiple watchings before I even realized it was a car ad - I thought maybe it was for an erectile dysfunction medicine, considering how quickly the parents left...

On the way-over-the-top snarkability scale, though, have been the Best Buy ads. They feature women (yes, they've all been women) buying all of the gifts on their lists, then mocking Santa when he doesn't have room to put things in stockings. Or, in the latest one, there is a woman standing on the rooftop when Santa arrives and not only challenging him to get around her to do his job, but also kicking a lighted Santa off the roof. They have sweet little tag lines like "Game on, Santa." Such a lovely yuletide message.

You know... Santa is a good guy. He spends the entire Christmas season trying to spread joy and peace and goodwill. He goes out of his way to try to make wishes come true on Christmas Eve. He's not trying to compete with anyone. He just wants the kids in the houses to have a good year.

Why couldn't Best Buy have used the same basic ads, but run a campaign focusing on "Take a break, Santa, we've got this one covered?" Target (another local mega-store company) has been running ads where they are helping Santa with last-minute gifts. Why couldn't Best Buy have done that?

For whatever reason, Best Buy decided that being snarky, bitchy, competitive, and kinda nasty, was the way to celebrate the Holiday. And you know what that got them?

A great big news spread, three days before Christmas, saying that they are unable to fulfill a whole bunch of orders which were placed online beginning the day after Thanksgiving. That's right - all of Best Buy's snark and sarcasm are now resulting in them having to offer apologies (some with gift cards attached), and leaving nasty tastes in a whole lot of shoppers' mouths.

Makes you wonder what the result might have been if just one of their commercials had included a thankful family leaving out a few cookies and a glass of milk for the big guy in the red suit, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Gifting

We all know that this is the time of year for excess. After all, if Gluttony had a season, it would fall around the Holidays. There is a good reason that people make resolutions just after New Year's, after all.

We spend so much time shopping this time of year. We shop for presents to give to friends and family. We shop for groceries for meals we only eat once each year (and, frankly, we can only afford to eat once each year - both due to money and calories).

We all stress over getting the right gift for each person - and we stress over whether we're going to get the right gift FROM each person, as well.

And I completely and totally admit that I do all of the above. And - based on what I'm hearing from a lot of people - so do you.

So here is my basic reminder that we all need to chill out, take a breath, and take a page from the Thanksgiving holiday. I think we all need to consider what we have, and what we share - not just what we can get.

Which is not to say that we shouldn't look at what we can GIVE.

The Salvation Army has been in the news (well, the internet news at least) this season for the fact that they, as an overall "corporate" entity, are fairly homophobic in their hiring practices and their beliefs. But, at the same time, they specifically state that they do NOT discriminate when it comes to helping those in need. Which, for me, means that I'll still drop my pocket change in the kettle outside the stores - even though I won't be writing them any checks any time soon. (Why? Because sometimes that instant donation is the only one I make in a day, and that's better than nothing.)

Of course, this means that the donor part of me is still looking for another outlet, even though I don't have a five-pound box of money to dole out. If your inner donor is in the same position, maybe try one of these options:

1) Donate to a food bank. You can buy pre-packaged bags at a lot of grocery stores, or you can take money or non-perishables to a lot of places. (And, sadly, there are a LOT of them because we need them.) Look at it this way: If the only reason you're buying canned sweet potatoes and jellied cranberries is because you feel like you're supposed to, maybe spending the money on someone else would be a better idea.

2) Donate clothing to a charity. Before you start putting new clothes into your closet as you unwrap presents (or shop the sales on the 26th), go ahead and make some space by donating some clothes to people who actually might want and need them.

3) Donate a toy (or toys or money) to a charity toy drive. Yes, I know it's getting late for that, but most places will still take them. And, really, how many kids in your life would miss not getting one more toy?

4) Donate to a pet shelter. Do you have any idea how many pets are given as Christmas presents and then abandoned in the month of January? Sure, the smart thing to do would be to make sure that people simply don't do that in the first place, but since we can't stop the stupidity, we can at least try to help with the aftermath. Consider donations of money, or contact a shelter and ask them specifically what is needed - possibly sponsor a special needs pet, if you can.

And, finally,

5) Give yourself a break. There's a good possibility that in among all of the holiday preparations and parties and shopping and donating (hint, hint), you might forget to give yourself a little time to breathe. Have a cookie (not a batch's worth of cookie dough, just *a* cookie - because eating the whole batch will just add more stress. Trust me on that), drink some eggnog (spiked or not), and relax a little. Talk - actually talk and listen, too - to your family members. Smile at your neighbors. Say "please" and "thank you" when you're in the stores and the people helping you look harried and ragged. Maybe even take some time to reflect on whatever it is you truly believe in this time of year (which is probably not rampant consumerism).

Above all, take the time to be thankful for all the gifts you already have. For the friends in your life. And for the little things that make this twinkle-light, jingle-bell, Christmas card time of year special.


ps. If you're still looking for a way to spend a little money before the end of the year, you could also donate to this cause, spearheaded by the daughter of a good friend of mine from Baltimore. She's a first-year teacher in a poverty-stricken school, and is simply trying to get some books - normal, everyday, good old-fashioned books - for her students:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Movie Monday - The Muppets

It took us a while, but Christopher and I finally got around to seeing the new movie "The Muppets."

I'd say a lot about it, but I'm guessing that you probably already know about it. The plot is, basically, that the Muppets are trying to get everyone back together to save their old theater from a bad guy.

It has singing. It has dancing. It has a whole bunch of cameos. It's... well... it's a Muppet movie.

I had a good time. There are a lot of touches that hark back to the old TV show, and some touches that bridge the gaps. And the music was fun. Although there are also some kind of touching moments - which I really did not expect.

Was it a perfect movie? No. Christopher commented that he liked the beginning and the end, but the middle was a little slow.

Was it pretty much what we expected it would be? Yes.

And - as you'd expect - it reminds us that with some good moral support and someone to sing with, you'll be okay in life. And how can any movie with that at its center be bad?

Overall rating: B+. I had a really good time, I'm happy to see the Muppets back on the big screen, but the movie itself had some holes in it that they probably could have filled with a little more attention.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Viewing

I've been feeling a little under the weather, today. (Anyone know why my tongue would feel just slightly tingly?)

Of course, what does one do in the winter when one is feeling under the weather? One curls up on the couch with an afghan, a puppy, and the TV remote. And, yes, that is exactly what I've been doing, today.

But here's the thing about TV in December. It seems to either be Christmas movies and cartoons (of varying levels of watchability), or movies where a lot of things get blown up. I'm not sure why that is, but it's pretty much all I've been finding on TV today.

I started the day with a really bad 80s version of some vaguely Snow White-related cartoon. I watched "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (the version with the Winter Warlock), and a sequel to "Frosty the Snowman" (don't worry - it was one of the good sequels, where the animation and voices actually matched the original).

About the time that I was feeling good and cheery, I switched over to some bad Science Fiction movies. So far, I've watched one where a major earthquake almost destroys Denver, and one where a madman controlling the weather strikes Washington, DC, with a tornado.

Sadly, I haven't come across any good explosions, aliens, or gun fights. But maybe I'll find Rudolph or the mice who fix the Christmas clock yet this evening. That would pretty much make the day a total Holiday win.

Well... That and feeling better.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boo-boos, Owies, Aches, and Pains

A few days ago, I got a mystery cut on the side of my thumb. No idea how I did it. I just looked down at one point and realized that on the outside of my knuckle I had a red spot, which was actually a dark line. It started to itch, yesterday, so I'm happy that my boo-boo is healing.

Tuesday, after pulling into the garage at home, I got out of the car and went to put my bag over my shoulder (in cool-ish "messenger bag" style), and whacked my finger against one of the garage door's metal hinges. By the time I was in the house, I had a bright red spot of blood on the side of my middle finger. I put some antibiotic cream on it, and ignored it. Until yesterday, when the flap of skin started to get caught on my ring finger while typing. So I went down to our main office and searched out a small band-aid for my new owie. I've been wearing a band-aid on it as much as possible for the past 36 hours or so. And since it's my middle finger, I've been offering to show it to as many people as I can.

Last night, while trying to clean up some stuff in the basement, my right knee decided to lock in place, and then fuss at me a little when I stood up. I've been trying to take the stairs at work, lately (to the 4th floor), and my knee didn't really like that this morning.

Then, at work today, I must have done something wrong, because my right lower back started to hurt. This would be the same side of my back that is closest to the achy knee. Ibuprofen is helping. But I'm still not happy with the fact that I'm having to consider my age as the temperature moderates to the "normal" temps which now seem rather chilly.

Considering the ouch-inducers have gotten progressively more painful, I've got to admit that I'm a little worried about what the next few days might bring...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travel Tuesday - On Vacation

When I was in college and studying French, I learned about how some businesses in Europe (and France, specifically) close down for a full month in the summer so that their owners can go on vacation.

When they do that, they try to coordinate, to some level, with the other businesses in their areas so that the people left behind aren't left without, say, a grocery store for a month.

Yet, somehow, I never really thought about that for over here in the States. Until this week, when I've been trying to look into entertainment options for a trip to Las Vegas that Christopher and I will be taking in January.

We have been looking into seeing one of the Cirque du Soleil shows out there, and had been recommended one or two of them. I tried to pull up online ticketing, but nothing was coming up beyond December. I found out that some of the shows do ticketing through the hotels, so I contacted the hotels to see if I had any better luck.

While I did finally get an answer, it wasn't the one I was hoping for.

It seems that both of the top two shows we were considering are dark (aka not showing) when we're going to be out there. One of them is literally taking a full month off, while the other is simply not running for about two weeks. But that still doesn't help since our visit falls right in the middle of their vacations.

Yes, other shows are still running, but they're not necessarily the ones that were at the top of our list. Kind of like going to Paris in August and having to go to your second-favorite patisserie since your favorite is on vacation. It's still French pastries in France, but it's not quite the same, even so.

Who would have thought that someone would take a vacation in January? Oh. Right. Us.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weather or Not

Last year on this weekend, Minneapolis had something around 18 inches of snow. Not "on the ground cumulatively" but all at once.

Is 18 inches of snow a real problem in Minneapolis? Not if it's over a week or two. But when it all falls in about 24 hours... well... that was a problem. We were socked in that weekend and for at least a few more days. And, after that, there was snow on the ground all the way to about mid-April.

This weekend, though, has been amazing. Not perfect, but really nice. Yesterday was all about the bright sunny skies, a little melting of our last snow, and a huge clear crisp full moon. Today was warmer (in the mid-30s), but got cloudy and kind of weirdly damp feeling. But this evening I walked the pup without having to put on gloves or a hat - and my fingers didn't even turn red from the cold.

This weekend was also the weekend when Christopher and I were driving back and forth to Stillwater for different Christmas-related events. And could I just say how nice it was for us to *not* have to be worried about the weather?

We didn't have to worry about leaving early before the freezing rain started. We didn't have to white-knuckle the drive home after dark through building snow. And we didn't have to worry about the car freezing up because of the temps.

Yes, I realize that we could move away from this part of the country at any time. And I'm sure that, during the next few months, the topic will come up numerous times. But this weekend... well... this one kind of has me thinking that Minneapolis in December isn't the worst place to be.

And every week of "not *so* bad" is another week closer to spring.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chilling Out

Have I complained about the weather, lately?

We're having deep-January temps this week (well, not all week, just a few of the days), and I'm already kind of tired of it. I've found out that one of the pairs of gloves I have is just not great for a zero-degree windchill. A fact I figured out while walking the dog the other morning. Even with the gloves on I came back in with red hands. (Time to get out the lotion...)

Apparently, though, we're supposed to be back up to around freezing on Saturday and Sunday. Which to some of you probably still sounds frigid, but for us in this part of the country sounds downright balmy.

And that difference leads me to something I was noticing today on my drive home: The way people dress for the weather.

As I was at a stoplight, I watched two women walk past me. One was bundled up in a coat and scarf and, frankly, looked like she could have survived Antarctica. The other was in a blazer (undone), and looked like she was out for a springtime stroll.

Yesterday, when it was something like 20 degrees out, I saw someone in a hooded sweatshirt and basketball shorts walking out of a Target store, while the person he was with looked like an Eskimo.

Why is it that people can dress so differently for the same weather?

Granted, when I was out this morning with the pup, it was about 23 degrees (no measurable wind), and I didn't have on a hat or gloves. If you didn't know the temperature and saw me out walking you might have thought it was in the 40s or so. For me, that's simply seasonal adaptation. Like when there's a 50-degree day in late January, so I leave my coat inside when I go for a walk, although a 50-degree day in July would have me running for a sweater.

>sigh< It's not even mid-December and I'm already thinking about July weather. This could be a *very* long winter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Going Nowhere Fast

This has been a tremendously unproductive week at work, even though I've really had the best of intentions.

Both Monday and today I got into the office, had an incredibly energetic hour or so, and then got completely sidetracked by about 82 other things. For the record, only about 12 of those 82 things were personal in nature. The rest were all weird non-work-related work things.

Things like one of my freelancers copying me on a totally snarky/snide email about me which she sent to a coworker. And, yes, I think she meant to send it to me. Do I think it was wise? No. But I do think it was intentional. At the same time, another freelancer spent about 5 emails telling me she couldn't log in to the site - because she was using an old log-in...

Then there was the fact that we've just started using a whole new system for tracking all of our clients' progress, and it... well... it has some bugs. Granted, there's a ton of stuff that it does really well, but there's also a bunch of stuff that it's kind of not working for. Like today when I spent half an hour trying to explain to our IT department that if I need to credit someone - and the system has a little box where I can enter the credit amount - it's not good for me to get an error message that says "total amount charged cannot be less than zero."

There was the client who emailed, yesterday, to say that she desperately needed me to read through her revised 458-page manuscript and call her back about it immediately. Apparently she thinks that we've all taken the Evelyn Wood speed-reading course. (Does that still exist? I've always thought of it as kind of mythical.)

At home, tonight, I did get a decent amount of stuff done. Some presents got wrapped and put under the tree. The Christmas cards are a step closer to done. I did some laundry. And I completely and totally forgot to do about four other things.

I suspect that, at this rate, I'll be caught up to today by around Thursday. And here I thought things were supposed to slow down as the temperatures neared absolute zero... (Have I mentioned that it's gotten Januarily cold, this week?)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Late Sunday Follow-up

Alright... Since I'm sure you've all been on pins and needles for the past few days wondering about tonight's dinner, I figured I should fill that blank in before heading for bed.

Christopher made his lemon chicken (mildly spicy tonight, so that we could stay in the middle of that road). We served it with rice and an arugula salad dressed with a mustard and tarragon vinaigrette. All accompanied by white wine - Viogniers, I believe.

Dessert was brownies with ice cream (I found "Pink Peppermint" at the grocery store and had to buy it - and, amazingly, only 1 out of 4 of us chose to have vanilla, instead). That was accompanied by some Bailey's.

Overall, a very nice almost four-hour dinner, especially considering that we hadn't ever had real conversations with our guests before.

And, after only about half an hour of clean-up (not many pans, just lots of dishes/glasses), we're pretty well set to start the week. Which means that I'm off to bed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Food - Indecision

Christopher and I have some new neighbors whom we met a few months ago, and whom we have invited over for dinner this weekend. It's all very basic - we've each met one of the two guys at least once and, since we're simply being neighborly, it's not like anything hangs on this meal.

But, that said, it's making our menu planning kind of strange.

Usually, when you're inviting someone to dinner, you know what they're like. And, more importantly, you know what they like. But we're kind of cooking blind this time around. This means we're looking into middle-of-the-road ingredients, with middle-of-the-road flavors and - you guessed it - middle-of-the-road appeal.

As far as we know (Christopher did ask), they don't have any food allergies and neither of them is vegetarian. The latter of those two things is actually probably more important for our meal planning, since we tend to lean toward meat for a main course when entertaining. But beyond the meat factor, we're kind of stumped.

Although we've decided on chicken as our protein, we still haven't made a definite decision as to what kind of chicken it will be. And - more surprising for those who know us - we haven't figured out what dessert will be.

With all of our cookbooks and our bizarrely wide-ranging favorite foods, we seem to have a culinary embarrasment of riches. And no idea where to start.


Maybe we should just order pizza. But would it be better to get it by itself, or with cheese bread...?