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Archive for the ‘It’s all me baby’ Category

Britta: So I tried to make icing and even though I softened the butter like the recipe said, it’s all lumpy with butter chunks despite beating the daylights out of it. I hate baking. Why can I cook but not bake?

Tom: Well…I think that’s pretty common – people being good at one or the other. Baking is science and you don’t like science.

Britta: What?! I LOVE science. I was a total science nerd in school. Biology, Botany, Zoology…

Tom: Not that kind of science. Baking is chemistry.

Britta: Damn. I hate chemistry.

Tom: *puts hands in air and shrugs while grinning (a little too smugly, I might add) *

And I grumbled all the way to the baking aisle at the grocery store where I picked up pre-made, smooth icing. If only Sophie had asked for a nice risotto for her birthday dessert…we would have been set…

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A couple months ago I had arranged to exchange overnight kid-watching with Beth so we could both have some alone time with our spouses. Tom and I decided to make New York City as our destination since we’ve never been sans-kids. After we finally made it to the city and obtained some sustenance at Marty’s Fortress of Solitude (a.k.a. Papaya), we were ready to hit the town.

  • Walking on the streets of NYC without kids is awesome. Although I have to admit that sometimes you can use the stroller to your advantage when needing to push through a crowd.
  • Times Square is getting less appealing and more annoying the more I come to the city. Why on earth would you sit on a stand of bleachers in the middle of the road? I must be hungry again – I should have picked up two Papaya dogs instead of one – hungry = grumpy and grumpy = annoyed at tourists even though I’m a tourist myself.
  • Dinner will be at the Mesa Grill with Tom’s work partner and his girlfriend. I really hope Bobby Flay lives up to his Iron Chef status. It’s been too long since Steph’s dad cooked us Mexican food and I’m having a severe craving for some southwest flavor.
  • Liam picks us up on the corner of 8th and we head down Broadway. Liam drives like a cab driver. I try to not freak out and distract myself with conversation of pop culture and art.
  • We arrive sans-accident and I take a deep breath as we sit down and order drinks. I get the cactus margarita. Delicious.
  • After some discussion, we order our food and get to the conversation. It’s nice to pretend like we could be friends with Liam and Anna. Except they don’t have children, and we do, so we will most likely see them once a year if we’re lucky. But – still – adult conversation with interesting topics and no food being thrown or temper tantrums happening under the table by said children is definitely a welcomed luxury.
  • The food arrives and I am in heaven. Stuffed squash blossoms, cremini mushroom quesadilla, Chile relleno, grilled corn with aioli and lime…oh my. And a second cactus margarita for good measure.
  • I’m insanely full but a little sad we didn’t leave room for desert. Ah well. Liam and Anna have an early day so they drop us off at a bar in the Flatiron district that is supposed to have interesting drinks.
  • The bar does have interesting drinks – but is also full of single people. Single people at a bar are mostly just annoying. Especially when they are in their 20’s. We leave after one round and head to the Old Town Bar. Much better. We end our night with a drink, a walk, and a subway ride.
  • We sleep late the next morning. No kids asking to use the iPad or make them breakfast. ‘Nuff said.
  • Our Wicked tickets are for the afternoon and we are certainly in brunch territory once we are ready to go. Where to eat? Tom stops while walking towards 8th and looks at something on his phone. A few minutes later we are in a cab and his only clue as to where we are going is “french fries.” I am stumped.
  • We pull up to the address and I stare dumbfounded at Les Halle. Anthony Bourdain was the head chef of Les Halle for years. We have been watching No Reservations for years. I hope their fries are as good as they claim.
  • The brunch menu has just begun. I am so excited I feel like I have a current going through me. I can see into the kitchen. The kitchen where our favorite TV chef spent hours toiling over a hot station, pushing delicious plate after delicious plate through the doors. I decide to keep my mushroom theme going and order the omelette with wild mushrooms. It comes with a side of fries.
  • Our coffee is served in a small French press at our table. To a coffee snob, this is a good sign. I am certain the food will be fantastic.
  • The omelette. Fantastic. The fries? One of the best things I have ever tasted. Ever. I leave incredibly happy. This husband of mine – he’s a keeper.
  • We decide there is time to make a stop in SoHo to check out Purl – the yarn/fabric shop I keep tabs on through their blog.
  • I am in a heaven of a completely different kind. I want to hug the entire store. And bring it home with me. Everything. Even the things I don’t know how to use – I want it all. I settle for a few skeins of delicious yarn and we are off in the rain, headed for the subway that will take us to Wicked.
  • I have no idea what to expect from Wicked, but the theater is lovely and our seats are incredible.
  • I love Wicked. LOVE. ‘Nuff said.
  • We take our souvenirs and head home, walking through Times Square. I’m still annoyed at the tourists. Maybe I’m hungry.
  • After a rest, we change and head down to Chelsea to meet up with Marty.
  • Read previous post. Marty is awesome, we had a fantastic time. Also wish we could hang out with him more than a couple times a year.
  • Slept in again. ‘Nuff said.
  • A subway ride after checking our bags at Penn Station takes us back to Chelsea. I vote for breakfast at the local diner where we can sit in the open-air, watching people walk by. Meh. The food is okay and the service is slow. We grab snacks at the Starbucks across the street and walk to the High Line – a park made on top of an old, elevated rail line. It is beautiful and the only negative would be the lack of time we had before we left.
  • Back at Penn Station I’m slightly alarmed at the extremely armed guards walking the halls. I know the date (9-11) and why they are there, but I find myself more nervous than comforted.
  • Souvenirs are picked for the girls and before we know it, we are back on the train, headed for home. It was a trip I will never forget, with an amazing partner. I’m determined to repeat it again in the not too distant future.

(Pictures will appear on Flickr soon)

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Related side note: We were in NYC for the tenth anniversary of 9-11. I did not plan the trip that way – it was a coincidence. I will never forget that day, 10 years ago. Despite living in Utah, it was obviously a devastating day for all Americans. However, to be perfectly honest, I was much more comforted that life in NYC was continuing even though security was very high. You could still have breakfast at a diner and spend time at a park, use public transportation, go to a show, or sit in those damn bleachers. The city was not at a standstill, and that made me feel safer than any guard with an AK47. Yes, I’m grateful, extremely grateful for ourĀ  servicemen/women – but I’m also incredibly grateful for a sense of normalcy on a day that held so much fear in the past.

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While I figure out how to say anything about our child-free trip to New York City besides, AWESOME! – I thought I would post pictures from our adventure with Marty. If you remember, Kari and I met up with him in May – back then I was very grateful to Tom for watching the kids so we could go out, but also sad he had missed out because I knew he would really like Marty – they like so many of the same things: The Beatles, mustard, snacks – I could go on. But I won’t. Instead – here are the pictures from our adventure.

After we finally arrived at Marty’s. We may have gotten lost once, and also there is a Bermuda Triangle in front of Marty’s apartment that wouldn’t allow my phone to work so I could let him know we were there. Apparently it’s just an AT&T Bermuda Triangle though because we finally tried Tom’s phone and it worked the first time.

After a few pre-dinner drinks and Snacks! (a custom popcorn mix this time – don’t try it at home – Marty is a certified snackologist, in case you weren’t in the know) we headed out to dinner at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant.

We had a great time pestering Marty with questions and listening to all his stories. He’s had a much more interesting life than I have – although I’m pretty happy some of those stories haven’t happened to me because I’m not sure how he lived through some of it.

I had the mushroom barley soup and the lamb burger with sweet potato fries. Everything was fantastic but the best part was the roasted red pepper relish – I need to try to make my own version.

Next on our agenda was a stop at Manitoba’s bar. Tom and I listen to Handsome Dick Manitoba on Sirius’ Little Steven’s Underground Garage. (In case you didn’t know – I didn’t – he was the lead singer for The Dictators, a NYC punk band.) Tom really wanted to check out the bar, especially since Marty said Handsome Dick will sometimes be there. But first – we had to make a quick stop at Ray’s Candy Store for a chocolate egg cream. Ray is featured on Marty’s blog frequently so it was fun to meet him (my favorite part was when he said he found a woman to marry but she didn’t cook so he needed to find someone else – and how proud he was to show us the picture of the day he became a citizen, just 4 weeks ago). This was my first egg cream – it was delicious and a steal – $3 for a large cup that he kindly split for our group.

Once we made it Manitobas, we found that Handsome Dick was indeed there, and he commented on Marty’s Gumby bag, so we all started chatting. Marty is friends with some people Handsome Dick knows so he kept the conversation going and we got to hang out with him for a good half hour or more. He was really nice and even though his bar was so crowded I felt like I was going to suffocate (he was hosting a roller derby team after a match) we were more than happy to go in and order a drink each before calling it a night.

Thanks again, Marty, for a great night. We look forward to next time, after dark!

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33

Celebrating my birthday this year has been strange and disjointed – yet still wonderful. I was in Utah for the actual day, but didn’t do anything because we had had a combination party a few days before that included my younger sister and my mom. Once Tom and I were back in the same state, he of course gifted me the lovely Peggy Sue, but despite all of that, I still wanted a birthday dinner with my husband. One meal where I didn’t have to hear whining and complaining about vegetables, or spend 20 minutes cleaning up the floor afterward. (At what age do kids manage to keep their food on their plates? Please don’t tell me 12.)

Thank goodness we have friends who are willing to step in and make things like this happen. They not only came over, but Steph gave us a ride downtown so we could both enjoy ourselves and not have to worry about driving home (we caught a cab that incidentally had a hilarious driver for the ride back). I had debated on trying somewhere new, but ended up picking Suba – the tapas place we enjoyed last year. It was all fantastic. The food, the live music, the drinks – even the rain stopped for long enough that we could walk a few blocks and enjoy a martini at one of Cafe Fresco’s sidewalk tables. The husband – he’s pretty fantastic too, and I’m very lucky to be the one attached to his arm on these rare date-nights. Here’s to another year – one that I’m sure will be even better than the last.

(Obligatory bathroom mirror shot for Marty)

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New Ride

I get very nervous when Tom ignores birthday gift requests and does his own thing. We don’t want another floor-mat incident after all. But Tom is very good at surprising me when I’m at my most suspicious – he’s very sneaky that way. No, I did not get the jewelry I asked for – but (and that’s a big BUT) – I did get Peggy Sue:

Isn’t she pretty? I love her so. Even though I’ve already gotten lost (thank you iPhone with GPS for pointing out I was about 4 blocks away from home and had made two giant circles – stupid non-grid system for roads) and my legs feel like they are going to fall off every time we go on a ride (we have a lot of hills here – A. LOT.) I just want to give her a hug and fill her basket with daisies. Oh yeah – I went there – sappy Hallmark sentiments for my bike. Wouldn’t you?

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As we are reading bedtime stories to the girls…

B: Don’t you think it’s a little strange that the fox has chicken wallpaper in its room? It eats chickens.

T: I guess…

B: That would be like us having…say…

T: Chicken wallpaper?

B: Humph.

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Week 4

I was all geared up to go to class a week and a half ago, when I got a phone call that said it would be canceled that night and another week would be added on to the end of the course. No surprise that it was on a day when my patience was thin from breaking up fights between the girls and threats of selling them to the gypsies had turned in to threats of giving them away for free. I’m pretty sure this was a test from The Universe. Not cool, Universe, not cool.

When Monday rolled around again, I checked my phone every half hour to make sure class was still on – thankfully, it was. I had watched several videos to get me back in the throwing mode and was determined that I would make anything but a bowl this time. My goal was a little bud vase. I figured it might take a try or two but that guy on You Tube made it look really easy.

Within a few minutes of arriving, our instructor explained that we’d be working with porcelin clay that day, instead of the recycled clay we’d used for the first three weeks. Okay. It has lots of lovely attributes, but it’s different. It’s centers differently, it pulls differently, and in my hour and a half with it – it gets irritated at you easily and will just decide to die if you work it too much. Obviously this was just my impression – our instructor told us how one woman in his Saturday class really took to it and threw better pieces than anything she had attempted in the past weeks. Not a helpful story as I sadly looked at the top of my “vase” wrinkle and die.

Twice this happened. And so twice I cut the top off and attempted to salvage the bottom half. Into what, you ask? Did you really need to ask? Fine. I made two more bowls. With the patient help of my instructor, I did eventually end up with a vase, but it wasn’t the shape I was hoping for and frankly, I was shocked he was able to rescue it as much as he did.

Next week we have a choice of what clay to work with. I’m a little torn on whether to try to conquer the porcelain or go back to something more familiar. I’d guess my stubbornness will win out and I’ll pick up the white tormentor again. I control the clay, I control the clay, I control the clay…five more days of this and I think I’ll believe it.

 

 

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