Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Image

This is going to be me in just a few days. Except it’s going to be really, really snowy in those Alps.

My husband and I will be visiting about a million Christmas markets as we make our way across Austria, drinking gallons of mulled wine and eating unhealthy amounts of wiener schnitzel. I’ve already been doubling up on my daily green smoothies this week to make up for the damage I’ll be doing to my digestive system.

And of course, we’ll be going on the Sound of Music Tour during our time in Salzburg. Like every American girl, I grew up completely and utterly obsessed with the movie, and have watched it about 1000 times, conservatively. Like every American boy, my husband hasn’t seen the movie even once. Obviously, that’s what we will be doing during our packing session on Saturday afternoon.

From what I’ve seen and heard, Austria at Christmastime is basically an explosion of adorable, and I may not be able to handle it.

I can’t wait to see my husband in a pair of lederhosen.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year…until then, Auf wiedersehen!

Rick Bayless Thinks I’m Hilarious.

A few posts back, I waxed eloquently about my newfound love for Twitter.

As with most cases of puppy love, the infatuation has ended rather abruptly.

What can I say, I get bored easily. Until I met my husband, my longest relationship was a whopping 3 months. Anyone who knows me knows my love-hate relationship with social media, and that I love to dramatically de-activate my accounts. And that I’ll probably rejoin on a whim. And that I’ll probably delete my account again, even more dramatically. [**Note to any future employers: my short attention span with hobbies and relationships does not extend to the workplace. I will work until I die at my desk.]

Most importantly, I have already experienced my Social Media Moment on Twitter. Rick Bayless tweeted at me. Since the only celebrities I admire are those involved in the preparation of food, and because Rick Bayless is, well, Rick Bayless, this tweet was kind of a big deal. Oh, not only did he tweet at me, but he re-tweeted MY tweet, AND – he said I was hilarious. (Please pause to fully digest the utter ridiculousness of the preceding sentence.)

Folks, it’s just not going to get better than that. I’m quitting while I’m ahead. Besides, I only had about 10 legit followers, and 90% of my tweets were directed at one of my best friends while I simultaneously texted her.

Ordinarily one does not compile one’s own tribute, but Buzzfeed won’t return my calls. But I think this list resembles the one they are probably putting together feverishly, so I’ll go ahead and publish for them:

“15 Tweets By Someone Who Never Should Have Been Tweeting”:

1. One of my greatest moments of self-loathing: when I wake up the day after Thanksgiving and feel ridiculously hungry.

2. Every time I see Bob Costas on TV I get the Olympic theme song in my head.

3. Thanks meth producers – I left my ID at home so I couldn’t buy my allergy medicine today. #getarealjob

4. Was just told that I look like a little Barbie. #weekismade

5. I can’t keep up with all of the tweeting.

6. Oh what a pretty sunset – at 4:45 pm. And so it begins. #seasonalaffectivedisorder #imissyousun

7. Twitter just suggested I might want to follow JCPenney. Apparently Twitter isn’t fooled by my wannabe haute couture self.

8. Really hope this eye twitch calms down or things are going to get weird at my bar admission ceremony today

9. Remember when Amazon Prime didn’t exist and ordering a last-minute mullet wig was out of the question?

10. I just drove to my law school. Which would be fine except that I’m not in law school anymore, and I’m supposed to be picking up my husband.

11. You’re so fancy you gargle saltwater made with Himalayan sea salt

12. Went to bed with my hair wet last night. Woke up looking like an overgrown poodle.

13. It’s a good day when the TSA woman says you look like “I Dream of Jeannie.” #TSA #travel #timeforhereyeexam

14. Forget Baby on Board – I’m driving with extreme caution because I just picked up a glorious batch of Sprinkles cupcakes.

15. Why do I always wait until the morning of my dentist appt to get serious about flossing?

Below, you will find evidence of my social media moment. And, I’m out.

rick bayless

A Snapshot. Without A Camera.

I’m new to WordPress, but I’m loving it. I love the customization and organization capabilities for my blog. I love the “bells and whistles.” And now I just discovered another reason to be a WordPress fan: the Weekly Writing Challenge.

As you will see from the link that I have included at the end of this post, this week’s topic involves “using words, rather than a camera, to capture a moment.” I feel so strongly about this topic that I almost feel as if the author of the Challenge has been reading my mind.

As an obsessive photog (and really, who isn’t these days), I always have some form of a camera on me. I’m always ready to capture a moment for posterity (often to the dismay of my loved ones).

With one great exception: when I’m running. (Can’t have anything weigh me down!) And wouldn’t you know – some of the most beautiful scenes of my life have occurred during those miles. Countless times, I have turned to my husband, my lifelong running partner, and groaned dramatically, “I can’t believe I don’t have my camera!” Each time, as if scripted, he has turned to me with a knowing smile and said, “Just remember it. Some moments can’t be captured by a photo anyway.”

And you know what? He’s right.

The true essence of a moment often eludes capture, even if you can snap a photo. How many times has your breath been taken away by the splendor set before you, but when you push that button and see the resulting image, you’re dissatisfied? For even if you snap a beautiful photo of a spectacular sunset, you can’t possibly capture all of the things that spoke to your soul and seared the moment into your memory forever- the sounds of the seagulls, the scent of the saltwater, the feel of the wind on your cheek, the warm caress of your love’s hand in your own.

Interestingly enough, for each of those moments that I knew I couldn’t trap on film, I tried harder. I lingered longer. I breathed deeper. I carved the images in my mind. I wrote about the scenes in my journal. And I remember them so clearly.

While many of these moments are tied to the beauty of nature, one occurred this week as I stepped out of an office building in the Loop around 5:30 pm. I was instantly immersed in the vibrancy of the city. The air was cold, the people were hustling and bustling, the Christmas lights were twinkling, and the street performers were playing. I felt, as I often do when walking through the Loop at “rush hour,” so ALIVE. It’s moments like these that wash away my urban cynicism, remind me of my enduring magnetic attraction to the energy of urbanity, and make me fall in love with Chicago all over again.

I knew a picture wouldn’t encapsulate this heady feeling. But I couldn’t resist the impulse to try. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a picture. As expected, it was blurry and dark and unrecognizable. I immediately deleted it, almost ashamed of myself. I went home and wrote about the magic of the night while it was still fresh. When I read over those words now, I feel as if I am still standing on that street corner.

While I will never give up my love for photography, I think it’s important to view photos as a memory aid, not a memory replacement. A picture isn’t always worth a thousand words.

Link to Writing Challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/weekly-writing-challenge-snapshots/

Two Thanksgiving Desserts That Will Make Your Family Swoon

I don’t have much time because I am in the midst of a Thanksgiving baking frenzy. But I wanted to share these recipes with you just in case you are still searching for a dessert or two that will blow everyone’s socks off.

First, Ina Garten’s pecan bars:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/pecan-squares-recipe/index.html

My personal adaptations to the pecan bars: I have cut the amount of filling in half, and the bars are perfect. Also, you can cut out the sugar considerably and they are still incredibly sweet. I also didn’t dip in chocolate. I like to cut them in super small squares to make them pecan bites, because they are just so decadent.

Second, this apple cider cream pie:

http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2011/10/apple-cider-cream-pie/

I PROMISE – if you make either of these, or both of these, as I am, your family will love you so much more than they already do – and then they’ll probably hate you for the extra 10 lbs they will gain from these desserts alone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Dinner Roll Worthy of Indulgence

Thanksgiving Dinner RollsI don’t know about you, but I love bread. Sometimes I daydream about those long-ago days when I didn’t count calories or believe strongly about adhering to a vegetable-dominated diet. The days of innocence, where I could consume a loaf of bread without a thought. Like I said, loooooong-ago. I was ten.

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to eating bread on Thanksgiving. So, that dough better be good. A dry, mediocre roll is not going to cut it.

I made these rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner last year, and I loved them so much that I am planning on bringing them back for an encore performance.

If you want a hearty, doughy roll – look no further. Actually – don’t take my word for it. I would hate to ruin your Thanksgiving dinner. So maybe you should give them a test run this week and decide if you love them like I love them.

One of the best things about these rolls is that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them and then pop them in the oven on Thanksgiving day. One less task for the actual day!

My Thanksgiving Dinner Roll Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 cups organic all purpose flour (I like King Arthur)

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup Kalona Supernatural organic vanilla yogurt (with the cream top)

3/4 cup Kalona organic whole milk (with the cream top)

Almost 1/2 cup canola oil (you can use sunflower oil or grapeseed oil if you prefer)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl.

Add yogurt, salt, milk, and oil, and knead into soft dough (I used the dough hook of my KitchenAid mixer). Don’t overmix – the dough will get too sticky.

Form dough into rolls – I did 9 large rolls, but you can adjust size and number for your party

Cut a cross into the top of each roll and brush with a little bit of milk. At this point, you can add seeds or oats to the top if desired.

Bake for 18 minutes. They will still be slightly doughy, which makes them perfect for freezing and then reheating on Thanksgiving.

Reheat at 350 degrees for approximately 15 mins.

And – enjoy!

Warning: This Post Isn’t Funny. But It’s Real. And It’s About Thanksgiving.

Preface: I realize what an incredibly blessed person I am to be able to write this post. My heart is heavy for those who are hungry around the world, and in my own city, who are never able to experience a meal like the one I am describing.  

I have always been a dedicated Thanksgiving advocate. Let’s face it – Thanksgiving is sadly overlooked in the shadow of Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. Probably more than your average bear. But I believe each holiday deserves its moment in the sun.

I formed these beliefs at a very young age. As a child, I made construction paper hand turkeys and cornucopias like it was my job, and refused to listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving.

Yes, I have always taken a stand for “holiday rights.” But I am not just a proponent of Thanksgiving because it is the underdog holiday. I’m a supporter because Thanksgiving demands that we spend a day with our loved ones – where the only things to do are eat, drink, and be thankful. What other holiday makes us do that? Even as a child, who loved getting Christmas presents and wasn’t quite ready to denounce consumerism, I appreciated the beauty and simplicity of the Thanksgiving moment.

And now, as an obsessive foodie and amateur chef who relishes cooking for others, Thanksgiving represents the day I would choose every time to represent happiness. An entire day where the kitchen is the star, as the faces that I love so dearly wander in and out of that kitchen throughout the day, taking turns cooking, filling their wine glasses, stealing tasty morsels, and sharing stories with so much laughter. The air grows thick with anticipation over the fruits of our shared labor! What a feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie  when we all finally sit down to the table and marvel at our culinary skills.

As I grew up, every single Thanksgiving was an exact replica of the year before – in the best possible way. We would eat our first Thanksgiving dinner of the day at my Grandma’s house, around 1:00 or 2:00. Then we would head to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the second installment of the Thanksgiving feast. Forget about “pacing yourself” – Thanksgiving represented the Olympic Games for all of the phenomenal cooks in our family.

Now, Thanksgiving looks different every year. We’ve grown up, we’ve gone to college, we’ve moved to different cities, we’ve gotten married. My beloved grandmother has gone to heaven.

Change can be difficult, especially when you come from a family of such deep traditions. But haven’t these changes illustrated the poignant meaning of Thanksgiving itself? Because while the stuffing is heavenly (my grandma’s legacy will always live on in my house through that recipe), Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for those beloved faces that I see gathered around that table.  Because they are there. And so am I.

Next post: I’ll share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

To lighten the mood:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/thanksgiving-quotes-funny_n_1110671.html#s494598&title=Jim_Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan's Thanksgiving