Saturday, December 29, 2012

Joyeux Noёl

I know technically winter just started but I've been waiting and finally we have snow fall. It's coming down quite hard right now, and I think we can expect a couple inches over night!

It seemed like a fitting time to recap 
Christmas 2012. 

This year, it was decided that I would host Christmas Eve 2012 for my mother and younger siblings (my older sister was with her husbands family). My brother arrived Friday night after his finals; he attends school not far from Boston. My mom and sister arrived on Sunday bearing a car full of goodies! I've been planning and scheming since before Thanksgiving for my first year hosting Christmas. My tiny apartment was bursting at the gills but it was so fun to have my family around! We decorated gingerbread cookies, played scrabble (I obviously won, heh heh), watched movies, and even made it downtown for a church service and to see the new light show in Faneuil Hall called BLINK. The lights blink to the sound of the Boston Pops!

Christmas Day saw my siblings and I heading to southern Connecticut to visit my Dad and his family as well as visiting with family friends, who are more like family themselves, that evening for some treats and chatting. 

. . .and now, I can't believe it's all over! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Day Four

A few years back, when TVs were still giant boxes, my older sister Mary-Rose had one single wish for Christmas. A TV of her very own. 

As my family didn't even have cable until she was 16 years old this was, really, the first request of it's kind and it had caused quite a stir among all us siblings. 

As luck would have it, though, my parents were able to fulfill her wish that year, and purchased her a TV. While she was out one day, my mother worried aloud to me that she didn't know what to do with the box. After, all she had to wrap it so my sister wouldn't find it tucked away somewhere, but the box was so big that she'd have to bring it upstairs, wrap just the top and sides and let the bottom be. And once that happened, Mary-Rose would surely know what it was. 

One of my mother's favorite lines while I was growing up was "Necessity is the mother of invention" and it was with that imaginative mindset that I took to solving this problem for my mother. 

Finally, I had concocted the perfect plan and presented it to her. My mom could wrap the present and place it under the baby grand piano out of the way as planned with one minor change. 

My name would be on the tag.

With a glee that only cooking up a good Christmas surprise can bring,  we set about the task. When Mary-Rose saw the box under the piano she was thrilled for about 3 seconds: until she my name on it.

A few hushed conversations with me confirmed for her that by some terrible error her greatest wish had been ignored this Christmas. She new that box was a TV, and couldn't conceive of how our parents could be so cruel as to pass her over for me. The actress in me emerged as I assured her that I wanted a TV too and they must have known that. Or maybe that box wasn't a TV at all. She was fooled! 

That year, Christmas morning dawned as exuberantly as always and while we all sat in the living room opening our gifts, drinking cocoa and enjoying family time, Mary-Rose huddled rather sullenly in the family rocking chair. She opened her gifts and gave "thank yous", but clearly her heart was not all the way in it.

Secret glance were cast around the room all morning. The air crackling with excitement. Finally, the moment had come.

My father pushed the box to the center of the room and stood. Mom, Dad, and I all grinning from ear to ear. 

"Katy" my sister ejected hostilely from the rocking chair, "get up and open it already!"

My mother stood, "Mary-Rose," her voice thick with surprise, "this is for you."

For the first time that morning, a smile leapt to my sister's face. She pushed herself out of the chair. "What?"

and made her way over to the box. By now we were all standing or leaning forward in excitement. 

With just a little more coaxing, she was convinced it was, in fact, her gift to open, and grabbed at the paper. It gave with a satisfying r-i-i-i-p, revealing a shiny picture of a Sony television ready for action.

We laughed. Mary-Rose joined in the merriment tearing more paper aside, Christmas wish fulfilled. And then we all talked at once, giving up the ruse, sitting in the wrapping paper mess and grinning madly at her enjoyment. That's the best part of Christmas, really. 
The surprising.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Day Three

Panicked shrieks fill the air, followed by a babble of incoherent shouts. Pounding steps sound on the stairs as Emily rounds into the kitchen nearly in tears. Terror thuds through my chest as I ask her what's happened, sure some terrible thing has befallen one of my other two siblings upstairs.

Emily is barely able to get the words out but, finally, it all starts to make sense. Our baby brother Tim, all sweet chubby cheeks, pouty lips and three year old impishness has apparently found the presents Mary-Rose, Emily, and I had wrapped oh-so-carefully in preparation for Christmas.

And he tore open every. single. one.

The earrings Emily purchased for Mary-Rose seemed to be missing. And-the most horrible of horrible things.

The perfect surprise I found for my brother: Indeed, the one I'd been giddy with excitement over him opening had been exposed amid all the other gifts. 

 In the all the chaos, the large Mr. Potato Head pillow inspired by Toy Story, one of my little brother's current obsessions was lying willy-nilly in the wrapping paper, looking rather forlorn and shamed.

We yelled, we scolded. There were tears and a panicked search for the missing earrings. My mother was inundated with tattling, wailing, and cries for justice the moment we could make her aware of this most egregious act.

Yet, despite it all, the truth remained. We could not take back time. Those presents, no matter how beautifully re-wrapped, had already been opened. 

The Christmas bloom rubbed off.

Mom assured us Christmas morning would still be just as special. That Tim had only ruined Christmas for himself, and would realize his mistake and, likely, never make it again.

On Christmas morning, amid all the excitement,  my brother unwrapped Mr. Potato Head and, with barely a glance, tossed it over his shoulder and scootched closer to the tree for his next present. 

And to this day, I still feel a pinch of disappointment at the memory. 
(Though not as strongly now that a few years have passed. ahemsixteenahem)

Thanks a lot baby bro. . .you're lucky you still get any presents, at all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Day Two

My eyes pop open into the dark night. I lay flat on my back, then flip to my side, my stomach, my back again.

"Fall asleep!" I tell my ten year old brain.

"The faster you do, the faster you wake up and it will be Christmas!"

Tossing around once more, I know I can't take it anymore. Stealthily, I creep out of my bed and through my sister's side of the room. I tiptoe down our cranky stairs. Each creak and moan seems to reverberate through the whole house; a scream in the silence. Sweating, I make it to the bottom of the stairs and walk through the living room. This is the only night of the year I don't mind coming downstairs to the bathroom. Lights from the street shine eerily into the windows, and for a moment even the giant hulk of our tree frightens me. But then, I feel safe; the kind of safe only Christmas Eve can bring.

I make my way slowly through the room, my eyes always on the tree. Mom had warned us that this had been a rough year, we shouldn't be disappointed if we didn't get a ton of "stuff" on Christmas morning. The mound of presents under the tree sends a thrill of excitement up my body, though. She must have been tricking us!
After going to the bathroom, I open the door, and hear the stairs start to creaking again. Too light to be my parents. I hold my breath and my younger sister, Emily, comes into view.
I take an imperious tone and ask her what she's doing up in the night. She has to go to the bathroom too. . .

When she returns to the living room, we huddle together, giggling quietly as we gaze down at the presents. Carefully nudging a few, to see whose name is on the tag. We get the brilliant idea that we will spend the rest of the night snuggled together under the tree. Gathering blankets and throw pillows from the couch we bed down as close to the presents as we dare. The prickly tree branches reach out toward us, but we are completely safe.  I'm cold and a little uncomfortable but I ignore my discomfort and close my eyes, careful not to squish any gifts. 
We are not there long when the stairs shout that a third set of feet are making their way downstairs. I huddle against Emily, hoping it's not Mom.
But it is and, as she rounds the corner, I imagine her start of fright at two large lumps clustered next to the tree. She approaches and asks us what we're doing.

"We're sleeping under the tree" we tell her innocently. Duh.

"No," she tells us, "you need to go back upstairs and sleep in your beds. It'll be Christmas morning soon enough."

Looking back now I wonder what my mother must have been thinking in that moment. Was she laughing inside at her silly little girls, squeezed by the tree on the cold living room floor? She must have fought to keep a smile off of her face as she ordered us back upstairs. Our shoulders drooping slightly in defeat as we hoofed it back up the grumpy steps and to our warm beds.
Once we are back in our room, I get in bed and lay flat on my back.

"Fall asleep!" I  chant to myself again. 

"The faster you do, the faster you wake up and it will be Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Day One

In honor of Christmas in just ONE WEEK, I'm going to be sharing my favorite Christmas memories these next few days! And I don't want to be the only one talking. Comment with one of your favorite stories, or email me at You know you want to!

Some are funny, some are sweet, (I don't think any are sad), and as a preface to these stories: They are all the way I remember them now. I'm sure my family would love to argue with me on the details. . .

~~Christmas music is crooning out of the speakers of the CD player: Now fast sleigh bells, now slow falling snow. The Christmas tree lights are glowing cheerfully on my sister and I as we dance to the music. The silver beads my mother loves to drape around the tree are wrapped around us. Glistening silver gowns, intricately beaded. I am spinning, making the ends of my strand whirl in the colored lights. Sparkles of red, green, and yellow are bursting from the beads as they clink and clatter.

My mom cautions us not to break them as we fight and laugh, wrap and rewrap our little bodies in those gown beads. We are beautiful, grown up ladies, waiting for a Christmas ball.

Finally, mom extricates the beads from our grasp and strings them on the tree. For a moment, I am sad not to feel their coolness on my skin, but they are not the only delight sprung free of their boxes for a few weeks. Ornaments, Christmas bags and holiday baubles litter the house, waiting to be displayed. A red, wire candy dish shaped like a bell balances on the stairs, still seeming to hold the sweet smell of Christmas candy from last year. Our old wooden nativity waits in a tattered Pampers box to be set out. The angel held on to the roof by a loose, bent nail. My hands love the feel of the rough-hewn wood. Of the old pieces of hay glued onto the top, barely any remaining after the wear and tear of little fingers playing. Mom cautions us not to lose the Baby Jesus.

I am safe as if wrapped up tight in a cozy blanket. I feel I could hold my whole cozy home in my hands, and also as if  it  is new and unexplored, holding surprises in every corner. I am fresh and young, only a few Christmases to remember, yet ancient with the knowledge of all the Christmases past. Back to a hut of rough hewn wood. Back to a night that is redolent with the presence of angels and stars singing of the Christ child come.

I am careful not to lose Baby Jesus. ~~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Eat,Papa, Eat"

A few weeks ago, the fitness company that runs classes for my office began hyping up a biggest loser challenge they'd be hosting in office. I didn't join, but it seemed like a pretty great idea. Get people motivated about losing weight and staying fit during the holiday season-the most dangerous time of year. The contest has all kinds of incentive prizes and a final cash prize.

Now, let me juxtapose that with the list of treats that were made available to us through various vendors in our office today:
Godiva chocolates
Sugar cookies
Chocolate covered potato chips
chocolate covered nuts
chocolate peanut butter morsels
. . .and let's not forget the gingerbread house.

This is all in addition to our usual plate full of GIANT cookies we always get with lunch (our lunch is catered each day).

If this is the biggest loser, today is the episode where they shamelessly exploit all the contestants by shoving them in a room with mountains of all their favorite food and pretend to want them to abstain but secretly hope they'll gorge their obese selves into oblivion because, hey, this is reality TV and that's what we all tuned it to see, right?

Trust: it's disgusting.

Now excuse me while I go find that recipe for the chocolate/peanut butter/pretzel bars I plan to make for a party this weekend. If there are leftovers, I'll probably bring them into work. . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trim That Tree {Hank}

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I cajoled my roommate out into the freezing cold night to pick out our Christmas tree.  I like to get as much holiday cheer crammed into the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years as possible! We made our way to my first ever city tree lot, which turned out to be a surprisingly painless experience. In about 3 minutes we'd parked, climbed through the tiny fir forest and found a suitably chubby tree that was nicely shaped. And, OK  we also made the men open up a tree from Nova Scotia just because our friend Sarah is from there and we thought it might be fun (our tree is from Quebec!). Before we knew it, he was loaded into the trunk of our giant zipcar and we were home and struggling to manhandle our tree into our tiny apartment.

No sooner had we moved our table into my bedroom to make room for the tree did we realized our "smallish" tree was actually quite a bit larger than we'd first thought.  As he settled into his stand Hank (as I've come to think of him) began to get bulkier and bulkier, spreading our over the whole nook we'd given over to him.

The next day when I came home, Hank had expanded to even greater size, his chunky branches pushing their way farther into the living room. His rotund middle reminding me of my grandpa's round belly. With some whimsical colored light on though, he's shining away robustly as I type this and I'm loving it. 

Some months ago,  I got the idea in my head that I'd really love to have a tree trimming party! You know, good friends, yuletide themed treats, and a bunch of people to help dress our tree! There appeared to be some confusion about what a tree trimming actually was ( a few people were expecting some branch thinning to go on!), but after that was cleared up, I like to think it went rather smashingly   Hank is looking resplendent with all his new baubles placed just so, and it feels even more like  Christmas in our little apartment.

I forgot to snap pictures most of the night, but here are a few !

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas time is here,

 happiness and cheer!

Oh my, friends, I sure am in my glory. Since about 12:00 AM Thanksgiving morning I have morphed into a holiday animal. I erupt into random song at various hours of the day (well. . .I might do that all the time. . .), I OD on carols every day on the way to and from work, and  today I started hopping around in excitement after arriving home to a pile of web ordered presents delivered and sitting in my lobby. 

This year, for the first time in my grown life, I'll be hosting some of my family at my place for a Christmas Eve celebration. And I and For weeks now, thoughts have been running through my head. Eggnog pancakes or ginger bread? Lasagna or roast? 

And I'm also excited, as we'll get to head downtown and see the Christmas lights and I'm hoping hoping hoping there'll be some carolers tra-la-la-ing, as well!

My weeks are replete with plans for upcoming holidays parties, including one of my own on Sunday (a tree trimming!) and I'm wishing I had enough glittery attire to wear every day until new year!

And the best part, everywhere I walk in the city, there are beautiful reminders of the season !

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Like mother, like daughters. 

Apple pie, mom
Pumpkin pie, older sis
Pecan pie, me
(we sure love us some baking)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Little Less Face, a Little More Book (or work)

A few nights ago, as I clicked away on Facebook on my computer, my hand inadvertently reached for my smartphone and before I knew what was happening I'd opened up Facebook. On my phone. Even though I was already browsing it on my computer.


You guys, that is seriously a problem, right? And I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one with a phone muscle memory programmed to checking Facebook.

So, this week I've decided to make a commitment to myself for the rest of the month of November. I've decided that during the day (specifically at work) I will not use my phone to log on Facebook more than one time. As we are headed into the 2012 holiday season, I know we all are evaluating our lives and this past year. We are thankful for what we've gained and who we've loved. And hopeful for the new year fast approaching. The past few years on my blog I've forged a thankfulness campaign in November (who remembers those dreaded vlogs I decided to do in 2010? Ugh.) to remind myself and others to stop and be mindful of the things in life we have been blessed with each day.

This year, one thing I'm NOT thankful for is the way smartphones have eliminated being present and focused in our culture. One of my biggest pet peeves is being in a conversation with someone only to have them unwittingly pick up their phone and lapse into that coma of "uh huhs" and "yeas" when I know they aren't really listening to me. And I'm sure I do it to people too, which is the kicker! So I'm going to change that, at least on my end.

I'm going to train myself to not be glued to my phone but, instead experience more of what is going on around me, not on my phone. And I figure eliminating Facebook distractions is a pretty solid start. Who knows where I'll go from there?

I'll keep you posted on my progress, and I challenge you to join me! Let's be present in each others lives in a real and lasting way these next few months. It can only help us build a habit that will last us into 2013 and beyond! Tell me if you'll join me or encourage me here:

Post Edit: I wrote this post about a week ago (in case you're thinking this is lame since November is well on it's way to being over. . .). I've been doing pretty great, actually and really enjoying slowing my obsessive phone checking habits at work. Today, however, about a half hour before the end of my long, albeit productive, day in the office, I was put on hold during once last call I made to get some information. And before I even knew it, I'd fished out my phone and was scrolling through Facebook,  but I wasn't even looking at my phone. It was like a last involuntary twitch from many hours spent doing that very same action. I was a little discouraged, but it also made me laugh. Here's to tomorrow: A new day during which my phone will stay safely in my purse far away from the reach of my "I'm on hold and super bored hands"!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween 2012

I'm not really a Halloween celebrating type person. I didn't grow up in a home where Halloween was a big deal and we only dressed up a few times over the years. Honestly, minus indulging in a snack size kit kat or ten, the holiday barely registers on my radar.

This year, some friends were a hosting a small get together, however, and I was all about the Halloween cookies. Cuz, you know, sometimes I like to bake. . .

Making these little spooky treats was so fun, I'm almost excited for Halloween next year!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Parolee and Napoleon go to Boston

I seem to have this uncanny ability to be in the right place at the wrong time when it comes to run ins with officers of the law. There was the time a friend and I were in a car at about 2 AM while I whined about boy problems and a cop intercepted us because he thought we were "parking". I spent several minutes introducing him to my roommate and generally making an awkward scene with the door cracked because I panicked and forgot how to open the window. 
Oh, and the time another roomie and I saved a guy after a mugging, called the cops and got questioned by a detective (!) who ended up not caring about us at all once he found out we didn't actually witness the mugging and only let the victim in to our apartment and gave him water and called his girlfriend. Whatever, detective. Being a good Samaritan is important, too.

Today began just as innocently as I got in line at a federal building in downtown Boston where my credit union is located. The line for the security check was longer than usual and with a huff I shuffled to the back. A man two in front of me stood out in the crowd. He was a rough dude, made more intimidating by the fact that he was loudly announcing  that he was just out of jail again and would rather just stayed in another 6 months because he doesn't "do that parole shit" (pardon his language. . .)

Finally it was his turn at the security check and, within seconds, was in a verbal altercation with one of the security guards who heard Parolee call him a name. I generally assume security guards have a Napoleon Complex of sorts...which may be unfair, but whatever the case, this escalated pretty quickly. 

Another security guard backed Napoleon up, and they started kicking Parolee out of the building. Shouting continued and the security guards changed their minds, telling Parolee to stay put and they were going to call the cops. Parolee and Napoleon got feisty and starting backing up toward me, arms being thrust and thrown about threateningly. I slowly backed into the marble column behind me, hoping a wayward first wouldn't meet my face.
Parolee decided he'd had enough and was leaving no matter what the security guards said, and made a dash for the exit with Napoleon and his buddy in hot pursuit. 

At one point while ripping through the belted off area, the larger of the security guards got wrapped in the belt and was derailed while someone tried to help him. I tried not to laugh.

Much to Parolee's detriment no less than 5 police officers  happened to be loitering right outside the federal building and were quickly hailed by Napoleon. Two other security guards resumed running the security. I was extra polite. I smiled and folded my jacket nicely
and waiting patiently until I was told to walk through the metal detector  
Then, BEEP. I had set off the metal detector.
Rolling my eyes, I walked through and stepped aside to be have a hand wand check. I figured it was the decorative metal buckles on my shoes.

The guard directed me to hold on to the x-ray machine and lift one foot out of my shoe and then changed his mind
"Take off both your shoes," He said
"And put my feet on the floor?"  I gaped at him in horror while clinging to the metal detector one leg shoe less, hovering, stork like, in the air.

Something told me this wasn't the best time to question him. In the wake of a  testosterone infused altercation but, seriously, I don't know what's on that ground! 

After a resigned sigh, he caved, letting me alternate shoes off,feet held aloft, away from the floor. Finally, I was cleared to go about my business.

Later, I stepped outside to find Parolee in handcuffs screaming at one if the 5 cops surrounding him. I ducked my head and hurried past. Then snapped a photo from across the street (I've taken the liberty of pointing out the fuzzy parole in  handcuffs for you)

I would have stopped to get a closer view but the voice of reason from earlier won out, convincing me that snapping a photo of an arrest would cause more of a ruckus than the shoe debacle.

Darn,  wouldn't I have loved to instagram that!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life Lately

Phew, this fall is a whirlwind. For now, I think I'll let these photos tell the story. . .

Between visits with family, time with friends, keeping up with my new jogging regimen, and whipping up fun, fall goodies it seems I barely have a spare minute to write. Look out for some updates this week,  though. It seems Hurricane Sandy is going to make the time for me!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lonesome Dreams

If there is one thing I have loved from an early age, it is music. My mother could tell you tales about how particular I was about the order of songs she sang for me, or how long and detailed my renditions of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" could be.  

This same intense connection to music hasn't changed as I've gotten older, and I'm always searching for new and powerful music. Good music.  I want music to make my heart beat fast and slow and not at all for just a few moments. My lips should swell in an unquenchable smile from the unending joy of beautiful sounds joining together. I've only felt this sort of musical exultance once or twice.  Last night, as my friends and I shuffle danced our way through song after song, I felt it. 

This Thursday, two friends and I went to see the band Lord Huron just a mere 2 days after their first full length album was released. It is a true sound treasure. NPR describes it as a mash up of the cavernous choruses colliding with the polyrhythmic playfulness
Everything about the evening was perfect. The venue, a smallish dive bar a few minutes walk from my place. The opening act was sassy, sultry, and not half bad. And, when well after my weeknight bed time, Lord Huron stepped on stage, it was like I had entered an alternate universe.  And the best part? As joyful as their music makes me, the members of the band seemed to take just as much joy from it. More than once, I caught a happy grin spreading across the faces of the band members. They danced and smirked and sang their way through the night enjoying the making of their music as much as I did. I loved it.

Alas, once the dream haze of the show ended it became clear that my transcendent experience was over. I came crashing back to earth just in time to have the bassist and electric guitarist appear to our left. My friend Nicole wasted no time in greeting Miguel, the bassist and sharing our pleasure over their performance. He was sweet and lively and grateful  Shaking hands and taking our names. She was warm and friendly and encouraging, complimenting him and his band mates on a job well done.  

Oh, what about me, you ask? 

I crept around the edges of the conversation like the socially awkward thirteen year old I sometimes am. I tried to look encouraging and enthusiastic. I daresay, I might have looked more like a deranged creepster pretending to be part of the group. Lord, help me.

A few minutes later, as we chatted up another band member, our friend Nate joined us, greeting Tom like an old friend, amiably asking him about his life and times. You know.

I kept up the awkward lingering, I'm nothing if not consistent, folks.

Nonetheless, as we said our final goodbyes to the band and headed out the door we got a lovely surprise  I made my pals stop for a little photo shoot in front of the chalkboard where Lord Huron's performance was hastily advertised. Miguel happened to be stepping outside and cheerfully jumped in with them for a photo of his own accord! Whataguy! I'm glad he was unphased by my creepster tendencies, what a great memory this photo makes for!

and here are some other highlights from the evening:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ring Ting Tingling, Too

I don't know about everyone else, but coming off of a three day weekend has been a little bit rough this week (unless you live in CA, where my roommate informed me, they apparently don't really do Columbus Day. Hmm.) Yesterday, especially, getting up was a chore. A look at the weather, before getting dressed, however, spurred a thrill up my spine as I saw that the high would only be in the mid 50s. Perfect fall weather! My mini pumpkins shone merrily in the window despite overcast skies and as I stepped outside to walk the train, I filled my lungs with brisk fall air. October and November are probably some of my favorite months of the year. They are pregnant with a promise of harvest, holidays to come, brilliant changing colors, and cool, invigorating air. And. . .as I walked out of the train station, there was a special nip in the breeze. It was just a wisp that I barely grasped as I moved by but it felt like a Christmas breeze. In fact, I think I heard the slightest hint of a melody. A "just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ba ba badada dum" whispered on the cheerful fall wind. Oooh, I'm shivering with delight now just remembering it.

Preceded this little holiday sprinkle, were three days replete with birthday celebrations for my friend Hannah. We drank delicious drinks, ate  lovely food, sang some karaoke (umm, Destiny's Child, anyone?) and generally had fun celebrating Hannah's birth. She asked me to make a cake for one leg of the celebration and as she's from Tennessee  I went for a sort of country western themed cake. Hidden inside the fondant shell was a little chocolate on chocolate action for a girl who loves her some rich goodies! Yum!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

KatyInTheKitchen: Late Summer Peach Pecan Pie

Believe me, no one is more aware of the fact that it is no longer summer. Autumn, glorious autumn is pushing her way into New England and I couldn't be more ecstatic. A few weeks before fall, however, while reading a food blog, I came across a recipe for Peach Pecan PieThe author was raving about this quintessential late summer treat and suddenly I was overcome with the urge to bake one. Never mind that, in all my years, peach pie has never marked the end of summer for me; or, that pie isn't really a favorite treat of mine. I felt as if this pie, made entirely from scratch was imperative to bid farewell to sultry summer and make way for fall. 

I scoured two separate farmers' markets for the appropriate peaches, and made sure to stock up on some last minute ingredients. Then, last Wednesday, I embarked on my peach pie journey. 

Everything went swimmingly, especially the fun part about pouring the custard mixture over the delectable peaches! The pecan topping was supposed to be a yummy crumble. . .

and here is where I discovered a fun fact. 

My oven is apparently on the fritz. My crumble slowly melted into a pecan crust much to my dismay. This happened to me a few weeks ago while I was making some zucchini muffins with a crumb top but I figured my proportions were just off. Now, I'm thinking my oven temperature is off!  Naturally, this would happen right before fall and the holidays. 

Nonetheless, my peachy pie was a delicious way to end the summer. On Thursday, a friend joined me for a hearty dinner of pot roast with slow cooked veggies and then we stuffed ourselves with some of this fruity tart for dessert. Yum. . .with summer ending so deliciously, I'm almost sad to see it go. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fair Season

Fair season is one of my favorite parts of late summer in New England. I don't know what is is about county fairs that makes them so thrilling to me, but I always look forward to September!  Saturday, my friends Rachel, Sarah, and I made our traditional trek to the Big E: "The largest fair in the Northeast". We spent a relaxing day enjoying some delicious fair food, checking out livestock (no, this is not a typo, see piglets below), and strolling through the brightly lit midway at night. We also stopped by on of the many arenas at the fair to watch out a horse jumping show. The arena was filled with cheering, gasping, and constant commentary about how well each contestant did or didn't to. You wouldn't think three women could make so much noise but we managed. I mean, no one else was making any noise, you'd think they'd want to encourage the jumpers! Or, maybe it's supposed to be quiet like tennis. . . (Joking, joking. We weren't that loud. I hope.)

P.S. I apologize for the chaos you might have noticed going on with my blog design the last week or so. Sometimes, blogger likes to do the opposite of what I tell it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bye Bye Betsy

This week I am officially saying goodbye to my first, and best, little red car. Betsy.

Thanks to my gracious parents, I received Betsy even before I had my license. She didn't have electric windows or locks or even a CD player, but I couldn’t have cared less. I remember the way she smelled, the way it felt to roll into school those first few days in junior year. I remember when my Dad and I installed my new Kenwood CD player and I thought, surely, I was the coolest cat alive.

Betsy has been my two ton safety blanket through my final years of highschool, a move to college,a crazy job in Western MA and finally my move to Boston. Just before my move here, though, Betsy apparently decided she wasn't cut out for city living. Her engine and a myriad of other functions went south. Despite some gentle suggestions from friends, I forced her to the city and kept her running, albeit barely, because I couldn’t handle not having the independence of my car.

Finally, however, I've decided it's time to let Bets go. She's made every effort to let me know her wishes, believe me (you can read about some of those messages here and here).

Undoubtedly, the "Hallelujah Chorus" is playing loudly in every one of my close friends ears right now. Mostly because for all the inordinate amount of stress Bets has caused me these last few years, I've counteracted it by talking to them about all her problems . Non stop. Much to their joy, they'll never have to hear about Betsy and her failing transmission/radiator/speedometer/exhaust stystem again!

And while I have had a few pity parties, and my fierce independent streak is having to die to itself so I can ask for rides here and there, I am mostly reminded that people go carless in Boston every day. People that include some of my closest friends. And they still manage to get where they need to go and it's not the end of the world. Oh, right. NOT the end of the world. Funny, that. Because I'm pretty sure I've spent the last two plus years dumping lots of money into that old gal thinking that when she died it would be.

So there is it. Rest in pieces, Betsy Too. These last 7 years were great (OK… not so much the last two).

P.S. Has anyone ever written a more dramatic post about a car? I think not.

Betsy is going to be sold for parts to help the Special Olympics (because I love the Olympics)

Monday, September 10, 2012

20 Minutes

25 Seconds? 25 seconds left! I did it!

My brain jolted in shock and surprise, giving a peppy little bounce to my last few jogging steps as the timer ran down. For the first time in my life I had just run for 20 minutes straight without stopping!

For all you runners out there, I know what you're thinking. "Whoopdeedoo, a whole 20 minutes. I run, like, twice that every day."  But, people, this is for real exciting for me!

I've spend a lot of my life wishing that I could be a runner. In middle school when the state used to make us do our "fitness test" which involved running a mile, I was always one of the slow, chubby kids at the back of the pack that ran for about half a lap before giving up (by the way Connecticut, forcing kids to randomly run a mile once a year doesn't actually have anything to do with making them healthier. It's mostly just embarrassing.) As I got older, and actually found I liked working out, I still never quite took to running. It was hard, and I felt like I was nailed to the pavement everytime I tried to run. I stuck to speed walking, aerobics (maybe that's where I got my affinity for shiny leotards. . .{kidding!}), and late night dance parties in my apartment. . .if those count.

Still every time I'm outside on a brisk walk and some athletically blessed person blasts by me, I can't help staring at them wistfully. Longing to be them: hair streaming in the wind, pounding around on toned calves.

I've heard rumblings about The Couch to 5K running program for awhile now, and when a friend was looking for a training program a few months ago, I suggested it to her. Every day at work, I'd hear about how miraculous the program was. She was running!

Enter me and my competitve self deciding I was going to try it too! About 6 weeks ago, I began the progam which involves interval training for 3, half hour workouts a week. Super easy, super short, and great because if one day I didn't get to it, or did some other exercise instead, I wasn't completely off the program!

my feet aren't really this disproportionate to my body. Awkward angle, I promise. 
Thus we arrive to the miracle of all miracles: Me. Running 20 whole minutes! It might not have been pretty, and I probably looked like one of those people you see barely moving on the side of the road and you wonder why they don't just stop and walk. Now I know, they probably don't because they're doing a running program and their stubborn streak refuses to let them. And now I'm one of them. A runner!