Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flavor of the month

Ever since I was a kid, I've gone through phases where I wanted to keep eating the same thing — ramen noodles or Chef Boyardee canned ravioli or, for the past two years, the chicken salad at Qdoba.

This month, that thing is Key lime desserts.

I've eaten a tart at Harry's, a cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake, and a mini-serving of pie at Bosley.

It would be hard to pick a favorite. The tangy tart? The light cupcake? The creamy pie? It's like comparing apples and oranges (groan).

So instead I'll just say that I'm lucky to have such wonderful friends. Sharing dessert and drinks is one of life's little pleasures. Or big pleasures, when you get to do it often.

PS: Michele, the owner of Bosley, offered to let me snap a photo in the kitchen, where the light was better. Alas, Katy and I decided to dig in instead.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh no Papa, not the holiday garbage!

I just came home to a stick from a Tootsie Pop, on the floor of the living room.

Oh, no.

Isn’t it crazy how much garbage Papa extracted without fully knocking over the can?

To be fair, she had a tough day. I took her to the vet to have two lumps removed. He’s checking to make sure the one lump isn’t cancerous (he doesn’t think so but wants to confirm because it was near her breast).

So I think Pops was not herself after spending half the day being drugged, poked, and prodded.

Or maybe she was exactly herself. She gets nutty with garbage during the holidays.

I know my routine changes this time of year, but Papa, please don’t pitch any more fits. There should be a limit to how many times I have to use the vacuum cleaner in one day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tennis surprises

What keeps me playing tennis — aside from the competition and camaraderie — is the element of surprise. You just never know what is going to happen.

By “surprise,” I don’t mean hitting a quirky little drop shot when your opponent expected a ground stroke.

I am referring to aberrant things. Things that don't make sense.

Patrice and I have played together for two years — more than 20 matches. Which is why it was surprising that we sucked in the first four games of our match in Le Club’s Great Turkey Open.

This is not hyperbole. Or humilty. We really sucked. (After the match Nan, one of our opponents, asked, “What was up with those first four games?”)

We had trouble hitting the ball. After a shaky warmup, I attributed this to my jitters. It felt like a big deal to play against Nan and Jody, someone whom I’ve known for years but never played.

Obviously if we could have just stopped doing whatever we were doing, we wouldn’t have gotten into a 4-0 deficit.

But somehow, shot by shot, we started to figure it out. At least we started to have rallies rather than ending points with our mistakes.

Surprise! We came back to win the set. And the match.

On Saturday we played a team I remember as The Ham Sandwich Girls. Last year, they won a three-setter, ate ham sandwiches, and came out and beat us in three sets. They then played a third match.

It is intimidating to play people for whom fatigue is not an issue.

But I really wanted to win. And don’t ever doubt it, so did Patrice.

I can’t really remember the match, other than that it was grueling and I got aced a couple of times. But we did it: 7-5, 7-5.

Then, surprise! It was not the championship match. (“It felt like it,” I said.)

We played once more and won in straight sets. And I enjoyed two turkey sandwiches afterward.

I should mention, I was nervous before our second match, too. But Jody said that things were different this year. So thank you, Jody, for the encouraging words. They really helped.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More cupcakes!

I came home from last Friday's festivities to find two pink and black boxes from Georgetown Cupcake. Michelle had ordered four dozen cupcakes — one in each flavor, plus some.

Yukie and I tried the vanilla with chocolate ganache and the chocolate mint. (The image is from Georgetown Cupcake's website.)

I later sampled the lemon, mint cookies and creme, milk chocolate birthday, and PB fudge. (If you check out the menu, you'll see photos of almost all of their cupcakes.)

All the ones I tried were delicious — the perfect ratio of cake to frosting. If I had to pick a favorite, the chocolate mint would top the list. That creamy mint frosting was amazing.

If you count the baking before my birthday, I ate cupcakes for six days straight. I think that's a respectable effort.

Thank you, Michelle, for the gift. It's like the party is still going on.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Candy rings and creativity

My friend Sarah always gives beautiful gifts like jeweled Swarovski pencils and personalized address stamps — and this week I was blown away by this solid chocolate ring from Promise Me Chocolate.

The "amethyst" is hand-painted milk chocolate with a champagne-y shimmer. Given my challenges making silicone molds, I'm especially impressed with how beautiful these rings are. The company also makes chocolate pendants strung on licorice (!) and truffles with flavored ganache fillings.

In addition to having a great eye for gifts, Sarah is incredibly creative. Check out her recent post at the PaperDolls of Saratoga blog for ways to make your own Thanksgiving placecards.

(And yes, Sarah made that bookmark — though I wish I could take credit.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cocktails, cupcakes, and Funky Cold Medina

My 40th birthday was awesome! Blue's Egg was a great venue to relive the 80s.

Or at least the music of the 80s: arena rock, power ballads, British pop, and so many one- and two-hit wonders.

Even though my taste in 80s music horrifies Jeremy, he put together a respectable song list. Sandra tried to rally people to dance — and was successful at one point. Must've been the Funky Cold Medinas, which were delicious with lemonade.

A few people embraced the 80s theme admirably: Jay accessorized with a flamingo tie, Linda layered an Izod vest over a blouse with tennis racquets, Bonch went Karate Kid, Amy got leg warmers from Goodwill, and Al wore Chuck Taylors (and told us about the lime green and pink pairs he used to trade with his high school friend).

I was a bit jealous of Denise's plastic charm necklace, which she actually got in the 80s. Out of respect, she removed the toilet charm, but I'd have liked to see it!

Without question the most daring getup of the night was Jordan in his black mesh half-shirt. Rad! We all admired how he truly went for it.

Big thanks to everyone who helped me organize the party. Serene designed the invitations, Linda helped me shop for my outfit, Yukie baked the cupcakes, Patty and Dave did balloon duty, Jeremy and Keith took care of the music, Alicia arrived early to help set up, and Erin and Kelsey handled the music trivia. I appreciate all the help!

Per our tennis group's tradition, Dianne handed off the gnome — which was a way better memento than the bruise she gave me at tennis Wednesday night. (Just kidding, I know it was an accident. Right?)

I signed the gnome's oddly muscular bicep and propped him up next to my TV, where he can amuse visitors with his halfhearted smile.

Thanks everyone, for your friendship and your festive spirit. I'm so lucky to have such great family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and teammates. You truly know how to party like it's 1989!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oh no Papa, not the toilet paper!

For the “How did she do that?” file:

Saturday night, Papa opened the hallway door — as in, turned the knob and pulled the door toward her — and went upstairs.

I found a pile of shredded toilet paper in the bathroom.

Could’ve been worse: she did leave most of the paper on the roll. Thanks, Papa.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekend of Dianne

Dianne just celebrated a milestone: her 50th birthday. As you can see, the surprise party that Don planned had the desired effect.

Last Friday night, we all arrived at Laura and Kevin's house, parked discreetly, and hung out in the basement until Dianne and Don arrived. Dianne said he just can't lie — but he did a tremendous job of having his friends lie for him.

And though she thought it was odd that no one had asked what her birthday plans were, she was grateful for the cards sent by her 80-year-old aunt and the waiter from Lake Park Bistro.

Two things about Dianne: she will talk to just about anyone and she is super athletic. I actually met her at Highlander years ago, before I knew that she played tennis or that we'd be on the same team. Somehow, without knowing each other, we randomly started talking about how the Bucks were doing.

And on occasion, driving home from work, I'd see her running in Tosa. We were practically neighbors.

But back to the party. It was great — sandwiches on freshly baked buns, plenty of beer and wine, and cake. Like every good house party, we migrated to the kitchen to hang out. When we left, Dianne had two glasses in her hands.

She rallied for a birthday dinner on Saturday — a mellow outing at Cafe Hollander — and then brunch at the Knick. I could also have joined her at body pump on Sunday morning, but my commitment to fitness was better suited to attacking a football-sized chicken and Havarti omelet.

I really enjoyed Weekend of Dianne. Thank you for including me. And cheers to Don for his strategery!