Sunday, May 31, 2009

A weekend of firsts

This weekend I have become a baking expert and golf champion.

From Arthur Schwartz's cookbook I made a chocolate babka that although fantastic and in many ways more perfect than even Zabar's, needs to be made with smaller chocolate bits next time so they melt into more even layers.

After pulling my masterpiece out of the oven we left for the Bear Trace course in Jackson, TN, where I wowed everyone with my first-timer skills - mostly at driving the golf course in reverse. So I'm not great, but according to Josh I swing on plane, which is very good and means I am a natural pro, I just need a little practice. But I looked pretty damn cool in my NEW pink & white fingerless golf gloves.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Southern belle

Today I met Miss Martha Jane, who David and his sister used to fight over visiting so they could make fairy gardens with the moss and dandelions from her garden. I had been told about her in great detail, specifically that she was an amazing momento of the old South, but nothing could have prepared me for her mouth - loved it. So instead of trying to explain I will just quote two gems from this afternoon:

"I liked Princess Di - but her husband was a terrible nincompoop. Now that doesn't mean she should have run around on him, but when you're married to a nincompoop sometimes you need fresh air."

When David told her he was going to Korea and would live in Seoul, a city of 10 million, her response was: "My! Who are they all kin to?!"

Monday, May 25, 2009

What's the matter with kids today?

The best part of coming to my country house is finding all my old books. Now that she can read, I thought Ava was finally old enough to start appreciating some of these fab classics and so I offered to read her Ballet Shoes last night to put her to bed. She lay there politely for the first few pages then tapped me to say: "I'm kind of bored."

So I left in a huff and put myself - very happily - to sleep with Ballet Shoes while the mega moths we have up here threw themselves onto my window screen (they sound like boulders when they hit).

Today I agreed to play with Ava and Spencer, doing something they did not think was boring, and ended up pretending pirates on our little inflatable boat. I don't remember Ava's name but Spencer was Red Thunder, Linda was Glitter Hook and I was Black Boots. Unsure whether the fun of this game was lost below or above me but I opted to help my mom strip furniture instead of continuing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tour of the South

Photo diary of last weekend in Arkansas (which, in sum, was nominally successful since I did find an apt that I am in the process of signing for - I'm going to have a garage and a patio):

What there is for breakfast:

Inaugural trip to Cracker Barrel - I love it
Krispy Kreme - free donut!

What there is to read:

What there is to see from the car window (aka, my future neighborhood):

What there is to do on the weekend:

(No idea who this crazy with the cuffed shorts is)

What you look like when your flight back north is canceled:

(luckily it was a false alarm)

The s-word

On Memorial Day vacation with the kids at my country house and they are quite the riot when they're not whining. Ava (7) apparently has learned the "s-word," or at least she knows there is a word otherwise known as the "s-word" that she is not supposed to say - we're not clear whether she actually knows the word.

This got brought up in the car ride up here when we played a word game and were on the letter S, finding words that started with it. Her contribution was "the s-word, you know, the s-word."

Spencer (5) overheard all this and now anytime he hears something wrong or that he doesn't like he thinks it's "the s-word." Earlier he came in whining saying Ava was being mean to him and "had said the s-word: 'I don't want you out here.'"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Golf Sore

I'm taking up golf in order to pre-emptively find hobbies conducive to lonely weekends in northwest Arkansas. Yesterday I took a group lesson with our school's women in business group at the driving range on Diversey (quite beautiful actually, on the lakefront). After 20 minutes of hitting the ball down, left and right I finished up my balls and left no more skillful than when I arrived.

And today my left forearm is in extreme pain - which is funny, since I was hitting right-handed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nose power

I don't know much about this Daniel Hinkley, and I thought "The Nose" was a frenchman, but I love this from his WSJ magazine article (April 30, 2009):

Garlic Naan

I once stayed in a hotel in Calcutta that was adjacent to a popular bakery that made only naan bread, plain and garlic. They would fire the ovens early in the morning and I would wake up salivating from bread dreams. All of my possessions were infused with the odor. Weeks later, while in the mountains of northern India, I caught the fragrance of garlic naan on a T-shirt. I considered eating it.

From cig to SIGG

I've decided to be healthier and drink more water, so today I bought a SIGG, which is fabulous. This pic doesn't do much for it, but that's the best lighting I could get with my cell phone camera in the drab computer room at school.

It's small and pink, with a slightly pebbled matte texture and a glow-in-the-dark cap (which I guess is so you can find it in your tent at night?? not sure what the intended purpose is). It actually is useful for me, since I have a crowded purse that does get quite dark inside.
So far I have drank at least 1 cup of water more than I would have today if I didn't have my SIGG.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Some of my least fave things

Emma and Otilia coming out of the Lincoln Park Zoo's reptile house (that I had carefully avoided) to torture me with a photo of something called a "naked molerat?"

Otilia trying again to horrify me with the fistful of gummy rats she bought at the museum gift shop.

A few of my fave things

I have had a very successful week of eating since last weekend in NYC, most of which I unfortunately scarfed down before remembering to record on film. My trip to NYC started off with Ollie's pan fried noodles for lunch (as per usual).

Later that day was dinner at A.O.C for Nicole's b-day, where we did the usual: lardons, french onion soups, cheese plates, etc. for hours while sober Abby froze at the outside table we forced her to agree to. Randomly, Efrat and Adam Kline were there.

The next night I spent over 5 hours at Flatbush Farms, which was shockingly expensive (seriously Brooklyn - what are you trying to prove?) although delicious. Randomly, Helen Hsu was there.

I finished off the weekend with one last pre-airplane lunch at Ollie's, and brought my stinky left-overs on the plane all the way back to Chicago.

Friday I had Clare, Teresa, Persis and Linsay over for b-day planning dinner - Persis brought over her amazing experimental flatbread pizzas and Clare brought meats from Fox & Obel (that apparently has a new and very disappointing salumi guy who "did not enjoy her selection process"). Nine episodes of Sex and the City, many bottles of wine and a short nap later it was off to the airport to pick up Otilia and Emma!

Saturday we spent shopping, mostly at the Spice Store on Wells, then downed wings all evening to relieve the semi-boredom of sports at Mother Hubbard's. Randomly, Libby was there - and she wasn't even the only person from our college there, some girl from the class below us happened to have chosen that particular frat-boy spot to watch to Bulls/Celtics game. After an amazing set of blues at Kingston Mines and a burger and fries that appeared out of nowhere we were in bed by 1am like good girls.

The next day started with bloody mary and creamed breakfast potato brunch at Dunley's on Clark and turned into a cupcake tour of Chicago. First we stopped at Molly's, then took the bus all the way to Sugar Bliss to compare. Otilia says they are just two different cakes altogether, but I consider yesterday the day Sugar Bliss won out for good. True to form, Otilia bought one mini of each flavor, ate the frosting and tops off all of them, and chucked the rest.

To digest we watched Bolt (Emma's new favorite movie, she actually wanted to stay home instead of going to dinner to watch it again - that would have been the THIRD time this weekend), then headed out for a final dinner at Avec.

Luckily we had to wait a good 45 min outside with only wine for sustenance so we could work up some stomach space next to the cupcakes.

With 5 of us greedy piglets scrambling to try every shared dish this was the only thing that we stopped long enough to get a picture of, but we had some of everything: shaved brussel sprouts with parm, my fave chorizo-stuffed dates (so I remember for next time and do not make us over-order even more severely, I can only eat 3 of them), my next-fave truffled-and-cheesed foccacia, a cheese plate that put a sock in my snobby comments, handmade pasta bits with cumin-seasoned lamb (it was like being in Shanghai again - or Ed's Potstickers!), warm octopus salad, and freshly-made chocolate crisps. We ate so much that Otilia and Emma fell asleep during the 10-minute car ride home and we were all in bed by ELEVEN pm, like geriatrics. (Meanwhile Teresa, apparently the youngster of the group, went home and edited an entire music video.)

Things have seriously changed. I used to want to go out hard at least two nights every time I went home to NYC, and never woke up before noon. My parents were shocked to see me up and about by 9am every single morning this time. And when Otilia and Emma came here with Nicole and Jihan just a year and a half ago we never came home before 4am. This time, instead of sleeping through driving Nicole to her 8am flight, I was actually dressed and lively at 5:30am in time to drive Otilia and Emma to O'Hare. Who have I become??

Money makin'

Well, not really. For my most unpleasant class, which focuses on global financial policy, we have to do a simulation exercise on an FX trading platform. So this evening, prior to Australia's announcement of whether it will cut rates, what its economic forecast is, etc., I am pretending I
know enough to game the foreign exchange market. Which is clearly a joke. Except that it is not funny.