Friday, December 31, 2010

Season's Greetings to you, too.

Does it look familiar?

There was a thoughtful, handwritten note inside without a signature.

Is it from you?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Cannot Sleep

I've been up since 3:05a. This is what's on my mind:

1. Thing 1's birthday party is tomorrow. I've done nearly nothing to prepare for it. Why isn't Baskin Robbins open at 4:25a for me to order the cake?!

2. We have lunch reservations at Bouchon. I may be too tired to enjoy it.

3. The Dining Room aka the Bat Mitzvah Staging Room, is a disaster. Chaos makes me nervous.

4. I should be grocery shopping. There is nothing to eat in the house as we've not been to the store since returning from Tahoe.

5. Neeracha has a new pair of Manolos. I am equal parts happy for her and jealous.

6. I am shopping online.

7. Thing 2 has been up all night coughing. I am afraid it will turn into croup. I can sleep through the phone ringing but wake with every cough of hers.

8. The ski conditions are pristine and we're down in the Bay.

9. I need to write an channels education marketing plan. And contact the 38 Cisco partners who participated in a pilot demand generation campaign to see if they followed up on their B and C leads.

10. A bunch of holiday cards came in while we were gone last week. I did not send cards to most of them. Will we have any friends left this time next year?!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The best ski day ever

It's been a great week at Tahoe.

My SIL and her family came up from LA. My MIL came up with her gentleman friend and the extended clan dined together two nights. We've had fresh snow. We've had wind free days to ski. We've had sunny and wind free days to ski. There have been enough people here to make it fun but not so many that it's a zoo.

Today was the best day of all: Dave, the littlest Pinks and I had a epic day on the mountain. There was no fighting, just lots of laughs on intermediate runs with views all the way down to the lake. My head is so swollen with pride that Liberty has embraced skiing so wholeheartedly that it barely fits in my pink helmet!

We've just come back from seeing the Squaw Valley Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and dinner with friends.

I'm exhausted and content.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snow Bunny

Thing 1 has resisted learning to ski. I don't know why; downhill skiing is pure freedom, it's akin to flying. While her reluctance to ski has not been the bane of my existence, it's been bothersome. We are a skiing family.

Finally we cracked the code. Thing 1 adores her elementary school teacher. And Mrs. B's eldest son, a junior at CSU Chico, teaches skiing at Northstar on the weekends and holidays. I recruited him.

Bright and early Monday morning Chris called to confirm. Sadly, it was snowing and blowing and we went back to sleep. By 9a the skies had cleared and it turned into a great ski day. Of course Chris had made other plans by then so I worked like a maniac in the morning and then took Thing 1 out myself. Bad idea. There is a big difference between knowing how to ski and teaching someone to ski. One run and we were done.

The skies were bright blue when we woke up Tuesday morning so over Chris came. Sure enough, he taught Thing 1 to ski. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. She looks adorable in her ski braids, and white Obermeyer ski suit with Paul Frank helmet and goggles. And when Thing 1 ran out of steam he taught Eldest Daughter and her two cousins to snowboard.

On Wednesday I took her out again. We did 20 runs on the green Papoose lift. She doesn't need help getting off and on the chair and she rarely falls. More importantly, she loves skiing! One other thing: she insists on putting on her own boots and carrying her own skis. My hero! I hope she can teach it to her uber-athletic twin, who whines when schlepping her own gear the 50 yards to and from the Funitel from our condo.

Today is Thursday, a blue bird day, and Thing 1 is leading Dave around the mountain. She now skis blue runs, including the Mountain Run. Dave and I have accomplished another one of life's checkoffs. This must be why people have children.

Speaking of Chris, I have very little contact with 20-something male college students. Mrs. B has done a terrific job of raising him. He is polite, articulate and great with both kids and adults. It was a genuine pleasure having him around and I'm happy to pass along his contact information if you are looking for a good private ski instructor.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Entertain Like a Gentleman

During my sophomore year in college I took Public Relations 101. On the first day of class I plopped down next to a neurotic New York Jew and we became fast friends.

Ten years later she married Dave Harap in the best wedding I have ever been to -- New Year's Eve in New York City. And ten years after that they divorced.

Her former husband is a great guy: smart, funny, driven. I'm lucky he and my husband have become closer and closer as time has passed. In fact, I saw on Facebook that he had a business trip planned to Dubai and arranged for my husband to tag along as Dubai had been on his punch list for a long time and it wasn't a place anywhere on my list. Sometime during that trip a cookbook was conceived.

Dave Harap's cookbook is now out: Entertain Like a Gentleman.

Here's one of my favorite recipes from it.

Baked Eggs with Gruyere in Prosciutto Cups

Serves 4
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz Gruyere
  • 2 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 1 small bunch chives
Preheat oven to 350F.

Finely mince the garlic. Cut the tomato in half and push out the seeds with your finger. When you have just the "meat" of the tomato left, chop it into small pieces. Finely chop the 1 T chives.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and spinach. Cook until the spinach and tomatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.

Spray a muffin pan with vegetables spray. Line each muffin cup with two slices of prosciutto, being sure that the bottom is completely covered and that the prosciutto extends slightly above the muffin cup.

Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the spinach mixture into the bottom of each cup. Level it off so the egg has an even landing pad. Top the spinach with two basil leaves. Crack the egg and gently drop it into the muffin cup. Top with Gruyere cheese and chives.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the egg whites are set. The yolk should still be runny and the prosciutto becomes crispy. This is rich enough that one makes a satisfying serving. Enjoy.

Thanks Dave!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The road to Tahoe.

Three Days Before. Decide when to leave. Weather forecast calls for biggest storm of the season during optimal drive time.

Two Days Before. Remain glued to radar on Revise departure plan hourly, based on forecast.

One Day Before. Continue radar obsession. Experience anxiety over ambiguity of departure. Come to sad realization that this trip to Tahoe will probably not happen.

Departure Day. Anxiety mounts. Check radar again. Pack. Load car. Decide not to stop mail as chances of escaping the 'burbs are slim. 5pm. Text friend who is driving up in the storm. She says there's traffic but that the roads are fine, given the rain.

Departure Night. 7pm. Go to dinner with MIL. China Paradise. Yum. 8pm. Text friend again. She is 20 miles from her cabin and the roads are a mess but there isn't any traffic. 8:30pm. Throw kids in the car and hope we're as lucky. Three hours forty five minutes later we're looking at those Olympic Rings. The last 30 miles were sloppy but we arrived in one piece.

The Next Day. Sleep until 9am. Watch the snow fall. Read paper. Watch snow blow sideways during a three-mile run on the treadmill in the gym. Unload the car. Drive 11 miles way under the speed limit in snow storm to the grocery store. Shop for the week to the tune of $450 in the crazy-busiest Safeway I have ever been in. Nap. Wake and continue to watch snow fall. Make dinner for neighbors and SIL and her family, who spent the previous 10.5 hours driving up from LA for our annual ski trip. Watch iCarly with kids. Collapse.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Driving the Sofa

On the night before Thanksgiving I was rear-ended in the Whole Foods parking lot.

The driver, a sixty-something woman, was distraught. The first thing she said to me after getting out of her car was, "This is the third accident I've had in 12 months. They're going to take away my driver's license."

At that point I was relieved: at least she didn't kill anyone before this happened.

As we exchanged insurance information she told me that she was a brain cancer survivor and that she hadn't been the same since her illness.

So while my Volvo was left with a hanging bumper, at least she had insurance and was nice about it. She thanked me profusely for being nice about the situation. What good would it have done to be upset about it?

My patience is now starting to wear thin, though.

It took her a week to call her insurance company. Meanwhile, I wanted my car fixed. In fact, I drove it to the snow two days after the accident, hanging bumper and all. When she finally reported the accident she confused the date and until she corrects it to match my statement, her insurance won't cover my damages even though she has said she was at fault.

My insurance company paid to fix my car and I will eventually get reimbursed for the deductible. But for now I'm out $500 and about 20 hours into hassling with this. For the last week I drove a rental sofa, a Chevy Tahoe. Very ungreen. At least it had seating for eight and was 4WD. Surprise: I drove it as little as possible.

I'm still counting my blessings. But I'm looking forward to this mess being put behind me.

The silver lining: I discovered a great body shop in our town: Symmons Auto Body. What professionals!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work

I recently read this book. What fun!

It was light and entertaining and offered solid advice. It also reassured me that I'm not the only person out there who is anal about manners and protocol.

You can hear Tim Gunn's voice as you read; his thoughts translate as well on paper as they do on television.

This book is filled with dishy stories of fashion’s greatest divas, glimpses of Project Runway’s biggest drama queens, and insights into Tim’s private life. He's gay. Duh. And his family is whacked out. I can't believe his mother speaks to him after reading this book. Perhaps she doesn't?

In the world according to Tim, there are no shortcuts to success. Tim has a lot to say on bad behavior, including a very pointed story of Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart’s daughter, on her mother’s name-brand merchandise. He describes Vogue’s AndrĂ© Leon Talley being hand-fed grapes and Anna Wintour being carried downstairs by her bodyguards.

Tim had one great love, and that turned out badly. He has a sister and a niece, Wallace, whom he adores. He offers much good advice with examples. One that I wholeheartedly agree with is the manner is which we treat waiters and wait staff.

Gunn's Project Runway revelations are my favorite parts of the book. While I knew deliberations went on for far longer than we see, I didn't realize they often last for upwards of six hours or that certain designers were rude and disrespectful to Gunn.

Fans of Project Runway will find a lot to sink their teeth into. How does Gunn feel about Santino Rice? How did he get involved with Runway to begin with? What does he really think of Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum? This was such a fun read, really a must for Project Runway followers.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The List

This is fast becoming The Bat Mitzvah Blog, isn't it?!

Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah invitations mailed. I cannot believe how complex the invitation list was.

Some of it was easy: her friends, our close family friends, the g/dparents, her B'nai Mitzvah class, the immediate family. The rest was murky.

The guiding principal was to invite people that Eldest Daughter has a relationship with. As much as we love you, if you are walking down the street next to Eldest Daughter and she does not know your name, it's unlikely you will find a bright pink envelope in your mailbox.

This is tricky when it comes to relatives. I invited a cousin who I have been close to since childhood. She lives in San Diego. Yet I did not invite her parents, who are in Northern California, and whose last visit with my family I cannot remember. You can only imagine what my mother had to say about this. I invited my first cousins although only one has a relationship with Eldest Daughter. We have been invited to their children's B'nai Mitzvahs. Except, oddly, for the one she knows and was so happy we invited.

Let's talk about the neighbors. Danville first. We are closer to some than to others. Yet it seems rude to invite most of a social group and not all of it. Eldest Daughter knows them but they do not have a relationship with her. Now Tahoe. We didn't invite any of them because it's a prime winter weekend and they all ski race. Yet Eldest Daughter has a relationship with them. Exactly how do I apply logic here?!

My mother-in-law is fabulous with these things. She asked to invite no one. She knew that if she invited even one friend then those she didn't invite would be hurt. It was all or nothing for her. Thank you Linda.

Eldest Daughter's list changed daily until the invites actually mailed. I tried to keep my mouth shut. There are a few girls on the list who I would rather she not have invited based on Mean Girl things actions in years past. And then there's another big fear: will the under 18s come to the party and not the Bat Mitzvah service, not understanding that the service is the big deal and that the party is the icing on the cake?!

Who would have guessed that this part of the planning would be so hard?!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Where have all the pony tail holders gone?!

Surely I am not the only person who wonders if they have joined the other sock in the Land of Missing Socks.

In my 12 years of parenting a daughter, and in my nine years of parenting three daughters, I have bought hundreds of pony tail holders and hair bands. Where do they go and why aren't they in my vanity, where they all start?!


Tonight I offered the children each a nickel for each one they could find. Four turned up. They're not in their backpacks. Or jacket pockets. Or under the family room sofa or between the cushions. Or bedrooms. Or bathrooms. They're not in my car. Or in the junk drawer in the kitchen.

One of you must know where they go. Don't take this secret to the grave, okay?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

House Projects?!

Someone emailed me a punch list and timeline of things to do in preparation for Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah. I modified it for my own use and it's now 350 lines long in Excel. Every day I do a few tasks and hope they all get done before Feb 5. A heartfelt thanks to each of you who has offered to help.

On that provided list was "Finish house projects". I would never have added this on my own but it did get me thinking.

Here's what I came up with:

1. Triptych quilt for stairwell.
2. Finish living room decor by buying the one accent table that the room lacks.
3. Touch up exterior garage paint.
4. Purge stuff.
5. Plant flowers two days before fanfare begins.

I finished the quilts and Bill, the handyman / fudgemaker extraordinaire, hung them. It took him three hours and three configurations of his special ladder to put them up. The last configuration involved propping one leg on the upper landing and the other on a small, curved stair. It had me really freaked out and I'm glad I didn't see him up there and also that he didn't fall.

This picture doesn't show the quilts in their full glory; the construction of the upstairs landing doesn't enable me to shoot a picture that shows how perfectly the tops align and that each quilt is a foot shorter than the one to its left. Bill also touched up the paint on the garage, which was more involved than it seemed because it included matching the paint, which is now eight-years-faded.

The accent table presented itself at Loot.

The purging has started. Dave and I are not pack rats but still, one needs to go through the junk drawer every now and then. I gutted the pantry, scrubbed it down, reorganized its contents, threw some food out and set aside other food for donation. If you need brown or super fine sugar, we've got plenty. We also have nine bags of nuts and I'm not talking about the individual portion size.

What else?