Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful.

I am thankful for 10 feet of new snow at Squaw and for the opportunity to enjoy it this weekend. This picture is of our deck, which I happily shoveled over the course of three days. I love shoveling snow; maybe because I don't have to do it?!

Thing 2, my friend Rebel and I drove up Friday morning. I had planned to do just a quick turn and return home Saturday night but by then the storm-du-jour was in full swing and on her way to dumping 16 new inches. Thing 2 did ski in the storm and took her first run of the season on the black diamond saddle with her friends Ben and Yuriy. Oops. She managed to recover.

The fresh powder this morning was pristine and she, Reb and I enjoyed a few hours on the uncrowded slopes. They skied the trees; I stayed on the groomers. Rebel does not have children, which is a shame; I so love seeing her and Thing 2 interact. Neither Rebel nor Thing 2 have any fear and they both tell it like it is.

Both evenings we caught up with my Tahoe neighbors and tried to come to terms with the fact that this is November snow, ski conditions this good so early in the season that the powers that be clearly missed the global warming message.

It was a five hour drive home this afternoon but very worth it for the snow and for the 1:1 time with Thing 2, who is witty and sensitive when not competing with her sisters.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Callie's Old-fashioned Molasses Cookies

This is not a traditional Thanksgiving Day post. But it is about food, which is a big part of Thanksgiving ...

Shanta, Delanie, Eldest Daughter and I made 32 dozen cookies for National Charity League on Sunday. Yes, really. Shanta's contribution was the makings for spritz cookies along with those handy dandy Martha Stewart cookie presses in a yummy shade of baby blue. I pulled out this beloved recipe, which was given to me by my friend Callie.

I miss Callie. She lives in Seattle. Callie and I became friends at work; we lived a few miles apart and her husband, Dan, was so much fun. He and Callie seemed to have it all. They went dancing, shared a shoe fetish and a passion for environmental issues, he had an interesting job at Apple.

Then Dan got a job at Microsoft and they left the Bay. A year passed and we got a holiday card with a return address of "Callie and Gina". Callie was a bit butch so I thought perhaps she and Dan split up and she was now with Gina. Not exactly. With the help of Microsoft human resources, hormone therapy and a surgeon, Dan became Gina. As Callie explained it in that carefully worded holiday newsletter, "The love is the same but the parts are different". They stayed married a few more years and then split up.

A bit after that Callie severed ties with most of us from her other life. While I don't understand that, I respect her decision. I think of her every time I make these cookies and especially in November, when she and Dan/Gina had their birthdays.

Callie's Old-fashioned Molasses Cookies

3/4 C butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 C dark molasses
2 C flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves

Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg. Beat. Add the molasses. Mix.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the molasses mixture and stir until well blended.

Put bowl in freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove and roll 1" balls. Roll balls in sugar and place 2" apart on baking sheet covered in parchment or lined with Silpat.

Bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

These cookies ripen over time and taste better on days 3 and 4 than they do on days 1 and 2. Serve with cold milk.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RIP MSF

In my mid 20s I worked for a start-up software company in Pleasanton. Its CEO, the first of a few I have worked closely with in my career, was a charismatic man, a family man, a big thinker with a loyal following.

Although I had not seen Mike in many years, I saw his adult children in and about town, and we have mutual friends.

Sadly, Mike lost his battle with Leukemia and last night was his Celebration of Life, appropriately held at the Blackhawk Auto Museum, where he threw many a party.

I genuinely enjoy occasions like this. They bring back happy memories and also provide a glimpse into aspects of a person that I had not been privy to before. This event brought together captains of industry, former employees who had long-since retired due to his generosity with stock options, and his extended family. His daughter gave the eulogy, which had its pee-in-your-pants hilarious moments. Although I was slightly uncomfortable there, as I noticed that many others were, I was glad I went.

His legacy will live on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ron Morgan and Loot


Jill and I went to see Ron Morgan. Ron is a hilarious, gifted floral designer who just happens to have an antique shop in Lafayette, Loot.

Loot is a gem. Truly. The shop is arranged by color. From the red room I bought a set of Chinese papered stacking tables, the final item we needed to finish off our living room. Of course I only need two of the four tables. Does anyone want the two extra tables? They are quite chic.

The blue room had Chinese blue and white porcelain. Fu Dogs, in chartreuse, lived in the green room. Christmas decorations were everywhere and it wasn't the tacky stuff! Topiaries and more topiaries. Wide floral ribbons in deep colors. Wreaths made of ribbon and wire butterflies. Floral arrangements. Ron's four books. Some furniture. Antique and costume jewelry. I had a hard time limiting myself to just the tables.

Ron has the gift of gab! He told us funny stories, all the while creating unusual floral arrangements. He made it look so easy. My favorite was the one with mushrooms although I'm replicating the pumpkin one for our Thanksgiving table. He points out things that a normal, regular flower admirer wouldn't notice; things like how the use of one color changes the look of other colors. The man, who must be in his 70s, appears to need very little sleep. Maybe he sleeps on planes in between speaking engagements and traveling the world to stock Loot? The loafers he was wearing were definitely not American, and I type that in the most admiring of ways.

I was twelve again. In a good way this time. I was easily the youngest person in the room by ten years (and Jill was the second youngest). It was the garden club gang, a well-heeled, well-coiffed, well-dressed group of women, some who had come from as far as Modesto.

Back to my dreams of pretty things.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This bud's for you.

On Friday, Thing 1, Jill and I fled the 'burbs at o'dark hundred for the sanctity of the San Francisco Flower Market. This Market is one of five grower-owned markets in the US. Thing 1 was so traumatized by the thought of our early rise time that she slept in her clothes.

It was easily 15 years since my last visit to the Flower Market. In my early 20s I worked in SOMA, a few blocks away, and my co-workers and I would occasionally go on Fridays around 9am for leftovers and breakfast.

Going into the catacombs with someone in the know is much different, much better. The Market is similar to Costco but with many different vendors. At this time of year many of the flowers come from South America. These people begin their workday at 1a so the Bay Area floral designers, event producers and florist shops can get in and out before the rest of the world needs their goods.

Thing 1 fell in love with these cockscombs, which I'd never seen before. We browsed the ostrich eggs, antlers, ribbons, bark, vases, baskets, candles, tissue paper and cellophane wrap. I could not resist buying tulips, roses and branches with tiny berries on them. We have so many flowers at home that even Fred is holding an arrangement. One of the growers gave Thing 1 some tiny white roses.

It's very special being there in the dark, in the musty, dank smelling space filled with treasures. I liked it less as the sun came up and it became just another sunny fall day in San Francisco. The Flower Market Cafe, where we had breakfast after loading our goodies into Jill's car, was as delicious as I remember. Thing 1 was very happy we made the trek. So was I. Thank you Jill!

Photo credits: Jill

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Disney Halloween

Dave is the idea man. Fortunately one of his ideas was marrying me and I've been benefiting ever since.

Dave wanted to go to Disneyland for Halloween this year since we would be at our niece's Bat Mitzvah nearby the day prior.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Disney has been heavy on the TV commercials this fall and The Pinks have been itching to go. They were thrilled when we told them and were very good not to mention it at Sarah's BatM as it was very important to us to keep the focus on her.

The Magic Kingdom is even more magical on Halloween. Tickets are required to attend The Party. The festivities kick off at 7pm and we Trick or Treated, saw the parade and fireworks, and rode the regular rides and the ones decorated just for Halloween, which included Space Mountain and The Haunted House. The Haunted House is truly fabulous on Halloween - I could have gone on it a dozen times to try to catch all the Halloween enhancements. About half the park is open on Halloween and the Disney team goes over-the-top there with that Disney magic dust.

Even better than doing Disneyland on Halloween was our children sharing the experience with a great aunt, a grandmother and her gentleman friend, five cousins and a cousin's partner.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Top 10 List - Bat Mitzvah Fears

Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah is in February. Here are some of the things that keep me up at night:
  1. People will RSVP and not show up.
  2. People won't RSVP and show up.
  3. There will be too much food.
  4. There won't be enough food.
  5. Eldest Daughter won't find anything she wants to wear to Friday night services, her Bat Mitzvah and the party.
  6. Eldest Daughter will only find things I think are inappropriate to wear to Friday night services, her Bat Mitzvah and the party.
  7. Eldest Daughter will want to wear my shoes that weekend.
  8. Eldest Daughter will already have surpassed my shoe size.
  9. We will have a heat wave and record high temperatures.
  10. It will rain.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Larry's Smoke Dried Tomatoes

The package had an odd odor, which I noticed while removing it from our mailbox.

And then I opened it: it was a package of Boggy Creek Farm smoke dried tomatoes! Along with it was a thoughtful note from Sara Singer and some recipes. I've had a dumb smile on my face ever since.

Sara's one of the friends that we travel to Europe with every other year. She is an accomplished cook and once led us on a mission to find saffron in Tangier (which is not in Europe). Those precious tomatoes are sitting in olive oil now, waiting for me to turn them into something incredible. I'm a little afraid to try them as is; just getting near the package makes my eyes burn.

Boggy Creek Farm is 1.5 hours northeast Austin, and Larry and Anne have been running the farm for the last 29 years. Twenty years ago they started a second farm, this one in Austin proper. Their organic produce is sold there and at their local Whole Foods.

Thank you, Sara!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spectacular Sarah!

We're just back from a long weekend in LA for our niece's Bat Mitzvah. I just love these weekends -- happy celebrations with extended family and friends. It makes me even more excited about Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah early next year. Sarah is on the left here, with her older sister, Jenna.

We yanked The Pinks from school and hit the freeway Thursday at noon. Things have really changed and not in a good way; it's now the mother who needs the bathroom stops. I enjoyed the ride down I-5. All that farmland. Vineyards. Pomegranate and orange trees. The aqueduct that enables Southern California to steal our water. The Pioneer Woman and all that. Takes me right back to the homestead days.

My SIL and her family were kind enough to have the World Series on the big screen when we arrived. That, the cousins running around, and pizza made for a good kick off to the weekend.

On Friday Dave and I took the kids over the hill to Malibu, where we explored the Malibu Country Mart and had a yummy lunch at a fish shack overlooking the water. There are 27 miles of Malibu coastline; we will have to go back and visit some of the beaches when we have more time. There's a great playground at the Country Mart and it was a good release for the little kids before the family dinner at synagogue and following services.

Eldest Daughter's release was a surprise trip to get her ears pierced. She was very excited to finally have them done and to also have Jenna and Sarah there with her for the big moment. I was grateful for my SIL to take her; I had no interest in seeing someone punch holes in my child's head. She was very happy and said it didn't hurt.

There are no pictures of my niece's Bat Mitzvah. One does not take pictures in the synagogue on Shabbat. One does not use electronic devices in the synagogue on Shabbat, either, which was a challenge for the little kids who kept asking if they could play with our iPhones during the three-hour service. (Note to friends: Eldest Daughter's service won't be that long. My SIL and her family are more religious than we are. Still, bring books for your little kids to read if you think they will need entertainment.) Our niece did a beautiful job and I was teary eyed. Thirteen years have gone very quickly.

Saturday night was the big party. Above right are my SIL and BIL making their grand entrance. We feasted on sushi and chicken and salad and dim sum and sorbet and a candy bar dessert buffet and danced and danced and danced. Pictures were taken. Silly hats and boas and peace necklaces and glow sticks were distributed en mass. Smoothies were consumed. Black was consumed. Livestrong-style personalized bracelets were created. Laughter and more laughter. Bonds were formed between our children and distant cousins. Catching up with LA relatives and old family friends such as sisters Sarah Marchick and Patti Kogan at left. Hanging out with my parents, who came down. Eldest Daughter and two of her friends took the limo for an In-N-Out Burger run midway through the evening.

And then Sunday morning we rehashed it all at my SIL's house over brunch. Perfect weather. My MIL's amazing fudge.