Archive for July, 2009

Girls I Have Loved

Although that is a more risque title than the post warrants, it stands. I was thinking about how lucky I’ve been to have some serious female companionship in my life. My high school / junior college best friend’s birthday is today, and every time I think of her, I smile. Here are the highlights from a life of rewarding female friendship (many guy friends, but usually only a girl or two at a time).

my little sister – Since it was mostly just the two of us as we grew up, we spent a lot of time together in my first 18 years. Indeed, she was the poor soul drafted to play all my wacky games & participate in my home dance / theatre / vocal performances. Probably the best part of being her friend (well, sister) was that she was up for anything, no matter what silly ideas I had. When I went through a phase where I named all the trees and wrote endless stories about the dryads that lived there, she played along. She was an excellent sport.

our neighbor – They say that groups of three never work & that someone is always odd-man-out. I was lucky enough to meet the girl who defied those rules. She lived across the street & a couple of houses down, and she was between my sister & I in age. We spent two years together dancing to Grease & The Sound of Music, jumping in her pool & telling ghost stories. She never chose one sister over the other & always made us both feel equally special. The best part of being her friend was how easygoing & effortless she was, and how she made me into a better sister to the aforementioned baby sis of mine.

my high school girl – This is the one who is having a birthday today. She lived a block away from me, and we spent our years in high school & the local junior college doing everything & nothing together. Because she lived so close, we would walk over to each other’s houses all the time – to watch TV, torment her younger brother, bake, play games, anything. Our phone calls routinely sounded like this… One of us – Hello? … The other one – I’m coming over … *dial tone* The best part of being her friend was how loyal and supportive she was. When I was with her, I believed I could do anything. Once or twice in that turbulent adolescent time, I found myself in situations I couldn’t handle & she was my port in the storm. I’ll never forget that.

my college girls – Although I had a little group of girls I met at college, they moved far away much too soon, but one in particular stayed in the Bay Area. I would drive back almost every weekend & spend 2… 3… 4… days in her little one-bedroom apartment (that she shared with her boyfriend – sorry!) because I just loved her company. She remains one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met. She’s fearless & the life of any gathering. We played Barbies (in our 20s, I know, I know), watched game shows, drove aimlessly, took photos & had a wonderful time just being together. For sure, the best part of being her friend was knowing that anything could happen & it’d be fun. She never judged, never let me down & always had a smile.

my current girl – We met 7 years ago at a dead end job. One of our first conversations was about how ridiculous Precious Moments figurines are & I left our work area in tears from laughing so hard. She’s spontaneous & well-read & we share a sense of humor to a disturbing degree. She’s the only person I know who, like me, considers texts / email a valid form of serious conversation, is truly interested in grammar, chooses jobs / careers based on if they satisfy her social conscious, and make horrible, unacceptable jokes to deal with pain. The best part about being her friend is that we know it’s permanent. Even when we get irritated with each other or one of us is busy / unavailable for an extended period of time, we know the other will be a part of our lives. There’s a freedom in that knowledge that cannot be undervalued.

Most of these girls have moved on / out / away (Sacramento, don’t know, New York, Los Angeles, ask me again in a month, respectively) & I only talk with two on a regular basis (first & last on the list), but I’m so grateful they’ve been there over my lifetime, making everything just that much sweeter.

Cleaning Makes Me Procrastinate

I absolutely detest cleaning things out. This is why our garage was impassable for 4 years & I still have a couple of bags & boxes that have survived MANY moves (out of my mom’s, back to my mom’s, to the dorm, home, to the dorm, home, to the apartment, to the duplex, to the house – amazingly 10 in 12 years, or rather 10 in 7 years & then none for the past 5). Our actual bedroom turned into a large storage room / closet about a year ago (not coincidentally around the time of our wedding). Between wedding paraphernalia & gifts and the rest of our junk, it turned into a repository of stuff that we chose to benignly ignore, skirting our way over boxes & inching past gifts. We took to sleeping in the “guest” bedroom & only going in our bedroom if we needed clothes.

Well, my secret personal goal for myself for this time off was to clean it out. I put it off & put it off. Some of my excuses were good (three weeks of company & can’t really make them watch me sort through unused wedding gifts) & some were lame (can’t put this book down because it’s a new read & I don’t know the ending!), but I buckled down yesterday & did approximately 3/5 of the work. I found old photos & sweet cards & wedding mementos & four pieces of clothing we’re relatively sure aren’t ours & a lot of trash.

Regardless, I got a great start & the idea that we won’t have to keep that door closed at all times to avoid offending people with our mess, well, it’s intoxicating.

Success & Failure

Oh, last night’s dinner.

Success: Pita Bread

Failure: Chickpea Patties (when he pan fried them, they turned into chickpea grits – not good, but probably our error)

Little Experiments

We’ve been pretty good about getting into the kitchen while I’ve been off track, especially when we don’t have house guests & it’s just the two of us. One of the best discoveries I’ve made so far is breaking my “baking bread takes too long & is too much work” rule to try Speedy No-Knead Bread. Oh, wow. It is incredibly easy & amazingly delicious. I’ve done tiny little experiments with the dough (adding almost an entire head of garlic – surprisingly not overwhelming, adding honey, etc.) & it’s been perfect each time. If you are looking for a bread recipe to try, or even if you aren’t, try this.

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil as needed.

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.

3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

My small notes: Try adding things to the bread. I’ve had a good success rate so far. Also, don’t be afraid to use a slightly smaller baking vessel. Mine is 4 quarts, I think, and it works perfectly.

Short Bits

So, let’s be honest. I’ve had a long run of not updating. Here is my life recently, in list form (because you know I love lists):

  • end of school (I cried & so did they – such a good class!)
  • two Canadian friends visiting me for a total of three weeks
  • trips to Sacramento, Southern California (including Disneyland), Las Vegas & many, many trips to San Francisco
  • too many trips to look at houses that aren’t for us
  • offering on many houses & being rejected (“Just one person ahead of you, but they have X amount more for a down payment. Sorry!”)
  • maybe, possibly, don’t get your hopes up too soon… buying a new house? We’ll see. If I was looking in a magic 8-ball, it’d say, “Prospects are favorable.”
  • being a little solitary & enjoying some solo time
  • seeing my niece a few times (always a pleasant surprise as I don’t rank too high on a 17-year-old’s social priority list)
  • daydreaming a lot
  • obsessively planning / worrying / being excited about next year’s class

Three Hours

So, I had an absolutely insane May & June and then made the dubious decision to have overlapping house guests for three weeks. Today I begged my guy to take our remaining house guest out to do something so I could have a couple of hours by myself. I feel like a real human being again & was strangely productive (although I assumed I’d sit idly on the couch & enjoy being silent, apparently flying solo imbued me with energy). A partial list of my three hours alone:

  • ate a whole small cheese pizza
  • wrote two letters (one to my absent best friend & one to my far-away pen pal)
  • finished a book & read half of another
  • lazed around in a bath & took a too-long shower
  • set bread out to rise (experimenting with garlic in that NY Times No-Knead Bread recipe that I highly recommend)
  • made cookie batter (might wait to bake them until our BBQ tonight)
  • paid bills
  • worked on my lesson plan book
  • got my stuff out / started on those math quizzes I keep meaning to write
  • worked on my wreckable journal
  • did some dishes
  • caught up on emails & clearing out my inboxes
  • listened to music that was cranked up too high
  • reveled in being alone in my house

Oh, lovely day!

House Guests

Obviously, I’m having trouble updating this while entertaining house guests. I will try to get back to normal once it is back to just being the two of us – around July 15. Until then, happy summer!