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Yesterday was a bit rough, culminating with me crying into a pot of beets like an extremely sad young Russian mother. More about that later. Anyway, I had two large’ish glasses of red wine, dished all over Benedict (as you know) and called it a day. At 2:30am, Oliver toddled into our room and affixed himself to my side in my bed. At 3:00am, Percy raced up the stairs like he’d neglected to pee for eight days and had just realized that the time is NOW. I got up to let him out, waited while he took his sweet time in 18° weather, let him back in and ambled back to bed.

Once there, it became abundantly clear that only a person already asleep could ignore the sonorous rumble roaring from Tom. As such, I relocated to Oliver’s bed. No sooner had my eyes shut than Nutmeg jumped on my stomach followed by Percy ON MY HEAD.

“What the F*(&?” I cried out, scaring the balls off both animals who fled with unusual speed.

This kind of nonsense, including a nightmare, went on and on, and I have felt like twice-flattened roadkill since 6:35am. I can’t make coherent sentences for pete’s sakes.

Long way of telling you that while I have much more to say, I simply cannot go on. Instead, to bed!

But I’ll leave you with two pics:

  • what the teary beets turned into (a lovely soup with roasted garlic, crème fraîche and chives;
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teary beet soup- isn’t the color unreal?

  • and, tonight’s meal for myself: pumpkin ravioli with salted browned butter and Parmesan.
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pumpkin ravioli in salted browned butter, with Parm

Browned butter makes everything better.

Tomorrow we get to dine alongside Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune) and hear about her new cookbook!!!!

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Methinks the answer is a resounding YES!

Please observe the following videos.

1) Benedict is a genius at impersonation:

 

2) Benedict makes mispronouncing ‘penguin’ sexy and charming as all get-out:

 

You’re in love now, right? DUH!

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch = hotness

I’d beat those chasers down, y’all!

yup!

yup!

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As y’all likely know, I am an enormous, obsessive puzzler. I love puzzles, particularly crosswords and jigsaws. I must bring your attention to my newest fave: White Mountain’s 1,000 piece Historic Washington, DC. This is a stand-out puzzle, hard enough to be a real challenge, but fun enough so that frustration never mounts. LOVE!

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White Mountain’s Historic Washington, DC puzzle

Cold weather is here or coming. This is a great indoor activity for those days you simply cannot force yourself out!

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Yesterday’s white shroud of a sky opened last night like a sail ripped down the middle, and the deluge of freezing water gushing through hasn’t stopped since. It is just a cold, wet mess of a day out there. As such, before Percy and I trundled off for our walk, I bundled us both up as best I could.

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pitiful pugness

Have you ever seen a more pitiful-looking pug? He hates this coat with every fiber of his being and lets me know by gazing mournfully at me and refusing to walk more than a foot or two without sitting dramatically like this.

I have to wonder why the coat also seems to prompt him to drag his butt a few inches after sitting. And yes, all you readers who are like surrogate parents to my pets, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Em, that dog might have pin worms or some other anal condition.”

Let me tell you, he does not. Percy is the picture of health. I swear to you I think this dog will never expire. Ever.

Ultimately he won as I simply could not take the snail-pace of our walk. As soon as I removed his coat, he stopped butt-dragging by the way.

On our way home, a bottle of Drakkar Noir walked past. How one human can wear that much cologne without suffocating is beyond me. The point, however, is that I was whisked back in time to high school and my first serious boyfriend, a wonderful guy who also loved Drakkar Noir.

At that time, Drakkar was the scent. If you were a guy, you needed to be wearing it, and if you were a girl who liked guys, you definitely wanted your man to be clouded in a spritz of the Noir. I know I did.

David was the best first boyfriend any girl could ever want. He was kind and handsome and chivalrous and fun. He wrote me notes and folded them into little triangle-shaped packets that he’d slip into my hand between classes. They made me sizzle with anticipation, and giant shoebox of them is probably still under my bed at my parents’ house. He took me to the Olive Garden in Beaumont, TX (a 45-minute drive from our Louisiana hometown) for special occasions. He gave me my first jewelry. He had a great family. He was my first love. And did he love Drakkar Noir. Whoa, Nelly!

I thought of David today as Percy and I exhaled D.Noir and meandered back home. I like memories like these, prompted by something so seemingly inconsequential as a stranger’s smell. All those years ago came back to me in a wave, much like the rain as it first rolled in last night.

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Although I was delighted to be up until 2am and then sleep with J in the basement for some inexplicable reason, I paid for it today y’all. Just call me space cadet Em. I fell asleep in the middle of Oliver telling me a story and later, at the market, forgot one of my bags at the checkout counter. It is with immense relief that bedtime is nigh.

How cute is Mr. O at the barber? Usually Tom cuts the boys’ hair, but it just wasn’t happening, so… Doesn’t he look like a blanket mountain with a head?!

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just a head at the barber

J had a stomach ache all day, and was asleep by 6:20 tonight; he turned down the jelly doughnut I brought him -unprecedented- and we only read one chapter of 20,000 Leagues before he said, “That’s good for today, Mom.” It is such a great book so far! I hope J’s not sick but simply in need of a great night of sleep. Poor kid has been calling out, loudly!, from bed for the past two hours. He’s out like a light but dreaming? hurting? Fingers crossed for a healthful Monday.

This evening I made the Brussels sprouts, shallot and speck pasta again because I wanted to write up a recipe for it. It was delicious again and the recipe is posted now, in Pastas.

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pasta with caramelized brussels sprouts and shallots and speck

You’re welcome! ;)

Other fab food from the past week…

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farro with gold beets, feta and pecans

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grilled okra

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burratini with tomatoes and peppery oil

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Fork in hand, I sit over a large wooden salad bowl, making my way through post-party leftovers. Because romaine is hearty and arugula is surprisingly so -for a few hours at least- and because I squeezed a bit of lemon over the pears to preclude browning, because pomegranate arils are indestructible unless you let them sit untended for 48 hours and goat cheese is downright great when room temperature, this salad, like so many others, is the crème de la crème of final courses. I think a case could be made for the salad following dessert. Really I do.

I absolutely love throwing parties. From the most casual potluck to the grandest affair a non-moneyed mom can throw, I really groove on bringing people together over good food and drink.

Tonight marked our fifth annual parents potluck for J’s class, and once again, we had such a fine time. For the first time in a couple years, we weren’t randomized with a majority of old friends. One couple from J’s first year was here, and it was fabulous sharing yet another meal with them (love you, Les and J); but the rest were new families or couples that we haven’t previously spent much time with, and I was reminded anew of the most elemental and wonderful reason for coming together with acquaintances with whom you share even a basic thread (like, your children being in the same third grade class): you might discover a wealth of information over which you can connect, laugh and better understand the diverse world in which we all live. Quite simply, you’ll likely make new friends.

The former principal of my boys’ school often said that we must all make the effort to regularly spend time with people who do not seem, look and/or are like us. This can take effort because, via human nature, we often tend to group according to obvious or known commonalities. In connecting beyond zones of ease or comfort, we will gain and maintain more open perspectives as well as greater abilities to understand and empathize with paths on which we don’t walk.

I laughed so much tonight. I also thought and pondered and learned and simply enjoyed. I am now closer to people who can answer questions I have about experiences I haven’t directly lived: growing up in America as individuals of color, different faiths, various sexual orientations. Much like the talk I had with my friend in the aftermath of Ferguson, I thought tonight more critically about how I raise my children and why. What are my goals for them? How do I model, and thus teach acceptance of, diverse perspectives? How can I help them grow up while staying true to themselves?

I thought about all of this as I chewed each bite and ultimately finished what salad remained. I smiled when I thought about how different my boys’ early school and life experiences are from my own. Even though I had caring teachers and good friends, a progressive family who exposed me to so much, the times they have a’ changed. The times they are more open now, and I sleep a bit better knowing that certain things for certain kids may be blips rather than land-mines, as they progress through and hone their senses of selves.

I’m so lucky to call this school community my home, to call these peers my friends. Tonight I feel grateful.

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