Sunday, May 18, 2008

#25 New Red Shoes

Most of my shoes are black, although lately I've bought a few brown pairs. Every time I see red shoes, I admire them. . .but think I'm not hip/young/cool enough to wear any. I mean, what would I wear with red shoes? Lately, I've been thinking "This outfit would look cute with red shoes" instead.

I've been looking for red shoes for months. I saw a couple of pairs last weekend at the Nine West outlet, but they didn't have my size. Last weekend, I didn't have any luck at DSW. But, yesterday I gave DSW another chance--Larisa&Greg posted on the nest that they were having a sale. I got lucky! Thanks L&G!

As soon as I stepped into these, I felt like a hot tamale. These shoes make me imagine salsa dancing, and swishy skirts. So far, I've worn them with jeans to the movies. I've worn them to church. And I wore them to work today with black pants and a black & white top. Toenails, fingernails, and lips = all red! Although these shoes are a little bit brighter red than I'd imagined when I started looking for (and trying on) red shoes, I still love them.

Today (as I was admiring my shoes at work) I realized one reason why I like them so much. When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." It was one of my favorite games, and I even had a pretend dog named Toto. Imagine my delight when my mom found a stray dog at the grocery store who she brought home. He looked just like Toto! (Both the dog from the movie and my imaginary pet.) Unfortunately, he couldn't stay with us long, and we gave him to a family with no children and lots of land for him to run around. Anyway, I had a pair of bright red keds knock-offs that I wore all the time, pretending to be Dorothy. I think my new shoes must be tapping into fond childhood memories. Especially since the last photo I took (on our very dirty sidewalk) looks like I'm about to click my heels together three times. If only! I'd love to not sit in traffic during my to/fro work commute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

#9: Weeknight Dinner

Sometimes I feel overloaded with bacon at our house. I renewed K's Bacon of the Month subscription for this birthday, and then my brother and SIL gave him a package of treats that included bacon as a birthday gift. My kitchen smells like bacon a lot. (Not that I'm complaining!)

During the recent influx of bacon, I knew I needed to step it up from my usual BLTs or breakfasts for dinner. I'd made a Broccoli Cheese Quiche for a book club last weekend, and it was very tasty and well-received. K enjoyed the slice I saved for him, and suggested it would be even better with some Bacon Salt (one of the treats I'd stuffed his stocking with at Christmas). I decided that instead, it would be a good excuse to use up a package of bacon. K's review of the final product: "Holy Shit!" I celebrated my new recipe with a "I made delicious quiche" song/dance routine. Bacon is tasty!

Bacon Cheese Quiche (adapted from Weight Watchers, heehee!)

6 oz pie crust, 9-inch, refrigerated
1 package bacon
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 Tbsp mustard (I used Sweet Hot Mister Mustard, because that's our favorite)
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or more to taste
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Press pie crust into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch, removable-bottom tart pan or a 9-inch pie pan; refrigerate until ready to use. (I bought a pie crust from the frozen section, already in a pie tin, and let it defrost in the fridge while I was prepping.)

Cook bacon over medium-low heat in skillet until done. Remove bacon from pan*, and add onion to remaining bacon grease and sauté briefly, about a minute. Remove onion from pan and pat dry to remove extra grease. Crumble bacon when cool and set aside.

In a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, egg, egg whites, mustard and pepper; mix well and fold in bacon and onions. Spoon mixture into prepared crust and level surface with a wooden spoon; sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

*When I remove bacon from the skillet, I put it on a plate covered with a paper towel and pat it dry with another paper towel. It gets rid of at least some of the grease.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

#4: May Nephew Time

I may have a new favorite nephew.

Nephew 1 turns three towards the end of the month, and this weekend he was utterly delightful. On Sunday, we met for family lunch, and he was so fun to be around. He arrived wearing a Batman mask. Wearing a mask is a big deal for him. . .only a few months ago a mask or disguise of any kind freaked him out. But now he has decided that Batman is good (previously, he thought Batman was bad because of his "mean eyes") and should be imitated. When he is Batman, he walks with his fists on his hips--elbows out--and talks in a deep voice. While we waited at Lunch Location #1 (for an hour, only to be told it would be 45 more minutes, yikes!), he found a pile of dirt to pile up and sit in and play with. At Lunch Location #2, he was thrilled to see the train come out of its tunnel and drive on the tracks all around the room. He pointed it out every time, and more than once actually jumped for joy. As part of her gift package, my mom received a bag of jelly beans*. She was nice enough to share them with him, one at a time. He would select a bean from the bag, and ask what flavor it was. Mom wasn't wearing her glasses, and couldn't read the description on the bag, so she asked me to tell him. He was so excited to hear the different names, like "cotton candy" "juicy pear" and especially "chocolate pudding." Several times, he walked around the table telling the others what flavor he was about to eat. After a few, he started calling them "jumping beans." Perhaps because they made him feel like jumping around like a frog? K and I were about to leave when he said he wanted to go look at dogs. (Petsmart is a few doors down, and they were having an adoption fair.) He asked my mom if she would go with him, and then pointed to me and asked if I would go, too. How could I resist that little cutie pie? We walked down to see the dogs, and he let almost every single one of them lick his hand (or face). Many of them he proclaimed to be "nice dogs." He has a dog at home, so he knows how to pet them gently. So cute! I found out that he has been enjoying wearing sunglasses lately, and calls them his "rock out" glasses.

The little man, who turned one in March, was in fairly good spirits, although sleepy when they arrived and sleepy as we were leaving. My dad hogged him during the wait at Lunch Location #1--actually intercepting him when SIL was handing him to me. Like he doesn't see him every week! (grumble) The little guy still loves to stare at K, with the little triangle of facial hair. This time, he and K played a sunglasses game. Little guy would put on his sunglasses, and look at K. K would put on his sunglasses, and peep over the top at little guy. Little guy would try to peep over his, but kept dropping them off his face. And then he would poke himself in the eye a couple of times putting them back on. Bleah, eye-poking gives me the heebie-geebies. The little guy also points/pokes to his eye if you ask him where his eye is. . .or where his nose is. . .or where his mouth or ears are. The jury is still out on whether he just thinks that's a funny joke or if he hasn't quite figured out the names that go with each part. Later, SIL force-fed the little guy a bite of cobbler. She kept insisting he try it, and he kept his lips sealed, shaking his head from side to side. Eventually, she crammed it in and he ended up liking it. But. . .later K and I had a conversation about never force-feeding our future kids dessert, so that was productive. Little guy also enjoyed feeding himself BBQ sauce with a spoon. A man after his dad's own heart. I was a little disappointed that the little fella didn't let me hold him very long--maybe 5 minutes--when I'm usually one of his favorites. And that's why his big brother is starting to overtake my favorite nephew position. haha! Whoever likes me best, I also like best. ;o)

*K and I visited and toured the Jelly Belly factory when we went to San Francisco in 2005. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

So, there's that.

I'm having a pity party, and everyone is invited!

Last weekend, I had lunch with a few close girlfriends to celebrate one of their birthdays. I've known these gals my entire life, pretty much, and am glad that they're all back in Austin after living across the country (and world, in one case). These are my girls. We've been through it all together. But. . .this lunch was the first time that I really felt excluded from them. One of them, E, has two sons--the oldest just turned 4 and the younger is almost 16 months. Another, A, has an 8 month old girl. And the other, M, is six months pregnant. We're throwing M a baby shower this summer, so during dessert, talk naturally turned to planning. I've thrown baby showers for the other girls (and other friends), but when A started talking (lecturing) about bottles/pacifiers/baby paraphenalia, I wanted to leave the table. I know M took E with her to register, and it makes sense that she'd want someone with her who has a lot of recent mothering experience. Friend A had apparently already looked up her registry online, and had a lot of advice about things that worked for her, so M mentioned having them both look over her list when she's finished. During the entire conversation, the 3 of them pretty much ignored me. Which. . .I suppose I understand, but it still hurt my feelings.

I know the three of them talk and see each other often without me. M and E are best friends, much more so since E moved back to Austin two years ago. (Why yes, M and I were closer when E lived across the country.) E and A don't work, so they are available to spend time together during the days, when I am otherwise engaged at the office. I admit that every time I hear about them getting together without me, I feel a little bit left out. On the other hand, I am not making an effort to see them outside of our group gatherings, either. Yes, I think I'm a little jealous that they all seem to want to spend time in small groups of two without me, but I also could be calling them all the time to get together. This is where the tiny pity party voice says "I should call because it's not like they're calling ME." So, there's that.

But the baby shower/registry thing was different. Yes, I want to have kids, and it hasn't happened yet. I don't expect my friends to try and walk on eggshells around me because of that--they really don't even know, which is the way I want it. But, I feel like I've been supportive during my friend's pregnancy--emailing her about her dr's appointments, keeping up with her progress, etc. And it's like she is moving into motherhood and she's leaving me behind. I'm feeling sorry for myself, and that's making me want to retreat from my friends. Particularly in the case of the baby shower planning. When A took over the conversation to ask M lots of questions about the baby shower--and suggest crafts she had already started planning--I wanted to say "no one wants to make hand-sewn onesies, can you let someone else get a word in edgewise?" But I kept my control issues on party planning quiet. The tiny voice was proud of me for that concession. If she wants to do all the work--the work I usually do--then fine. I can tell she's feeling out-of-sorts because she isn't working, so if she needs a project, she can have it. That sounds mean in my head, though. When am I suddenly the kid who picks up her toys and goes home?

So why am I feeling sorry for myself? Because it feels like my friends don't want to spend time with me? Because I am not pregnant yet? Because I like to be in charge of all things party planning related? Because it's annoying to listen to lectures on appropriate/good things for a baby (and heaven forbid that I received this lecture when I actually am pg because I might not have an appropriate response)? I feel like I need to just get over myself and let it go. I'm hoping that getting it all out will help.

Only tangentially related:

On Sunday, at church, the lady in front of me started crying.

Quite a bit of the sermon was Mother's Day focused, and at the end, the priest invited all the children in the congregation up to the front to watch him crown a statue of Mary. There was a children's choir for the service, so during the crowning, a little girl sang "Ave Maria." It was lovely; since our wedding, that song always brings a tear to my eye. After the tiny crown was placed on the statue, the priest indicated that the children could touch the statue. I'm not sure why he encouraged this, or what he told them, but we soon saw each of the children in the crowd around the altar move towards the statue and give it a poke or a pet or--in one small girl's case--a full-on hug that required her to be pried away by her mom. I felt a little sentimental during the display, thinking about having a child, and being a mom.

And then I noticed that the woman in front of me was crying. I could tell by her shaking shoulders, and the way she kept wiping her face near her eyes. I could see that her husband was also suffering--he held his quiviering chin tightly and also wiped his eyes a time or two. Neither of them made a sound.

I wanted to reach out and squeeze her shoulder, maybe whisper that I'd keep her in my prayers, but I didn't want to intrude on their private moment. In fact, I started to second-guess what I'd assumed was the reason for her tears. My gut reaction told me that she and her husband were aching for a child of their own, but I realized that I might be only thinking of myself. Maybe she had lost her mother. Perhaps she remembers the Ave Maria from her own wedding, and they're having a hard time right now. I didn't know, and I didn't want to call attention to her suffering by acknowledging that I saw her cry.

Instead, she will be in my thoughts. Lady, it will be okay. Whatever it is, it will be okay. We will just keep telling ourselves it will be okay until it is okay.