Monday, January 06, 2014

NYE 2013

New Year's Eve 2013 - The night my shirt matched the curtains in Kari's kitchen. Jenna Lyons would not be pleased by this. Or would she?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

How To Nearly Burn Your House Down, A Recipe

Have some wilting vegetables at your in your fridge? Each rich.

Where Ray comes from they eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's day. When I was growing up we'd go to my aunt's house for cabbage.

“Eat poor on New Year’s day, eat rich the rest of the year,” the adage goes.

But that wasn't what I was thinking when I started dinner last night. I was thinking I wanted to order in, have a hoagy delivered or maybe make a frozen pizza. I was feeling too lazy to make anything and Ray was in the basement sawing things.

But since it was the first day of 2014 I thought we should kick it off by having dinner at home - start us on the right foot healthwise and moneywise.

There was a sad, wrinkling red pepper in the vegetable crisper, a bunch of broccoli that needed to be eaten, some pine nuts in the pantry and a half a bag of penne. Good enough, I thought.

Maybe we just should have ordered in.

Within minutes I had nearly burned the house down. Or at least nearly killed us by smoke inhalation.

Turns out, you shouldn't leave a red pepper and broccoli to sauté in olive oil on high heat while you do other things, like unload the dishwater.

No matter. We feasted on only slightly charred penne and ate around the scorched little pieces of red pepper flakes.  I tossed in some side salads with cut up string cheese for a bit of protein and we had ourselves a New Year's evening meal.

I called it 'everything but the kitchen sink,' because I tossed in everything we had, which wasn't much.

After we cleaned up I remembered the adage about eating poor on New Year's day. A little accidental luck never hurt anybody, even if you do almost cause a kitchen fire.

Everything but the kitchen sink pasta

[Feel free to make your own and pretend it's New Year's again.]

Sauté in plenty of olive oil everything that is going bad in your crisper - red peppers, yellow peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, whatever. If you have any garlic cloves or minced garlic in the fridge, add that too. Add in red pepper flakes for heat. I like a lot of heat, so I add a lot of them. Don't walk away and unload the dishwasher; keep the veges moving.

In another pot prepare whatever pasta you have in the pantry, letting it get not quite al dente. (It will finish cooking when you sauté it.) Drain the pasta and toss it into the pan with the veges. Add a bit more olive oil and red pepper flakes; throw in those pine nuts you've had in the pantry for months. I like a bit of the penne to be crispy, so I intentionally scorch a bit of the pasta for texture.

Add a side salad of spring mix, string cheese and the rest of those pine nuts you're never going to use.  

Eat rich the rest of the year.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

To 2014 And Beyond

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Dickens' memorable opening perfectly summarized my 2012. And now that 2013 is over I feel like I can finally look back on 2012 with some distance.

It would be wrong to say 2012 was the worst year ever when there was so much that was wonderful. But as Bob Dylan said, behind every beautiful thing, there was some kind of pain.

There were times when the sun seemed to shine perfectly on everything - Ray and I went on some wonderful trips, we moved, moved again, searched for houses, picked out an engagement ring.

We saw Madonna in concert (!!!!).

And there were other times when it felt like everything was falling apart.

My mom began to suffer terribly from her Rheumatoid Arthritis. In the midst of her crippling flare-up with seemingly no treatment options, my dear brother died. We buried him the day before my birthday, leaving my mom with two deceased sons and me feeling like I'd been orphaned.

A few weeks later, I suddenly faced some serious health complications. After six weeks of doctors appointments and surgery consults, we still weren't sure what was going to happen or if they could correct the problems. I wouldn't really know anything until I woke up from anesthesia. It was horribly scary.

Then, two days before the surgery, my beloved cat died. It seemed like the ground just kept coming out from under us.

2012 was tough. But in all that was grim, there were still those bright spots. But you know it's bad when you can't even say, 'Well, at least we have our health.' All we could really say was, 'Well, at least we have health... insurance.'

I think this is what folks call 'a silver lining.' Sure you got your ass kicked, but all the swelling gave you that bountiful booty you've always wanted!

When the end of December finally closed in, I couldn't wait to turn the page to 2013. It was a chance to mentally start over, wipe the slate clean. And I couldn't have been more in favor of that.

I had the first surgery in December 2012 and woke up to the reality that, "It went ok. Sort of. But you'll need another surgery and you might start crapping your pants."

We considered that a victory. Ray and I practically high-fived it was so exciting. "You might crap your pants, that's it?! Woo hoo!"

We moved into our new house a few weeks later and as I hobbled around with my new 12 inch incision I declared right then and there that 2013 was going to be my year.

And what a wonderful year it has been.

Our house felt like home as soon as all of the boxes were moved in. With one more surgery in the spring, the difficulties that surrounded my health problems were largely repaired.

Ray and I got engaged shortly before my second surgery and we planned our wedding from my hospital bed. Then we threw a big housewarming/engagement party and the rest of 2013 just flowed.

We had a lovely wedding, honeymooned in Hawaii and hosted our first Thanksgiving. We did lose our other sweet kitty, Cassius Clay, but our hearts were healed with the addition of Chuck Norris and Hunter S. Tomcat.

We also saw Bob Dylan and LL Cool J (!!!!).

And, gift of gifts, my mom was able to finally find a medication to alleviate the crippling pain and misery of her RA.

Way to punch 2012 right in its stupid face, 2013.

As the leaves changed and the weather got cooler this fall Ray and I were reminiscing about when everything went to hell last year.

"I wish I could whisper into our ears: Hang on," he said. "It's going to all be fine. It's going to be a lot of good and bad, but it's going to be ok."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could do that? To whisper to our past selves that it's going to be ok, just hang on.

I would also like to whisper to my past self not to worry so much, that taking Imodium will keep me from crapping my pants. (But wasn't it a fun few weeks figuring that out!)

So, I'm going to go ahead and call it again, 2014 is also going to be my year. Ray and I are going to win the lottery! Ok, maybe not. But still, greatness.

Health, happiness, friends, love. Maybe some more kitties! (Ha ha, just kidding, Ray.) (Not really, readers.)

Here's to a wonderful 2014 for all of us.