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SS moves in….

30 Aug

… for a couple days.

For the past two years, SS has been planning a major renovation to his apt. This project was in the works long before we met, and has him very excited.

The past six months have been interspersed with architect meetings, permit applications, visits to kitchen showrooms, samples from Home Depot and god knows what other legal dealings he had to take care of to get his dream abode on the runway. Oh, and for the past few months he’s been living in a place full of holes that the contractor requested he create so he could figure out if the architect’s plans were feasible. (You should have seen me bounce out of the bed when I was there alone and heard a scamper in the wall. Ooooooh boy!)

So after years of anticipation, today’s the day! SS left his apt his morning never to see it the same again!

We got up early to finish the last of the emptying — moving the mattress out back and the rest of his belongings into my car — and as he got ready for work, three “gorillas” showed up armed to demolish the place. (Apparently they were the voiceovers for the “Snatch” cast.)

As luck would have it, he’s got a few weeks of travel planned so finding a place to stay isn’t necessary, except for the next couple nights. And I’m the lucky one! (No, I’m not being sarcastic!)

I am also the unlucky one. His trips and my cross-country road trip overlap so I won’t be seeing my SS for a good three and half weeks or so. I think subconsciously it’s taken a toll on me.

Travel, no matter how well planned, always comes with a small black hole: There is always the potential for an unknown outcome. It’s this unknown possibility that triggers my desire to visit somewhere new. But it also instills fear. A good kind of fear. The kind that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat wide-eyed craving more.

I guess from that perspective, it’s not completely abnormal to feel a sense of stress about watching the one you love fly off one way, while you drive the other.

I am going to miss him. But at the same time I couldn’t be more excited for his vacation. Having lived abroad, I understand the “travel-bug” and what it can do to a person when left unfulfilled. It’s not pretty! It’s the reason that I’ll be singing in the car with my little brother somewhere amid the rocky peaks of the West when SS’s plane touches back down in NY. We may be off on different journeys for the next month, but his sense of adventure is one of the things that draws me to him.

It’s a trip he’s be anticipating for a long time. Just like the renovation, it was part of him before we met!

And just like his brand-new shiny apartment, I’ll awaiting his return.

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Birthday Cupcakes: Semi-Successful

21 Jul

So a little over two weeks ago, while everyone in the USofA was out and about enjoying the sun on the Monday after the 4th (bank holiday for you foreigners), I was at the airport waving good-bye to my SS.

My SS is a computer programmer for an big unnamed company. And along with being so brilliant comes important responsibilities around the world. I’m not sure the travel is always necessary, but there it nothing wrong with exploiting your company for a bit of foreign face time. (See why I love him?) So for the past two weeks he’s been in Asia sharing his knowledge, eating yummy sushi and traveling to dangerous places.

SS's birthday presents!! (Yes, that is a stuffed cat!)

He comes home today. And you know what’s even better? Tomorrow is his birthday.

I took advantage of his lack of presence and planned some little surprises. For example, sitting on his kitchen table are an array of wrapped pressies. (I never wrap pressies; I use cardboard and newspaper. It killed me to BUY paper that is inevitably gonna be thrown into the garbage, but I thought he deserved at least one nicely wrapped celebration before introducing him to my ‘save the planet’ ways.)

The other part of my surprise, besides dinner reservations at a delicious place that, get this you’ll never believe it, HE’S NEVER BEEN TO … (This is no small feat people, he’s been evvvverywhere!) … was CUPCAKES!

I came up with this fantasticly creative idea to make him a variety of fun flavors. The tasting menu was as follows. (All were with chocolate cake.)

S’more Cupcakes: Graham cracker inside with marshmallow frosting
Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes: Peanut butter chips inside with marshmallow frosting
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes: Jelly-filled with peanut butter frosting
Nutty Cupcakes: Crushed nuts inside with peanut butter icing
Minty Fresh Cupcakes: Crush star mints inside with butter cream icing
Birthday Cake Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles.

Now imagine a dozen of those. Appetizing right? Yeah, well, didn’t work out as planned.

First off, I used a chocolate cake recipe that I didn’t read thoroughly until in the process of putting it together. It was a recipe for Smore cupcakes that required a graham cracker/sugar baked bottom and then a layer of cake on top. I was making just the cake part and it oddly called for “1 cup of boiling water.” I have no idea WHY it called for boiling water, but as the batter looked ace without it, I didn’t add it.

Was this a mistake? I have no idea!

What I do know is that you can’t baked crushed mint into this recipe. Instead of growing to be fluffy and mushroom topped, like the plain ones, or small and solid, like the graham cracker stuffed batter, these collapsed on themselves.

Mint-infused cupcake failure.

At this point I was losing confidence and stamina. My baking partner AAA — who was ridiculously sweet to help me bake for my SS, and is solely responsible for the icings — was her typical optimistic self, attempting to focus me on the positives — and eat her way through the failures.

The next batch I tried sprinkling the crushed mint on top mid-way through baking. This didn’t work either. They instantly went from having a healthy dome top to being sucked into the black hole of the cupcake tin. Argh. The other ones that proved uncooperative were the PB&Js. Attempting to correct my mistake from last week’s PB&J mishap (all the jelly slid to the bottom when baking), I put the jelly in half way through the baking process in hope that the bottom was baked enough to support it. I have no idea if that worked or not but they didn’t seal over on top in the way I had hoped.

There are holes in the PB&J cupcakes.

At this point I was stomping around the kitchen, spastically shaking and moaning about my baking failure. I was at a loss. Should I bother bringing any to the city for him? Should I take a few? And if I do that, should I ice them before I go? Should I bring the icing and do it tomorrow? Should I just pick up Billy’s on the way over? He has no idea I’m going to see him tonight. But even though he has no idea cupcakes were meant to be waiting for him upon his return home, I felt like I was letting him down by giving up so easily. And after 2.5 a half weeks of planning, if my surprise failed in any way it would just break my little heart.  I’m not the type to give up and, well, he knows that. So I persevered.

In the end I salvaged six that agreed with my oven. There were three S’more-themed cakes and three Fluffer Nutter, which were just turned into Peanut Butter and were iced with PB instead of marshmallow. I would have liked to decorate a few plain ones too but they grew so big, they wouldn’t fit in the carrying pan. I’m guessing the boiling water may have changed that outcome somehow.

Either way, the final product looks pretty nice.

Half a dozen delic cakes are better than none.

This also left me with a challenge. That is to master the art of baking mint into cupcakes. But in the meantime, I am definitely going to make the collapsible cupcakes again. This time in a bowl in which they can be served to guests with a big spoonful of ice cream in the middle. Yummm… now we’re talking.

As for the failed ones, they stand at home waiting to be enjoyed. And the handicapped ones, well, the ladies of the house seemed to like them just the way they were. (Seriously, this was taken like 20 minutes after they came out of the oven!)

Mint-infused cupcakes flavor-success.

Now I’m scheduling this to post just as I should be surprising SS at the airport. But if he somehow catches this post before my face, WELCOME BACK SS!! Now come home and eat!!!

Guess Who, The Walmart Edition

11 Jul

There are two websites that are sure to waste my afternoon. I go to them for a laugh, and before I know it, I’ve wasted an hour to numerous hours clicking page after page claiming, “Just one more…”

They are: Peopleofwalmart.com and Textsfromlastnight.com. Neither offer any intellectual stimulation. They exist purely for mindless amazement.

At some point in a conversation with my parents and triple A this weekend, I mentioned these sites. It was in response to my dad stating that he didn’t like to look at stupid sites, or that there was nothing worthwhile on the internet, now I remember. Him and my mom were kinda like “huh?” So I got out my laptop and went to People of Walmart. I handed it over and showed him a few. Then I pointed out, “Make sure you read the captions. The captions make it!”

A few minutes later I came back out onto the porch and he is reading the captions outloud. “Guess who this is. What do you think the picture looks like, huh?” And then he would describe it laughing.

I took my laptop back and switched to Texts From Last Night. I started reading outloud—only the appropriate ones of course. And my parents’ reactions ranged from a chuckle to an full-blown LOL. But after about 6 pages they were losing interest (while I was still going strong).

I closed my laptop as my dad got up: “I guess there are some funny things on the internet,” he commented.

Win!! I successfully dumbed down my dad.

He may have introduced me to the internet, but I introduced him to its most idiotic content.

And for that I am proud.

My Mix Tape!

25 Jun

Last night as I drove into Manhattan, I put on my favorite iPod playlist, AAA’s Country Mix. As I listened to my favorite song — which also happens to be hers — I thought, “I have no idea who sings this.” And that is the beauty of the playlist.

One day after we both returned to the US, and were attempting to sort out our lives, I received the double CD country music mix in the mail and giggled with glee. I’ve listened to the heartaches and joys of guitar-strumming cowboys (and cowgirls) since high school when my non-stereotypical LI extended family members introduced me to the twang. AAA is from the Midwest so country music runs through her blood. It was a bonding point during our time in England — where country music is close to impossible to find — and she knew how frustrated I was that Latin and cheesy pop radio took over LI’s two token country stations.

The CD’s have the songs and artists listed on the cases but once they made it into my iPod (and I didn’t bother to manually enter that information), they were lost forever. I know a lot of the songs are by artists I am familiar with and have listened to for ages, but to me, it’s all just AAA’s music.

While listening to it last night, I thought, “Awww, she made me a mix tape [CD]. How cute is that?” And then continued to search my brain for other mix tapes I had received. I couldn’t remember a single one. Isn’t that what you do in high-school relationships? Well, apparently not mine. I can honestly say I never received a mix tape from anyone before that. And in the cheesy way girls get about their friendships, it made it all the more special.

Thanks AAA… and Yee-Haw!!

I heart Gordon Ramsay

20 Jun

Who is my favorite chef?

Anyone…?

If you didn’t read the hed on this entry, it’s Gordon Ramsay! I love the loud, brash, foul-mouthed kitchen guru. I don’t, and won’t, watch Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s because of my distaste for reality TV — I have no grievance with the host. I do love Kitchen Nightmares (the British version of course; I love when he visits quaint pubs in the middle of the English countryside).

Someone once asked me, “If you could marry three famous men, who would they be?” My number one? Gordon Ramsay. A girl’s gotta eat, no? (If I remember correctly, my number two was David Beckham, but purely for his thighs, as I’ve had more interesting convos with my dog than he offers in interviews.)

Anyways… I love Gordon. I love his recipes; I love his personality.

So you can imagine my excitement when SS planned another fancy dinner date night, this time at… [drumroll]… Gordon Ramsay at The London.

I squeaked like a lil’ girl when he told me, and secretly prayed that the master himself might happen to be in NY and decide to pop in for a visit during our meal. (A girl’s gotta dream, no?)

Our meal was FABULOUS! And not only because we were we sitting in my food-idol’s NY haven, but the tasting menu sported all my favs — scallops, lamb, cheese (brillat savarin, which I had no idea was cheese until then), and I even loved the foie gras. It was fantastic!

SS wasn’t as impressed as he was with our Jean George adventure. I can agree that it was a close call, and if eaten side-by-side, based on taste alone, I may agree with him. But I’m only human, and my taste buds knew they were eating something [marketed] by Gordon Ramsay. Sigh.

I have very few extravagant desires. Eating at Gordon’s restaurant was one of them. Thank you SS.

With all that said, I must offer some criticism as well (I am a Negotiator personality; it is only fair): Work on the cocktail menu — more vodka mixes — and get an interior designer in there, pronto!

They gave us a copy of the menu as a souvenir.

What to say, when all’s ok?

28 May

I’ve been really slacking on the blogging lately. I could blame any number of reasons—busy at work, enjoying the outdoors, trying to disconnect from the internet—and they’d all be somewhat valid. But during an email conversation with FF the other day, another reason popped out of my subconscious and threw itself onto the screen…

I’m in a stable relationship!

At that point in our email conversation, we were discussing her interest in a not-so-available man to which she apologized for “going on” about. I replied—legitimately defensive—“Don’t be sorry; I love analyzing this shit! It’s great blog fodder. You know, now that I’m in a stable relationship, I’m slacking on blog material. You’re helping me here!”

It’s not that I ever blogged about my relationships. Actually, until this year, I intentionally never wrote, mentioned, or commented on anyone who might not be a permanent fixture in my life. It was my thoughts; my life; my blog. But even though you may not speak about the details, when you’re going through emotional upheaval, you tend to have more to say—on any topic!

Either way… I’m happy… life’s good… so I got nothing to blog complain about. But I’ll make sure that doesn’t keep me from posting—there are plenty of exciting things going on in my world…

and if I can find the time, I’ll tell you about all of them!

Oh, and I’M GOING TO PUNTA CANA WITH SS TOMORROW!!!

“Look Marge, Only a Quarter!”

22 May

Today MJay, Triple A and I are holding a yard sale. It is the first yard sale where I’ve held a managerial position — compared to being a spectator. MJay will be moving to the far off land of Connecticut (tear), and needs to clear out some — ok, A LOT — of stuff.

So, for the past few hours I’ve been alternating between sitting in the front of my garage watching my little entrepreneur girl friend, kitted out with a fanny pack and clip board, say good-bye to all her lifelong possessions, demonstrating her Lat Thigh Stepper exercise machine, puppeteer’ing Lampchop and creating an “On the Farm Work-Out” series — so far I’ve recorded Getting Jiggy with C. E. Joe and Fundamentals of Farmland Tap — that was inspired by a pair of overalls MJay gifted me.

I only brought in about $50 — which I’ve allocated to my DR bathing suit fund… gotta try to impress the man — mostly because I feel guilty asking people to give me money for things I am otherwise throwing away. Either way, I got rid of some crap that was inhabiting my space, and MJay’s belongings are flying off the shelves. Well, except the over-priced products.

The customer base has been interesting. For me, the woman below was the highlight.

Our most fashion-forward customer wearing red fish-nets under way-too-tight denim shorts and a way-too-short black t-shirt.

In the end, we are having a blast. It’s all about the fun of spending the day with those you love. As MJay so genuinely put it: “I’m doing it solely for the company… ME and Triple A.”

ME: “Awwww seriously? We could have just hung out you know…”

MJay: “Yeah but actually doing SOMETHING together makes it more of a bonding experience!”

Thanks MJay, you are right. I feel very bonded now!

Sooooo… when does Martini night start?