Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The List of Fours

So, my friend Mary recently blogged her "List of Fours" and because I'm a sucker for lists, I'll take the bait and post my own.

Suz's List of 4s

four jobs I have had in my life:
1. summer camp counselor
2. waitress at IHOP
3. kitchen knife direct sales representative
4. envelope stuffer

four movies I would (and do) watch over and over:
1. Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version)
2. Ever After
3. Much Ado About Nothing
4. Sweet Home Alabama

four places I have lived:
1. Illinois
2. Ohio
3. Indiana
4. Spain

four TV shows I love to watch:
1. The Amazing Race
2. CSI
3. Gilmore Girls
4. What Not to Wear

four places I have been on vacation:
1. Seattle & Washington
2. Boston
3. Nashville
4. Salzburg

four of my favorite foods:
1. queso de cabra (goat cheese in a marinara-like sauce spread on toasted bread) at Cafe Ibérico
2. steak burrito at Chipotle (how I miss thee!)
3. my mom's apple crisp
4. pasta milano at Macaroni Grill (minus the mushrooms)

four places i would like to be right now:
1. hiking through Rocky Mountain National Park with friends (properly bundled up)
2. sitting at a table on the patio of the restaurant in Sevilla that's just off the Plaza de Cuba and right across the river from the Torre del Oro, watching the setting sun glint off the tower's sides
3. curled up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and the company of my best friend in Menomonie
4. having dinner with my future husband

four books i'd read again:
1. Ragamuffin Gospel (Manning)
2. Ibid: A Life (Dunn)
3. Girl Meets God (Winner)
4. the whole Thursday Next Literary Detective series (Fforde)

four songs I listen to over and over:
1. Only You (DCB)
2. Something Beautiful (Jars of Clay)
3. Let Go (Lindsay McCaul)
4. Your Grace is Sufficient (Shane & Shane)

four things I despise:
1. mushrooms
2. worms
3. styrofoam
4. coconut

four random things I love:
1. wrapping myself up in a bath towel that's straight from the dryer
2. when I see God weaving a theme through my life to get my attention
3. well-built men in cableknit turtleneck sweaters
4. laughing with friends, so hard and long that we curl up and fall over as tears roll down our cheeks

Leave a comment if/when you post your own list!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Behold, the trifle

Early last week I sent an inquiry to all the girls in my small group, asking if anyone had a trifle bowl I could borrow for the dessert I was planning for Thanksgiving dinner. I received 4 emails back asking, "What's a trifle bowl?" and to each I found myself replying, "Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where Rachel tries to make an "English Trifle" but the pages of the cookbook get stuck together and she ends up making a dish that's half dessert, half shepherd's pie with 'a layer of lady fingers, then strawberries, then beef sauteed with peas and carrots...' and everyone is repulsed but then Joey tries it and really likes it? (a great episode.) Well, a trifle is a layered dessert, traditionally served in a glass bowl on a pedestal, and I'm looking for the bowl."

Then I thought to ask one of my married friends, because married people register for obscure kitchenware items like trifle bowls, and I found one to borrow on the first try. So, early Thanksgiving morning I rose and made the gingerbread (okay, it was from a box, but still) and mixed all the other stuff together, then layered everything oh so carefully, producing quite possibly the most beautiful dessert I've ever made - a gingerbread and spiced pear trifle.

Behold, the trifle.

I was quite pleased with it. Okay, and with myself, too. And with my brother, for being brave and trying some, which he claimed was the very first time he's ever eaten pear (he's not really one for fruits...or vegetables...or anything new). Yes, it was time to shake up Thanksgiving dinner, or at least, dessert.

Although, lest I upset things too much, there was also pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Out of the blue...and into a pink dress.

I was on the phone this afternoon when I found myself saying quite unexpectedly, "Sure, I'd be happy to."

What was it that I so blithely agreed to? Well, as of 4:00 this afternoon, it seems I'm going to be in a wedding next month, playing the role of bridesmaid and translator for a young woman I've never met (she's marrying the son of some family friends), who's never been the U.S. before (he met her in Peru, where he was stationed with the military--she's never been on a plane or seen snow), and who doesn't speak English (which seems to have scared away all of the Spanish left in me).

Moments later there I was, ordering my powder-pink bridesmaid gown online and looking up how to say "instantaneous bridesmaid" in Spanish (dama de honor instant√°nea, in case you were wondering).

Nothing like the responsibility of translating between a bride and her future mother-in-law on her wedding day to confer urgency upon the need to practice my Spanish. If you need me, I'll be making wedding day vocab flash cards.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wassail for Everyone!

So, last night I hosted an Amazing Race/Birthday party (here's a one-day-early birthday shout out to Allison!) during which it became apparent that too few people in this world (or at least in my circle of friends) have had the pleasure of sipping from a warm mug of fragrant wassail. It went kind of like this:

Suz: Hey everyone, I made wassail! Who'd like some?
Murmurs from those gathered: Huh? You made what? What's wassail?
Suz: You know...(singing) "Here we go a-wassailing among the leaves so green..."
Those gathered: [blank stares]
Suz: Um, it's a festive holiday beverage.
Those gathered: Oh. Okay.

So, because we are entering prime wassail season, I thought I'd introduce a (slightly) wider audience to the festive yummy-ness that is wassail.

wassail [wos-uhl] noun: 1. a saluation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a drink to a person or when drinking to the health of a person; 2. a beverage consisting of spiced cider, liquor, beer, or juices for drinking on festive occasions, esp. around Christmas; verb: 3. (used without object) to revel with drinking; 4. (used with object) to drink to the health or success of; toast.

Use it in a sentence: "Wassail(1)! I raise this mug of wassail(2) while wassailing(3) in the company of good friends friends to wassail(4) Allison on the momentous occasion of her 27th birthday."

Suz's Wassail Recipe (which is dedicated to Rachel, who first introduced me to wassail)

2 1/4 C white sugar
4 C water
4 C orange juice
1 1/2 C lemon juice
8 C apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
1 Tb whole cloves

In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and let stand in warm place for 1 hour (or more). Strain liquid into a large pot or crockpot/slow cooker. Add juices and cider and quickly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve. [Recipe may be "spiked" as desired. Brandy works well. I haven't tried it yet, but Amaretto or Triple Sec would probably be tasty, too! Add liquor after removing concoction from heat.]

Friday, November 03, 2006

What I've Lost...

...as of today. Only 5 to go til I reach my goal!

(Special thanks to Jim for lending this weight for illustration, and for his constant encouragement throughout this process.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You know it's cold in your office when...

...you hug a stack of freshly printed letters because they just feel so nice and warm.

Kind of like the closest office equivalent to my well-loved personal ritual of wrapping myself up in a warm bath towel, fresh from the dryer in all its nubby, Tide Mountain Spring-smelling goodness. Except without the pleasant scent. Or the coverage.