Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On washing dishes after drinking too much wine

1)      It’s assumed that since you are even attempting to wash the dishes, you’ve only had a little too much wine. This point is further supported by the fact that you had the good sense to make yourself a bowl of Turkey Hill’s Double Dunkers ice cream as a reward for doing the dishes tonight.
2)      It will most likely take more time and more water than normal.  This is due to rewashing items you’ve already cleaned, dropping items back into the sink, and simply not having the faucet over the dish that you are supposed to be rinsing off.  How much more water and time you will use depends on how much wine you drank.
3)      Expect the process to be noisier than normal, for some of the same reasons outlined in point two.  If you are lucky, you have a stainless steel sink, where jostling dishes and falling flatware sound with a dull thud; as opposed to a ceramic sink, where when completely sober, gently laying dishes down can make a surprisingly sharp crack.
4)      Hopefully you were cleaning up while you cooked, before you started drinking wine (unless you were drinking while cooking, you know, just to get in the proper mood for dinner).  If you were conscientious about this, hurray for you, you should have no sharp knives needing washing.  If you were not, be very, very cautious. 
5)      Do not attempt to put dishes away when you are done.  The reason for this is two-fold: 
a.       Reaching to the top shelf of the cabinet to put that one cereal bowl away really took a lot out you.  It doesn’t normally seem to require so much strength and concentration.
b.      Chances are, you aren’t doing a great job getting these dishes clean, and will need to redo some of them tomorrow.  If you are lucky, your husband will look them over and put them away while you are sleeping.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

And we have the pictures to prove it

It’s official, our house in North Carolina is on the market.  The listing agreement was actually signed last month, but after a little clean-up and some small repairs, it is finally listed

Yes, my husband and I have embarked on the adventure of selling a house.  I have to tell you, it’s rather dull at the moment.  It has involved reading and rereading a bunch of papers (a step we can look forward to repeating), paying out large sums of money, and a lot of waiting.  I have elected not to write about real estate agents, as I am reserving judgment until the end.

Hopefully, this period of waiting will be abbreviated.  Without the rental income, our household has outlined its own austerity measures.  We are having trouble enacting them, and if it is this difficult in a republic of two (our kids are represented but do not have voting rights) it is no wonder nations are rebelling against them.  I am the worst about it.  I don’t have many personal splurges.  I make most of my own beauty and hygiene products, I’m now able to avoid expensive coffee drinks, and I don’t go out that much (I did just see Harry Potter, my first movie in the theatre since Toy Story 3).  My budgeting willpower breaks down in the grocery store.  Actually, it’s busted way before that; it’s when I open up a cookbook or Bon App├ętit, or check out the latest on Dinner: A Love Story (just made the recipe for dry rub baby back ribs and I have to say it, OMG! it was good).  I also like to experiment with making pastry and chocolate, and this costs more money than our grocery budget now allows.  However, I realize that the most expensive ingredients do not make the best meals, and now just need to get a little more creative.

Please, the few of you that will read this, send out positive thoughts for a quick and successful sale of our house.  Once this process is over, we can begin again in a different role, eagerly (and later, anxiously, I’m sure) looking to buy a house up here in Virginia.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Going with it

I imagine myself as one who enjoys spontaneity, but that’s not true.  I want to be someone who enjoys spontaneity, but the reality is that I hate surprises.  Or at least, I like surprises that that give me time to plan.  Unfortunately for my husband, the imagined me frequently mentions that she is tired of being the one who has to make all the arrangements for family and couple outings, and that she would love it if he would just whisk her and the boys away for some fun.  However, on those occasions, it is the real me that is whisked away, and I bombard him with questions like “Are you sure that this place is open,” “do you have directions,” and “are you positive that we are appropriately dressed?”  (Those who know my husband understand that he has giving me cause to question him regarding that last matter.)

Last weekend he boosted my confidence in his ability to plan a surprise for us.  He drove us out into the countryside to pick lavender at the Seven Oaks Lavender Farm.  It was mentioned the Tuesday before at his Barbershop group (yes, my husband has recently started singing Barbershop) that this was the last weekend it would be open, and he knew he had to take me.  It was a beautiful day.  We got there in the morning, before the air became too sticky.  Edward had borrowed a flower basket from my mother, and we walked the short path from our car, stopping to look at the baby goats, up to the patch of lavender.  The woman who owns the field told us about the different types of lavender; the English Lavender, that is the sweetest smelling but was pretty much all picked; the Provence lavender, the most common variety and the best for cooking; and the Pierre Grosso, which has more of a camphor smell, but dries a beautiful, deep blue.  I crouched down, picking my stems while my son Max ran through the bushes squealing with delight and chasing butterflies.  Bumble bees buzzed all around, but they had more important things to do than to worry about us.

Lavender Syrup

I wasn’t completely prepared this time, but next year I will come ready with a list of everything I want to make with lavender, and be sure I collect enough.  I did have enough stems for lavender syrup, though.  It’s fragrant, sweet, and just subtly floral.  I use it in my tea and yesterday I drizzled it over a delicious vanilla pound cake. There is something poetic about eating flowers.

2 cups sugar
2 T dried lavender blossoms*
1 cup water

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and stirring constantly, cook until sugar dissolves and syrup is just slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and allow it to cool.  After refrigerating for two days, I poured the syrup through a fine sieve to remove the lavender blossoms.  Store syrup in the refrigerator.

* mountain rose herbs is a great online source for herbs and spices