Monday, August 31, 2009

A Happy List for this last day of August.

10 things that made me happy today:

1. Starting the day with a glorious and vigorous uphill walk.
2. Getting a lot done and being proud of what I’ve written.
3. Autumn-like temperatures: so inspiring and invigorating!
4. Taking another vigorous walk, this one up two killer hills.
5. Homemade guacamole with dinner.
6. Bursting out laughing at a comic strip while I ate that I almost snorted guac through my nose – and then kept chuckling to myself while I washed dishes.
7. Wearing my brown wedge sandals and feeling tall and powerful. And OK, sexy.
8. A surprise visit at the office from Mommalah, who told me I looked beautiful.
9. A coworker telling me that I “seem at peace.”
10. Listening to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour.

Hope you found something that made you happy today too!

Don't you just love it ...

... when the stars align?

This is [one of] the horoscopes I get e-mailed to me.
Yes, I know most of it is bunk, but hey, you know you read yours too, even if it's secretly.

I just find is so fitting, especially after yesterday's blog about how I'm deciding things about my life.

Your horoscope for August 31, 2009
You may be looking for some new values in your personal life, Nikki. You are no longer interested superficial or frivolous relationships today. You need to meet different kinds of people and to select those of your friends that are really worth keeping. So don't worry if you feel like taking a step back to get some perspective on things, because this is the time to do it. Relationships are too important to you for you to neglect them.

So dead on I could have blogged about it myself!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free to be me.

It was the kind of weekend you wish you could have every weekend.

There was a lot of great conversation, a lot of drinks and food, a friendship that picked up like it never left off and the meeting of some really great, fun people.

It started with an Irish car bomb at the Banshee in Scranton after a work-free Friday and ended today with four glasses of champers at my BFF Tiffany's wedding shower - where I am proud to say I won a crimson pashmina during one of the shower games! - followed by a great Sunday dinner at Mommalah's.

It was so what my soul needed.
No thoughts. Not arguments. No going-on-the-defensive.
Just me being me, with someone I can totally be me with - who thinks that me is "absolutely fabulous," as it were.

I've been feeling a little ... not myself the last week or two, just making sense of some internal demons, if you will, of what I want in a few areas of my life.

Some of those decisions are harder than others, and some, once the writing was so blatantly on the wall that even my sometimes rose-colored glasses couldn't hide them anymore, were easy as pie.

Or as easy as eating all that kielbasa this weekend and washing it down with ice cold brews.

A good weekend indeed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Entertaining ... fabulously.

I'm not much of a goddess in the kitchen.
I do, however, make a killer bourbon chocolate pecan pie for Thanksgiving and the super-secret Mascali Family cookie cake for Christmas. I've dabbled with chicken a few times, can make a mean tofu stir fry and can microwave a Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza like it's nobody's business ... but that's pretty much where it ends.

Pretty ironic for someone who is as obsessed with food as I am, non?

I do, however, throw good party, though I have been known to offer onion dip and a fabulously fatty rippled chip at times.
When I do break out the '50s housewife for the few people who appreciate her, pearls are optional, as is the matching apron.

Last Thursday, I entertained my fabulous dear friend Johnny, or as we like to call it, the Patsy to my Edy, an homage to the lovely lush ladies of "Absolutely Fabulous."
absolutely fabulous Pictures, Images and Photos
We've recently gotten back in touch, and he came bearing oodles of vodka and limes to make his signature Phoebe Snow cocktail - named after the fabulous and fictional Lackawanna Railroad ad goddess of the early 1900s.
Phoebe Snow Pictures, Images and Photos
{Above is from a little plaque he gave moi.}

The fabulous martinis went into glasses I chilled all day long in the freezer ...
... and included Grey Goose La Poire, Svedka, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and a slice of pear floating ever so gracefully amid the booze.

My menu:
- a tasty little concoction I "invented" for my last drinks-n-things soiree I threw: toasted pumpernickel points and gorgonzola ...
- pretzels, green olives, black olive tapenade, wheat crackers ...
- cheddar cheese and Genoa salami ...
- and a lovely little black-&-white cookie for a sweet treat.
{Kindly notice the fabulous plate! Vintage circa 1950s!}
- Here is the table set up. I learned the importance of setting good table from Mommalah- and Johnny, neither of whom would dream of entertaining with gherkins on a stick, heaven forbid!

{Note: The blogger is aware that she used the term "fabulous" seven times. Well, eight counting that last one. Sometimes no other word'll do and those times are just, well, fabulous. (Make that nine)}

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School days, school days.

chalkboard Pictures, Images and Photos
Though I always hated The First Day of School, I adored Back To School (BTS) Shopping.
And I'm actually not talking about clothes.

I went to a Catholic school for grades 1-8, so until the summer before ninth grade, copious amounts of clothing sales meant nothing to me.
{Among many other things I blame on my going to Catholic school, my penchant for shopping definitely takes the cake because once I got the taste of it before going into freshman year, I never looked back.}

I'm talking about something much, much deeper than that.
I'm talking ... notebooks.
notebooks Pictures, Images and Photos
... pens.
... highlighters.
... Trapper Keepers.
1st Ed. Trapper Keeper Pictures, Images and Photos
... folders.
And the piece de resistance ... loose-leaf paper.
{Oh God, how I loved loose-leaf paper.}
Looseleaf Pictures, Images and Photos
Nothing to me - someone who's been writing (sometimes pure drivel) since I was 10 - is more enticing than loose-leaf paper or a fresh notebook.
I loved the smell of it, the feel of it, the promise of it.
The ideas that would unfurl between those light blue lines - how powerful is that? Knowing my words - even if they were chem notes I sure as hell wouldn't understand or algebra I haven't used once in the near 15 years since I graduated - would fill up those lines.
Mind. Blowing. Exclamation point!

Even today, I get giddy when I go into an office supply store, or down the BTS aisle of [insert local discount mart here]. I could stay there for hours picking out the perfect notebooks and smelling all the paper surrounding me.
{The pens have always, always been blue PaperMate pens. And only blue PaperMate pens.}

And how about the promise of a new school year?
The year you'll make the honor roll, the cheerleading squad, snag the cute bad boy?
Oh it's always so rife with possibility.

Which is exactly why I've been thinking about BTS time a lot lately, and decided to make my own BTS promises this school year, even though I:
1. Do not go to school.
2. Do not work in a school.
3. Do not have children I am preparing to send off to school.

This is my Back To School list:

- I will learn to cook. Once and for all. Without dramatics. Maybe whilst wearing my pearls. And with a martini within reach.
- I will grow my nails. And upkeep them, instead of biting them or picking at them.
- I will clean more often in the nooks and crannies of the fabulous apartment I adore, instead of taking the easy way out.
- I will wear a fabulous dress to the office at least once a week. Maybe accessorized with the pearls.
- I will freelance.
- I will learn to meditate.
- I will get back into jogging. Once and for all.
- I will revel in the fact that I am single, even if I get lonely sometimes. Good things - great things - come to those who wait. Ever so patiently.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hoot of the night owl.

Just because I've always been fascinated by vampires doesn't mean I should be an insomniac, does it?
Well, it certainly seems that way.

I've been going through one of my Bouts of Sleeplessness again, but this time it's because I'm feeling inspired.

I can't get my brain - or my body - to slow down.

I want to read.
I want to write.
I want to clean.
I want to exercise.
I want to take up cooking.
I want to dance around the house.

I'm like a kid with ADD for Pete's sake!

Take these past few days for example.
I already have 20.5 hours in at work and right now, instead of being dog-tired as I know I should be, I am feeling hyper. I almost wish I could hop on the Air Climber and bang out half an hour - and kick the ass of this morning's measly 15 minutes I did half asleep, but I'm afraid that when I do actually crash, it'll end up keeping up.

It's a vicious, vicious thing methinks.

I've always been a night owl, even when I was a little girl. Yet another trait inherited from Mommalah - it joins gnarly feet, searing wit and all-around fabulousness ... naturally.
smiley Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How soon until tea?

I long for fall.
I always do - it's my favorite time of year, especially because I absolutely loathe these humid temperatures. I loved the summer weather - or lack thereof - we've had (minus all the monsoon rains of course).

One of the main reasons I'm jonesing for fall isn't just because I look forward to snuggling under a mountain of covers with my windows open as the temperature drops, but because I miss my favorite morning ritual: using my tea kettle.


It looks so forlorn and lonely unused on my retro-colored yellow stove that it kind of breaks my heart. There's just something so calming, so British, so Zen about that kettle whistling for me when I get out of the shower and the first sip of a good strong green tea.

Soon, soon.
(But not soon enough for me.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Taking a bite out of Charlotte, or Oink Oink Part Deux.

Sorry I've been so MIA - I went on a long overdue and much-needed vacation.
Went back to work today and it was like the vacation didn't happen.
OK ... maybe I am slightly dramatic.

What better way to recapture my wonderful vacation to visit my brother in North Carolina than to list all the wonderfully fatty and non-diet friendly food I ate.
Unfortunately, there are no pics to accompany, but I'm sure we can all envision how great they all were.

- Wednesday, Aug. 5
LUNCH: Frankie's Italian Grille. Charlotte.
Had the Mona Lisa salad which comes with amazing dressing and fresh goat cheese that is to die for (my brother says they sometimes deep fry it - oh, the deliciousness that must be!). I also wailed on every slice of bread that was served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus, I ordered the orgasmic Nutella bread pudding. Yes, it was as sinfully exquisite as it sounds.

DINNER: Azteca. Charlotte.
Had chips and salsa at this delightful Mexican joint and fresh, table made guacamole that was served in a real stone bowl. I could barely even lift it, which made it that much easier for me to wail on it. Fresh jalapenos gave it a fiery kick. I realized that I absolutely adore tamales. And burritos smothered in cheese. Think maybe I knew that but forgot. (As if!) Since I ate so well-behaved (wink, wink), I treated myself to a lime margarita on the rocks.

In the interim between lunch and dinner, I was introduced to Sweet Tea vodka. I don't know where it's been all my life, but it is certainly here to stay now.

- Thursday, Aug. 6
BRUNCH: Ate my leftover Mexican.

DINNER: Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar. Mint Hill.
We all shared the chili cheese dip and I ate two exquisite slices of round with hot peppers and one slice Sicilian with mushrooms and black olives. Finished the Nutella bread pudding after brother and "sister" went to bed. Not because I was eating in hiding, but because I honestly forgot. This may have been the night I watched "The Nanny Diaries."

- Friday, Aug. 7
BRUNCH: I think I ate leftover pizza. Cold, naturally.

DINNER: Cosmos Cafe. Uptown Charlotte.
After meeting friends at their house for drinks and things, we all headed out for tapas and a continuation of drinking as I was already about four deep into a Sweet Tea vodka binge. We split an array of sushi, Lucky 7 spring rolls and many other things. I heard Jamie Foxx's "Blame It," which caused me to burst into it many times over the rest of my vacation, much to my brother's anger.

{The night then included a flirtini at Blue, mad fun dancing and Sweet Tea vodka and lemonades at The Breakfast Club, an '80s-themed heaven, if you ask me, and a very, very funny cab ride with a Liberian driver who had "Scarface" on the DVD player. The ride included tales of sheep and me repeating the only line from "Scarface" that I know: "Meet my lil' friend!" Ahh. Good times.}

- Saturday, Aug. 8
DINNER: Shrimp, filet and lobster tail on the grill.
We skipped breakfast and lunch because we all felt the effects from the night before all day. Brother grilled the above and it was phenomenal. I relieved his refrigerator of two framboise Lambics.

- Sunday, Aug. 9
BRUNCH: Upstream. Charlotte.
Where where where to even begin. This was the most exquisite brunch I've ever had, and believe me, I've had a lot! Cheese. Capers. Smoked salmon. Mac n cheese. Hummus. Even raw oysters and sushi for those that could eat that at 11:30 a.m., which I could not. The best part? The tapas, which is included in the brunch buffet. Eggs Benedict over a crab cake. Yes, you heard me: Eggs Benedict over a crab cake. Belgium waffle with bourbon bananas. The most ridiculously good French toast. Shrimp with grits which was actually really good (not normally a fan of grits). Despite all that sugary sustenance - especially with double servings of the Belgium waffle, I had to have the pecan pie and chocolate peanut butter dessert thing. I felt like I ate my weight.

DINNER: Mac's Speed Shop. Charlotte.
This biker bar/barbecue had amazing hush puppies and the brisket was off the hook, as the hipsters say. So tender! And the onion rings were super peppery and tasty. Add two cans o' Guinness to wash it down and I was one very happy piggy!

- Monday, Aug. 10
BREAKFAST: Cracker Barrel. Matthews.
You simply cannot go wrong with Cracker Barrel. Two eggs over easy. Hash brown casserole. Biscuits and gravy. Coffee. Grapefruit juice. Manna from the sky.

DINNER: Turkey, ham and provolone hoagie and fries from a place whose name escapes me.
Very tasty, especially since it capped off a day of non-stop drinking. Sweet Tea martinis. Most of the framboise.

- Tuesday, Aug. 11
BREAKFAST: Brother made pancakes and scrambled eggs with crab and toast.
Green Mountain Island Coconut coffee. Mmm mmm good!

LUNCH: Just a quick sandwich before we left for the airport.

{Note: Despite a previous declaration, I did not actually take any outfits that resembled workout clothes. The only shoes I had were two pairs of flip-flops and two pairs of stilettos. I basically did nothing more than stuff my face every chance I got and stayed as sedentary as I possibly could - it was everything I knew it could be.}

{Note II: And I actually came home one pound lighter!}


Friday, August 7, 2009

No nannys in this childhood.

Against my better judgment, I watched "The Nanny Diaries" after my brother and "sister" retired for the night.

I thought it was so good!

And it made me really thankful to have the parents I did ... and do.

Our parents worked their asses off when we were kids in the horrid restaurant business. They pulled many 16-plus hour days - almost every day - whereas when I have to do one I piss and moan about it or act like I found a cure for feline AIDS or something. Plus. I don't come home to a kid who needs help with homework or a feeding.

The best thing I learned from this movie was that while Laura Linney's Park Ave princess ccouldn't see or be a mother to her kid because of her oodles of "obligations," my own mother - who had a hard job that has taken its toll on her health over the years - was there for absolutely everything for my brother and I. She worked so many Mother's Days and holidays but never once do I ever recall either of us saying "I wish Mom was here."

Because she was. Always.