End of the Year Survey 2010

My annual end of the year survey.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
I purged stuff in the kitchen.  It was probably the only room I the house that i had never gone through before, and it is so much nicer after four rounds of decluttering.  Not only are the tops of the cabinets empty, but so is the top of the fridge... AND I even have a whole shelf in one of the cabinets that is completely empty.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I said I was going to eat less sweets, and I totally forgot all about that.  But I've actually been giving it some thought this time so this year I have more things to work on:
-empty out our storage unit.
-finish reading the music dictionary
-be able to touch my toes (when stretching)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, a couple of my friends from mom's group.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.  I just wish I could say the same for some of my friends.

5. What countries did you visit?
Again, just the U.S. I haven't been out of the country in a very very long time.  But we visited a new city... Pittsburg.  Not super exciting and we were only there for one night, but it definitely had a unique look.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I don't think I really lacked anything this year, but we have plans to make some home improvements in the upcoming months, I'm looking forward to that.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 8th, for the Jeff Tweedy show.  Dylan's birthday, our small family Thanksgiving

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finally having the guts to get my wisdom teeth taken out.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not sticking with my plan to read the music dictionary.  I plan on fixing that next year though.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really.  I wound up with a dry socket after getting my wisdom teeth out which hurt like HELL for a good 18 hours.  But since I got the flu shot this year I've managed to stay fairly healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
It was bought for me-- my iPad!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
So many people:
Matt for doing so well in chess this year
Sarah for doing so well with all her school work (and still managing to babysit for us occasionally)
Mom for all the weight she's still losing, and all the exercising she's doing
Dad for all the running he does
My bro-in-law for graduating
I could go on...

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

14. Where did most of your money go?
House, cars, Food, Dylan, vacations

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
 seeing Jeff Tweedy in concert earlier this month (so amazing!)

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I'm really struggling to answer this because there are so many to choose from.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or Sadder?: happier
ii. Thinner or Fatter than last year?: thinner
iii. Richer or Poorer?: richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Play piano, though I played considerably more this year than I have in the past.  Also, I wish I had done more running

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watch useless TV

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We spent it with our families.  Dylan finally understands holidays, so it was a fun day for him, and we enjoyed watching his reactions throughout the day.

22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Stayed in love

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, HIMYM, and General Hospital

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Avett Brothers.  I learned about them on an episode of Ace of Cakes of all places.  But I love their music, and I'm going to see them in DC in Feb.  I've heard they put on a really great live show.

28. What did you want and get?
Front row seats to Jeff Tweedy, and at the very end of the year, a new washing machine.

29. What did you want and not get?
A new winter coat, I've been putting off buying one for the last 3 or 4 years.  Eventually I'm going to have to break down and get one.  Maybe next year.  Also, an iPod playing system for my car, unfortunately it's not cheap, so i don't think I'll be getting it anytime soon.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 29.  In addition to a minor freak out, i went out to dinner with dylan and Matt.  And then had arroz con pollo for dinner with my family a few days later.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Hmmm...  I think I had a pretty good year.  If anything, I guess I wish that I had done a better job keeping in touch with some friends.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I minimized my wardrobe.  I like having fewer clothes, but unfortunately I'm not totally in love with the clothes I do have, so I think I'll gradually work at replacing them with better selections.  One day... when I'm not afraid of fashion.

34. What kept you sane?
Matt, music, and yoga

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one particular stands out

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm not super political, but I'm interested to see how the repeal of DADT works out, and also what is going to happen with the tax cuts.

37. Who did you miss?
Just wish that I could have spent more time with good friends

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Oh man, i was so focused on making a musical discovery and reading a good book that i forgot that i need to meet people too so I don't look like such a loser on this survey.  Maybe next year...

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010?
To keep life simple so that I can enjoy and appreciate it better.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears
I crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here
My history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
Go through my head on our mountain bed where I smell your hair again.

All this day long I linger here and on in through the night
My greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
My loneliness healed, my emptiness filled, I walk above all pain
Back to the breast of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again

(okay, so maybe not so much that last line, but I felt obligated to leave it in to keep the stanza complete)
Remember the Mountain Bed,* lyrics by Woody Guthrie music by Wilco

*I searched for a YouTube video of this song... Turns out we were actually at this performance, Philadelphia in 2008, I was super pregnant then.


My Winter Top 10

I recently made a short winter playlist that I thought I'd share in case anyone out there is dying to know what music I'm listening to these days (doubt it).  I don't make playlists often because i usually like to listen to one group/musician at a time.  But this list includes some of my current favorite songs... whenever they happen to come on I find myself hitting the repeat button-- a few times.  At least I know where Dylan gets that from; we had to listen to Christmas Eve in Sarajevo nonstop on the way home from my parent's house today.

I've had this blog for quite a long time now, so I may be repeating myself, so I apologize in advance if that is the case.  I tend to listen to certain types of music in different seasons.  In winter I prefer mellower, more subdued music, so if this list seems to be lacking in energy, that's why.

1.  Remember the Mountain Bed, lyrics by Woodie Guthry music by Wilco and Billy Bragg
2.  Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead
3.  Sunken Treasure by Wilco
4.  Laminted Cat (Not for the Season) by Loose Fur
5.  All These Things That I've Done by The Killers
6.  Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promises by Avett Brothers
7.  Temezcal by Monsters of Folk
8.  Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos    
9.  First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes  
10.  I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet) by The White Stripes


To Santa or Not to Santa...

Consider this fair warning for anyone with little kids who come into contact with Dylan in the future...  We are not planning on leading Dylan to believe that Santa is real.  I realize this is not the norm, but this was something that we agreed on long before we had a kid.  We decided that we want to be completely honest with Dylan when it comes to Santa, I also don't want to get caught up in the trap of "you need to be good or Santa won't come." I've felt pretty strongly for a while that being good and doing good are things that should happen simply because they are good... not in order to get something out of it for yourself (though the episode of Friends where Joey tells Phoebe that no good deed goes without self satisfaction comes to mind every time think that.)

So how are we handling Christmas now that Dylan is old enough to kind of know what's going on?  Well, at this point it's not so much about us sitting down with him and explaining the myth of Santa or anything like that, I think what I've found this year is that a lot more about how we will treat the Santa topic is by what we are NOT saying.  We're not telling him that Santa is going to bring him presents, we're not telling him that Santa is going to come down our non existent fire place, or that he is watching to see if Dylan is being a good boy.  So he has no expectations for any of that. Instead we're enjoying the Christmas decorations, the snow, and Christmas stories, music, and movies.  I'm pretty sure that at this point Dylan has no idea that gifts are even a part of this season.  I'm not interested in depriving him of the Christmas experience, he's still loving this season. And we still read books about Santa, I pointed him out at the mall (though we didn't sit on his lap, mostly because those pictures are super expensive), etc.  At this point Santa is another character in his toddler world, much like Mickey Mouse or Rocket from Little Einsteins.  And that's perfectly fine.  I think in the future when he starts learning more about what's real and what's imaginary we'll just be sure to lump Santa in with those characters.  Doesn't mean he won't enjoy them anymore, or that he'll stop loving Elmo, just that he'll know whats what.

So I think we've got this year figured out, and I think we've even figured out how to proceed in the future, the only thing I'm concerned about is how to keep him from spoiling other kids fun. I think we still have a little time to figure that out though.


My First Recipe!

Okay, so I don't typically follow recipes to a T when I make savory meals, but I do usually use them as guidelines.  They help give me an idea of flavors that work together, as well as ratios of ingredients so that one ingredient doesn't overwhelm the whole meal.  But this is one of the first recipes I kinda made up all on my own.  Not entirely though, I watched an episode of Jamie Oliver the other day and he made a soup similar to this that used coconut milk, so i got the idea there, but I didn't look anything up when I started this I just threw it all together myself.  And it was delicious!  So here is what I would consider to be my first recipe. 
There maybe something else like this out there somewhere... But I want to write down my version here in case I ever decide to make it again.  Measurements aren't exact because I don't measure, I just go by look and taste.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut milk

1 container of pre-cut butternut squash, further cut down to 1 inch size pieces (for faster cooking)
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 small yellow onions sliced thin
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne powder
A few cups of vegetable stock
1/2 - 1 cup of coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime

Saute the onion in the olive oil until they are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for another minute or so.  Add spices, including a little salt and black pepper, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the butternut squash.  Stir to coat the squash with the seasonings, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock.  Simmer over medium heat until the squash is fork tender.  Purée mixture to desired thickness (I left a few squash chunks in mine).  Return to stove over low heat.  Add coconut milk and lime juice.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

It was really good!  The coconut milk definitely enhanced the sweetness of the squash, but the curry and  cayenne pepper kept it savory with a little kick.  I've seen coconut and lime paired together a lot so I added the lime juice at the very end, kind of on a whim and it made all the difference.  Matt said it reminded him of the taste of indian food, which I took his word for because my experience with indian food is extremely limited (though what I have had I love.) this was also my first time ever using coconut milk, I'd say it was a success :) 


Jeff Tweedy Concert

On Wednesday, Matt and I made a relatively quick trip down to Charlottesville for a very special concert... We saw Jeff Tweedy! I have wanted to see him on a solo tour for a few years now (really ever since we started listening to Wilco and I happened to come across an amazing review of one of his solo concerts.) Matt also got a DVD of one of his tours from a few years ago and this quickly became one of my favorites. In one of the backstage clips Tweedy says that this is the type of concert you drink a warm glass of milk and put on slippers to get ready for, and that sums it up fairly well. I remember watching it many many times at 2:00 am when I was pregnant with Dylan and having a hard time sleeping. I'd pour myself a small glass of milk (for the heart burn) and sit on the couch and watch it until I felt better and could sleep again. I think it has the same kind of calming effect on me that Agnes Martin paintings do.

So while we have seen Wilco several times, I was still hoping to catch a Tweedy solo show at some point in my life, though I really wasn't expecting it to happen anytime soon. When I saw tour dates were announced (all four of them) a few months ago, I nearly peed my pants out of excitement. And then I managed to get my hands on a pair of front row seats for the Charlottesville show… how perfect. I had high expectations going into this show, and I was not at all disappointed. It was incredible! I enjoyed every single minute of the show, starting with the first song “Sunken Treasure,*” which is one of the better songs I’ve seen performed live and finally ending with his cover of John Lennon’s “God” (in honor of the 30 year anniversary of John Lennon’s shooting).

*Here's a video of it on YouTube, though the person who edited seemed to be a little antsy, lots of quick cuts. Still a great song though.

Definitely a memorable night. And just to help me keep the memory, I’m adding the setlist to the end of my post… again, this is more for my sake than anyone else's.

Jeff Tweedy @ The Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, VA 12/8/10

Sunken Treasure, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, One Wing, Muzzle of Bees, Via Chicago, I’m Always in Love, Solitaire, Cars Can’t Escape, Hesitating Beauty, The Ruling Class, You Are Not Alone, Hummingbird, Jesus, Etc., Gun, New Madrid, I’m the Man Who Loves You, Shot in the Arm, Dreamer in my Dreams (performed without the PA)

At My Window, Sad and Lonely#, California Stars$, Passenger Side$, Give Me Back the Key to My Heart$, God%

Notes: # w/ Pat Sansone & John Stirratt, $ w/ The Autumn Defense, % John Lennon cover w/The Autumn Defense


Thanksgiving menu

Thanksgiving Dinner

I'm documenting our Thanksgiving dinner that we had at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm.  They actually sent us home with personalized menus, rolled up and tied with a bow, and a small part of me was super excited to add that to my paper mementos collection...  But then i remembered that I'm no longer keeping a paper mementos collection, so instead I'm going to copy the menu onto my blog, and recycle the paper.  This is more for my sake than anything else, but i have had some people ask about the menu, so here it is.

Amuse Bouche:  consisted of a trio of pickled vegetables...  Dill green beans, beets, and turnips with tomatoes and olives.  Dylan ate Matt's olives.

Peppercorn pear soup with celery cream, button mushrooms and frisee

Acquerello organic rice with turkey gumbo, kusshi oysters, and leek fries.  This turkey in this was super delicious, the oysters were weird.  Good on their own, but they definitely stood out as a random ocean taste in this part of the meal.

Intermezzo:  pear sorbet

Briars Farmstead turkey breast: a traditional stuffing with garden herbs and celery, turkey sausage gravy, baked potato purée

Pumpkin beignet, cranberry jelly, champagne glaze, and the best mascarpone cheese I've ever tasted.

Friandise:  a teeny tiny honey meringue after we paid the bill. 

It was a great dinner.  Very peaceful and enjoyable for the three of us (Dylan didn't eat much aside from the pumpkin bread they served us though, but he behaved himself while we were there).  A unique thanksgiving experience for sure :)