Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I thought I taught you something

TH and I text message eachother while she is commuting by train. I have gotten some doozies in the past and today is no different

TH: If you have a clear suitcase for your prada it is good to hide you thong
NM: I didn't know prada made clear suitcases
NM: Was it my training that let you determine the shoes/thong were prada or could you see the labels?
TH: The cloth overbags and the suitcase is close to me.
TH: The thong is striped
NM: Probably bought the overbags from ebay.

Silly, yes, but interesting none the less.

So, moral of the story, keep your thong out of view and do you really need overbags for your shoes? I have lots of them and never use them. Maybe I should. Maybe I should invest in clear luggage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How do I get on these mailing lists...

Honestly, its an International Polar Year and I love Arctic data (I do, I do), but can you imagine going up to someone at a bar and telling them that you belong to this?

Isn't science wonderful?


It looks scarily like me

Thanks to J. at random chatters, I have a face to put to this prose, however, the coffee is much too small!

15 minutes a day

H, who used to work out at my local gym, used to add 15 minutes to her work out from Thanksgiving until the New Year to combat that perceived weight gain over the holiday period. Yes, we are led to believe that we gain 5 to 10 lbs during the eggnog blitzed out turkey fests, but indeed it is usually a scant pound, that stay with us for the rest of the year. However, I like the idea and am trying it myself - not the eggnog and turkey, but adding 15 minutes to my routine.

It is hard, it is not like I'm lollygagging in the morning before the gym. However, my schedule is flexible for the most part, so I can indulge another mile on the treadmill if time permits.

I'm trying to conjure up some ideas for snack food for my holiday party. I have a few ideas - crudite with baba ganoush and hummous, cheese and crackers and chutney, little quiches from Nancys and maybe cheese straws. There will be enough sugar in the room, so no sweet things except for cider and royal icing. I'm trying a few things to shake up a few of these pounds before settling into the winter, I'm glad that Ann Taylor is at my beck and call when things get rough, but I have a closet full of clothes I would much rather be wearing.

Ack, I leave for Paris, Rome and London in a bit over a week. Must get organized.

Monday, November 28, 2005

insert foot in mouth

So, babbling away on the voice mail of our account manager for a software vendor who happens to be a personal friend of ours and after wrapping up what I need from him, I end with "love you, bye". I do like him, but WTF?

Maybe we use love you too much?

I hope he calls back, I really need info from him.


frosty monday

Apples at Neal's Yard, Shorts Garden, London EC1. November 2005.

I had to scrape my car today, first time this year. We're supposed to get a scant dusting of snow tonight, which I'm sure our local tv stations will turn into "Winter Blizzard 2005", with round the clock coverage of snow sightings and grocery stores being raided for beer and cheetos. I'm sorry don't watch tv, it could be an interesting way to spend some time.

In any case, time to bring those lemons up on the porch and think about mulching the rest of the tender perennials. I noticed the last the of the dahlias been done in by the weather. We still have 150 bulbs to put in the ground. Guess they will be going into containers or maybe next week it'll get warmer.

Yesterday I was a baking, preserving and prepping machine.

I made a lovely quince/ginger preserve with the last of the quinces, six batches of sugar and gingerbread dough for next Sunday, more quince juice, eight panfortes and started thinking about hors d'ouevres for next Sunday. More on that later....

I stopped by the "Village" on the way home from the train station and the University Library today. Got my glasses adjusted, caught up on the love life of the guy who sold them to me, went to Frans for a latte (such will power I have not to get a mocha!) and a few chocolate santas and then went in pursuit of the impossible -- a jean skirt that is not 1. ripped or holey 2. longer than a pair of boxers 3. under 300 dollars.

First stop: Abercrombie - they should card you before you enter, unless you have a credit card to pay for your daughters 200 dollar purchase, they just should not allow you in. Second, Lucky Jeans - only long dust catching 70's retro patched skirts or hootchie mama skirts (like abercrombie). J. Crew had something, but at 88 bucks, I reconsidered. Mercer had very little and frankly, unless you are a size 2, don't bother. Finally, I went into Ann Taylor and low and behold - two skirts, functional, that new demin that looks steely and more professional on the sale rack for 19.99 each. Sold to the girl who never thought she would need a bigger size again!

Whoo hoo.

At least I have options until I get rid of some of this stress induced poundage.

Well, off to clean up breakfast for dinner - green chiles from billy's gardens, fresh eggs from Growing things, last of the organic cheddar from Marks and Spencer and Hempler's canadian bacon all scrambled up. Didn't have any tortillas, so I served them with a side of Carr's table water crackers! Yikes.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

tired of sleeping

Tons of pumpkin fun, November 2005.

I can't sleep, so I got up and went to the couch where I am catching up with netflix. I am trying hard not to worry about things that cannot be solved at 3:30 am. I am watching Arrested Development and wondering two things - 1. When did Jason Bateman get some damn cute? 2. Why does Tony Hale look so much like David Gest?

This week is crunch week here, tons of work to catch up on, cookies to make and bake in preparation for next weekend's cookie fest and school stuff. Holiday stuff is starting in full force. I managed to start the panfortes and cards. Cards are hard this year, what do you say? This year sucked, hopefully next year will be better?

Well, it is light out. I guess it is time to start melting butter for gingerbread and start baking pumpkin and quinces.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

sunny saturday

Schizostylus coccinea (Oregon Sunset) November 2005.

Gosh, it is beautiful out. Sunny, windy and brisk. TH raked leaves and I better run out and bag them, but alas, I'm still inside making gingerbread and sugar cookie dough. I should really reverse my strategy and go outside now and do the baking when its dark.

Truth is folks, I'm procastinating.

Yup. I need to get started on the first of two essay questions for my final exam for my planning class, due 10 days from now. I just can't get into it and I have tons to do (work, large party, getting ready for 10 days in Europe etc... before its due), so I better get cracking.

Well, just thought I would share.


If you are going to make gingerbread cookies, make sure you have enough ginger and molasses so that you don't have to make a trip to the store.



Retirement Fund

When I was last in London, I had dinner at my aunt’s house. We were joking about travel and talking about routings that we all do to get back and forth to London from the United States. TH and routed ourselves through Dallas. Like us, she questioned why. I told her that it was because we needed the maximum mileage for our routing for retaining our frequent flyer status and for my retirement plan. Retirement plan? I’m not just talking about your work pension, IRA, outside investments or 401K, if you are lucky enough to have these things available to you, but my frequent flyer retirement plan.

You may raise your eyebrows at this point. What idiot would bank that their airline will be around next year, let alone in 20 years? Ditto for the frequent flyer programs that many of us collect points that are not redeemable when we need them.

I’m about 250,000 miles or points away from what American Airlines calls Lifetime Platinum. What does this mean? It means that I have either flown or earned through various channels 2,000,000 miles on American Airlines and their partners. With this vaunted title, I can claim a lifetime of mid-tier perks while the program exists. I will always be able to access the club on international flights, get double miles on any flight. I will always get to use the first class check in and my upgrades on domestic flights are still mostly going to clear, without ever having to fly another mile through Dallas!

Many get to this exalted status by accruing miles through credit cards purchases, buying and selling real estate, eating at restaurants or hotel stays. Some people attain multimillion-mile status without setting foot on a plane, which gets my goat. Most of my miles are butt in seat miles (BIS) and I’m going to be very happy to reach that goal in the next year. I may drag my friends to some more questionable restaurants that will garner me 400 miles per meal, but they will humor me. ;)

A great source of information on frequent flyer programs and picking one that works for you is Webflyer. If you have specific questions about routings, meals, products and the life of frequent flyer, visit Flyertalk, the consummate frequent flyer message board. NB: read a while, search and then post a question.

Friday, November 25, 2005

My little pomegranate Pip

Supersize me.

This week I got the “joy” of watching an episode of Oprah. She was making
her famous martinis with pomegranate juice. What the hell? Our peeps have been eating pomegranates from time eternal. When did they become so chic? So available? So Oprahfied?

We were in Tucson this past April and were amazed at the number of pomegranate bushes that we saw at old farmsteads, ranches and home sites we toured. The fruit is beautiful and exotic and the plant itself lovely with beautiful red flowers that develop these full red orbs. We never got the full story as to why a Hispanic-settled area had such a profusion of these bushes. I haven’t been able to find too many accounts of pomegranate use in traditional Mexican/Arizonan cooking. In Iran, they are used as a fresh fruit, juiced and pomegranate syrup is used for cooking. In the fall, the markets are full of pomegranates. A term of endearment in Farsi is calling someone a doone-anar (my little pomegranate pip).

When my mom was pregnant with my brother, she way 12,000 miles away from her family in Chicago. She had few cravings, but her strongest was for pomegranate. In the early winter, my father searched the city and found her two wizened pomegranates, which she savored. When I was growing up, the pomegranate was a treat. They would start to show up in the stores around October and they were tiny shrived fruit that we would pull apart and then marvel at the jeweled pips in the funny membrane. They were very biological, reminding us of brains, lungs and later to me, fish ovaries! We would take out the pips and either suck off the juice and flesh, leaving the pip, or eat the whole thing. They were so much fun and so exotic, but comforting and familiar.

Our American friends learned to love them as well. If my mom was particularly lucky and scored at the store, she and her friends would get together, put on the gloves and remove the fruit from the membrane and serve them all ready cleaned for special occasions. The seds/pips would be piled into a huge cut crystal bowl and you were able to enjoy them as dessert without dealing with the mess of cleaning them yourself.

Pomegranates are now found at Costco and their juice in your local health food store. They are no longer as magical as they were before, but piled high in the crystal bowl from my childhood, they are still majestic.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thankful for ...

Echinacea, October 2005, somewhere near Duvall.

Recently I have been wallowing in self-pity. Its not worth blogging about, but honestly, in the whole timeline of my life, this too shall pass. If you look at my life, I have it wonderful, easy and blessed.

I woke up in my parent's house in one of the most beautiful places in the world. My father dragged me out at the COD to go to the gym, which is our regular ritual and then stopped at Starbuckles (his term) so that I could get a cup of coffee of which he will take a sip of and pronounce that it is bitter. This is coming from a man who drinks strong Iranian tea without sugar! I am greatful that he is healthy, sound and always thinking. Most importantly, he is patient man with his daughter who chose the path of greatest resistance -- and became a scientist instead of the typical corporate lawyer much like most of peeps and is proud of me.

I came home to a house that smelled of ginger and a table that was set for breakfast. My mom has started the "not too complicated" Thanksgiving feast that now has two turkeys and two kinds of stuffing. My mom had a knee replacement this summer and after a few bad weeks is back to her normal busy self. I can call her and know that she will mostly make me smile and that she always has either a recipe or a joke (not all I get), for this I am thankful.

I am thankful that my brother is here and will be the life of the party later, after he plays 18 holes this morning. :)

I am thankful for TH and our relationship, our friends, our home, our life and our ability to laugh at ourselves. I am thankful that we remain sane considering all that we have gone through this year. I am thankful that I can still afford to travel on a whim and visit friends in far places and do it with freedom that comes with having an American passport.

Please spend part of today, be it a moment outside with your dog, a nanosecond before you knock on your host's door or an hour you get to yourself before you are deluged by guests to give thanks.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

jello salad and other Thanksgiving treats

Red on Green, right in time for Christmas shopping! Maple in Corvallis, October 2005.

My mom is currently chopping celery and apples for jello salad. While, I can't stand the stuff, I know that it is integral to Thanksgiving dinner, as is alboloo polo and her famous sweet potatoes with candied orange rind (don't knock it until you taste it).

This year my cousin, who is a fabulous cook, is making the turkey for our family gathering of nearly 18 (my father's side here in SD) and bringing many of the fixings. My mom, now has decided that Thanksgiving will not be the same unless she makes another tiny turkey so that the house smells good.

Why is this happening?

When my parents downsized a year and half ago, they didn't look carefully at the bespoke oven of 'casa de gated development with repeating gates ' (hmm, i wonder what that is in spanish?) and did not realize that you cannot get a turkey worth carving at the table in that miele stove for love nor money. They have already spent more money than most people sink into buying a house in Seattle just remodeling this place, and the oven stays, so someone else gets to make it.

It heartens me that my mom wants to make a bird, even if it goes home with her cleaning lady who will be happy for a nicely made bird for her family to eat or that gets carved up and I get enough for at least two or four turkey pot pies. She had a partial knee replacement this summer and she's back to her normal pace of cooking and entertaining which is great. However, the days of getting up at 4 am to stuff the 28lb bird to feed 40 are over unless they move and that ain't going to happen.

Yes, folks, 40 for dinner. My parents came to this country 40 years ago knowing not one soul and believed that you should invite everyone who has no where to go for Thanksgiving, we have had a myriad of postdocs, grad students, newly immigrated and lonely at our house each and every year. It is really no big deal. She has china for it and no it is not sit down at the table, but it is fun nonetheless. Do you see where I get this gene from? I get itchy thinking of a small table for a holiday.

So, where am I going with this? Tradition is good, having lots of people around is good if that is what you want and smelling stuffing and bird if that is what you need to feel good is even okay.

Off to battle the hoards at the lamest and scariest Whole Foods in the world, at least there is a Peets nearby. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pathetic, si -Normale, non

Iron casting mold details, Welsh National Slate Museum, Llanberis, Wales, September 2005.

I can't remember when my flight is today. I can't even remember making a reservation, selecting a seat or paying for it. I remember most of these minute details, but for some reason, this one has passed me by.


Could it be the fact that as much as I love and cherish my family, sometimes, you just can't cope with the travelling, visting and more importantly, just being away from home to spend time with those who love you to death.

Any of you ever get picked up at the airport by your parents and have been ready to jump out at the first light knowing that you'll make the turn around flight if you can get back to the airport in the next five minutes?

Is there anything you do for self-preservation in these cases?

Me, I have work to do and I'm going somewhere to do it, even if it costs me tmobile hot spot time in a terrible corporate coffee place to do it.

I wish you all travelling today and tomorrow to visit your familes luck, fortitude and hopes that there is a decent independent coffee place and bookstore nearby to escape to.


How SAD it is

Building Detail, Tuscon, AZ April 2005.

Living in Seattle, we're deluged with news reports every fall and winter about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I like this definition as it sort of sums it up for me

(SAD) a cyclically recurring mood disorder characterized by depression, extreme lethargy, increased need for sleep, hyperphagia, and carbohydrate craving; it intensifies in one or more specific seasons, most commonly the winter months, and is hypothesized to be related to melatonin levels. In DSM-IV terminology called mood disorder with seasonal pattern.

They say that you can help alleviate the symptoms with exposure to light - be it a light box or going outside in the daylight, which makes alot of sense to me, but not always practical. There are lots of ideas on combatting it here and goodness, the UK cares enough to map it. Check it out.

TH and I were talking today and realized that one reason we do okay (relatively) this time of year is that we spend so much time above the clouds while flying. Being up in the light helps us both. I revel in this when I fly across the country and rail against people who try and get me to put the shades down so that they can watch some stupid episode of everyone loves raymond.

I tried to get out today and it didn't work, I'm going to try for the next few weeks and hopefully, it'll put the pep back into my step that seems to be lacking.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

sunday wrapup

Thanksgiving floral arrangements - not too Martha, but TH requested less green and more autumn this year. My own vases from SB Evans, London.

We spent part of today under cloudy dull skies planting bulbs, we made a good dent in our collection, we only have another 150 or so to go, which I know TH will plant the majority of on Thanksgiving as is tradition. We had a great gathering last night, the food was sumptious, the conversation lively. Now the dishes are all put away, the chairs as well, and as the evening starts we are ready for hazelnut tortellini with a mushroom ragout and an arugula/fennel salad for dinner. Yes, there still may be a bit of chocolate cake for dessert. ;)

The turkey carcass is in the stockpot burbling away. We will make a turkey wild rice soup sometime this week, or maybe later. We made a pumpkin black bean soup that we haven't much put a dent in yet. I wonder if the flight attendants will heat it up for me this week? (NOT).

TH will deal with the goose carcass as well. The best part of any fowl meal is the making of the stock afterwards -- leftover mushrooms, carrots, limp celery, parsely and onions all go into the pot and three hours later, we have a golden base that can be used for a myriad of recipes.

I have a friend who does a very lovely and rich broth with two birds, leaving her with chicken meat that she can add to any recipe and a dense, thick and flavorful broth to use in her amazing repetoire of recipes.

I will leave you with a nice recipe that uses stock and other goodies from this time of year. Please don't overseason that carcass (brining is not always the answer) and remember your Thankgiving Feast a few weeks down the line.

Winter Squash Risotto from Martha Rose Schulman
Serves 4 generously - 6 not so generously

6 to 7 cups chicken stock, as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, or 1 tablespoon each
1 small or 1/2 medium onion (I like yellow onions)
1 pound winter squash (about 1/2 of a good-size butternut, for example), such as butternut, banana or hubbard, peeled, seeded and finely diced (cheat, if you are in a hurry and use TJ's already chopped up and peeled butternut, I'm going to use the rest of the hubbard I grew)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup) - I used shaved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper


Have the stock simmering on low heat in a saucepan.

Heat the oil or butter over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the squash, garlic, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the squash begins to soften, about 5-7 minutes, and add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle.
Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice and squash. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to add another ladleful of stock and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necesary.

Add another small ladleful of stock to the rice, stir somemore. Remove from heat and add nutmeg and parmesan. Add freshly ground pepper, taste one last time and adjust salt. The rice should be creamy. Add parmesan and parsely. Stir for a couple of seconds, and serve.

Adapted from Martha Rose Schulman

i heart you CD!

For bringing a quart of half and half so that I may revel in my morning coffee at home for the next week or so.

Big smooches from me.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Saturday before Thankgiving Thanksgiving

Ginko biloba - Temperate House Kew Gardens November 2005

Today we will celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends. The goose and turkey are thawed, the flowers are ready to be picked up, the silver polished and placemats are ironed. The house is clean and ready for guests.

You may ask, why make people suffer through more than one meal of turkey, pumpkin pie, sweet potato gratin and too much pinot noir in one week? Because it is a tradition that has grown out of a time in our lives where we were expected home for Thanksgiving by our nuclear familes on Thanksgiving. It offered us a chance to sit at a table with all our friends and give thanks for all that we have - roofs that don't leak, jobs, educations, a bit of cash in the bank, health and friendship, without the emotional baggage that follows many of us home to our nuclear familes. It is a safe zone, with lots of interesting conversations, time to catch up and love and warmth that is genuine. The table size has ebbed and flowed over the year and some of the dearest people to us have moved too far away to join us, but they are there in spirit.

This is the 15th year of the Saturday before Thanksgiving thanksgiving and we will feast on goose, turkey, sweet potato gratin, hubbard squash, apple sauce, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauces (two kinds), vegetable casserole, freshly baked bread, freshly smoked salmon, gravy, mashed potatoes and good wine. The only traditional dessert will be pumpkin pie. I have to see pie at the table.

Not everything will make it to the table, invariably one stufing will end up crisped in the oven. We will all sit down together at one very long table, all 18 of us and be very thankful for all that we have survived this year.

That is something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

love is

Very good chocolate cupcake - Dia: Beacon September 2005

Using 8 cups of confectioners sugar to make a few pounds of mocha buttercream frosting and making the frosting all swirly to look just like betty crocker.

happy birthday cupcake !

Why I love the bus and more flora

Temperate House - Kew November 2005

Dragged myself out of bed in time to have breakfast at the Club. It is now all non-smoking which is great. It caters to many different cultures so there is a combination of toast racks, french yoghurt and olives and cucumbers. I love it. I didn't love the guy who came in all sweaty from his workout in his shorts, this is definitely not that kind of place.

TH got up, ran into club to get a latte and then we went towards the tube station to go to Kew Gardens. The weather was cool, but bright. We took the camera, a book and our scarves westward to see the Chihuly exhibit and for a putter. The District Line has great nostalgia for me. As a child I lived in Orme Court (off of Bayswater Road) and used the District and Circle line to get places. As a young girl, I visited my aunt when she lived off of Chiswick High Road and the Stamford Brook station. The District Line emerges from below ground while in the center of London so you get to see things, even if they are as mundane as clotheslines and volunteer butterfly bushes cropping up the wierdest places. The trip to Kew isn't very long and the area around the train station/underground station has some pretty cool places to eat and shop. It now has a Starbucks and a Tesco express. The Tesco has a decent range of sandwiches and drinks for the visit.

We used a 2 for 1 ticket which saved 10 GBP. It wasn't very crowded when we got there and we were able to walk around the Palm house, the lake, the Prince of Wales Conservatory and the Temperate House and see the different installations in each place. I went by myself in August and it was strange to see how fast they take out the summer plantings to prepare for the winter season. All the bedding plants for early spring were installed along with the plant tags. What a change from the hot and wild summer plantings. (I really should get things loaded into flickr eh?).

We had a quick bite to eat at the Kew Orangery, puttered about a bit more and then decided that the crowds were starting to kill us and that maybe a nap was in order. We had to go to Finchley that night, so we needed to steel ourselves for that. However, at Earl's Court, TH made a request for a trip to the Orangery at Kensington Palace (gardens) for a piece of Orangery Cake. So that we did. It is yummy and the recipe is posted in a London Cafe's cookbook, so I'll post it soon. I had a bowl of sweet potato and rosemary soup that was pretty damn tasty. Did a quick run into Habitat and off we went into the darkening dusk (bad, bad, bad).

Orangery Cake November 2005

Made it back to Portman Square, ran to buy a book I had been remiss in picking up yesterday, went to check on a cheese thing at Marks and Spenser and back to room to pick up stuff to take to aunt. Now, this is where the fun comes....

I love to take the bus in London, I love being above ground, I love to see things and the people who ride the bus. I do not like to take the bus when everyone is done with their shopping day and have tons of packages and talk incessantly on their mobiles about the stupidest things.

Riding the bus gives you a sense of what a jumbled up place London is. The bus that we take, the 82 starts at Victoria, goes to Oxford Street and Baker Street, to Swiss Cottage and then down Finchley Road by Golders Green and to North Finchley. You go from a major transportation hub, to the biggest shopping district, to a really posh part of town, to a very Jewish part of town, through a very Japanese area to end in North Finchley, which well, has a new coffee place, which is really exciting. If you were taking the underground, you would see nothing of interest -- not the kosher butcher, next to the Iranian greengrocer two doors down from the halal doner kebab place. You would not see the storefronts, the decorations, the traffic and the life on the streets. I love it as it just is soo real and on occasion, the air is fresher.

It took a while due to all the stops, but we had a nice dinner, discussion and a short ride back to the hotel to sleep, dream and then in the morning --pack.

bring on the locusts

Weather inside - Tate Modern Bankside February 2004 for more info

What next?

I had a crap day yesterday for many different reasons and I can tell you one thing, it ain't getting better, so I say locusts come on by.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Happy GIS day

Really. Check it out and hug a map or a cartographer if you see one.


i'm so grooving on this

Deep Dish - who could think my peeps could finally break out of their googooshy electro-repetitive 70's crap?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

mind the gap

Umbrellas galore

Spent Saturday afternoon doing some errands, dropping off an umbrella for repair, very easy to find the place and quick to deal with paperwork. After salivating at the vast range of umbrellas and sticks, we walked towards Seven Dials and I did the requisite Tabio and Filofax stops. TH's nose took her to Neal's Yard Dairy and she purchased many cheeses. I love that place, even if its soo crowded that you have to leave while others try cheeses. We managed to get a goodly supply and packaged for travel, which was nice. Picked up some apples as well. After that, we sat and had a cup of coffee at Suburb (hip and trendy new coffee place that I swear used to be stationary shop). We thumbed through this week's Time Out to find that the Lord Mayor's Show Fireworks display happening on the Thames between Southwark and Waterloo bridges. We quickly finished our errands of book shopping and Muji scrumming (what is with that place?) and went back to hotel to freshen up and get back to Waterloo in time for fireworks.


TH loves fireworks very much. We decided that going to St. John right after that was in order so we dressed for it, thinking it might be smart casual. Using short cuts, we made it to Bond Street and down to Waterloo in record time and ended up walking up by the Hayward to see the fireworks. They were damn good and different from the ones we see in the US or in Canada. After that, we dragged ourselves to EAT for a coffee and yoghurt (didn't eat lunch) and then browsed at the Foyles at South Bank for a while. We then walked up to Embankment to catch the Circle Line to Farringdon. I love the Circle line if I'm in no rush, which I wasn't, I was just tired.

We were early for our dinner reservation, but they seated us anyways, which was nice. The restaurant is quite spare, white walls, white paper cloths, no art on the walls and white painted floors, the tables are quite small, but they seated us at a four top. The smoking and non smoking sections are interspersed. The menu changes daily and I was amazed at their range. TH started with smoked sprats and horseradish cream and I had a nettle soup. They were both lovely. I had smoked haddock with potatoes and mustard sauce as my main and TH had tripe and chips. The food was very good, though it reminded me a bit of school dinners, but at an elevated level.

We shared a green salad that was tasty and enormous. The kitchen is small, well run and interesting as you can see everything including the notes written on the kitchen tiles with the number of portions of specials and notes for the kitchen and waitstaff. The wine list was very nice but we weren't quite sure what wine went with tripe, so I had one glass on muscadet sur lie which was good.

Their puddings rock. I had a fresh goat cheese curd infused with marc and TH had a pear trifle and we ordered a half portion of madeleines of which we had one each with coffee. The fresh goat cheese was light and the marc was nice touch that I will try myself at home.

The restaurant filled up by the time we left (ca. 1 hour 50 minutes after seating). It is our opinion that they only do one seating a night, which is great. There were lots of big parties and two suckling pigs ready for consumption that night.

The service was attentive without being pushy or intrusive, the prices are not cheap, but the cooking is excellent. One option would be to sit in the bar area (where the wine sales and bakery is located) if you can't get a reservation for dinner. They serve a limited menu in the bar, but it looked good.

The marrow bone with parsely salad looked really good and reminded me of how much I loved marrow as a child (ab-gusht), but I'm not sure I'm ready for British marrow. I noticed not one chicken on the menu - partridge yes, chicken no. :)

The dress code is quite casual, we saw some nicely dressed people along with trainers and down jackets, so it felt comfortable. It did get loud as we getting ready to leave, so I think early is okay. We have a lunch reservation here in December, so I am hoping to try some new things.

We managed to trundle back to the hotel and to the club for a tea nightcap before collapsing.

Next, Kew, shopping and what I love about the bus.

Trip report -- good, bad and ugly of logistics

The new Admiral's Club Seattle.

This is for the frequent flyers out there.... skip if you don't care about FEBO, customer service or ticket vouchers
Arrived at airport two hours ahead of time. Good thing as well. TH's ticket was not really a ticket anymore, but a transportation voucher. WTF? She had a seat, but somewhere in July, they decided to key something incorrectly when we requested an upgrade and comments in the record showed that she received a voucher for her ticket price that we never requested or we never received. There were comments that had been deleted and the record was really long. It took the nimble agent 50 minutes to get a ticket from the voucher and an act of god from the EXP desk. I felt sorry for those behind us. However, it was done and since there is no club anymore, we spent the time at the marketplace sipping bittersweet mochas from Dilletante and amazed at the breadth of fried foods available at 10:30 am.

Flight was typically WB full, ate sandwich, did a bunch of sudokus, listened to Ipod, declined terrible food (wrap thing) and landed on time. New terminal is a long walk from our arrival gate, took 20 minutes. Decent new club, weak camparis, nice bathrooms, the new terminal is connected to the new Grand Hyatt, which hopefully, I will never have to experience.

There was an immense line at the gate due to the new DHS INS checkin/check out procedure, slowing down everything, but since we had a mechanical, we didn't board for another hour. I hate that.

Plane was fine, we were in 2ab which was picked by TH. I don't like these seats for a bunch of reasons. One, the screen shines in your face all night long which is stupid since business class gets dvd players and typically no one watches the movie. What can I say about the food? I ordered risotto with prawns and scallops and got eggplant ravioli, which I didn't want since if I wanted it I would have enunciated the words eggplant and ravioli instead of prawn and risotto and there were no more risottos when I pointed out this error. I was offered lamb (not) or beef (not) and was not pleased when this occured because it is rocket science to write down the order correctly? I'm soo glad that I had a few carrot sticks and celery in the club preflight and that TH had offered me her sad looking rubber prawn from her hors d'ouvres. In any case, I survived to breakfast, so life does not revolve around your choice of entrees and that you will survive if you don't get food for six hours.

Flight was okay, landed one hour late. No line at immigration, managed to hop on gatwick express and onto 82 bus to Churchill Hyatt. Hotel checkin was irritating as first they tried to put us in a two bedded room and then he said he found a king, but it was on the smoking club floor. I held my ground (not usual for me) and managed to get a nonsmoking king on club floor. Room was fine with view of the Radisson accross the way. The hotel was chock a block full from UAE/US trade talks, but this hotel is always full, so I didn't buy his excuse for not being able to find me a room based on my preferences. I stay at this hotel four or five times a year, sometimes paid, sometimes on points.

Next post for the actual London trip info.

Monday, November 14, 2005

hell is flying over chicago and

realizing that if you booked at LHR-ORD-SEA flight, you would be home 4 hours earlier.


As lovely the new terminal at DFW is architecturally, the 30 minute taxi to the gate did not improve moods after 10 hours and 20 minutes of flying time in coach with two pret pots, one extra branston pickle sandwich, one bag of just potato kettle chips from the BA lounge and two lovely apples from neal's yard. However, I grooved on morcheeba, the new pornographers, sarah harmer and other lucky spins of the wheels on eckbo2 the ipod and read up on the UK gossip and gardening tidbits.

I'm too tired now to upload pictures, but the trip was great and I have yet another good idea of dinner on Thursday night next time im I'm London (one month away).

Yes, J, we do have luncheon reservations at St. Johns. It should be very interesting, but in a good way. :)

alive and kicking

At the airport in London enjoying a latte in the BA First lounge, which has marvellous views all covered up with filmy curtains. The sandwiches are out, had a few cheese ones (yum) and now going to hit the WH Smith to pick up the latest trash tabloids for the flight home. Sandwich too as we're in Coach and the food sucks no matter what class you fly in. TH made a pret stop this morning, so we have brownie yoghurt pots for pudding.

Great trip, will upload pics tomorrow.


Friday, November 11, 2005

kicking and screaming

Still life with birch leaf -October 2005.

I did not want to get up this morning.

However, I decided to skip the gym, run and get some coffee, reload about a boy on the ipod and rake more leaves. Hey mayor, do you think we can get special dispensation during leaf season to put out another four yard waste containers per week during leaf shedding season?

After that, off to the airport, dilletante, bookstore, plane, lounge, plane and Portman Square.

By the way, Dinner at Campagne was not so hot. We felt rushed (drinks were not even done before first course arrived, were not offered coffee at the end, etc...), this happened last time we ate downstairs as well, so as much as I will recommend their soups and desserts, this would not be the place I would consider for an romantic evening -stick to Tulios or Nells for that. I had a salad, the garlic sausage on a bed of potatoes with apples (good) and a quince tart (yum), TH had the squash soup, riz de veax and the hazelnut creme brulee. We didn't even really get to pick a wine, as there weren't a lot of half bottles.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Project management class passed, now must debrief group and deal with life as it piled up while I was learning about what a backward pass was/is. However, it can all wait until Tuesday. TH is packing and I'm going to do the same. We're going to Campagne for dinner on for 25 at $25, though my guess is that it will be more like $50 each. Leaves are raked, recycling is ready to go and I believe its hat and gloves weather in London.


Tantalizing tidbits

I'm on autopilot right now. I am tired of trying to understand cost estimating and forward passes in project management. I have meetings and class all day tomorrow and then I need to do the things one does before leaving town. Its really no big deal, grab some money, a credit card, passport, charge up that cell phone, ipod, get a sudoku, reading for next week's planning seminar and go, go, go. No real packing issues, stuff is ready for my aunt and I will have plenty of room for something if I find it, whatever it is.

I guess this is something to look forward to -- lunch somewhere near borough market, dinner at St. John, dragging TH to Kew if the weather is decent to see the chihulys and test out the n50 and Neal's Yard for cheese fix. I have no big plans but to maybe hit Columbia Road on Sunday morning if the weather will cooperate. North Finchley is in the plans for Sunday evening, but might as well get use out of the travelcard while we can. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

ABD -- Bravo

Camparis on rue st. Benoit, Paris 75006

Ph D. qualifiying exams are done and passed. Way to go, TH!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

is it Friday yet?

Okay, it is not Seattle, or the fall, but it is pretty impressive. Mont St. Michel September 2004

My morning started out with losing my mobile, which is fine except for today as I need to make some calls.It was on silent, so even if I called myself looking for it, I wouldn't have found it. I found it quickly, but not before I became flustered. Ditto for my car key, I left it by the coffee stand at Met Market. Time lost 3 minutes, three I didn't have this morning.

I'm in project management training for the next three days. Very interesting and very timely. I just wish I had managed my morning better and more effectively.

I tried something new for lunch, I am still eating at my desk, but today I have a Macrina ficelle, some homemade tomato chutney from Jan Berry's book ,Beecher's flagship cheddar (overrated) and a Booth Canyon apple. It sure beats something out of the freezer. My week is crazy, I didn't buy anything to make dinner or lunch for the next week, so its catch as catch can. If I had been planning well, I would have just grabbed the last hunk of sharp organic cheddar that TH picked up at Marks and Spencer in Manchester. It was good with my nachos. :)

Well, off to finish off my email replies and get back to cost estimating.


Monday, November 07, 2005

the path of least resistance

We finally decided to cry uncle and are using our standby place in Rome for the few days we're there. It is expensive, but TH and I running out of time and energy to scrutinize maps and pictures of apartments on websites to find one that will work for our needs and short time frame. We're probably overpaying by 60 bucks a night, but we figure at least $20 of that is energy we won't be spending surfing the web looking for an apartment, another $20 for internet access if needed and the other $20 for knowing that we can do laundry in a pinch.

Given the state of France these days, we may skip Paris all together and go right to Rome and spend six days there instead. I hate that idea, but we now have options. Funny thing, I called today to see if there was any availability at the Park Hyatt Vendome that weekend that we fly in and low and behold there was availability. Imagine that! I don't like that hotel too well, but a room is a room and 35 euros for breakfast is just too much, but free, so we'll take it!

Sure makes up for drunken singing outside my door in Arlington this past week.

Well, time to give that laundry a look, get something for dinner -- any thoughts? I'm thinking nachos (really) and another sixty pages of Geraldine Brooks' tripe and then I'm done. The best thing about being an adult is just saying, no to reading you don't have to do. :)

Lunch today was great. I like Piatti and they are now branding themselves as Piatti Locali (whatever). Good grilled halibut nicoise and off we went in search of a sandwich at a la Francaise for TH's Cascades commute!

Crack o'dawn

Rosa Glauca - October 2005

I'm up an hour early today because in all that has happened in the last week or so, I totally spaced and did not change my bedside clock. Instead of running to the gym an hour earlier or going back to bed, I voted, uploaded some new stuff to my ipod and paid a few bills. I probably should have gone back to bed, but oh well.

I'm very behind in the book club selection of the month - we're reading Nine Parts of Desire and frankly, I'm not too taken by it. Why we picked it, don't ask me. I guess its our attempt to be "multicultural". I'm not even sure where the discussion is going to go with this book, should be fun.

I'm also behind in my reading for class. I guess I should focus on this first. I'll read for this week and then hopefully catch up this weekend with the last week. We're off to London on Friday, so I have hours of time to catch up, right?

Other than that, had a delightful dinner at Nell's last night, great company and conversation, wine and food. I love this place except for the decor, but the food keeps me coming back. TH and I had the 25 for $25 tasting menu (celeriac and apple salad for me, beef tongue for TH), chanterelle risotto and halibut for mains and I had a lovely poached pear with goat cheese ice cream and a chocolate pot de creme for her.We let her order special as it was her special day. :) Our friends ordered off the regular menu and their food looked great (duck breast and calves liver). Looking forward to a few more great meals this month, though TH says that eating at home would be her druther this month - next month, I promise!

Well, I should start the coffee, find a luncheon item (unless the parentals wish to dine out) and go hit the treadmill (work and the gym!).


Sunday, November 06, 2005

wrapping paper

TH's family is a wrapping paper saving family. It used to drive me batty, now I love it. I went to the wrapping paper dresser and picked out a nice london underground map paper to wrap a bd present in. I ended up using something else, but it hit me that some of this paper is 14 years old and it still works. Mind you, there is no ironing, but most paper has a story behind it and that is why we keep it. I also am a paper freak, I love paper and all the ribbon and each year I spend a fortune on ribbon for panfortes and presents, but for the two of us, reusing paper is comforting.

Oh, if you are in the Seattle area, Packaging Specialities opened a holiday store in U. Village. They are hoping to open a year round store with classes and more stuff if they have a successful season. I love that place and do enjoy not schelpping to Georgetown unless necessary.

Another blast from the past, the Tabletop shop is back! In the Tramezzo building next to Black Cat and back in the hood. I'm very excited, even if they have a christmas tree up in the window. I'm feeling like the ne55th st corridor and the Blakeley area is coming back strong with some decent non-chain retail!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ms. N a vision of foofiness

How does a girl like me ever learn to put on makeup? I never wear it and when I do I forget and rub my eyes or touch my face. I guess I need to go to some salon and have a makeunder. I never wear makeup and when I try to put it on I look like something off the cover of a Pat Benatar album.

That or I need to stop drinking and powder my nose more. The sheen from the flash bulbs combined with too many martinis gives me quite a lovely shiny nose.

Wish me luck tonight, I'll need it.
Darn, they are closing the shades at the DCA AC. I love this club, the women who work here are amazing and friendly, just like Seattle (RIP) and the views are lovely.

To date, I have flown over 103,000 miles. To many, this sounds astounding, to my friends at Flyertalk, this is wimpy.

I'll take wimpy and bulb planting opportunities over machismo any day. :)

Off fly back to Seattle. I wonder if they have changed the digiplayers this month.


football saturday

Maples, OSU campus (go beavs!) October 2005

I love Saturdays, especially at home. During football season, I'm trapped unless I plan my day carefully. Today I fly home and hit traffic going to the stadium with full force, meaning that I"ll have trouble getting home and if I don't plan my moves correctly, I could be rerouted and delayed on my way home during the big exodus from the stadium. As it is we're just on the outer edges of where the die hard fans park, seeing already tight on street parking vanish and groups of yellow and purple clad fans make their way down to the stadium a mile away.

This year I have done a pretty decent job of missing most games, this week is unusual, but I need to get home so I'll figure something out.

This is the last week Choice Bulb Farms will be at the U District Farmer's Market. I'm soo tempted to pick up a few bags of bulbs as they tend to grow the unuusal, but honestly I need to get the other 550 plus that we bought in October in the ground sooner than later.

However, there is always Sunday at the West Seattle Market. ;)


Other than that, dinner party for a newly minded 40 year old. Should be interesting ...

Friday, November 04, 2005

I'm done, toast and peanut butter

I am reconsidering these little runs for the black luggage tags, the twee black card and 2 million miler status (so close). I'm thinking that one long enjoyable and okay, more expensive trip to say Kyoto would have been easier on my psyche, soul and body, not to mention those in my family and circle of friends who watch flight tracker and will call me as soon as I land and tell me what gate my next flight is at.

Today was no exception. DCA to ORD was great, mellow and on time. ORD to FLL was 1 hour late so I really considered bagging it and going right back to DC for dinner. However, I made it and we turned super fast. The flight in was interesting, having never experienced Florida (on purpose), but it was an interesting landscape to view from the air.

My Chicago to DC trip was short and sweet with no seat opponent and really getting in the Sarah Harmer that I have on eckbo2 (ipod of mine). I did a bunch of sudokos (more on that later) and now I'm wondering what happened to TH, as my luggage is in Dupont Circle and I"m in the strangest hotel room I've been in for a while with a view of something in Crystal City. Now this is a place to avoid unless desperate to be close to the airport. Like Arlington, souless, but the restaurants are not worth mentioning.

Oh, did I mention Rolling Thunder, the geriatric edition is staying here tonight. That should be fun!


not to start friday off with a sour note

Hotel Pet Peeve number 2:

Is it necessary to sing and scream at the top of your lungs outside my room so that in my hermetically sealed hotel room 15 stories above where you croon, I can hear your lack of melody?

Hotel Pet Peeve number 3:

Hermetically sealed stuffy hotel rooms with hidden toilet paper holders.

gotta go and board that flight!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

dinner and more dinner

Lovely day here in DC. Had a long day of meetings and presentations followed by a round of camparis at the Tabard. We were going to 21P for dinner and after reading some reviews, decided to go to a tried and true favorite - The Iron Gate instead. If you have never been there, please visit and enjoy both the indoor intimate dining room and the beautiful courtyard with fairy lights, a grape arbor and be transported to Italy. Very romantic and one of my favorite courtyards in the world.

The food was good not too prententious or daring, which can be okay. I had a salad with a crottin of chevre and a yellowfin tuna dish. TH had three starters that looked pretty darn tasty. Our friends had the the pork tenderloin. It looked good as well. Desserts are sort of weak,so maybe we should have gone back to the Tabard for the milk chocolate pot de creme with a peanut butter shortbread cookie. That sounded interesting.

Tonight, we're dining at Andale with J, R, N and N and TH may finally meet!

Tomorrow, DCA-ORD-FLL vv. or bust.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I just love that naked lady in the bathtub and other charming things

The Tabard Inn is a great hotel, if its not completely overbooked and you are given the room you requested months ago. If not, you are not treated to the outstanding customer service that folks at the big chains are forced to learn in order to keep their jobs.

I love this hotel, I love the fact every room is different, the breakfasts are great as is the bar, its just that if you are stuck in a room that is loud, near the restaurant or just in the cone of traffic, you're hosed if like to get a solid night's sleep.

We were so prissed when we checked in that I spent 45 minutes tracking down another room in DC. None exist. Something big is going on. I managed to find on at the Helix for twice what we are paying tonight for tomorrow, but they called us to say that they would move us tomorrow into a quieter room. I hope.

Good thing too.

What can I say, stay at the Madera, eat at the Tabard and make reservations six months before you anticipate your meeting dates to be.

On a lighter note, we had a decent dinner at Teasim. Their salty oat cookies rock (Don't knock them until you try them!)

I can't wait until the Park Hyatt Washington reopens. I love this hotel and sort of wish they didn't remodel it, I liked it the way it was. The restaurant was great and the rooms were huge and comfortable. The bar at the Fairmont across the street was a good diversion as well.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

its tuesday, it must be brussels

Autumn crocus on a bed of campanula

Not really, but close. I'm getting an amazing aversion to packing. I can't believe it. It used to be so easy and this trip it just seemed so daunting. I guess its my lack of clothing that I like and fits and partially its the finicky weather. Its going to be 70 in DC, so I should be okay. I don't have any hose with me that work, but I'll manage if I must.

An update: Its not as warm here as I thought. Oh well. At least I'm here and honestly just really tired, tired tired. Tonight I'm thinking dinner at the Tabard and work on my talk and try and to get some sleep.