Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Quite a Ceilidh

The Second Annual Burns Night Supper

We had our second Burns Night celebration on Saturday night, and it was a success. This year, I tackled a roast leg of lamb for the main dish, which turned out well. Most of our other courses were the same as last year because I saw no reason to mess with the traditional and well-liked dishes like Cock-a-Leekie Soup and Chocolate Scotch Cake.

The theatrical part of the event was much different this year, however. Last year we kept it relatively casual, asking only two guests to prepare a Toast to the Lassies and Toast to the Lads. We also went through the Ode to the Haggis a few times. This year, on the other hand, in addition to the Toasts, we required all of our guests to read a Burns poem, and we even ended the evening with the entire group singing the complete 5 stanzas of Auld Lang Syne!

Expecting people to leave their comfort zones means letting go of that little voice in your head that says, "Oh what is he/she going to say about this?" Luckily, my husband doesn't even seem to have that voice and mine is easily silenced especially when there's a theme involved.

I suppose the success of the night was helped by the fact that everyone was rather intoxicated, but as I looked around the table on the fourteenth repetition of "Auld Lang Syne, my dear..." I realized that it is a rare host who requires his/her guests to sing together. And not only had we pulled that off, but everyone was having a pretty great time doing it.

One of these years we're going to include a ceilidh in the festivities and then there will be dancing as well!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just a Minute

I was inspired to do this 'just a minute' feature in an incredibly roundabout way. I saw another Hanna as a commenter on a blog I was reading, so I clicked on her name to see her blog. It's lovely, and she had just posted about this feature she'd discovered. I liked the idea immensely, so I borrowed it. It's not stealing if we share a name, right?

reading…I just started the World in Half by Cristina Henriquez. I'm only a chapter or two in, but I'm enjoying the author's writing style and the main character's voice. Plus it takes place in Chicago, so that always makes it fun.

following...I came across Raising My Rainbow yesterday, and it is a fascinating read. Great stories about raising 5-year-old CJ, a " slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son," but this blogger also tackles all sorts of topics on gender, sexual development, and parenting that are really interesting.

watching…the new series House of Lies on Showtime. I love me some Kristen Bell, but I can't decide if I like it yet. It's's for sure.

listening…to the fabulous mix CD that a friend of us sends out every year as his Christmas card. This year's tops it all. My favorite song is decidedly Internet Killed the Video Star by The Limousines.

loving…my new boot socks that I picked up at Target the other day. They have excellent elastic at the top so they don't slip at all. Wishing I had got more than one pair. And don't get me started on how much I love my vintage Frye boots! My upstairs neighbor was cleaning out her mother-in-law's closet after she passed away last year, found these boots, and gave them to me. It took me a year to get around to trying them out, but now I wear them constantly.

making...Gifts for the twins downstairs who are turning one today. I hope these short sleeve onesies will fit them long enough so that they can actually wear them when it's warm!

baking…Planning the Burns Night Supper which is coming quickly. Saturday to be exact. Making the Chocolate Scotch Cake on Thursday if all goes according to schedule.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Do Overs

Sometimes I still think of this small interaction I had with my 3rd grade nemesis. If I had a time machine, it would be a moment I would seriously consider revisiting. It could have gone better. At the very least I wish I would have just laughed at her.

Me: Why aren't you nice to me?
My 3rd Grade Nemesis: Hanna, you're just not cool.
Me: Why not?
She Who Will Not Be Named: You live on a farm out in the country. Like some Amish girl. Plus your mom is a hippie and your dad is a cowboy.
Me: [Offended and thoroughly dev-a-stated.] Nu-uh.

A beekeeper, perhaps, but definitely not a cowboy.
(Sorry, Dad.)

Instead of the stellar "Nu-uh" comeback, how it should have gone down:

Me: Well, clearly I'm a heck of a lot more interesting than you are.


Me: Pick your insult. We can't be Amish, hippies, and cowboys.


Me: Are you kidding? The kid with the hippie mom and the cowboy dad would totally be the most popular kid in school.


Me: Man, if that were true, we would totally have our own reality TV show.
(Okay, okay it was before reality TV was big, but you'd totally watch that show, wouldn't you?)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Which She Discusses Censorship

 (and Sex, but Only a Little Bit)

Untitled by yyellowbird via Flickr

 In a recent conversation, a friend* and I were discussing blogging. I think we were discussing diaries and blogging, etc. I mentioned that I tend not to write about some topics on my blog (probably most primarily sex) because my in-laws and parents, and even potentially my boss read it. I vaguely recollect a look of horror from the friend as she said something to the effect of I never censor myself.

I have been carrying this little moment around with me for awhile thinking of it in those spaces when your mind wanders off, and today I thought to actually address it out loud. It occurs to me that I held onto that line because I felt a little guilty for censoring myself. But as I muse over it, I think I'm prepared to whole-heartedly embrace self-censorship on my blog.

First of all, I'm one of the most open people you'll probably ever meet. I have, on more than one occasion, found myself telling virtual strangers more about myself, my relationship, my inner thoughts and workings, than my husband has probably even told me after a decade together. Admittedly, that wouldn't be much more personal than, "I prefer not to go by Nate," which, no exaggeration, took him a year to tell me and came out as I introduced him to my parents. But yeah,  I'm not great at censoring what comes out of my mouth. However, when it comes to putting my words on paper, or the web in this case, I've always been a bit more circumspect.

It boils down to two things. First, the fact that the web is a public space. My posts get cached. I may one day decide to stop blogging, but it is highly likely that what I have written will still be accessible in some way. It's important not to forget that the words you write or type have permanence. The second is that because you will have an audience, it's important to remember that your words, no matter how anonymous you may think they are now, have the potential to have an impact, whether it's on your life or someone else's. In the age of cyber bullying and cyber sex scandals, I think it's something too many people overlook.

That's not saying that the internet required me to change how I wrote. Chalk it up to my personal sense of grandeur, but even in my diary-writing days, I always wrote like I was addressing a crowd. I tried for that balance of humor in my I'm-so-depressed-that-no-boy-likes-me entries, so it wouldn't be a heavy read, and I wouldn't sound like a pathetic sad-sack. I added details that, as the person experiencing the event, I already knew just to give my reader context. I know, I know, right?

Obviously blogging was not a difficult leap for me. It will come as no surprise to you that I tell everyone the address of my blog, nonchalantly bringing it up in conversation and subtly posting it to my Facebook page hoping to gain more followers. But even if I wasn't happy to make my writing public, I would not, no, could not forget that no matter the code name I gave myself and my husband in my blog, no matter the anonymity I tried to retain even by choosing to write in a diary that I planned to later burn, the act of writing something down gives your words power that you have to be willing to own.

Someday I might have something interesting to add to the topic of sex; even then I'll be choosing my words carefully. Because they're a reflection of me even if they don't have my name attached. But let's be honest here, they'll surely have my name attached. We all know that I don't do anonymity well.
*I cannot remember who I am paraphrasing, so I apologize if it was you and more apologies if my memory of the conversation is wrong. Still, it's not really relevant to the story, so I suppose it's insubstantial to this post.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Bright New Year

Cranes via WeHeartIt
It's likely that I didn't start my New Year particularly well. I didn't get much sleep, gossiped, didn't brush my teeth until noon, got in an argument with my husband, taught a 7-year-old a card game with an inappropriate name, and ate too much pie. And hell, those are just the bad beginnings I remember six days later.

Perhaps 2012 had inauspicious beginnings for me, but I'm determined to make a few changes this year. My New Year's resolutions are hopefully a little easier to stick to than losing 25 pounds or being sweet to my husband everyday (which probably should be my resolutions, but hey I don't want to set myself up for failure. I'm a girl who likes to eat and be sarcastic to her husband. Know thyself.)

My first goal is to be more positive, mostly about my job, but certainly I could stand to incorporate it into other facets of my life. It's been easy to focus on the frustrations, and I know those same frustrations probably won't go away anytime soon. My hope, however, is that if I willfully refuse to acknowledge them in the future, they will have less impact on my mood. It seems to be working so far, but that could also be the endorphins from a great vacation still leftover in my system.

My other goal is to, according to a note on my phone, "work on my abs." I'm not sure what caused me to believe that a mental note was not a concrete enough historical record and that I needed to actually start a note dedicated just to my reminder to do crunches. Indeed, as I sit typing this hunched on the couch trying not to disturb the muscles screaming all over my body, I realize "schedule massage" should have been the next note on that list ahead of "Take tennis lessons."

Well, I probably don't have to think about that much until about June when winter in Chicago finally (usually) ends. Though with the unseasonably warm weather here it's tempting to start now. I just know that if I do I will jinx us all causing a deluge of winter storms to zero in on my tennis-playing  joie de vivre. So I will wait. You're welcome, my fellow Chicagoans. When our winter weather remains mild I will require full credit.

My final goal is to improve my posture. I think this will likely happen somewhat organically as I improve my overall muscle definition. My days of indoor rock climbing gave me muscles that seem to cause me to naturally hunch a bit. You'd think that with my current lack of muscles the problem would be solved. However, a few recent pictures have led me to believe that my time at my desk has made me lazy posture-wise. I have no real plan at this time other than a heightened awareness of sitting and standing up straight. Hopefully that will be enough though I have considered incorporating some sort of harness. Decided that might be overkill though. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photo Journal: Christmas in Savannah

Christmas in the South

City Hall

The Cathedral from Colonial Park Cemetary
Shuck your own oysters and a crawfish boil: The perfect Christmas snack! 
One of my favorite family memories from this year's Christmas was guzzling down 
Bloody Mary's, oysters, and crawfish together.

Lunch at Mrs. Wilke's. Seriously the best fried chicken and biscuits I have ever eaten. 
Well worth the hour wait in line.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the Nativity inside.

Morning stroll through Bonaventure Cemetary.

An afternoon on Tybee Island.

Forsyth Fountain

A morning ferry ride to Hutchinson Island and an afternoon trip to Fort Jackson.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best of 2011

I love lists. Here are five celebrating 2011...

My Favorite Songs of 2011
 1. The Augustines-Chapel Song
 2. Bronze Radio Return-Wonder No More
 3. Hanni el Khatib-Come Alive
 4. The Civil Wars-Poison & Wine
 5. Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues*
 6. Aiden Hawken-Into the Sea 7. Florence + the Machine-Cosmic Love
 8. The Head and the Heart-Down in the Valley* Download here.
 9. Bon Iver-Calgary
10. Alexander Ebert-Truth
*These artists offer this song for free on their websites. Link provided above.

Favorite Books I read in 2011**
 1. Faithful Place by Tana French***
 2. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
 3. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson**
 4. The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart**
 5. Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
 6. Ms. Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
 7. What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman
 8. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jaspar Fforde***
 9. Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
10. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
 **Some of which were published in late 2010.
***Not the first book in the series. Though it would still make sense if read out of order, I recommend reading the whole series.

Favorite Events of 2011
 1. My sister's wedding
 2. Trip to Korea with my in-laws
 3. Christmas in Savannah
 4. Robert Burns Supper
 5. San Francisco trip (specifically, wandering around downtown after dark with Dean and Colin)
 6. Anniversary dinner at North Pond
 7. Reenacting Plants v. Zombies with my sisters-in-law
 8. 3rd Annual Leisure Games
 9. Family visits to Chicago (Emily, Shirley & Ann, Dean, Jenny, Sus, etc.)
10. Going to the beach with Erin, Vinnie, and Quentin

Best Recipes of 2011
 1. Grilled Skirt Steak
 2. Goat Cheese, Pear, and Red Onion Pizza
 3. Zucchini Tortellini Soup
 4. Shrimp fra Diavolo
 5. Pork-Apple-Sage Pie
 6. Chocolate Ganache
 7. Jicama Avocado Salad
 8. English Toffee
 9. Cock-a-Leekie Soup
10. Cucumber Feta Rolls

                                                                                      Best Projects of 2011
1. Jessica's wedding (jewelry, napkins, monkey knots)
2. Jessica's wedding shower (banners, games, pom-poms, cupcakes)
3. Overnight bag
4. Chandelier Earrings
5. Getting the lamps hung and incorporating new furniture
6. Burns Night Supper
7. Raised flower bed
8. Bow tie/Necktie Onsies
9. T-Shirt Bibs
10. Pieced potholders