Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting Ready

For the past couple of years, we've been throwing a Burns' Night celebration. I have never really thought about how much preparation one takes, but this weekend I made a list of all I did so far and what is to come, and I was incredibly surprised to see how long it was.

And the party's not even until next weekend, so I haven't even started preparing any of the six courses!

My sister, Emily, designed the invitation, menu, and poem layouts for me!

Here's some of my fancy party preparations from last weekend:

Sort out soup tureen and ladle for first course
Iron and fold napkins
Wash and iron tablecloths
Iron flags
Make table runner and iron
Find Nathan's kilt and wool socks
Count out silverware settings
Polish all silver
Order haggis and oatcakes
Buy Scotch
Place order for pork shoulder
Print menus and Ode to Haggis
Write Immortal Memory Address
Order centerpiece
Write shopping list

Amazingly, I still had plenty of time to finish a book, paint the armchair for the baby's room, make cookies, go out for a lovely Chinese dinner with my husband, and make scones too! I never feel this organized.

Sometime this week I will:

Buy groceries/supplies
Whip honey butter (tonight or tomorrow night)
Prepare Angel Food Cake (Wednesday or Thursday night)
Make Vanilla Custard Sauce (prob Wednesday night)
Make Chocolate Scotch Cake (prob Thursday night)
Mix up the Drambuie Vinaigrette (Friday night)
Boil and mash turnips (Friday night)
Boil and mash potatoes (Friday nights)
Pick up the pork shoulder (Friday on the way home from work)
Season pork shoulder for overnight marination (Friday night)
Clean the house (I've assigned this one to Nathan)

Friday, January 18, 2013

It Might Not Be Rocket Science, But It Sure Feels Like It

Anyone who has created a wedding registry will probably initially think that creating a baby registry is pretty much the same thing. How hard can it be, right? You just fill up the list with ideas of things that people can buy, only this time, you're not going to be the one breaking in that new bathtub or outfit...it's going to be the tiny new arrival.

However, when it comes right down to it, putting items on a baby registry (for a first child, anyway) is a bit like trying to set up a laboratory when you're in marketing. I should get some test tubes, right? Scientists use test tubes, don't they?

Anyway, I've been populating our baby registry on Amazon with lots of suggestions from other new moms, from Amazon itself, and from a few stabs in the dark. It feels like EVERYthing requires extensive thought and research though. There's no such thing as even a simple bathtub. Do you want it to be collapsible? What shape? Will you use in mainly in the tub or in the sink? AHHH.

Clothes haven't really made the registry much because that's the hardest thing to predict. First of all, I have no idea how big she's going to be, then I have no idea how many people will go for new born sizes versus 0-3 months or higher. I feel like I'll just leave that open, at least for now.


Except for the new line from Gap featuring Beatrix Potter's original Peter Rabbit. As the child of a librarian who was also a little obsessed with Beatrix, I am in love with all of these comfy looking outfits. I love how subtle the references are too. I pretty much want everything. How cute is that hat? That sale is making my promise not to buy anymore baby clothes really, really hard to keep.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Trade Up

Moment in David Rakoff's last dance
Here is the simplest lesson you taught me: Don’t trade up. 

In terms of three-word volumes, it ranks right up there with “It gets better.” Like that more famous line, it starts out as a bit of simple, practical instruction — don’t back out of a social engagement just because a snazzier offer came along — and broadens out into an entire perspective on how to live. Don’t grade friendships on a hierarchical scale. Don’t value people based on some external indicator of status. Don’t take a competitive view of your social life. There are very few rules I carry around with me every day. Don’t trade up is one of them, and I truly can’t tell you how many seemingly complicated situations it resolved into clarity and fairness.

from the feature on David Rakoff in The Lives They Lived, this month's New York Times, which celebrates the lives of those who died in 2012.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Cookie Fairy

One of my goals on my life list was to take cookies to a nursing home, but when I tried that last year, I was told in no uncertain terms that they couldn't accept strange food from strange people because that was a health risk to their patients. I'll still try to meet that goal sometime, but it becomes a bigger goal because I'm going to have to make friends with someone at a nursing home in order to bring them cookies personally (that's still allowed).

In the meantime though, I wanted to do something nice that was related to this goal. A few of our neighbors are older (one just turned 92!), so I thought it would be fun to make a batch of cookies each week (or month, I'm not going to be a stickler about how often I do it) so that I could take a few to the neighbors.

This weekend I made some Oatmeal Carmelitas (though I used more chocolate chips and more nuts than this recipe), which are pretty much the best cookie bar ever invented. You should definitely make a batch tonight. SO GOOD.

I wrapped them up in individual largish servings and dropped them off with a handful of neighbors. It's pretty hard to walk quietly up a wooden staircase when you're six months pregnant, so I'm not sure this Cookie Fairy went completely undetected, but it was nice to think of their pleasure upon discovering their cookies as I munched on the remaining cookie bars.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Type A

I have this habit of tackling projects in a way that makes them somewhat less than relaxing for the average person. Case in point, at the after-Christmas fabric sales, I purchased enough 70% off Christmas fabric to make 60 napkins (no joke). I definitely got a little carried away.

Most people (and even myself sometimes) would put at least half of the fabric away to tackle at some point in the future, but not me, not this project. Last year I made about 12 napkins and cut out the fabric to make 6 more. Those six sat unhemmed for a whole year, so I knew (especially with baby on the way) that if I didn't cut and hem all of these napkins while I was in the napkin-making groove, they would never see the light of day.

Thus, I spent an entire weekend (and New Year's Day) pinning, hemming, and watching L&O marathons, while Nathan went running, swimming, and cleaned our bathroom so thoroughly he even took shelves out to wash them. He very sweetly never mentioned how ridiculous my endeavor was or how molded to my ass the couch cushion was becoming. Seriously, never. Not even once, though I'd be willing to place money on it that the thought crossed his mind a time or two.

I did take some cooking breaks and manage to put away the Christmas decorations as well, so it was not entirely a one project weekend. As silly as these napkins are, it feels pretty satisfying to see that tower of finished ones sitting in my sewing room (only 16 more to hem)!

Still, I probably should get around to sending out our holiday cards, which I usually tackle between Christmas and New Year's.

Happy 2013!