Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shop away

I thought I was cool. I thought I was hip and with it. I was sure of my style and confident in my clothing choices. That is until I went shopping with my teenage daughter. I am so not hip. I am so not with it. I am so out of touch with "style" I might as well be getting dressed on the moon!

This is when I realized how "old" I am - I don't care! I am content with my boring t-shirts and lame jeans. I'm stunned that the stores have succeeded in convincing shoppers that they should wear at least two t-shirts at a time, if not three or more. Why spend $15 on a top for an outfit when you can spend $30? or $45?

Watching my daughter fret and fuss over trying to find the perfect undershirt brought me back to those horrific days when I cared so much about fitting in and having my peers judge me as worthy based on my clothing.

Of course I still want to look good. I want to be stylish and maximize my assets (ala What not to Wear) but I feel happily free to wear what I want regardless of what's on the mannequins.

On the knitting front - I'm working on a pair of socks. I'm a little concerned that they may be too big. I've measured and checked guage carefully, but they seem a little on the loose side. The problem is I need to knit more to see if they really are too big, but I knit every row with just a bit of dread that I may end up frogging it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good fast recipe

I've got a great recipe for busy cooks: It's a stir fry that takes less than 30 minutes.

Rice (enough for your family)
3 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon pancake syrup

Olive oil

Sauce (mix together):
1 tablespoon corn starch (mix with a small amount of cold water to form paste)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (could substitute Sherry)
1/2 cup of soy sauce
2 tablespoons pancake syrup
1 bag of frozen veggies

Boil rice
toss chicen with garlic, soy sauce and maple syrup in a zip lock bag (or just mix altogether in a bowl)
This can be done ahead of time and left in the frig to marinate.

Put Heat wok (or large frying pan) over heat briefly. Add olive oil.
Add chicken and sautee until cooked through.
Add vegetables and 2 tablespoons water
Cover to steam veggies for 3-4 minutes
When vegetables are thawed or nearly so, add sauce
Cook until sauce thickens
Serve over rice

The sweetness of the syrup is a nice contrast to the saltiness of the soy sauce.
I was really happy about how quickly this comes together.

Don't try this at home:
A recipe I found on the web suggested cooking spaghetti noodles in the spaghetti sauce. Maybe this works for some people, but I found it made a huge mess and didn't taste right. It could be that the sauce got burned while we were waiting for the noodles to get soft enough.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dancing back to reality

I am posting yet two more pics of Paris - these are nearly my favorites because they are of the fountain at St. Michael (pronounced San Michelle) which is where I would suggest we would all meet up if we could organize a great gathering in the City of Lights. It's around the corner from Notre Dame and in not too far from Luxumbourg Gardens, which is a large peaceful park in the shadow of what was once a palace. There is a large pond there and parents rent sail boats for their children to float. They guide them by pushing them along with a stick. The boatman is almost as popular as the icecream truck!

And then, just as I was finally getting to know the city and understand how to use the metro, it was time to return to my other adventure. I came back just in time for dance recital frenzy.

I was a dance mother newbie this year - so innocent, so ignorant to the complicated ways of the dance world. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed her up for lessons. I knew there would be a show, but I had no idea how truly complex the whole thing is. At the beginning, they said she needed two pairs of shoes (tap and ballet) - that should have been my first clue. Then she needed to have a black leotard and pink tights. Not a pink leotard. Not nude tights. I dutifully complied, remaining clueless. Then there was the deposit for a costume. Okay, I expected that. Then the real bill came in - all that for a skimpy bit of lycra? That I could have made myself? (Never mind, I don't want to make 20 so everyone will have one) Just when I thought it was safe, we were told we needed yet another costume for the ballet number. Then special tights. Then black shoes, not the beige ones used for class. (Thankfully, we were allowed to paint them).

After all that, I thought we were set, but no, there were tickets to buy for the show. Then you also have to have flowers for after the show. And don't forget the concession stand! Whew.
One last thing, you have to arrive an hour and a half before the show and be available during the show for costume changes.

At the end of the day, my little dancer was thrilled to be on stage. She was as cute as could be. And it was one of those bonding experiences that we hear so much about. That's what it's all about, right?

My little peanut is the last one on the right as you look at the photo. I'm not sure that she's ready to go pro just yet.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Les chiens de Paris

Most people who go to Paris rave about the artwork or the impressive churches or the fine food. Moi? I went gaga over the dogs - they are everywhere - taking themselves out for a walk, hanging out at the sidewalk cafes and playing in the parks. Only once did I hear one yip and never did they squabble with each other on the street. If I were a dog, I'd certainly like to be a Parisian one.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Plus Paris

The shoe-less foot and the dog are statues in the Musee D'Orsay. I was led to believe that this was a museum that could be toured in three hours. I was mislead by a long shot. We were there for seven, although at least two of that was spent eating. This is the city of the never ending meals. They go on and on and on. Not like home where food is cooked in 30 minutes and gone in 10! It's nice on one hand, but I have a lot of city to see in a very short time. The panoramic of the city was taken from the balcony of the museum- it is of Sacre Coeur - a ginormous church that overlooks the city. The flowers were taken in the Tuilerie Garden - a very calm oasis in a very energetic city.

The church is Sacre Coeur close up. We stayed until after dark, which is when most of the tourists go home and many of the locals come out to play. On this night, there were two young men twirling flaming batons to (American) music. That's the abstract fire works photo. Interestingly there are no open bottle laws here, which as you can imagine makes picnics much more interesting.
The fountain is in front of the Louvre. I must save that for another trip, but my mom and cousin managed to see all but two wings in one day, which I understand is an amazing accomplishment.
Also in this lot is the Arc D'Triomph at night. I really wish I had a tripod, but I'm glad that I didn't have to carry one around all day since we have been walking from early in the day until late, late, late at night. Which is why this commentary doesn't match the pictures.
Thank you for all your well wishes. I have been telling my cousin all about my great knitting friends. Today she said, ever so non-chalantly, where would one learn to knit? Maybe a convert?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Paris is everything I had hoped it would be. The city is ancient and vibrant. I find the challenge of finding my way around in a city I don't know speaking a language I barely know to be exhilerating. The top picture is us at the fountain of St. Michael, which all Parisians in the know meet up. Notice the finished Clapotis - it's been a great wrap for the chilly mornings and evenings and easy to carry around during the warm days. The next is of the windows in Notre Dame. The next is of my traveling companions trying to figure out where we are going. Then they are all smiles when they've got it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

What does France look like?

We arrived and I am pleased to learn for myself that France really does exist. Of course, I had little doubt, but there is something significant about seeing it for myself.

We arrived at 1p.m. with only a vague idea of how to get into the city. How about the train? 47 euros later, we had a pass for 5 days that we really had no clue how to use. Mom got through but we figured out later that was fluke because she wasn't doing it right. I got stuck in a little glass box. You go in and then you are supposed to put your ticket through and go out. It's not that hard - once you know what you're doing. After that was the adventure of navigating the train system with way too many bags. I met a sweet French girl , 6, who was very amused by the whole situation. We really did look rather silly.

Upon arrival, we immediatley went out to start soaking up all the great atmosphere. We're staying very near the Arc de Triomph, so we walked the Champs Elysee. I am amazed at how lively the city is even late at night.

On a call home, my 6yo asked "What does Paris look like?" Her answer is up above.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Singing me to Paris

I'm in the airport on my way to Paris at last! With the ever extending to do list that varied from packing to buying a new camera bag to returning a long-overdue library book, I was beginning to wonder if I'd make this far. The highlight was in the last 30 minutes before we were to leave for the airport and I was hemming the pants I wanted to wear while my husband packed my camera bag and my hyper 15 yo burst into the bedroom with two hyper but well meaning friends who proceeded to seranade me. Beautiful voices although I couldn't quite concentrate. And then just as we were going to leave the 2yo had a melt down because she couldn't find her sunglasses. I have to think that was more about my leaving but still traumatic. I'm assured that she quickly recovered. Time to board! More soon, I hope.
Bien tot