Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Irksome: Some Things Me No Likey

Because let's be real. My last post was way too Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms. To make things right, here are 10 Things That Irk, Annoy or Otherwise Make Me Unhappy. With apologies to anyone who read an earlier version of this on Facebook.

1. Any food that's well-done or burnt.

2. Heavy metal music. Also, in the same vein: professional wrestling. Although I did once do a story about Stone Cold Steve Austin.

3. Far too many grammatical and spelling mistakes to catalog. But I'll go with people who say "I could care less," when they mean they couldn't care less. Because that's not bad grammar. It's just stupid.

1953:  American actors Donna Martell and Ross Ford (1923-1988) embrace in a still from director Richard Talmadge's science fiction film, 'Project Moon Base'.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

4. Science fiction. The whole damn genre. There, I said it.

5. The default assumption that I wanted mayo on my sandwich, even if I didn't specify. Because I didn't. And while we're at it, bread with caraway seeds. Caraway seeds are the devil. In little Satanic seed form. Or something like that.

6. People in crowded public places (stores, airports, etc.) who don't pay attention to where they're going and back everybody else up with their cluelessness. (See also: entitled highway mergers, non-signaling lane-changers.)

Socialite Nicky Hilton drops by the Christian Louboutin boutique in Beverly Hills, CA on February 3, 2010. Fame Pictures, Inc

7. The popularity of flats and skinny jeans. Whoever is responsible was clearly not thinking of my needs. I cannot rock this look. Trust me.

8. Getting the cuffs of a wool sweater wet, like while washing my hands. Worst. Sensation. Ever. Also, wet socks.

9. TJ Maxx's ridiculous policy of making you put your items on the dressing room hanger so the attendant can count them for you. Even when it's clear you only have one item. Or, more broadly, any unnecessary, officious formality. Inefficiency, generally speaking, drives me bonkers.

FILLMORE, CA - JANUARY 17:  A lemon hangs on a tree at sunrise after another night of cold weather on January 17, 2007 near Fillmore, California. Because record-setting cold temperatures have destroyed an estimated 70 percent of California?s citrus crop. Ventura County is counted among ten that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared disasters, with hopes of receiving federal emergency assistance for hard-hit farmers.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

10. Lemon desserts. Why anyone would bother with lemon when there's chocolate to be had is one of life's great mysteries.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Girls in White Dresses With Blue Satin Sashes

It's been a month since I last blogged, and I thought it was time for a jump start. So I'm taking inspiration from Lisa Bonchek Adams, who was inspired by Kathleen Nolan, to share a list of ten favorite things.

And here they are, in random order. And with the requisite amount of anxiety that these are not necessarily my ten very favorite things. I will try not to make them all about food.

380020 01: A tree in Minuteman National Park begins to show it''s colors October 10, 2000 in Concord MA. Regional forecasters say due to New England''s unusually wet summer, the fall foliage season may be the most colorful in rencent years. Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

1. Fall: If there is cider, a pumpkin, gourds, Indian corn, or any variety of hay-related fun (see: mazes, rides) to be had, I am there. With bells on. During college I was once invited to a professor's home for dinner on a chilly November evening. His wife was a potter, and we were served individual pumpkin custards in handmade ramekins. I almost wept with joy.

2. The post-beach shower: In the panoply of human sensation, I would argue that there are few that can top this one. Not the shower itself, necessarily, but the way you feel when it's over. I love the way you go from being sand-caked and sticky with sunscreen and slightly sweaty to having your skin feel taut and smooth and warm in that gorgeous sun-drenched way. I love the way your hair feels wet and cool and sweet-smelling. As a corollary, I love emerging from the post-beach shower and putting on a soft cotton tee shirt and old jeans.

3. Cheap flowers: The salary at my very first job was $21,500. And that was just last year. OK, not really. But suffice it to say I've had...lean times. Yet even during the very leanest, I've always let myself splurge on the $5 bouquet from the farmer's market or grocery store. They literally make me happier every time I look at them, especially the fall ones with those fuzzy crimson flowers I don't know the name of coxcomb. I'm a cheap date.

4. Savory/sweet mashups: I like to mix it up. One of my favorite appetizers is prosciutto and parmesan cheese wrapped around a dried fig and drizzled with olive oil. I make a mean Cuban picadillo, a spicy beef chili seasoned with cinnamon and cloves and studded with raisins and green olives. And don't tell Bubbe, but my brisket has dried cranberries in it.

5. Kids in pajamas: Something about the act of putting on pajamas rockets the cuteness level of all children to the stratosphere, especially if there are feet involved. Pajamas just scream...childhood and innocence to me. It's why I have a photo on my mantle of me and two of my brothers, circa 1971, all of us pajama-clad. My brothers are in the old-fashioned kind with lapels and buttons, the kind old men wear. (See also: leather slippers.) I mean, is there anything sweeter? I think part of it is the word. Pajamas. It's just inherently cute.

6. Sunday mornings: Ideally: Bagels and coffee and the New York Times, with classical music playing. (That sounds like an awful cliche, but it's actually exactly how I grew up, with my parents finishing the magazine crossword puzzle just in time for Sunday night Chinese.) I love everything about Sundays: brunch food, the Target circular, trips to the Farmers' Market. It's all good.

7. Blizzards/blackouts, et al: While I can't recommend having a child with a stomach bug during a blizzard, as we did earlier this year (because you know what they say: nothing spells fun like having a vomiting two year old in a dark, cold house where you can't do any laundry!), I love the slightly out-of-time feeling that events like this have. The idea that the everyday rules are suspended for just a while. The way people come out of their homes and gather in the street to compare notes, and someone invites you over for an impromptu spaghetti dinner. The way that, as you dig out your driveway, you feel compelled to say hello to everyone who passes by, although the same people could pass by on any other day and you wouldn't say so much as a word to them. I don't know that we ever talked about it, but I found out that my brother Eric feels the same way; the seminal event in his debut feature film is an eclipse. Watch Madeline Kahn walk the darkened daytime streets pretending to be a "moon explorer" and you'll know what we mean.


CULVER CITY, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: A cup of Caff Macchiato is made at The Conservatory Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa, a family owned roasting coffeehouse on September 8, 2010 in Culver City, California. On Wednesday, the price of coffee hit a 13-year high. The price has risen 43 percent since June. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

8. Non-morning coffee: I am, like most of the adult world, a morning coffee addict. Can't function without. But I have a special fondness for coffee at other times of day. While I've usually had too much already to join her, I love that my friend Max always orders a cup of coffee with lunch. I adore the 4 p.m. pick-me-up latte. And while I know the Italians look in horror upon us Americans and our ridiculous coffee abominations, I love a cappuccino with dessert. Bonus points to anyone who says they want to meet me for "a coffee" as opposed to "coffee." Can't explain why, but I love that.

9. Maps. And not even fancy, beautiful vintage maps, though I love those too. I could pore over the pages of the Rand McNally road atlas for hours, just thinking about what goes where. I have no idea why I associate the two things, but I also love old-fashioned keys.

10. Anything with that dry, crumbly shortbread-ish consistency. Scones? Check. Cobbler? Yes indeed-y. Hamentaschen? You betcha. (This is actually about my love of butter, I think. Right?) Update: I forgot biscuits. And cornbread. Yum.

Want to do a favorite things post? Let us see!