Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Rituals

One of my favorite annual traditions is, but of course, French. Not only is it French, it also involves wine. 
 Having lived in Paris for a year and dated a Frenchmen (make that a Parisian) for a year (that makes two years of assimilation), I have witnessed the strikes (les grèves), many variations of tartare, some very cerebral films (les amants règuliers comes to mind), runny egg yolks, among other je ne sais quoi. . . very French things.
One ritual that I love involves French pastry.  It is called Galette des Rois, which a frangipane filled tart that is eaten on the day of the Epiphany (the first Sunday of the New Year).  A fève (nowadays a plastic trinket of a king) is baked inside the cake. The cake is to be divided into equal parts and served completely, except for one piece. Whoever eats the piece with the fève inside gets to act like the roi (king) and boss everyone around for the day. As well as, I suppose, eat the remaining slice of galette. 

But let's get to the wine. The galette story was just an amuse-bouche.  One of my favorite French things is Beaujolais Nouveau.  Once a year, on the third Thursday of November, this wine is released.  It is fermented right before its arrivé (arrival).  It is intended for immediate drinking (this I like!) The Beaujolais wine indicates the quality of the year's regional wine harvest. In Paris, cafes were crowded on Beaujolais day.  The first bottles were opened when the clock struck midnight and people drank up, speculating whether it would be a good year for viticulture.  Regardless of the verdict, it is always a fun night. I am sipping on some 2011 right now and I think it is going to be a good year. Santé!   

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On Seattle and its surroundings. . .

I have been out of town for the Thankgiving holiday.  Sorry for the blogness days and nights, dear readers. I really did need to get away.  However, I will be integrating myself back in society sometime soon.  First with a plane ride, then with a cell phone turned ON, and finally with some high-speed internet.  I have been taking it easy on the connectivity this week, though I cannot resist posting a few photos to Le Facebook and texting the family and friends with encouragements to eat a lot.  
Seattle has been rainy and grey, but not in a negative sense, in a very cozy and relaxing sense.  The weather encouraged me to consume many cups of coffee, tea, and wine.  It smells like Fir trees and cinnamon and wet pavement.  There have been long conversations, hours of book-reading, baking, running in the rain, and trips on the ferry across the Puget Sound. This city always seems to glisten and sparkle. For me, it is a magical place.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On How Staying in is the New Going Out To a Fancy Place

Last night some friends came over.  We stayed in.  We ate great food. We drank good wine.  We watched video clips from the internet.  We tried on clothes.  We laughed. We lounged about. We listened to music. We talked. It was the perfect little evening just staying in.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On What I Want to Watch

One of my favorite evening activities is going to see a movie, especially as the days get darker sooner. I currently have two films on my must-see list (having seen 50/50 and Moneyball, both I would recommend).  

 The first, Like Crazy, looks like a tear-jerker.  Watch the trailer here.  I am a crier when it comes to movies so avoid me for this one. The trailers just tear my heart out. The official website synopsis puts it nicely, "Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating."Gah, I have been so sentimental about love lately.  Hopefully this movie will purge me of those feelings or lead me to the path of another hopeless romantic just like me.  

 The second, The Descendants, is the work of Alexander Payne (who directed Sideways and About Schmidt).  Trailer: here. It stars George Clooney as his frumpier (ahem tucked in Hawaiian shirts) than usual self (wholly attractive nonetheless).  In short, his wife is involved in a boating accident that renders her in a vegetative state just as Clooney finds out she has been having an affair.  The movie explores where he goes from there.  Seems like a quite a starting point. . . 

 Looks like this weekend I will be packing for my Thanksgiving vacation, writing an Architecture research paper, and clearly, procrastinating by going to the movies. Who is with me?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On My Posh Polish

Last season I was all about the neutral tan nail lacquer, but I have just made the switch to a richer, fuller color for late fall/winter. I call them my red wine nails, but you can call them plum. Très chic.

On Music for A Rainy Day

The skies in LA have been dramatic this weekend. The clouds look like they are just waiting to open up and shower us with a cold, hard rain.  In any event, I have been feeling quite cozy this evening. It is the perfect night for Pandora, a sweater & slippers, red wine, a home-cooked meal and a little blogging. I usually find myself listening to Feist on nights like this. It is fitting because her concert is happening down the street from me this very moment (@the Wiltern).  I also tend to like Radiohead when the weather is foreboding.  The Black Keys, Midlake, Au Revoir Simone and Bon Iver (I imagine he would be good to listen to when it snows!) are others I would recommend on a delightful night of R&R.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On My Sis

If my sis and I were characters in an Aesop's Fable (which we thankfully are not) we would be in "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse".  As the town mouse, I would be boastful about the splendors of the city while she, the country mouse, would devote her life to a place bucolic.  

For one, I live in the most densely populated area in Los Angeles and my sister lives in a remote part of New Hampshire that I always confuse with Maine.

My sister's life in the country is the exact opposite of the life I have found for myself in the city. My sister wakes up (most likely to the sound of a rooster crowing) so that she can feed her goats organic something-something (whatever goats eat?. . . . sweaters?) before the sun comes up.  I wake to the sound of a bus announcing the name of its route ("Line 204 Vermont and Sunset") to then run around some blocks of the city grid before shoving off to urban design class where I learn about development.  

I depend on the grocery store for food, retailers for clothes, the Metro/my scooter/cars for mobility, and spending money to make money while my sister lives in true subsistence.  

Unlike the mice in the fable, we don't really bicker about our differences, but use them to make our relationship more interesting.  I don't, by any means, reject her lifestyle.  It does, after all, include this little guy: 

Tiny Hill Farm

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On Maps

I like maps, like really like them.  When I was a little girl I used to sit in the back of the car and instead of playing with my very hip, older sister I would ask my dad to borrow the Rand McNally road atlas and would study it the whole way there.  I remember being reluctant to give it back even in the case my parents took a wrong turn along the way.  You see, this map reading was really no big deal when we were going to one of my grandma's houses which was in PA or to my aunt's in DC (ok eight hours worth of map reading) BUT the trip I am referring to is when we used to drive to our house in Nova Scotia, Canada which is exactly 1,000 miles from our house in Connecticut.  We are talking 2-2.5 days straight in the car.  Two days straight of Rand McNally and I was more than fine. 
Years later, I am learning how to make my own maps and I am loving every tedious minute of it. 
The maps on my current lust list: 
Unusual Restaurants Around the World (courtesy of my friend Candace)
The Size of Subway Systems Comparatively (please note the URL: Fake is the New Real. . not sure about that one)