Friday, December 25, 2009

A photo addendum to a recent post...

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis you might recall my recent mention about a flimsy corkscrew which I fought the winter elements to purchase.

Here is the photo evidence of it's craptastic-ness

See that shard of metal unceremoniously protruding from the top of the cork? Yep, thats the coil which BROKE OFF during it's second attempt at opening a bottle.  Thankfully Jürgen had his wine key on him and we were able to enjoy our vino, with Neill, as we did some final Christmas wrapping and baking.

Is the universe trying to keep me from drinking?

Oh yes, and a very Merry Christmas to all.  Stories and photos are forthcoming.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A girl and her Wine

Yesterday marked the first official snowfall of the holiday season here in Ol' NY.  I witnessed its coming: from the tease of flurries on my face as I walked to the train on my way to work, to the full on falling of flakes as I emerged from underground, and the whirlwind of white that greeted me as I exited work.  I really do love snow when it first falls and begins to stick. It's so pure.  It glistens like flecks of glitter in the moonlight and everything looks clean, white, simple.

To me, a snowy Saturday night is a perfect excuse to crack open a bottle of wine and wrap yourself in a blanket  After much debating with myself (while trying to stay warm at work), I decided I would pay a visit to the wine outlet by my house (how convenient!) and treat myself to a bottle of warm red goodness. This would be categorized as an unnecessary expenditure, but I have been working hard with only sporadic days off, and I deserved a little holiday cheer.  Plus I have recently discovered the joys of Argentinian wines, particularly Malbec's.  I grabbed a bottle with my friend Brittany a few weeks ago and was blown away by its complexity, especially since it only cost $7.99! Usually I find wines at the price to be a bit one note, that hit you hard in the mouth when you first take a sip and then quickly die therafter.  Don't get me wrong, I will still drink them, and happily, but I like my wines to give me a little something to think about.

Jürgen and I have heard from several sources that Argentinean wines are one of the "best bets" in the wine world today.  Not only because they are producing some great tasting vinos down south, but you get a lot of bang for your buck, as a great majority of them can be found for twenty dollars or less. This is music to my wine loving ears, because with a rent payment looming and holiday shopping,  any extra change is scarce.  I have now committed myself to trying many varietals from various vineyards.  I shall report back.  This will be very. hard. work.

Back to the story at hand....I braved my way through the growing blanket of snow on the yet unplowed streets of Queens and headed to the liquor store, conveniently located right off of the train.  Once inside I perused the Argentinian section, was was pretty impressive, and settled on a bottle of Auka, a Malbec from 2007 with a price tag of only $9.99.  The frightful weather outside wasn't going to get me down, I was armed with a bottle of wine, and plans for a rockin' solo Saturday night (Jürg was at work). So, with the snow falling vigorously on my back, I trudged along home.

Once inside, I slipped off my snow-caked boots (red UGG's, not appropriate snow weather boots FYI), changed into some sweats and dried the snow off my hair.  I fed the kitties, pulled the bottle from the bag and began to settle into my Saturday night.  I was met with only one small problem: where was my wine key? I began to search in the natural places: the kitchen all purpose drawer, the utensil caddy, under the bathroom sink, you know, the usual.  It was nowhere to be found.  I was utterly confounded when it hit me-Jürgen had it.  He is required to have one at his new job, and has been taking ours to work with him.  What was I to do?!?!

I plopped myself down at the kitchen table and mulled over my options: I could either forgo the wine drinking for the evening, and save the bottle for another day.  Or I could suit back up and head outside to battle Old Man Winter once again in search for a wine opener.

(Apparently I also had a third option, which would have been to take a knife and jam the cork down into the wine, but this didn't occur to me, because after all, I am a lady.)

Well, nothing gets between a girl and her wine, so it was back into the trenches for me.  I decided to turn right outside my doorway first, as I recalled a small convenience store of sorts not too far down the road, which could help me in my quest.  The snow was still falling and drifts were beginning to form, but I bounced over them and walked through the streets, as no one was driving.  I must have looked like a little bounding sleeping bag in my ankle length down coat, but I am telling you, this coat is my winter savior, and makes battles like these possible.  I asked the man behind the counter if he sold any wine openers.  No dice. I held back the urge to tell the man he needs to re-think his inventory.

The only option now was to head back to the original point of purchase: the wine outlet.  It's a little over five minute walk, which is made much more difficult when you have to walk into the blustery snow. Those little fluffy flakes I waxed poetic about a few paragraphs ago, well they are little bastards that stung my face with each step.  I tried to cover my face with my hands, but my gloves were now wet with ice and made my lips burn.  There were a few times I opted to walk backwards, letting my back take the brunt, which slowed me down considerably.  I saw another woman doing the same, and I couldn't help but chuckle and maybe start to cry at the same time.  It always amazes me how harsh weather brings people together.  No matter what walk of life you come from, when you are out braving the elements with others you are suddenly all on the same page.  I recalled times in Chicago, when  huge gusts of wind would almost knock down and entire train platform of people, and you would literally hear a collective scream from the crowd.  Weather doesn't discriminate.

Like a hawk searching for prey, I was determined to have my wine, and when I walked through the outlet doors I was a woman on a mission.  I opted for a wing corkscrew, as opposed to a waiters cork screw.  I have never been particularly proficient with that tool (many a cork has seen it's demise by me and my wine key), and headed back out, one final time.  The walk home was, for some reason, much easier.  The weight of the wine opener in my left pocket encouraged me with each step, and I took the time to notice the snow once again, apologizing for cursing at it earlier.  By the time I reached my apartment a small mogul had formed and you couldn't even see the front step, but a kind man opened the door for me and I stomped the snow off my boots as I walked up the stairs.

Back inside the comforts of my home once again, I made a beeline for the kitchen, where my bottle stood proud and ready to be consumed.  I called home to regale my mom with stories of my journey as I began to pull out my cork, but another cog had formed in the wheel: my brand new cork screw began to crap put on me and get itself stuck.

This battle was getting ugly.

It only cost me a few bucks, and certainly wasn't the definition of fine craftsmanship, but it seemed sturdy enough.  However I would twist the coil through the cork and about halfway through it would give up, for no reason other than it wanted to smite me and keep me from enjoying my night.  I started to twist, then push the arms, allowing the cork to move up a few centimeters, and when I would try to twist again it would only push it back down into the neck of the bottle. The vicious cycle continued, and I even called the situation a "disaster" to my mom, who was on the phone listening to my struggles.  Breathing heavily, I looked at the bottle, cork half in, with a pathetic excuse for a corkscrew sticking out of the top, and I began to wimper at the thought of having to wave a white flag and admit defeat. I couldn't push the cork in, and the coil was too far into the neck of the bottle to break to the cork in half.  finally I pushed the two wimpy arms back down, gripped the entire opener in my hands, steadied the bottle between my knees, and began to slowly, methodically pull the cork out.  I moved my hands lightly from side to side, while pulling up at the same time, and magically I bagan to feel the pesky cork give way and eventually eject itself from the neck with a loud "POP!"

Eureka! Victory at last! Wine would be mine! I breathed a sigh of relief as I poured the beautiful deep purple juice into my glass.  I cuddled up on my chair, with a glass in one hand, a remote in the other, and partook in the joys of Iron Chef America and a snowy Saturday night. The wine was tasty, no comparison to the wine I shared with Brittany, but still all the more sweet after such a hard fought battle.

I'll say it again: Nothing gets between a girl and her wine.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Bit of Perspective

I'll admit I was guest at my own pity party today.  It was another one of those days, but while I was at work I read this story:

Life has a funny way of letting you know when you are being ungrateful and silly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog Love

Ok I am a woman obsessed.  A few weeks ago I finally discovered the brilliance of the blog Orangette.  I had been introduced to it earlier this year and had read and entry or two, but for some reason the universe pulled me back to the site and I fell head over heels in love.  For weeks I was smitten and spent any free time I could reading every entry from 2004 until this past Saturday. The blog is an exploration of food and contains positivley stomach rumbling recipes and drool-worthy photographs, all written and taken by Molly Weizenberg.  She had a new book come out earlier this year called A Homemade Life which I now covet.  I highly recommend you make way to her site. You will not be dissapointed.  Literally there were times when I would gasp and cover my mouth in amazement, her writing is so beautiful, so funny and inspiring.  I think Molly and I would make great friends.  My idol used to be SJP, it is now Molly Weizenberg.

Orangette aside, I have a growing list of fantastic blogs that I read on a daily basis, and I figured there was no time like the present to show they a little love via cyberspace.  I am a giver, what can I say?  Take a gander at them won't ya?

31 Flavors (an exciting challenge!)
A Bird, A Carpenter, and a Baby (*warning* cute baby pictures contained inside)
Anna's World (*warning* MORE cute baby pictures contained inside)

Chattababy (new name! same great blog)
Colombe du Jour (don't read on an empty stomach)
Don't Mess with  Lindsey (Texas will never be the same)
Eco to the People (going green, while saving green)
Erica's Battle Blog (so moving and inspring)
Kevin Weinstein Photography (images that will melt your heart)
Life Between Naps (get ready to laugh so hard you cry)
Save My Hippie (an inspiring site from a Broadway actress)
Practical Cooperation (*warning* EVEN MORE cute baby pictures conatined inside--clearly I have a thing for babies!)

The Broke-Ass Bride (a blog that has exploded in the past year and a half.  The author will be a star, I have no doubt).

I am always on the hunt for new great blogs to add to my blogroll.  Have some suggestions? I would love to hear- post a comment below!

Happy reading to all, and to all a goodnight!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Paper Christmas

Christmas this year will be one of many firsts: my first Christmas in New York, my first Christmas as a married lady, and my first Christmas with a one dimensional Christmas Tree.

I love a good Christmas tree, preferably a real live one the fills your nose with wafts of pine every time you walk in the room. I love the ritual of decorating a Christmas tree: returning to the box of ornaments every year and recalling where each one came from, untangling the blasted Christmas hooks from one another, and listening to Mannheim Steamroller on the CD player (I am a child of the '90's).  In fact I enjoy Christmas trees so much that I have been collecting Christmas ornaments since I graduated from college. I even had an Ornament Shower, before I got married.  My bounty of arbor accessories is growing nicely and I have several tubs full of them in my basement.  Which is in Chicago.  Not so convenient when you now live in New York.

When a move halfway across the country doesn't feel truly permanent it's hard to know what to bring along with you.  Needless to say the ornaments didn't make the cut.  We wouldn't have had the proper storage space here, and having two frisky kittens made me fearful of them swatting at the dangley, shiny objects and knocking the entire tree over.  I imagined being sound asleep, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, being awoken to a loud crash, only to find my wonderful collection shattered across the living room floor.  Not a pretty picture.

However I couldn't let the Christmas season go by without some sort of tree.  It just wouldn't be right.  Not wanting to spend money on a cheap plastic tree, it finally dawned on me to make one of my own.  I consulted with my artistically gifted brother, and he agreed.  So last night we set about constructing our very first Paper Christmas Tree.

It's simple really.  You start out with some green and brown construction paper, tape and scissors.

We also chose to drink Champagne, which is entirely optional, but highly encouraged. Oh, and it's super helpful to have Christmas tunes blaring from your TV.  We didn't have any Steamroller, but we pressed on.

You then begin with a base and decide on your height.

If you have two kitties they will most likely want to be in on the action.  It's best not to fight with them about this.

Then begin the basic construction.

 Neill did this and I was relegated to "assistant taper".  I am a master with scotch tape.  He is much better at conceptualizing the entire design, and I, in turn, am better with the smaller details. We actually made a very good team.

(Stanley agrees). 

Once the tree is created you go back to add some "realistic" edging for a more polished look.

Then come the ornaments.  We purchased about ten sheets of shiny finished paper from Blick Art Supply, which I traced and cut into various sizes of circles, and diamonds. The kitties had a field day.

Neill was a whiz at making some gorgeous bells, and a tree topper.  After about an hour, and half a roll of tape, and a bottle of Champagne later, viola!

Our first Paper Christmas Tree! So much fun, very easy, and affordable (only $20!) to make.  The overhead lighting doesn't do much to flatter our tree, but it looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

I will certainly miss the smell, the feel, and the 3D-ness of it's predecessors, but I am very proud of our creative approach to Christmas this year.  Plus it was a great brotherly, sisterly, Tuesday evening activity.  If I wanted to get really crafty I could make a wreath to put on the door, but I will need more Champagne for that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Heart is Heavy...

New York...REALLY? I just moved here and now you slap me in the face with your injustice.

You can read the article there, but I cannot tell you how much it upsets me that we even have to argue about the issue of marriage equality.  Whatever happened to "with liberty, and justice, for ALL" or the whole "we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created EQUAL."

I hold onto hope in my heart that someday my children will read about this time in history and think we were fools for dragging our feet about this.  The time will come...until then we must have hope. 

                                                    "Hope will never be silent"
                                                                     -Harvey Milk

NYC: One Month In

Tuesday marked my one month anniversary with the faire New York, and it's hard to believe time has moved so quickly. It's true when they say everything moves faster in old New York (I am sure Sinatra sang about that at some point).

Despite the months rather unexpected begining, the whole of it has been fairly calm.  A grid system to decipher, jobs to apply for, and insecurities to overcome not withstanding, but life has a funny way of chugging right along no matter what city you find yourself in.

Thinking back on the past months changes, the one major change that sticks out in my mind has actually been a change within myself.  You see, I am ashamed to admit it but I have never been particularly good with money.  I was the queen of buying my lunch instead of packing it, ordering a second (or third, or fourth) drink when out with friends, and just making random impulse purchases on a whim.  Most often they were small, but it's the small things that add up to one big bank statement at the end of the month.  My theme song from time to time may have sounded something like:

"A ching-ching here, a ching-ching there, here a ching, there a ching, everywhere a ching-ka-ching."

I was very friendly with my debit card. 

However, as if changing time zones somehow changed my internal molecular structure, moving to NYC has made a frugalist out of me.  It's odd, and oddly satisfying.  Literally in no time I have become rather discerning about what I spend, or choose not to spend my, money on. I pack my lunch every day, I take pleasure in having friends over, and pride in the fact that window shopping suits me just fine.  It's as if...I am a real adult or something.  I have to say, I give myself a little pat on the back for this, because no one, especially me, saw this fiscally conservative front coming.

If I am to be totally honest, I know this change would never have transpired had Jürgen not lost his job. Don't get me wrong I wish his show was still running, but I am strangely happy to have been handed this challenge.  It's nice when you finally realize what you really need to be satisfied, and to know you are capable of adapting and changing. 

Someone once told me "New York City is a great place to live, if you have money."  I would beg to differ. I think New York is a great place to live, if you have friends, loved ones, kitties, and a bank account full of dreams.