Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Her plans required all her time and attention..." ~ Jane Eyre

Two weeks ago, this *serious* clipboard from Levenger arrived on my front doorstep with the following note: "To the best BridesMaidZilla-The most serious clipboard I can find! Thank you in advance with love-J.Sarah." Being given this clipboard is like Grendel being given an extra set of sharp claws.

Two months ago, J.Sarah and I made a serious bet over dinner. We bet that whoever talks about the wedding the most to the point of complete excessiveness will be taken to dinner; we would decide by September whether she talked too much about it or I did. As I looked at her naive personage from across the table at Grand Luxe Cafe, I inwardly sighed. Didn't she know that she had just set herself up to lose?

Two days ago, I got this email from J. Sarah in response to my email that demanded immediate visitation to the wedding venue so I could get a sense of the space and decor I am working with: "You just won our bet, by the way. Why? Because I'm planning to go back to the place to start planning in, oh, JANUARY!" Well, that is fine for her, but not fine for me. If I am going to be of assistance with anything at this point, I must have a visual of the venue. Any wedding coordinator would say the same thing. Period. So, I called already and left a message at the venue to make an immediate appointment to see it.

Two months from today, my goal is to have a general sense of logistics for the day, in addition to a database to give to J. Sarah on top of the one she has for all items pertaining to the wedding. I wonder if she and E would be interested in a power-point presentation? Hmmmm. I shall have to ask. Anyway, within two months I also have plans to head to Sylvia Weinstock to order her cake for her bridal shower. I cannot wait to meet with Sylvia again; this shall be the second time in my life I order a cake from her. The third time is the charm, for I know it will be a cake for my own wedding someday. Of course that will not be a blog-worthy time; more like a reality television show on the WE Network.

So, since I won the bet, some dinner cuisine choices J. Sarah gave me are as follows: Sushi, Australian, New-American, Indian, or Greek. I am leaning towards Greek at Parea: http://events.nytimes.com/2006/07/05/dining/reviews/05rest.html

Greek seems like the perfect cuisine to discuss a big, fat wedding over.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Do your thoughts wander then?" ~ Jane Eyre

Thursday's Thursday Thoughts...

~ I think Malavasia is delicious. J. Sarah brought me back a small cask from Sicily and I am sipping some this evening in a small liquor glass. It is better than any port or sherry I have had of late, and that includes a delicious blueberry port from Duck Walk Vineyards.
~ There are thunderstorms again here in New York, and the sky right now sounds like library shelves crashing down. I have Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" stuck in my head. I just finished an excellent book by Emily Giffin titled Something Borrowed, and Bruce's lyrics to that song become thematically entangled into the story quite beautifully. The roads here are certainly filled with thunder and lightening right now.
~ J. Sarah and I just made plans to go see the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Whitney in two weeks. We are big fans of Hopper. Pre-foodie days, J. Sarah and I were known to hit a Chinese place for dinner around here called Tofu. The above painting "Chop Suey" by Hopper reminds me of J.Sarah and I at a table together, sipping oolong tea.
~ Today I tutored Connie; part of her summer assignments with me is for her to read The New York Times daily. We had a really great conversation about politics in the Middle East this afternoon. It is refreshing to get the perspective of a sixteen year old. It gives me hope that future generations will let go of anger and hate and violence. To quote her: "It makes me want to stand up on the top of the world and yell down to everyone, "Cant we all get along and eat ice cream together?" Connie and I had ice cream together this afternoon that was Korean. I cant think of any culture that doesn't have some sort of sweet creamed dessert in it. She has a point.
~ I think Panera Bread has become one of my favorite eateries over the past few years for a quick bite. I ate half a sandwich tonight from Panera. It is my favorite one there: the frontega chicken panini. It is grilled rosemary and onion foccacia with chicken, tomatoes, red onion, and cheese inside. I can't believe I ate just half, but I am proud that I did.
~ I bought six jars of Got2be Kicked Up Hard Jelly today. I think this is, by far, the best hair product my curls have ever experienced. I dont need six jars, but it is so good that I fear ever running out of such an amazing gel. Who knew gluey glop could make these curls so perfect?
~ Linda invited me to the U.S. Open with her this year; I thought that was so kind of her. I think it is for a daytime pass on the first Friday. I went a few years ago with Cassie and we watched Venus play at Arthur Ashe. It was such a special sporting event. As much as I love getting down and dirty with overflowing beer in paper cups at a baseball game, there was something so nice about sipping red wine in my seat as I watched perfect backhands from Venus.
~ Jack has a small eye infection (a clogged tear duct) that has me sad and upset. It is nothing, of course, but it is awful knowing he is in discomfort. When I saw him today, his eye was all red and my heart sank. Of course I project discomfort on him because I assume he is, but meanwhile he seemed very happy to be pulling my hair and giggling as we took a few steps on the floor.
~ I read some poems by Walt Whitman today; I think I have not read enough Whitman lately. I want to sit down with Leaves of Grass this weekend.
~ I have a very odd fascination of late with the piano-playing capabilities of Condi. I think I would be very interested to hear her play in her quartet. Robin and Missy played the piano as children, but I was too busy with ballet classes to learn it. Instead, I played the cello whilst in school. No, I was no Yo-Yo Ma. I am sure most musicians agreed that my cello playing abilities were quite a no-no.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"A kind of pleasant stupor was stealing over me..." ~ Jane Eyre

Last night I was in a sushi stupor thanks to my samurai-esque sidekick, my twin sister.

I had been craving slabs of slimey raw fish over starch for a good week, and I needed a fix badly. I am very fortunate that I can depend on my family members for anything, especially my twin. While at work yesterday afternoon, my itch for iciban was getting worse. I called her for help.

There was no time for formalities. I said hi and immediately presented my problem: I was in a bad hamachi maki withdrawal. She had informed me that she already ate sushi the night before at Sushi-Ya. I had a brief moment of sadness; I did not want to eat sushi alone in my apartment - it is the only food that I love that needs to be eaten right where it was made. However, being the amazing sister that she is, she understood. Considering the help she has given me in the past, this assistance from her in the present was easy! So, Homura Sushi it was at 7:30pm. I already felt better, kind of like the way a little wasabi makes soy sauce taste better.

Robin was the first in this Armenian family to eat sushi. She started cautiously with California roll, but she has since become a sushi aficionado. With coaxing from her and J.Sarah, I, too, became a sushi aficionado. Robin is definitely a Spicy Tuna Roll and Sake girl, but she branches out quite nicely. Of late, I think I have one-upped her with my fondness for unagi. Yes, that would be eel. I am still too chicken to try the octopus raw. Then again, she one-ups me in the Japanese beverage department because I can't handle sake very well.

My sister Missy and my brother-in-law have also developed a palate for sushi, so we have some take-in nights together which are always quite enjoyable. My mother does not like the fact that her three children and son-in-law consume raw fish with pleasure. Lectures have come up, but they are quickly ended. Still, I did buy baby Jack a book called, My First Book of Sushi just to get her riled up. She gets upset when I tell her Jack could start eating sushi when he is around five years old. "Four years to make sure he won't," she quips.

At 28, my sisters and I don't really listen to my mother anymore, so last night I picked up Robin from the train station and we went straight to dinner. I love the sushi restaurant experience of getting a nice hot washcloth to wipe my hands on before dinner and the awesome Asian elevator music that plays in the background. Homura is actually pretty funky and has some great decor, but at least the towel and the music are classic sushi spread.

I love my conversations with sis over sushi. We always have fun and enjoy ourselves, but the conversation always leads to discussing being single and dating. Cliche Sex and the City, but there is a reason why that show is so popular! Since I am on a dating break(whew!), I got to hear Robin dish last night about dating. Its kind of hard being objective as a sister. I basically feel that if the potential male does not treat her like the Queen of Sheba and isn't perfect in 99% of the ways, he has no business with sis. I think I am more harsh than my father is. And I like it that way.

I thanked Robin profusely for having sushi again, because I was so excited to be in that chair at that table watching the sushi chefs make my plate. The waitress came and I gave her the biggest smile I had.

Nothing goes with a nice, buttery textured yellowtail piece than a niece buttery textured chardonnay. When I crave sushi, it is always either with a glass of white wine or with a Kirin Light. I had the chardonnay last night; it is a perfect pairing for fish. I ordered Sushi Regular, and it came with miso soup. I love miso soup and can eat it even on the hottest night in the summer and feel good. Sis did a mix of sushi and sashimi, but we decided that we were not hungry enough for edamame, are other usual order when dining out at a Japanese restaurant.

The only thing I regret about sushi dinners with sis is that they don't last long enough, because after sharing a room as kids I feel we still don't spend enough time together, but at least there is always the next week go back out again for some excellent Tekka Maki!

Some Sushi Sundries
~ I have a major crush on Iron Chef Morimoto and in my dreams he teaches me how to make sushi.
~ My favorite roll is yellowtail and scallion.
~ I place only a dab of wasabi in my soy sauce and I do not use ginger.
~ I have mad chopstick skills.
~ My first visit to Nobu was wasted on me (this was pre-sushi me) and I had chicken teriyaki. A shame, isn't it? I have made up for it since.
~ One of my favorite restaurants in the city is Japanese, but it does not serve sushi. It serves small plates (kind of like tapas gone Japanese). It is called Kasadela.
~ I always say I will order Chirashi because it looks so good and I never do.
~ I had a hard time when my friend Pops took me to Monster Sushi last summer. I don't care how big your mouth is, the sushi served there will not fit. It gets messy.
~ Green tea after sushi is a must in the wintertime.
~ One of the best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm involves Larry being called "chicken teriyaki boy" at a sushi bar.

Sushi Sites (and Kasadela)
~ http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1582460507/103-0108382-5991013?v=glance&n=283155

~ http://kasadela.com/

~ http://www.chefmorimoto.com/

~ http://www.noburestaurants.com/

~ http://www.echopsticks.org/how-to-use-chopsticks.html

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Well, for sure!" ~ Jane Eyre

Things I am Sure Of:

1) A charcoal grill is better than a gas grill.
2) At least 2/3 of my students are not doing their summer reading assignments right now.
3) William Shakespeare is the best writer to have ever lived.
4) My maid-of-honor dress for J. Sarah's wedding shall be green.
5) I have the best family and friends.
6) The Mets will not win the World Series this year and the Yankees may.
7) Dogs are a far more superior animal to cats.
8) Coffee is a basic neccesity to sustain life.
9) The amount of times Hillary Clinton has engaged in sexual intercourse in her lifetime could be counted on just one hand.
10) The best bagels in New York are at the Bagel Club in Bayside.
11) Rachel Ray is a complete moron.
12) If you have ice cream in a root beer float, it doesnt count as dessert. It counts as having a soft drink. Therefore, ice cream for dessert later on is acceptable.
13) Cilantro tastes like soap.
14) Any math besides basic math has absolutely no relevance in my life.
15) I will never try jellyfish salad, no matter how much of a delicacy it is in some regions of Asia.
16) There are other life forms out there in the universe, however I am also sure that we will not come into contact with any of these forms.
17) The fact that I pay $9 round trip when I drive into New York City is robbery by the MTA.
18) Golf is the most boring sport to watch, both live and on television.
19) Brunettes have more fun than blonds.
20) Diamonds are a girl's best friend; pearl's are a woman's best friend.
21) The new movie version being made of Kerouac's On the Road will not be as good as the book.
22) Sleeping with two pillows is better than sleeping with one.
23) I make excellent gnocci.
24) D.R. is my hero.
25) NPR is the best radio station for news.
26) The Turkish government and people will one day admit to the Armenian Genocide; the truth always prevails.
27) The Loch Ness Monster is real.
28) White Zinfindel is not wine.
29) I have at least four books overdue at the library right now. I usually have two at any given time, but in the summer the number increases.
30) The food diary J. Sarah and I have will be published one day.
31) I have an unhealthy relationship with my car (i.e. I refer to him as my baby).
32) My visit to the Hershey Hotel and Spa shall be yearly after this year's first visit.
33) Oswald acted alone when he assassinated JFK (saw a great documentary on the History Channel about this subject a few weeks ago).
34) I will not retire an English teacher.
35) I will go see Les Miz for the sixth time this fall when it comes back to Broadway.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Conflict with human weakness..." ~ Jane Eyre

Last fall, a professor challenged me with this statement after I presented a proposal for a paper that involved Denise Levertov's poetry about Vietnam: "So, perhaps human beings need war to be creative, and maybe the best works of art are because war exists, whether it be thematic or indirect. Without war, there would be no creativity."

My mouth gaped and such a statement; I was rendered speechless for a moment - but just a moment. I always recover to argue; I should be a lawyer. I should. I was able to disagree with him by stating that war is so horrific that artists need an outlet as a catharsis in order to deal with its horrors, that is the true reason why so many great works of art stem from war.

I believe I am right in my analysis, almost a year later.

This past week I find myself lethargic when it comes to my writing. I lack the energy to type, and I have lapse in my responses to other writers and in my comments to them. Indeed, the world seems to be on fire. I am deeply concerned about Israel this week. This Armenian woman knows what it is like for a people to fight to survive and exist. The events of this week just add to a conglomerate of concern for that entire region.

This is the true reason as to why I do not sleep well anymore.

Some days I tell myself that I might as well be living in 1968. My insides are as tight and my heart is as heavy as any other person living in the U.S. during that year who had a friend or loved one serving in the military. I anger quickly anytime I mention I know someone there and they think they are comforting me by talking politics. What does politics have to do with this scenario? How is bashing Bush going to make me feel better? It doesn't. I do enough of that in my own head, thank you. Still, there are others who have been quite a comfort of late; ironically, most of them are practically strangers. Indeed, these moments of comfort illustrate humanity at its best.

Much of my comfort lies in art. The poems like that of Denise Levertov, the lyrics of musicians, the literature of great epic poets and writers, the images of artists. All of these tend to lessen the the stressors involved whilst watching the evening news. The following poem is by Denise Levertov. Each morning I open my door to a huge array of hydrangeas, desiring nothing but peace, and I think about this poem.

July 1968

Topmost leaves of young oak,
young maple,
are red - a delicate red
almost maroon.

I am not young,
and yet not yet old. Young enough not to be able
to imagine my own old age. Something in me

puts out new leaves that are red also,
delicate, fantastic, in June,
early summer, late spring up in the north.

A dark time we live in. One would think
there would be no summer. No red leaves.
One would think there would be

no drawings-up of the blind at morning
to a field awake with flowers.
Yet with my tuft of new leaves

it is that field I wake to,
a woman foolish with desire.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"At a great city...a huge city..." ~ Jane Eyre

Summer in the city swelters romance, mainly my love for New York in the heat of July and August.

Granted, I do have the best of both worlds and live inbetween the city and the beach, and I have not had the experience of living in the city throughout the summer, but summertime in New York City is amazing at many moments. I always say that I would rather be walking down a city street in 100 degree weather than in 30 degree weather. Ironically, the city seems most alive in the summertime.

What I love about NYC Summers:

~ Shakespeare in the Park: I have been fortunate enough to see Shakespeare in the Park twice at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, thanks to J.Sarah and her mom! We saw productions of Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing over the past few years. The Delacorte is so small, so every seat is a perfect view to Shakespeare's genius. The above statue of Romeo and Juliet is right outside of the Delacorte Theatre. Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies (especially to teach), and the production I saw in 2004 was excellent. Jimmy Smits was Benedick, Kristen Johnson was Beatrice, and their excellent banter captured the sexy foreplay that Shakespeare intended the character's barbs to be.

~ Al Fresco Dining: The city empties a bit on weekends, so dining out at popular restaurants becomes a great deal easier! Still, there are some places that become packed even in the hot summer months, but that is part of the excitement of the city in the summer. One of my favorite memories of outdoor eating was dining with J. Sarah on the rooftop of Sushi Samba. We had to wait for a table despite a reservation, and once we arrived on the beautiful rooftop in Greenwich Village, we were both tipsy on mojitos. The Meatpacking District opens up its doors during the summer, spilling diners out onto the sidewalk beside the cobblestone streets. Last summer my father and I went bar hopping there after a photography exhibit on the pier. We did drinks in the open aired bar at Markt, sat on the sidewalk at Nero, and then dined French style at Pastis.

~ Desserts: There is ice cream to be had everywhere in New York City, but one of my favorite summer nights which had the best of company and dessert was with Cassie and Mish. After dinner on the L.E.S., we got dessert at Rice to Riches, an amazing place devoted to: rice pudding! The retro style of the place was warm and funky, and it was packed! The cold rice pudding came in dozens of flavors, all placed in a funky kind of plastic bowl. I don't think I am doing this place any justice with my words, so here:

~ Museuming: The museums are kept freezing during the summer months, and there is no better way to escape the heat on the asphalt than to head into one of the museums. There is a Hopper exhibit at the Whitney I plan on seeing within the next few weeks. Edward Hopper is one of my favorite American painters. Being a coffee addict, how can I not love The Nighthawks? A print hangs in my kitchen.

~ The Subway Ride to the Bronx: I don't care how packed the trains become, riding the 4 train up Yankee Stadium is one of the best parts of the summer. Of course I realize the fall as well, since the Yanks are constantly winning in the post-season. Nothing beats a hot afternoon at the stadium, and it gets extra hot for me anytime Derek Jeter comes up to bat, but I manage. There is plenty of cold beer, dippin dots, and "waves" to make me cool and content there.

Some of my favorite memories are in the city during the summer. I remember one great afternoon almost ten years ago when J. Sarah and I went to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side and ate at Ratners when it was still around, followed by Gus's Pickles on Essex Street. Last summer John and I met up in Little Italy for some fun dining out on Mott Street; I still have the image in my head of him riding down on his motorcycle to meet me. I remember as a teenager seeing the Paul Taylor Dance Company outdoors at Lincoln Center; J. Sarah's parents took us since I think we were still in high school at the time. Seeing The Producers with Lane and Broderick with my father was also an exciting summer day in the city. Bryant Park shows a movie every Monday night on a huge screen; people gather on the lawn their to picnic and it is always a huge crowd. During my freshman year of college, I went with three gay friends to see The Wizard of Oz. They went for Judy, but I guess I did, too! I wore my hair in Dorothy pigtails and had such a great time seeing a New York audience react to Mrs. Gulch (lots of boos) and Toto escaping her evil clutches (tons of cheers and claps). Nights out in Astoria in Queens are among my favorites in the summertime. There are so many outdoor Greek cafes, and the Czech Biergarten there is so enjoyable; Cassie and J. Sarah and I are heading there one night next week.

I suppose I can even find the best out of the worst experience in New York City in the summer: the subway. Waiting on the hot, smelly platform is hellish. There are tons of people around, and agitation becomes heightened because of that. Still, stepping into an ice cold subway car after waiting is a refreshing feeling, especially because you know the car is taking you somewhere special in the city.

It would be nice to hear about summertime in other cities/places...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"I watched her glide along the gallery..." ~ Jane Eyre

*the mini-vacation continues...*

I could sit here all day.

I probably shall.

I feel like a summer cliche; its wonderful.

There is a covered glider in my yard, with room enough for two. I glide back and forth , feeling cool in the shade as a breeze sweeps across the yard. I am sipping raspberry lemonade in a large glass with huge pieces of ice. Jonathan Schwartz is on NPR and jazz vocalists are singing about the sadness of a Sunday morning.

I can relate to those songs.

There are black-eyed susans everywhere in the yard. These flowers are special not only because they are pretty, but because they are a precursor to next month's arrival of sunflowers.

Not a cloud is in the sky today, and although I contemplated going back to the beach, I am much happier spending the day in my backyard retreat, meditating and unwinding. The New York Times is sprawled out on the white patio table. For a few hours, the front pages are placed beneath all of the other sections; they are ever-present, but for a few hours I push them to the back of my thoughts. Instead, the Travel section is opened to a feature on San Sebastian.

On occasion I slip back into my apartment to check messages, plan out dinner for the evening, refill my lemonade, and splash my face with cold water.

Sinatra finally comes on the airwaves to croon to me. One for my baby. I place my head back and close my eyes. If I was told I had to choose one voice to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be Frank's.

Schwartz than plays a set of differing versions of Taking a Chance on Love. I begin to think about how nice it would be having someone sit next to me right now on this glider, opening up a bottle of Pindar Summer Blush and sipping away an afternoon in sweet silence. A wave of sorrow comes in with the light breezes.

I then recall the true reason why I am out here. It is to give myself a beautiful day; just myself. I am retreating and relaxing because I am exhausted from all aspects of relationships and dating over the past few years. Wrung out of late, I have just begun to feel rejuvenated today and refreshed, taking a well-deserved break. No chance taking right now; I prefer the security within myself. The sorrow glides away as quickly as it glided in.

So, I then slide right smack into the middle of the glider, taking up all of the room for myself and leaving none for anyone else. A big smile is on my face.

I could sit here all day.

I probably shall.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles..." ~ Jane Eyre

*post originally handwritten at 8 o'clock in the morning*

I sit alone this morning, inhaling the thickly salted sea air and watching white crests of the waves align themselves in perfect symmetry on the horizon.

It is barely past 8 o'clock in the morning. There is no one here except for a few joggers and an entire clan of seagulls, probably still digesting yesterday's food - that is how plump they are underneath their sand-speckled white exteriors.

My coffee is still warm; I sip it slowly. It is a very quiet morning, save the sounds at the shoreline and my sips at a dome lid.

There is a slight chill, especially since the sand surrounding my feet is cold. However, it is refreshing, and my toes feel good with the sand squished in between them. I have no layers on - just my two piece. I smiled when I put it on earlier because I love the pattern and warm colors of the tank.

The notebook page I write on becomes damp by the ocean air. I can already feel my thick curls become damp and salty just by a quick brush on them with my palm. I think I love my hair best when it is like this. It may look a tad wild, but to me it feels perfect.

Moments later, a thick fog rolls in. The density of it makes the line between the ocean and the horizon blend as one. The fog seems a bit apropos because a part of myself feels as if it were in a fog lately. It is not for any one particular reason, rather just a combination of things. I don't come here this morning to escape my life or forget what is happening in the world. I come to sit in peace and reflect more than anything else.

I daydream a bit about Jack at the beach, and I feel a sense of excitement for the family beach days to come when he builds sand castles and tries to dodge the water at the shoreline, as many little ones love to do. I picture him in shark swimtrunks with a little pouch hanging over the waist area, chasing seagulls as his curls become thick with sand. I picture myself happily walking in the hot sand, joyfully burning my feet, to go get him ice cream or frozen fruit bars, and I smile inwardly to myself.

I walked down to the shore line just a moment ago, and a line of seaweed is covered in clusters of sea foam. The foam is beautifully glistening in my eyes, but the seaweed beneath makes my stomach growl. I think tonight I will have to have some miso soup and sushi to appease my seaweed cravings.

My chair is periwinkle. I purchased it at Crate and Barrel a few years back; it was part of their "popsicle chair" line; the back is shaped like the curvature of a popsicle. In my large beach bag, I carry a red, orange, and yellow stripped towel that I have no intention of using this morning. There is sunblock, my keys, my cell phone. The bag also carries my notebook, as well as a great mystery book called "Sticks and Stones" by mystery writer Diana Mott Davidson. (E's mom recommended the series to me since the amateur sleuth is a caterer and there are recipes throughout the books). I will probably read a few pages, but I plan to close my eyes and take a light nap for a while. There is a reason why there are cd's made of ocean waves: it is the most relaxing sound there is in this world.

D.R. was incredulous as to why I was up so early on a weekend morning to go to the beach. I told him that "non-beachies" like himself just don't understand. So, I post these thoughts for the non-beachies, in hopes of converting him...I mean them...into an morning ocean worshipper like me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"She lay some minutes exhausted..." ~ Jane Eyre

I am exhausted this evening, so I hope Kate will not mind the meme I am borrowing from her this evening. I shall not borrow the pistachio biscotti recipe she posted today; I shall take it with pleasure and not return it! It will be perfect with soorj (Armenian coffee) that I make in my jesveh.

5 Things in my Freezer
1) frozen udon noodles from HMart; they are so delicious. I love nabe yake udon, a japanese hot pot with udon noodles, veggies, and shrimp on top.
2) lowfat coffee ice cream
3) Frosty Paw treats for dogs. I had them for Chaz's dog, Bruce. Alas, I shall never see Bruce again, so I suppose I must throw them away.
4) my homemade bolognese sauce
5) frozen edamame

5 Things in my Closet
1) my Burberry quilt jacket in red
2) a red kimono with a black dragon pattern
3) three suits from Ann Taylor Loft
4) my Vera Wang bridesmaid dress from Missy's wedding six years ago
5) my lime green sandals from Banana Republic that I purchased on Newbury Street in Boston

5 Things on my Five Bookshelves (these five do not even constitute 1% of what is on them!):
1) My Shakespeare Nutcracker
2) Hemingway's novels
3) Shakespeare's plays
4) three dictionaries
5) Maupin's Tales of the City series

5 Things in my Handbag:
1) A photo of Jack
2) Chanel lip gloss in "zanzibar"
3) my educator's discount card for Barnes and Noble
4) hand cream
5) to-do lists

5 Items from my To-Do List
1) book a massage
2) go to the bank for a deposit
3) mail car insurance bill
4) call to get carpets cleaned
5) peruse Bobbi Brown counter for makeup ideas for J. Sarah's wedding (I shall also be her makeup artist that day!)

Recipe for Soorj (Armenian Coffee):
This strong coffee can be made sweet, unsweetened, or in between. The long-handed brass pot is called a soorjaman. Coffee should be ground very fine. If you don't have a grinder, Armenian coffee can be purchased in larger supermarkets or Middle Eastern specialty stores. It is traditional in the Middle East to use the coffee grounds (as Oriental tea leaves) to tell the future. After the last sip is taken, the cup is turned upside down on the saucer so that the grounds can run down the sides and form patterns that are "read" to reveal what is in store. *My great grandmother, Haiganoush, did this when she was alive*

2 Tablespoons roasted powdered coffee
1 heaped teaspoon sugar
3 small coffee cups water
tiny pinch ground cardamom
Combine all the ingredients in a long-handled coffee pot or tiny saucepan
Stir well and bring to a boil.
As the froth forms on top, remove the pot from the stove, stir again and return to the heat until the froth rises again.
Be very careful the coffee does not boil over.
Boil it briefly again, then set it aside for a few seconds.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"A noble and beautiful woman - your bride. " ~ Jane Eyre

Sunday afternoon was lovely; it was the kickoff to my best friend's wedding.

Since I am the "fourth sibling" in J.Sarah's clan, I attended a small gathering for the parents of J.Sarah and her fiance E. to meet for the first time at J. Sarah's parents' home. The siblings of both J.Sarah and E. were there, and that included moi. J. Sarah and I have been best friends for almost twenty years, and her parents have been my second set of parentals for a good ten years of the twenty.

The afternoon was a perfect gathering in the yard, complete with a Mediterranean style menu that J. Sarah's mom could only make: grilled lamb, hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki, tarmisilata, greek salad...the list goes on. Desserts were amazing, including J. Sarah's brother's "Baklava Cheesecake." He gave me the recipe, and no, I refuse to give it to anyone. I am convinced he could make a killing on these cheesecakes in communities like my Armenian community. I am going to give it a try in two days...hopefully I can make it as delicious as his was.

The best part of the gathering was the people. E's parents are awesome. It was nice to be with the families and toast the newly engaged couple.

J. Sarah and E. became engaged a little over a month ago, and since then J.Sarah has not been Bridezilla. I, however, have become Bridesmaidzilla, aka BMZ in J.Sarah's vernacular. The bet we have going is that she is going to be so sick of me talking about her wedding come the fall, that dinner will be on here somewhere en la cite du New York.

Last Monday J. Sarah came out to the Island and we spent the afternoon together. I BBQed chicken for us, grilled zucchini, made potato salad, and opened up a bottle of our favorite white wine, Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay, which will be the white wine of the wedding next July.

We sat in my yard, glasses of wine in hand, and perused Martha Stewart Wedding magazines together, gathering ideas and discussing concepts and designs. Most of the conversation was about centerpieces, which excites me to no end since J.Sarah doesnt want a florist. She also told me she thinks I should wear green as her maid of honor. I love the color. Multiple styles shall be posted forthcoming; everyone gets to vote on the style!

She and I discussed the date for her non-traditional bridal shower that I am so very excited about. She didnt want a bridal shower at all, but I came up with an idea she liked. Instead of women coming with gifts, have them come with a dish and a recipe card to put in a Newlywed Cookbook for J. Sarah and E.! Of course I am going to give her the cake (or cupcakes) for that day. I won't have time to bake them myself, since I will be busy coordinating it, but I am sure she will love who made dessert.

Last month I posted that my dream job would be a wedding coordinator. Well, now here is my chance! I already plan on being the first one at the site of the wedding making sure that everything is in order. The numbers of each business involved will be on my cell phone, and I will wear that ear piece until the guests start to arrive just in case.

I plan on making friends with the caterer in advance so my bitchiness that day will be excused when I am irate that there is a cracker that is cracked. In my former days as an assistant director of events, I learned how to talk sternly through my smiling teeth, and to say please with a side of extra bitch in the sweetness. Yes, I will have a folder under my clipboard that has a checklist. The folder will have all contracts on me just in case I get any lip back so I can "throw paper" in the person's face. My best friend's wedding will run perfectly smooth, or this 'zilla is going to roar.

She is the best, and therefore her wedding has to be the best.

I just hope that J. Sarah has me and E.'s best man make the toast at the beginning of the reception, because once I make sure every last flower petal is in place, its time to hit a bottle of Scuttlehole Chardonnay and dance the night away in my green dress...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"These objects were visible..." ~ Jane Eyre

There are over 200 photos of Key West taken between me and my father! I chose 50 I wanted to share on my blog, but placing them all together seemed like it would be too time consuming and too long. Hence, I am dividing the photos up into categories; I shall post a set once a week! I wanted to start with images that struck me during the trip, mainly artistic images. There were so many amazing works of art and amazing designs in Key West. The following images dazzled me the most. The text for each photo is below each frame.

It is no surprise that this statue of a matador and a bull sits in Papa Hemingway's home! It was on his coffee table in the living room. Although I have read many manuscripts and seen many photos of Hemingway as an aficionado of bull fighting, seeing an actual 3-d image of his was awe-inspiring. I would like to think that this is a model of Pedro Romero.

These bathroom tiles are located in Papa Hemingway's master bathroom! I loved them. If you look closely, you can see fish in one set of tiles and birds in another. It seems like the perfect decor for a bathroom in Key West, and even more perfect for a man who wrote about one big fish.

Mario Sanchez is a celebrated artist who is a native of Key West. His work is in the form of painted woodcarvings. We saw a beautiful exhibit in the Custom's House. Sanchez's work mainly consists of carving and painting everyday street scenes in old Key West. This is a study of a piece called "Jack's Crawfish." Yes, I took the photo because it is Jack's name, too! Jack is the best name. Ever.

One of the delicious restaurants we ate at is Alice's. She is an amazing chef with a wonderful breakfast menu. On this particular morning when this photo was taken, my dad and I ate "Baby Bennies," which are half an eggs benedict with fresh fruit! This piece of art was above the entryway to Alice's kitchen. If you look closely, you can see a house in the pan. HOME COOKING! It doesnt take much of a play on words to impress this English teacher.

This wooden crab was part of an exhibit on folk art of Key West, located in the Custom's House. What a beautiful carving. Of course this is not the best image of a crab that I ever saw on a vacation. When J.Sarah and I were in San Fran, I took shots of the hundreds of soft shell crabs lined up in vendor's carts in Fisherman's Wharf. Mmmm. My father and I ate many a crabcake in Key West.

This was the bathroom door in Blue Heaven Restaurant. The entire door was covered in hand painted hearts. I thought it nice that someone took the time to decorate it, as well as the rest of the bathroom. I enjoyed looking at all of the artwork in Blue Heaven (more on that later).

My father took this shot. It highlights his incredible artistry as a photographer. This was a gift store next to the dock we left from on a glass bottom boat ride. I love the colors in this photo. Both my father and I are parrotheads, so this shot is rather apropos.

There was a beautiful home being restored by our hotel. This fountain, which has a Mermaid as its center, was beautifully tiled in white and blue. I thought I did a better job at taking the photo, but there was a fence in the way and it was hard to get the camera lens in. Still, there is some detail visible and you can see a dolphin as well.

This is a *manatee* mailbox that homeowners made! It is pretty much life size, and oh so cute! This naked manatee made me think of...well, the naked manatee and his blog of mirth!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Mix your freshest, finest, clearest tints..." Jane Eyre

Mixing and matching can be exciting at times. While I am usually a woman who wears solid colors and tend to enjoy aspects in life that are uniform, I still love a good mix-up. This evening I am thinking about all things I love that are mixed and matched.

Pasta: There is nothing I love more than having almost-empty boxes of pasta in my pantry and combining the various shapes to form one big pasta dish for dinner. It adds texture and excitement to the pasta bowl, and eating it is fun because of the way the various shapes roll around in your mouth. It is also a novelty because its something you usually prepare in your own kitchen on a night of leftovers. I have yet to eat in an Italian restaurant that serves pasta combined! My favorite combination in my kitchen? Rotelli and linguini: curly cue pasta balances out flat linguini.

Red and Pink: I think many fashionistas say that pink and red together are a no-no on pre and post Valentine's Day, but on occasion I love this mix of colors on days that are not February 14th. The two-piece I bought for swimming this summer is a brown base with a burberryesque plaid pattern of white, brown, red, and pink. The colors work for me, people.

James Carville and Mary Matalin: I absolutely love that these two are married with children. I don't understand how they are married, but I love that they are. I can see a Republican and Democrat together under normal circumstances, but these two are not normal. They are both strong figures in D.C., and their book All's Fair In Love, War, and Running for President kept me in awe after each page. They were literally against each other in the Clinton/Bush campaigns. Personally, I have quite the crush on the bleeding heart liberal, Carville. Serpenthead or not, that man has charisma and a sweet southern drawl. I never miss a chance to see him on television. Some of his quotes are for the books: In the Clinton administration we worried the president would open his zipper. In the Bush administration, they worry the president will open his mouth.

Soaps: I have a bowl of soaps in my bathroom that contains a mix and match of soaps. It smells so good, and its enjoyable having a collection of soaps that I picked up from various vacations. I remember that J.Sarah had an amazing mix of little soaps growing up, and she inspired me back then to purchase a mix of different-shaped soaps. They were sold in Cederhurst Paper, of all places. They were all different colors and had shapes like butterflies and flowers and frogs. I still have my chocolate soap in my bowl from the Hershey Spa trip this past January. I need to go back there and get more. I really do.

Wine: Lately there is a trend of mixing various grape varieties into one wine, and I have enjoyed the ones I have tasted. Sometimes blends are looked down upon, but I tend to find a mixture of cabernet and merlot delicious with a nice body.

The All-Star Game: I always look forward to the all-star game in baseball; this year it is 7/11. I cheer for the American League, of course (there is an eight year winning streak at the moment). I am never surprised that there is at least one of my Yankees starting the game. This year it is A-Rod and Derek Jeter. Rivera was chosen to help relief, and Cano is in the reserves. I admit that it is extremely odd to see Ortiz and Jeter out on the same field, but I can deal with it for one evening.

Sushi: The best part about eating sushi is the freedom you get as you order. Anything you want, any combination. I tend to order a mix of a roll and then some sushi pieces. My favorite rolls are eel and avocado, yellowtail and scallion, and, ironically, a Boston roll. My favorite pieces include salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. Yellowtail is my favorite, chopsticks down. There is something about the buttery texture and mellow taste that is just delectable. I could write more, but sushi deserves its own post. As does sake. When I drink sake, I tend to feel just a little mixed-up...but in a good way.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"While the stars enter into their shining life..." ~ Jane Eyre

Tonight I crept over to one of my bookshelves and pulled out one of my favorite books.

It is not a novel, nor is it thick and dense. It is about 56 pages long. It was given to me 14 years ago by my father - a gift from one patriot to another. The contents of this book never cease to excite me. The title of the book is called The Spirit of America by Barbara Milo Ohrbach. It is a collection of American quotes, songs, and recipes.

I love taking this book out on the Fourth of July. I never tire of reading quotes about Lincoln, reading the ingredient list to all-American dishes such as Mom's Old Fashioned Apple Pie, and reading the list of state birds and state trees. (New York's state bird is the bluebird and our state flower is the rose.) This kind of Americana is something I cherish and enjoy, just like all other Americana. (I have a really nice red, white, and blue wooden star piece on my door; see photo above)

Despite all of the imperfections and injustices in this country I am very much aware of and witness as a public educator, I still know in my heart this is the best place to live in the history of the world. I see nothing wrong with romanticizing America. I always shall always be a romantic when it comes to the United States, just like like George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Henry Lee did back in 1776. If these people did not romanticize the concept of America, than we wouldnt be here, now would we?

I certainly romanticize the Fourth of July. When I have my own house one day, I want to have a party for hundreds with big picnic tables, tons of all-American food, Americana everywhere, sparklers, and patriotic music. Until then, I will celebrate nicely with a small BBQ tomorrow with my family.

I rarely do memes, but I can't resist doing one in celebration of America's Birthday. Happy Fourth of July!

Favorite All-American...

Bands: Boston, Creedence, Eagles
Foods: Barbecued chicken, Mac and Cheese, Pumpkin Pie
Beer: Purple Haze Abita
Drink: New York Egg Cream
Superhero: Superman
President: Teddy Roosevelt
Documentary: Ken Burn's The Civil War
Song: Jack and Diane by Mellencamp
Novels: The Great Gatsby, The Bridges of Madison County, Where the Heart Is
Poets: Ginsberg, Hughs, Plath
Movies: Singin' in the Rain, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, To Kill a Mockingbird
Photographers: Matt Brady, Ansel Adams
Monument: Lincoln Memorial
Military Man: General William Tecumseh Sherman
Painter: Edward Hopper
Dancer: Paul Taylor
Athlete: The Bambino
Musicals: West Side Story and 1776
Woman: Abigail Adams
Man: Martin Luther King Jr.
Quote: "America is a willingness of the heart" - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"I was mightily refreshed by the beverage; as much so as a giant with wine: it gave new tone to my unstrung nerves..." Jane Eyre

With all due respect to Papa Hem, I am sure he would understand that my first post of a set of Key West adventures is going to begin with beverages and not the amazing sites seen (those to come later on this week once more photos are developed).

With all due respect to my papa, there was not an excessive amount of drinking on this trip! However, this did not stop us from enjoying drinks in moderation, though I certainly got tipsy twice at Sloppy Joe's (Hem's watering hole). Besides which, it was so hot that most of the liquid we drank was H2O!

Ironically, no Hemingway Cocktails were served anywhere! According to a book my father purchased for me at the Hemingway House, entitled Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Hemingway's favorite cocktail consisted of Cuban rum with fresh lime, grapefruit, and maraschino juice. It was known as a PAPA DOBLE: 2 ounces of white rum, 1/4 ounce of maraschino liquor, juice of half a lime, 1 ounce of grapefruit juice; add all ingredients into a shaker and shake with ice, then serve in a frosted cocktail glass.

Of course MARGARITAS were served in abundance at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Both my father and I enjoyed them on the rocks (see photo above) and they had a perfect amount of salt on the rim (meaning there was a ton!).

We hit Sloppy Joe's on two afternoons; my father and I just loved the aura of Hemingway's old hangout. The first afternoon there, I took a risk and tried the KEY WEST SUNSET ALE. Although the beer is no longer brewed in Key West, but rather on mainland in Florida, that did not take away from its amazingly delicious flavor. I had two on the first visit (see photo above) and two on the second. I normally prefer wheatbeers to ales, but this was perfectly smooth and refreshing. Needless to say, these were the two occasions in Key West where Papa Hem would have been proud of the "state" I was in afterwards as I walked down Duval Street.

Another beer I enjoyed was at lunch at Cheeseburger on Duval. It was a beer brewed especially for the restaurant called ALOHA SPIRIT BLOND ALE. It was heavy on the palate, but was very smooth and complimented the meal perfectly.

Another delicious drink we tasted was at Alonzo's Oyster Bar. It was the ALONZO LEMONADE, consisting of pink lemonade, contreau, and fresh lime juice.

I was able to taste some delicious glasses of WHITE WINE as well, including a very nice South African sauvignon blanc at Seven Fish.

Still, what was always better than the actual beverage were the toasts my father and I made with them. Many were to Hemingway, some were to the actual trip, and one was to Key West itself.

I think one day this summer is going to be dubbed PAPA DOBLE DAY, where everyone has to make and enjoy the cocktail! Papa's birthday was JULY 21, so I am thinking this should be the day! If you are unable to participate, don't fret; I shall have one for you in spirit. Marachino liquor is hard to come by sometimes, so keep your eyes peeled. You can also order some here: