Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years!

Happy New Year! And Happy Anniversary to John and me! (33 years!) Good Times!

Scratchy Aunt Coat

Did you have any Great Aunts? I had a bunch of them - and I only ever met the ones on my mother's side. One of them had been a flapper, Aunt Alyce, and she taught me the Charleston. Lovely woman. There was Aunt Laurel, who we visited at Lake Havasu, in the days when it was just a small desert town on a lake - before the town bought the actual London Bridge, you know, from the "Falling down" nursery rhyme. One time, she asked me how I liked my bacon. I figured this was purely an intellectual exercise. It never occurred to me that she would attempt to make bacon specially for me. I told her that bacon was best fully cooked so the fat was a little crispy but the pink part was still soft - not too hard. That's still how I like it, although now I try to just eat the pink part and remove as much of the fat as possible. But my point - and I do have one - is that one of the coats that is in the running for inclusion in the Paris trip wardrobe, is one I chose specially for it Great Aunt quality - it's very scratchy. I got it at the Goodwill and it was quite expensive by Goodwill standards. I have to wear it with turtlenecks. And every time I hug someone, I explain the old aunt connection which they totally get. It's so comforting. It's also very warm. The next coat is a brown down number. It has great zippered pockets with flannel lining. It is brown and limits my scarf choices. It's warmer than the scratchy aunt coat, and it also zips shut. My last picture is of the coat I have taken for the last 10+ years. It has a wool flannel liner, buttons up the front, and has deep pockets. This is the coat that I was wearing in London last year, when I got Pickpocketted. Not a problem, since I always assume that I will get my pockets picked in London, but freaky, since I knew these two guys were probably Pickpockets, and they still got me to take my hands out to gesture and then got my small folded map (the only thing in my pockets) while my hands were out. So does this look like an expensive coat, or did they target me because it is so long and out of date, that they figured I was too clueless to protect my valuables? I am leaning toward the Scratchy Aunt Coat, if only for sentimental reasons.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Strickland's Ice Cream Pie And Aveda Foot Treatment

Just a few highlights of my Christmas festivites - a pie with Peppermint Bark flavor Strickland's Ice Cream made by my daughter and the Aveda Foot Relief that was a present from Kelsey, Nick's lovely girlfriend. (She is coming to Paris next week - how fabulous!) She is such a nice woman and so beautiful that even in Paris she will stand out.

If you have a Strickland's near you, lucky you! (We don't have one here in Tulsa.) The Peppermint Bark flavor is made with Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark. They don't make any money off this one, but it is only once a year, and with all their flavors, Strickland's does it right, or they don't do it at all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back In Tulsa, By Way Of Texas

Woke up in Tucumcari, New Mexico to a beautiful morning. It's the last important New Mexican town on I-40. We were in Texas about an hour later, what with the 75 mph speed limits. You know you're in Texas when everyone starts driving like crazy. So I couldn't believe that the only "Welcome To Texas" sign was this one with the adage - "Drive Friendly - The Texas Way". Huh? I understand the wild driving since even at its narrowest, that is one big state, and getting anywhere takes a lot of time. And Heaven help you if you need a bathroom, since those blue signs that say "Rest Area" on the West Coast can actually say "Picnic Area" in Texas, and that is exactly what is there. A bunch of picnic tables with no bathrooms. Not even decent tree coverage. I almost forgot to write about an accident (and there were quite a few) we passed on the way to Christmas. Just outside of Dallas, there was a crashed Smart Car - front all bashed in, but - and here's the interesting part - the people who were in it, got out and looked just fine. Whew! I expected the worst. And the woman in the Jag who was the other part of this accident was a Janet Jackson look-a-like, (or the real deal), so there were lots of extra police cars on the scene to keep the gawkers moving along.

I always love the big cross at Exit 295 on I-40. It's really the middle of nowhere. And the El Rancho Hotel where all the stars stayed when filming all those Westerns in Gallup, New Mexico mostly in the 40's and 50's. Good Times!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Is A Restaraunt?

I wondered why John was taking me to a place called the Gaslamp Strip Club, in the trendiest part of San Diego. But we were meeting one of my most favorite people, Nelson, so the where didn't really matter. I was relieved to find out that it was a restaurant, if just barely. It seems they provide fabulous meat (or tuna), but they make you cook it yourself. No one is stripping - but the walls are covered with Vargas prints.

Monday, December 26, 2011

See's Candy For The Well Bred

It appears to be unhealthy for me to live in a state without See's Candy stores. I used to stop in and get a few pieces about once every two months when out shopping. And of course, I told you about John's Marzipan, so that would be two or three more times when See's was actually the intended destination. This Christmas, I have been back four times! I would get home and remember one of my favorites and have to go back and get it. Or I would tell my family about the wonderful seasonal one, like Cranberry Orange, White Mint Truffle, or Mincemeat and they would realize that I had eaten them all, and (except for the Mincemeat, which only I like), I had to return and purchase some more of the seasonal favorites for them. But basically, I have eaten 12 pieces per day for four days, instead of 3 pieces every two months. And this is unhealthy. So it turns out that for health reasons, I will have to retire back to the West Coast, when John quits working.

And speaking of John, that is a picture of his Christmas box of Marzipan. Still untouched on December 26th. What discipline! He is amazing. He is also the reason there are no empty candy cups in the box. According to my well mannered and well bred husband, when removing a piece of candy from the box, the paper is to be taken too. Who knew? (He also had those 5th grade dance lessons where he learned to Cha Cha like a pro! Cool!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and French Onion Soup

I have had the best Christmas. Great breakfast with family and afternoon movie (Newest Sherlock Holmes). Turkey dinner with all the trimmings - including an engagement announcement by my daughter. Wedding to take place sometime this Summer. Until I can think straight, I'll just give cooking instructions for the easiest, cheapest dish I know. French Onion Soup. Save all your meat scraps, bones, and steak doggie bags and freeze them. When you are ready to have soup tomorrow, either fry the hodge podge meat mixture in 1/4 cup good olive oil or bake it at 350 degrees for an hour - just get it all brown and crispy. Then cover it with cold water and add onion, celery, and (if you want - I never do) some carrot. Simmer at least an hour, but up to eight hours. It may be an old wife's tale, but nevertheless, I don't cover the pan, since I have always been told that it will "sour the broth". Cool it down, refrigerate overnight, remove all the solid fat from the top of what should at this point look like brown jello. Then heat it up, strain out everything and throw it away. Now add what ever white wine you would like, and salt and pepper to taste. Slice 6 yellow onions (white onions are too strong), and fry them in your hugest frying pan in half olive oil and half butter. As soon as they turn carmel colored thrown them into the broth. On a nonstick cookie sheet, arrange as many slices of french bread as you have guests, cover them with good Swiss cheese and broil until melted and a tiny bit browned. Throw a piece of bread with the cheese in each bowl full of soup and you're done. If you are lucky enough to have French Onion Soup Bowls, you can put the bread on top of the soup and then add the cheese to the top and broil at this point. Before the advent of the nonstick cookie sheet, this made a much better tasting soup. Now, I can't tell the difference.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Who Do You Get Mistaken For?

Went out to the South Coast Plaza Mall in Southern California today. It was great! They were almost paying you to shop. Really cute $60 nightgowns turned out to be $11 for no reason at all. I never use credit ((NEVER)) (really), so I missed out on an additional 10% for using their credit card. Waited through a long line in See's, but their candy is worth it. (There are no See's Candy stores in Tulsa.) I always give John a pound of See's Marzipan for Christmas and another one for Valentine's Day. If he has eaten it all before his birthday in April, he might get another pound. Interesting crowd in the line - the man in front of me had 8 gift certificates and was taking forever. The woman behind me accused me of cheating at my Nook Solitaire game - really!? It's electronic, for Pete's sake. As much as I wanted to just forget about the candy, I was not going to give her my place in line. But my point today is that for some odd reason, when I am in Southern California, at least once a week, some stranger (it's always a stranger because anyone who knows me knows better) will ask me is I am Meryl Streep. Huh? I used to just say "no", and as often as not, that didn't convince them. Now I tell them that if I was Meryl Streep, I would fire my trainer and my dermatologist. Such a change - when I was in my early 20's, strangers would actually call me Joan - thinking I was Joan Baez. Huh? Now this was in the days when smokers ruled the world and I very rarely was able to breathe through my nose; the solution decided upon by my ENT doctor (ear, nose, throat) was to undeviate my septum. And since he was already mucking about, he might as well remove the bump. I actually had a date insist on taking me to a Joan Baez concert (just shoot me next time), to convince me that I could actually be her sister. And that convinced me that I should just quit blow drying my long, curly hair straight and say "Yes" to the nose bump removal - the weird hippie tax cheat look was not for me. So, who do you get mistaken for? Or do you have to be in Southern California for that to happen? Please don't tell me it only happens to me!

I added this picture which Google found when I searched for Maryl Streep Images in Public Domain. But I added the caption so you know who should get credit for it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boredom Alert - Travel Update And Tamale Report

Tonight we're in Phoenix, forced to the south of our proposed route by a threatened blizzard. This adds just enough time to necessitate another night on the road. I thought I was less than happy about it, until dinner tonight. At 8:42, we checked into a beautiful new Holiday Inn in the downtown, and asked the woman at the front desk for a dinner recommendation. When it turned out that that place closed at 9, we walked across the courtyard to a small Mexican grill - not a chain and I don't even remember anything other than that the name should have had "Sam" in it. In the Christmas spirit, I had one Red Beef Tamale and one Green Corn Tamale. They were fabulous - like the ones I remember having at my grandparent's. Handmade by Abuelos to supplement their family's Christmas fund. You can't mass produce a great tamale.
By tomorrow evening, I should be petting my son's dogs and baking some Gingerbread Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting. Good Times!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Women Of America Unite!

Having spent the day on the road, stopping at lots of different places, I realized that we women must ban together for the good of us all and insist that men no longer be allowed to design or engineer Toilet Paper dispensers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elote Cafe - But Just For The Food This Time

Finally got to eat at the Elote Cafe, you know, the one that has the Masked Mexican Wrestling. The food was great. Even though it was lunch, I had a dinner item, the Chicken Enchiladas. For a side I had "Elote", which is this incredible roasted corn with a chili mayonnaise type of sauce. They only serve Black Beans, so I got sweet potatoes for my other side dish. (Wish they'd had Pintos- their creamy flavor would have complimented the Enchiladas nicely.) This notion of choosing "sides" is not something I saw very often in Seattle, but I really like it. Everyone else had salads and there wasn't a bit left on any of their plates. Very successful visit. But I am waiting until Catherine is back in town before I go for the Masked Wrestling. I know it will be lots more fun with her infectious laughter. She's the genius photographer behind Aesthetic Alterations, and is in Paris for Christmas. How to top Paris at Christmas? - Why Masked Mexican Wrestling in Tulsa, of course.

If you're not too busy, on the 23rd you can meet LuchaClause. Bet that would be a new experience for anyone.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Do You Do Queso Velveta Dip? Should You? Should Anyone?

From the Sublime (Smoke - The Restaurant) to the Ridiculous (the Velveta - Rotel Dip I made for the YMCA Potluck). I decided to take my role as Oklahoma transplant seriously and made up the unofficial state dish from ingredients found at Walmart. It was easy and kind of fun and made everyone at the potluck happy. What more can you ask?

Smoke On Cherry - The Pictures

Sherry had the Scallops on Bacon Cheese Grits, just four Scallops, but I have never seen anyone who was able to finish them all, and the House Salad. I can't resist the Bacon and Egg Salad, and you might notice that this is the first time that I have been able to practice enough restraint to take a photo before digging in. Our waitperson, Christine, was wonderful. And that's Abbie the Fabulous, who will even climb on a chair to get the best picture of your group. With food this wonderful, you don't need the best staff to bring it to you, but Smoke has the Best anyway. Good Times!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smoke On Cherry - Perfection!

Had dinner tonight at Smoke On Cherry and loved it as usual. What I noticed tonight, that I hadn't before, was that the Hostess does a really good job. The four of us walked in on a whim on a Friday night - no reservation. She had us seated within minutes, kept all the tables filled, and found spots for everyone else who came in. This is the first time I remembered to take a picture of the Bacon Egg Salad before eating any of it. Very nice new (to us) waitperson, Christine. Fabulous special dessert. I just can't say enough about this place. But since it's so late, I am going to wait until tomorrow to show the pictures from tonight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Many Chicken Stories Fit Into A One Hour Exercise Class?

Today in the pool at the Y, Mickey, (you remember her - she's the one who is married to the Russian guy and could be a swim suit model), told the tale of one of her chickens who got sick of the rooster's attentions and ended it all by drowning in the water trough. This story was not a response to Sue's story about pet Goldfish drowning on the Bible. (Is that the correct term - without water, the fish can't breathe, so it would make sense to call it drowning.) I could Google for an answer, but that would only bring up a bunch of people like me who aren't actually expert in the area. As a matter of fact, that is probably how my team in one of the last Pub Quizzes in Southern California, won the tie breaker round. The first question was "Who wrote Gift of the Magi?" Of course the answer is O'Henry, but the other team came up with Ray Bradbury. And they were shocked when the Quiz Master told them they were wrong. Turns out if you thought it was Ray Bradbury and iPhone searched for "Ray Bradbury wrote Gift of the Magi" the first thing that comes up is some blogger who says exactly that. It's still the wrong answer. And hardly in the spirit of fair competition. But my point, and I do have one, is that if you tell one chicken story in Oklahoma, (I was telling the one about how my sweet little pet chickie turned into a nice sized hen/chicken dinner, but because my mother's family is French, I wasn't all that surprised), you will get another one - and another - and another. Good Times!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Learning Experience

You know how there are warnings on some cosmetics not to store them at temperatures that are too high or too low? Well, when you've spent your whole life on the West Coast, you have never paid any attention to this. That's why all the body lotion I stocked up on when I found it on sale, is now the consistence of milk. I just stored it in my garage, where it got up to 116 degrees this summer. And down to 18 degrees just this month. Now I know better.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Fun

Oklahoma has more fresh waterfront than any other state, or so I'm told. And all of the lakes are man made. I haven't seen many of these lakes, so when the price of gas went down to $2.94, I filled up and set out. I had to stop at Collingsville's library for their book sale, 'cause even with the Nook, there is still the take-off and landing, when you need something "without an on/off switch" as the flight attendant would say. From there, it is only 20 minutes to Skiatook Lake, but you have to go back about 50 years at least. In fact, the Lake has a kind of prehistoric feel to it. The roads around the lake remind me of rural Southern California in the '50's, with cattle ambling comfortably across.

Talking about lakes reminds me of a story Sue told in the pool at the Y last week. She came home one day and found that her daughter's pet goldfish had committed suicide, by jumping out of his dish - but the thing that made it funny was that the fish had landed on her daughter's Bible and died there.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Mother's Christmas Divinity Can't Be Made When It Rains - Who Knew?

Every Christmas, my mother would whip up a batch or two of Christmas Candy - Divinity was always made, colored with the juice from a jar of Maraschino Cherries. It was put out on Christmas Eve and we would dance around the table which had her lace tablecloth with a length of red cloth underneath, until permission was granted to begin the feasting. For the decades I lived in Seattle, I tried valiantly to reproduce this treat for my family, only to be rewarded with a sugar and egg white soup, instead of that fluffy cross between a marshmallow and a meringue, with just the right amount of chewiness, that my mother made. What I didn't know was that the constant drizzle that was making me so unhappy living in Seattle, was also responsible for my Divinity not turning out right. Who knew? Although, I must admit, Seattle could really do a good Christmas, with the world class Nutcracker Ballet, wonderful shop window displays, plays and concerts, and beautiful lighting displays. For those few weeks, it made up for the grey.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saint Cecilia Church Cookie And Candy Sale

John and I spent a little time in Claremore this afternoon at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church's Cookie and Candy Sale.  It was quite wonderful.  They had an amazing array of home baked goods - from Anise Flavored Pizzelles (something I make every Christmas, but haven't found my Pizzelle Iron since the move, so haven't done yet) to Uncle Bill's Brown Fudge (an amazing cross in both taste and texture between the best Caramel you've ever had - like the ones Fran makes in Seattle- and Butterscotch Fudge).  My assortment came to $9, and it would have cost $12 to just buy the nuts to make them.  Plus getting to meet some of the nicest women who were manning the sale.  Good Times!

Friday, December 9, 2011

How True - But Can We Sue?

This morning, during a particularly strenuous exercise involving much leaping out of the water, retired teacher Gail was hear complaining, "This exercise is giving my boobs whiplash!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Didn't Stay For The Whole Story

Heard as a lead in to the 10 o'clock news - "Woman graps everything she needs and starts building a meth lab - in a Tulsa Walmart!"? But then I turned to Chelsey Lately, so I didn't get the rest of the story.

Dear Rest-Of-The-World,
In Tulsa, Prime Time TV is one hour earlier. This means that Chelsey Lately is on at 10, and Jay Leno is on at 10:30 pm. I love it! You have no excuse for getting enough sleep here.

Christmas Fun!

Anyone who knows me has already been introduced to my weakness for Christmas Movies. There must be thousands of them and the Hallmark Channel plays the biggest variety of them. Since I also have a life, there isn't enough time to watch them all. I still have two Holiday Potluck Lunches (and I found this great Egg Plate at the Goodwill for 25 cents, but someone else has already signed up for Deviled Eggs, so I am trying to think of what else fits nicely in an Egg Plate) and the company Christmas Party at Post Oak Lodge where we spend the night after the party in this huge lodge. As the perennial designated driver, this is my once yearly chance to enjoy a cocktail or two. And then the drive to Southern California to celebrate Christmas with my children. This year Nick is bringing Kelsey, which will definitely brighten an already wonderful time. I can hardly wait! Good Times!
But, back to the Christmas Movie dilemma - which ones can be cut from the lineup? Anything with Anne Heche goes on the no see list. (Why they keep making movies with her, I will never know.) Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy from the movie) is surprisingly good at the genre. If the description includes the term "heartwarming", use caution, because sometime those are just manipulative tear jerkers, with no redeeming social Christmas value. Still leaves a lot more to watch while putting together the Christmas Jigsaw Puzzles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oklahoma Weather Explained By A Native

My new car needed air in the tires. I didn't know it until a message came up in the spot where the speed usually is displayed numerically. There is still that round speed indicator that was good enough for every other car I have ever been in, but, frankly, I am now spoiled. When I am going 70, I like to see the number "70" in 2 inch tall letters. I am going far to fast to try to figure if that needle is closer to the 60 or 80 on the dial. And Oklahomans, even though I think they are quite polite, like to drive fast, so you need to keep up. But back to my point, and I do have one - I needed to get that message off my dashboard, which meant that I had to get the right air pressure in my tires. And John is out of town this week, so that meant I had to figure it out on my own. I found the sweetest little tire place very near to here and was happily surprised to have them, for free, check and fill all my tires, including the spare in the trunk. (OK, I hear you - where else would you have the spare?) The spare was almost flat, by the bye, so it was lucky this young guy, Austin, thought of it. Austin really impressed me with his thoroughness, but also with his sharp reflections on life in Tulsa. I won't bore you with anymore of his observations, (although if you are easily bored - no, let me change that, if you are normal in your boredom tolerance, you would have quit reading after that speedometer thing), but his take on the weather in Oklahoma was nothing short of brilliant! He said that the weather in Oklahoma can be summed up in one word - Bipolar! Wow - at that moment I knew I was in the presence of a Wordsmith worthy of Will Rogers.

BookSmart Tulsa Scores With Onion Christmas Evening

I suppose it was an attempt at Political Correctness that caused BookSmart Tulsa to start an event advertised as Christmas Exposed with an adorable rabbi, complete with yarmulke and stole. He was too self deprecating for my taste, but others found him amusing. There was a DJ from NPR who read this awful, manipulative 10 year old story (that I suspect will be read again next year), which tries to make you believe is written from the point of view of a young child. Long story short, the author kid's family finds some poor family waiting for a bus in the rain. The dad wants to give them a ride to the next bus stop because it has more shelter, and ends up taking them home and letting them have his own kids' presents that they had unwrapped Christmas morning but had left under the tree. One of the poor kids doesn't have a sweater, so the mother gives her the only sweater owned by one of the not previously poor kids - although now she is the poor kid, since she will be the cold one, not to mention that her presents have been given to strangers, so she is a really poor kid. Then the most stupid line of the evening comes - (something like) - this was the day that the children learned that giving is better than receiving. Huh? These are young kids and none of them were giving away anything - just had parents take their Christmas presents away and give it stranger kids. Formulaic heartwarming and not even done well. But then Gary from The Onion took over and made the evening worthwhile. Hysterical! Two of the recalled Christmas toys reported in the Onion were Uncle Harry's Uncannily Realistic Play Money and Black Widow Barbie With Mate 'N' Kill Action. And then there was the article titled Vatican Employees Unable To Relax At Holiday Party With Pope Around - and more. I laughed so much that I actually bought his book - full price - and not in e-book form. Good times!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Waiting For Snow

In Seattle, the TV weathermen always got the snow wrong. They would predict it for a week or so, change their minds and say there wouldn't be any - and then it would snow. My hair is a better predictor of snow than them. Anyone who has been around me in winter knows that my hair loves snow - it starts dancing around my head and puffs up to 3 or 4 times its normal (or as normal as kinky curls can be) size the day before it starts to snow. Once, when my friend Judy (of the Peach Cobbler fame) and I were visiting Portland, she turned and looked at me with a touch of panic in her voice says, "Beryl, have you looked in a mirror?" No doubt about it, my hair was predicting more snow than usual and we needed to get home to Seattle - quick - before it started. Portland was snowed in for days, but we got out before it happened. But back to my point, and I do have one - can I expect the Tulsa weathermen to be as good about snow prediction as they have been about all the rest of this Crazy Oklahoma Weather?
BookSmart Tulsa is doing Christmas with the Onion at the Hardwellan tonight! Be there or be square!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Few Wet Friends

Water Aerobics classes at the Y are a great source of amusement on a daily basis. But also a great source of friendships. There are some wonderful people in the pool and it changes on a regular basis. Last week I found myself following a 70 year old into the building. She was wearing her bathing suit with a short jacket and Croc's. In 40 degree weather. But Roma is never boring, (she is scary smart), so I wasn't surprised that much. And she has Red hair! I asked her if her parents knew about the Roma tomato when they named her, and she replied that there might have been a wine named Roma - that was more like her parents.
And then there's Margret - she is such a lady. Which means that she can give you any insult and add, "Bless you heart" to it, and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. (Also very smart.) And beautiful, like a slim, honey blonde Paula Deen.
Norma is mid to late 80's, with Mrs. Claus hair, sparkly, stylish earring, and very fashionable bathing suits. She just got the all clear from her oncologist, so were all very relieved.
The instructors all do a fabulous job of keeping the class going, even with nonstop chatting. Cynthia is a Chiropractor who only practices on a substitute basis to keep her license current. She had the most beautiful eyes. (Did I mention that most of the women in the pool have on full makeup and at least half have their hair done perfectly?) And Audrey finds a new fun game for us every week, that has us out of breath in no time. Cute Maria is from South America and ended up in Tulsa working as an engineer, had kids, and now is the toughest teacher imaginable. But my favorite is Sandra, who I also go bowling and to line dance class with. She has the Country Music tape with Boot Scootin' Boogie. Good times!

Hoorah For Leslie!

Looks like my niece just passed the California Bar. No official word yet, but she is listed on the Bar website of successful Bar takers. Pretty exciting for her. She is the only one of my niece/nephew mob to have been interested in a career as an attorney since Junior High (or Middle School, for those of you in the Northwest). All the others had to have it suggested to them in College. Or after College graduation, which is when my son decided to go to Law School. I am so excited for her! She has achieved her lifelong dream career - not a lot of people can say that. And she and her sister, Celia, are the sweetest, nicest women you will ever meet. Very cool!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Movie too Good For The Hallmark Channel

It's Undercover Christmas, with Jamie Gertz (anyone remember her from Square Pegs with Sarah Jessica Parker as the nerdy high schooler?) as a cocktail waitress / witness being protected by an FBI agent while having Christmas at his parents' house. I would have bought a copy of it long ago if I hadn't remembered the title incorrectly as House Arrest Christmas. Pretty close, but not close enough to find it on Amazon.

Credit Or Not?

My idea of a perfect morning involves sleeping a little late, an omlette for breakfast, an hour or so of reading, and then visiting with friends. You will note that exercise of any form is not included. But for the rest of the day to work, I have to include exercise. I am not a fan of pure exercise, but if I didn't go to the Y, I wouldn't have met so many wonderful friends. And it is necessary to work off that omlette's calories. And reading on the treadmill with John is just as easy as reading on the couch and provides some husband/wife bonding time. So, every morning includes exercise. Yesterday morning I really stepped it up on the treadmill - ran very fast for 5 minutes and then slowed it just a bit for 5 minutes until John was done on the eliptical - about an hour. Then we went to the German American Christmas Festival and walked around. By the time 7 pm came around, I was already pretty exhausted, add to that my after dinner tea and Baileys, and I was out like a light. So John got to pick out the Saturday night Christmas movie and tells me he actually watched Hallmark's A Princess For Christmas, described as "A Duke reconnects with his family at Christmas", or something like that. I was already convinced that this movie would be way too sickenly sweet for me. There is no way, with me fast asleep and a sporting event on another channel, that John actually watched this thing. He is insisting on getting credit for it. Guess I'll have to give it to him.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bacon And Tulsa

Is Tulsa really the 7th most Artery-Clogging Cities In The U.S? Some health magazine says so - and it thinks that it's mainly because of its low walkability score. Really? Not the Barbecue? Or the Bacon? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Barbecue and Bacon! But yesterday the ladies from water Aerobics went to a Victorian Tea Room in a Mansion in Claremore (my favorite small Oklahoma town), and I ordered a cup of Cream of Broccoli soup. When it came, there was at least 1/2 cup of crumpled bacon on top that hadn't even been mentioned in the menu. It was just taken for granted that it would be a welcome addition - and it was, for me. After all, I did order the Bacon Marmalade Bruschetta at Smoke on Cherry the last time. It's funny that the fact that so many Tulsans smoke wasn't considered the most important factor. While my allergy to cigarette smoke made me a little nervous about this relocation, I must say that Tulsans are the most polite smokers I have ever been around. This is a good place to be!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oklahoma Houses

I love renting- it's the most stressless living situation imaginable. Which you can't imagine unless you have been a home owner for the decades it takes for roofs to leak and plumbing to fail. But it's nice to see how affordable home ownership is here. If you manage a MacDonald you can afford a sweet little home. If you're a lawyer or engineer you can afford an amazing house, something that would be at least a million dollars in Seattle. But if you're Garth Brooks, well, just let me say, I was speechless when Barbara, one of my water aerobics friends drove me home from lunch in Claremore by way of the Brooks estate. I had driven this way before, but never in Winter when the trees are all leafless and you can see that there is actually someone living inside the fence. As we sat in the car watching three beautiful deer walk around inside, we didn't notice a white pick-up pulling up at the gate, driven by some guy in a baseball hat. It was definitely time to leave. As we drove the rest of the way, following one of my favorite routes that went by the house with the Llamas and the baby Buffalo's, both Barbara and Pam, who was riding shotgun (West Coast meaning of the word "shotgun" being appropriate here), burst into such laughter that I feared we would go off the road. I guess I was mistaking unshorn sheep for young bison. And grey horses for donkeys. Good times!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Wish I'd Just Read The Encyclopedia, Instead Of This Month's Selection, And How Julie Andrews Makes Lemonade Out Of Her Lemons

Do you belong to a Book Club? Do you always feel worse after reading the selection? The cure is to watch Julie Andrews in Eloise at Christmas singing Jingle Bell Rock in the raspy voice that is all that's left after a botched surgery (according to John, my encyclopedic husband). Do you all sing the Encyclopedia Song when trying to remember how to spell "encyclopedia"? I've sung it twice already for this short post. "Look inside this book and you will see, Everything from A clear down to Z!" Thank you Disney and Jiminy Cricket!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is World Peace And.....

I want some of those Wii games that have Dance in the title - Dance Party, or Zumba Dance Party, or - you get the idea. I want DVD's of Christmas Movies, French Comedies, and British Sitcoms. I want shooting lessons, maybe with a bow and arrow. And a concealed carry permit. Stuff I need to live in both the worlds that I currently inhabit.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cracking The Code To Tulsa Thrift Shopping

I may have already covered this, but since it is the most confusing thing about shopping in Oklahoma, it, perhaps, bears repeating. The prices at the Oklahoma thrift stores have very little to do with the original retail price of the item. For example, today there were three pairs of shoes that caught my eye - two pairs were used Born brand, being examined by a little old lady who wanted them for her dog to chew on, instead of the Born shoes that she already owned and wore, that her dog would not leave alone. Since her eyes were bad, I had to point out to her that these too small shoes were $25 per pair, way higher than she (or any rational person) expected to pay for shoes that were less than $100 when new. She tossed them back in the bin, where they landed next to a pair of $8 shoes, brand new Escada Couture, absolutely never worn, and probably around $1000 originally. This is bad news for thrift store shoppers who like the Target, Kmart, QVC, and Walmart brands - Katie Lee and Miley Cyrus brands are very overpriced. I'm guessing that the pricers at the Goodwill and such stores charge more for the brands they are familiar with. Luckily, I like Eileen Fisher, Misook, and the like. And Escada - maybe next time those shoes will be in my size. Yeah!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Does Moscow, Idaho Even Have A Ballet Company?

In Seattle, I used to take my kids to see the Nutcracker Ballet every Christmas. It was fabulous. World class! Maurice Sendak sets and amazing dancers. Luckily, Patricia Barker wanted to live in the Northwest, so I was able to see her dance many times. A truly magical start to my Christmas - so magical that from the time she was 5, (the first time I took her), Amanda never uttered a peep during the program. Zach was just as well behaved, but not quite as enraptured as Amanda and I. Nick lost interest quickly, so he got to stay home with John, who never went. So, when I saw that the Moscow Ballet was coming to Tulsa to do the Nutcracker and promised world class ballet, I checked into it. Around $60 per ticket and no kids to go with, so it wasn't going to happen. I was slightly disappointed - until I read the review after the performance. I'll just give you one point which the reviewer made and that sums up his whole point - he thought he was going to see a ballet company from Moscow, Russia, not Moscow, Idaho. Evidently he was confused.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shop Local Saturday

We did our part - John got a haircut. Can't get much more local than that. And we stocked up at our small locally owned liquor store. And none of that cheap Chinese whiskey for us. I was so proud!.

More Christmas Bakery Excitement

Well, there is hope for Oklahoma yet. I walked into the more upscale grocery store off Hgy 169 and sitting right there by the door was a display with Holiday Bakery items. Since we were headed for one of my Water Aerobic instructor's house for dinner and cards, (something we had never done before - might not be a West Coast thing, or our friends weren't the card playing type), I picked up a huge plate of assorted Brownies. Looked pretty good but, as usual, they just weren't all that scrumptious. I really do think they need to use better, or fresher, baking powder. (I suggest Rumford's - it's aluminum-free.) And butter instead of shortning. But that's not the point - and I do have one - on the same display with the Brownies, was one of my other most favorite Christmas baked treats - Panettone. It's the Italian's answer to the British Fruitcake. My grandparents used to serve it at Christmas. When I lived in Seattle (shudder), I had to search everywhere for it. I finally found the Cost Plus World Market chain and would run there at the beginning of the season to get my fix. My favorite had raisins and citrus peel and candied angelica (and I don't actually know what angelica is, but L'Occitane used to use it in a shampoo for dry hair that had the most divine scent). Yum! But you guessed it already, didn't you, since a reoccurring theme of my Oklahoma home is the lack of decent shopping - along with no Ikea or Nordstroms, there is no Cost Plus in Oklahoma!! So, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw one of the bright yellow packages with the picture of Panettone right there next to the mediocre Brownies. I just don't understand why this particular brand had to be made in Brazil. Or why they used candied papaya. But they are quite proud of the fact that their raisins are Sunmaid. Nevertheless, I am already on my second loaf of the season. And, yes, that is a Blue Willow pattern plate. I promise I will get out the Christmas dishes today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Holiday Commercial For Audi

Who is Audi trying to appeal to with this commercial? You see a tall, cute guy in a suit with an overnight bag and a large, merrily decorated shopping bag with Christmas presents peeking out the top come in out of the snow. He enters a room with a huge Christmas tree and calls out, "Mom....Dad". And then rather plaintively, "Guys?". While this is happening an attractive couple in their 60's sneak out of the house and get into an Audi and roar away on the snowy road. The screen goes to black with white writing that says, "Make new holiday traditions." then back to the couple in the car as they put a few more miles between them and their son who has come home for the holiday. The husband turns to the wife and says, "He'll be fine."
Will he?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nick's Coming To Paris!!

Yeah! I was hoping my oldest would do a little world travelling. When I invited him to come to Paris with Amanda and me, (and bring his girlfriend if he liked), I was excited about the possibility that he might, but realistic about the demands of his job. (And that the appeal of traveling with his mother and sister wouldn't hold a candle to going to Vegas with his law school buddies.) But last night he sent me his airline confirmation. He'll just be there for 4 days, so Amanda is probable working on the most magical 4 day tour possible. And we'll have another 4 days without him for the girl stuff. The last time I went to Paris was a little over 2 years ago and my second son, Zach went with me. We were meeting up with Amanda who had gotten herself into a Parisian college in order to save on tuition costs, and had a month break. Zach was an amazing traveller, learning enough French to order off the menu and make simple purchases in just a few days.
Now don't go getting all jealous of my life - I have to live in Oklahoma to be able to live like this. But I have 3 great kids and a charming husband (Amanda is the one who came up with that description for John and it is just perfect). Waiting in California for tons of love and petting are two of the cutest grand dogs (Morkies - Maltese mother and Yorkie father) and a 22 year old Himalayan who I hope makes it one more Christmas. (I have said this the last 6 Christmases, but she keeps hanging in there.) And a place to stay in Southern California, my own room where I have already put up the Christmas lights so they'll be ready when we go there on December 19th. (And where most of my sewing lives.) Alright, even with this living most of my time in Oklahoma thing, I still have it pretty good. And I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ick, Ick, Ick, Ick, Ick - You Get The Point!

Back in Seattle, we had Raccoons - lots of them. Five of them lived under my garden shed. (The Barnlett, so named for its resemblance to a tiny barn.) At some point, they ate through the roof and moved into the Barnlett. I am NOT a fan of Raccoons! Since moving to Oklahoma, I have not seen a single live Racoon. I have seen lots of dead ones lying by the side of the road. (No, I am not going to check the grammar of lay, lie, laid - it's just too complicated with the animal being dead and all - so how different is it from putting down an inanimate object and leaving it lying there. Book = Dead Raccoon for grammar purpose.) But back to my point, and I do have one - from the Raccoons I have seen since moving to Oklahoma, I was under the impression that the strain of Raccoon that live (and had died) here were tailless. Or at best had short, stubby little tails. Then I made the stupid mistake of saying something about the different tailless Raccoons of Oklahoma to a real Okie, and guess what he told me. Warning - this is where the "ick" comes in. They aren't tailless - I had just never seen one before the tail collectors had gotten there. Although he called these guys "hunters", I can't think of them as that legitimate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Gingerbread From Starbucks!

It's finally here. I don't know what to call it when I try to ask when it is coming to the local Starbucks, since they have changed the name THREE times. Good Grief! Ginger Loaf, Ginger Slice, and now Holiday Gingerbread. Or at least I think that's what they were calling it. I was drooling so heavily that I had to bolt for the napkins in the midst of ordering. And, yes, I ordered more than one slice, or there wouldn't have been a picture. And I had to order more than one slice just in case the great gingerbread drought of Ought 9 (the year when Starbucks RAN OUT of Ginger Slices at the beginning of December - the year when I didn't get a single piece), should reappear. This stuff is Heaven and very Christmasy. It is a ginger flavored quick bread with chopped candied ginger and a cream cheese frosting with candied orange peel sprinkled on top. And, yes, I know I could duplicate it in my own kitchen, but I should never have a full batch of it in the house at once. It has to be bought piece by piece and consumed in the same fashion. I really tried to send off tiny loaves of the stuff to my family along with the Springerlie and Spritz and Chex Mix. And Family, don't feel bad if you didn't get a loaf, because unlike the Peppermint Bark, which I only sent to the ones of you that I really like, no one got any of the Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Love A Good Book

What the heck were my sister, Claire and sister-in-law, Marya doing at a school book fair together? They don't even live in the same town. But the most important thing is that these two fabulous women found a present for me! Beryl - A Pig's Tale by Jane Simmons arrived yesterday and I've already read the whole thing. OK, it is just a 3rd grade book, but it had over 200 pages. I'm already operating on a highly sentimental level, thanks to the Hallmark Channel and their constant Christmas movies, so I can't be sure, but I think this one is a real tear jerker. At dinner last night, my favorite non-fiction writer predicted that it would end happily, with Beryl finding a new home. This guy is good! (Or perhaps he had already read the book?) But oh, the twists and turns and surprises along the way. No, I'm not going to tell.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Saturday Night In Tulsa

I had a great time tonight! Went to the Philbrook and saw the Christmas Trees and Garden Lights with another Oklahoma Transplant, Catherine of Aesthetic Alterations and her very entertaining Significant Other. John really enjoyed the evening and is on the computer looking for some of the books we discussed right now. What an amazing couple!! There just isn't enough space to describe all we talked about. Since her birthday was Monday, I made her a card to celebrate her new Kelly bag with mini croissant and madeleines inside. And John met Santa. I got a great top with red stripes at the Goodwill for $4 that is by Misook. Good times!