Posts tagged ‘my favorite things’

August 30, 2010

this girl’s mecca


As far as I’m concerned, The Container Store is the holy grail. My mecca. Or, according to my friend Meredith, “the happiest store on earth.” No matter how you see it, it’s pure heaven for us near-OCD types and anyone else who loves good design and symmetry and rows of colorful office supplies.
This post is for you, Cerella. I am so sorry you don’t have Container Store in your neck of the woods. When you come south to visit, be sure to bring an extra suitcase!
click image to see complete photo album
This Girl's Mecca


August 29, 2010

Sunday Seven :: the perfect summer meal


When I was growing up my family always had a particular meal during the summer that allowed us to take advantage of the fresh produce that is so very specific to the season. As luck would have it, the meal had seven components, making it the perfect final post to the summer’s Sunday Seven. I recreated most of this meal a couple of days ago in order to capture it for posterity, and though the produce is just past its prime moment in time, it was still as delectable as I remembered.

perfect summer meal

Purple Hull Peas — my favorite of all legumes — cooked all day with a little salt pork then seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper

Summer Squash, sautéed in a little olive oil and butter then seasoned with salt and pepper

Corn on the Cob, usually freshly shucked, although I never do that anymore because I despise cleaning the silks (much like my friend Cerella spoke of this week in her series of foodie posts)

Homemade Cornbread (or, in later years, Jiffy brand sweet cornbread). My grandmother always made cornbread sticks in a heavy cast iron pan, which I have now inherited, but fat muffins are just as delightful. With a little butter melted between the muffin top and bottom, the cornbread is almost like a dessert in the middle of the meal.

Cucumber Salad (not pictured here) was always a primary element to the meal, although I didn’t really appreciate it when I was young. But it’s Grandmother’s best little salad, made from cucumbers, coarsely chopped sweet onion, and chopped tomatoes doused in a sweet vinaigrette made from vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

Cantaloupe and Watermelon, as a sweet contrast to the savory components. Often the watermelon served as dessert and sometimes was not even included, but it was very rare to not have cantaloupe on our plates. A good thing, in my eyes, as cantaloupe is my favorite summer fruit.

Lemonade Pie remains the best summer treat, and in the event that we had it at the time of our summer meal, it was the absolute best capper. Everything that is good and fresh about the summer just comes together perfectly in this simple, cool, sweet treat. And the perfect summer meal was made even more perfect.
lemonade pie

June 27, 2010

a celebration throughout OZ

June 6th was a day of firsts for the girl. Her first train ride into the city, the first visit to Hard Rock Café (for me, too!), and her first Broadway musical. I’ve been patiently waiting for Wicked to make its way to Dallas since first hearing the soundtrack almost 3 years ago, and when the show was finally announced for this summer I knew there could be no greater birthday gift for the girl. She has dreams of Broadway, herself, and I always want to encourage whatever she has in mind, so I couldn’t think of anything more memorable for her.
We headed into Dallas via the light rail and went straight to the Hard Rock for an early dinner. Kiwi and I share a love of music, and her familiarity with 80s rock could easily rival those of us who actually lived that decade. We spent more than half of our time exploring the memorabilia and the Rock Shop, taking photos and picking up gifts for family members, and then we took some time for dinner while watching music videos that played on the monitors around the room. It’s so much fun for me to hear this not-quite 16-year-old singing along with songs from my high school years and to name the bands before the titles pop up on screen. It’s like hanging out with an old school buddy, which is how it seems to feel, more and more, as she grows up. She’s matured into such an incredible young woman and, whether she believes it or not, she exudes a beauty and a confidence and a true zest for life that draws people to her. At dinner she chatted up the waitress about the many pins she had acquired in her time with the Hard Rock, and when our check arrived the waitress had written a little note to her. My intent for the entire evening was to make Kiwi believe every single moment was designed just for her, and this provided a wonderful beginning.
dinner and a birthday wish
I had the most divine barbecued chicken quesadillas with chili sauce and handmade salsa, and Kiwi chose the Twisted Mac and Cheese, loaded with bacon and chives and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs. I think I’ll have to try her dish on my next visit!     click image to enlarge
She knew nothing at all about Wicked — and I chose not to fill her in beyond the basic fact of it being a sort of prequel story to The Wizard of Oz — so the fun for me was in watching everything come alive before her eyes, watching each element of the story register with her in relation to the film that we know so well. She spoke very little throughout the entire production, and I don’t even remember much audible laughter, though I do know that she found it very funny, just like the rest of the audience. But she didn’t say much. And after a while I began to see that she was simply letting the entire experience wash over her. She was taking every detail to heart and soaking it up. This we shared, as my emotional attachment to this musical runs very, very deep, as well. When the production ended and I looked at her for a final analysis, all she said was, “I don’t know why, but I can see myself doing that one day.” And that was the entire reason I wanted to give her this gift.

'Wicked' curtain scene from 'Wicked'
There are no photos allowed inside the Music Hall, so naturally I tried to sneak a couple. I mean, seriously… I’ve been aching to see this production for years. Of course I tried to document it! I managed to get a semi-decent shot before the curtain was raised during the overture, and then I attempted one more during the final duet of the show’s main characters. Those in the know will recognize the blue dress of G(a)linda the Good and the green visage of Elphaba, “Wicked Witch” of the West. Had I not been trying to conceal the camera so stealthily it might have actually taken focus and left me with a truly beautiful shot. Alas, this is the best I could do without risking eviction from the theatre. I still love the visual, though, and have a great memory of being sneaky and trying not to embarass the girl.
a night at 'Wicked'
I really wanted to get a photo of us next to a poster for the show, a singular visual of the night. Kiwi offered to take one of me.
a night at 'Wicked
And a young couple offered to take one of the both of us in exchange for reciprocation with their own camera. (I’m afraid we all failed each other miserably with blurry snaps.)

By the time we reached this point of the evening, she was ready for me to put my camera away. Note the forced smile that says, “Can this be the last photo, please?” Ha!
a night at 'Wicked'
clockwise from top left: Bonnie Raitt, Bon Jovi, The Beatles, Madonna, Elton John, Keith Richards, Bryan Ferry, The Smithereens, The B-52s, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Blondie, Willie Nelson, and Pantera.
The exhibit from The Beatles is actually a note written by George Harrison:
Dear Christine, Thanks for your letter. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your book at [unreadable] Park. I hope this may make up for it a little. The other autograph is for your friend. Love and best wishes from George Harrison xxx
Alongside the note is a piece of paper autographed by all four members of the band, beginning with an inscription from Harrison that says: To Christine     Love from Les Beatles
DART station
It seems that all of my trips to the downtown area somehow take me to the West End. Not that I’m complaining!
watching the city go by
She debated all day whether she would be happy living in the city. And then she decided.
House of Blues
We decided our next trip would include the House of Blues, and then I learned that this does not actually belong to that establishment. Doesn’t change our minds though!
Apparently, I have a sixth sense for planning trips on the weekend of comics and animé conventions. Remember last year? Kiwi saw a few costumed participants walking the downtown sidewalks before I noticed anyone, and when she began describing girls with pink wigs and boys with samurai swords I knew exactly what we were headed into. I tried to take a few inconspicuous photos from our train stop but finally decided that anyone who was walking around in an elaborate costume probably wouldn’t mind posing for photos. These girls were really awesome!
souvenirs   souvenirs
I’m a sucker for souvenirs and the ones I chose this night were just perfect for me! A bright, shiny thing (hi Mom!) and a new addition for my accidental collection. They make me smile every time I notice them! The nifty little coin purse was actually a sweet find. I’ve been searching for something like this with just enough space for a driver’s license and debit card plus a ring for a couple of keys — something I could carry in a pocket and eliminate the need to carry my 20-lb purse on long days of shopping or fun. That this little guy has a cute fleur-de-lis charm just made it all the more cool.
Kiwi found more souvenirs at Hard Rock Café than at the show, but what she found was truly cool. We also made sure the older boys got a little something, as well. The pictures are dark but if you look closely you’ll see a keyring with a spinning guitar (for the newest driver among us) and a metal guitar pick on a chain (for Kiwi’s brother). Thankfully, both went over very well.
souvenirs  souvenirs
And I picked up the coolest little stuffed bear for the last boy, in honor of his recent fashion decision to begin sporting a faux-hawk, but by far, the best souvenir of the evening came as an afterthought. Kiwi got herself a flying monkey. We both agreed that those monkeys were terrifying to us as children when watching the original film, but the stage show changed all perceptions. We have an empathy we never expected, and… honestly, isn’t this guy the most adorable little thing? My only regret is not picking one up for myself!

As usual, I found beauty and art at every turn. From the super-cool fixtures at the Hard Rock and incredible chandelier at the Music Hall to a city apartment with a balcony that spoke to me at an almost primal level. From the extravagant to beautiful simplicity. I have as much fun dreaming of living downtown as I do experiencing the activities of the day.
city balcony
Dallas Music Hall
Our day was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. My happiness came from fulfilling a dream to see Wicked, but the joy was found in sharing the experience with the girl, celebrating her upcoming birthday, and seeing the world through her eyes. These are the moments I treasure the most. Happy 16th, Kiwi Chelle!

April 26, 2010

the first boy

The first boy celebrates his 15th birthday today. He is one of a kind, for sure, and one of the greatest joys of my life. I was privileged to be present in the delivery room when he was born and to hold him during that first half hour afterward. We’ve always shared a special friendship, a special bond, and we are very much alike in so many ways. I adore this boy like he is my own. He is fearless, secure in his own skin, and sensitive enough to be a great friend to others. He possesses an energy and an innocence that I hope he never loses, and he shares love and passion without a second thought. Above all, he is determined to be his very best, from sports to studies to friendship to just being a big brother. And he rarely settles for less than excellence when he wants something for himself or someone he loves. Watching this boy grown into a man is definitely one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
Happy birthday, K2! I truly adore you.
 birthday boy

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