Prince George

So as just about everyone knows by now, Prince George Alexander Louis was born on Monday. Congratulations to William and Kate on their beautiful son, by the way. I have nothing but warm wishes for the little baby who’s third in line for the British throne, but I do have one tiny little concern. I really hope the name “Alexander” doesn’t get too popular. It’s my favorite boy’s name. If I had a son and I was solely responsible for naming him, I would call him Alexander. The name goes back several generations in my mother’s family. It’s both my brother’s and grandfather’s middle names, and it’s also my great-grandfather’s first name. (Besides my brother this is all within the Thomas family. Funny enough, my great-great-grandfather’s name was Benjamin Franklin Thomas. That makes me chuckle.) Due to the family history I was kinda hoping to name my son Alexander. Assuming I actually have a son one day. One step at a time, I know! But if Alexander becomes a popular boy’s name due to the newest addition to the British royal family I’m going to be very disappointed. The last thing I want is to give my son a name that every other boy in his class at school will have! I suppose only time will tell.

What’s been going on

As I’ve mentioned, I had surgery on Friday the 14th. It was relatively minor surgery, but I won’t go into details (trust me, it’s not something you guys want to read about). Luckily it was an outpatient procedure so I got back home about three hours after I checked in to the hospital. Unfortunately I was unaware of the true extent of the recovery time then. After about half a dozen calls to the nurse I deduced that I’ve got about two months of recuperation ahead of me before I’m back to normal. Ugh. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was already planning to take a week off from work, but of course I got a cold the Monday before my Friday surgery. I felt terrible about it because it wasn’t that bad of a cold, but I stayed home from work that Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid infecting everyone with my germs. And it couldn’t have happened at a worse time work-wise. Luckily the cold didn’t affect my surgery because I didn’t have a fever or chest congestion. It just meant I had to use more sick time than I planned. The only upside was that I had plenty of time to clean my apartment from top to bottom before my parents arrived from Florida on Thursday! I had to hurry and finish furnishing my guest bedroom before their visit, but it was a small price to pay for all of their help during the first several days of my recovery. I really had no idea what I was in for when I checked into the hospital that Friday morning and I needed my parents much more than I could have imagined. They were here for a week, but they didn’t really get to go anywhere or do anything outside of my little neighborhood. I feel really bad about that, but I am so grateful that they were here and that I got to spend some relatively relaxing time with them. I’ll write more about that later this week.

A week after my surgery I made my bed for the first time. Pretty pathetic, huh? It took about the same amount of time before I could walk more than 2 blocks without getting winded. I tried to go to Downtown Disney for lunch one day after my parents left and I got lightheaded walking from the parking lot to Earl of Sandwich. Sheesh! And the pain wasn’t fun either. My doctor gave me Percocet and Ibuprofen and there were times that I needed both to keep from being completely miserable. But that passed. I’m now eleven days post-surgery and I’ve been back at work for two days. It’s crazy busy there so I don’t have any time to dwell on my discomfort while I’m working. But I think I’m doing pretty well. I’m down to only taking a single Percocet before bed each night. Believe it or not, I think I’ll survive!

Thanksgiving dinner 2012

I started writing this post about six months ago, but I haven’t polished it up enough to be ready to publish until now. I never got around to writing about the awesome Thanksgiving I had with my brother in San Francisco, but you can see some of my photos from the trip in my Thanksgiving 2012 Flickr album. I do want to make sure to tell you a little about our actual Thanksgiving dinner. It was AMAZING. Kenneth and I ate at the house his girlfriend Naomi shared with a few friends and I couldn’t believe how much delicious food they served. There were some very talented chefs in that group. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had – and I’m not just comparing it to other Thanksgiving dinners! But before we went to dinner we did a lot of food prep at Kenneth’s apartment. I must admit that I got pretty full due to all of the snacking we did during that time, but the dishes Kenneth and Naomi were making were so good I couldn’t help it! Naomi is from NYC so she got her recipe for Roasted Cauliflower, Hazelnut, and Pomegranate Seed Salad from the New York Times. See it in the foreground of the photo above? Doesn’t it look great? My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And the roasted Brussel sprouts that Kenneth made (in the background of the photo) were so tasty that I ate them like candy. I never thought I would say that about Brussel sprouts! I’ve got to try making them myself because I don’t mind eating vegetables when they are that delicious. Anyway, see the list below for all of the yummy food I ate on Thanksgiving 2012. Unfortunately I missed dessert because I was so exhausted by the end of the evening that Kenneth walked me back to his place so I could go to bed. I know I missed a scrumptious dessert spread and I’m very sorry about that, but I slept ten hours that night so I definitely needed it!

Eaten at Kenneth’s apartment while cooking
Pomegranate seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted walnuts
Cornbread and cheese
Roasted Brussel sprouts

Appetizers at Naomi’s house
Pumpkin and cheese fondue (made by Naomi)
Pickled okra

Dinner at Naomi’s house
Stuffing with dried cranberries
Mushroom gravy
Homemade cranberry sauce
Roasted Brussel sprouts (made by Kenneth)
Cauliflower salad (made by Naomi)
Macaroni and cheese

My birthday

On my birthday I woke up at 5:15 AM when my alarm went off, meaning it was time for me to get up and start getting ready to go to my 6 AM spinning class. Once I remembered it was my birthday I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because bad stuff always seems to happen on my birthday. Every year I wish I could skip right from January 8th to January 10th, and this year was no exception. The first thing I did after turning off my alarm was check my email. There was a message there from my dad at 2:29 AM telling me that my grandfather had passed away during the night. It wasn’t unexpected because he’d been in a semi-comatose state for about five days. So the whole family was prepared for the news that he was gone, but it was still extremely sad. I was very lucky to see my grandfather over Christmas before he died. After reading my dad’s email I was in no fit state to go to the gym. In fact I was so upset that I almost decided to stay in bed all day. But after a couple of hours of crying and a phone conversation with my mom I finally got out of bed. I took a shower, put on my favorite black dress, grabbed the caramel apple pound cake I’d made the night before, and went to work. I won’t lie, it was incredibly difficult being there, but a couple of hugs and more than a few folks offering their sympathies (and happy birthdays) I made it through the day. And everyone loved the cake. I had no appetite (I only had two bites of my own birthday cake) so I was tempted to cancel the dinner reservations I’d made for myself that night, but as the end of the day approached I finally started getting hungry. So at 6 PM I went home, changed into a different dress and shoes (the ones I wore during the day were giving me a blister), and drove to Disney’s Grand Californian Resort to have dinner at the Napa Rose restaurant. I could tell that the staff felt sorry for me because I was eating alone on my birthday, and I even got a couple of really pitiful looks as I sat at a table by myself, but I tried to ignore that part of my surroundings and concentrate on a truly delicious meal (see the photo I posted last Wednesday). Luckily I avoided any further disasters for the rest of my birthday, but it was still a miserable day. I was so relieved when the clock struck midnight and my birthday was over. Here’s hoping my horrible birthday isn’t a portent of things to come and that being thirty-four years old turns out better than the year I was thirty-three. I’ll leave you with a photo of my family on Christmas Day (minus my dad who is behind the camera). My grandfather is at the opposite end of the table on the left. Goodbye, grandpa. You will be missed.

Cleaning up

“My biggest project for the break is to clean out my room in case my parents have to move at some point in the future. Yesterday I went through two shelves on my bookcase full of old high school math notebooks, prom issues of Seventeen, and declarations of love to several different sets of initials that I have long-since forgotten. I was able to eliminate three-fourths of what was on these shelves but not without a few smiles, a happy memory or two, and more than one blush of embarrassment.”
12/22/00 webpage post

I found this quote over the holidays while re-reading some old posts. My favorite part is “in case my parents have to move.” My parents are still living in the house they bought in August 1979 when I was about seven months old. It’s the house where Kenneth and I grew up and it has a lot of memories. There have been a couple of times in the past where my parents seriously considered moving, but nothing ever came to fruition. Now that my mom and dad are both retired they are still living in that house and they have no plans to sell it anytime soon. When I was ten years old my parents redecorated the whole house. My bedroom was stripped of its yellow floral wallpaper (which was originally put up to keep me from coloring on the walls) and pink floral wallpaper was put up in its place. Hey, I was ten, of course I wanted pink! Twenty-two years later that wallpaper was still there, and not looking too bad actually, when I visited Tallahassee last month. I slept in my old bedroom when I was there, but I had to share the new king-sized bed with my cat Bob. The days of that pink wallpaper were numbered, though. Over the holidays is was finally painted over in an effort to make the guest rooms in my parent’s house less girly. I haven’t seen the end result yet, but I hear it looks good.

Regarding my own house, I’ve been doing a lot of housecleaning over the last month. Over the holidays Dan and filled up the trunk of my CR-V and made a major drop off at Goodwill. And then today I delivered all of the books I don’t want anymore to the library. That felt good. I’m trying to avoid filling up all the rooms and closets in our house with stuff this early into our home ownership. There will be plenty of time to acquire a boatload of stuff after we have kids!

2011 in pictures

Disneyland 1/8-1/9/11 (Photo album here)

Big Bear 2/25-2/27/11 (Photo album here)

Harry Potter World 3/25/11 (Photo album here)

Hawaiian party 7/23/11 (Photo album here)

Long Beach marathon 10/9/11 (Photo album here)

Halloween party 10/29/11 (Photo album here)

San Francisco 11/4-11/7/11 (Photo album here)

Hawaii 11/11 (Photo album pending)

Tallahassee 12/8-12/12/11 (Photo album here)

Christmas 12/11 (Photo album here)

A Tale of Two Pecan Pies

A couple of weeks ago I promised to make a pie for the Arthur Murray Christmas party even though pies and I haven’t exactly agreed in the past. Sounds like a recipe (pun intended) for disaster, right? You got it. My mom has been using my Aunt Martha’s incredible pecan pie recipe as long as I can remember so I figured that would be the safest thing for me to make. It’s tried and true and never let my mom down. I even successfully made one myself for Thanksgiving 2005 (see photo above) in my tiny Seal Beach apartment kitchen. So making a decent pecan pie now that I have a larger kitchen and a lot more cooking experience should have been a piece of cake (another pun intended), right? Unfortunately not. The fact that I ended up making two pies should tell you something right off the bat. On the first one the crust retracted in two places and some of the filling spilled over the top, in between the crust and the pan. I didn’t think too much of it when I took the pie out of the oven, but when I tried to slice it yesterday parts of the crust were hopelessly stuck to the pan. That filling that had made its way outside the crust was as good as super glue after it cooled to room temperature. I couldn’t get a full slice out of the pan without it falling apart. No big deal, I figured, because I had enough ingredients and just enough time to make another pie before the Christmas party. This time I used my shallower pie pan so I would have plenty of crust covering the edge of the pan, hopefully avoiding the problem of the migrating filling. The second pie looked beautiful coming out of the oven so I though I’d hit it out of the park this time. I was wrong. As soon as I set the pie on the cooling rack I realized that the crust had completely split down the middle – something I could only tell because the pan was glass. This allowed a good amount of the filling to seep out and form a layer of sticky liquid between the crust and the pan. How could that possibly have happened? Slightly panicked, I called my mom for help. After talking about it for about twenty minutes we decided that the crust must have been bad. I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust because I’ve never been brave enough to make my own from scratch, and the two I used for the pecan pies came from the same box. There must have been something weird about that particular batch. Maybe this little incident will motivate me to try make my own pie crust in the future. But anyway, I had run out of time so I cooled the second pie to room temperature, sliced it, and transferred the slices to another plate as carefully as possible to take to the Christmas party. Those slices didn’t look pretty and most of them were missing large chunks of crust that were still attached to the pan, but I took them to Arthur Murray anyway. Based on a couple of sample bites the pie tasted great – it just wasn’t as pretty as it should have been based on past results. The owner of the studio said it was the best pecan pie he’s ever tasted so that’s something. I love my Aunt Martha’s recipe because it uses brown sugar instead of corn syrup (yuck) for the filling. It’s seriously delicious. After I get over the two disastrous pecan pies I made this week I’ll have to try the recipe again to make sure I can get a good result. Thanks Aunt Martha!