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You guys gave a lot of great input about the bed dilemma – thank you! I'm excited to report that we opted for a king (in person, a queen just wasn't a big enough difference). It's scheduled to arrive next weekend. In the meantime, we're hunting for bed linens. I love these mixes of white and gray...
This post is part of Fiction Friday, a series born out of my ongoing desire to be a novelist. These stories are meant to be read independently. They are fictional vignettes inspired by glimmers from my life.
After the concert, we drive the long way home. We're both too awake, too giddy, too high-spirited to go back to the house just yet, which is stale and stuffy from the trapped summer heat. So we drive. Instead of turning left at Holly Street, you take the hard right that bends down the hill toward the lake. Night joggers are out. Every few seconds, their reflectors catch the headlights of passing cars and light up like a photography flash. You roll down both our windows. "Beautiful out," you say, but I'm lost staring into the glossy night.
I'm in that same daze when the car hits something. It's a thump that feels like we're going fifty over a speed bump – hard and quick. You say something sharp that I can't make out. "What happened?" I ask. "What was that?" "I don't know," you say, but I think what you actually mean is, I don't want to know. You keep checking the rearview mirror, shaking your head, shifting in your seat. There's no shoulder here to pull off onto, and there are cars behind us. The windows are still down; I feel, for the first time in weeks, cold. If you are, too, you aren't showing any signs of it. The road curves. We don't say anything else. Out of the corner of my eye, I see your hands tighten on the steering wheel. The road, too, becomes tighter, narrowing so much that I wonder if it might collapse into a single lane, forcing us to swerve onto the sidewalk to avoid oncoming traffic; but just as I have this thought, it widens again, brightens up. A sodium street light flickers on as we pass underneath. Out of the darkness, a jogger appears. Somehow the road has brought us back to the lake, coming from the opposite direction. When we reach the spot, you pull off the road as much as you can – which is hardly at all – and let the other cars pass us. You punch the hazard light button with your thumb and tell me to hang tight. I watch as you crouch in the middle of the street, craning your neck, frowning. There's only pavement and yellow paint. "I don't know," you say when you slide back into the driver's seat. "Maybe it was nothing." How could it be nothing? I want to ask, but it doesn't seem like the right thing to ask. "Let's go home," I say instead.
The house, miraculously, is not stuffy. It's warm, but not stuffy. We shed out of our clothes and into pajamas, open the windows, and set the alarm clock. That night, I dream that we're in the car again, and that we hit something again. It's all the same until we go back and check. This time there's a tiny little man in the middle of the road, hiding under a cello case. The case has our tire tracks burned into its pebbled texture, like a tattoo. "Are you okay?" we ask. "Are you hurt?" He peeks out. I recognize him; he had played in the concert that night. He'd had a solo. There had been a standing ovation. Here, curled up under his cello case, he's still wearing his suit, and the collar is damp. He's been crying, but when he sees us, he smiles. "Oh, yes," he says. "I'm fine." "Are you sure?" we ask, relieved that we didn't run over anyone's cat, or a family of raccoons. "Of course," he says. He gets up and wipes his eyes. He starts to drag his cello case the rest of the way across the road. "You don't need to worry, kiddos," he says. "These things happen all the time."
Bodhi has a dog bed, but he refuses to sleep on it. Instead, he sleeps on our bed. Even if we kick him off, he climbs back up in the middle of the night. It's half heartwarming, and half a pain in the butt. I'm constantly cramped (I can't even sleep with my legs straight out) or woken up (Bodhi kicks in his sleep).
We're seriously looking into upgrading from our full size bed. What do you have? A queen? A king? Do you have a favorite headboard and/or bed frame?
I love a mojito any time of year, but summertime is especially perfect for this refreshing, sweet-n-tart, minty cocktail. You don't even need to buy a muddler to make a good mojito. And, because I figured I couldn't just show you a drink and call it a day, I also have recipes for fresh serrano salsa and tortilla chips.
Fair warning: the tortilla chips are a bit chewy, not nearly as crisp as store-bought ones, but that's what I like about them. And, um, a word of advice: don't indulge in a mojito until after you've made the salsa, because there's a lot of dicing involved. Let's keep those fingertips intact.
20 fresh mint leaves 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges 2 tablespoons sugar 2 cups ice cubes 6 tbsp white rum 1 cup club soda
Place 10 mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into each glass. Use a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to crush the mint and lime. Divide the remaining lime wedges and sugar between the two glasses, and muddle again. Fill each glass with 1 cup ice. Divide the rum between the two glasses. Add 1/2 cup club soda to each glass. Stir well and enjoy.
Tortilla Chips (serves 2)
6 small corn tortillas (I used 5 1/2" ones) 1 tbsp olive oil
Stack tortillas and slice into quarters. Place in a bowl, add olive oil, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan until they begin to brown, about three minutes per side. Remove from heat and, if necessary, blot with a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
6 ounces cherry tomatoes (approx 17 tomatoes) 1 serrano chile a small handful of cilantro 1 garlic clove 1/3 cup white onion fresh lime juice to taste (I used 1/2 lime) salt to taste (I used 1/4 tsp)
Finely dice the tomatoes. Scoop into a bowl. Cut the chile in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds if you want (I did). Chop the chile as finely as you can, then add it to the bowl. Carefully bunch up the cilantro sprigs, and chop into small pieces, stems and all. Add to the bowl. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Next, finely dice the onion and add to the bowl. Mix well. Taste and season with lime juice and salt, mix again, and let stand if you have a little time, for the flavors to meld before eating.
This is the first post of Fiction Friday, a series born out of my ongoing desire to be a novelist. These stories are meant to be read independently. They are fictional vignettes inspired by glimmers from my life.
Except for the bamboo, Maya loved everything about the house. It had skylights in the living room, a tiled kitchen, an extra bedroom that could, maybe, be painted baby blue when the time was right. But the backyard was half eaten up by the bamboo, so thick she could hardly thrust her arm through it, and when she finally managed to, the joints along the stems scratched her skin, as if warning her to back off. This is our spot, it seemed to say. Our roots run deep. What she wanted was a little garden. She wanted arugula, beets, and snap peas. And a sunflower. Her sister's garden had one, a bright burst of yellow amongst the leafy folds of green. "It's nice, isn't it?" her sister asked, when the two of them had stood in the narrow path that ran down the middle of her garden. "Well, besides the slugs. You have to keep those little suckers in check. You put out cups of old beer, and presto, they're good and drowned. It's gross, but it works." But maybe Maya's garden wouldn't attract any pests. Bigger miracles had happened before, right? Maybe she wouldn't have to put out traps for them, or empty the traps when they became bubbly and discolored. The thought made her mouth taste sour. Think of something else, she told herself. Like mint. Mint and cherry tomatoes. Or butter lettuce. Or sage. Back inside, the house was rich with the sweet smell of fried onions. Johnny was hunched over the stove, spatula in hand, little specks of oil splattered on his shirt. He'd always been messy when he cooked, but somehow the food turned out tidy and precise. He turned when he heard Maya come in, lifting a sliver of onion to his parted smile. "Five minutes," he said. She put silverware on the table. She shuffled the scattered mail into a pile and tucked it under a book on Johnny's desk. Bank statements, bills, pre-approved credit card offers: it was always the same, always more of the same. "I met the neighbors this morning," Johnny said when they sat. "They're retired. A little crotchety, maybe, but nice enough." "Did they say anything about the bamboo?" Maya asked. "The bamboo?" "Yes. The bamboo. Does it go into their yard, too?" "I don't know, Maya. I barely talked to them." "I just wish it wasn't there. Our yard is already small enough. You think we could dig it up?" "Really? I don't think it's so bad. Actually, I think it looks alright." "There's no space." "Space for what?" he asked. He broke his gaze from her to take a drink. Maya watched the muscles on his throat tighten as he swallowed. Johnny wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and picked his fork back up. He began again, "So, the neighbors, like I said, they seem a little grumpy, but they–" and Maya shifted her focus to the window behind Johnny's head, a perfectly square window, curtainless, that looked out to the backyard. She could see the leafy tips of the bamboo, just barely, and she felt a kind of heat start to build up in her hands. Tomorrow, when Johnny was at work, she would find their moving box that was still packed with the yard tools, find the shovel and the pruning shears and her barely used gloves, and she would kneel on the soft grass in the backyard and she would get rid of the bamboo herself, no matter how much it scratched up her arms, no matter how much her body ached from it. She would clear the yard, and dig her hands into the soil, and start anew.
Forgive me for not making a video for this recipe. I wasn't even sure if it would turn out well, so I didn't document the process. But it did turn out, wonderfully so.
A few days ago, my friend Kym gave me some rhubarb from her garden. I'm no rhubarb expert, but I do know that sugar is its best friend, and that it tastes good on bruschetta. I found a rhubarb jam recipe and adjusted it a little. It came out thick, tart, and sweet. And delicious.
Easy Rhubarb Spread (yields about 1 cup) adapted from Chollow
10 oz chopped rhubarb 1/2 cup sugar 3 tbsp orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spread thickens. Spread on crackers, bruschetta, or enjoy by itself.
(I discovered anek from Oh Joy, and I just love these prints!)
What an exhausting (but great) week! After the wedding, and after a day of catching up on work, I went out of town to celebrate my grandmother's birthday. Our family surprised her with a spa package, which she loved. I'm back home now, and am so glad for the weekend – Stefan and I are kicking ours off with Japanese food and Harry Potter. Hope your weekend is a terrific one.
Hi guys. Thanks so much for all your sweet comments. Our wedding was everything I could have asked for. I'll wait to recap everything until our photographers send over photos. I'm also thinking about writing a "things I learned" type of post sometime soon. Reading other people's advice while I planned our wedding was tremendously helpful, and I want to share some thoughts of my own.
In the meantime, let's get back to regular posts, food posts, and mixtapes. Woo!
(Above is a photo of our centerpieces I quickly snapped after we arranged the flowers on Sunday – a mix of white and pink roses, sweet peas, mint, and a few other greens.)
Today I'm arranging flowers (with help, of course!), wrapping up a few last minute things, and then we're heading off to a BBQ that my future brother-and-sister-in-law graciously offered to host. I have the hardest time sleeping the night before big events, so wish me luck getting some zzz's tonight.
I have one more DIY wedding project to share with you guys: favors. Originally, I wanted to give out egglings, but it would've cost too much, and as Stefan pointed out, the guys probably wouldn't care for it. So we opted for food favors. More specifically, mini jars of wildflower honey and mini jars of greek olive oil.
Supplies: - 2 oz hex glass jars and matching lids - sticker paper (for the labels) - cardstock (for the name tags) - hole punch (I used a heart-shaped one from Martha Stewart) - 1/8" black ribbon - honey and olive oil
How to: 1. design your labels and name tags, and do a test print before printing all of them 2. clean the jars and let air dry 3. fill the jars (not TOO high!) and twist lids on tightly 4. apply the sticker labels, peeling the backing off gradually so it's easy to readjust the sticker if needed 5. tie black ribbon around the top and thread through the hole in the name tags. knot twice and snip ends.
(...can't you practically smell it? Love the product photography & packaging. More here.)
Hope you all had a nice long weekend. I spent several dinners with friends, including one at Tavolàta with the lovely ladies brandi, linda, and angie. If you ever eat there, I recommend the potato gnocchi. (Although, as you may have noticed, I am just a tad obsessed with gnocchi to begin with.)
Planning a wedding, big or small, doesn't come stress-free. I am a worrywort, and I can't stop myself from having thoughts like: what if people forget to come? What if they're bored? What if it's raining and we can't take photos in the park? But I know that even if everything goes wrong, it doesn't matter in the end, because it's all about the getting married part. And there will be no Runaway Bride moment.
After the wedding, I'll start working on food videos again. Yesterday I made a yummy margherita pizza from scratch. I also recently made fresh ravioli with spinach and ricotta. If there's something you really, really want to see in a video, leave a comment. I would love to hear your suggestions.
(The photo above is sort of what the table centerpieces will look like, except there will actually be a number in that table number stand, and the flowers will look totally different.)