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Archive for the ‘newlywed life’ Category

Preparations!

We are signing a new lease on our place tomorrow, and I’ve spent today cleaning in earnest.  Why?  Because our Landlord’s Younger Brother (LYB) will be dropping by tomorrow with the new lease.

Here’s how the conversation went last night when I told Econo Man that I’d scheduled the lease-signing.

Econo Man:  “We need to clean the apartment.”

Me: “Why?  It’s pretty clean, I doubt he’s going to think we’re wrecking the apartment if we have a few magazines on the table.”

Econo Man:  “Uh … do you remember how LYB acted when we moved in?”

And suddenly, it all came back to me.  I may consider myself a neat freak, but compared to LYB, I’m small-time, a mere amateur.  LYB had wanted the movers to remove their shoes every time they entered the apartment, insisting that “this is new carpet!”*  He’d fretted that our magnets would scratch the surface of the refrigerator.  And he told me at least sixteen times that I had to shut off the water valve to our washing machine after using it, otherwise it might leak and ruin the apartment.**

Me:  “Oh, crap.”

Off to try out our new can of carpet cleaner on that footprint in the hallway …

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*  It was freshly cleaned, but it was obviously not new carpet.  There were deep indentations from the previous renter’s furniture, and heavy wear-and-tear in front of where the couch used to be.

**  Econo Man got the same speech, but only ten or twelve times.

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Last week, Econo Man’s lovely mother came through Boston, bearing gifts from Econo Man’s grandfather (who is paring down his possessions in preparation for a move to a smaller apartment).  Among the presents: these gorgeous cordial glasses.

Econo Man and I loved them on sight (as I’ve mentioned, I have a terrible weakness for glassware), but they were a bit too small for port, our favorite after-dinner aperetif digestif (thanks Moll!).  My MIL said she’d been using them with Drambuie after a long day of helping her father pack up.  So Econo Man braved a cold, windy Boston evening to go down to our corner liquor store and bring back this:

Econo Man hadn’t had Drambuie in years, and my only past experience with Drambuie was carrying my friend L back to her cruise ship room after she had two of something called a Drambuie Kablooie.*  According to the label, it’s a honey-flavored Scotch whiskey.  Sounded good.  We poured it into our tiny cordial glasses and sat back to watch the Olympics.

And?  Not a big hit.   It was too sweet for me, and even a bit sugary for my sweet-tooth husband.

Which leaves us with a dilemma.  We now have a rather large bottle of Drambuie in our apartment, and nothing to pour into our cordial glasses.  Anyone have a good recipe for Drambuie punch?  Or an alternate liqueur suggestion?  I’m pushing for a bottle of grappa, but Econo Man isn’t a big fan.

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*  I feel compelled to add that L was 22 at the time, and no laws were broken, although we did get several terrified looks from the cruise staff when we told them we were seniors in college on spring break.

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Several weeks ago, Econo Man and I tried a Nigella Lawson recipe for butternut squash and sweet potato soup.  We liked the texture, but thought the soup was too sweet for our tastes.  Econo Man, not to be deterred, vowed to figure out how to make a delicious, savory, slightly spicy butternut squash soup.  Three nights later, with some inspiration from Nigella and Allrecipes.com, he improvised this fabulous winter soup, and I just had to share it!

You will need:

*  Approximately 2.5 cups chopped butternut squash.  I buy the pre-chopped because I hate skinning and chopping squash with a fiery passion.

*  1 onion, chopped (we used a sweet onion, but plain white cooking onions work very well)

*  A couple handfuls of carrots, chopped small

*  1-2 T. butter

*  Approximately 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re going for a vegetarian soup), plus just enough water to cover the vegetables

*  1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

*  2-3 tablespoons of half-and-half, cream, or milk

Step 1:  Put the chopped carrots and the butter into a pot, and saute the carrots for 2-3 minutes, until all the butter is melted.

Step 2:  Put your chopped onion in the pot along with the carrots.  Saute until the onions are soft and transluscent.

Step 3:  Put the butternut squash in the pot. Then, pour in the can of chicken broth.  If the liquid isn’t quite high enough to cover the veggies, add some water.  (Note: you may want to use a bigger pot than we did.  Just saying.)

Step 4:  Add the 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5:  Bring to a boil, then simmer the mixture for ~15 minutes, until squash is tender.

Step 6:  Pour the entire contents of the pot into a blender.

Step 7:  Blend.

Step 8:  Add a few tablespoons of half-and-half, cream, or whatever milk you have on hand.  Blend again until the milk is incorporated (the soup will be a few shades lighter than it was before you added the milk).

Step 9: Pour into bowls, and enjoy!

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About halfway through the first quarter of last night’s Super Bowl, I turned to my husband and said, sweetly, with the utmost fake sincerity, “Darling, I had no idea how terrible it was to be a man!  Especially when you’re saddled with a woman.  How difficult it must be!”

Econo Man: “Yes.  Very difficult.”

Dear morons who developed last night’s slate of Super Bowl commercials:  Start watching “Mad Men.”  Please.  Don Draper can explain everything that’s wrong with your current advertising campaigns:

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.

And see, right now, you’re not selling happiness or security.  You’re selling misery.  You’re selling the idea that a man isn’t a man unless he has your product, especially if there’s a woman in his life, since girlfriends and wives will totally make their men go lingerie shopping with them during the Super Bowl, and no man could be happy while contemplating what his hot girlfriend would look like in a lacy red bra, no sir.  You are telling your customers that they are inadequate.  Now they associate Bud Light and Doritos and Dodge cars with feelings of self-loathing.  Is that really what you wanted?

In addition to watching “Mad Men,” you should read this post at Introverted Wife, where she explains why your current strategy is equivalent to setting half of your advertising dollars on fire.  Not only did last night’s ads not appeal to women, they sought to actively alienate us, to tell us that we are making the men in our lives miserable just by existing, and that your product is designed to help the men we are torturing.  Have you noticed that women make up roughly 50% of the population?  Did you realize you were giving that 50% of the population absolutely no reason to purchase your product — that, in fact, you were giving them reasons *not* to buy your product?

Perhaps you thought that only men would be watching the Super Bowl.  If so, you were wrong.  We gals may not know anything about football — we all just root for the teams with the prettier uniforms, and heaven knows you couldn’t expect anyone with two X chromosomes to, say, have grown up a passionate Broncos fan and still agonize over those Super Bowl beatdowns John Elway endured before the Broncos beat the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII — but we do attend Super Bowl parties.  Who do you think makes the guacamole and mini-pizzas, anyway?  According to your worldview, men can’t slice avocados or operate the oven.

Also, women spend money.  Sometimes, we buy beer! And cars! And even gadgets like portable TVs! Crazy, but true.

Yeesh.  Anyone else annoyed by last night’s terrible Super Bowl ads?

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I accepted a postdoc last week.

I’d expected to greet that news with more fanfare, but to be honest, I’m having a hard time feeling great about this. I don’t feel bad, exactly — it’s a reasonable job, better than I thought initially, and I already know and like some of my colleagues. My advisors were all firmly convinced that I ought to take this job, that it would benefit my career much more than another year in graduate school. But the job isn’t in Boston, and my heart is breaking just a little bit as I look for single-person studio apartments in a new city and realize I’ll be spending a year or more away from my husband. Even though everyone keeps telling me how excited I should be to find a job in this awful market, I feel like I failed the most important person in my life. The thought of facing his family and trying to explain my decision, and explain why I couldn’t find anything in Boston, makes me physically sick.

Sorry to be such a downer. All this is by way of saying that ever since I got the offer, I’ve had perhaps the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever had in my life. My dissertation progress has been glacial, even though now I have a tentative submission and defense date, and I also haven’t had many ideas for blogging. I have, however, logged a disturbing number of hours watching Hulu on our Playstation 3.

I need to light a fire under my butt and snap out of it and be productive again, and I need your help. I am reaching out to the interwebs to select my next blog topic, hopefully for a Friday entry. Your choices are:

* Non-work-related books PC has been reading
* Favorite video games of PC’s childhood
* Cheap wines at Trader Joe’s
* PC’s love of football and Super Bowl predictions
* Other topic of your choice (though I must ask that my job be off the table)

OK, I should probably be focused on breaking my dissertation writer’s block, but right now I’ll settle for writing anything, period! :-) So help me kick my butt back into gear, and tell me what you’d like to hear about this week.

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Folks, this has been a crazy week — posting will likely be sporadic for a while.  In the meantime, here’s a post I wrote a while back, about off-registry gifts and choosing a great one.  OK, I’ve already admitted that I kind of stink at gift-giving, but I think there might be some useful advice in here.

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You’ve been invited to a wedding — hooray!

Of course, you’ve read my guide for RSVPing, and you have informed the couple of your plans in a timely manner.  Now comes the next step.  You would like to get them a gift.*  What do you buy?

If you’re like me, your first stop is the couple’s registry, where you select something that looks cool, have the website box it up and ship it, and call it a day.  On the other hand, you may be in the same situation I was in the week before Supermaid’s wedding, when I realized that all that was left on her registry was measuring spoons and a cookie sheet.  Or maybe you actually like buying presents and would rather come up with something cool on your own, no registry required.

But even if you’re sure you’ve got a great idea for an off-registry gift, there may be a little voice in the back of your head dissuading you from breaking with the couple’s lists.  Maybe your cousin who got married last year spent Christmas bitching about how “crappy” the non-registry presents were.  Maybe you read this Tomato Nation column.  And now you’re worried that your thoughtful, unique gift might put you in the couple’s doghouse forever.

Fear not!  First off, anyone who gets mad at you for giving them a present isn’t really worth fretting about.  Second, speaking as a recent married person, we loved our off-registry gifts, because they were the only ones that came as a surprise.  Third, no matter what people might tell you, you are never required to buy from the registry.

That said, I do have a few basic hints for choosing a great off-registry gift.

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Like A., I found the dreaded WIC rearing its ugly head for one last hurrah right before the holidays.  Why?  Because every family member on our Christmas list was going to receive wedding-related photos or albums for the holidays.

We used three printing services for our wedding pictures: Snapfish, Shutterfly, and iPhoto.  We were happy with two, and very unhappy with a third.  So if anyone out there is looking to print some photos, here were my impressions of these three services!

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