Monday, December 29, 2008

End-of-Year Reflections

Linda over at SundryMourning posted a New Year's quiz and has encouraged others to answer it on their own blogs. I've always been big on self-reflection at the end of the year (and on my birthday), so I couldn't resist:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

I saw an opera indoors. (Sure, not as exciting as surfing, skydiving, or getting married, but a girl's got to have a low-key year once in a while!) I saw the L.A. Opera perform Tosca in June. Before that, I’d only ever seen an opera outdoors (“Carmen on the Common” in Boston).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Did I keep them? Yes and no, but I like to look at it through optimist’s eyes – it’s more than I would have accomplished if I’d never set any New Year’s resolutions in the first place. Making progress/moving in the right direction is gratifying even if I don’t get to cross major accomplishments off my list with a big check mark at the end of the year. So, yes, I plan on setting new resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

This was a big year for babies - two cousins and several of my friends gave birth. Lots of cutie-patootie babies to coo over, and more to come next year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. Boo. Still setting my sights on Italy though. Hopefully sometime in the next 5 years.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

I'd like to hear more live poetry, spend more time at the beach, and go on a vacation that doesn’t consist of traveling to Ohio or Massachusetts for family events. (Disclaimer: I LOVE my family!! It’s just been a realllly long time since I’ve had a real vacation.)

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The following dates hold great memories for me:

  • Our wedding receptions (Ohio, 5/17/08; California, 6/1/08; Massachusetts, 8/17/08)
  • Jen & Craig’s wedding (7/12/08)
  • Dinner at Simon Pearce in Vermont (8/20/08)
  • Jake & Danielle’s wedding (9/6/08)
  • A great Devotchka show (9/16/08)
  • Barack Obama is elected president (11/4/08)
  • Emily’s graduation (12/13/08)
  • Sheila’s baby shower (12/14/08)
  • Pohlman Christmas celebration (12/15/08)
  • Dellelo Christmas celebration (12/20/08)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Planning and pulling off 3 wedding receptions that took place over the span of 4 months in 3 different states (!!).

9. What was your biggest failure?

Gaining back all the weight I had lost.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, nothing more serious than temporary back pain and migraines.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A calendar for my mother that I put together myself using

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My sister-in-law Emily got her master’s degree after several years of very hard work. (Yay, Emily!)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Blagojevich’s illegal activity, the holiday-shopping stampede-killing of a man at Wal-mart, and people voting ‘yes’ on Prop 8.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Towards paying for wedding celebrations.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The presidential election.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

“Yes We Can” by Will.I.Am.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?


18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercising, taking photos, and keeping in touch with friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Complaining, eating, and procrastinating.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Quietly at home after spending the weeks prior with friends and family in Ohio and Massachusetts.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

I didn’t ‘fall,’ but my love grew deeper.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

The Big Bang Theory - My husband and I get a kick out of watching this show because I met him when he was a post-doc at Caltech when we both lived in Pasadena (where the show is set). While the characters on the show are caricatures of what the real people are like, . . . there are some things that are just a little too spot-on, which of course just makes it all the more hilarious.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


24. What was the best book you read?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Flight of the Conchords – hilarious.

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted stress-free working conditions and more personal time and I got them both.

27. What did you want and not get?

Nothing for which I can’t wait a little longer (house, etc.).

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – it’s an old movie, but this was the first time I’d seen it. Brilliant.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My husband took me out to dinner. I opted for a quiet night, just the two of us, because we’d just seen all our friends for a belated wedding celebration the day before. And I turned (*gulp*) thirty-four.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Hearing my old boss acknowledge that the work I did is helping to carry the department I left.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Practical – I work from home, so most of the time anything comfortable and clean (usually t-shirts and jeans) works for me.

32. What kept you sane?

The love and support of my husband and my new working conditions.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Like most folks, I was pretty caught up in the presidential election, but, locally, I was concerned about Prop 8 and did a bit of H8 protesting.

35. Who did you miss?

My friends and family back east.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Maria G. from Kazakhstan, a new and inspiring friend (who shares my birthday to boot!).

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

I am more than what I do for a living. Sounds like a no-brainer, but my self-identity and self-worth had been almost exclusively defined by what I did for a living for a long time. Very unhealthy.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth
To be young at heart?
For, as rich as you are,
It’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

(from the song "Young at Heart." I adore the classic version by Jimmy Durante.)

How would you respond to these questions? In the comments section here, share your own answers or direct me to your own blog where you've posted them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Meatless Monday: Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Mushrooms

In my last Meatless Monday post, I recommended a 'recipe' for a fast and easy meal. We need those every now and then (ok, more like pretty often) to accommodate our fast-paced lives. However, sometimes something is just sooo good, it's worth the extra effort it may require to make. Case in point? Risotto. *Ohhh how I love risotto.* When made properly, the texture of the arborio rice is firm without being al dente, creamy, and just YUM.

My favorite risotto is one that I get at Galletto's in Westlake. They put porcini, shitake, and champignon mushrooms in it and put Parmesan cheese on it - or, rather, they put the risotto in the cheese. Yes, that's right, they put the risotto in the cheese. They roll out a cart with an enormous wheel of Parmesan cheese on it to your table. Then they plop the hot risotto into a hole carved out of the middle of the wheel, scrape the cheese on the sides into the risotto, mix it all around, and plate it. Sure, the table-side plating gimmick is a bit much, but I don't care - if ordering the risotto at Galletto's required I withstand listening to the waitstaff sing a version of the 'The Wheels on the Bus' with lyrics adapted to suit their enormous cheese wheel, . . . I'd still do it. Seriously, it's that good. For those of you not willing to withstand the fanfare (or who don't live near Galletto's!), here is a good recipe you can make in the privacy of your own home (enormous cheese wheel optional).

Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Mushrooms

(This recipe calls for chicken stock, but you can obviously substitute vegetable stock.)


Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Thursday, December 4, 2008

International Human Rights Day

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This month, we commemorate the 60th anniversary of that important occasion by observing International Human Rights Day on December 19, 2008.

I don't think there are many among us who don't care about human rights . . . but how many among us actually actively do something to protect human rights? I don't intend to sound preachy - I just want to point out that doing something needn't be time-consuming or expensive, and you don't need to physically protest or put yourself in harm's way. It can be as easy as putting your signature on a piece of paper - and, no, that paper doesn't have to be a check (although you can, of course, make donations too).

During this season of "giving and caring," so many of us are railing against the consumerism that seems to have engulfed and dehumanized us . . . yet we continue to buy presents for people who don't need them . . . and receive presents we don't need ourselves. So, why not do a little something that could help people who really need the help? Here's how:

Amnesty International
is a running a Global Write-a-Thon. They have posted 14 cases on their website for which you can write letters - and they even provide you with sample letters to get started. . . . It will only cost you a very small amount of time and the price of a few stamps.

Come on folks, you're already sending out boatloads of holiday cards this time of year anyway, right? How difficult would it be to just print out a few letters and stick them in your stack of outgoing mail?

Your signature is more powerful than you think . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BUST Holiday Craftacular 2008

The BUST Holiday Craftacular makes its LA Debut!
Saturday, December 6th, 11am to 6pm
The Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles

Get jiggy with jingle bells and party with BUST as you browse through the best in handmade gifts, from handbags and accessories to jewelry and cards, make your own giftwrap at an all-day "Craftnight," and get loose with Djs C. Brown (Small Town Talk) and Audrey Napoleon. Goodie bags for the first 100 attendees, giant raffle giveaway, open bar from 4 - 5 pm, and more! Door: $2

Unfortunately, I've got other obligations Saturday so won't be able to make it, but you should check it out if you're free!