Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Love in Pasta

Summer is the best time to fall in love. Its all that exposed skin, and extra hours of sunlight. This summer I have fallen hard for this Summer Orzo Pasta Salad. The lovely B introduced us back in June and we have been almost inseparable ever since. It makes me feel nostalgic for my Mom's version of Marcella Hazen's rice and chicken salad (also delicious, but slightly more labor intensive - though, now that I am re-reading the recipe, I might need to make this soon too).

For the Orzo salad - I have made some modifications:

  • Add olives. I've been using jarred kalamata olives, but I bet you could use anything. I normally add about 3/4 of a cup of sliced olives, and then a few more - because you can never have too many olives.
  • Add red bell pepper. Or green or orange, whatever you want. Red just ends up being the one on sale most of the time. I use about half a pepper.
  • Leave the tomatoes up to the person eating. I get annoyed when tomato guts are mucking up my salad, so I often wait to slice them up and put them on until I am about to serve it. Its super delicious even without the tomats.
  • You can skip the basil and the mint if you so choose. I refuse to buy herbs at the store since we started growing them, but the hot sun has not been kind to our plants - so this most recent time it was a much smaller handful.
  • It is an aggressive amount of dressing. I end up only using 3/4 cup of olive oil when I make the full amount, but you can half the amount of dressing and still have enough to dress the salad (especially when you're adding big flavors like the olives). But as B. will tell you - do not leave out the honey. It is the key ingredient.
  • Chicken broth is not necessito. I cannot really tell the difference between when the orzo is cooked in broth and when it is cooked in water, and it seems a colossal waste to just cook in broth and then drain it all out.

The lovely thing about this recipe, is you could totally add other awesome shit to it. Chicken? Yes. Grilled asparagus? Yes. Artichoke hearts? Yes, please.

It makes enough for a week of lunches - and as it sits around in that puddle of dressing it only gets more delicious. I don't know if you could really call it healthy, but it is better than a salami and cheese sandwich with Duke's mayonnaise which I had an unhealthy fling with back in early July (because every summer requires a few bad choices).

Thursday, July 23, 2015


My Mom had this story that I heard over and over about how she and her friend Betsy had once, impulsively hitch-hiked from Boston to Hyannis, hopped a ferry to Nantucket, and arrived unannounced at my Great-Grandmother's (my mother's grandmother) door.

The story was a lesson about always finding opportunities to be impulsive and adventurous, but also call before you show up so you don't make the matriarch mad.

This story once got re-told in front of Betsy and she laughed, "I remember that day, we were so out of our minds stoned."

The story was a lesson about how we don't always share all the details, and when talking about the 70's, you can safely assume that everyone was stoned all the time.

Everyone needs a Betsy.

We need a Betsy to laugh at our miserable faces the first time we take a sip of whiskey sour punch.

We need a Betsy to send us the largest fruit and cookies basket in the known universe when Grandpa dies and the world comes tumbling down.

We need a Betsy to remind us that our parents were young and stupid, just like us.

We need a Betsy to tell us over and over again, how lucky we were to be born into this loud, drunk, completely insane family.

We need someone with her optimism in the face of the worst hands a life can be dealt.

We need her snark, and her joy, and her cut-the-bullshit.

We need her life story of perseverance, and getting shit done, and love when least expected.

I am so grateful that I got to have a Betsy. I am so grateful that my Mom got to have a Betsy.

"Oooh, that whiskey sour, it is punch with a punch, you'know what I'm sayin"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Firsts and Forevers

In a moment of rudeness, I once asked a girl if there was anything that made her sad or regretful about getting married at 22.

"I sometimes get sad that I'll never have another first kiss."

Recently, a few of my gal pals have embarked on some really exciting love journeys. Exciting in that stones-deep-down-in-your-belly and high-pitched-squeals-and-shivers-in-your-shoulders type way that feels like maybe (maybe?!), this time it is forever (or, maybe its not, but either way, this is the most fun part - the physical reactions to this much potential). 

And I have been feeling 100% excitement, with just a dash of jealousy. Its a silly, grass-is-always-greener-somewhere-else jealous. The kind that you can talk about openly and make fun of yourself for, but still stays.

I will never be at a table for eight with just that one other. I will never brush hands with someone and feel that lightning bolt travel through my body for the first time. I will never have that first walk through the rain. I'll never have another first kiss.

I shared these feelings with Boyfriend, who laughed at me, patted my head, and said, "I am going to make tuna boats for dinner."  

Those first days and weeks when you're carrying around a wicker picnic basket of happiness are the best, and I highly recommend writing all your emotions down in a place where they are easily accessible eight years down the line. But what we have now, with the lying on the porch all day reading books, and making things that sound funny for dinner, and going on adventures around the world and to the Pier One clearance sale, and the non-stop slumber party with jokes and snuggling - I feel like maybe (maybe?!) it is even better. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Bucket List

Bare legs with a buttoned-up cardigan mean it is almost summer which means it is bucket list time.

Here's the to-do list: 
  • Stay in* on (the work deck, the apartment patio, the public beach) instead of go out, convince others that this is a good plan  X
  • A sunset on a west-facing roof deck  X
  • Be brave X
  • A good-bye dance party X 
  • Love on some sweet, new babies X
  • Carry a watermelon X
  • More Drake X
  • Write one story and say it out loud to my cats 
  • Wear Caroline's necklace at least once before returning it X 
  • A brief fling with New York City 
  • Do that thing where you run and it clears your head 
  • Spend a night in a place where I can see stars in the sky 
  • Say yes because it makes other people happy 
  • Drink less, listen more 
  • Make good use of the picnic blanket  X
  • Take a "sick day" and load up on Vitamin D 

Your move, Summer 2015. Follow along on instagram (@grandipants) and the hashtag #carpeaestatem and here as I try to hash out why this summer is the best one yet.

*edited for necessary clarity.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Let it fall

Sometimes it will rain inside.

This is what I have been telling myself over and over again for the past few days as I prep for my first event of the (calendar) year.

My boss turned me lose this year to run the event (essentially) on my own. Never one to back down from a challenge, I took the reigns and ran with them. The trails were not always smooth, but at the end of each day I felt like I could say, "everything is going to be okay."

As we turned the corner to the final stretch of this week, I felt the tension - in my shoulders and in the hurried bites of lunch I did not manage to eat until 4:00 in the afternoon, but I knew if I just kept myself one step ahead, I would get through it.

So I got up early, and stayed late, and worked on the couch, and skipped fun things to do work things, and spent my airplane hours on spreadsheets rather than books and booze (okay, there were some books and booze). I just needed to work harder, faster, longer - and I would get. it. done.

Wednesday was a big day. Lego Death Star-type big.

I had everything planned. My execution was Nadia Comaneci-level flawless. And then? It rained inside the conference room.

The source of the leak has yet to be explained to me, but it rained from the ceiling tiles. First, just a little bit, so we would notice. And then - it spread. Slow enough to give us enough time to get things out. Fast enough that we couldn't do it without an all-out panic.

With the help of nearly a quarter of my amazing colleagues, we managed to relocate the entire operation to another, drier conference room. Everyone laughed and high-fived and went about their days. I tried not to twitch too hard as I shook the hands of the VIPs who walked in just minutes after the final materials had been moved out of the swamp we had originally inhabited.

And I kept saying to myself
Sometimes it will rain inside.
You can be prepared for everything and anything You can play offense and defense and special teams all by yourself but there will forever be at least one bridge troll that you cannot have even imagined would have blocked your way. So what to do you do?

You surround yourself with amazing, supportive people who have your back, from here to the moon.

You put faith in a smile, and a friendly, problem-solving word.

You thank people. Effusively, graciously, genuinely. One of them probably has an umbrella or will get you a cup of coffee.

You work as hard as you can but try to remind yourself, even if it is only just once a day, on the way to the bathroom, that you are only one human. You can only do one human's worth of things each day.

Today on T-minus Event Day - I needed this. I needed my mantra like I needed my flats. Like I needed my boyfriend to come build me a step and repeat. Like I needed my work-panda to run around and make a line of people disappear (this is an actual demand I made of her) and then take me out for homemade lasagna. Like I needed a dress-with-pockets borrowed from my Big Cuz. Like I needed a couple of hours of building trains with my favorite three year old last night.

You can't plan for everything. Just know that there will be an umbrella, whether you borrow it or build it out of place cards and raffle tickets.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Totally Clueless (part 3)

Okay, so based on my blogging tendencies recently, you might think that all I do is make podcasts. This sounds amazeballs, but is entirely untrue.

I do other things and I promise, I'll get around to talking about them soon.  But until then.

Clueless Podcast Party. Listen Here.

This is by far the most serious of the podcasts where we talk about oldy-timey people doin' it which is weird, because the source material is one of my favorite light hearted romps.

Also, bonus celebrity sighting! Julie Brown (aka Ms. Stoeger) was generous enough to record a bit about her time filming the movie.  It was super nice of her to do, and you should click around on her website. She is funny as hell.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mr Darcy takes a Podcast (part deux)

I feel so lucky that after the first shit show, Mel Evans had me (and Jessica Kent) back to talk about more things that ruin the stuff I love.

This time it was five hundred pages of salacious, incomprehensible, "Victorian," dribble that makes me wonder how hard it actually is to get published.

Trust me when I say the podcast is far more enjoyable than the book.

Listen here.

Warning - its pretty blue. So just, obviously, I have no idea what any of the words I'm saying mean, Mom and Dad.

Happy Friday. You have earned a laugh.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is enough enough

I have not been writing because I have been really busy trying. I have been trying so. hard. and I feel like I have been coming up empty. I'm not working out long enough, I'm not eating well enough, I'm not getting work done, I'm not getting laundry done, I don't have enough joie de vivre, or enough minutes, or enough pairs of tights.

So this rocked me pretty hard this morning. It boggles my geedee mind that a woman who got paid bank to go to Bali and fall in love and write about it is feeling the same way I do. And then it sometimes makes me feel worse because like, I haven't done anything so what I am complaining about?

What am I complaining about?

I guess if Lizzy G. can feel crappy and incomplete then I should relish in the fact that I do too. Julia Roberts can play you in a movie and you can still doubt yourself, so let's just keep going guys.

A yoga teacher this week reminded me that life is too short to be anything but happy. So here is to happiness - to hair curling class, to finally getting my leg straight in standing forehead to knee pose, to a weekend that will include a crabcake, to getting actual mail from my baby sister, and emails from people who think I'm a person to know.

UPDATE! I also feel like this and it feels way better.

She's pint-sized and amazing.