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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

reindeer

The filigreed reindeer built for themselves a primitive god, not recognizing the power they had unleashed until it was too late to dash away.

Because all Christmas decorations should come with a backstory.

A friend embellished the legend for me, complete with a short “Repo Man” reference:

And the caribou deity proclaimed, “For I am Reednier, and I have become Yuletide! Thou art my minions. Let us go forth and rejoice, defy gravity, eat apples, fine cheese and chocolate, and pause for decaf lattes! Yes, and not pay.”

Because everyone should have friends who add delightful details to your weird backstories.

 

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I totally skipped posting yesterday. I feel so irresponsible.

The day got away from me as I screwed up a batch of experimental cookies and worked on a midterm. At 4 p.m., I found myself with unexpected dinner plans in addition to a party invitation. Suddenly, an extra 2.5 hours were gone from my schedule.

My plans to leave the party by 11 p.m. and publish a post were foiled by interesting conversations with awesome friends.

Not the worst way, overall, to end a skip day.

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It’s good to have friends who help you maintain a positive attitude and healthy habits. It’s also good to have friends who urge you to make questionable choices every once in a while.

When I emailed a photo of a surprising food find — Little Debbie Banana Pudding Rolls — to a former colleague earlier this week, he responded immediately:  “My professional advice to you is to buy two boxes of them right now. Why two? Because you’ll eat one box on the way home from the store.”

How could a girl resist?

I grew up eating Little Debbie products at my grandparent’s house in South Mississippi — my brother and I could always find a box of the treats on top of the refrigerator. I am the Forrest Gump of Little Debbie products, with a readily accessible running list of the different varieties taking up valuable space inside my brain. Ask me about nearly any of the company’s products, and I can run down a quick review for you. Here are just a few that popped into my head this very minute:

Devil Squares: Their substantial filling and sort of weirdly textured chocolate coating combine for a unique and delicious culinary experience that made me, as a child, feel slightly more sophisticated than my tomboyish habits generally merited. (more…)

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My college roommate and lifelong friend Jennifer has always been the crafty sort. Whereas we could both always visualize how we wanted a project to look, she could actually make it happen, whether it was by sewing, painting, or just moving stuff around.  She can choreograph a color guard routine or a complete house redecoration with little stress.

We rented a house together for 1.5 years, and we had the coolest Christmas tree of all time. Jennifer procured a dead, leafless sapling that we decorated for the holidays.

We were all about the avant-garde.

(We were apparently also all about the not-taking-pictures-of-our-own-stuff. While others took photos of our tree of awesomeness, we don’t seem to have any visual records of it.)

Given her creative flair, it wasn’t surprising when she broke out the arts and crafts supplies one night and informed me that we were going to make scrap angels for our tree – one for each of us.

She also broke out the wine.

We were, at the time, given to purchasing the largest bottle of Riunite Lambrusco that we could find for our parties, drinking as much as we wanted during the festivities and saving the rest for wine spritzers (made with Sprite, if I recall).

I don’t precisely remember the scrap angel-making process, but I do remember a lot of pouring and giggling, an exhausting amount of pouring and giggling, and at some point one of us said something along these lines: “Why don’t we just make one angel with two heads instead of two angels?”

Genius, right? One angel, two heads – one for each of us.

It certainly seemed like a good idea until the next morning, when we awoke to discover a TWO-HEADED ANGEL ON TOP OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

I think Jennifer quietly made two angels to replace the polycephalic messenger we mistakenly manufactured – no need to involve the craft-averse again – and all was well and much less weird in time for our Christmas party.

I miss those days of wine and giggling. I even kind of miss the creepy two-headed angel. Maybe I have some old pillowcases I can cut up  tonight …

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So … gift cards. The hip, hassle-free gift, the only thing that you KNOW your recipient will appreciate, etc.

In theory, I have no problem with gift cards. Newlyweds can head to Bed Bath & Beyond and purchase the exact items they need, freed from the burden of first returning three s’mores sets. Teenagers can purchase the songs they want, without the worry that some hipster relative has decided to help them “improve” their musical tastes.

In reality, gift cards have become a way for adults to simply swap money at Christmas.

It’s ridiculous. Adult A buys her daughter-in-law a $30 gift card for Barnes & Noble. DIL in turn buys her mother-in-law a $30 gift card for the Pottery Barn.

Two adults have just exchanged $30. Merry Christmas.

I know it’s a hassle to purchase Christmas gifts. But I think it’s a hassle mostly because the gift-giving has gotten out of hand, along with the season’s celebrations in general. We have unrealistic expectations for Christmas, and we buy spouses, children, siblings, in-laws, co-workers, nieces and nephews entirely too much stuff. (Note: When your small children have a meltdown on Christmas morning simply because they have run out of packages to hastily unwrap, you have bought them too much stuff and they are clearly overwhelmed. Rethink your generosity.)

Many times, giving someone a gift card means that you simply haven’t been paying attention. People eat. They drink. They watch TV and listen to music. Many wear jewelry (not necessarily the expensive stuff). They wear bathrobes and slippers. They cook. They read.

Afraid you’re going to get someone the wrong thing, or a duplicate of something they already have? Include a gift receipt. (I am continually amazed, BTW, at the number of people who will pretty much hand someone cash in lieu of a gift, but refuse to enclose a gift receipt when they have actually purchased a gift. What is that?)

I LIKE finding the perfect gift for somebody. I get a little shot of adrenaline when I realize that someone I care about has inadvertently dropped a hint, whether they’re complaining about an item that needs replacement, pondering something new they’d like to try, or describing something they love and would like to have more of.

When I try to name gifts that I remember most, the list doesn’t have a single gift card on it. It includes things like the set of springform pans my mom got me the year she heard me saying I’d like to learn to make cheesecake. It also includes a fun, funky old vase my mother-in-law picked up at a garage sale and decided was perfect for me.  To this day, I can’t open a bag of Cafe L’Orange coffee from the Fresh Market without thinking of a friend in Mobile who would give me a pound of it without fail on birthdays and at Christmas. Never mind that it wasn’t some rarity that I couldn’t get for myself. He knew I loved it and would appreciate it – in short, he paid attention. A $10 gift card to the Fresh Market wouldn’t have carried the same message.

Truthfully, the gift I’d like most to share with friends and family is the gift of time, a few laid-back hours to talk and eat and drink and just enjoy one another’s company, without the zero-sum exchange of money that Christmas gift-giving has become.

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Last week, I wanted beignets. More than that, I wanted to sit at the Cafe Du Monde with friends at 1 a.m., drinking coffee and chicory and listening to street musicians. I wanted to try to convince my husband that I really did need a tattoo, and have him remind me that I only say that after I’ve had too many hurricanes. (For better or worse, BTW, too much alcohol for me involves not that much alcohol at all.)

I spent approximately 25 years of my life within a couple of hours of New Orleans. Now the Crescent City is an entire day’s drive away, so spur-of-the-moment trips just aren’t happening anymore.

But I did find beignets. A Huntsville friend was kind enough to introduce me to the Coffee Tree Books & Brew, located at 7900 Bailey Cove Road. Every Saturday morning, they serve beignets until they run out – and they DO run out. And I’m talking authentic beignets, perfect in size and shape and coated in about three times as much powdered sugar as necessary.

Honestly, I had worried that I was dragging my husband out of the house before noon on a Saturday for a big plate of disappointment. Right after we moved up here almost three years ago, a seafood chain claimed to be serving real New Orleans-style beignets. And they may have been delicious if they hadn’t been coated with caramel-flavored syrup.

Powdered sugar AND syrup? That’s IHOP, not dessert.

The Coffee Tree did not disappoint, however. As a bonus, my friend knew the proprietors and had told them we were coming in just for the beignets, so they were extra eager to see how we liked them. That said, they seemed eager to be sure that ALL their customers were happy.

The used bookstore attached to the cafe area is lagniappe.

No chicory, no street musicians, but I persevered.

Good coffee, good conversation, and good beignets – really, other than that elusive tattoo, what more could a girl want?

UPDATE: I’m told that there IS chicory available if you ask. This just gets better and better

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photo

I took my new Chuck Taylor All Stars out for a test drive last night. Good news: They still make my feet look 1.5 times bigger than they really are, and they totally remind me of seventh grade, when I was on the junior high basketball team.

I was tall and I could shoot, but I just wasn’t that good at basketball. The fast pace of the game frustrated me – I’m a planner. Plus, it was hard to be a cool outcast when you’re with the incast.

Turns out you can also wear your Chucks while you’re hanging out with the drama club and smoking under the bleachers, where nobody notices that your feet seem a lot bigger than they should be.

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