Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Royal Wedding

I forgot to tell you about the big doins’ in my family last week.

My grandparents got married.

Follow me: my mother’s parents were married in 1954. In quick succession they had my mother and her brother and sister. They divorced in 1967 or so (no one claims to remember the exact date). They remarried later – Pawpaw married a woman named Pat in 1969 and Granny married a man named W.T. in 1972.

Years went by, grandchildren were born (ME, most importantly), etc. My grandparents still lived in my home town, and my mother and her siblings still had good relationships with everyone, including their stepparents. That was the situation when I was growing up – I had a bonus set of grandparents out of the deal, and everyone was happy.

In 1999, Granny’s husband died; a few years later, Pawpaw’s wife died. And then Granny and Pawpaw got back together.

The week after Thanksgiving Granny and Pawpaw suddenly announced that they would be getting remarried.

If you have ever planned a wedding, the next part of the story will be familiar: at first the wedding was going to be small -- just family. Well, that’s already more than 40 people. And then there was the fateful addition of the words “and close friends.” If you think that getting married in your 20s is complicated, try doing it in your 70s.

But the nice part of getting married when you’re older is that you feel entirely free to have your wedding be as quirky as you want it. For example, because my family is very active in our church, there was some debate about choosing an officiant; they ended up with three priests in attendance. Somebody decided that my uncle would “give away” my grandmother. My mom and her sister were layreaders. By the grace of God, the attendants at my grandparents’ first wedding were both available for this round: Uncle Johnny (not my real uncle) was the best man, and my Aunt June (a.k.a. Noonie) was set to reprise her role as matron of honor. However, the night before the wedding the tide went out, and Aunt Noonie, who lives on a houseboat in Cow Bayou, was unable to get to shore. [Somewhere in all the excitement I guess they forgot to check the weather report.] So at the last minute I was called in to fill her spot, being the highest-ranking family member (third in line to the throne!) without an official role. Thankfully, there were no ridiculous clothes involved.

Do not ever get me started talking about my family. We are not Southern gothic; we are Southern baroque.

The ceremony had a number of comic moments. There is a moment in the service where the priest asks God, “if it is His will, to bestow on this couple the gift of children;” which was hastily amended to “great-great-grandchildren.” Then there was the part where Becca, as the flower girl, was seated in the choir loft with me and Reilly, my 8-year-old niece/ maid of honor. Becca seized the occasion to write “POOP” (the only word she can spell) in all the hymnals.

There was a reception, of course, with cake and punch and other food, of which we have about 200 pictures. Some friends of my grandparents, perhaps worried that they might not make the “friends and family” cut, volunteered as photographers (they need not have worried, but the pictures were great).

Anyway, we all had a good time, and we are happy for Granny and Pawpaw. When they first got back together, my mom was a little nervous – after all, things didn’t go so well the first time around. But they seem really happy, and we are all glad that they have each other now, after all this time. Life is like a box of chocolates, you know.

Then after all the guests left the reception, those of us who were left piled into two big cars and went Christmas caroling for the parish’s shut-ins and for the local nursing homes. How’s that for a twee moment of family togetherness?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No Shopping Love for Mamacita

I love the post-Christmas sales, because I am a materialistic brat and yet a cheapskate at the same time. Usually December 26 is my time to shine, but I'm feeling no love today.

Late at night on Christmas Eve I started my pre-shopping online. I found that Lands' End's post-holiday sale is disappointing -- limited selection, and no shipping deals to be had right now. Early this morning I checked out and found some cards I liked, but again, the shipping is outrageous (16% of the order!). So at 7:30 this morning I set out for the shops. I got to Bering's early and waited in line for the doors to open -- you cannot question my committment, here -- in search of cards and paper, but it turns out that they sold out of paper on Christmas Eve. [I guess they're glad that they didn't have to mark down their inventory, but surely they left some money on the table because of it.] Then I went to Tanglewood Pharmacy, but they didn't have anything I wanted (I should have pre-shopped last week, but I was busy). Finally I got to the Container Store, home of mucho-cute wrapping paper, at 9:30, only to discover that they opened early today, and were PICKED CLEAN by the time I got there.

This is on top of the trauma of trying to choose a color scheme 12 months in advance -- will I want candy colors, or maybe brown-and-red? How can I possibly know?

BTW, I'm not linking any of these bastards. They will FEEL MY WRATH.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And They Didn't Even Pay Me To Say This

You may have already known this, but just in case you didn't: Redbox, the kiosk full of $1-a-day movie rentals, has a website where you can not only find the nearest Redbox location, but you can also browse the current inventory and reserve the title before you even leave your house. Sweet!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The History of Glamour

To tell you the truth, I had never heard of Theresa Duncan or James Blake until I read the article about their suicides in Vanity Fair. The article isn't gut-wrenchingly sad, just a bizarre story. But then I watched the animated film that they put out a few years ago called The History of Glamour, and now I'm incredibly sorry that they aren't around to do more like it. The film, which appeared in the Whitney Biennial in 2000, is so slyly funny and sincere and says a lot of things I wish I could articulate in such an ingenious way.

If you have 40 minutes, I highly recommend it. Especially for you, Decorno and SGM.

Now where can I get my hands on Chop Suey, the video game Duncan produced that David Sedaris narrated?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Once Again, Cookies Save the Day

I know it’s been a while since I posted. Truthfully, Mamacita was hanging out on the Sucking side of life. I was seriously contemplating blogicide; only thoughts of Jenny’s cat stopped me from pulling the plug. After all, who wants to read bad news all the time? I certainly don’t want to write it. But I’m glad I didn’t – I had a really awesome weekend and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Thursday night [when does your weekend start?] I went with some of my besties to the pool hall, where we drank tequila and nearly peed our pants laughing. Friday I baked Jam Trio cookies all day with John, then hung out again with said friends, this time in a more wholesome fashion, at the park with our urchins. Saturday I went to a cookie exchange party. My favorite cookies were the Hamilton sugar cookies; I will try to post a recipe later. I gave some to my Granny and she said that her aunt Mary used to make some just like that, calling them “teacakes.” They were delicious in an old-fashioned way. Later on Saturday I got to spend some time with my family. Sunday was a big day for the family – more on that later. When I got home this evening, an elf had come by my house and left me even more cookies. So I’m feeling much more chatty now.


Gourmet, December 2007

These are butter cookies with jam in the center. Kind of basic – they won’t be anybody’s “favorite cookie ever” – they are also easy to make, transport well, and look pretty. Yield 42 cookies. My notes are in italics.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
About 2 tablespoons apricot preserves [I used cherry]
About 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Make dough:

Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Assemble and bake cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 3 separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball, then flatten each ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick).

Arrange them in a triangle on baking sheet with edges touching in center, then make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. [To hell with that; use your finger to make the indentation.] Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill indentations in each cookie with about 1/8 teaspoon jam (each cookie should have 3 different fillings), avoiding any large pieces of fruit. [Heat the jam to make it easier to use.]

Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. [Actually, take them out a little before this. They continue cooking a fair bit after they are out.] Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

Cook's notes:

• Dough can be chilled up to 2 days.
• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My friends are my estate.

You know what a good friend is? A good friend will take you in, when you're having a bad day, and make you cookies and crackers* and more cookies. A good friend understands the importance of carbohydrates and will not even mention how big your ass is getting. A really good friend will even pick flowers for you from her garden, plus watch your heathen child all evening long while you take care of business. Letitia Van Campen is one hell of a good friend.

That's totally a picture of us, by the way.

*She made these Pioneer Woman crackers with a slice of jalapeƱo and, son, they were good.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm So Sneaky You Can't Even Read This

Is Day of Ninja! How to celebrate? Let's Ask a Ninja:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hey, Rob--

I saw this in an ad yesterday and it would be so perfect for Emily. Available (for a little while, anyway) at Past Era.

What mamacita is ...

Oh, Lord, I love me some fat baby cheeks. (1:40)

Remember those Chinese dudes who lip-synched to Backstreet Boys? They have a great one in Chinese, too.

The Evolution of Dance. (6:00)

Monday, December 3, 2007

This is what happens to me pretty much every time I cook.

I decided to make roasted chicken, because 1) it is supposedly easy, and I might have even done it before (can’t remember), 2) it is really cold in the house and I want to turn on the oven, and 3) I have two chickens in the freezer (bought on sale!) waiting for this very purpose. I bought them planning to roast them two at a time, so that I would have leftovers for chicken soup for Thursday night’s dinner and Chinese chicken salad for lunch later in the week. How frugal and housewifey of me! I am June Fucking Cleaver!

Well. This morning I took the two chickens out of the big freezer. This afternoon I spent twenty minutes on the Internet looking for the Platonic ideal roasted chicken recipe. Then I went into the kitchen and could not find my roasting pan. Q: How do you lose a roasting pan in an 8x6 room? A: You lose it in the playroom instead.

But I was finally ready with the room-temperature butter, the spice rub (and absolutely none of the other elements the recipe called for -- including lemons, onions and kitchen twine -- but close enough). And then I realized that the chickens were still frozen so hard that I couldn’t possibly get the gizzards out.

So that was the end of that. The chickens would have to wait another day. I put them in baggies, put the baggies in the roasting pan, and started to put the whole rig in the ice box (so I will be able to find the pan tomorrow – so clever!). But the pan wouldn’t go in – too many beer bottles. Now THAT is a problem I can solve.

It's Not a Viral Video Unless We All Do Our Part

How much do you love Snoop Dogg?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

10 Things I Didn't Know Last Week

1. Mary Edwards Walker was a feminist, physician, spy and abolitionist and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.
2. Neil Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" thinking of Caroline Kennedy.
3. Carolyne Roehm's real name is Jane Smith.
4. "We Can Work It Out" was only released as a single, never an original album track.
5. The Beatles catalogue is still not available in any online format.
6. As of November 2007, the Beatles' solo catalogues are available on iTunes, though.
7. Rube Foster was the first president of the Negro National League.*

*Okay, I have to tell you how I learned this. I volunteered to judge the 3rd-5th grade History Fair at school. I was assigned to the third grade individual entries. The little girl who won was far and away the best entry I saw. I talked to her mother (an acquaintance of mine) after the event. She said that he daughter was REALLY into black history (a little surprising, since she's not black, but that's so cool, right?). The mom said she asked her daughter if she learned a lot in doing the project, and the daughter said, "not really -- I kinda already knew all that stuff." Apparently black history and baseball history are her two favorite subjects and she reads about them all the time. I so love that kid.