Tuesday, December 23, 2008

inauguration prep

The bleachers are being erected on Pennsylvania Ave! Fewer seats than last time, tho, to allow for more standing room. (since there probably going to be fewer protesters, too... ) ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

By all means, save the rainforest

The Pope today told senior Vatican staff that saving the world from homosexuals and transsexuals is as important as saving the rainforest. Oy. So he's equating human industrialization encroaching on the rainforest with homosexuals "encroaching" on straight people's lives? Riiight, because every time we hang out with Aubrey, he's trying to make us gay. [Ok, so I've been to more gay bars than "straight" bars in the last month. That's definitely Aubrey's fault.] This, in addition to the furor over Pastor Rick Warren being chosen to give the invocation at President-Elect Obama's Inauguration -- a man who has said that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia.

Having just seen 'Milk' [Go see it! right away!], I'm keenly aware that just being out was (and still is) a challenge. The last thing we need is to add fuel to the fire of the people who actually *believe* these things. I am against discrimination of any kind, for any reason. Using religion -- which is supposed to be about accepting everyone, the Golden Rule and all that -- to further discrimination is in my mind the worst thing a leader can do.

Hmmm... Maybe the Austin Babtist Women should go and sing for the Pope? Or at the Obama Inauguration? Can we get them in to the Texas Ball? :D

Faux snow at the Tyson's Galleria

to put the shoppers in the holiday spirit, the mall has little blowers showering us with 'snow' ... lovely.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Of chocolate cupcakes and Babtist Women...

Sorry, I've been busy! Here's some fun stuff to tide you over til I can post properly about what the quack in the White House -- sorry, I mean the Lame Duck President -- is doing in his last 30 days.

Let's start with last Saturday's supper club. Every year we cook dinner for the Ronald McDonald house, on the same night that we have our December supper club event. This year, we decided to make a Mexican-themed meal for RMcD. I tried to make Mole' Brownies, from a recipe from Texas Monthly. They just didn't cook. I ended up with a rather tasty, spicy-cinnamony-chocolate mush. (Which tasted very good with vanilla ice cream... but wasn't what I was looking for.)

On to plan B. Purchase 2 boxes of brownie mix -- add cinnamon and ancho chile powder to one of them, to simulate Mole' -- and two disposable brownie pans. Much better results.

The challenge was that I was also making SK's homemade hostess cake, and Rachael Ray's chicken-feta meatballs for the supper club party on Saturday. The cake batter wasn't too hard, though there was a LOT of it -- it filled my 4qt bowl almost to the top! But I had to trade off time in the oven for the meatballs, too... the food smells wafting around my kitchen were very pleasant, though sometimes a bit incongruous. Cooked the brownies, cooked the meatballs, and then while the chocolate cake was in the oven, I ran off to the RMcD house to deliver the brownies, and then went home to finish getting ready. Whew! Turns out that much chocolate cake batter makes 24 mini-cupcakes, 12 full-sized cupcakes, AND an 8" cake. My counters were covered! (Here's a slightly fuzzy picture of the mini-cupcakes, filled and topped with marshmallow creme. They were yummy!)

We had so much tasty food at the holiday fest - I don't even think I can remember it all. Smoked gouda and veggie quesadillas... goat cheese with apples and walnuts... salmon mousse... cookies galore... Can you tell that I popped a LOT of lactaid pills that night? Oy.

Sunday night, Aubrey took us get some more religion -- and for a cause that's even closer to my heart - the Breast Cancer Research Center! The Austin Babtist women were there, along with some other drag performers from Dallas. We laughed and laughed... they were wonderful. And between the door donations, the silent auction, and people holding out their bills for the ladies to take, they raised over $4,700!

Here are the ladies doing some of their Christmas music... This was followed by "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" (to the tune of "Winter Wonderland", natch), in which they stripped down to their lovely lingerie -- and threw off their wigs! No photos of that - I was too busy laughing. They're amazing!

That was my weekend. (that and Giana's ballet recital, which was lovely!) The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of more cooking, holiday parties, going to the gym (yes, I'm behaving!) and even cramming in a little holiday shopping. I am now a big fan of the reserve-online-pickup-in-store option from Borders. Woohoo!

Tonight is the office holiday party, complete with white elephant gift exchange. That'll be fun... though my track record with these things is not the best. I've come home with an "It's a Wonderful Life" video (nice gift for the *only* Jew in the room), and a Longhorn spinning mobile thingy (don't know what you call them, they sell them at a kiosk at every mall)... maybe this year will be better. :)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rose Bowl bound! (again!)

Sigh. Another year, another Rose Bowl. (don't I sound ungrateful?!)

After beating the Bruins in their home stadium (which is in fact the Rose Bowl) a respectable 28-7, and with Oregon beating Oregon State, USC was awarded the traditional Pac-10 berth at the Rose Bowl game on January 1. Four years running. It's not quite the national championship...

The sports writers are not terribly excited about this one, given how well USC did against Ohio State, but we'll see. I'm still hoping for a good game! (and I love the countdown clock on the Rose Bowl website!)

But the funniest news from the day had to be the ad that UCLA put in the LA Times, with Coach Neuheisel, with the headline 'The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over.'" Um. Not so much. The USC folks took that and made a t-shirt with the same text, except it says, "The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over THERE" (in cardinal and gold, of course). :)

You can get a similar shirt on eBay now, too.

Fight on!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Day five, walking Monday

Monday is antique day at Covent Garden. We got up early and bundled up, and went to see the wares. I bought two pashminas for 5 pounds. We went to the Whittard's store again, but since it's before Xmas, the stuff that was all on sale last time was not quite so cheap. I bought some "hangover cure" tea and coffee... not sure when I'll need it, or who'll get it as a gift, but it seemed like it might be useful. :)

I had wanted to go to the London Transport Museum to see the poster exhibit, but the museum entry wasn't cheap -- 10 pounds -- and it turned out that my friend Ben was on his way into London earlier in the day than I had expected. So we went to the shop and the cafe at the Transport Museum, and waited. I don't think I've seen Ben since the last Council HPC-AC meeting that I did, in April of '06. We had such a blast! He doesn't much like the tube, so we walked... and walked... and walked.

First, we headed for the Ye Olde Watling pub, over by St. Paul's Cathedral. (My picture wasn't quite as good.) We had pints and lunch, and chatted and watched the people go by. Then we ventured out into the cold again, and walked across Millennium bridge towards the Tate Modern. I got great pics of St. Paul's from many angles. Then we walked back across the Blackfriars bridge, and along the river towards Westminster. We walked along the Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace, and across the park to The Ritz. Unfortunately, we were underdressed and sans reservation, so they gave us the boot! We walked over to the Fountain restaurant at Fortnum & Mason, and had tea and scones there instead. (It turns out my parents had been at Fountain about an hour earlier!)

After our lovely tea service (I still don't get the appeal of clotted cream), we walked up to Old Bond street and looked at the shops (oooh, sparkly pretty things!), and went over to one of Ben's favorite tapas restaurants, El Pirata in Mayfair. I had taken him to Jaleo in DC a few years ago, so he thought he'd return the favor. I was stuffed from all the other food we had, but I tried their garlic aioli (YUM) on potatoes, tortilla, and mushrooms. And a glass of white Rioja. I couldn't eat anything else after that.

Ben walked me to the tube station at Green Park, and he was off back to Paddington to go home. All in all, we walked 6.27 miles today! No wonder I'm so tired! Here's the map of where we walked: