Pancake Day

Growing up, we never called today Mardi Gras.  It was always Fat Tuesday.  I don’t remember ever being exposed to king cake or gumbo or purple, gold, & green.  It wasn’t a day to eat beans and rice, it was a day to eat meat, chocolate, and ice cream.  Now I like calling it Shrove Tuesday (named for the fact that you traditionally went to be “shriven” today — aka went to confession).

In Britain, today is known as Pancake Day.  I didn’t know this until visiting my friend Alice in London.  When she realized the group of us were going to be visiting her the week Lent started, she flipped out about “Pancake Day” and how great it was that we were going to be there for Pancake Day.  She later explained that it’s tradition to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday because pancakes would use up all your sugar, fat, flour, and eggs before fasting during Lent.  Of course, their pancakes aren’t like American pancakes – they’re thin like crepes and best eaten with lemon and sugar.

My friend Liza decided we needed pancakes today.  But since I’m not planning on giving up flour and eggs and sugar for Lent, I decided to pre-game our pancake dinner with a more Fat Tuesday-esque treat — Sweet Cece’s.

They even had Thin Mints on the “salad bar” of toppings today.

For dinner, Liza, Maria, and Manda and I headed to Loveless Cafe, which was the only place in town we knew we could get both pancakes and alcohol.  I haven’t decided whether or not I’m giving up alcohol for Lent, but it just seemed like something you should consume on Fat Tuesday.

I splurged (it is Fat Tuesday, after all) and got the bbq and eggs, something I always wanted to get at Loveless but just couldn’t see eating for breakfast.  There was a corncake at the bottom of it all, so that sufficed for my pancake.  I was planning on getting beer to drink… until  I saw that they had moonshine.  That seemed like a much better option for a Tennessee Fat Tuesday.  They had a variety of moonshine drinks, but both Manda and I chose “Harvest Moon” — Moonshine and peach sweet tea.  It was delicious!

See that mini Mason jar? That’s what the moonshine came in, and I got to keep it as a little souvenir.  Adorable.

All in all, a good Shrove Tuesday.

Bring on Lent — I’m ready now!

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Buona festa di ognissanti!

Doesn’t everything sound better in Italian?

That title assures you that I haven’t forgotten about Rome — it’s just hard to avoid posting about the present!  I promise I’ll blog about Rome soon!

But today is the Feast of All Saints, and I have to blog about the fact that we celebrated in style!

First, I spent the whole day talking about wonderful Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and sharing him with people who had never heard about him.  Today was our retreat at work (the students had the day off for the Feast) and all the faculty and staff from the three schools spent the day learning about the Dominican pillars of spirituality and various saints that lived out those pillars.   I was asked to present on Pier Giorgio.

The next event of the day was frozen yogurt.  (That’s vanilla and York Peppermint Paddy, with whipped cream and Junior Mints.  A bit too minty… but still delicious.)  It was “happy hour,” which meant it was buy-one-get-one-free, and it’s Two Punch Tuesday.  Magical.

The next event was a rather-impromptu dinner party for my lovely girl friends.

The menu consisted of salmon (and peppers):

And cous cous, salad, bread, wine… not to mention chocolate fondue for dessert!

A special thanks to Mary — it was her idea, she bought the salmon, and she cooked!  We just used my kitchen. : )  And an extra special thanks to my gal pals… I’m so grateful to be able to share days like this with incredible single women.

After they left, I had a nice talk with Carlton — okay, so his name isn’t Carlton, but if I was Rhoda, that’s what his name would be.  (Although he’s not drunk.  I never knew Carlton was drunk, but according to Wikipedia, he was.  Huh.)  David and I had a nice little talk about the building, some of the people who live here, and society in general.  I have a feeling there are a lot of stories in this building.

And now I’m off to bed.

Buona festa!  Don’t forget to pray for the souls of purgatory tomorrow and the entire month of November!

gift giving

I love to give gifts.  I love finding just the right present for someone and then seeing their reaction when they open it.  The problem occurs when you don’t think of the right present at the right time.  Sometimes you just stumble upon something and realize it’s perfect.  But most often, I’m racking my brain trying to think of something wonderful, and I just end up mad at myself that I have to get them something average.  I set the bar pretty high, and then am disappointed that I’m getting them something “just to get them something.”  Not that they usually care… or notice.  I’ve never had someone turn up their nose at a gift I’ve given, haha.  It’s my own problem.

One of my dearest friends got married last weekend, and I struggled with the present.  She told all the bridesmaids that we didn’t need to worry about getting them a present because of the cost and sacrifice that goes into being a bridesmaid.  But that’s just ridiculous.

The biggest dilemma for me when it comes to friends’ wedding presents is that I want to get them the greatest, most touching thing ever.  My close friends are the best — we have so many incredible memories, have had so many amazing conversations, and we’ve truly been there for each other at life-changing times.  What do you get someone like my friend — after we’ve shared the trials of freshman year, deep conversations about the present and the future, the agonies of crushes-gone-wrong, the uncertainty of senior year and graduate studies, the joys of a shared spirituality– not to mention a life-transforming spring semester in Rome?

Wedding presents are hard, though, because they should be for the couple.  And so I decided I needed to lower the bar and not look for a present that encompassed everything I possibly felt towards my friend.  I didn’t need to thank her for the last ten years, as much as it seemed I should.

So I decided to get them this.

I went to a craft festival and fell in love with the spoons at one of the booths.  They were gorgeous, hand-carved spoons — each one a little different, all surprisingly light-weight.  I really fell in love with a ladle, that had an awesome handle and a perfectly-shaped deep bowl.  It was extremely out of my price range, however, so I picked my second-favorite spoon for them.  This weird-looking stirring spoon is designed to help you reach the corners and base of your pot!  Isn’t it great?!

To go with my spoon, I visited a booth nearby that was selling these beautiful cutting boards.  Since I decided the couple probably already had a cutting board (you don’t live on your own for 5+ years without a cutting board), I chose this small one because I thought it was something you probably wouldn’t buy for yourself.  And it could double as a nice serving block for cheese. : )

So I was happy with my present, even though it didn’t radiate meaningfulness.

I went down a few days early to help my friend and her family get ready for the wedding.  It was such a treat to be there with the family before the final craziness (although it never really was crazy, because they were so well-prepared).  A few nights before the wedding, the groom’s family came over to meet the bride’s family for the first time.  I was  there as comedic relief.  Haha, just kidding.  It actually was a really enjoyable evening, and again, it was a treat to get to know the groom’s family before the craziness began.

We spent the afternoon making dinner.  I had two main jobs– cutting and stirring.  At one point in the evening, while the families were meeting, I was content to stay in the kitchen, out of the way, stirring the vegetables to death.

When I went to give the present to the bride and groom the next day, I was struck by how perfect it had become.  Instead of just some nice things for their kitchen, it had become a reminder of that day — the treat of our time together, the feelings and emotions as we cooked dinner and prepared for the future in-laws, and the friendship we shared as we spent that last day together before the wedding crowds came.   What I had done with my friend– whether it was comedic relief or just chopping vegetables — the couple would now do together.

Some presents get better with age.

reflections on reflections

I am sitting here drinking coffee and eating my breakfast, in an attempt to remain awake for a few more hours- at least through morning Mass.  My sleep schedule is so thrown off that it’s hard to believe it’s only 6:43am.  I’ve been up for almost 5 1/2 hours.

I went to bed yesterday afternoon at 6 so that I would be refreshed enough to take in the beatification with all my sense faculties.  I drove over to my friend Maria’s house, where we watched it together in the wee hours of the morning.

I contemplated “live blogging” through the event, knowing that no one would be reading it as I wrote, but just for the sake of capturing my thoughts during the historic Mass.  I decided against it, preferring to reflect on it at a later moment when I have had time for it to sink in.  In this era of instant communication, there’s a desire to express oneself immediately, to share thoughts as they come so as to live the moment together, in a way.

But in sharing thoughts as they come, we often sacrifice sharing insights and reflections.  Experiencing a moment, ruminating on it, and expressing one’s thoughts afterwards is too slow, too tardy for audiences who have gone on to the next event.

So as I sit here and drink my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, wishing it was espresso from Sant’Eustachio, I put off blogging about the glorious events of this morning for another day – at the risk of being outdated, but in the hopes of being worthwhile.

Since I didn’t live-blog, you are saved from comments such as, “Why won’t they tell us the identity of that bald man they keep showing?” (the president of Italy) or vents like “Why did EWTN stop coverage so soon?” (I turned to YouTube and was able to watch the Holy Father go into the Basilica to pray in front of the casket.)

U-Mark, let’s compare notes — I counted three appearances of Msgr. Ganswein, although I was distracted at the start of the homily (or maybe it was the end) and so I didn’t see if he delivered the homily to the Holy Father or took it back at the end.  He was visible at the entrance procession in the PopeMobile, at the Regina Coeli, and at the end when they went into the Basilica.

I do think some network should hire me to do commentary, however, because all morning I would make comments just before the commentators would or I would answer their questions.  But I’ve been saying that for awhile now. My acquaintance Mary will be doing the commentary tomorrow for the Mass of Thanksgiving, thank goodness.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

success

First St. Patrick’s Day party I’ve ever hosted: success.

I think, anyway.  No one got in a fight.  No one threw anything across the room.  No one cried.  People laughed.  People ate my food.  People talked to each other.  We even played a game.

You know what the secret was?

…..

…..

My new apron.  Isn’t it the cutest thing you ever saw?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my first party hosted in my new apron was a success.  And you think that side is cute?  It’s reversible– you should see the other side.  (you really should.  Click that link.)

Oh, and yes, I did wear those socks to work.  Why do you ask?

The Bishop called me on pretty official business today.  It’s probably good that he didn’t drop by the office unexpectedly, huh? 🙂