Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Live a little

This was my first year hosting Thanksgiving.  I think everyone assumed I'd make a real mess of it -- an "epic Thanksgiving disaster," if you will.  I pleasantly surprised them by not burning anything and getting most things close to hot at the same time.

Truth is, it was not just unburned and fairly warm, but also delicious because I used a lot -- a lot lot -- of butter.  My guests left with pounds of saturated fat in their arteries.  They even thanked me for it, which is one of the unexplained phenomena of Thanksgiving.

The turkey, even though no one really likes to eat turkey, is always the star of the show at Thanksgiving.  I bought a fresh one from a local butcher and brined the shit out of it for 24 hours.

 Bob's got good meat

The brine smelled so good, I was tempted to drink it.  I reminded myself it was made of kosher salt and apple cider and would therefore taste very bad.  But it smelled so good.  It was a confusing time.

Brine.  Drink.  Yes.  No.  Yes.  No.  Damn.

We had a great group of family and assorted holiday orphans gathered around our Thanksgiving table.  My parents and brother were here, along with Seattle Mom and Dad and family, L.A. Mom (remember her, Paris blog people?) and her family, our Egyptian friend who has bright blinky eyes like a meerkat, and one of our contractors, Dan the Man, who showed up in a suit jacket with his hair slicked back several hours before the meal was to start.

Dan the Man entertained Mom and I with stories of his childhood in Alaska while we cooked.  For such a young guy, it's impressive how many times he's escaped death.

My mom wanted to put a salad on the table that included curry powder in the dressing.  I told her I didn't think curry powder had any place in a Thanksgiving meal.  She then sighed and told me to "live a little."  I repeat -- my seventy-something-year-old mother told me to "live a little."  That does it, I'm off to race motorcycles and maybe, if I have time, kill a hooker.

The last half hour before a Thanksgiving meal goes on the table is one of frantic mayhem. Thankfully, Mom and Dan the Man were happy to take orders in the kitchen.  Amidst shouts of "MOM, CARROTS, BROWN, WHERE?" and "DAN THE MAN, MAKE THE ROUX THEN A LITTLE LATER ADD THREE TABLESPOONS OF TURKEY FAT AND THEN AFTER IT BROWNS ADD SOME OF THOSE DRIPPINGS AND STIR," we all got it done together.

My favorite parts of the meal were Seattle Mom throwing rolls at L.A. Mom who then tried to catch them in her mouth and the numerous suggestive mutterings of Dan the Man after Seattle Mom presented the five pies she'd baked for dessert.  "Mmm... I'd definitely like to eat Seattle Mom's pie...." was uttered more than once.

I'm very thankful for all the people in my life, each of them fantastic in their own wonderfully bizarre way.

My family stuck around for several days after Thanksgiving --

Coco likes the low notes

Stratego is hard

We drove down to Olympia where we met up with some old family friends.  These people are beloved to my family -- they're the fellow Ohio family with whom we took a Colorado ski vacation every year when I was growing up.  There was a lot of reminiscing about those joint vacations while in Olympia, including raucous laughter about that one time we had to throw a flaming log off our balcony to avoid burning down our vacation rental condo. 

A lot of the ski trip memories didn't include me because I was always the youngest and thus always in ski school.  One of our friends said in Olympia, "I'm sorry, MJ, but I just really don't remember you being around much." Ski school sucks.

After all the memory sharing, our two families experienced the horror that is the Olympia Hands-On Children's Museum on a holiday weekend.  It was full of dead-eyed parents desperate for two seconds of quiet and maybe some more turkey.

Coco refused to leave the construction area, happily selecting a pink tool belt and talking incessantly about Contractor God, Dan the Man, and Supermodel Neighbor, her three favorite construction buddies.  I've got to get Coco out of the house more.

I randomly ran into an old friend at the Children's Museum.  We just stared at each other for awhile, each afraid to be wrong, until she tentatively said, "MJ?"  Then I confidently said, "Becca!" because of course I knew it was her all along.  We chatted for two seconds until I realized I'd lost both my children in those two seconds (it really doesn't take long) and had to take off through the museum looking for them. Becca, it was great almost catching up with you.

We took a few walks with my family, too, one of which yielded a leaf roughly the size of Coco.

On one of our walks, we passed the B&B where Alex and I held our wedding reception --


We chose that reception location because it was across the street from where Alex and I totally made out for the very first time --

Sexy wall

And now.... I've got some really big news.

(Anyone who just thought "pregnant" gets a sucker punch to the eye socket)

I haven't mentioned it in a long time because it was going nowhere for that long time, but Al and I never gave up trying to buy The Goddamn House.  Even though we bought and settled happily into Banister Abbey, we couldn't let that other stupid needy house go.  The saga has been long and frustrating but as of last week, after two years of arguing with people, WE OWN THAT BITCH.

The Universe told us many times to give up.  We told The Universe to shove it.  
It remains to be seen if that was a good idea.

We're now working on two houses that need a lot of work, one of which must be done quickly so we can rent it and stop bleeding money.  We are so stupid.  But we WON, don't you see??

(I realize I should update on the Banister Abbey renovations but honestly, at the end of a long day of thinking about nothing but Banister Abbey renovations, it's pretty much the last thing I want to write about.  But I will, at some point, soon, or at least post some pictures then run away from the computer screaming.)

Street of Dreams,  I am on you.  Finally.


  1. Holy crap, TWO houses to work on? You're beyond insane. Is there a word for that? I bet only beyond insane people know it.

    1. Congrats on the house though! It actually looks a lot like our house from the front...maybe we'll start calling ours the Gosh Darn House.

    2. Hi Chris. The word is "Insanity Fiesta!" We're not ones to sit back and chill. Actually I would love to sit back and chill. Maybe next year?

  2. But... but... which one are you going to live in? I'm so confused! Happy for you! But confused!

    1. I'm confused too, Bec. All the time.

      We're going to stay put at Banister Abbey. It's home. We're going to rent out the other little monster as soon as we can, just nice to finally have it in the family.

  3. Now that was a post worth waiting for. Makes me feel way better about the one desperately-in-need-of-some-repairs 100 year old house I own. More house pictures soon please...of both houses!

    1. I'm all about making people feel better about themselves.

  4. okay you guys seriously need a reality show of your own on HGTV..I mean it....two houses at the same time? and doesn't that make 3 houses that you own? are you guys secret rich folk?

    Coco is getting so big...and that brine looks amazing...

    are you staying dry by the way or have you floated away in all the rain?

    1. Debbie! Good counting, our real estate empire has now grown to a whopping THREE. We're not so rich, in fact getting pretty not rich quickly, but we believe strongly in short-term pain for long-term gain.

      Plus, we really love rice and beans so no problem! Rice and beans for everyone, for years! Years!

  5. For a split second i thought maybe you ran into my sister, becca, at the children't museum. but then i realized that she was with me on thanksgiving, and she doesn't have much reason to be in olympia, so that didn't make sense.
    congrats on winning the house war! are you going to keep living in banister abbey, or are you moving over to the other one on the street of dreams? (is that what you called it?) i'm one that would very gladly look at photos of home renovation, so i'm selfishly excited about you having two houses! bring 'em on...
    happy late thanksgiving!
    (pretty sure jimmy and i made out a little near that mansion back in the day, too :))

    1. I would have loved to run into your Becca! How the heck are you guys?

      We're sticking with Banister Abbey. It's bigger, our stuff is in, no way we're moving again. But we're considering using the Goddamn House as a weekend home. (That's a joke, that would be stupid.)

      I bet you and Jimmy did.... oh yeah...

  6. Wow, very cool, you got the "Goddamn House"! Can't wait to see what you do with it. Gotta run, my eye needs ice really bad!

  7. At last!:) So are you gonna live the Goddamn house and rent Bannister Abbey or it is the other way around?:)

    1. We're living at the B.A. Never moving again if I have any say in it.

      Hugs, Duchesse! You still enjoying being home in Canadaland?

    2. No going back to Paris, then?:)

      Still enjoying the homeland, but might be leaving it again in a few months... Will know for sure in a few weeks:)

    3. More later... I don't want to jinx it!;) But I think you'll like it:)

  8. Wow, ya'll are a little crazy!

    1. Lora, how dare you come onto my blog and throw around unfounded accusations!

  9. Yay for butter and houses! Woot!

    In other news, I totally saw you the other day. You were with your daughter and I sweari almost yelled, "OMG, MJ! HI!" Thank the good lord, it was just a second before I did this that I realized YOU DO NOT KNOW ME and I would just be a weird stalker-ish screecher waving frantically at you while you tried to assess danger with a child in your arms. Basically the opposite of the situation with seeing your friend. But, you know, just a warning in case G-d/my good sense/the universe doesn't intervene and I see you again and do yell that time. At least you'll have a heads up. :) my name is Minda. I'm friendly, I swear.

    1. What? Where were we? Were we having fun or did I look like I was thinking, "Damn, this is material for the blog...."

      Next time say "Hi." Always say "Hi." That happened a few times in Paris and I was pretty happy about it. Just don't cling to my leg and make me drag you around and we'll be cool.

      Bye, Minda!

    2. You were on 19th. I won't say exactly where without your permission. But I do live in the neighborhood, so I know EXACTLY where your make-out spot is. Thanks for that. ;) lol

  10. Its one of life's mystery how throwing flaming logs over the balcony
    to keep from perishing, can be funny years later.

    Thats a great snap of Coco with the atomic leaf,
    and she still wears those boots oh, so well.
    You maybe ought to develop a night club act for her
    and, a la Nancy Sinatra style, teach her to say:

    "You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin’
    and you keep losin’ when you oughta not bet.
    You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’.
    Now what’s right is right, but you ain’t been right yet"

    Maybe it will help pay for that 2nd house.

    1. Honestly, the log thing was kind of funny at the time, too. Of course, I was like eight years old and didn't understand the true meaning of danger.

      I told Coco the plan but so far she's just glaring at me with her arms crossed. Not looking good for the money-raisin'.

      Bye, Bill!

    2. And she already has a smashin' butt slappin' choreography to go with it too!;)

  11. Hi, MJ!
    I just want to start off by saying thst Ireally enjoy your blog! Your personality shines right through..love it!

    I'm actually a college student at the moment and my dream is to travel. I would love to work and travel, and of course I'd love to live in France. I hope this isn't too private of a question, but I am just wondering what your husband does for a living I am just interested in getting more information about careers that will allow me to travel as well.

    Thank you so much for your time! :)