One Pot Pasta from Martha Stewart Living:
I had never seen something like this — dry pasta in a skillet? What madness was this? Could it even work? So, I had to try it out and am now obsessed with the recipe. It could not be simpler. You put pasta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil into a skillet. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and tossing frequently, cook until the pasta is tender and the water has mostly evaporated to form a nice sauce. It was so unreasonably simple and tastier than I could have imagined. The pasta was infused with a rich flavor from all the ingredients, making it taste like basil, which, of course, thrilled and delighted me. Couldn’t be happier. Do make yourself some.
I just love a big ass table. Truly and honestly, it is one of the best things in the world. Nothing can beat a dining room that is stuffed to the gills — whatever that means — with a massive wooden table, preferably one that looks expensive. It’s so nice to eat dinner there or to work and stretch out all your papers. My dining room finally has a big table — an expensive one — that I got for free! When my father worked at Ethan Allen, we regularly got furniture at ridiculous prices. I have a gorgeous recliner that I bought for only twenty-five dollars. It cost hundreds at retail. Oftentimes, when the furniture is a bit scuffed up or damaged ever so slightly, the company just throws it away. And by throwing it away, it gets thrown right into my house! Most of my redone rooms are furnished with junked furniture that looks as good as new. It’s amazing what a stain pen and a bit of creativity can do. So, now I have a gorgeous table filling the room up and it looks so elegant. I sigh dreamily as I pass through the room. It has inspired me to redo the design, yet again, but that’s a project for this summer. Black walls, white trim, oriental rug, perhaps a chandelier? Speaking of chandeliers, I have a massive chandelier that I also got for free hanging in the garage waiting for a home. It’s way too big for the house, though, so I’ll wait and put it in my eventual manor home. It’s going to happen. Don’t laugh.
End of the Work Year:
I may whine and complain with irritating regularity, but I really don’t mind my job most days. It’s nice to see the kids and help them out and get spring break and thanksgiving break and winter break and the occasional three-day weekend, but the greatest gift of all is summer break. Oh, how I live for it! Have you ever seen the film Bad Teacher? It’s an underrated and hilarious gem. It made my top twenty list last year, much to my surprise. There is a line that I really related to: “When I first started teaching, I thought I was doing it for all the right reasons: shorter hours, summers off…” YES! We all know it. Anyway, the last day of this year will be Monday and I cannot wait! I love summer break. I don’t lounge about like a lot of people, I try not to anyway, no, I get things done! I’m going to work in the yard, remodel my dining room, maybe another room, go on a trip — Buddha only knows where at this point — send out query letters to publishing agencies, fine tune my abs, eat a bunch, tan…oh so many things. Do come, Monday, I am so excited for your arrival!
I stopped eating white rice in 2009. Not completely, mind you, but as my primary rice of choice. Do you have a rice of choice? Maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. I love rice and could probably eat it for every meal and be content. I love fancy dishes and intricately prepared desserts, but like many people who do too much cooking, I love simple food. There was an episode of my beloved The Martha Stewart Show, which I still mourn and lament daily, that was all about what famous restaurant chefs cooked for themselves when they got home. None of them were doing anything too special. One made scrambled eggs. Another a simple pasta. I really identified with them. Sometimes I’m so terribly disinterested in cookery that I will pour a few bowls of Cheerios and call it good — and it is because I think they’re delicious. But, back to rice. Every day at work I have the same thing for luncheon and I adore it: brown rice, a bit of sea salt, and a tablespoon of butter. It’s perfect, but it is more perfect because of the rice that I use. It was found at HyVee and costs a little over a dollar and is divine. The grains don’t turn to mush, they retain their structure and have a delightful nuttiness. I can’t compliment them highly enough, go buy some.
I don’t think I ate a salad until I was about twenty-one. I had no interest in greens, or rabbit food, as I so charmingly called them. I could see no reason a person would want to eat raw carrots or that horrible concoction people call salad dressing. I think salad dressing is absolutely vile. It’s nothing more than poison and fat shook up, you know? I like to drizzle a good olive oil on my salads or have a vinaigrette. When I was at the Ralph Lauren restaurant in Chicago, they had a wonderful salad that was dressed with a champagne based vinaigrette. Heavenly. Proof, in Des Moines had a beet salad that had a sesame oil drizzled on top, good that. I love a good beet. I can’t wait until my garden dries up a bit so that I can finally plant my beets seeds. Blissfully, half the greens that I planted lived and are doing rather nicely. The other night I made myself a salad with mustard greens, kale, spinach, chard, and arugula. It was amazing! I love arugula so much that it’s stupid! The mustard greens are delicious too, even though they’re purple, so that’s a contradiction in terms. I’m going to make some pasta dish this weekend with them all and I can’t wait. They taste so much better straight out of the garden than they do coming out of a bag. Grow some greens, reader, go.
Indecision on Interior Design:
I love nothing more than updating rooms, well that is an exaggeration, but I do love transforming a room with paint and moulding and a bit of rearranging. Any room I do can be guaranteed to have the carpet ripped out and some Sharkey Grey Paint on the walls somewhere. It’s almost my signature design, but I still need to experiment and grow. I take my interior designing very seriously, you know. No room is ever done in my mind. I constantly want to change and redo thing. I currently have a gallon of glossy black paint that is tormenting me! I want to paint a room all black, but I can’t decide which one to do. My bedroom perhaps or the dining room? I just don’t know! There are pros and cons for each. The dining room would look good, I think, but I might have to skim coat the walls. My bedroom would look stunning, but I’d have to skim again and I worry that the room would get far too hot in the summers, since the bedroom is not air conditioned. I hate air conditioning, anyway, but I don’t need to cook myself while I’m trying to get some rest. I’ll probably end up doing a demo wall in the dining room and see how everything turns out. I think it will look stunningly modern.
There is no point, absolutely no point, in having moulding unless it has some pizzazz. Of course there’s a point — it disguises the hideous gap between the floor and the wall. The upper level of my home has basic moulding, but it has a bit of routing done on the edges, so to my mind, it’s not completely hideous. The lower level, though, is a nightmare. I think they just put up leftover wood up as trim when they tragically renovated in the 50s. I’ve seen pictures of the house from before that and there was decent moulding, even some lovely things on the ceiling. Now, nothing. Two rooms still have that tragic popcorn nonsense on the ceiling. I can’t wait to get my spray bottle and drywall knife on them! I’m bewildered why people went out of their way to make the house disgusting? Did they take sadistic pleasure in it? What was their aim? I’ll never know, but I’m forced to solve these mysteries. Thankfully,though, I discovered a solution for basic moulding — you just take another piece of trim of equal depth, install it an inch or so above the plain moulding, or even directly on top and paint the whole thing with the same color. Presto! Bingo! Pizzazz! Anyway, put some nice moulding in your house, peasant.
I really do enjoy gardening, but it oftentimes gets away from me. If you are lazy for a while — no more than two days really — you’ll suddenly have a lovely crop of weeds you have to rid yourself of, the plants grow overcrowded, the grass surrounding becomes far too long. It is just a disaster. This year I promised myself that I would do better, and I have been, I really have, but then it has rained nonstop for the last week. I am not exaggerating, the rain won’t stop falling. Yesterday, I felt as if I were underwater. It reminded me of an old Mesopotamian expression: a river in the sky. Very apt that. Do you know any ancient aphorisms, peasant? Because of the rain, the weeds are thriving and because of the rain, I can’t get outside without getting soaked. During the few hours that water isn’t dripping from someplace, it’s far too wet to actually get any work done. I squished out there yesterday to pick some greens for a salad. It was absolutely delicious and I’m again obsessed with arugula. It’s my all-time favorite. I’m going to pick some more tonight for another salad. I hope I’ll be able to sort the weed situation this weekend and perhaps plant my beets. I adore beets. Beets and arugula together, foodgasm!
Games, All of Them:
I absolutely abhor games. Hate them. Loathe their existence. I visibly wilt if somebody suggests playing one. Nothing fills me with more dread than somebody suggesting a round of Monopoly. How do you even play Monopoly? It doesn’t make sense and it is no fun. It’s stupid. Same thing for Clue. Sweet Lord Jesus, it is exhausting. I think the slutty lady in red killed him in the conservatory with a pipe. First off, where did she get a pipe? Are they just lying about at fancy dinner parties. How does everybody know about the secret passages? The only good thing about Clue is that it inspired a movie that is completely genius. I can’t recall what prompted this topic to be written about, but you should know it. If you want to spend time with me in an amusing fashion, let’s have a charming conversation about something ridiculous, not waste time sinking each others battleship.
Why is classic literature classic? The great majority of it is absolutely dreadful! I’d rather have my eyeballs bored out with a garden hose than continue reading War & Peace, but I persevere. Have you ever read that book? Don’t, I implore you! Anna Karenina was bearable, but only about a third of it. Anna’s romance was absolutely delightful, but the sections on peasants and existential religious thoughts were a total bore. How did nonsense like that get published? These days, good books languish until their writer’s give up on publishing them while shit like Twilight and 50 Shades of I’m a Super Slut become best sellers. And don’t even get me started on, “Who cares if it’s crap, as long as the children are reading!” I’ve read the studies and reports, kids are reading no more and no less than they were decades ago, some kids just don’t read and those are the only ones people focus upon. Why would they want to read when they have to read something awful like War & Peace. I oftentimes wonder about other books that were published at the same time as boring books like Jane Eyre? Oh stop puffing your cheeks out at me, Austin loons, she was a royal bore and you know it. I told myself that I would read as many classics as possible to better my own writing, but as happens with any resolution, I regret it immensely. The only classics that are worthy of the name were penned by Oscar Wilde. He was me in a past life, remember? And, don’t you dare, if you want a happy life, pick up Les Miserables. The only miserable people are those poor sufferers reading it!