THINGS I LOVED / HATED THIS WEEK #85

LOVE:

Ridiculous Family Stories:

mary-luett-and-somebody

I don’t know very many stories about my mother’s side of the family, which is something that saddens me. Maybe they aren’t storytellers? My father loves to tell his family history, and while the accounts are often clearly outlandish and exaggerated, I can’t help but find them delightful. I learned a new one yesterday about my great grandfather, Roy. He was attacked by bees and he died from his injuries! My ancestor was murdered by killer bees! Isn’t that just fabulous? What a great story to share. It’s good to have silly stories to tell strangers and talk show hosts. Another favorite is a tale of my family being political activists in Russia and then being ejected from the country. I’ve never been able to find more information about this one. I don’t know of any Russians in my family. I would understand if there were, though; I do enjoy vodka. One of the newer stories he tells is of a band of renegade horse thieves in the family long ago. They stole a wagon and the horses and nobody ever saw the owner again. They probably killed the guy and dumped the body. Do you have any murderers in your family? Plantation owners? Russian rebels? Victims of insect brutality? Foolish bankers? You should investigate your family history, it can be terribly amusing.

Wireless Keyboard:

keyboard

When the MacBook Air first came out, I bought it for myself as a graduation gift. After my graduation party, I was a very wealthy man. I don’t think I’ve ever been richer, actually. I was very in love with that remarkably thin computer and I enjoyed showing it off whenever the opportunity presented itself. I took it with me to Paris when I was in pastry school, and there I learned that it wasn’t really the machine I dreamed it to be. It was incredibly slow and it would get alarmingly hot and it barely had any storage. Still, it was so thin! When I got home, I promptly sold it and moved on to a much heavier MacBook Pro. I didn’t regret the decision, but I did miss the lightness of the Air. Years passed and I found myself with an even tinier computer, an iPad! I loved it more than the MacBook Air, but it was difficult to type on. I type all the time, so this was an important thing to fix. I bought the bluetooth keyboard that Apple sells and paired the iPad to it. With this setup, it was rather like having the thinnest computer in the world! I use this keyboard daily and I love it dearly and my life would be miserable without it. I’ve even used it with my iPhone. I can type quite proficiently on the iPad screen now, but I simply fly with my wireless keyboard. Get one, reader!

Gold Flatware!:

My gold flatware is here. I love it!

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

Something that I’ve been wanting for what feels like a decade is gold flatware. I don’t even remember anymore when the obsession began. Yes I do. I was watching an episode of The Martha Stewart Show where she had gone to Thailand. In Bangkok, there is a massive market and Martha bought her daughter, Alexis, a truly huge number of gold place settings for her new apartment. I was captivated. In all the shops I look in, you never find truly gold flatware, you might find some that are bronze or others that have gold accents, but none that are truly gold all over. This has infuriated me. I’m systematically going through my home and making it more relaxing by giving it the feel of a vacation rental and my flatware collection is one of my burdens. There’s just too much of it and none of them match! I need simplicity, readers. So, I have looked and looked for the perfect flatware. I think I finally found them at West Elm. They look like what I want, so I ordered a set and they will arrive soon. I am thrilled. If they feel great, I’m going to order more and get rid of the rest. It’ll be bliss. UPDATE: They arrived already and they are fabulous. Very weighty in the hand and wonderful to look at. I’ll be investing in more soon!

Printed Manuscript:

TMM COVER

Over the past few years, I have written and rewritten the manuscript of Terrible Miss Margo a dozen times. I’m finally at the point where I have to really give it my all or just give up on it for some time. I have been planning to order a bound copy for some time to look at how it appears in physical form. I assume it’s quite different to see your words printed and bound and in actual book form. I’ve had that book weighing me down for far too many years. I need to get it finished for good. I had quite a delightful time formatting the manuscript for print, and I had even more fun designing the cover. I’m quite proud of the cover, actually. I’d pick that book up, wouldn’t you? So, I suppose that if I never do get it traditionally published, I might as well sell it independently. That’s an awful lot of work, and I’m not going to think about that now. lulu.com is the service I used and I really enjoyed it. Anyway the book should arrive sometime in the next two weeks and I’m rather nervous to see it, but I’m ready to get that book out into the world and out of my mind.

iOS Widgets:

ios-8-widgets

I’ve been struggling with the latest update of iOS on my iPhone, so I haven’t really had time to mess with any of the settings or play with it — mainly since the blasted thing refused to cooperate with me. It’s finally calmed down, and I can once again use the wonderful machine that made my life so much better. The new update isn’t really that different from the last one, so I didn’t see much difference, but the other day I discovered that you can add widgets to the notification screen. This thrilled and delighted me. I don’t know why really as it doesn’t change my life any, but it’s rather nice to see my Discover Card balance on the drop down screen and I really enjoy having the Yahoo Weather app tell me about the temperature rather than the stock one. It’s just delightful! Add widgets, my dear readers.

Trip Planning:

030926-F-2828D-307

If I had been born decades ago, my professional life would have been worlds simpler. I would have been a travel agent. I love absolutely nothing more than planning a trip and researching possible excursions to pursue whilst I’m out and about. Last night I booked my next trip and it was a constant delight. I’ve been in misery since the end of August when I got home from my latest excursion to Chicago. I need a trip at least once a month, but that’s not exactly possible! But, I have Spring Break planned out and I could not be more excited. I’m not going anywhere with palm trees or a beach, which makes me sad, but circumstances have sent me to the nation’s capital, Washington DC. I used to want to go there as a child as I was very much into American history in my youth. As I’ve aged, my interest in the past has shifted almost entirely to ancient history, but there is still a curiosity in me to see DC. The reason I’m finally going is for something entirely un-American. I’m going to see an Englishwoman, the queen of my childhood, ANGELA LANSBURY!

tumblr_nc05y1zQKn1qe6vjyo1_500 Bedknobs and Broomsticks_2

Growing up, I would watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks on a seemingly endless loop. That film us utterly fabulous. Anyway, Angela is in a revival of the classic play, Blithe Spirit. It’s about a psychic and spirits and so I could not be more delighted. I’m staying in a really attractive apartment I found on AirBNB on Capitol Hill and I think it’s going to be just a really nice time. I’m looking forward to leisurely walks, bumping into Hillary Clinton, visiting the Smithsonian, eating loads of food, and being arrested for stalking ANGELA LWANSBURY. March can’t come soon enough!

HATE:

The New Dr. Who:

Doctor Who Episode 8

I’m basically British. I’ve long felt that I should be living my life there, and I do have plans to make that happen someday in the future. Hello, University College London! Even if that doesn’t work out and I never have my dream job working in the British Museum, I’ll forever love the culture of that wonderful island. One facet of British life that I have struggled with is Dr. Who. I really enjoyed the series when David Tennet portrayed the Doctor, and I enjoyed it all the more because Catherine Tate, a comedienne very dear to my heart, played his companion. She was fabulous and the stories were such fun and oftentimes scary. I watched one episode each night when I was living in Paris and I loved it. After David moved on to different things and the Matt guy took over, I didn’t pay attention anymore. Then he quit and this new guy, Peter, came on and we were all like, “Huh? He’s old.” I wasn’t interested in this, either, but the most recent episode involved a mummy, so clearly I had to watch. Well, reader, let me tell you, I was not amused at all! This Doctor is just not fun. He seemed dark and cranky and, well, a bit dull. I won’t be tuning in for future installments. His companion was irksome, too. Le sigh.

Passing Out After Work:

Dramatic_fake_passing_out

I have a terrible habit in the autumn and winter. When I get home, I take a meal, and then I promptly fall asleep. I’m constantly exhausted during this time. Seasonal depression and all, you know? Yesterday was a particular disappointment. I took a walk, which really tired me. This was the first sign that something was up. I can walk until my feet fall off. I regularly walk for miles and miles and miles and miles. A four mile walk should absolutely not have fatigued me the way it did. Back home, I tried to read, but the next thing I remember is waking up at the stroke of midnight. I didn’t accomplish anything at all. I was going to start planning for the Annual Phillips Shitty Halloween Spectacular Spectacular, and I was going to do a bit of remodeling in the kitchen, and I was going to do yoga, but I didn’t do any of that. If this keeps happening, and from the past, I know it will, I’m going to get fatter. Oh Beysus, why can’t it be spring again?

Bundt Pans:

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I’m really very embarrassed to write what I’m about to since I’m a fully trained professional pastry chef. I studied under the greatest minds in France, for Beysus’ sake. I can whip out a tart or a macaron with no bother. But, I struggle with the simplest of things. Every year for the Annual Phillips Shitty Halloween Spectacular Spectacular (our familial Halloween party), I set the table, do the decorating, and make desserts. For the past two, I have attempted bundt cakes. Don’t ask me why I return to this same dessert each October; it’s a mystery to me as well. For reasons that I cannot conceive or begin to understand, I fail constantly and consistently with bundt cakes. I follow all the instructions. I have read extensively online about all the tips and suggestions. I butter and I flour the mold. And yet, without fail, the cake refuses to come out. It utterly refuses. I can almost hear it laughing. Last night, I made the most beautiful chocolate cake from Martha Stewart’s fabulous cookbook, simply titled Cakes. It rose with perfection and looked simply gorgeous when I flipped it over onto my antique cake stand. IT WOULD NOT BUDGE. IT WOULD NOT EVEN WIGGLE. I screamed and I roared but nothing helped. The cake was cool. It was thoroughly baked. I had set it on a hot towel like the LIARS on the Internet told me to do. And still; failure. In a fit or rage, I slammed it down onto my countertop and the lower 2/3rds separated from the top. Not really the elegant look I had in mind, but at least I have a bit of cake. Last year, not even a little bit would come out, so I attempted to turn it into a trifle. That worked well. I put the pan in the freezer as I was told that it will pop out when it’s frozen. So, we’ll see when I get home from work if it will. I HAVE DOUBT. (UPDATE: it didn’t work.) I’ll just end up glazing it and hiding the hideously ruined surface. Maybe I should get a new bundt pan? The one that I use is an antique. But, if generations before me managed to use it effectively, why can’t I? My struggle is real.

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