Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

The Death Of The Old Year

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true true love
And the New-year will take 'em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

New Year's Eve Munchies

One of my 'Hopes and Improvements' for the New Year was to start cooking more. So today I made two corn-centric recipes from Jacques Pépin's Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine.

I started with the Cold Corn Soup, which I made into a Hot Corn Soup, and added some Little Corn Dumplings, which were more like Little Corn Fritters. To be honest, when I read that I needed to puree the soup I was pretty sure the meal was going to be a disaster, but I was pleasantly surprised. The onion, potato, corn and milk really worked well together, and the texture wasn't as awful as I was expecting it to be. If I make it again I'll probably use a sieve to get a smoother texture, and add some cornstarch to thicken the soup up a little bit more. The "dumplings" were good too, but they lose their heat pretty quickly so you need to eat them fast. I think I'm going to give each recipe 3 1/2 stars out of five. If I can work on the soup recipe and make the texture a little more appealing, that could easily jump to 4 or 4 1/2 stars. Not too bad starting out ^_^ Now on to the mimosas!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's On Your List?

Hopes and Improvements for The New Year

1. Spend less time watching mindless TV/ surfing the Internet
2. Spend more time reading
(Super-Specific Goal: read at least one book a week)
3. No new notebooks until I've used up the ones I have
4. Do something creative every day
5. Eat better and exercise more to be healthy, not to lose weight
(Super-Specific Goal: exercise 3x a week, eat more fresh vegetables and fruits)
6. Cook at home more, and use more fresh ingredients
(Super-Specific Goal: 3 new recipes a month)
7. Make positive affirmations a significant part of my day. Make sure not to leave the bathroom every morning without finding something positive to love about myself
8. Write more letters
(Super-Specific Goal: write 2 letters a month)
9. Improve my french
(Super-Specific Goal: spend at least one hour each day doing/reading/watching/listening to something french)
10. Learn a new skill
11. Stay clutter-free
12. Maintain a 4.0 in my classes
13. Try to write more
(Super-Specific Goal: write something every day)
14. Be more outgoing
15. See more plays/operas/ballets - go to more museums/conservatories/events etc...
16. Live joyfully, in the moment and with purpose
17. Be kind to others
18. Be kind to myself

Hopes and Improvements for The New Year

It's that time of the year, time to start making our New Year's resolutions lists and wish for more willpower into the new year. I've been thinking a lot about resolutions lately. I absolutely LOVE lists, and ANY excuse to make one is good in my book. This year, though, I really want to make a list of "resolutions" that I actually keep, instead of a random list of things that would be nice but irrelevant come the 2nd. So how do I do that?

First, I'm throwing away the resolution bit. Way too much baggage and laziness comes with that word. I've heard other people instead prefer a list of "goals", which is an improvement but I think I've come up with one better. This year, I will be making a list of 'Hopes and Improvements for The New Year'. Good name, right? I think it has a much nicer ring than "resolution", and instead of the guilty and undisciplined feeling I get when I think resolution, I'm instead getting an excited to myself feeling. Let's just say I will be much happier following a list of 'Hopes and Improvements' than 'resolutions'.

Now, onto my second problem, the actual goals themselves. As I've said, I LOVE making lists, the more detailed the better. This means that when I make a goal to read more, I can't resist adding onto it until I have a goal to read exactly 2.3 books every week until I die. It's fun, but most of the time I get overwhelmed by trying to reach my super-special specific goal that I lose the spirit of the original one, and give up altogether. So this year, I'm not going to take away the fun of making those specific plans, but I am going to keep the original goals, and those plans will be the ones that really matter.

Finally, I've been thinking about the date of "resolutions", New Year's Eve and Day. Since I'm now making a no-pressure list for a better life, why wait for an arbitrary date to start making improvements? So, in the spirit of an unconventional resolution list, I'm going to start today!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pod People!

I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be to read more. I love books so much, but I think school, TV, and definitely the Internet has severely cut into my reading time this year. I haven't decided yet if I want to set a book goal, maybe for each month, but I've already started working on my 'books I have read' list. Last night I started Brave New World.

I'm only at the fourth chapter so far, but I'm already loving everything about this book. It's based on a future where humans are grown and socialized until adulthood in a lab, before becoming pre-determined cogs in the wheel of society. I think the most amazing thing about this book is that it was written in the '30s. Who could have imagined such a scientifically detailed picture of the future and genetic engineering? Aldous Huxley, apparently. I'll save my final opinion until I finish the book, but if the beginning is any indication this will soon become one of my favorites.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

All We Need Is Love

What's Making Me Happy Today:

Pretty pictures
Hanging out with my kitty, watching the squirrels nom on some bird-seed outside
Sitting in my clean, perfectly bare room newly accented by some fun shelves and a HUGE new mirror I can watch myself in
Curling up with my family in the living room with nowhere to go
Red hair
Post-Christmas leftovers
Cookie dough in the fridge

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who Is That Little Man On My Counter?

Messy disaster? Hilarious holiday cookie mishap? Ritual bonding experience? An excuse to play photographer? All of the above!

Cookies were made, frosting spilled on countertops, flour tossed everywhere...and then there was a little man...

What an adorable little face, yes? Unfortunately he met with an...unpleasant end not soon after this picture was taken. He will be missed...

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's The Day!

Joyeux Noël! I hope everyone had and is having a wonderful Christmas. My family is taking a post-present nap, and I'm watching holiday-themed Scooby Doo episodes. Je suis très heureuse!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even A Mouse...

I love presents. I love opening them, I love giving them, I love pulling off a huge surprise that you just know captured the essence of the giftee. As I get older, though, the presents themselves stop meaning as much as the time spent with family, and instead serve more as a symbol of the relationships we share. A lot of my peers are talking about what made this a great year, and what "presents" they are thankful for. In favor of my lust for lists, I think this is a great idea. So here it goes:

  • My family and I are alive and safe and enjoying each others' company
  • My adorable cat is curled up by the fire and I know that after I post this and go over to pet her sleeping form, she'll let out the cutest puff and whine of air you've ever heard
  • I started nursing school and maybe for the first time in my life, I worked hard for straight A's, something I am much more proud of than the 4.0 I never worked for in high school
  • I've won the respect of my teachers
  • Out of all the medical problems me and my family have had this year, we are all improving and in relatively good health
  • My family and I moved into a lovely new house this year, with built-in bookcases!
  • I've had at least six different shades of hair this year, and had the confidence to pull it off
  • My car passed its inspection
  • It's going to be a white Christmas!
  • I continue to be inspired by all the beauty that surrounds me, and have created some beautiful and accomplished pieces myself
  • I have not given up on myself

So there it is, a small small small taste of all the presents I have been given and have given myself this year. Not too bad, is it? I hope your lists are just as long and you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

To Do Today...

I have until the 19th of January to re-learn enough French to pass the 101 level. I am so lazy... I think it's something like eight less than a month. Of course they're already floating around my brain somewhere so it shouldn't take as much time once I can find a way to pry it out. I have a huge amount of French movies in my netflix queue, at least four different textbooks, numerous literary texts, music, everything I could ask for to make learning the basics a painless breeze...I just have to get off my ass and use them...Je suis fatigue. Can I smell a New Year's resolution?


I hate introductions. Everyone always ends up filling them with anything and everything anyone could possibly hope to forget about them. End introduction.