Tag Archives: presents

Food for thought–and dinner

My nephew was born on Thanksgiving day, so I always think of it as his birthday even when the 23rd falls a bit short of the actual day. As a college student at my alma mater, he’s having a ball this year living in an actual house instead of a dorm, and is taking advantage of having access to a real kitchen and learning to make some of his favorite foods.  He and I share a predilection for Indian food of all sorts, so for his birthday this year I put together a little package to help him along in his culinary education:

  • A copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
  • A selection of the spices and herbs needed for Indian cooking
  • A neat little box (courtesy of the beading section of a craft store) to hold the latter
  • A small mortar and pestle
  • A baggie of nice Darjeeling tea and a tea infuser
  • A bag of basmati rice
  • A bag of fresh ginger

[For a more readable look at just what I included, take a peek at a larger version of this photo on my Flickr site.]

In return I’ve extracted a promise from him that he’ll cook me a meal when I visit him at school one of these days. Hey, a present’s not a present unless there are strings attached, right?


The Month of Azaleas

In Japan, May is the month of azaleas.

Around here, it’s the month of birthdays. Three in my family, which we have a habit of stretching so they pretty much dominate the month. We are big on birthdays, and do them up right.

Here, for instance, is a little birthday package I recently put together for a friend:

First Child was born on my birthday, leading us to the inescapable conclusion that our birthday is sort of a birthday squared, as it were.  We indulge ourselves as much as possible.  Neither of us worked today, we both slept in (a practice he takes much more seriously than I do), and we made ourselves our mutual favorite cake:  an old-fashioned southern coconut cake.

I had a lovely day and was spoiled by friends and family. Lunch was brought in. I puttered all morning, bringing in flowers for the house.

See? I told you–azaleas:

There were lovely gifts:

And from My Better Half, a fabulous printer to replace the one that is rather less fabulous than it was several years ago. It prints. It scans. It spits out unbelievably professional looking photos. It takes instructions from every computer in the house. It mixes the cocktails, makes the beds, and cleans up after the dogs.* And it does it all wirelessly, which blows my mind. Magic. Isn’t it pretty?

And of course:

Happy birthday, First Child. And many thanks and much love to Second Child and Better Half and my friends.


*Okay, so I lied about the dogs and the beds, but it makes a mean vodka gimlet.

Christmas greetings from the blogosphere

It’s almost three in the afternoon on Christmas day. I’ve switched from the champagne we had with our cinnamon rolls this morning to my usual diet Coke. The Better Half is reading his new fishing books and nursing a last glass of champagne. Both kids have gone back to sleep, one in bed and one on the sofa. The fire is burning steadily. We have talked on the phone with the southern relatives and will call the west coast in a little while. And I’m thinking of moseying into the kitchen to start the batter for the Yorkshire pudding (the Better Half’s family are English and Welsh) but I’m not really moving yet.

The gifts were lovely–art books and gift certificates from the local diner from the Better Half (who I hope will join me for breakfast with them), wonderful papers to play with, a book by the Dalai Lama from First Child, a Gorillapod for my camera (which looks like–and has been pressed into service as–an advance guard for the Martian invasion, but which holds the camera exactly where you’d like it to be held), a gigantic block of caramel (thanks to Second Child, who never got that pony and knows a “what I really always wanted” wish when she hears one), chocolate, a lovely Chinese brush for painting . . . this was supposed to be a very low key Christmas (there’s that economy thing, you know) but everything was so lovingly chosen that I’m feeling entirely spoiled.

And–oh, yeah–in keeping with a true Welsh Dylan Thomas Christmas, “the dog was sick.”*

My gratitude and best wishes to readers who come this way–looking forward to having you back again in the new year. Here’s hoping for good health, safety, and happiness for all. And a much more peaceful and sensible world, even though it will take lots of patience and perseverance to undo the damage done. I think we’re finally ready to start.


*Don’t worry about him–he’s fine now. He has a history of overindulging and this time it serves him right for scarfing down ALL of the leftover pea soup and ham and cheese biscuits we brought home from a beautiful dinner party last night.