Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Appalling manners

Ok, this latest Dear Abby hit home as both a recent bride and a recent attendee to showers:

DEAR ABBY: A friend and I attended a bridal shower of a friend's daughter. After the young woman opened her gifts, we were escorted to another room where blank note cards were strewn on a coffee table, surrounded by envelopes and stamps. The hostess instructed us to write on these folded cards our names and what we had given the bride-to-be.
The hostess told us to write: "Dear Mary (using our own names, of course), Thank you for the nice afghan" (or whatever we had given), and place the card in one of the envelopes. We were then told to address and stamp the envelopes, but not to seal them so (I assume) the "too busy" bride-to-be could sign her name.
As I foolishly followed these ridiculous instructions, I was tempted to thank myself for the 30-minute drive I had made in each direction to purchase a gift, and the 45-minute drive I made to attend the shower.
How stupid are we going to feel when the "thank-yous," in our own handwriting, show up in the mail? My son says I should refuse the letter.
And do you want to know the "topper"? I asked the bride-to-be before leaving when her wedding was. Get this -- it's in two days. I am not even invited to the wedding!
What's wrong with this generation? Please shed some light on this. Thanks, Abby. I feel better now that I've vented -- stupid, but better. -- FEELING USED IN KANSAS

DEAR FEELING USED: Nothing is wrong with "this generation." What you have described is a family that never learned basic good manners. Rather than an "afghan" -- or whatever your gift was -- the bride-to-be would have been better served to have received a book on etiquette.

Ok, ok. Now, the recent “normal” trend is for the guests to write their name and address on an envelope and leave it with the hostess. I see nothing wrong with this-not a bit-at long as the letter gets sent promptly. At one of my showers, this happened and on the other it didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal to write the addresses down, although I did mix up addresses and sent the wrong thank you notes to two couples. Luckily, I happened to mix up two couples who were getting married in the same year so it was a somewhat funny reminder to them to NOT do what we did. At both showers the shower hostess wrote down who gave me what, but I myself wrote out the thank you cards, which is how it should be done.

I can’t even believe this bride to be would do that…or allow her “hostess” to do it either. That doesn’t “count” as a thank you note. I’m not sure what it counts as, but please, people get some manners. It’s a toss up to which is ruder- inviting people to showers without inviting them to the wedding/reception or this crap. Seriously.

Sushi: the Sparkling vs Sake debate

Last night Mr. Lush and I had sushi with our good friend, Mrs. Luce at Tachibana's. Tachibana's, although they have sub-par service, has great sushi. Although, honestly, they are not my absolute favorite in the city, its really because of my love affair with The Spicy Roll, which Tachi's is not the best at. Although we did finally find one spicy roll we liked there-the Arrowhead. It happens to be $13, but its really good and the rest of the menu is on the cheaper side. (ie $3.50 for a salmon/avocado roll). The Arrowhead may not be as "authentic" as other rolls, but I always say I prefer Americanized versions of ethnicity anyway.

But I digress. Anyway, Mr. Lush and I typically have sake when we eat sushi by ourselves but much to our delight, Mrs. Luce rather enjoys sparkling with it and brings it to our sushi pairings. Much to our dis-light (is that a word? It should be) Mr. Luce is allergic to sushi, so our sparkling and sushi dinners with the Luce Family are rare and are only when Mr. Luce is out of town. But that makes them rather special and should be celebrated.

The question this begs to ask, is which do Mr. Lush and I prefer with sushi? Sake or sparkling? Sometimes when we are at home, and get sushi to go, if we happen to have a bottle of sparkling we will drink it, but we never bring it with us. The truth is Mr. Lush and I eat sushi about once a week, and Mr. Lush isn't a big of a fan of sparkling as I am, and although he indulges me now and again, sparkling once a week is a lot for someone who doesn't love it.

We have tried nicer sake quite a few times. Seki in The Loop has a decent sake menu in which they list things based on how sweet / dry /etc they are AND let you have a sampler with 3 of them. Of course, I know nicer sake exists in other places, but no one else gives you the handy dandy menu or lets you try 3. We played around with that for a bit and have tried other places as well. But, alas, we just don't like it that much more than hot sake. There's something nice, almost right, about hot sake and sushi to me. And, since its anywhere between 40-400% cheaper than nice cold sake, we'll stick with that. It almost justifies our once a week sushi habit-look at what we're saving by having cheap hot sake instead of nice cold sake???

I was fortunate enough to have Cristal once with sushi...now that I would force Mr. Lush to deal with once a week, should a gross dozen cases of Cristal land on our porch. Since I don't see that happening, I guess we'll continue to have sparkling with Mrs. Luce and sake by ourselves.

Thanks Mrs. Luce-for the company and the sparkling!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Parrotheads = experience, not just a concert

I’m not really a Jimmy Buffet fan…but who doesn’t like a couple of his songs, at least? Plus, its only in the US that a beach bum could end up being a multimillionaire, right?? And Mr. Buffet deserves a tip of the cap for making that happen.
Well, Mr. Lush and I, along with a couple of friends, went to the Jimmy Buffet concert last night. Recap- completely sold out show, both in seats and lawn. Took us at least 1 ½ hours to get there because of the traffic-and it would normally be a 15 minute drive. Music – fine. Overall experience-weird. Imagine the percentage of people who go to sporting event and wear that team’s attire. Now that same percentage of people were wearing some combination, if not all of the following: Hawaiian shirt, grass skirt, and parrots on their hat or even AS their hat. Really. The entire crowd wore that kind of stuff. (us included-but just the Hawaiian shirts) A sold out crowd of middle aged people wearing grass skirts and parrots on their heads made the night an experience, not just a concert. I’d recommend it to anyone, though, just once. It wasn’t on The List, but I think I’ll add so I can cross it off. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bamboo makes good fajitas?

The other night we lit the fire pit that our good friend Mr. Luce made for us out of scrap metal at work (what a handy friend to have) and sat around and drank some wine. It was lovely. Well, then Mr. Lush decided to put some dried bamboo on the fire. Why do we have bamboo you ask? Our neighbors planted bamboo a few years ago and it of course has spread to our yard. For those of you that don't know, bamboo is harder to kill than a bad 80's haircut. The roots grow 4 + feet underground and have a lot to live for I guess because there just ain't no killin them. Occasionally Mr. Lush trims it and it has sort of become like privacy foliage. Well, said trimmed pieces became the dried bamboo we burned. Anyway, I digress.....

Bamboo flares up and burns quickly and smells like.....cumin. It took me a minute to put my finger on it, but it really does. I'm thinking of maybe throwing some on next time we're grilling chicken and maybe make fajitas! I don't know if it will work, but its funny to think about....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Evite and I agree

Evite has a nifty drink calculator. You enter the party duration (4 hours), Guest Count of number of light (20) Avergage (60) and Heavy (40) drinkers that will attend. You put in if you’re serving wine, beer, or liquor (or any combination) and viola- you have what you should buy. We used said calculator for the Mr. and Mrs. Lush Reception, imputing the above numbers, overestimating a smidge because I’d rather have things left over than run out. Results were: 217Bottle(s)/Can(s) of Beer, 44Bottle(s) of Wine and 11Bottle(s) of Liquor (1 liter). We purchased about that much, but ended up with an abundance of alcohol leftover. Realistically, we went through less than 150 bottles of beer, 22-25 bottles of wine, and 7 bottles of liquor for about 95 adults and 15 kids. Astonishing how far off it was. I mean, really, I figured it would be right about on if I added a few more light drinkers and moved some avg drinkers to heavy drinkers, thinking evite wouldn't really know what a heavy drinker is. But no, I guess if you say heavy drinker, evite really thinks you’re a boozehound- we overpurchased by at least 40%.

However, when putting in what I would actually consider to be a heavy drinker, (ie someone who consumes over a bottle of wine by themselves, or 10+ mixed drinks) I changed it to 25 heavy, 50 avg, and 25 light. It came up with the following results: 167Bottle(s)/Can(s) of Beer, 34Bottle(s) of Wine and 9 Bottle(s) of Liquor (1 liter). Much much closer to actual numbers used. Hmm. Who knew-evite and I agree on what a heavy drinker is!!!

Although, worse things could happen-now we’re forced to have a party.

My love hate relationship with Chicken Marsala and pairing

As you might know from reading my blog, I make Chicken Marsala from time to time and am always on the lookout for the perfect wine to pair with it. I serve it with a side of pasta alfredo and my sauce has a slightly creamy texture, but the base of the sauce, Marsala Wine, isn't white, so it goes with many things. Which, some could say is a great feature of a dish-that it tastes good with a lot of wines that you aren't stuck with a certain kind, but I think its a bit of a pain because nothing tastes perfect with it. The latest effort was the 2000 Pietra Santa Sassolino form Gold Medal Wine Club.
Its a "Tuscan-inspired blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, from grapes grown exclusively on the Pietra Santa estate. Sassolino translates to “little stone” in Italian, and is in reference to the granite and limestone rich soils that add interesting characters and flavors to the wine. The 2000 Sassolino was awarded 87 Points – “Highly Recommended” by the Beverage Tasting Institute. On the nose, rich aromas of cherry, sandalwood, sage and vanilla are present, and the wine opens with good concentration and a medium body. The Sassolino is loaded with ripe, mouthfilling fruit, and displays opulent raspberry and blueberry flavors with hints of mint and spice. Pietra Santa’s Sassolino has excellent balance, soft tannins, and a supple texture that pairs well with grilled steaks or lamb chops. Aged 25 months in oak. 54% Sangiovese, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy now until 2010. Pietra Santa’s Sassolino is a proprietary blend of the winery. This is a special wine not only to the family, but also to the winery’s enthusiasts who have anticipated each vintage release since 1993."

We decanted the wine for about 30 minutes, although in retrospect it could've used about 90+ minutes. It was great though- a bit harsh on the oak at first, but as I said we should've decanted it a bit more. It was also very good with the Marsala. Probably still not the perfect pair, but I guess I'll be *forced* to keep on trying.

Oh the demands of being a winelush.

My Eyes Are A Natural Dehydration Meter

Odd thing about my experience with Lasik-its turned my eyes into a natural dehydration meter. When I’m dehydrated, my eyes will sting and water. It didn’t used to happen. But now, post-Lasik, it happens. I was reminded of this today, after a night of some salty pizza and Chianti, while driving to work, when my eyes teared up. But, clearly my body is saying its thirsty, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Its just….weird.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hangover Help?

Over the weekend a good friend got a little drunk. Ok, a lot drunk and prayed to the porcelain god for a few hours. Well said friend has not had much experience of intense hangovers and was a bit lost. Luckily, I have some tried and true methods that I shared with her. She went from feeling like death to feeling sub-human within a few hours and was about 85% human by the evening. She insisted I need to share my hangover curing knowledge with the world, so here goes.

WineLush's Hangover Tips
  1. Take and follow as many of these suggestions as you can handle.
  2. Remember that your blood sugar is low. Despite that while you’re drinking the alcohol is treated like sugar, post drinking your body’s blood sugar has plummeted. Solution-consume sugar. Soda, OJ, Gatorade, whatever you can get down.
  3. Drink water. Your body is also dehydrated, which is why your head hurts. (your brain has shrunk, really like a dried out sponge)
  4. Grease + protein + bread works best to absorb the alcohol in your body. Period. If you can’t handle a greasy burger and fries, get as close as you can. Grilled cheese sandwich even.
  5. If you can’t eat grease, eat something. Chicken noodle soup, banana, something. Eat whatever you can, as much as you can get down.
  6. Hair of the Dog- it only works if you’re still drunk. If you threw up, don’t even consider it. If your last drink was 5 hours ago…well, it might help. I’ve witnessed both.
  7. Over the counter cures-well, nothing cures, but my favorite is Alka Seltzer Wake Up Call (formerly Morning Relief). Its fizzy so it helps your tummy and it has generic Tylenol to help your head and caffeine to help wake you up. Another friend likes Excedrin, which is basically caffeine and aspirin. I personally prefer the Alka Selzer with some sprite, versus water. I typically make about 3 oz and go for the strong flavor but small amount vs diluted flavor but more. With the sprite it sortof tastes like sub-par orange soda.
  8. If you’re really sick and at a restaurant, bitters and soda will help, but its not for the light stomach-ed. Its nasty but will help you burp and get things right.
  9. If your head really hurts, I recommend a Bed Buddy. They are like big tube socks filled with rice, Walgreens sells them for $12. The pressure feels nice on your head and it can be warmed up. Usually helps my headaches by leaps and bounds.

An average hangover experience for me: Go to bed about 3am, wake up at 6/7am to go potty. Take an Aleve with a big glass of water, to back to bed. Depending on level of headache, when I wake up again I’ll warm up a bed buddy. (sold at Walgreens) Put the bed buddy on the top of my head, hairline-ish area, and go back to sleep/or lay around with it on my head. Drink water and get something greasy. Even if I don’t feel like it at the time, typically I don’t hit “bottom” until about 8-10 hours after my last drink, so I need food before then otherwise I’ll feel really bad later. So, I’ll eat maybe a Jack in the Box sourdough jack meal with a Coke or maybe a McD’s double cheeseburger meal with a coke. If I’ve thrown up I’ll take it easy and just eat chicken noodle soup-this depends on level of hangover as well. Keep consuming bits of protein and soda throughout the day and you’ll be a champ by the nighttime. J

Friday, April 11, 2008

To shave or not to shave

I know, what am I talking about? Well, today I was half-watching some sort of beach show on the Travel Channel. By half watching I mean I was supposed to be doing school work but the TV was on, providing a distraction whenever I wanted one. Anyway, back to the show. So they were talking about all the sort of beach debates (ie is it ok to stare when someone is in a thong...how much stuff is too much to bring to the beach....) well one thing that they OF COURSE talked about is the back and chest hair debate. When to shave, when not to shave. Well, the consensus is always shave your back, but chest hair is ok.
Got me thinking....so lets say we're talking one of the gorilla guys...you know, that have hair ALL OVER...thick, gross, doormats of hair. Ok, enough visuals...well, if the rule is chest hair ok, back hair is not, when's the stopping point? I mean, that's like shaving half your head. I don't recall ever seeing such a man, who was hairy all over but with a perfectly smooth back, but I imagine it being weird, out of place. Then take it further...so there's no place to stop between the back and chest, so a guy shaves it all. What about the rest of his body? I mean, then does he have to shave every where? Is there no easy stopping point? I mean, who has a smoth, totally hairless chest but hairy arms?
I guess I've never thought about it before, but I sort of understand why some guys might just say screw it and not shave anything. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel sorry for guys-I mean please, most barely trim...well...lets say anywhere. :) So a little extra trimming and or shaving shouldn't be too much to handle.
I guess I'm lucky-hubby doesn't have back hair and has just the right amount of chest hair. Not hiding a squirrel, but enough to look manly. Whew...otherwise I guess I'd be shaving his back for the rest of my life. I just got the shivers...uck.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Wine Glass Koozie???

So I admit it, on float trips I like beer koozies-even the kind you wear on your neck. No, I don't wear it out or to ball games or the park....but I would never, ever, be caught with this.

What on earth were the people at Wine Enthusiast thinking?????