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year of the pie–i haven’t forgotten

21 Feb

I told you back in January how I was All About the Pie this year. And then I pretty much went radio silent. And then you were probably like, “Oh look, McPolish made a promise about baked goods she doesn’t intend to keep—AGAIN.” Or you probably thought, “Oh sure. Big goals. NO action. Typical McPolish. AGAIN.”

And that is where you are WRONG, my friends. I am ALL ACTION.

For pie, at least.

Granted, I just barely got January’s pie off the ground, literally whipping it up on the last day of the month, but I did it. And while the only thing I have to prove to you that I did it is a terrible photo and the glowing accolade of my six-year-old nephew who isn’t terribly discerning when it comes to baked goods so long as they are sugar filled and no one tattles on him if he has a second piece when his mom isn’t looking, it’s safe to say my first pie was a success.

Kind of.

The filling and topping were a success. How could they not be? The filling was a decadent chocolate pudding-like creation. The topping was whipped cream. How does a person not like those things, separately or combined?

But the crust was meh.

Admittedly, it was store bought, and lacking in proper cooking instructions. (Proper baking temperature? Amount of time for parbaking? Bueller?) But it was the best I could do under the circumstances, seeing as how I still haven’t located my rolling pin and thus firmly believed I could not make a pastry crust. And more admittedly, I spent most of the month of January avoiding thinking about pie, pushing it off “until I find my rolling pin,” because the rolling pin was so key. You can’t make pie without a rolling pin! Because you need the rolling pin to make the crust! Except for all those other pie recipes that don’t require a pastry crust! But F those pies! I needed to make a pie with a pastry crust and I didn’t have a rolling pin and finding it required actually looking for it and it was more fun to just think about looking for it than actually digging through boxes.

And then the next thing I knew it was January 31st and I still hadn’t made the pie and I was all, “Awesome, totally screwing my goals from the word go! Again! Wheeeee!” But then I had a talk with myself and I was like, “Girl, just go get the damn store bought crust and make the damn pie and stop damn sabotaging yourself and don’t be an asshole.*”

IMG_20190131_214248_940.jpg

Terrible photo. Delicious pie. 

So I went to the damn store and I bought the damn crust and I made a damn chocolate cream pie from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and it was damn delicious. A damn success all around if you ask me.

One month down, 11 to go.

*You should know that most of my pep talks with myself involve me telling myself not to be an asshole.

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i can’t even blame jeff

18 Jan

I’ll just go ahead and say it: This was my most pathetic year of movie watching yet.

Eight? Eight movies? That’s all I watched?

What the shit was I doing with my time?

No, really, can someone tell me? My memory of 2018 is hazy at best at this point. (A defense mechanism, as trying to process all that went on last year in one fell swoop would most likely make my brain and heart and toes throw themselves up and declare defeat.)

I could maybe squeeze it to nine movies, if I count all the partials of Netflix/Hallmark holiday movies I watched. I don’t think I finished a single one, gripped instead by the exciting world of sleep that drew me in, drew me away from whatever PR rep/caterer/event planner was falling in love on the screen with the high school boyfriend who got away/prince in disguise/hotshot business man. But seeing as how they’ve all melded together in my mind into one giant super holiday movie (now THERE is an idea for a screenplay!) I’m not sure I should.

And unlike last year, when it was completely and utterly Jeff Bezos’ fault that I didn’t watch very many movies, the fault is all mine this year. In my defense, though I watched only a few movies, the movies I did watch were quality movies and quite spectacular: Lady Bird, Molly’s Game, Black Panther. I watched some simply terrific movies this year.

So at least there’s that.

Movies I Watched + 3 takeaways from each

January 1, 2018-December 31, 2018

 

  • 1. Black Panther*–1. Black Panther has, by far, the best superpowers of any superhero. 2. “I thought you meant Coachella, or Disneyland.” 3. Golden spears and pet rhinos would make the world a better place.
  • 2. Lean on Me*–1. Morgan Freeman and Robert Guillaume. Does it get any better? No. 2. I think we can all agree that the 1989 version of the song Lean on Me is FAR inferior to the Bill Withers version. 3. Charmain! Oh, Laaaance.
  • 3. Sing!*–1. Johnny the Gorilla singing I’m Still Standing is the best. The best! 2. A pig in sequined spandex and a German accent? Yes, please. 3. I really can’t stand that singing mouse. Sorry, Seth, McFarlande.
  • 4. Molly’s Game*–1. Aaron Sorkin, you’ve done it again.Thank you for being talented. 2. Apparently the character played by Michael Cera is supposed to be, in real life, Tobey Maguire? And Tobey Maguire is apparently a complete dick in real life. 3. Idris Elba is in this movie, which I didn’t realize and which I love and also he works for Gage Whitney, which WELL PLAYED, MR. SORKIN. (And if you don’t know what that means then you clearly need to watch the West Wing another few times.)
  • 5. All the Queen’s Horses*–1. I would LOVE to hear Rita’s take on all of this. 2. Who the hell keeps 300 horses? 300 HORSES. That’s just…a lot of horses. How do you keep them all straight? 3. It’s still astounding to me that the city of Dixon never noticed that such large sums of money were going missing.
  • 6. The Secret Life of Pets*–1. You know, even cartoon movies about animals in potential danger make me a little anxious, and are hard to watch. 2. I had to do a LOOOOT of IMDBing to find out the voices behind the characters for this one. Though Kevin Hart, surprisingly, I got right off the bat. 3. This movie made me want to take my dog with me everywhere all the time. More than I do already. Because I’m That Person, and I’m fine with that.
  • 7. Lady Bird*–1. Laurie Metcalf is the newest person to be added to my Fantasy Dinner Party that includes Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Kristen Bell, and Reese Witherspoon (and John Goodman and Tom Hanks, if I decide to make it a co-ed dinner party). 2. I used to wonder why parents would get all uptight about their kid going far away to college or moving to a city far away, but I get it now. You spend so many years raising this person that you love more than life itself, and then they want to leave and there’s a risk that they might never come back and it’s heartbreaking to think about. 3. Yup. That’s 2002.
  • 8. Crazy Rich Asians*–1. This was much like and yet nothing like the book. 2. I would not mind going on a free shopping spree on a private island. 3. The long-lost dad thing makes sense in the book, but makes absolutely no sense here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

time stamp

10 Jan

I love a New Year for its no-time-like-the-present attitude toward trying new things. My new thing is pie.

I also love a New Year for its no-time-like-the-present attitude toward ditching old things. (No, I don’t mean half the crap that’s sitting in our basement.) (Well, I do mean that, but that’s a different kind of ditching old things.) It’s a time to reflect and think about all those things in your life you really don’t like, and decide you’re not going to waste time on them anymore.*

Ahem.

Things I don’t have time for anymore:

  1. Negativity. There’s enough of it in the world already. I don’t need to be adding to it, and neither do you.
  2. Smoothies. I don’t understand their point for adults. Is it to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet? Because I get quite a lot already. A friend suggested I use it as a way to get more vegetables in my toddler, which I can support, but turns out he wanted nothing to do with it and asked for his sixteenth granola bar of the morning instead. Milkshakes I understand (delicious). Smoothies? Not so much. They just make me hungrier.
  3. One-sided political arguments. I don’t care which side you’re on. If you can’t articulate the pros and cons of both sides of a political debate, then stop talking.
  4. (Sadly) Wine after 9:30 pm. It’s like the clock strikes 9:30 and all of a sudden any glass of wine I may start has the makings of a wholly blergh feeling the next morning. And there are much better ways to spend my morning, like bleary-eyed and confused, and full of longing for breakfast tacos.

 

I figure by cutting these things out of my life, I will gain back at least three hours every year. And you know what I can do with those three hours? Things I enjoy doing. Like reading a book. Or making pie.** Or having a glass of wine before it’s dark out.

The possibilities are endless.

 

*Though honestly, any time is a good time to start things or end things. It doesn’t have to be the New Year. It can be a Tuesday in July if that’s when the spirit moves you. Who am I to say when you should feel reflective or will be ready to make a change?

**Possibly. Seeing as how I haven’t yet made pie, I might hate it. You just never know.

2019 year in preview

3 Jan

I’m not sure if you know this, but 2019 is the Year of the Pie.*

It is because I am declaring it so.

I’ve made a few pies in my life. I mean that literally. I’m not trying to be clever or shrug off a major accomplishment as if it’s no big deal, like really I’m a pie expert and could make pie in my sleep and have won pie contests 16 years running but when I’m asked if I’ve ever made a pie simply reply with a non-committal “Oh, I’ve made a few pies here and there.”

I once made a chocolate pie for a Thanksgiving gathering that never set, so it was more like chocolate goo in crust. I didn’t even bring it to the gathering. I’ve made a pumpkin pie. It was okay. I’ve made fresh tomato pie—the only time I ever attempted a homemade crust—and while delicious I know it did not turn out how it was supposed to. (Though if it was still delicious, does it really matter if it doesn’t meet what the recipe says?) I’ve made lemon meringue pie twice and they were both spectacular, far and away my best pie success.

I’ve always been a fan of eating pie, especially good pie. And I define good pie as pie that has a delicious filling (obviously) but also has a crust worth eating. Because you may or may not know this, but a lot of pie crust? Is dumb. And terrible for eating. It’s as bad as having terrible pizza crust, the kind you leave discarded on the plate because there’s no point in spending the energy to chew it.

But last year, while staying with kind friends during The Renovation That Engulfed Our Lives, my friend made three pies in two weeks. And they were amazing pies—complete with amazing crust. They gave me faith in pie crust that previously did not exist. And it made me want to try my own hand at making pie, not once, not twice, but 12 times. Once a month, one new pie I’ve never made. (PS—I’m taking suggestions.) So that’s what I’m going to do in 2019.

Pie.

*I mentioned in a post long ago and many moons away that 2017 was the Year of Ice Cream, and I was WILDLY successful (by my standards) at making one new ice cream flavor per month. I ended up making 10 of the 12 months, with some terrific hits (brown sugar bourbon comes to mind) and some bleh misses (I’m looking at you, baklava ice cream). 2018 was going to be the year of the cookie, but I only made one (pan-bang chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious) and then got tired (pregnancy and house renovations will do that to you) (I know, I know, I sound like a broken record when I say things like that, but that was my 2018, and I’m sure I had other feelings and emotions and that other things happened but for the life of me I can’t remember them right now).

 

 

 

 

 

mcpolish book list: year 12

15 Nov

A lot of reading happened this year. A lot. Possibly my best reading year yet, numbers-wise? Could be. I’d have to go back through my files and check. But just trust me that it’s probably my best reading year yet, because frankly I feel too lazy to actually go back and check.

I can attribute all the reading to two big factors. First, that for much of this reading year I had a lengthy train commute to and from work. Second, I had another baby.

Wait, whuut? What does having a baby have to do with an uptick in reading? As I explained last time I had a baby tiny humans expect to be fed frequently, and there’s not much else you can do while feeding them except read books or watch TV. (Or read books while watching TV.) And while there are many shows I’m engrossed in, and rewatching (I’m looking at you, original Will & Grace series), TV gets real old, real fast.

So. BOOKS!

And voila, we have a lengthy list for RY18.

Check out the list below!

Books completed between November 10, 2017 and November 9, 2018

  1. The Bookshop on the Corner–Jenny Colgan* (I have found a new author to love and now I MUST READ EVERYTHING SHE’S WRITTEN.)
  2. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe–Jenny Colgan*
  3. Paw and Order–Spencer Quinn (This is one of the books in the middle of the Chet and Bernie series, I think. I liked it overall, but I could not overlook the fact that Chet always describes things vividly in color, though in real life dogs see in black and white.)
  4. Just One of the Guys–Kristan Higgins*
  5. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery–Jenny Colgan*
  6. Rumor Has It–Jill Mansell*
  7. Marrying Up–Wendy Holden*
  8. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams–Jenny Colgan*
  9. The Christmas Surprise–Jenny Colgan*
  10. You and Me, Always–Jill Mansell*
  11. Little Fires Everywhere–Celeste Ng* (Book club read)
  12. Solo–Jill Mansell* (It’s like every time something can go wrong in this book, it does.)
  13. Shades of Milk and Honey–Mary Robinette Kowal (Book club read)
  14. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris–Jenny Colgan* (Interestingly, I was not as in love with this book as I have been her others. I’m not sure what it was. By the end of it I was definitely into it, and it seemed to pick up speed. But…eh, I don’t know. It seemed a little…disjointed? Is that the word I’m looking for? Perhaps. I did like the recipes at the end, though.)
  15. The Woman in the Window–AJ Finn* (Book club read) (First of all, let’s talk about how I didn’t realize that a guy wrote this book. I’m not sure if that matters or not, but it kind of shocked me. Second, I stayed up way too late finishing this, and then had to wake up Swede to talk to me because I was too jacked up to go to sleep. It reminded me a lot of The Girl on the Train, but with a much more likeable heroine.)
  16. An American Marriage–Tayari Jones (Book club read) (I don’t think I liked ANY of the characters in this book. The story was interesting, but I kept getting side tracked by my dislike of all the characters, with the exception of a few of them, like Big Roy.)
  17. The Tuscan Child–Rhys Bowen* (Another standalone from Bowen. The descriptions of the Italian countryside and food are simply terrific. I will say that the solving-of-the-mystery part seemed a little vague to me, though. Like, the main character had all these THOUGHTS about the solution, and then, oh, hey, yes, it’s all true. It could have used some beefing up, maybe? But maybe that’s just because I didn’t want the book to end.)
  18. The Weekenders–Mary Kay Andrews*
  19. My Kind of You–Tracy Brogan* (WOW that wrapped up really fast at the end. Almost like her editor was all, “Okay, we’ve reached page and word count. Need to get this thing ended.”)
  20. Perfect Scoundrels–Ally Carter*
  21. Double Crossed (novella)–Ally Carter
  22. Fools Rush In–Kristan Higgins
  23. The Immortalists–Chloe Benjamin* (Book Club read) (To be honest, I had a lot of issues with this book, mostly with the pacing of Varya’s story, and Klara’s ending seemed to come out of nowhere, but overall it’s a good read. And I guess makes you think. Really I recommend it for Simon’s story, which was the best one by far, IMHO. After his they all seemed a little meh.)
  24. I Take You–Eliza Kennedy (Very funny in spots, but toward the end it gets pretty preachy about bed hopping, which was distracting.)
  25. Crazy Rich Asians–Kevin Kwan* (I liked this book a LOT, and am looking forward to reading his others, but I have to say that the ending was incredibly disappointing and anti-climactic.)
  26. Now That You Mention It–Kristan Higgins*
  27. The Curvy Girls Club (Book 1)–Michele Gorman*
  28. All Fall Down (An Embassy Row Novel, Book 1)–Ally Carter* (I like this book a lot, and I am excited to read the next books in the series, but like with other books of Carter’s, there were points where I felt like the writing was trying to be too…something. Descriptive, maybe? Or metaphorical? I’m not sure what exactly, but it left me confused in spots, like she couldn’t quite nail writing how a plot point gets discovered or resolved by a character, and just sort of writes around it. It was distracting, but didn’t really harm my overall enjoyment of the book.)
  29. China Rich Girlfriend–Kevin Kwan*
  30. The Death of Mrs. Westaway–Ruth Ware* (Book club read) (It’s labeled as a thriller, but I didn’t find it as gripping as I did Woman in the Window. That said, I was very intrigued by the plot line and finding out the answers to the mystery questions.)
  31. Once in a Blue Moon Lodge–Lorna Landvik*
  32. Beautiful Lies–Lisa Unger (Book Club Read) (I wish the author had answered a few more of the questions that came up in this book, and there was definitely a little over-explaining filler that could have been edited out/revised, but all in all it kept me reading until the end, so that’s a good thing.)
  33. Perfect Timing–Jill Mansell*
  34. This Could Change Everything–Jill Mansell*
  35. Sheer Mischief–Jill Mansell*
  36. The Endless Beach–Jenny Colgan*
  37. The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Elysees–Rebecca Raisin
  38. Four Funerals and Maybe A Wedding–Rhys Bowen*
  39. A Walk in the Park–Jill Mansell* (Thank God she has written so many books because I apparently am reading ALLLLLLLLLL of them this year.)
  40. Take a Chance on Me–Jill Mansell* (See? ALLLLLLLL THE JILL MANSELL THIS YEAR.)
  41. Good at Games–Jill Mansell* (ALLLLLL of them!)
  42. Somebody to Love–Kristan Higgins*
  43. The Next Best Thing–Kristan Higgins
  44. Sophia of Silicon Valley–Anna Yen*
  45. The One You Really Want–Jill Mansell* (ALL!)
  46. Falling for You–Jill Mansell*
  47. Thinking of You–Jill Mansell*
  48. Paris for One–Jojo Moyes* (Was not expecting a collection of short stories but there you have it, and they all have a happy ending. Bonus.)
  49. The Naturals–Jamie Lynn Barnes*
  50. Don’t Want to Miss A Thing–Jill Mansell*
  51. Head Over Heels–Jill Mansell* (This is getting a little out of control.)
  52. The Trouble with Lexie—Jessica Anya Blau
  53. Three Amazing Things About You–Jill Mansell*
  54. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine–Gail Honeyman* (Book club read) (This is, hands down, one of the best characters I’ve ever read.)
  55. One Plus One—Jojo Moyes* (Book club read)

 

unpacking, again

8 Nov

We’re still unpacking.*

And it’s making me question many of my life choices.

Why do I have all of these knick-knacks?

Why did we register for 17 different platters? Because now we have 32 different platters.

Why did we pack a paper grocery bag full of junk mail and sundry papers?

Stuff upon stuff upon stuff and it’s overwhelming sometimes to even look at it, let alone dig deeper than the first layer of crumpled newspaper used as protection against…what? Ourselves? Because it’s not as if it was used as protection from other objects banging around next to it. That would require that I’d packed these things in some semblance of order.

I didn’t.

Towels are in with steak knives. Plates are packed with baby toys. Shoes are packed with silverware. There is little rhyme or reason to my packing. If there is any rhyme or reason at all. Really it’s more like it was an unrestrained flinging of things into the nearest container possible and shoving it out of sight. Which worked at the time, and probably made sense to me at the time. A lot of things make sense to Past McPolish. Present and Future McPolish are often left beffudled.

Why do we have so many coffee mugs?

Do I really need a platter specifically for deviled eggs?

Why did I pack all of this janky, half-burned Gladware? It’s stained with the remembrance of 1,000 chili lunches. Why did I think I would actually reuse it?

Another bag of junk mail and random papers? WTF?

I am desperate to not fall into the adage of “filling the space you have.” I am desperate to get rid of crap we don’t need.

Is a cheese knife really necessary? Will a regular knife not work just as well?

Where does this random unidentifiable plastic object belong? Can it belong in the trash? Is it an essential piece of this house and the house will come tumbling down if I throw it out?

Why do we have multiple packs of Q-Tips?

SERIOUSLY WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE MULTIPLE BAGS OF JUNK MAIL AND BULLSHIT PIECES OF PAPER STORED IN OUR BASEMENT AND CRAWL SPACE?

I’ll get there eventually, Interwebs. Maybe.

 

*Current unpacked box count, as of this typing: 3

unpacking

1 Nov

In January we decided that we would remodel the kitchen and bathroom of the house we purchased after we sold our bootbox of a condo. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It both was and was not.

Was because we now have a shower, instead of just a tub, in the bathroom. (I am not a bath person. Baths freak me out.)

Was not because it took 10 months, when it was only supposed to take two.

Was because now we have a dishwasher in our kitchen.

Was not because we had to fire our contractor and piecemeal the remaining work.

I could go on for pages and pages until the end of the Interwebs with this back and forth. But I won’t, because the important thing right now is that what no one ever tells you about remodeling your house, even just a couple of rooms, requires two of the most awful tasks ever: 1. Packing up all the shit in the rooms being renovated and storing it in other rooms of your house, and 2. Unpacking and reorganizing that same shit when the remodel is done.

Now, you might be thinking the same thing Swede and I have been thinking, which is that unpacking all of this shit is a prime opportunity to get rid of half this shit. We’ve been living without it for the past 10 months, right? Clearly we don’t need most of this shit, then. Or even any of it! Get rid of it all! Toss out every single box and bag and precariously packed hanging basket! Burn them to the ground!

Except that some of those boxes contain my Waterford crystal wine glasses, and I’ll be damned if I get rid of those.

And some of the other boxes contain my Le Creuset baking dishes and I will slap you into next Tuesday if you even suggest I part with those.

Thus, Swede and I are now tasked with going through each and every box to determine what to keep and what to ditch. And we have to do this while two small humans demand such things as attention and food and diapers that have not exploded up the back of their shirts like the impervious monarchs that they are.

Nevertheless, we persist. We’re trying to be thoughtful about what we put back in the house and what we donate or toss outright. We don’t want a lot of crap in our house. Because frankly, that’s just more crap that needs to be cleaned. And more time spent cleaning means less time spent drinking Diet Pepsi and watching Hulu while the impervious monarchs nap.

In sorting through the few* boxes and bags I’ve managed to tackle, I’ve tried to take a Konmari** approach to the task, determining whether or not various items spark joy. Yes, obviously the Le Creuset sparks joy. But does my plastic mixing bowl? Not particularly, but at this point, it’s the only mixing bowl I can find, and it works perfectly well, and I use it frequently so there’s no point in tossing it because then I’d just have to buy a new one and that’s a waste of money so the plastic mixing bowl stays. Until I maybe find one of my other mixing bowls at which point I’ll have to reevaluate my feelings on this current mixing bowl.

This is all to say that after a few hours of this process, the Konmari method can suck it. What is a much more appealing method?

BURN IT ALL TO THE MOTHERFUCKING GROUND!

Bum to us, though, our town has laws against open bonfires.

 

*And by few I mean, as of this typing, one.

**I have never actually read any of Marie Kondo’s books, and my understanding of her methods is based solely on what I’ve heard from friends and random strangers and on television talk shows.