Monthly Archives: November 2011

Bring on the Christmas Carols!

Ancient words and all

The Long, Strange History of Christmas Carols


Elsewhere: Indexed Brilliance

Love this. Come on, holidays!

My Desires in Chart Form


Elsewhere: Octopus

The zoo needs you!

Help the Zoo Name Its New Octopus

Well, not YOU necessarily, unless you happen to be between the ages of 5 and 15 or be in a family with someone between those ages, which, as far as I understand the readership of this blog, is exactly none of you.

BUT, the grown-ups can have a little fun, can’t we? If the zoo wanted your help in naming the octopus, what would you want to name it?

Inky? Too predictable.

I will be pondering this today, using valuable brain cells that I could be using for more important things, I’m sure.


Giving Thanks

One of my friends calls Thanksgiving a no-brainer holiday. She means it in the best sense. The whole premise of the holiday is simple. Gather family, cook rich food, eat food, sleep.

Sometimes you can add a football game in the mix, if you like.

The thing gets a little more complicated the first year you’re married (yay newlyweds!) or the first year a relationship gets serious enough that spending Thanksgiving together becomes a real possibility. All of a sudden, “gather family” becomes tricky. Whose family?

We’re at my in-laws this Thanksgiving, and we’ll be with my family for Christmas. Then next year, we’ll switch. It’s a fairly standard arrangement, pioneered in my family by my older sister. They are with her in-laws for Thanksgiving, so we are too. That way my sister and I don’t keep missing each other by having opposite holiday schedules.

It meant that we both abandoned my parents for the holiday, but they have been most understanding. I was worried that this Thanksgiving would be way too different, with someone else’s family traditions. But it turns out that most people do Thanksgiving in a pretty similar way. Gather family, cook rich food, eat food, sleep.

So that’s what we did. We toasted absent family, ate heartily, and went to sleep early. I gave thanks for no-brainer holidays, for in-laws who are happy to see me, for my new baby family, and for my loving family of origin, far away though they are.

For turkey gravy, roasted squash, nouveau beaujolais, old recipes and new, and learning to appreciate what we have.

Happy Thanksgiving to You All.


Practice: Books for the Journey

What I’m reading during the 20+ hours I’ll be in the car in the next week

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht
  • Not Quite What I Was Planning: And Other Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure
  • A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr

And of course, my ever-riveting Federal Courts Casebook! Hopefully, I will in fact be reading the most out of this last one, but should my eyes glaze over, I will be well-stocked. I am indebted to my wonderful parents for keeping me in Amazon gift cards. As my in-laws subscribe to The New Yorker and let me read it on their couch while visiting, my wealth of literary riches is extensive indeed for this break! (I just read this paragraph over. Please pardon my convoluted wording. I’ve been watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice while packing, and have apparently taken on their convoluted sentence structure. Heavens!)

I do hope to get caught up on reading for class and ready for finals, but a little time to read other things will be welcome as well. I’m a book fiend from way back – I was one of those kids who wouldn’t sleep because whatever I was reading was too riveting and could never get a big enough stack from the library.

Whenever we would go on car trips, my mom would take us on a special trip to the bookstore to stock up, and then I was strictly forbidden from reading our haul until the car pulled out of the driveway. The specter of me running out of reading material was not one my folks wanted to deal with, apparently.

So now that I’m all grown up, I have refrained from sending these books to my Kindle until tonight, the night before we leave. Aren’t you proud, Mom?


City Love: Trains!

Not the big ones that carry you and me to and fro, in higher volume than usual this week I’m sure, but the little ones that can be seen chugging and whirling along at Union Station starting today.

Union Station Holiday Train Show

I know, I know, it’s one more bit of Christmas before Thanksgiving, but it’s also absolutely magical. And if you’re offended by Christmas Creep – come back in December!

Sometimes, it’s really enjoyable to live in a city with surprises around every corner. Sometimes, you’re just running a quick errand when a train exhibit appears around a corner, complete with big-eyed kids watching the simple and beautiful locomotion unfold. It totally made my day, and made me think about how pretty the city is around Christmas, when it puts on its finest.

I can’t wait for the giant wreathes to go up on the front of Union Station, and storefront windows to be tended with care.

On the other hand, I can¬†wait for the endless holiday soundtracks that play in stores, some of which have already started. Doesn’t matter how many times I hear it, Baby It’s Cold Outside will always creep me out. Back off, dude!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, on the other hand, can stay. Also the Peanuts theme.

Now apparently I’m contributing to the ever-expanding holiday season by holding forth on my favorite Christmas tunes pre-Thanksgiving. For shame! When I should instead be extolling the magic of Thanksgiving, a holiday for which there are no presents to buy, and the main event is a meal shared with those you love. More on that tomorrow.

Until then, a Very Merry Thanksgiving Week to you all, and to all, a good night.


City Love: Cheap Eats

I feel that the only way to follow up yesterday’s more serious take on the recession and its effects on us is with a more lighthearted take. And apparently, that will take the form of me declaring my undying love for cheap, delicious food.

There is no one like a hungry grad student (except perhaps our cousin, the unpaid intern) to hunt down the best food and drink to be had for little money. DC is a notoriously difficult place to find good bargains for anything, and food is no exception. It has taken my parents years of visiting to get used to what our lunch tab will be, just about every single time.

But luckily, if you look around, there are good deals to be found. My favorite starting place for any culinary search is the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide’s Best Bets section. The editors break down their pics for things like best hamburger or best for groups or best vegetarian.

And sure enough, there is a Best Cheap Eats. I trust that all of these places are wonderful. But today I simply must tell you that a prime candidate for best cheap eats in the city is Taqueria Nacional.

It’s a hole in the wall place – you’d never know it’s there if you weren’t looking, but man oh man, once you find it, your DC taco scene will never be the same again. My personal favorite is the fish taco. Chorizo also blows me away.

Now I really want some tacos.

And I feel my mission today is complete – spreading taco love throughout the land.

What’s your favorite cheap food spot?