Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween Birthday!

Today my pug, Won Ton, is 7 years old!

Well, sort of. He was born some time during the fall of 2005, his vet says, so we chose this date as his birthday. (The scumball who used to own him was convicted for dealing drugs, so it wasn't like we wanted to go back and ask him.)

This was us, the day we adopted him in the summer of 2006. He looks so enthusiastic!:

(The Boy, Lovely Daughter #1, The Hubby, and me. LD#2 was away at the time.)

Having a dog opened up a whole new world of fun and laughter and love for us.

We learned so much about being a dog family. And he learned a lot, too, like "Carrot," "Uppies!" and "Come," and how to ring the jingle bells that hang from our doors to tell us when he wants to go out:

(He's not as good at coming in.)

Won Ton turned out to be a dignified gentleman...

(This is an actor who was on set at our house one day.)

...who tolerates the abuse we throw at him with amazing aplomb:

Won Ton put up with our adopting a younger (slightly mental, definitely anxious) younger brother:

He put up with silly photo sessions where we dressed him in vintage velvet ribbons:

He put up with all sorts of treatments--including hydrotherapy--to alleviate his painful, misshapen leg:

He even put up with our adopting an over-the-top, crazy littlest brother who hasn't got a clue about being a dignified pug:

And we love him for it. For all of it. He's our first, our unique, our wonderful wonky-legged man.

Happy Halloween birthday, my little pumpkin.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Snack

 Cinnamon and apples: Two flavors that conjure up the delights of fall food.

When I was in Boston recently with Lovely Daughter #2, we put made a chewy snack that uses only three ingredients and tastes like the best of fall.

Stir together some ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. The proportion of cinnamon to sugar is up to you, but we did a teaspoon of cinnamon to 1/4 cup of sugar. (Later, we decided to lighten up on the cinnamon a bit.)

Wash Granny Smith apples (you need apples that are nice and tart for this). Slice them very thinly, cutting them parallel to the "equator," so the middle slices end up having that pretty five-point star. Dredge them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Arrange the apple slices on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet, and pop them in a very low (250 degrees Fahrenheit) oven. The temperature is so low that you are sort of drying them out, rather than cooking them.

After a few hours (our apples took four), you have a chewy, yummy snack that tastes like a slice of apple pie. But there's no mess, making this treat perfect for packing in a lunch bag, or taking on a hike--because most of the water content has dried out, they are very lightweight.

We agreed that, after sampling the batch we did, we could've dialed back a bit on the cinnamon. And when I do them again, I will peel the apples before slicing. I just prefer them that way.

But either way--skinless or with skins--they are delicious.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Love Letter to Harvard Divinity School

 Dear Harvard, I love your gates,

your stone buildings,

 and the venerable wooden doors of your Divinity School.

I love the Div School's balustrades and bannisters,

its colorful tiled floors gently worn down by generations of students and professors,

and windows that look like they came from a monastery.

I love that ivy grows outside and inside those windows.

I love the Div School library, with the most intriguing titles on the spines of books,

I love that the first Bible printed in North America was printed by you. In 1663. In Algonquin.

I love that the HDS library has various cozy chairs for curling up and studying in.

  I love that you are old and traditional...

but up-to-date and eco-sensitive, too:

I love that, when Lovely Daughter #2 goes anywhere now, she carries a bunch of flash cards with her and whips them out to study.


I love that I got to attend a class with her, where a tweed-clad professor lit our brains on fire. And I took notes like any student would.

It was as exciting to me as bungee-jumping off a bridge in New Zealand might be to somebody else.

It was like an answer to a prayer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Boston Break

Dear T&P readers, I apologize for the long silence. I was in Boston, visiting Lovely Daughter #2. I stayed in the sweet little flat she shares with her two housemates. (Apparently, every college student's pad must have Tibetan prayer flags and twinkle lights. I think it's written in The Constitution, somewhere.):

I gotta say, Boston in the fall is bee-yoo-ti-ful!

LD#2 was eager to show me around her new, adopted city. We walked past many historical sites along the Freedom Trail...

We were deeply moved by the city's Holocaust Memorial...

We restored ourselves with pastries and a pot of tea at Tealuxe (I've been ordering their teas online for years, so it was a thrill to see the real place):

We trolled around North End, the Italian section of the city, and bought some wonderful, crusty bread:

We walked through Harvard's campus several times:

The city has so many lovely old homes! Some are in need of TLC, and I fantasized adopting them all and fixing them up:

Some have been lovingly preserved or restored...

We visited the open-air Haymarket, where fruits and veggies, fish, cheese, and meats are on sale for unbelievably low prices. LD#2 says she never spends more than $10 there, and she gets enough produce for a week's worth of home-cooked meals:

We bought sandwiches and ogled all the yummy things for sale at Savenor's, a fantastic food emporium. Julia Child used to live very near by; she drew her signature and a cheery "Bon Appetit!" in the wet cement just outside the shop's front door years ago:

We toured the glass exhibit at Harvard's Museum of Natural History. I've wanted to see this amazing collection of hand-blown botanical models ever since I first read about them a decade ago. They are positively stunning. Every single thing is glass, rendered in exquisite detail:

Imagine, those tiny tendrils on the Sweet Peas are glass!:

In the same museum is a breathtaking array of big bones from giant, extinct creatures, like a mastodon and a a kronosaurus. The thing that blew us away, though, was this giant sloth. Yowza!:

Fall is clearly in the air in Boston, which was a nice break from the hot, dry days of Los Angeles.

We tucked in to many a good, inexpensive meal (after all, LD#2 is a grad student, with a grad student's budget). This was a curried pumpkin soup and a caramelized onion/gorgonzola savory pastry from The Biscuit:

More fall colors!:

And I had a Bucket List experience on campus at Harvard.

More about that next time!....


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