Peer Pressure List, Vol. 21

Posting's been a little light this week. It's been all Tosca, all the time over here, gearing up for opening night(!) on Friday. In the meantime, in the interests of making your life better, I invite you to read this, make and eat this, watch this, drink this, and slather this all over your body.

Happy Monday.

Hostess with the Mostest

One of the best things about my time in Chicago was the number of amazing chefs who invited me to dinner parties in their homes, usually with The New Oregonian as my date. Cocktails before dinner, multiple courses, tables set with linens and fresh flowers, decadent desserts, great conversation, and new people across the table every week…there's no way around it: I got spoiled. In my corporate studio apartment, I wasn't able to reciprocate, so I'm trying to make up for it from afar here in our H-Town pad. The first dinner party experiment was Wednesday night, because the best way I could think of to spend my day off was to be in the kitchen all afternoon long. Seriously. I don't know when cooking stopped being stressful and miserable for me and started being satisfying and enjoyable, but Wednesday I was all about the menu planning and the cleaning (with lots of help from CM, of course) and the chopping and the roasting and the serving.

It wasn't as fancy as some dinner parties, but if I may say so myself, I think the night was a great success. Forthwith, the details:

The Guest List
The newly affianced BrandNewMiniCooperGirl and The Trainer
Broadway Baby
(And me and CameraMan, obvs)

The Menu
Aviation Cocktails before dinner
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Dill (I roasted the beets myself! They were slippery.)
Cranberry Parker House Rolls
Chicken and Basil Roulades
Asparagus (that I forgot to serve—oops)
Ben & Jerry's with hot fudge sauce (courtesy of BNMCGirl)

The Aftermath
Ummm... it's possible there was some wine to go with the aforementioned menu. Which may have resulted in many many animal impressions and general hilarity. Which may have been caught on video by (who else?) CameraMan. Which I would love to upload, as soon as I figure out how to do that.

In the black

Dear readers, I've been holding out on you. I actually crossed off another list item on December 21 of last year, and neglected to tell you about it for fear of jinxing it. But now a couple weeks have passed, and it seems like maybe it wasn't too good to be true. So, here it is... I paid off my credit card debt. After YEARS of living beyond my means, I am turning over a brand new leaf and vowing to only spend money I have from now on.

I was unprepared for how good I would feel when I paid off the last little bit of debt. I'm a whole new girl, really, and as counter-intuitive as it is, I'm actually feeling LESS inclined to spend money now. I access my accounts on Mint several times a day, just so I can look at the Cash vs. credit card debt section and see that the number next to Debt is $0 and the number next to Cash is growing. I've opened two savings accounts. Honestly, I don't recognize myself anymore.

So, with tightly crossed fingers and held breath that I won't have to uncross this item in a few months...

  1. Be debt free.

14 down, 86 to go...

Buongiorno, 2010

It's very trendy this year to not make resolutions, since everyone knows that they're impossible to keep, and who wants to set themselves up for failure, am I right? Except I can't help but be hopeful about the start of a new year, especially when it's also the start of a new decade, and although I might not be making any "resolutions" per se, I have been inspired to make some changes.

Our New Year's Eve was pretty meh, just the two of us on the couch in our pjs, watching The Hangover and Season 3 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and half-heartedly playing drinking games. On the bright side, neither of us were hung over the next day, so we could spend New Year's Day being very, very productive.

We've been talking about The Great Purge of 2010 for a while. The situation is this: CM moved into this apartment in February with all his stuff. Then I moved in a month later with all my stuff. Three months later, we both left for the summer, and I have just now gotten back. The result is that the apartment was in chaos, especially our second bedroom, which became a dumping ground for all the stuff that didn't have any place to live. Which was a lot. It was making us both anxious and (among other factors, like heat that doesn't work, walls made of cotton candy, and no closet space) causing us to hate our apartment.

What better day than the first of the year to tackle a project like that? We went through it all, taking bags and bags of trash to the dumpster, setting aside crates of books to sell, and filling bags and bags to take to the Salvation Army. We're not finished, but I already feel like the GP of '10 is doing its magic—I'm feeling better already. The only thing that would have made it more satisfying is a paper shredder.

CM and I are also making some lifestyle changes for our own health and happiness. By the end of Christmas we both felt like big fat pigs (pizza and ribs on Christmas Eve (CM's family tradition), a roast on Christmas, huge pancake breakfasts, and countless pieces of candy will do that), so we started a diet on Dec 28. One week in, I think I can speak for both of us that it's going great. The diet is a simple one: don't eat things that are bad for you. We're making the rules up as we go along, but it involves a lot more meal planning, a lot less eating out, and mostly just a more mindful approach to what we put in our bodies. We're coupling that with a new exercise schedule: CM's doing his own thing, and I'm going to a personal trainer 3 times a week. And, of course, the dance lessons. We had our first one already, and I was shocked by what a workout it was.

On top of all that I have a few other goals, too: 1) Get much better at French before my next project which starts in a month, 2) Stop stressing out about work prospects for '10-'11, 3) Get cracking on the pile of books I want to read, 4) Keep in better contact with friends who are elsewhere, 5) See my family more, 6) Plan another European adventure, and 7) Try new things.

I don't think that's too ambitious for one year, do you?

Addio, 2009

As always, the end of the year has snuck up on me. The whole idea of 2010 is absurd—it sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi flick: a boomy male voice saying "In the year 2010...the world has become a very different place." And yet, here we are, another year gone by, another decade passed (Somebody, somewhere (Hi, Mom) is dying to correct me and tell me that the next decade doesn't start until 2011. I KNOW). 2009 was a big year for me, as I tried to find my footing as an honest-to-goodness freelancer and attempted to decide, as ever, what I want to do with my life. I'm going to tentatively say that it was a good year. A lot happened, that's for sure.

A few highlights from the past year in the life of LMB:

I started a 365 photography project. 10 months later, I ended it.

I survived La Sonnambula, Brief Encounter, La Cenerentola, Faust, and Katya Kabanova. I made company debuts in 3 new places, including The Met.

I moved into a new apartment with CameraMan in February and bought the couch of our dreams. I was actually resident in the apartment for a total of 3 months.

I held a newborn baby for the first time. Then I held another one.

I lived in New York City, Chicago, and rural upstate New York. I contemplated moving to 2 of the 3. I went back to Houston instead.

I turned 28. It didn't make me feel older or wiser.

I saw some famous people and was star-struck. I sat next to this guy. I sang "Happy birthday" to this one and got kissed on both cheeks by him. I saw 2 of the 4 Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (one of whom read poetry out loud) and a never-nude at a Brooklyn bar and took a blurry picture of this guy in a midtown bar with an unmarked door.

I crossed off #96, #17, #1, and #72 on my list. I'll do better next year.

Do your worst, 2010.


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