Keeping Up With the Joneses: Part 2

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Keeping Up With the Joneses, scouting out good Christmas lights is a holiday tradition for our family. Unfortunately, we haven’t found too many new locations over the years – I thought that the “Electronic light finder” app would help us out but sadly the only locations that were tagged were more than 30 minutes away and we just aren’t that dedicated to the cause anymore.

However, on Christmas Eve we did a drive around our neighborhood and then hit up the two main “go-to” houses in our town. I think these light displays certainly compete on the same level as Paul Tudor Jones. I mean, he doesn’t have taxidermied reindeer, does he?

The family loading up the car - Hey, where's Matt?
Reflection on the Pond
Are those reindeer real???
Why yes, yes they are.
Santa’s Workshop
 

Leaving the Island

Growing up, I lived in a circle with a radius of approximately 5 miles. I rode the school bus 4.8 miles to middle school, rode 6.6 miles to the Mall of New Hampshire, rode my bike 4.6 miles to the Bedford Bluffs where I spent every day during the summer and walked .4 miles to visit my best friend (or .2 miles if I cut through the woods).

When I was in high school, the circle expanded to a radius of approximately 60 miles. I drove 6.6 miles east to school, 55.6 miles south-east to swim practice and 73.9 miles south to visit Matt. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the car. During those days, I knew every song on the radio, perfected my ability to dance while sitting, and learned the location of every Dunkin Donuts along Route 3. I attribute my relationship with one of my best friends to the fact that we spent at least 2 hours in the car together every day, not to mention the fact that we shared a near death experience when I decided to shut my eyes for a quick second while driving to practice. We spent a lot of time chatting about school, swimming, and of course, boys.

My life is very different now that I live in New York. I traded my car in for a subway pass, my one hour commute to swim practice in for a 30 minute subway ride to Union Square, and the 3 miles drive to the grocery store to a 3 minute walk to Whole Foods down the block. While living in a city does make some things much more convenient, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss suburbia.

Now I live on an island.  An island that is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide. A 23 square mile island with more than 1.6 million people. No longer do I live in a circle with a 60 mile radius. Now I live within a rectangle that is 10 square miles smaller than my hometown, yet has a population that is 80 times larger. I travel within a circle that has a two-mile radius and I never leave the island. That is, until today.

For my Birthday, Matt promised to take me to a cooking class. We have done this before, see prior post, and it was a lot of fun. However, instead of going back to the Institute of Culinary Education, Matt decided to try out The Brooklyn Kitchen, a smaller, “off the beaten path” location (follow their blog here). After reading through the course offerings, we decided on the Fresh Pasta Sunday course. So this afternoon, after a delicious breakfast of irish oatmeal and some time in the gym, Matt and I ventured off the island and into Brooklyn.

We arrived to tree-lined streets, buildings no taller than 5 stories and a strange, but enjoyable, quietness. We could easily walk down the sidewalks to the kitchen without having to dodge tourists and hundreds of people. I suddenly felt at home in Brooklyn.

Our class was amazing. We learned how to make the dough from scratch and worked with a pasta machine. As we put the pasta through the machine a few times, our dough grew into a long sheet. As we cranked the pasta through the machine it flattened out and grew in length. Working together to maneuver this large sheet of pasta, we were able to make angel hair pasta, fettuccine and butternut squash ravioli. At the end of class, we were able to taste the fruits of our labor and bring some of the uncooked pasta home. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to invite Matt into our kitchen at home more often. He is an amazing sous-chef!

I encourage you all to leave your island and expand your radius; you never know what you will find.

Tasting the Forbidden Fruit

 

Growing up, our household had a lot of holiday traditions. Some of these have since ended, but some are continued to this day.

Most years, I ran in the Memorial Day Road Race. It started as something that I did with my father. I will never forget the first year we ran together. I was in Kindergarten and 5 years old. We “trained” by running around the block near my house. At best, the block covers a total distance of .5 miles and we probably did this 2-3 different times before the race. This was plenty of physical preparation for the 5K run. Unfortunately what my dad didn’t account for was the massive amounts of psychological training I should have been doing.

The race ends with a 100 yard stretch that is lined with the friends and families members of people participating. Well, as we ran down this stretch, I burst into tears. I am not sure what triggered this, but I can tell you that it was a fair warning for my parents for all of the tears that were to come as a result of tennis matches, soccer games, swim meets and all other competitive atmospheres. I finished the race, placing 3rd in the 8 & under division (I can’t imagine there were more than 5 kids in this age group…) and proudly brought my medal into Kindergarten for show and tell the following Monday. For many years after, I participated in this race, often with a different family member.

On Halloween, our town wouldn’t have trick-or-treating on the day of Halloween OR at night. This lead to problems when the New England Swimming Top Ten Banquet often fell on the weekend of trick-or-treating. We probably attended that banquet for 10 years in a row, and would find ourselves sneaking out early so that we could make it home for the last couple hours of trick-or-treating. Either that or we would be coming from a soccer game…

The 4th of July normally meant watching fireworks from CMC (one of the hospitals that my father worked at) and Easter was a family brunch at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference center… I know, I thought that one was weird too. Christmas was matching PJs on Christmas Eve and for the past 15 years, the Candlelight Service at the Bedford Presbyterian Church.  Thanksgiving brings cooking, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and many times charades with our family friends, the Possees. However, the tradition I like the most comes the day after Thanksgiving.

While I certainly participate in the shopping escapades that make up Black Friday, the tradition that I am referring to is the welcoming of Christmas. I have a strict “no Christmas” policy until Thanksgiving has past. While I am not a huge fan of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, I do think that the idea of Thanksgiving is one that should not be forgotten. Everyone races to get to Christmas and I find that this holiday gets overlooked. So, as a way to honor Thanksgiving, I don’t listen to Christmas music, set up decorations or truly start my Christmas shopping until that day after Thanksgiving. 

That being said, I LOVE Christmas music. From the Friday after Thanksgiving straight through to Christmas Day, I don’t listen to anything else. I have created countless Christmas Music stations on my Pandora and know the words to basically every Christmas song ever written. I find myself tempted to listen to christmas music, especially if I enter a store that has their holiday decoration out in full force. However, it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

Today, while I was sitting at work listening to my “classical music” Pandora station, a song came on that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. When I switched my computer screen over to the Pandora website to see the name of the song, I knew immediately that something had gone terribly wrong. The song that I was listening to, and enjoying, was none other than Angels from the Relms of Glory, a 100% Christmas song. I immediately changed the channel, but it was too late. I had tasted the forbidden fruit and I want more.

I now find myself trying to fulfill my musical appetite with the likes of Taylor Swift, the cast of Glee and Something Corporate. Unfortunately all I crave is Mannheim Steamroller, the London Boy’s Choir, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It is going to be a long 3 weeks…