On Reading-ish

Okay – I know I have been slacking about posting.  School this semester is *so* much busier than prior semesters – I took on a research position, one class has regular exams, and another has regular writing assignments – and I have some other stuff going on.  But, hi!  I’m here!

One thing that is kind of miserable about my schedule (beyond the lack of sleep and the whole hardly seeing The Boyfriend except for during the commute to school and a brief hello between classes some nights), is that I don’t have time to read.  I used to read everything I could get my hands on.  Seriously – everything.  I would spend hours going through the old Readers’ Digest issues at my grandparents’ house as a small child.  I read stacks of National Geographics that my dad had and all of his Hardy Boys.  Middle school saw me reading the classics and in deep adoration of Atticus Fitch (side note: is that why I ultimately ended up in law school?).  I spent high school collecting vampire novels and taking college literature courses and my twenties collecting books about murders and religion.  Throughout all of it, I have maintained an intense love of current events and reading the news.  And then I started law school and I wasn’t able to keep my reading for fun.  And I have to tell you, seriously, it sucks.

However, there is a bright spot – a tiny, shiny, bright spot.  I discovered audiobooks.  I spend hours in my car every day between going to work and going to school and while there are some days I really feel like listening to The National’s Boxer on repeat (seriously, such a good album), most days, I want to pull in as much information as I possibly can.  I listen to podcasts and highly recommend (some of) them.  But I missed reading.  I missed reading about horribly depressing religious experiences.  I missed reading interesting and somewhat dark fiction.  I missed reading light and funny memoir.  And so I subscribed to an audiobook service.

Frankly, I love it.

I know it’s not really reading, but it’s as close as I can get right now.  And for that, I am grateful.  I go through two or three books a month. Most recently, and so far one of my absolute favorites, was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  I adored it.  It made me laugh.  A lot.  It made me cry (more than a comedienne’s memoir probably should).  It was simply fantastic.  Ms. Poehler is so sweet and so relatable and so… rah-rah-girl, that I seriously wish she could be my bestie.  Listening to her made me want to be a better, slightly less snarky version of me.  She is amazing and funny and adorable.  And I highly recommend everyone read her book – but especially recommend the audiobook.  I’m sure there are differences, and I do love the sensation of turning a page, but I really loved having her personality come through in the audio.  I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, but I think Yes Please takes the proverbial cake.  It is even better than the hype and deserves all of the ink spent on it.  (Also, it made me *really* sad about the impending end of Parks and Recreation – I want Leslie Knope to be my spirit animal.)

I finished the book this morning, a little sad to not have more.  Tomorrow, I’ll start listening to Jon Krakauer’s Prophet’s Prey.  Something tells me it will be a little less fun, but hopefully compelling nonetheless.

On Old Standards

Last night, after a productive weekend of errands, housework, car stuff, and painting, The Boyfriend and I joined friends out for cocktails at a new-to-us lounge. They had an extensive menu, filled with variations of martini, divided by primary spirit. After a quick perusal, I wrote off the bulk of the menu. Sure, they had interesting ingredients, but so many of them sounded syrupy and too sweet. I zeroed in on whiskeys while The Boyfriend chose a gin cocktail that I would have usually loved (Hendricks gin, cucumber, citrus), but proved to be practically candied. I picked a sazerac, an old-timey New Orleans whiskey cocktail, usually made with rye, and was not disappointed.

1 sugar cube
1.5 ounces whiskey or rye
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
Dash of Angostura bitters
Dash of absinthe (you can use Pernod or Chartreuse)
Twist of lemon peel

Chill an Old Fashioned glass. In a second glass, moisten the sugar cube and crush it. Add the whiskey, bitters, and a few cubes of ice and stir. In the first, chilled glass, pour in the absinthe and roll the glass to coat the sides. Pour out any excess. Strain the whiskey mixture into this glass. Twist and squeeze the lemon peel over the glass, rub the rim with the peel, and discard.

I partially painted the study. It looks so bright and cheerful already and I can’t wait to finish it. But first, there are papers to write and homework to be done. Alas.


On Summer, Vacations, and Finally Settling on a Paint Color

I haven’t been writing much this summer because I’ve been out doing things and enjoying the weather and the pool. It’s nice to only be worried about work and the ten million things waiting to be done at the house, instead of those plus the added loads of school four nights a week and homework and reading.

I’ve also been pretty hesitant to write this summer because a lot of what’s been going on away from the keyboard has been… Frustrating. And a bit uncontrollable. I’ll happily gossip about it over wine, but writing it down seems to give a life and more permanence to it than it deserves.

We went on a family vacation to Maine with friends earlier this month. It was amazing. We had a big group – fifteen of us, ages 6 through 79 – and some strong personalities, but through it all, we kept our wits and our humor and had a great time. Highlights of the trip included amazing hikes and fantastic food. On one hike, our friend’s 79 year old father totally made it up a rock face, while I managed to place one foot up and promptly fell back off. Yeah – he kicked my a** – not ashamed to admit it. On another hike, I remembered that I’m actually scared of heights and that a sheer rock face, clinging to a tiny iron bar driven into the granite, is not really a great place for me. I made it up that mountain with a quickness, in part because I couldn’t go back down and because I couldn’t get off that trail fast enough.

I finally picked out a basic color for the house. Mostly our house is beige right now. While that’s fine (I wrinkle my nose just typing those words), we’re not beige people and have been talking about changing it since we first saw the house. I like the idea of a nice soft grey. At first, I thought Revere Pewter – that mainstay of home decorating blogs – would work for us, but it’s too beige. I don’t like the pinkish undertones.

In an attempt to not overwhelm myself, I though about starting with the study and painting it first. Maybe a nice blue… I’ve tried five different shades in the study – thinking it would be perfect for the bright sunny space. They’ve all been wrong – one turned almost fluorescent in the sun. And then finally, I stumbled on the perfect light blue/grey. Benjamin Moore’s Glass Slipper. I bought a little can and painted a square on the wall… And I love it! It’s perfect for the beige cover up project. So, yay! Soon, the study will be painted Glass Slipper. Next project is picking a turquoise for the backs of the bookcases… Eep!

On Tiny Plants and Weedwhackers

Way back in March, The Boyfriend and I decided we were going to be gardeners. We picked out seed packets – tons of perennials and vegetables, some wildflowers and sunflowers and poppies. We decided to put our greenhouse to use in sprouting our seeds. We watered and watched the first round of seeds. And nothing happened. At first, we got two or three tiny tiny shoots, and then those disappeared. It seems that our greenhouse got too cold for the little plants in March.

We temporarily gave up. April threw curveballs and May held finals. But, the weekend after finals finished, I spent the weekend outside clearing excess mulch from flower beds and trying to spruce up the yard a bit. The Boyfriend re-graded one bed, angling it away from the garage to stop water from pooling there. The bed had once had mature bushes, but during the process of buying our house, there had been an old heating oil tank under there and during the removal, we lost some of the landscaping. It’s just kind of a big, flat, empty space with a big bush in the back corner and a too thick layer of mulch. So, using the wildflower mixes I had bought back in March, I sprinkled all sorts of seeds around there. There are a few little tiny leafy shoots – I can’t wait to see if they turn into anything.

That same weekend, we decided to give the greenhouse another shot – it’s warm now, the seedlings shouldn’t freeze… Except we had waited too long for our vegetables. Instead, Minion 2 and I planted the rest of the flowers – every poppy, sunflower, and random blue and purple flower seed we had left after the first round went into those little trays and for the last month, they’ve lived in our sunroom (turns out, little plants don’t love the heat in the all-glass greenhouse any better than they loved the cold). And we had life! We had a bunch of little unknown shoots and more sunflower starts than I expected.  The cats loved when they were in the house – it seems that little plants in little plugs of soil are far more entertaining than feather wands or fuzzy mice to our feline friends.  We’d find the random soil plug thrown around the room now and again.  Thanks, ladies…

Sunday, we planted them in the backyard near the pool. There had been a scraggly pine tree in the corner that we took down last summer when we first moved in. Half of it had been ripped off during Hurricane (Superstorm?) Sandy the year before and what was left was not looking so good. The corner was left bare and boring and screamed for something. We’ve half-talked about putting in a pergola or similar over there – it would be a nice spot for something, but nothing has really taken shape. So, we dug a bunch of holes and stuffed the corner with the sprouts.

Fast forward to this morning, when a despondent Boyfriend sent a message that our little garden was decimated by the landscapers. Though we were discussing it last night, we managed to forget to mark the garden and let the landscapers know to not weedwhack (weedwack?) the little shoots. Alas, after months of unsuccessful attempts at starting seeds, we managed to kill our little plants within 48 hours. I’m hopeful that some will still grow, but have not found anything encouraging online.  The Boyfriend has decided that our time as would-be-farmers is over.

Maybe the wildflowers will have a better chance of success? We should probably mark those soon before the landscapers take them too.

On Health

So last year, my body tried to kill me. I’m not even being cute about it. My body really tried to kill me. It started out with just a kidney stone (yes, while it may be the most excruciatingly painful thing I have *ever* experienced, compared to what came later, it was *just* a kidney stone), and culminated two and a half weeks later with bilateral pulmonary embolisms (a fancy word for giant blood clots in both of my lungs).

I ended up in the ICU for several days, not allowed to move or stand up or walk for fear part of a clot would dislodge and kill me. When I was first moved into the ICU from the ER, around 1am, I was chatty and cheerful and introducing myself to the nursing staff (who were all rock stars, by the way – I loved my nursing team). It hadn’t really sunk in just how serious things were. Sure, I was in the hospital, but that was the third time in less than three weeks (second overnight) and I had been fine before. It wasn’t until my favorite, no-nonsense nurse came to take my blood and brought me some not-great news about medication that I really got scared and realized just how serious everything was. Lynne had come to visit that weekend and see the house. She was on her way down when I checked into the ER. The Boyfriend had taken her and her daughter back to the house after a visit in the ER while I waited for a bed in the ICU. So I was alone in my dim room in the wee hours of the morning and I cried. It was probably a good thing I was alone – it was a pretty awful ugly cry. The nurse came back a few minutes later as I was drying my eyes.

“How are you doing, hon?”
“I’m okay. I’m fine.” (still wiping furiously at my eyes)
“Are you bummed?” A lump stuck in my throat and all I could do was nod at her. She half-laughed. “If that last bit of news didn’t get you, I was going to call psych for an eval… No one is ever that cheerful when they’re in here.”

Like I said, she was my favorite ICU nurse.

After a few days in the ICU, they moved me to another floor where I had another round of awesome nurses. And all the medication. Following a blood clot, the regular course of action is blood thinners. A lot of them. And it takes a few days to get levels where they need to be before they’ll send you out into the world. So, they monitored and tried to teach me to give myself injections. Haha. No. Hilariously, while I am covered in tattoos, I am actually really scared of needles. And actually, before my body decided to try to kill me, I was terrible about having blood drawn. Like pass out terrible. Now, I’m like, which arm do you want? It seems that having multiple vials drawn every four hours around the clock kind of kills that reaction. The nurse ended up teaching The Boyfriend how to give me the injections after I nearly passed out while trying to jab myself. It was pretty embarrassing.

Since last July, I have been on blood thinners. I have been required to have regular blood work to make sure my medication levels are where they should be. There have been more specialists than I can count. And there has been a ton of stress about everything. Every bruise had to be monitored, just in case I was bleeding more than I should. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go back to school in the fall. I was only four weeks out of the hospital when classes started. I was barely back to work full time (that took some effort – four hours of work was causing me to sleep for 12-16 hours). How in the world was I going to add several hours of classes a night? I powered through it, pulled my best grades yet, and carried on. It was scary going from a fairly normal, healthy 30 year old, to being so sick that I could barely get myself to and from the office.

Last month, I finally went off the blood thinners, closing the door on a really stressful period of my life. But now I’m totally paranoid about clotting again. Yesterday, while driving to work, I felt a little bit of pain in my leg. It’s so hard to not immediately freak out and assume it’s another clot, even though leg pain was not one of my symptoms – it is a common symptom of DVT. Instead of freaking out, I decided since my school year is over and I’m *only* working now, I can start to incorporate exercise into my routine. The Boyfriend and I took The Puppy trail running. I had never been trail running before and can I just say OW! My hips are in so much pain, I’m walking like an 80 year old. Stairs are laughable. And I can’t wait to go back out tomorrow night! I’m perusing running apps and looking for Spotify playlists. This is the summer that I am going to get into a routine of working out and really taking care of my body. Perhaps if I take good enough care of it, it won’t be such an a-hole and won’t try to kill me in the future?

On Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day started as one woman’s tribute to her mother in the very early 1900s and by the 1920s, even she was irritated by the Hallmark commercialism of the whole thing.  Motherhood and families have changed a lot in the last century – family dynamics are just different.  The divorce rate hovers somewhere near 50%, something that would have been unthinkable 100 years ago (I looked it up for fun, only one in every 450 marriages ended in divorce during the first decade of the 1900s – just .002%).

What this means is that more and more of us are taking on maternal roles with children we didn’t bear ourselves.  Motherhood is more than just carrying and delivering a child or even going through the long exhausting adoption process.  Motherhood means putting someone else in front of yourself more often than you’d like to admit.  It means giving away parts of yourself that you’ll never get back.  I’ve heard people describe it as having your heart outside of your body, walking around.  And the thing is – you don’t have to actually go through labor to have these feelings and experiences.  Many of us have taken on responsibilities for children we didn’t bear but we love just the same.


I write this as both a stepmother (sort of – we’re not married, much to the consternation of Minion 2 who seems to ask about it daily – last weekend, it was what he should call me when I’m his stepmom – bearing in mind The Boyfriend and I aren’t engaged) and as a stepdaughter.  Labor and delivery aren’t necessary for a loving maternal bond.  There’s not a decision I make that doesn’t take the Minions into account.  They are nearly as much a part of my life as if they were my own.

My dad’s wife, my stepmom, P, is an amazing woman.  I feel like a jerk calling her my dad’s wife, though I was an adult and living on the other side of the country when they became they.  She puts up with so much from my siblings and even myself – let me just say, it can’t be easy when your boyfriend’s bossy, opinionated, vegan (at the time – and particularly difficult), adult daughter shows up for visits.  But she handles it all with grace and humor and laughter.  She takes care of my niece and nephews and makes sure my brothers are where they need to be.  She checks in with me and keeps my dad in line.  She takes on so much, in a mostly thankless position.  Our lives wouldn’t be the same without her.

Every year when Mother’s Day rolls around, it’s kind of an awkward thing.  Everyone in my Facebook feed is wishing the “real” mothers a happy day, and I know it’s strange for the childless, those without living mothers, and other women like me, who pour so much love into children we didn’t bear ourselves.  I was reading about it this morning, and apparently, these awkward feelings aren’t uncommon.  From Blissfully Domestic, this quote stuck out with me for its truth:  “Stepmoms may not be acknowledged at all, though they try hard to pour into their step families lives. In fact, somehow Mother’s Day often allows outsiders to use the term as a pistol whipping experience to try to make a statement about who the “REAL” mother is.”  From other places on the internet, I’ve found similar sentiments.  From Smart Stepfamilies (a site that is sometimes useful but *really* religious), I related to not expecting the Minions to honor me.  They’re with their mom and I don’t expect them to.  They’re spending the day with her, exactly as they should.  Last weekend, I made sure to have them pick out a card for her while we were out shopping.  But, something that struck me, was “The day isn’t about the relationship with my stepsons, it’s about my husband honoring me for the effort and tears I’ve experienced [as] a stepmom.”

I think that is a good way of looking at it.  I’m not expecting to be celebrated as a mother, but an acknowledgement of the effort and experience would be appreciated.  So, if you know a stepmom, or someone in a stepmom-ish position, wish them a happy mother’s day.  I can almost guarantee it will brighten their day.  I particularly liked the well-wishes on Family Fusion Community‘s Mother’s Day Post: “I hope you know how much you are appreciated for every time you accept the awkward stares, take the brunt of the anger, and for all of the times when you have stepped up to the plate for your step-children.”

As for me, I’m celebrating the day with a quiet house and finals cramming.  Happy Mother’s Day.  

On Prompted Writing and Impending Doom

I am the worst procrastinator I know.  Well, almost.  The Boyfriend rivals me sometimes.  This weekend, one of two before finals start next week, we did *everything* we could except for study.  We did work in the garage.  I did a ton of laundry and swapped my drab fall and winter cardigans for spring and summer’s candy colored ones.  We shopped for new appliances (seriously, our new washer and dryer will text me when our cycle is done…).  The Boyfriend took down some trees in the yard and fixed the roof.  We saw friends.  We cooked every meal at the house and didn’t eat out once.  I even made two dinners on Sunday.  Unintentionally.  I had roasted some chicken, following a recipe because chicken scares me.  I reduced the cooking time considerably because our chicken was small…  Apparently, I didn’t reduce it enough because after it rested for the ten minutes the recipe suggested, I could have dribbled it like a basketball.  Knives were no match for the rubbery ridiculousness that I had attempted for dinner.  Ugh.  

So – with the last two days of class upon us, I am further procrastinating by typing up a blog post.  Because why not?  (Not the fact I am terrified of my Wills final, surely not that…)  

I saw a daily prompt the other day (the Daily Post is a great resource for those of us who sometimes don’t feel creative enough to peck something out on the keyboard), (S)he’s So Fine, that I’ve been mentally responding to in my head ever since.  Of course, now that I’m doing it, my words don’t seem big or important enough.  What is it that drew me to The Boyfriend when we first met?  We met in 2010, after I had moved to New York and he was in the midst of his divorce.  We met through a group of car enthusiasts.  We knew each other for nearly a year when in the summer of 2011, I spent the day with his roommate at a car show.  The Boyfriend and The Minions were there and I spent a lot of the day walking around with them and holding Minion 2’s hand (as I mentioned in my last post – he and I have been close from the beginning).  A couple of weeks later, we spent the day on the beach, talking and laughing.  There was something about the way he opened up to me on the beach, talking about his family and his life, I knew he was something special.  It came out of nowhere – I hadn’t expected it.  I haven’t stopped thinking about him from that moment on.  He’s an amazing dad, a wonderful partner, and just all around the most amazing person I know.  He is strong, funny, and just a non-stop bundle of energy.  There is nothing he can’t do.  He fixes cars, fells trees, kicks ass in law school, makes a mean baked pasta, and is raising two of the most awesome Minions I know.  We had a really rough April (seriously glad the month is almost over) and I don’t know how I would have survived it without him.  


On Awkward Questions

Minion 2 is just about to turn six.  We’ve always been close – he was just three when The Boyfriend and I started dating.  We joke that I fell for him before The Boyfriend.  He’s adorable and charming and a total handful sometimes.  

Lately, I’ve been getting the strangest, most awkward questions from him.  He never directs these things to The Boyfriend, instead always asking me directly about God (he’s in a religious kindergarten, heavy on the god stuff) that I try to deflect with “some people believe that,” trying to leave my own beliefs vague.  Some day, he’ll understand more and if he asks, we can chat then about what I believe, until then, sure, kid, God gives you eternal life and you’ll live happily ever after in heaven.  Another favorite was “where did the kitties come from?”  Yeah…  I tried to deflect it to The Boyfriend who, from the stove, yelled a firm “Nope! All you!”  Um, well…  They came from their mommy.  “Did she poop them out or throw them up?”  I start to squirm.  He’s five.  Why is he doing this to me?  It’s like he knows it’s uncomfortable and he’s actively trying to make it worse.  Not sure what he knows, I ask him if he knows where he came from.  “Mommy’s tummy!”  A-ha!  That’s where the kitties came from too.  

The hardest of these awkward questions came this week while I was driving the Minions home from school.  “Why did Daddy break up with Mommy?”  I don’t know what the kids know about the divorce – I came onto the scene at the end.  I don’t know what they’ve been told by either side (though, I do vividly recall on a road trip listening to The Boyfriend try to explain to the Minions that though their mother says otherwise, their father is not a terrible person and he did not break a promise to her…  That was infuriating but I held my tongue).  All I could say is that I didn’t know – I didn’t know them then – and that I bet his dad would have an answer for him when we got to the house.  

On one hand, I love that he trusts me enough to ask these things.  On the other, I am so scared of saying the wrong thing or not having a good enough answer for him.  Though it’s awkward and kind of tough, I wouldn’t trade these questions or the silliness and laughter that he brings to my life for anything.  I just hope I leave the same impression on him.  

On Friendship

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I am slacking.  We’re on Spring Break this week, so it’s not even like I don’t have time, I just have been spending my time doing other things.  Things like acclimating our two new members of our household (kitties!!) and introducing them to The Puppy and spending time with The Boyfriend outside of the car and even regularly scheduled midweek time with The Minions.  In short – I have time, but am spending it doing things with the people I care about most. 

Speaking about the people I care about most, because I really don’t have a lot to talk about (as an aside, I haven’t done any work on the house lately, though I did pick up a sample of a paint color for the study.  I also haven’t made any new drinks lately – just a lavender water/grapefruit/gin thing that was good, but largely forgettable), I’m using The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for today, Something So Strong.  The prompt reads: Tell us the origin story of your best friend.  How did you become friends?  What is it that keeps your friendship rockin’ after all these years?  So – today, I’ll tell you about my best friend.

A bit of history first though: female friendships have always been hard for me.  I’m kind of awkward and have a really strong personality. I can be abrasive, which isn’t always intentional.  I joke about being a bit of a b*tch, but really, I border on the Myers-Briggs personality types (if you believe in those sorts of things) as an ENTJ or an INTJ, depending on my mood when I take the quiz.  I am really more of an introvert, but once I feel comfortable around you, I’m kind of a spaz and am actually pretty outgoing.  All of this to say, I didn’t really start developing strong friendships until well into adulthood, and I don’t always have the best friend skills – this is all kind of new to me.  So, while six years does not an “after all these years” kind of story make, it’s the most meaningful friendship I’ve had in my life and I treasure it.


So – Lynne.  (Pardon the terrible photo – I just saved it off my Facebook.)  She’s a talented writer and an all-around wonderful person.  We met in our non-traditional undergraduate program in Vermont in 2008.  My first memory of her is from our orientation meeting, she’s not shy at all and I love her for it.  She’s got this incredible (wicked) Massachusetts accent, unmistakable, and she took over our meeting with her stories and opinions.  On a subsequent weekend, we were sharing a meal together with other students, and she mentioned being encouraged by her professor to share a piece of writing at an upcoming variety show (I’m not really sure how to describe it – variety seems best) where other students would be sharing their talents and art and work.  She said she knew what piece she wanted to share, but was hesitant to read it to the group.  I, completely lacking any sort of filter in some situations, piped up that I would absolutely read it for her.  So, that night, in front of the entire student body, many of the professors, and a couple of visitors, I read a fairly graphic (sex) scene from one of her short stories.  For weeks afterward (and actually the next year or so whenever one of the variety shows would come up, even at the poetry slam), other students would ask me about it.  We caused quite the stir.  People were (very) angry about the selection, others surprised someone from our group had written it, others more surprised that someone had read it.  I think the reactions were a shock to both of us.  We were all adults.  Why the harshness toward the piece, and more openly, me?  It wasn’t my writing, in fact, I had said it was from someone else in the group.  My own professor was upset and cold to me afterward.  And Lynne stood up to it.  She made an announcement in a big mandatory meeting the following morning and stood up to the negativity.  From then on, I’ve carried a huge amount of respect for her and we’ve been fast friends.  Her opinion matters more to me than that of nearly anyone else.  I consider her and her family as my own family, having spent holidays and birthdays with them nearly every year since.  She has been there for everything – school weekends (which were not the same after she, my mother hen, graduated a year before I did), a big breakup in 2009, a move to New York in 2010, graduation in 2011, the law school application process, the relationship with The Boyfriend, the house hunt, the nearly dying last summer – all of it.  She and her family met The Boyfriend before my blood relations and her approval was important to me.  She’s wickedly funny, gives great advice, and has wonderful taste in food and a great eye for decorating.  I can’t imagine life without her.

The Perfect Manhattan and Date Night

Last night, after a particularly long and stressful week (The Boyfriend and I both had midterms and he had a bit of work stress), we were due a date night. I got home from work and set to making us cocktails. I opted for the classic Manhattan, since whiskey seemed perfect for the occasion.

Someone had gifted The Boyfriend with a bottle of Single Barrel Jack Daniels that we hadn’t opened. I have a lifelong distaste for sour mash whiskey, but our bourbon selection has suffered this winter – there’s nothing quite like it on a cold winter night – so I opted to give the Jack a chance.

I happened to pick up bourbon cherries at a specialty store last weekend, so I used those. Regular maraschino are fine, if you have them on hand. I bought grapefruit bitters at the same time. Angostura or other bitters are just as good.

The Perfect Manhattan
1.5 oz whiskey (bourbon is best)
.5 oz sweet vermouth
A dash of bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

We rounded out date night with nibbly appetizer bits for dinner and a movie, snuggled up with The Puppy on the couch. The Boyfriend had never seen Pan’s Labyrinth, so we rented that. It has all the trappings of my kind of movie (slightly depressing, screwed up family, drama, heart strings, etc.) and I adore it. I think he was expecting more fantasy from it and I think it disappointed him. In any event, date night was perfect. The drinks were delicious, the company was fantastic. It was exactly what we needed and we’re both feeling more like ourselves today.

How do you deal with stress? What’s your favorite way to cap off a long week?