Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Gorgeous

Instead of writing a paper, I spent the evening researching calligraphy, pens, and inks. Somewhere along the way I found this video:

It makes me miss scoring music, but mostly makes me happy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winning the Dress Lottery

I have a wedding dress. Way WAY sooner than it really makes sense to have a dress.

I can't post pictures, they're secret from Dave!
Here is a photo of the garment bag instead.
Mom and Dad didn't want to miss out on dress shopping with their favourite daughter, so while they were in Montreal last weekend, I thought we could drop by "that shop Catherine got her dress at, where you don't need appointments."

Saturday morning, I gave them a call - just to make sure they were open on Sundays, when we planned to do some browsing. I found out that no, they weren't open on Sundays. Oh. But would I need an appointment to come by some other time? I asked. Ah.... yes. Unless it was one of their sale days (maybe once or twice a year), appointments are necessary. And they had one that afternoon because of a cancellation.*

We showed up a bit before 3:30, and were let into the beautiful (very flatteringly lit) salon just as the group before us was leaving. I explained that I was recently engaged, and just hoping to get a sense of what sorts of styles suited me. I was happy to try on anything. Ten dresses and an hour later we had a pretty good sense of what looked good**, and my mom pulled out "just one more dress" two dresses after I said I was ready to be back in my normal clothes.

The (wonderful) lady helping me tossed the layers of satin and tulle over my head, and zipped it up smoothly. It was perfect - a very elegant and classic dress that didn't stray into "mature bride" territory at all. Flattering in every dimension and a perfect fit.*** It didn't fill me with childlike glee, like the cinderella ball gown I had tried on seven dresses previously:

Not like this except for the extreme amount of tulle in the skirt.
But also unlike the cinderella dress it was the sort of dress I could definitely see myself getting married in. Then I saw the train, and the detail on the back, and I fell completely in love with it. Mom & Dad agreed - it was the sort of dress by which all other dresses are measured. They quoted us a price, but suggested that I wait and come back the following Saturday for one of the sales.

Me and my dress, outside the salon.
This morning I walked out with my dress! Even though it's not in agreement with the month-by-month wedding to-dos available online, the dress is the first thing we've checked off the list!

*Stroke of luck #1: same-day appointment at a bridal salon
** no strapless, no white, no lace and tapered through the torso to my natural waist. This eliminates about 95% of bridal gowns in existence.
***In this salon, the dresses aren't samples - they're produced one at a time, and when they sell, they sell. If it's made in your size, it can work. If it isn't, you're out of luck.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steak au Poivre (also: Yum Yum Yum)

Peppercorn heart from findingthenow on Flickr
Dave makes this maybe once every couple of years, and tonight was my lucky night.

Note: there is no photo for this recipe because I did not want to pause before digging in. Cognac, cream,  pepper, and a wonderful steak are not the sort of things that invite self control.

What you need:
 - 2 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon)
 - 2 tbsp whole peppercorns
 - 1 tbsp unsalted butter
 - 1 tbsp olive oil
 - kosher salt
 - 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp cognac
 - 1 cup heavy cream

What you do: 
1.  Remove steaks from refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking.   Lightly salt with kosher salt.  Cover and let sit.

2.  Crack peppercorns with rolling pin, skillet, or mallet.  Works best inside a ziplock bag.

3.  Spread cracked peppercorns on a plate.  Firmly press steaks into peppercorns, coating both sides.

4.  In a skillet on medium heat, melt olive oil and butter.   Cook steaks 4 minutes per side for medium rare.   When finished, set steaks aside and cover.  Do not clean skillet.

5.  Remove skillet from heat and add 1/3 cup cognac.  Ignite alcohol with a match.  When flames die, return to medium heat and add cream.  Whisk cream for 5 minutes or so, until it coats the back of a spoon.  Add 2 tbsp cognac and salt to taste.

6.  Slice steaks into strips and plate.  Pour cream over steaks.

7.  Enjoy with a nice Bordeaux.  2005 is a very good year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday (in Two Acts)

Act I

It doesn't feel like Valentines, because it's rainy and cold and I'm sitting in a conference room but no students have come to see me (even though colour vision is a really hard topic and I think they'll need help*). It felt like Valentines yesterday when we spent the afternoon being lazy and talking about guest lists and dresses and venues and nothing. Then we dressed up and went to my favourite Italian anything restaurant (hi Ennio!) with new dear friends and ate until we could barely walk home.

It was kind of like this:

Still, it reminds me of a rainy and cold Valentines-on-a-school-day a lot of years ago when Dave and I were studying for a midterm in Douglas Library, and I was telling him about the chocolates I'd gotten in the mail from a new not-quite-boyfriend-yet and he was happy for me and we went to Subway for lunch.

Act II

The thing that makes Dave laugh at me/tear his hair out the most is how literal I can be, so when this joke popped up on my Google Reader, I sent it to him right away:

A wife asks her software engineer husband: "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6!" A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk. The wife asks him, "Why the hell did you buy 6 cartons of milk?" He replied, "They had eggs."

At least I haven't done that. Yet. 

* Though, I have plenty of work to do that I'm writing schmoopy** blog posts instead of doing so there's plenty of evidence that we don't always do what's best for us. 
** I've added an "aww" category in its honour, we shall see if it ever gets used again.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's so exciting

Engaged as of February 3, at Hôtel Quintessence in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.