Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grace: Issue 54

  1. Looking up, and realizing it's Thursday and - holy cow! - where'd the week go?

  2. Getting sucked into a surprisingly great book (Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife.)

  3. Finding a few new beads at a show, then spending the week stringing and restringing, and just staring at the pretty colors every once in a while.

  4. Making incremental progress on a big-big-big project at work.

  5. Instigating plans with my best girlfriends that will result in a Friday night Julia Child foodfest to usher in Labor Day weekend. (Considering making madeleines to accompany the tea that will inevitably end the evening - unless I dig up something more manageable and healthy [wishful thinking] in my mother-in-law's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grace: Issue 53

  1. Still feeling some residual, vacation-oriented bliss, even with the first day back to work over and done and realizing some perspective was gained by being away from everything.
  2. The calm that is derived from a morning walk.
  3. Polishing off a bar of Green and Black's Chocolate--before dinner.
  4. Salmon with onions, capers and lemon over couscous, alongside sauteed spinach.
  5. Genuinely feeling happy to be home.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grace: Issue 52

  1. A softly broken-in pair of khaki shorts on deep, end-of-summer sale.
  2. Plans to attend a bead show in a few weeks, where my fave lampwork artist will appear.
  3. Clean laundry, fresh from the line.
  4. Meeting a friend's tow-headed little toddler for the first time.
  5. The restorative powers of the only Frappuccino of summer during a mini-heatwave.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


When I was around four years old or so, my favorite television shows included The Electric Company, Family Affair, That Girl... and The French Chef.

Back then, while in the kitchen one afternoon, I found myself describing my actions, just as Julia did, in a sing-songy voice, providing detailed instructions to an imagined television audience on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my palate wasn't that refined, as a kid).

It was very important -- I admonished my imagined audience -- to spread the peanut butter to the very edges of the bread, without sliding out over the crust.

And the jelly? On that, one mustn't skimp.

When I'd stumbled upon Julie Powell's blog, The Julie/Julia Project, back in 2002, I was enthralled by the concept of this former Texan working her way through Julia Child's cookbook. But even more so, I was taken in by her writing. Julie would weave in thoughts about her day, the frustrations she dealt with at work, the challenges the recipes gave her at the end of a long day. And observations on the progress of her project.

It was like life -- full of triumphs and tears, challenges and surprises. With a supportive husband who popped TUMs like after-dinner mints.

And when Powell's book came out in 2005, I opened the box from Amazon with all the excitement of Christmas morning. I devoured the book, and felt, disappointed.

She'd aligned her blog entries alongside vignettes of Paul and Julia Childs' life together, imagining conversations that seemed to me contrived and drippy with nostalgia. Honestly? I sped through those parts, hungrily seizing on Powell's observations about aspic and omelettes instead.

Last night, a friend and I went to see the movie Julie & Julia, and I was surprised at having the opposite experience. The scenes with Julie, aside from the obviously soul-crushing days at the Lower Manhattan Development Project, were thin and uninteresting. But those where you see how Julia came into her own as a chef and relish her relationship with her lovely husband Paul -- those scenes were magical.

Now, maybe that's because Nora Ephron knows how to throw pixie dust onto relationships and capture those moments on film in a heart-stirring way.

It might be Meryl Streep's superb embodiment of Julia. From the physical aspects of Julia's game and gangly enthusiasm, to the bleats and huffs of speech that inflated Julia's body, caused her arms to flap and body to collapse on a couch with gusto.

Or it could have something to do with Stanley Tucci's sublime performance as Paul, a man who is beyond smitten by Julia. He obviously worships her, craves and appreciates the art found in and made from life, relishes performance and flourish. As an actor, he is just amazing -- or maybe like Streep, he found a character he could inhabit, rather than play.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm making a list of ingredients for sole meuniere.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grace Issue 51

  1. Seeing the flood waters have receded, and with it, a much-welcomed break in the humidity.
  2. Getting buds together to see Julie & Julia on Friday (I read every post of her blog, back in the day!).
  3. Finding a pair of Havaianas on sale in a cute gold color.
  4. Leaving work at a reasonable hour after weeks of not.
  5. Making some decisions I know I'll not regret.