Thursday, April 26, 2012

Friends In High Places

Debby, during our trip to Branson

My best friend Debby died seven years ago on a hailing, storm-ridden morning in Spring. Actually, I don't know if she considered me her best friend. We never talked about it or analyzed it, we just up and started doing everything together one day.

We worked at the same company. I was the newbie, and also the youngest non-intern there. She took me under her wing, asking me to do something with her during our off hours one day. It was so long ago now that I can't even remember what it was. But, it wasn't long before we were visiting new restaurants together, having pizza parties during the Golden Globes and gossiping about co-workers and bosses and people we didn't know. We took shopping road trips to Branson and Schaumberg, IL, went to movies on weekends, did concerts after work, pulled pranks on our office manager together and dissected the latest episodes of Gilmore Girls and The X-Files over extended coffee breaks.

I don't think I ever told Debby everything. Like about how lonely I'd been before we started hanging out. Or how I'd never been on a date and was a virgin. I certainly never mentioned that I'd always felt like a loser. But it really didn't matter. Because with Debby around everything was better. Brighter, happier, bolder, more interesting and exciting.

Debby was really quite different from me. She was a few years older (You'll think it's silly, but I never asked her age. Again, it didn't matter.) and the kind of outgoing, outspoken person that many people loved. (Unless they disliked her. Which was usually either because she'd put them in their place or was obviously liked by more people then they were.) She'd been around and done stuff and known people, which I hadn't.

She also had the kind of loud, addictive laugh that would stop the whole office and have our co-workers asking What? What's so funny? Tell me! Debby was also the best gift-giver I've ever known. Mention a thing once, briefly and in passing, and you were guaranteed to have it either on your birthday or at Christmas. Guaranteed.

Debby was not the only best friend I'd ever had. There were Danielle and Chiquita in grade school. Sara in high school. Emily in high school, college and a few years after college. I'd never quite had a friend like Debby, though, and I don't know if it'd be possible to have a friend that cool again. But, I'd like to try.

I'm now four years deep into my friend desert. After quitting the company where I met Debby, I was left with one friend from the old co-working gang who keeps in touch on a regular basis. We meet once a year for our shared birthday and email a few times beyond that. She's got three kids, a husband, a full time job, is running her own business on the side and doesn't even live in the same state as me. This is why we see each other once a year.

Emily found me on Facebook last year and we talk on the phone every month or so. Why don't we hang out? She's got a husband who works crazy hours and a rambunctious three-year-old...Oh, yeah, and in the past year she's moved from Boston to Chicago to a beach-side city in California. I still lay my head down in our hometown of St. Louis every night.

I need some girl talk. Some shopping trips and concert-going hijinks and female bonding sessions that begin with crying and end with raucous laughter. As nice as my family is, I need face time with other women who are not related to me.

If you're looking for the same thing, but are anxiety-ridden about trying to friend folks as an adult (like me), you should read the book I finished last week. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. Rachel found herself in a new city without her network of besties around and decided to go on one friend date a week for a whole year. It took guts (Debby would approve), but it worked.

And when you're feeling weary and alone there's nothing better than knowing that someone walked the path before you and made it work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music Monday: Traveling Songs

Earlier in the month, while HUBS was taking some time off for Spring Break, we did a little day tripping that I'd completely forgotten to tell you about.

We drove to Kimmswick, MO via Imperial, MO. Our first stop was in Imperial. We went to lunch at a Jack n the Box (I know, it's so touristy of us to eat food we can get basically anywhere in the country) and then headed to the Mastodon State Historic Site. We opted out of the museum to save some cash, but the grounds were nice, though I must warn those of you who fear caterpillars to stay away at this time of year. The place is filled with them!

After walking around and dodging those fuzzy little critters for a few minutes, we headed on to our destination. Downtown Kimmswick is essentially filled with nick-knack shops and eateries. It's also a tiny old river town. If you park your car you can walk the whole thing in a couple of hours.

Half way through our walk we stopped at The Blue Owl Sweet Shoppe and got this giant treat:

This involves apple pie, ice cream, caramel, whipped cream and cherries. It was understandably awesome. All in all, not bad for a 30 minute drive outside of St. Louis.

Where have you been recently that's close to home but nothing like it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Roasted Potato Leek Soup

A few weeks ago we went from being able to bank on 75 or 80 degree days to plunging back into what felt like winter weather. And in the weeks since then we've gone from one extreme to the other seemingly every day.

After watching a Ina Garten work her magic while waiting for my final late March medical guinea pig work to be done, I decided to make her Roasted Potato Leek Soup. Of course, since this is me we're talking about, I made some changes. This recipe is adapted from hers, though.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4 slices, unpeeled
1 lb red potatoes, prepared as above
4 leeks, well cleaned, chop white and light green parts only
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and cracked pepper
3 cups arugula/spinach
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock, homemade if possible
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
8 oz light sour cream
McCormick Hot Madras Curry Powder, optional
1 11 oz can Green Giant Southwestern Style Corn, optional
1/4 cup Parmesan

Get your oven to 400 degrees and arrange your leeks and potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet that's got some olive oil (or cooking spray) on it. Salt and pepper everything, drizzle some more oil on top and roast for 40 to 45 minutes. Throw your arugula/spinach in there and roast it all long enough for them to wilt, about 4 to 6 minutes. When that's done, pour your wine right onto the pan and scrape up any crispy bits. If things are still stuck, you can use some of the stock to help.

Now, pour all that into a big old pot. Add the rest of your chicken stock, the milk, sour cream and canned corn if using. Using an immersion blender, get everything all ground up to your desired chunkiness (of course, if you don't have an immersion blender you can instead dump the veggies into a food processor). Get the pot set over medium heat, add your seasonings to taste and get it hot. Pour into bowls, top with cheese and enjoy.

This was so good! Perfect for a chilly night. And if you're only feeding a couple of people, it will last at least a week for leftovers. I'll definetly make this again. Thanks, Ina!


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