Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kennebunkport Celebrates Christmas... lighting a "Lobster Trap Tree." Hmm...

Me and Ashley

Ashley and Eliot

Merry Christmas from Cape Porpoise!

We celebrate Christmas with cheesy Christmas-themed sweaters (worn with irony). Notice the white plastic Walmart Christmas tree. I think it's retro chic. Matt's not so sure he agrees.

Check out the jingle bell earrings

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Manhattan Thanksgiving (or, How to Cook a Turkey Dinner with One Foot of Counter Space)

In Manhattan with Andrew and Ainsley Sundberg

Thanksgiving weekend, Matt and I packed our bags and hopped the 15$ Chinatown bus from Boston to visit our dear friends Andrew and Ainsley Sundberg in Manhattan.

Thanksgiving, in my family, has far more tradition than Christmas or any other holiday. Like everyone, my mom makes a turkey dinner and we eat mashed potatoes and pie until our our sides split. But in my memory there were more subtle routines that made the holiday sacred. My mom would rise before dawn to put the turkey in the oven (a necessity, I now realize, because we always bought tremendous birds--20 pounds minimum). By the time I woke up, the house would be filled with the smell of baking and my mom would have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. I would slice bread for the stuffing and my dad, who had made breakfast of the extra pumpkin pie my mom had baked just for him, would eventually be bellowed into the living room: "Dan! The Rockettes are on!"

And so, I have often envisioned myself, a denizen in stylish winter wear, among the throng of parade-goers on the streets of Manhattan. So when A&A invited us to join them in their mid-town apartment for the holidays, we jumped at the chance, both to be with them and to experience New York during the holidays.

We arrived Wednesday afternoon and Ainsley and I began what was our first venture in cooking a turkey dinner by ourselves, which unfolded like a series of initiations for an epic hero. First, we braved Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for last-minute ingredients among hundreds of shoppers and stood in checkout lines that coiled around the stores. If I were feeling more claustrophobic, I would have emerged with a permanent facial tick. But, I chalked it up to a New York adventure and enjoyed watching people rush around to find figs or fight over the last aluminum turkey pan (ok, so I was the one stressing over the turkey pan--a hero's gotta fight fight for the greater good, right?).

Cookin' with Ains

The next challenge presented itself when we got everything back to the apartment. A&A have an amazing place, as far as Manhattan apartments go. High ceilings, a separate bedroom, new kitchen appliances, a full-size fridge, and marble counter tops. With their mod-artsy style, the place fits them perfectly. The only problem: it's only about 350 square feet. Their tiny combined kitchen, dining and living room had about 12 inches of counter space and an overturned suitcase for creating all of our dishes on. The suitcase would also double as the dining room table on Thursday.

Here was our menu:

morning glory muffins

dried fruit and nuts
gorgonzola stuffed medjool dates

roasted turkey
herb stuffing
garlic rosemary mashed potatoes
country gravy
green beans with garlic and pinenuts
cranberry sauce

blueberry crumble
vanilla ice cream

Ainsley and I sent the boys out and did as much as we could on Wednesday night to keep the kitchen insanity to a minimum. We actually got most of the work done without killing each other or dropping anything and had muffins to take with us to the parade the next morning.

We woke up at 6:30 to try to get a good spot. We walked to Herald Square, six blocks from A&A's apartment, where all the performances happen at the end of the parade route. Arriving, we discovered most of it roped off for Macy's employees and broadcasters and decided to grab the subway downtown to stand along Central Park. We found a spot about two rows of people back from the curb and waited while the sidewalks filled in.

Hours later, we finally spotted the first massive balloons making their way up Central Park West. We posed while Underdog and Hello Kitty, 16 stories high or something equally alarming, passed overhead. Girls in hideous lycra costumes twirled fake muskets and bayonets ahead of choreographed marching bands. One girl trailed behind the semi-militant musicians, sobbing into the shoulder of a parent chaperone, holding the broken mouthpiece of her trombone.

At the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The highlight of the parade (Ainsley agrees), far better than Ashley Tisdale, Miss America, or Jordin Sparks, came when the Sesame Street float passed us. Maria, Luis, Gordon, and Bob--faces I know like they were my own family members--were there in the flesh, mere feet from us. We yelled to them wildly, giddy with the rush of fantasy turned reality.

Big Bird and the Sesame Street float

Back at the apartment, somehow, miraculously, we pulled off a classic Thanksgiving meal. The turkey was perfectly cooked, but not without several phone calls to both our moms and a failed attempt at actually making the giblets into something edible. We presented the turkey and "fixins" on a step stool and swivel chairs and ate on the floor around the suitcase coffee table. Although the feeling of victory to have pulled off such an ambitious meal with such limited resources was very sweet, the best part was being with Ainsley and Andrew, really.

Andrew and Matt carving the Turkey

Washing the dishes--such good husbands!

The rest of the weekend, we were joined by some more friends from Seattle, Kirk and Faith Wimberley, and we explored as much of New York as we could: Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge (where A&A got engaged), the Modern Museum of Art, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Chelsea Market, Little Italy, Soho, ground zero, and so much more. By the time we headed home on Sunday, I wanted to buy one of those tee-shirts that say: "I heart New York."

Walking to Chelsea Market A&A and Faith

Matt with a Rothko at MOMA

Maine, as interpreted by Jasper Johns

Van Gogh's Starry Night

Andrew and Ainsley: Thanks for an amazing holiday with you both. We love you guys and we are so jealous of the fact that you live in such a beautiful city. Can't wait to come back for more!