Wednesday, September 25, 2013

While Away the Hours

Greetings.  From Chicago. Where I live now.  Perhaps a two + year hiatus warrants an explanation, a recap of events, or at least some sort of highlight reel but I think I'll hold off on that and instead basically pick-up where I left off.  I'll supply explanatory details as necessary.  So back to business...

As I mentioned, I am currently stationed temporarily in Chicago.  It is a city with great architecture and improv and it is big enough to warrant two baseball teams.  This has lead to a pretty sterling reputation among Americans and casual visitors.  People typically acknowledge that it's cold (it is the Windy City) but it is almost cliche to discuss that Chicago is cold.  BUT people who actually live here (particularly people who live here and have also lived elsewhere) know that it's not just cold.  It's REALLY cold. And windy. And gray. And it's like that for over half the year.  Uninitiated to the permanence that winter has here, I was unprepared to fill endless hours inside and found myself bored and well, possibly, a little crabby and down on Chicago. Fool me once....

It is definitely fall now - which is beautiful.  It is crisp and sunny and I love it.  But I know that fall is really just the appetizer for winter and portends countless months of weather misery.  But I plan to be prepared this time.  In addition to stretchy pants, a coat that resembles a sleeping bag, and some Everest worthy mittens, I am calling on the TV to get me through.  I have a checkered past with TV - and have been quite fickle expelling it from my life only to welcome it back in when Rafa was playing well.  I am committed now.  I am ready to settle down.  TV and I are going to get through this.  I have drafted The Good Wife, The Blacklist, The Voice, Mindy Kaling and whatever Real Housewives franchise presents itself (please be Beverly Hills) to help me along.  The DVR is set.  I even ordered a new couch.  I am ready for winter.  What else should I be watching??

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Strings Attached

Perhaps I was overcompensating for the unfortunate Deer Hunter experience, but my normally superior movie picking skills have failed me recently.  First it was Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl - sounds like a dream cast, right?  Well, that's what I thought too.  And so, I settled in with wine, Luke and pack of black dogs prepared to be entertained (I require nothing more of my movies).  No such luck.  Total stinker. I can't remember the name of the movie and, honestly, it's probably for the best I would hate for anyone else to have to suffer that 90 minutes of disappointment.  Just know this, the premise of the movie is that Ashton Kutcher is a high powered covert CIA operative living in the burbs.  Ready for the crazy twist??  All of the seemingly docile and boring neighbors were blood-thirst assassins out to get him and his lovely (pregnant) wife, Katherine Heigl.  Major let down.

Next up, the Back Up Plan with J.Lo.  I have seen many of J.Lo's films and typically they are just my speed.  Maid in Manhattan?  lovely. The Wedding Planner? A delight.  The Back Up Plan?  TOTAL dud. A mash up of about 7 other, better, rom coms.  The lone bright spot in this movie was a cameo by Cesar Milan.  But, alas, the dog whisperer was not enough to redeem this movie.

At this point, I know many movie goers would be running to the comfort of some critically acclaimed indie film.  Well, you can keep your King's Speech and your Black Swan, I am not so easily deterred.  Last night I was ready to give Ashton another shot and give Natalie a chance to erase that Black Swan blemish from her resume and No Strings Attached exceeded expectations in every category.

My good buddy A.O Scott had this to say:  “No Strings Attached,” directed by Ivan Reitman from a script by Elizabeth Meriwether, is not entirely terrible.  Once again, Mr. Scott has missed the mark.  As far as rom coms go, this is Oscar material.  Seriously, the cast was stellar, the writing clever, the plot quick, the stars very easy on the eyes, and the ending happy.  5 stars - a must see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

That's What She Said

Hello and Happy New Year!

As I rang in 2011 with fireworks and champagne I vowed to not fall victim to pedestrian new year's resolutions.  I decided to leave exercising more and fiscal restraint to the masses, my sights have been set FAR higher.  I am looking to build a digital media empire in 2011.  The foundation has, of course, already been laid with the carly pumpkin blog but new in 2011 we will have, wait for it, The That's What She Said Podcast.  I will be co-hosting this podcast with my future Amazing Race partner, Allison Jones.  Here's the iTunes description:

Do you have problems and aren't particularly picky about who helps you solve them? Have you been looking for life advice from two totally unqualified people? Then, The That's What She Said Podcast with Carly and Allison is your answer!

Listeners rave about the show:

"Worse than Showgirls!"

"Well, that was a huge waste of time."

"I will never get those 30 minutes back."

"You are both really annoying. Especially Carly."

--Yep. That's What She Said.

Millions of figurative listeners can't be wrong. Subscribe today. You might be sorry you did!

Legal Notice: No advice given on this show should actually be followed. It is completely useless and potentially life threatening.

Check here in about a week for the first episode:

And email me at  if you would like to be on the show!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The 5 Week Itch

Through a lifetime of rigorous field studies, I have determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not a girl who needs a boyfriend. It’s important to note that this is not at ALL the same as not wanting a boyfriend – it just means that I am not going to bear the company of some dude who struggles with subject verb agreement and whose reading list consists of menus and street signs, just to have someone to spend my evenings with. That said, it’s probably not a good policy to ignore every guy who, upon first meeting, does not immediately strike me as a catch.

This leads me to my current situation and it is one I have found myself in before. The actual guy in question matters less than the situation itself (this time a fellow who does something related to cars and the maintenance they require – but it could just as easily be the foreign guy, the writer, the consultant). And the situation is this: I begin casually dating a guy who I think will be “fun” knowing 100% that it will not be “permanent”. I also know from the beginning that the fun will not last forever but I figure why not enjoy it while I can. So - this all goes along great until I reach the inevitable point when his lack of interest in anything besides Belgian beer and football stops being charming and starts being REALLY, REALLY annoying.

Then what am I to do??? This point is often reached after 4-5 weeks – too late to easily do my go-to: the fadeout (though I have done it). A conversation, on the other hand seems a little much given that this is not even a full-blown relationship. As a rule of thumb, I try to avoid conversations about feelings and whatnot as much as possible. And in this instance I don’t even have something dramatic to point to as a cause for my not wanting to see them anymore. 4-5 weeks isn’t enough time for: cheating, working too much, not wanting to have children, being an alcoholic – I mean, really I hardly know the guy. The only thing to say is - “You annoy me please stop calling. I know you didn’t annoy me before but you do now. Sorry.” I am definitely not ready to have that level of frank discussion. I am not even that honest with my doctor.

So, what am I to do??

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rachel McAdams to the Rescue

As you all know, I have suffered through my fair share of terrible movies (see also: Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler).  I, however, had no idea about the depths of misery that could be inflicted by a movie until I saw The Deer Hunter.  I should probably say that much of this experience was my own doing - although I did not suggest this movie, I was not tied or bound and placed in front of the television with my eyelids super-glued open.  My culpability ends there - the rest of the blame lays squarely with De Niro, Streep, and whatever satanic director thought up this visual monstrosity.

The beginning of the movie was tricky - a group of friends, a wedding, small town camaraderie.  Sure Meryl's dad drinks too much and hunting deer does not make me very happy, but it wasn't terrible.  I knew, though, that the relative calm and tranquility would be short-lived.  I just knew it.  And then, OUT OF NOWHERE, the unsuspecting viewer is transported from western PA to a freaking Vietnam POW camp.  There were underwater cages, nasty vietnam army guys, and games of russian roulette.  I am sure there were all sorts of other unpleasant things but I had my eyes closed for much of it.  I reopened them just in time to see some nice american boy blow half of his face off in that game of russian roulette I was just telling you about.

All told, I think I made it through about 45 minutes of the movie before I had to ask (demand strongly) my host to turn off the movie.   I just don't understand why people think the world would be such a terrible place if all movies featured Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

Fortunately, I was able to purge that horrendous experience from my memory this weekend when I saw Morning Glory.  A terrific little film with a star-studded cast: Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, and the real hero: Rachel McAdams.    As Manohla Dargis wrote "If you spend enough time with Rachel McAdams, it’s easy to get lost in the pleasure of her company, or at least become enjoyably distracted. Effortlessly likable, she has a way of keeping you tethered to her character even when your attention begins to wander."  You hear that, Streep?  Oscars alone don't make you likable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fancy Picture Box

This summer, facing personal fiscal crisis and thinking myself culturally superior, I cancelled my cable subscription.  I was sick of paying $100 a month for something I barely used.  The way I figured, I could use the $60 of that that was for the TV on something else and fill my time easily with books (hello library!), the New Yorker (each article easily takes a whole night to read), and most importantly Hulu and Netflix On Demand (so I could watch my select shows and movies). And when my Rafa was top-spinning his way to 3 major titles I relied on the the good graces of friends and local drinking establishments.  All of that entertainment and I could still take the cultural high road and respond "oh, I don't have TV" when someone would ask me if I had seen Dancing With the Stars.

The problem was - I am not nearly as sophisticated as I thought.  I missed the TV real bad.  I lived in denial abou this for several months but what finally spurred me to action was Sunday mornings.  I REALLY missed Sunday morning talk shows.  The main drawback of online TV viewing is that you can't watch anything live or current.

So, last weekend I went to Best Buy determined to remedy the situation.  I asked one of the helpful clerks what I could get to "make the pictures come on" without cable and he pointed me to some old-school rabbit ears.  I was THRILLED.  Sunday morning TV for a one-time $11 purchase?!  I got home and followed the instructions (very short - old school technology is so user friendly) and hooked those little guys up.  NADA.  I stuck the antenna out the window and the best I could do was fuzzy Home Shopping Network and spanish cartoons.

I was crestfallen.  Defeated and downtrodden, I got my phone and called those monopolistic bastards at KableTown and made an appointment to return the pictures to my life.  The experiment is over and I am once again part of mainstream, tv viewing America.  A car AND cable - it's like a whole new me!

Super pumped for Millionaire Matchmaker tonight!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello!  Wow, it's been awhile since I have tapped out one of these little posts.  Something special has inspired me to write again.  A friend (technically, a husband of a friend...but he's a nice enough guy so we'll go ahead and call him a friend) has recently started a cool blog called Feed the Animal. On the site he tells little stories and anecdotes through recipes - I know there is a parallel to be drawn here but it escapes me at the moment.  In any event, check it out.

So this weekend Rafa and I packed up our bags and headed to Flourtown, PA to dog sit for the Goodmans (of the aforementioned Feed the Animal) fame.  Inspired by Dave's cooking and not wanting to miss an opportunity to cook in their AMAZING new kitchen (a considerable upgrade from what passes for a kitchen in my apt) I headed out to the Whole Foods and procured the makings for a fall feast.

Grilled Halibut with Sauteed Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Shallots.

Over on FTA, Dave is pretty good with setting out recipes and measurements...carly pumpkin...not so much.

The brussel sprouts are a variation on a dish served at Audrey Claire and they are delicious.  If had bad brussel sprout experiences as a child or have avoided the food all together because you just assumed it would be vile; this dish will change you.  It's REAL good - and very easy to make.  Just halve the brussel sprouts, put a healthy amount of butter and olive oil in a pan, salt, pepper, and away we go.  It's important to get the sprouts to brown, the more brown the better.  Equally important to cook them thoroughly, you want them to be very tender.  Tough sprouts are no good.  Here are the sprouts in action:

Next up we have the butternut squash.  This is a little more labor intensive than the sprouts but very tasty.  First, you have to peel and cube the squash:


So after you have peeled and cubed, slice a shallot and some sage leaves.  Toss all together with olive oil and place in 400 degree oven.  Ideally, after 25 minutes you have have nicely browned little squash bites, this didn't really happen for me so I threw them under the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish and that worked pretty well.

There was also halibut which a) does not photograph well raw and b) was so easy it's hardly worth mentioning.  Cover halibut with olive oil, salt, pepper place on well heated grill pan.  Sear each side and finish in oven with the squash.  Served with a shallot butter (minced shallots, butter, salt).

Delish.  The finished product:

If only our movie selection had been as good as our meal.  For future reference, Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher do not make convincing CIA operatives.  I know, I was as surprised as anyone and had to discover this the hard way.

Stacy, judging from the clues left around the house, was this the meal you would have guessed?
Cooking Sountrack: Bruce Springsteen.
Served with Malbec.