I'm sure my neighbors hate me. Ah well.

Dinner was a success, the Tyler Florence chicken enchilada recipe was really good, and much more authentic than the recipe I was originally going to make. The margaritas were tasty. Sue Beth's sopapilla cheesecake totally rocked. Most of all, the guests were awesome. Nothing like a quick game of Dirty Minds to get everyone acquainated. Although I think pass the plunger probably brought us even closer, lol. That was really fun. More fun to watch really; I seem to have a real talent for PTP so it was over much too quickly... it's much more entertaining to watch people struggle.

The night got even better when Mike sat down at the piano and Cade began to sing. They're both incredibly talented, I can't even put it into words. Seems like Mike can play damn near anything, and Cade has an amazing voice... not only that, but he puts everything he's got into the song. And they're hilarious... I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Didn't realize it, but Dawn can belt out a tune, too! Hell, I even sang a little (in the background).

So today I have to clean up the aftermath. That's the part I hate. Cheese is delicious, but it leaves a huge mess that's not so appealing.

And here I go again... SyFy... House of the Dead 2... not only gory, but rife with zombies - which I already know I can't watch. So far it seems to be okay, and I'm going to be cleaning up as I watch it, so my focus won't be completely on the television. Zombies and demons scare the crap out of me, I usually go out of my way to avoid watching movies if I know either of the two will be a central focus. I know it seems like zombies should be fairly benign... they (usually) move slowly, and don't have any real brain power... but there's something about the idea of a virtually unstoppable eating machine... one of your own kind who has turned against you... the idea of one bite quickly becoming a pandemic, because with zombies it's really a numbers game, one isn't really much of a threat unless it takes you by surprise... but an army of zombies? Baaaaaaaaad news. I dunno, it just really messes with my head. One of my friends has a theory that either zombies or SkyNet are going to take over the world... if it's SkyNet I'll stand and fight with him... if it's zombies... I'll probably just take the cyanide capsule!

See No Evil didn't last long. The guy threw a chain with a hook on the end of it, it got caught in the guy's leg, and he drug him off somewhere... I changed the channel. I didn't want to know what happened next. I think they put the most gruesome deaths at the very beginning of a movie, to get their point across, then the rest of the deaths are fairly quick... until the end, where there's an equally gruesome (but much more dramatic) death scene. That last death scene pretty much makes or breaks the movie... too long and dramatic and it becomes tiresome and unbelievable... too short and people feel gypped. It's a fine line.

I'm tired because I was up until almost 4 am... and I feel like being lazy, but there are things to be done, so I'm gonna get off my butt and go do them. Hope everyone had a great weekend, I'm going to go enjoy what's left of mine!
Phew! The green sauce, chimmicurri, and the salsa for the enchiladas are done. All I have to do tomorrow is a little minor prep, assemble the enchiladas, pop them into the oven, and chill out with a margarita while I wait for my guests to arrive. I'm using a Tyler Florence recipe and it's kinda cool because it uses a rotisserie chicken... I don't have to cook it, it's done. It's kind of unnerving though, because I didn't try it before hand to see if it's any good, and I usually like to know. I'm trying to take a more relaxed approach to life. It's completely against my nature.  =)

There is a spectacular thunderstorm going on outside. I love it. It's been going on for hours now, off and on. I love the sound of the thunder as it rumbles and shakes the house. I love the flashes of lightning that streak across the sky. I love the rain. Thunderstorms are awesome.

I'm worried about the dog though. A cute little doggie greeted me earlier this afternoon. It came right up to me, I gave it some attention and it tried to follow me into the house. I always worry about animals, whether they have a home or not. It didn't look emaciated, and it had a bobbed tail, so I'm guessing it does, but it was shaking. I'm a softie. It's how I ended up with my cats.

I am so torn. I just finished Frostbite, the second in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Meade. It's YA, but it's pretty good. So now I am ready for a new book, and I have three books, by three of my favorite authors, and I don't know which to read first.

First there is Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. She has this amazing ability to introduce several characters that seem completely unrelated, yet by the end of the book, they all come together with some common theme. Her stories are a little sad sometimes though... okay most of the time. Her most famous book is probably, A Circle of Friends, because it eventually became a movie with Minnie Driver and Chris O'Donnell.

Then there's South of Broad by Pat Conroy. He is one of the best storytellers I think I have ever had the pleasure to read. Most of his books incorporate some aspect of his own life, most especially his childhood in South Carolina. He's the reason I want to go there someday and visit. His most famous book is probably, The Prince of Tides which became a movie starring Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand.

Finally, The Law of Nines, by Terry Goodkind. He wrote The Sword of Truth series, which I absolutely love. It was turned into a television series called The Legend of the Seeker, directed by Samuel Raimi, and I happen to like it a lot. Kahlan kicks ass! This book is a little different, but I'm looking forward to it. I think I am going to read it first, but it really is a tossup.

And, speaking of the Seeker, I found a promo for season 2!

The house is clean. At least until the dust settles and the cats shed all over the rugs. It's almost embarassing how accomplished I feel once I've cleaned the house. And how much better it makes me feel. Clutter makes me antsy. I sound obsessive, don't I? I promise you, I'm not. I've pared down in the last few years and that's made it easier for me to give the appearance of order. Cleaning the house pays off quickly because it really doesn't take very long. Just don't look in the closets.

Today I was thinking about the upcoming dinner party. It made me think of my friend Christa, who used to throw the best parties. She made it seem effortless. Whether it was really the case or just the appearance she gave, she didn't seem to sweat the small stuff. The atmosphere was relaxed, the food was delicious and everyone had a good time. Most of the time she'd still be cooking when people arrived, or maybe that was because I always arrived a little early. She helped me grow in more ways than she'll probably ever know. I never had the courage to dance in front of other people until Christa coaxed me onto the dance floor; literally and metaphorically.

I love to cook. I love to have friends over. Unlike Christa, it does make me anxious. I think it's because, until recently, I was too focused on 'the rules.' The way I grew up was... mom invited people over... they showed up... we ate. There was a lot of stress involved in the preparation because everything had to be perfect. I'm trying really hard to break the cycle. To relax. Eventually I'd love to invite people over and still be getting things ready when they show up. Maybe even involve them in the process. I think that cooking with other people is fun. Right now though, I try to have it all done before they arrive, because I don't want them to see me freaking out. I'm getting there. I don't feel the same tension I did about the last dinner party. I'm still a work in progress. Until recently I was so afraid to screw up that I never invited people over at all... not for dinner anyway.

As you can tell, I do a lot of introspection... I like to understand why people act the way they do, even myself... maybe especially myself. Sometimes I worry that it makes me sound pathetic because I admit to all my neuroses, but mostly I think that a lot of people have the same questions, the same hangups, the same doubts, and they appreciate when other people admit to them. I always do, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one.

Yesterday I fell off the wagon. I had two sodas because I thought the carbonation might make me feel better. Being nauseous, I also didn't hop on the treadmill. I did stick to the food part, and being queasy certainly helped me cut calories. Tonight I'm back on the horse, one soda, stuck with the food, and I'm about to hop on the treadmill and burn some calories. Crisis averted. =)
There was a time when you would never see an ass on television. It was about the same time that the word 'ass' would never have been uttered on the radio, except in reference to a donkey - not even when it was bleeped out, because let's be honest, everyone knows the guy is saying ass anyway. Whoever came up with bleeping or blanking out of words should be hit over the head with my giant cartoon hammer... but I admit, it was a brilliant ploy and it has been widely accepted, "hey, let's bleep it out, then we're technically not saying it... but we're still saying it... muahaha..."

These days it seems like the airwaves are blanketed with shows that push the envelope so much that it's tacky. I like the Alfred Hitchcock school of sex and violence. Give people the general idea, and let them take it from there. I guess what I'm saying is that shows shouldn't have to be nasty in order to be marketable. I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show are still two of my favorites, and they didn't rely on shock value to be entertaining. I realize every day how old fashioned I am... I don't want to be June Cleaver or anything, but I would like to feel a little less worldly.

Enough of that soapbox... yesterday when I hit the treadmill I actually ran... a minute here, a minute there, but I ran... and it didn't kill me. I can tell that my stamina is improving, and maybe at some point I'll spend the whole thirty minutes running. It really depends on the incline... I tend to try to stay at 5% or better because the calories burn off more quickly.

For dinner I made a yummy, yummy tomato salad. What makes it so great is that you salt the tomatoes, collect the juice, mix it with garlic and balsamic vinegar and reduce it, so that the flavors are concentrated. Then you cool it down a little, mix it with olive oil to make a vinaigrette and pour it back over the tomatoes and add mozzarella and basil. Mmmm... it makes even substandard grocery store tomatoes taste good; it's really just a slightly more complicated twist on insalata caprese. The reduction would probably be awesome as a salad dressing or even as a glaze for chicken or fish. In any case, another winner from America's Test Kitchen.

Life imitates art.

Just like in the book, woman throws dinner party, but the guests don't necessarily cooperate... Started with six guests and now there are four + me... I think... I haven't heard from two of them and that makes me nervous... My situation is entirely different than Grace's of course, because this was never meant to be a romantic dinner for two... but I am roasting a chicken.

See, when I went to Vegas about 5 years ago, I had this kick ass roast chicken at a "French" restaurant in one of the hotels, and I've been on a quest to duplicate it ever since -- just like the horseradish escalloped potatoes on my recipe page, except that in that case, I succeeded (I hate to fail, it chafes me). The chicken in the oven right now will be tasty, it's juicy and garlicky and... rosemary-y, but it's not going to be the chicken I had oh so many years ago. Geez, I feel like I'm obsessing over chicken... moving on...

It almost makes me sad when I get something that good because I know that (probably) nothing will ever compare to that experience (I'm not just talking about chicken anymore... just so you know...). Still, I guess it gives me something to shoot for, and I've decided that's the meaning of life -- having something to look forward to. I mean, imagine if you had everything you ever wanted -- do you think you would be happy?  I don't.  I'd still want something to look forward to, or else I'd stall out.