The best thing about Christmas 2010 was that Tony went down to South Jersey with me; he's my Sweetie Piz.* I also enjoyed making Raspberry "Pop Tarts," which I wrote about over at Queer New York, for my annual breakfast treat and Winter Squash and Apple Soup, which I wrote about in my previous Hawleyblog post, for my annual soup.
I had mentioned a while ago in passing that I planned to buy myself a sewing machine eventually, so I could make myself some shirts using fabric with cool prints, and Tony remembered that. He listens! He really listens! :-)
On the drive down to my Granny's house in South Jersey, we passed a sign for the Gloucester County 4-H organization, which led to discussions of a classic 4-H–related line from The Simpsons and my sister's participation in a 4-H club that mostly did sewing-related projects, though it was called the This and That Variety Club because it wasn't focused on a single hobby, like training seeing-eye dogs or raising swine. (I remember that she made slippers out of washcloths and that the scatter-brained club leader lost one of the projects the girls were working on.) I told Tony that I'd had no interest in sewing at the time (and I didn't really enjoy it in home-ec class in elementary school either) but I liked the idea of learning to sew now. I imagine Tony thought "Yes!" and did an internal fist pump when I said that, because I'd reinforced that his gift was going to be just what I wanted.
Tony left the sewing machine here in the city for me to open when we got back, but he told Jean what he'd gotten me. He said Consumer Reports gave its highest rating for a three-quarter-size sewing machine to a Hello Kitty–themed machine. He considered getting me that one but figured, correctly, that I'd prefer the second-highest-rated one, from Kenmore, in baby blue.
This Christmas was a big year for books, especially cookbooks: In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley; Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman, a Cleveland-born-and-bred food writer I learned about from Joyce; The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, which was a surprise gift from my sister (I'd requested the others in an e-mailed list of suggested Christmas gifts that Tracey requested from me and that she then shared with Dad, who also now does Granny's shopping); Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of Red Hook, Brooklyn's Baked bakery; and Mix Shake Stir, a book of cocktail and bar snack recipes from Danny Meyer's New York restaurants. I also got Extraordinary Chickens, a photo book of unusual-looking fowl, and, from Tony, another wonderful surprise gift, The Pop-Up Book by Paul Jackson, which should prepare me for making my own pop-up Christmas cards next holiday season. This year, as usual, I sent pop-up cards designed by Robert Sabuda for the MoMA store. I gave the Gerbers another in a string of Robert Sabuda pop-up decorations; this year it was a hanging Christmas ball. And I got Granny a coffee table book of beautiful pop-up flower gardens and arrangements that I don't see on the MoMA store website.** My favorite one was a pop-up lily pond. I can't recall the designer or designers' name(s).
Tony is very difficult to buy for because, like my buddy Bob, he's a minimalist when it comes to possessions and just doesn't like having things around. I'd discussed with Tony whether he'd like me to get him a painting by Andrew Werth, the artist whose work had intrigued him when we went on our weekend getaway to Lambertville. (The walls of Tony's apartment are usually completely bare. Since early December, he's had a beautiful wreath hung in his living room that a good friend sent him, but that will be gone after the new year.) Tony said he appreciated the thought, but he didn't really want me to buy him a painting. He requested a spice grinder, which I mentioned in the QNY post about the "Pop-Tarts," and I got him one made by Cuisinart at Williams-Sonoma. And I bought him a bottle of late-harvest riesling wine because he's a big fan of dessert wines. (And that's what I suggested my family get him for Christmas: eiswein or some other sweet wine. Or a dry pinot noir.) And I'm taking him—along with Jen, Abbe, and Zane—to see Mummenschanz on Sunday.
While hanging out with Granny and Dad early Christmas afternoon, I came up with some Rudy-related alternative lyrics to "We Need a Little Christmas": "We need a little Rudy, right this very minute. Hound dog in the window. Basset at the spinnet." That's as far as I got besides the line "Haul out the Hawley." I meant to sing the Rudy part later for the Gerbers, but I forgot.
I didn't take a whole lot of photos this Christmas. Here's a cute one of Granny in the beautiful new coat Dad and Jean got her:
Granny is also hard to buy for. Among some other little gifts, besides the pop-up book, I gave her a sixpack of Blue Moon beer. She seemed to like it (she usually drinks Michelob Ultra, which is what my Dad drinks) but was grossed out at my suggestion that she try drinking it with a slice of orange in the glass.
Tony and I left my Granny's house at 6 Sunday morning, several hours earlier than planned, because of the blizzard that accuweather.com had predicted the night before would be arriving about 7 and dumping snow at the rate of about a half inch an hour. We made it back to the Village before a single flake fell on our rental car (the storm started a little later than expected), and I was quite relieved, though I felt bad about taking off before I got a chance to say goodbye to Dad in person. I'd warned him Christmas night that we might leave before 9, when he'd planned to treat all of us to breakfast at Green Olive.
All in all, it was a nice Christmas visit that got cut a little short by the weather.
*Pronounced like "Pies." His last name is Pizur, which is pronounced "Pie-zer."
**FOOTNOTE UPDATE on Jan. 5: I found my receipt from the MoMA Store. The book is called Paper Blossoms, and the creator of the book is Ray Marshall.