13 in ’13

First came 43 by 43, and now 13 in ’13. That is, I’ve set 13 goals that I intend to pursue in the year 2013. A few of these goals are a continuation of my 43 by 43 efforts. But there are some new ones already penetrating my psyche. And because I can think of no better way to hold myself accountable, I share them all with you. I expect badgering, welcome participation and hope for encouragement.

In no particular order:

1. Get spin certified. You know I love my Biker Barre. I’m not expecting to attain a level of awesomeness that will allow me to teach there. (That might have to be a 2014 goal.)  But every time I hear a song I  like, I imagine what I’d do along to it on a bike. In that regard, spinning is as close of a sport to cheerleading as I’ve managed to get in my adult life. Just harder and sweatier.

2. Learn a new wine region. I know my California wines, but it’s time to branch out. And  I know nothing about Italian wines. Bring on the Barolo, Amarone and Brunello.

3.  Host (at least) quarterly dinner parties. I love to cook, but I don’t do it enough for my friends. Just understand if you’re invited to a Chelsea feast, I’m going to cook Italian so I can practice the skills attained in the advanced pasta making class I’m taking from Hill’s Kitchen. And I’m going to multitask by serving Italian wine (see goal #2).

4. Save money for college. Or get the kids discovered. But I don’t feel like I’d make a good stage mom, so saving is probably easier (though not on my shoe budget).

5.& 6. Travel. I promised the kids I’d take them to Hawaii. And I want to go to Italy. To drink obscure Italian wines (see goal #2) of course. It’s listed here as two goals because it’s two trips.

7. Make iconic fashion purchase. I dream of Chanel. And Cartier. But I may have to set my sights lower. I’m sure I will agonize in this very forum over any potential purchase.

8. Open my heart to relationship opportunity. I’m a dating disaster. I tried Match for 24 hours before canceling the membership. I went on zero dates after six months of e-harmony. Set ups are few and far between. After my divorce, dating wasn’t a priority. However, I’m now at a point where I’d like to share my crazy, drama-prone life with another (hopefully calmer and less dramatic) person.

9. Sign new clients. I have this hot new job. It’s time to exceed my potential with some great new clients whom I can help navigate the tricky world that is the U.S. Congress.

10. Publish the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. This is the only goal that has a very specific deadline. Which would be by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April. If you read my first story, you know why this date is significant.

11. Refinance my house. It’s time. That is all.

12. Finish home improvement projects. That means have a deck built, fix up the yard and install window boxes. Maybe build a wine cellar. Some things the Warriors can help me do. Some I will have to contract to have done. And maybe I can bribe my talented brother to come down to Maine for a week of intense help.

13. Live life to the fullest. I know this particular goal will be difficult to measure. But I will know it when I’m feeling it, and those who are close to me will call me on it when I’m not.

There you have it. 13 goals. 11 months left to achieve them. Wish me success.

43 by 43, tiny update

This week, the boys tried (and liked) dragon fruit.

It felt like I had achieved more, but I just counted and can officially cross off ten items from my 43 by 43 list. Now, I keep reminding myself that there are items on the list that are meant to become new practices, such as introduce the boys to something new each week (food, idea, place, etc.) so while I have been maintaining, I can never really cross these goals off.

I can thank Weekend Warriors for knocking off four items: paint the living room, install surround sound, convert the playroom into a functional room, and hang curtains in the new functional room. In addition, I have started composting, went to the dermatologist to have my moles checked, did a juice cleanse, attended a DC fashion event (FNO) and a few goals that are a little too personal to share on the interwebs.

Where do I need to improve? Posting to the blog at least three times a week, going to the dentist, and contributing to the boys’ college fund. This morning I spoke to Colin in a mean voice before calming down and trying to reason with him in a compassionate voice. With some of my goals, I have taken steps toward fulfillment. For example, I’m signed up to take Knife Skills: Poultry at Hill’s Kitchen so that when I roast my duck, I can also carve the damn bird myself. (By the way, it turns out a lot of you want to be at the dinner table for duck, so I will either have to host three duck-themed dinner parties or cook more than one duck for the evening. I’m humbled that so many of you have confidence in my duck preparation abilities.)

I will continue to tick items off the list and periodically update you, but the bottom line, as evidenced by my mean voice use this morning, is that the challenge continues.

glorious pasta

I have been slightly obsessed of late with the idea of making fresh pasta. I’m sure that those who know I like to cook are surprised to learn that I do not regularly crank out my own fresh noodles. I have to admit to having been slightly scarred by my first attempt, more than 15 years ago, when my roommate Cathy and I decided to make fresh pasta for her boyfriend-now-husband and my boyfriend-of-the-month. Did I jinx our attempt by buying fresh pasta as backup? Or maybe we relied too much on the fact that Cathy (née Licata) is Italian-American. Aren’t Italians born with the ability to effortlessly make pasta? Okay, her pasta maker didn’t come with directions. We could figure it out, right?

Wrong.

Fast forward to the present day. For the better part of six months, I have been watching the pasta making class schedule at Hill’s Kitchen, but every time a class was offered, I either had the kids or a can’t-get-out-of work event. It turns out my friend Adrienne bought spaces in the class for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day (too cute, I know) and after taking the class themselves, they very graciously offered to impart their new found knowledge on me. All I had to do was bring the wine.

I don’t think I have ever been so intimated by a bowl of flour, salt and eggs. I have kneaded many a loaf of bread in my day, and I always make my own pizza dough. But I admit to being intimated by these simple ingredients and what I was expected to produce out of them. Luckily, Adrienne was a patient teacher, so I followed her lead with my own well of flour and eggs. After we let our pasta dough rest (during which time we moved on from sparkling wine to chardonnay) on came the part that I most dreaded: turning the dough into long strands of edible glory.

By the time I had watched Adrienne’s tutorial with the pasta maker and took my first turn running the dough through it, I was hooked. Then I tasted the fruit of our labor (served simply with olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil) and I knew what my next kitchen toy would be.

This morning, on a whim, a craigslist search yielded what I thought I might find: a couple looking to off-load their pasta maker, new in the box, a duplicate wedding gift they never got around to exchanging. It now sits in my kitchen, next to my already dogeared copy of “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” by local food writer Domenica Marchetti, whom I had the pleasure to meet in person at a recent book signing of said book.

As for dinner tonight, Adrienne was kind enough to send me home with extra pasta. My only struggle is what sauce to make.

I’m officially reunited with my kitchen.