Thursday, December 18, 2008

What to get your spinster for Christmas.

There are still a few more shopping days before Christmas. Do you have a spinster to shop for? Don't get her a hug pillow. She won't think it's funny.
But who wouldn't love the Crazy Cat Lady board game? Even if she is a dog person, she will love the retro-style game that reminds me of the games I played as a kid. It's like Candy Land, with kitties. You can also get the accompanying action figure.

While you're shopping at Archie McPhee, check out the affirmation ball. It's a convenient compliment delivery system!

Help her weather the holidays with a sassy flask from Ann Taintor:
The Sex in the City movie is new out on DVD, but everybody knows the series was better. The complete set comes in a fuzzy pink binder. What could be better than that?How about a cook book? There are lots with recipes that make one or two servings. This one has healthy recipes, and I love the big crock-pot version of this one. You could even get her a small-size crock pot to go with it!

Finally, spinsters tend to be independent in nature and like to pick things out for themselves. A gift card or certificate is always a good idea. InSpa has lots of locations, and since they have a no-tip policy, it is easy to a gift card for the exact amount of the service.

An experience gift is also always good. Tickets to a concert or show are great, but so is an IOU for brunch or another fun activity.

Finally, I have really enjoyed giving and getting charitable donations lately. Charities are hurting in the current economy. Heifer International allows you to "give" livestock to a needy community. Pasado's Safe Haven is one of my favorites; you can make a flat donation, or you can sponsor one of the animals at their shelter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Potato-Leek Soup

One of the drawbacks, for me, of being a spinster, is that I really do like to cook, and it's fun to cook for other people. I still like to make a big batch of something, even if I'm not having company, so I can have leftovers in the freezer. It's cheaper and healthier than take-out or packaged convenience foods. Not that I don't have my fair share of dinners consisting of Totino's Pizza Rolls and Rice Crispies. (Not together, of course--that is a two-course meal.)

I'm getting over a cold this weekend, so I decided to make Potato-Leek soup in the crock pot. The recipe is from Not Your Mother's Slow-Cooker Cook Book. The cookbook authors adapted it from Julia Child, which made me feel very accomplished and fancy, even though it was a really easy recipe. It only has four ingredients!
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons butter
4 peeled, diced russet potatoes
4 leeks, chopped, white parts only

Leeks can be hard to get clean, if they have grit between the layers. The trick I use is to slice them, then let them sit in a bowl of cold water for an hour or so. All the grit settles to the bottom, and you can just scoop the leeks out of the top with a slotted spoon.

All the ingredients cook in the crockpot for 4-6 hours. I'm sure it smells really good, but I can't smell much today.

After it's cooked, you can ladle small batches into the blender, or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If you're clutzy like me, I recommend an immersion blender. It saves lots of clean-up and the potential of 2nd degree burns. Believe me. It is one thing to accidentally splatter a milkshake all over yourself, and quite another to do it with hot soup.

I end up with a yummy dinner, and lots of leftovers to freeze for future lunches and dinners.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Spinster's Guide to Office Holiday Parties

The office holiday party is right up there with weddings on the list of events dreaded by spinsters. Especially if you're a spinster studying to be a hermit, like me. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are a few tips to get through it.
  1. Go. Don't worry about roping some poor friend into going with you, unless you know some fabulous extrovert who might actually enjoy himself. You work with these people every day, so there will be plenty of people to talk to, and depending on the political climate of your office, avoiding the party might be a poor career move. But...
  2. Remember that once you've put in a perfunctory appearance, you don't have to stay. Nobody is going to remember what time you left.
  3. Glam up, but be comfortable. Don't make the mistake I almost made, which involved a 1 size too-small pair of Spanx. Getting into them required a martial arts-style workout. (And kick and tug and squat and PULL!) This kind of thing is going to seriously cut down on the fun-factor.
  4. Don't feel like you need to spend a lot of money on a new outfit unless you want to. Nobody is going to remember what you wear, so dress-up a basic black dress with jewelry if you don't already have something suitable. Last year, I bought a dress I thought was cute because it was a good price, it fit, and I thought it was cute, but this year I didn't want to get anything new.
  5. Enjoy a cocktail, but don't get drunk. Nothing is sadder than a drunk single girl alone at a party.
It's not the prom, even if some people in your office treat it like it is. You needn't invest a lot of money, effort, or time to have fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Because Stephen Colbert is already married.

It all started when, after I had taken cookies or some other baked good to work, someone remarked on what a good wife I would make.

My response: "What's in it for me?" And I meant it. I can't really see an upside, for me personally, to being one half of a couple.

It's only recently that I started to truly embrace my identity as a spinster. For one thing, when I was in my twenties, I think I figured I would change my mind when I got older. That biological clock would start to tick, I was sure. A friend once mentioned to me that hers was ticking, and described the longing she felt whenever she would see a baby or small child. I thought about it, and realized that I feel something similar when I see a puppy, but babies I can take or leave.

I just turned 32, which is the same age as Meg Ryan's character in When Harry Met Sally when Sally and Harry have this conversation:
Sally: No, no, no, I drove him away. AND, I'm gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it's not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73.

Unlike Sally, I don't feel the pressure to find a partner so I can have kids. Sure, there are other aspects of my life that I would have liked to be farther along by now, but all in all, I'm doing okay. I'm working on a novel and as of today I'm pretty pleased with the progress I'm making; I don't love my job, but in this economy it's nothing to turn my nose up at; and I finished a marathon last weekend (okay, it was a half marathon, and I walked, but still); and I have wonderful friends and family.

I do wish my career and my ass were both in better shape, and that I wasn't starting to get gray hair and tiny wrinkles under my eyes. But can a husband help me with these things? Not unless he has multiple careers as a life coach, personal trainer, plastic surgeon, and colorist.

The gist, I suppose, is that I am a whole, fulfilled person without a partner. Not that I look down on people who are part of a couple. I don't look at my married/committed friends and think "Ooh, boy. She'd sure be better off single." However, I'm quite certain it's not the right lifestyle choice for me.

Who knows? I might change my mind someday. But since I am definitely not budging about never ever being a mommy (that is a post for another day), there's no rush, is there?