New Year’s Eve open thread

Happy New Year!  We have an open thread today and tomorrow.

Tonight’s the night to celebrate the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.  What’s your celebration style, raucous partying or quiet evening at home?  Or something in between?

Do you have any resolutions for 2019?  And what were your biggest accomplishments of 2018?

Since one of my latest life priorities seems to be downsizing and organizing my life, I can relate to this tweet.  (Sometimes little things can give great satisfaction.)

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  A Retirement PhD   (Rhett)
Thursday  —  The value of a ‘super-selective’ college   (Fred)
Friday  —  What’s your spirit holiday?   (S&M)
Sunday —  Politics open thread


114 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve open thread

  1. Oh! I can so relate to the declutter mantra! Started yesterday in the basement by culling redundant AAA maps from one bookcase and organizing the empty-&-waiting-to-be-used leftover containers and luggage. Got DW to go thru a box I found that she had labeled “Lingerie – 1993” (yes, you read that right) which contained stuff from pre-kids. She pitched it all. It was a fairly small box, but one less piece of clutter in my house. None of what I felt I had “accomplished” would be noticeable to the uninformed eye, but ya have to start someplace. So maybe 2019 is the year for making some real headway. I’m not sure if the “little bit every week” or the “jump right in with both feet and do something significant” will be more effective.

    My only other resolution would be to eat better and eat less. I mean something like cutting my intake by 100 calories/day from whatever it is now. I’m not going to actually count the calories, more like just be cognizant of doing the right thing (i.e. curb my cravings for crap/drive thru stuff). I can do that. I really can.

  2. party expectation question – we have been invited to a party, at the house of one of my kids friends. The invitation, sent out 3 days ago via text, said “come anytime after 8pm”. Normally a party after 8 would imply no food or just desserts, but New Years Eve is weird. Do you think they will have food to eat or should we eat dinner first? The last time I got invited to a New Years Eve party was about 8 years ago and they specified they would be doing apps and a buffet.

  3. Fred I can totally relate. The basement storage areas are full of both Stuff We Aren’t Using AND at least a dozen empty wine shipment boxes, and so now that all of the holiday guests and events are history, it is time to fill those boxes with that Stuff. The operative question is: If we were moving, would this make the cut? This house has huge storage capacity so there has never been any real incentive to tackle this project but now that all the boys have moved out, there is no time like the present.

    Some of this job can be done with the 15 minute DIN approach; other things will likely take entire afternoons or days.
    I like the 100 calorie idea and will do that too.
    Also need to stop collecting new books on Kindle and start reading them every day instead of waiting for long flights.

  4. My successful resolutions tend to be resolutions to do something. A couple years ago I made one of my best resolutions ever which was to go hiking at least 4 times. In 2018, I followed through on my resolution to plant daffodil bulbs in the Fall. In 2019, I want to give snowshoeing a try. And I’m going to add inviting friends over for dinner in 2019 to my resolution list.

    I am much less successful at resolutions like cutting out sugar, tracking calories, etc. so I’ve pretty much given those up.

  5. Accomplishments of 2018 was finally having my sibling and his family come from overseas for a two week vacation where everything went as planned. My Mom was driving me crazy, she doubted my planning.
    I had a terribly busy year at work with much more on my plate and no one to back me up if I am out. Hopefully this resolves in time for Spring Break.
    I am constantly decluttering so no improments required there. I could lose a few pounds by being more vigilant and just saying “no” to one more bite of food.

  6. I think they will have food, but it might be a lot of apps and snacks, or it might be trays of something. People usually have plenty of good out since guests might be drinking.

    You could ask if you could bring something and the host might give a hint about what they’re serving.

    We usually go to an all families party, but DD has her own plans this year. We’re going to skip the big party, and go to dinner instead. We will be done early enough to drive a bunch of kids to their party at 10.

    I have mixed feelings about missing the big party since several of our friends will be there, but it was too complicated to work out the transportation for DD if we went to the big party without her. I’m not a big New Years person, so I’m ok with missing the party.

    I’m just glad it is warm this year because it was extremely cold a years ago today.

  7. We are having friends over overnight tonight, which will be fun – sushi and then chocolate fondue. :D

    My biggest accomplishment for 2018 was becoming a boss at my firm. :) In 2019 I am hoping to get stronger, which will require actual exercise.

  8. Scarlett or Fred, any recommendations for a durable boys’ belt, ~22″ waist?

    I read both your posts while purging outgrown/worn out stuff to make room for the next round of not-yet-outgrown/not-yet-worn out stuff.

  9. Fred, IMO, the easiest way to cut back on what you eat is to just keep a log of everything you eat. Don’t worry about calories or anything, just write down everything that goes into you mouth.

    We make fondue ol NYE every year. Yesterday DS texted us on his way home and said he’d stop at the store and pick everything up, so we texted him the list. It included a half pound of swiss and a half pound of gruyere. He came home with 2 lbs of gruyere and 1.5 lbs of swiss. He said he couldn’t find the weight on them so he wanted to make sure he got enough. The weights are right on the labels.

  10. DD2 is going to a very cold, outdoor music festival. I expect she will have fun and never do anything like that again. DD1 is going over a to party with high school friends. Part of the festivities include throwing Christmas trees on a bonfire. DS, DH and I are going to a party in an orchard. There will be campfires, but the wind is howling and it’s really cold. I think DS has arranged to spend the night at the party….many families bring their RVs and stay over night, but DH and I are going home, probably early enough to celebrate east coast New Years.

    I’m planning on bring fondue because warm food is a good thing. Indoor parties are also a good thing, but that’s not happening this year.

  11. MM, I would just text back and ask about food, it also gives the host the opportunity to ask you to bring something it they would like guests to contribute.

    I spent nearly the entire day yesterday going through pictures and slides from my mom’s house. For some reason I thought it would take me an hour or so. I was only about 5 hours off timeline. I borrowed a very cool little toy from a friend that scans old slides and creates digital copies. It even had a tray attachment for old 126 and 35mm film.

    The boxes of pictures and slides sat in my dining room for nearly a year, just looking at them was overwhelming! I think a year past a death must be as big of a milestone as people imply because suddenly it was no problem to go through them and I feel as though it’s not only an accomplishment but a big to-do off the mental checklist.

  12. We are always up past midnight, so that isn’t an issue, but we never go out. Not willing to be on the roads. We do most of our drinking on our semiannual vacations.

    I have made a deal with my doctor to defer giving me a prescription while I lose a very manageable x pounds by my April 1 appt, so I am cutting back on portions. It isn’t really a resolution, more like a bet I am not willing to lose. I lost 30 five years ago on this method, and reset my normal, so it is more than time for an additional reset downward.

    At this point I am not seeking lots of new accomplishments. That may why I enjoy retirement so much. Every healthy day is enjoyable in its own way. I got great pleasure out of making a killer gulyas on Friday and eating it on Saturday.

  13. making a killer gulyas

    That’s one of those words that I’ve heard pronounced but never read. Gulyás

  14. Or goulash as Americanized. Requires amazing amounts of (not smoked) paprika. Just didn’t want it confused with the hamburger tomato and elbow macaroni dish we call American Chop Suey in New England and they call goulash in much in the country.

  15. Forgot to add that I pared down print pictures by half and slides by about 90%. Well worth the time, felt good closure-wise.

    Skimmed through posts that I haven’t been able to get to for the past two weeks.

    1. Best gift of Christmas this year was a travel guide. I ignored the advice here to get my teenage niece a digital guide and went with the DK print version. Niece is artistically inclined and I hoped that the photos and beautiful presentation would appeal to her. She loved it. But the best part was when my brother and SIL looked at each other and said “perfect” and told us with a story about how losing connectivity last year in Paris made them almost miss their favorite day of that trip – they swore that they would be better prepared for Italy this year. My brother sat down for a while happy as a clam going over the book.

    2. Finn (I think?) told a cute story about his neighbor who enjoys using dry ice to explain sublimation. I nearly snorted my coffee out my nose. I used to be a Girl Scout leader and my favorite meeting was using dry ice and explaining that sublimation was a great SAT word! We also used the dry ice to chill homemade soda where I had the girls measure out all the sugar it would take to sweeten the soda correctly, loved watching them get grossed out by how much sugar they had to use. The girls were 1st or 2nd grade grade, dear God I was delusional. But it gets better – I also run a summer arts & crafts program and I’ll keep at it and do the same lesson every few years because in my totebaggy heart I want all kids to understand sublimation and how much sugar is really in their soda.

  16. Our tradition for New Year’s Eve the past several years has been to get takeout Indian food. We hardly ever go to restaurants or get take-out, so this is a special treat for us.

    I don’t really do lifestyle-type New Year’s resolutions (I try to course-correct as necessary during the year), but for the past few years I’ve been making lists of projects that I’d like to get done in the new year. Generally I try to hold myself to getting one project done per month. They’re nothing too major — this year, my list has stuff like “Make photo album for 2018” and “get new shade for bathroom window.”

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  17. Congrats, Swim, on dealing with the slides and prints! That’s on my list – I did five boxes of slides after my dad died 5 years ago, but now have the two boxes of photos that were in mom’s apartment along with a giant suitcase full of photos from DS’s family. And we really are moving in the spring, so the scanning/shredding/decluttering has to get real around here. I know Fred’s DW is glad not to have the box of lingerie from pre-children days taunting her any more. It is really freeing to get rid of stuff like that.

  18. I did NYE big when I was younger….Hogmanay in Edinburgh, London in 2000, New Orleans, etc. No desire anymore to be out with all the drunks on the road and in the cold. One of my old neighbors had a 1/1 birthday, and I really liked being able to walk to/from the party. Last few years I was sick, so just checked out with Nyquil. My resolutions are to get healthier….I may steal the 100 calories reduction (seems realistically doable) and am also planning to do the equivalent of 30 minutes a day in exercise every week (likely in 1-1.5 hour chunks). Eating healthier will probably mean more meal planning and bringing my lunch.

  19. All 4 of us are headed to an oyster roast tonight, and should be home in time to be in PJs by 10pm – a perfect evening in my mind.

    I spent the weekend reviewing the year in my mind, and really thinking about what went well and what could have been better. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I have decided on a “more” and “less/fewer” list.

    Highlights from my list:
    More dinner parties
    More time at the beach house
    More diversified exercise (i.e., not just running)
    More investing (we hit all of our retirement savings/debt repayment goals for 2018, am hoping to up the retirement savings a bit this year while holding the debt repayment schedule steady)

    Less $$ on plane tickets (I did not work very hard to find good deals or maximize mileage use this past year, and I can do better)
    Less work (I worked more than I wanted to last year, time to turn down projects. Not sure how this is consistent with the more investing piece above but I’m comfortable being a woman of contradictions)

    Happy New Year to you all!

  20. Lark, I like your more/less idea for goals. But I’m more of a numbers person when it comes to goals. Actually, I’m a bit obsessed with numbers when measuring accomplishments but it works for me.

    I never heard of gulyas but I do know goulash.

    MM – While I might assume substantial snacks at the party you described, I have occasionally been to parties where I was shocked how little food was offered. So clarifying as recommended does seem like a good idea.

    The other day we talked about only having one big meal a day, and now I see Deepak Chopra brings it up in his How I Spend My Sunday’s article. It’s probably more common than I realized.

    MEAL SELECTION First we decide if we’re going to have a big lunch or dinner. I only have one big meal a day. …

  21. STILLNESS For the next two hours I sit in bed and meditate. When my wife wakes, she meditates with me. Then I practice body and breath awareness while asking myself, “How can I have the most joyful day?”

    I would find it hard to be married to this guy, and I’m sure he’d say the same thing about me.

  22. I’ve never had roasted oysters, but oyster po boys — yum. I already had brunch out and I plan to go out for an early dinner. This holiday eating is hard!

  23. The last few years my resolutions have been financial. Today I reviewed where we are financially and realized that I’m pretty happy with where we are at. We aren’t killing it but I’m no longer stressed out, which is a new feeling. DH has no interest in finances but listened to me for 5 minutes while I explained our situation.

    My resolutions this year are to iron shirts and meal prep over the weekend. If I do those two things, it’ll make the work week go better.

  24. @ Rhett – are you telling me you’ve never had roasted oysters? OMG. So amazing. I know oyster roasts are a coastal thing but surely they are not a Southern thing?

  25. But I’m more of a numbers person when it comes to goals. Actually, I’m a bit obsessed with numbers when measuring accomplishments but it works for me.

    I am too. I’m always telling DH you manage what you measure. But I can (and will) quantify all of those more/less goals, I’m just using the more/less approach as a behavior nudge.

  26. While I like oysters pretty much any way they can be prepared, I always have a twinge of regret when people cook oysters because they are just so danged wonderful raw.

  27. “I would find it hard to be married to this guy, and I’m sure he’d say the same thing about me.”
    I completely agree. I would also hate to be married to Marie Kondo.

  28. We just got back from finally seeing Bohemian Rhapsody. Kind of a pedestrian movie about a band that I actually did see live, but was never wildly excited about. The thing that was strange in the movie was the big fuss they made about Freddie Mercury not realizing he was gay. Give me a break, The guy is going around in little glittery jumpsuits and eye makeup, calling everyone “Dahling”, in the early 70’s. He had to have known what his image said to the world. And we teens all assumed they were gay – after all, we did know, even in the 70’s midwest, what the term Queen meant.

  29. NY Times column suggestions for the next year
    Deepak Chopra meditates with three sons two and under
    Mark Bittman grocery shops in an IGA store on a working class budget and gets food on the table for a family of 6 between soccer practice and scout meeting while working another job full-time

  30. “Mark Bittman grocery shops in an IGA store on a working class budget and gets food on the table for a family of 6 between soccer practice and scout meeting while working another job full-time”

    I think Mark Bittman could do it. He has always published these 3 ingredient recipes. I suspect he would just make omelettes, or pasta with garlic and lemon.
    Alice Waters on the other hand…

  31. Our church has an oyster roast every year that is very popular. I am getting better at opening the roasted oysters. There is also corn, potatoes, sausage. It reminds me of a lobster bake, substitute oysters for lobsters. I like both but prefer lobsters. Both the oyster roasts and lobster bakes are fun.

  32. Louise that also sounds like a crawfish boil -‘ same accompanying ingredients.

    My last few days sound like Fred’s. I have made much more progress than it looks like, because I’m clearing out what is in the cabinets so I can put different stuff in there. I used to purge religiously every June and December, so have a bit of catch up to do.

    I was working so much at the end of last year that I got pretty stressed. For the last few weeks I felt like a flood of tears was lurking just below the surface. It took several days after Christmas to sleep better and recover (and required blowing off the rest of my CPE for the year). I start my new role officially when I go back, and am psyching myself up to hold the line about not getting sucked into the prior job. That is my primary resolution for 2019 – to manage my life better.

    Happy New Year all!!

  33. Happy New Year !!

    And just in time for those tidying up there is a new show on Netflix by Marie Kondo.

  34. WCE, I love those topics. I’m with Mooshi, though; Bittman’s not the worst offender. Now try getting Michael Pollan to do that…

    Bittman’s Chicken Curry in a Hurry is a regular in our house. If you make it with rotisserie chicken it’s super quick.

  35. That new Marie Kondo show on Netflix sounds like my kind of viewing. Plus it may encourage me to try other Netflix shows. I don’t really need to amp up my TV viewing, but to become more focused and smart about it.

    I had a dull New Year’s because I am suffering some itchy reaction that feels like a cross between a cold coming on and hives. I am not in a celebratory mood. I should try Benadryl today.

    And speaking of purging, this makes a lot of sense.

  36. So it turned out there was more food than you could imagine at the party last night. The family is Italian and the grandmother cooked. We had pasta with pesto, lentils, pizza, pigs in blankets, salad, tiramisu, crepes… The nice thing was that lots of my oldest kid’s friends were there, so they partied in the basement and we partied upstairs.

  37. We stayed home and watched Netflix. This week’s accomplishment will be to finish Haunting of Hill House. We have 2 eps left. So good! Very creepy.

    This year I want to simplify. I want to ask myself how to simplify things to make our life better. We have cluttered areas in the house and the boys’ stuff needs attention.

    My friend is starting a book club so I’m hoping that will fill a need to see people. If not I’ll reassess. I’m just sick of asking people to do stuff to have them be non-committal and then ditch me for a better offer. And it’s not the “let’s grab coffee sometime” but “do you want to X at 3 on Sunday?”

    We also did something I’m slightly regretting. We bought new living room furniture. Our current furniture is 14 years old and moved with us 3 times. The store had a 6 yr 0% interest deal with no prepayment penalty. It’s that we needed other things first but we actually found furniture that fit our home and everyone liked. I didn’t want to buy anything for a long time. It’s been an expensive year.

  38. We are still reorganizing my daughter’s room. We had bought new furniture and repainted in the spring, but the furniture sat unassembled for months and most of her belongings sat boxed up. We finally assembled the furniture so now it is time to deal with her belongings. We have been tossing things out this morning – so sad. Lots of little kids books that I read to my oldest when he was a baby (Owl Babies, Snuggle Puppy, Big Dog Little Dog). And then we sorted the stuffed animals. My daughter was practically crying and kept saying goodbye to each one. She kept the most meaningful ones and now I am researching storage options for them.

  39. We just got back from finally seeing Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Speaking of that, Brian May is a memeber of NASA’s New Horizons mission that observed a Kuiper Belt Object yesterday. I addition to having a PhD in astrophysics he was the lead guitarist of Queen.

  40. Sometimes it helps to remind the kids that some other kid will get enjoyment out of their old stuff. That’s what I keep telling myself about my huge Barbie collection that my stupid mother gave away.

  41. Mooshi, I agree that Mark Bittman could do it. I roughly follow his recipe for panfrying fish and already cook with some of his other techniques. I’m not sure I have a favorite cookbook author, but if I did, he would be it. I just wish he WOULD because I have room for improvement as a family cook.

  42. WCE, do you have his How To Cook Everything Fast book, and the Kitchen Matrix one? Those are so useful.

  43. RMS, no, I don’t own any of his books but have gotten them from the library. I will note those titles as ones that might be worth buying.

    His recipes can be bland, and my family is all about bland. Salsa is just starting to become a regular feature on make-your-own-burrito night.

  44. De cluttering off to a great start! I significantly cleaned up two bookcases in our family room. One was almost all kid-related stuff (i.e. books they read/used in HS so a lot of them are regular lit not little kid books). Probably 1/2 got moved to the basement…final decision deferred…and 1/2 got pitched/put in a bag to go to the friends of the local library. The other one was full of my stuff and since the “Kids” one was now empty I was able to move all the actual books, as opposed to files, to that one. Everything looks so much better. Bonus: I won’t feel embarrassed on Friday night when we host cards because so much of our family room looked like crap.

    Unaccomplished during this Dec 21-Jan1 period: 0 for 6 seeing the movies I wanted to see. But I’m taking a 1/2 day vacation tomorrow afternoon and going to see The Mule with DS2&3.

  45. I saw the preview for the The Mule several times, and I’m amazed that Eastwood is still able to star in a movie. I am feeling my age this morning as it was very difficult to wake up so early for work/school. These long breaks are wonderful for catching up on sleep, but it was painful today when the alarm went off. We went out to dinner last night in a neighboring town and the restaurant was empty. It seemed strange that the restaurant was so quiet, but then one of my friends mentioned that their school district is on holiday until Jan 7! I was jealous, but also wondering how they managed to squeeze in an extra 3 days of break when most schools in the state resume today. I am counting the days until the next holiday, and I realized that MLK Day isn’t until Jan 21, and I don’t see any snow days in the forecast.

  46. We watched part 2 of a Bollywood epic yesterday. We had watched part1 on Christmas Day. Between Part1 and Part 2, it was about 5 and a half hours of Bollywood epic. It was pretty good although I thought the second movie was better – no flashbacks so easier to follow, and more singing and dancing.

  47. Here’s a college acceptance comment

    My friends son got into Johns Hopkins. He had a perfect ACT score. Though he had taken high level science and math classes his grades were good but not stellar. His freshman year wasn’t that great. Shy kid, standard extracurriculars. Didn’t apply to any Ivies or SLACs. Interested in the sciences but not sure of engineering or medical/research. Didn’t get into the Biomedical school at JH.

  48. Rhett, my ex-boyfriend just posted a pic of himself and Brian May, because they’re both working on the New Horizons thing.

  49. Rhett, my ex-boyfriend just posted a pic of himself and Brian May, because they’re both working on the New Horizons thing.

    That’s awesome!

  50. Rhett, since you’re online, I’ll post it really quick and then take it down. Hang on.

  51. Oh hell! You can’t remove pictures from tinypic without contacting them! July or Meme, would you please remove that post?

  52. Louise, one kid from our HS got into JH last year. She is a good friend of my kid so I know her pretty well. She is in the premed program. She was in the group of 10 with the highest GPAs (they always announce them) and had really high test scores too. Over Xmas break, I have been hearing that she is totally stressed out at JH and finds it really hard. Whereas the kid who went to Berkeley is not finding it stressful at all….

  53. I’m going to see Queen in concert this summer. It’s a b-day gift to D who has become obsessed with their music. We’ve commented how retro music tastes have changed so much since I was young. My D liking Queen would have been like me liking Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman in my 20s — unimaginable.

    Fred — I applaud you and others for cleaning out stuff. I am reinspired to step up my purging. I cleaned out my son’s bookcases last year, and got rid of about six boxes of books. I let him choose books to keep, at least for now. They included the Harry Potter series and many DK picture encyclopedia books. Even I find it hard to part with those.

    For anyone so inclined, here’s a visual habit tracker for your 2019 resolutions that looks intriguing.

    It’s free:

    Mark Bittman has a new cook book coming out in about a month. Maybe I’ll get it.

  54. Mooshi – thanks, it’s good to know the workload expected by various schools. My friend is in the Northeast so all the schools he applied to except for Georgia Tech were in the Northeast/Mid Atlantic.

  55. Mooshi, is that supposed to be a slam on Berkeley? Doesn’t it seem likely that it’s more about the kid and the course of study than the school? And my friend’s daughter who just started at BU isn’t finding it stressful either. So does your alma mater suck too?

  56. Well great minds think alike! Haven’t checked in for awhile – I’ve been de-cluttering. Went through all the kids clothes, old and new, including those put away for when they grow into them and PURGED. (Actually donated to the textile drop-off at the local farmer’s market.) I was going to take them shopping this break but wow do they not need it.
    I’ve been making recipes inspired by random items that have been in our cabinets and freezer for far too long. Looking at you rice and lasagna noodles.

    Yesterday I started our annual financial review by clearing the piles of paper off our counter and DH’s desk. Today I get down to hard numbers. Dec. 31st I made a bunch of smallish last minute donations to charitable organizations I like – Wikipedia, Khan Academy, a local food bank, the library. The next day I’m like, “wow are we broke. 2018 was expensive. I feel poor.” Happens every year. At least in 2019 we no longer need to pay for a regular sitter for the kids.

    Also, taking down the Christmas decorations and tree today. The kids and I are (still) off for the rest of the week.

  57. I think almost any STEM major at any top school requires considerable more work than the typical highschooler is used to. Add in anxiety about doing well and that could lead to high stress for the student.

  58. Rhode – The family went to the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in Manhattan over the break. I thought of you the whole time. Really good exhibit, the kids are still at the right age. DS1 was disappointed the exhibit was about tropical areas – so no walruses.

  59. She is in the premed program.

    Does she want to go to med school? IIRC Ada has mentioned that if the goal is med school pre med is one of the worst ways to get there. Medical schools care about MCAT and GPA not major.

  60. On that habit tracker, really, a different color crayon for each thing and not one color per day? Using multiple colors each day alone would take up time.

  61. July said “It’s a b-day gift to D who has become obsessed with their music. We’ve commented how retro music tastes have changed so much since I was young.”

    When Bohemian Rhapsody came out, my 11th grader went with a whole bunch of his friends to see it on the very first day. They were so excited. Some of his friends are also Beatles fanatics.

  62. RMS did I even once say the word “suck”? I just thought it was interesting. None of the friends who went off to engineering schools seem to be very stressed either. I think JH’s premed program may simply feel very pressured and competitive to kids who are in it.

    Why so hostile anyway?

  63. WCE – I laughed out loud at your mediation with kids challenge! Tried to do yoga around the kids when they were little – ridiculousness ensued.

  64. but then one of my friends mentioned that their school district is on holiday until Jan 7!

    That’s standard here. And my kids’ last day was the 19th. Officially it was the 21st, but the 20th-21st were just for make-up finals.

    We’ve commented how retro music tastes have changed so much since I was young. My D liking Queen would have been like me liking Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman in my 20s — unimaginable.

    I don’t think you’re that much older than me, and retro for us was 60s classic rock. If that was too recent to be considered retro, then retro would have been 50s doo-wop or Elvis or such, definitely not big band swing.

    My friends son got into Johns Hopkins. He had a perfect ACT score. Though he had taken high level science and math classes his grades were good but not stellar. His freshman year wasn’t that great. Shy kid, standard extracurriculars. Didn’t apply to any Ivies or SLACs. Interested in the sciences but not sure of engineering or medical/research. Didn’t get into the Biomedical school at JH.

    My step-niece graduated from there last year (sister of the kid who had a 1.9 HS GPA and still got a scholarship). She was a good but not great HS student, but was recruited to play field hockey.

  65. July, I don’t know exactly what the Berkeley kid is majoring in, but I know her family really well because we used to go to church together. I am betting it is something difficult and totebaggy because they are just that sort of family. I saw them at the NYE party – I wish I had asked.

  66. I saw Queen twice in the 70s.

    If I misread your intent, Mooshi, I apologize.

  67. Mooshi mentioned Berkeley and my friend did as well in context of where her friends kid went. I wonder if schools in certain areas direct their kids to a certain list of schools based on interest – Science/research apply here, here and here.

  68. Louise, our high school does not generally send kids to Berkeley or JH, although there has been an uptick in kids going to elite schools in the last couple of years. But even now, the top students are more likely to go to places like Fordham or the newly trending Villanova (3 of the top students went there last year!!!), or SUNY/CUNY. One of my son’s closest friends, who was in the top 10 in GPA and also a NMF, did not get into Columbia and ended up at a SLAC in PA (no, not Swarthmore). He was pretty disappointed because the counselors were sure he would get in. The girl who went to Berkeley mainly identified it as a place to go because they have a lot of relatives in the area. Her father is a Harvard alum, and she may well have tried to get in but failed – I don’t know.

  69. Hi guys — finally checking back in after Taos. I happily accomplished absolutely nothing over the holiday — we got back Sunday, did a very brief grocery shop Monday, and otherwise stayed in my PJs watching football most of the past two days. ;-) We did actually go out for New Year’s Eve, which we haven’t done forever — very nice dinner at our favorite restaurant, but of course being that we are old and decrepit, we were home and in PJs by 9 (DH went to sleep, I couldn’t sleep thanks to the change back to Mountain time and stayed up with DS to watch the ball drop and finish my book).

    My resolution for this year is to get my eating straight. Not so much about calories (though that would help), but content. For the first time ever, I had a couple of blood tests that showed high cholesterol, and I don’t want to deal with more meds. I realized that over the past couple of years, I have done a good job of taking better care of myself in a number of ways — I got the depression under control (and am actually going into this year feeling ready to kick ass and take names), and I have built a workout habit that I really love and am sticking to without effort. But the third leg of the “healthy habits” stool is the food. Conveniently, my gym is doing a Nutrition Challenge that starts in @10 days, and I am naturally competitive, so I have signed up (and can now spend the next week eating up all of the bad stuff I got as presents, guilt-free :-)).

    On colleges: the stress/competitiveness/pressure thing is one of the reason I am happy DD isn’t hugely focused on the “top” colleges. She does not respond well to that kind of pressure* — she has learned to manage much better, but when things get overwhelming she still tends to go deer-in-headlights and shut down/avoid. She figured that out on her own and decided not to apply to a number of schools where she thought there would be that kind of environment, and I’m proud of her for knowing herself well enough to do so instead of chasing prestige.

    *”Pressure” as it relates to book-learning type of stuff — if she is under pressure on a paper, she will stare at a blank computer screen for hours as the death spiral kicks in. OTOH, she doesn’t seem to feel the same pressure on hands-on projects; she will stay in her engineering club for hours working on their design and come home bubbling over about what they did. So I don’t have the same concern about her going to a “top” project-based engineering school.

  70. ATM – I so want to see that experience! My kids are probably too young, but would love it anyway. They are both obsessed with water and aquariums. (Which means I should think about taking a day off of work and bringing them to Mystic).

    I also appreciate cleaning out the closets. I’m doing that as well, I have a stack of clothes taller than my kids which are (a) outgrown or (b) wrong season. DS1 will need a few more pieces, but I can wait to see what the birthday fairy brings.

    We managed to purge a few books and reorganize the bookcase to give the boys a board game shelf. They were so excited to see the change.

  71. I had a couple of blood tests that showed high cholesterol, and I don’t want to deal with more meds.

    IIRC cholesterol level has basically nothing to do with what you eat.

    A top nutrition advisory committee says people no longer have to be concerned about eating foods that are high in cholesterol. The committee’s report, which was released today, will help shape the next version of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, set to be released later this year.

    High levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease, are still a health concern. What’s changed is that many researchers and physicians now believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may not affect the cholesterol that is in your blood.

  72. Did everyone see there is a Marie Kondo show on Netflix now? I watched about half of the first episode and thought wow, I hate the people on it, but she is so cute and little! I also appreciated the folding tutorial. :)

  73. Rhode – kinda funny to read the start of your 840 post. Throwback to before the Great Name Change we had a couple of years ago!

    Happy New Year all!

  74. Oh WCE – how I would love to see a Mark Bittman or Michael Pollan column about shopping at the IGA on a working class budget and gets food on the table for a family of 6 between soccer practice and scout meeting while working full-time. And I’d add in dinner that includes protein (so pasta with lemon and garlic wouldn’t cut it) that picky kids would eat.

    I have never eaten oysters. I like clams and mussels. But raw oysters have never seemed appealing. I don’t like sushi either.

    Today is my first day back at work after taking time off. I am hoping to spend the day cleaning my office. No meetings this week – woohoo!

  75. @Rhett: I am not worried about eating foods that have cholesterol in them — I am a believer in the sugar/starch/insulin relationship. And in any event, it will do me good to eat more vegetables, less cheese/butter/deli meat, and fewer refined carbs.

  76. I hate the people on it,

    Which couple? There was the Japanese/America couple who were basically hoarders. And they inherited their family home +20 years ago and it looks like NOTHING has been done to it since it was built in the 70s? The threadbare puke green carpet? Seriously?

    I was yelling at the TV – JUST THROW YOUR SHIT AWAY!

    Oh and the wife who was questioning the moving box from 7 years ago that had never been opened? You’re really questioning throwing it away? Don’t even look in the box. Just toss it.

  77. Fred – good catch! Obviously, I hadn’t had any caffeine! LOL!

    Rhett – I can easily talk the talk, but man, walking the walk fo tossing stuff away is HARD. And I’m not even that sentimental! For people who are basically hoarders (looking at you, mom), it’s all about “well I feel XYZ with this” or “your great-grandfather built this piece with his bare hands” (as I’m holding chunks of dried out fire starters in my hands which fell out of a dresser).

    On that note, I did tell my mom that in order for our new living room furniture to work, and create space to move a chair when we have an Xmas tree, we’d have to clean the basement. So, I told her that in order to put up a new shelving unit, I’d need space. Not just space to put it, but space to assemble as well which means actually cleaning a swath of area. I’ll try to punch that home this weekend.

  78. Is anyone still around on this thread? I have a cooking for carnivores question.

    I want to split a pan of lasagna for my son and me. My side will be spinach lasagna, following a recipe where the spinach is mixed with ricotta, and some herbs are added to mozzarella for the cheese layer. The tomato sauce layer is pretty straightforward fresh tomato sauce. His side will be meat, and he doesn’t want spinach. Will it work to brown some beef and mix it in with the tomato sauce, or to make sauce bologonese, putting some in the lasagna and saving some for spaghetti another night? Do I need to add some other kind of cheese to the mozzarella layer, maybe grated Parmesan?

    Besides being picky, he has crazy accurate taste buds–likes some baked things if I sub Greek yogurt in for butter, but can tell immediately if there is butter in them, recently recognized that the sauce I put on his chicken is one his grandma put on salmon in a dish she quit making 2 years ago–he liked it, but the memory at first bite blew me away. I want to get the lasagna right the first time around.

  79. @ SM – I would just buy 2 small disposable trays at the grocery store and make 2 small separate lasagnas.

  80. SSM, try scallops! They are so fast and easy to cook, are basically pure protein, and can be tossed in with all kinds of things.

    Rhett, that reminds me of how my dad is really pleased about the people who now own the house he grew up in. His grandparents purchased it in the 30s. After his mother died when he was a baby, my dad and his dad and sister moved in. The sister stayed in the house, raising 4 children with her husband and taking care of her aging father there. After he died in the 70s, nothing was done to the house, other than a couple things like putting down some really crappy carpet in one room. The buyers were ecstatic to see the old heating grates, doorknobs, wood floors and built in pine cabinetry “preserved” in this way, and tell me they can see immediately which things were done by my uncle and what hasn’t been touched since grandpa died. They post their project online, and it is gratifying to him to see woodwork and floors uncovered and waxed, brass polished, and so forth.

  81. Rhett, I’m not planning to–the straight vegetarian version of tomato sauce is really, really simple; brown some onions, add tomatoes and toss in basil at the end, basically. But if the meat sauce is a whole lot more complicated than adding meat with the onions, I might buy a jar.

  82. @SM: Yes, you can either brown beef (with onions and garlic and salt and pepper) and mix with tomato sauce, or make bolognese (in fact, the version of lasagna I learned is basically made with bolognese). Or you can cook up some Italian sausage and use that for the meat. You can add ricotta or not to his side, but I would definitely add parmesan — heck, I’d add it to your side, too, because its delicious!

    The simplest thing is probably to make basically the same thing for both sides, just adding spinach to your ricotta and meat to his tomato sauce.

  83. Lark, looking at how these two dishes have slowly diverged, your plan makes sense. At first I thought I’d just add meat to the tomato sauce, but then when I looked at my recipe more closely, I saw it needs to be more complicated than that. I’d like to have as much similarity between the layers as possible, for example adding meat to the sauce and parmesan to the mozzarella, rather than doing two completely separate recipes. But it has to work.

  84. You’re fine just browning the ground beef and then dumping the tomato sauce in. Or you could just brown it and spoon it when you layer the lasagna.

  85. LfB, heading off now to look up bolognese–but if it’s complicated, I might take your comment as “permission” to go the lazy route of just adding the browned meat (with the extras you mentioned) to the tomato sauce. Good point about how yummy parmesan is–I was surprised that it isn’t in the recipe!

  86. “just brown it and spoon it when you layer the lasagna.”
    Super easy! Do you other lasagna chefs concur, or would something be missing if it isn’t cooked with the sauce? I am amazingly clueless about this whole meat thing. I have gotten to be pretty decent, I think at chicken, but beef is new to me. I know and love many ways to prepare eggplant–too bad he can’t stand it in any of them!

  87. btw, thanks to using it to spell “bolognese”, I now have the Oscar Meyer b-o-l-o-g-n-a! song stuck in my head.

  88. @SM: the secret to bolognese: start with some pancetta or bacon — everything’s better with bacon. ;-) It also does not have tomatoes in it (most recipes use a little tomato paste) and is finished off with cream or milk. It’s usually render the pancetta, brown the meat, stir in the tomato paste until slightly browned, chop and add onion/carrot/celery (not much — like one carrot, one celery stalk), cook until softened, add a little wine, cook off, add some stock, cook for a while, add cream/milk, cook a bit, serve — the key is really to cook it a little like risotto, where you cook each bit slowly before adding the rest.

    In your case, though, a real bolognese is very very different from the tomato sauce you’re making, so I’d just add ground beef to that instead of making a whole new sauce just for him.

  89. I use italian sausage instead of ground beef in lasagna. I do a layer of noodles, a layer of sauce (from a jar), ricotta, ground sausage, and mozzarella, then go to the next layer and repeat.

  90. SM, I make lasagna using the recipe on the Barilla lasagna box. Everyone raves about it. Also (and this is an Ina Garten tip) don’t boil the noodles, just place them in a lasagna-like tray and cover with hot water from the tap. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. The noodles will soften but not to the point where they break. They’ll be cool enough to handle without burning your fingers.

  91. Rhett – it was the first episode (and their house wasn’t bad!), couple with 2 kids, where they were constantly passive-aggressively sniping at each other. Also her ombre hair! :-P

  92. Ginger, hm, I’ll try that. I had just been thinking about how to juggle the different burners. Not knowing which browns more quickly, I’m going to start the onions in one pan and beef in another. One burner is out of commission because of um, a plastic cutting board that was inadvertently melted. I pick away at it every time at the stove, but that burner is not ready to be used yet.

    I’d forgotten that I got some parmesan from the market this weekend. There are plenty of faux-fancy things at farmers’ markets, but parmesan is one thing where I think getting quality really matters.

    Denver and Laura, when I got the ground beef at the grocery, I also asked the butcher for some Italian sausage for lasagna. He’d never heard of such a thing, seemed to think I was crazy. There were several types, and I am not interested in tasting (apparently it should be a “sweet” sausage), so I skipped it. Boy doesn’t like plain sausage or anything spicy (we are a complete inversion of plain white bread-loving white girl and spice-loving black guy), so maybe it’s just as well.

    Laura, I may make that for him another day (maybe when I do eggplant rolltini, which I assume is very far from “authentic” Italian, but I like them), thanks! But you’re right, it’s quite different from what I’m already doing, which has gotten complicated enough already: a layer of noodles, then tomato sauce, split into with & without beef, then cheese, with & without spinach.

  93. I make lasagna much like Denver Dad. I use a 28 oz jar of sauce with 9 lasagna noodles (straight out of the box) for each dish and bake for 60 min covered at 350. I mix my ricotta (16 oz) with some parmesan, two eggs and some basil/oregano then top with mozzarella at the end and melt for 5 min. There’s also a layer of mild Italian sausage (1 lb) cooked with a white onion and drained for the meat layer. (1 lb sausage for both lasagnas) I always make two lasagnas in 9×9 glass dishes and put the dish that has a plastic lid in the freezer for a busy night.

  94. @SM: no need for two pans, unless you are short for time. I tend to brown the beef first and then add chopped onions, because the beef provides the necessary oil to brown the onions (I blot up most of it first). Also, the beef needs a higher temperature to brown than the onions do to soften up, and all the water in the onion tends to lower the overall temperature of what’s in the pan (until the water evaporates), so basically if you cook the beef first and then add the onions, you don’t have to worry about burning the beef (at least unless/until the onions are also ready to burn). OTOH, if you cook them in separate pans and then just mix them in with the sauce, you lose out on all the delicious bits that stick to the bottom of the pan, which is really the best part and where a bunch of the flavor comes from.

    Pro tip: if your tomato sauce recipe does not call for any kind of alcohol, add a little wine anyway. Some of the flavor components in tomatoes are soluble only in alcohol, so if you don’t add any, you won’t get the whole flavor. And then you can add part of the tomato sauce to the ground beef to deglaze the pan, and it will all be yummy deliciousness.

  95. LfB, I find that supermarket hamburger exudes so much water that onions just kind of stew in it. So I brown the onions, THEN add the burger. I think SM’s plan to do onions in one pan and burger in another will work just fine.

  96. @Mooshi — that’s right, but that’s also why you cook the hamburger first until it’s brown — once the water leaves, the hamburger will brown, and then you can add the onions. You can do it the other way around, but then you won’t ever get the hamburger brown before the onions are on the point of burning.

    I also don’t like having to clean two pans when one will do. ;-)

  97. DW found a tasty and interesting “one pot lasagna” that she makes in the cast iron dutch oven. It uses a certain type of jarred sauce, but you add fresh basil and red wine. There’s also bacon in addition to the ground beef. And some chopped carrots. The one-pot trick comes in because, after making the sauce on the stove, you break up a bunch of no-boil lasagna noodles as if you were putting tortilla chips in soup, then put the whole thing in the oven. Fresh mozzarella cheese goes on top for the last few minutes.

  98. We decided that we likes the Rao’s jar sauce as much as we like our own marinara or tomato sauce. It is obviously a lot less work, and I was able to easily stock up when it was on sale in December. It makes like easier for me, and I sometimes add some tomato paste if I need it a little thicker in certain dishes. We just made a tray of lasagna for the holidays using their sauce and it saved a lot of time since we really could just dump in the sauce, barilla noodles. paste, etc.

  99. I love how much input was given for lasagna. That could have been a topic on its own. I haven’t made lasagna in years, but now I’m craving it. I think I’ll make it this weekend.

  100. My lasagne is a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. fresh noodle (no precooking required), tomato sauce with meat mixed in (sausage or ground beef, noodle, ricotta mixed with parmesan, nutmeg, salt, white pepper and parsley – no eggs), repeat layers once or twice, and tomato sauce and a heavy layer of mozzarella only on the very top. Bake for a long hour, let it sit at least a half hour, and serve.

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