Saturday, December 16, 2006

I am pretty sure no one is really reading this anymore, but that's cool. I haven't been the Most Consistent Blogging Mama in the Universe. Ever since school started, it has been like this whirlwind. The days are busy and short. And well, I've been experiencing some good old fashion depression lately. I can't imagine why, its sunnier than hell outside. The weather is perfect. The town is perfect. School and kids and everything else is pretty much perfect. So what is there to be depressed about...hmm...maybe its just the Mama Jens Darkside, which you wouldn't notice just looking at me.

Speaking of a darkside, I recently discovered that Southern Village (a Truman Show-esque neighborhood where the colorful houses stand in perfect rows on teeny tiny lots and there is a "downtown" and everyone looks groomed and cleaned and happy) has got some pretty rockin' stuff going on in there afterall. You see, when I go to this neighborhood (which has an awesome cinema and pediatrician), my main impulse is to take off all my clothes and run down the streets shouting "FUCKER!" Since I know how readily the Mama Jens Darkside wants to jump out of my skin in that neighborhood, I figure there must be some pretty weird people in there, or a collective darkside consciousness, or something of that nature. Well, anyways, I find out lately that there is a swingers club in that place! Can you imagine?!! And they have sex toy parties in there and everything. I am not into swinging, nor am I into sex toy parties, but you gotta hand it to those people.

It also turns out that there are a few other Chapel Hill gems worth noting:

Bonne Soiree: A beautiful, tiny, cozy French restaurant tucked away off Franklin St. A husband and wife team opened up over the summer, and judging by the difficulty in getting a reservation, it is doing fabulously. The place is like a salon, as in French living room, with baby blues and luxurious drapes, and cozy, lovely tea drinking feelings of love and money well spent. I think there are something like 9 tables in there, but the way they are arranged, it feels like you are the only ones. You get that feeling too when the owner comes over and talks to you about the meal and the wine choice you made and makes recommendations for other wines and even lets you sample some with dessert. The hand written menu and wine pairing service were two other nice touches. The food was incredible. The final bill was incredible too, but not too bad considering the time spent there, the pure enjoyment of the evening, and the beautiful, imaginative, and tasty food.

Lantern and Lantern Bar: I mentioned this in a previous blog entry, but it is worth repeating. Go to Lantern. It is awesome and the bar behind it is awesome. The food and combinations of ingredients will totally amaze you. The cocktails in the bar are incredible too.

Crooks Corner: Now we've tried this restaurant a couple of times. I haven't been amazingly impressed with the food, but probably because I am not a huge fan of southern cooking in general (think deep fried pickles and shrimp & grits). But what is very sweet here is simply the local impression this place leaves. You get the feeling that this is really a Chapel Hill establishment like no other and that the owner is very connected to this place and surrounding areas in terms of food and local ingredients. I love the outdoor heated porch too.

Whole Foods: I am sure I have mentioned this before and it isn't like it is some secret, but Whole Foods rocks completely. I go there nearly everyday (I haven't abandoned my daily shopping ritual) and love to buy fresh fish and meat there. The people are so friendly and helpful and knowledgeable too. You ask about fish, they tell you everything about the damn fish, up to what it ate yesterday. You ask about wine, they give you the best, most accurate recommendations you could get, you ask about cheese, they open the package right there and give you a hefty chunk (and eat one with you!) I could kiss them all. And the added bonus of all the hotties working there that I get to check out while I am choosing herbs and my children are helping themselves to the samples is not bad either.

So those are a few of the gems we have discovered. And now for a check of the weather...

The winter is short and bright. It is sunny with long shadows all day long. Its a little chilly in the morning - enough for a sweater and light coat, and then by noon it is getting warm, in the 60's, and the jackets and sweaters come off. The sunlight in the early morning (8 or so) and in late afternoon (4ish) is that kind of golden light that you want for your movies, or in my case, for my photos.

So, being familiar now with how light streams around every corner and through every tree and in every window in my house, I like to do my photos here and have my models come here. So my neighbors have been getting quite a show if they are looking out their windows when the sun becomes glittery.

Last night we went to the community center playground in sandals and t-shirts. It was dark by 5 pm which was are only indication of winter. The children swing swang swung and we had a blast.

Speaking of children, they are growing quickly. The little one is starting to talk now, and keeps us laughing most of the day. Yesterday, she insisted on putting on her shirt by herself. "No, I do that BY MY SAUWS!" After a few comical, stretchy twists she got her head and both arms in. The shirt was still bunched up around her chest, and she peered down at the enormous belly still sticking out and said, "Belly in that shirt!" with this look of "How in the world am I gonna get that belly in my shirt?!" Cuteness. And the older one, she's amazing. First grade rocks. She is reading and growing and becoming more aware of herself. She uses words like "vague" and we talk about how she isn't supposed to tell the others that Santa Claus is not real.

And now it is almost Christmas and I know that the commercial feeding frenzy is in high gear and I have been trying to avoid that. Luckily we have a sweet little mall down the road, filled with privately owned businesses (not the typical mall with chain stores) and so I have been working on my own kind of frenzy there.

And I do have to admit that I am impressed by the charity efforts I have seen here during this holiday time. Everywhere you turn, there is an opportunity to support some group or fund or buy items for people in the local nursing home or childrens' home. There is one place that even offers an alternative Christmas market where you can buy gifts of donations to various causes in other peoples' names as their present.

And so after Christmas we will go skiing in Maggie Valley, which is in western North Carolina. I am a little spoiled by the Alps now, so this could be hard, but I am excited about the log cabin in back ass North Carolina thing and just the anticipation of a Mama Jens heavenly skiing experience. Skiing is awesome. Even though it is a lot of work to get all the gear and get ready and get up to the top in your big ass fluffy suit, it is such an awesome, freeing feeling to be on the mountain and skiing like a mad woman. I like.

So I wish you a beautiful holiday season. Big kisses and warm thoughts of gingerbread houses and feelings of gratefulness.

Love, Mama Jens