Greetings, kind FYA readers, and welcome to the first installment in a new series in which we, the LadyNerds of FYA, teach you, the lady (and Brian) readers of FYA, how to achieve 100% Total LadyNerd Existence!!
But wait! You may be asking, "Erin, what the heck is a LadyNerd?!" Well, first of all, stop asking your computer these things. It does not know and its name is not Erin and even if it were, it would still be unlikely to tell you. But I do know, so I will tell you:
A LadyNerd is the most powerful creature that walks the Earth. Indeed, LadyNerds may be the most powerful creatures in the entire Universe - I'm not sure, but another LadyNerd should find out and tell me. A LadyNerd is everything that is to be admired in life. She has the exalted moral standing and charms of a Lady, and the ability to beat the pants off of anyone at trivia, one of the hallmarks of being a Nerd. She is the best of both worlds, the LadyNerd.
And we're going to show you how to be one.
Being a LadyNerd is a social responsibility not unlike being a doctor or a priest or the physical trainer who ensures that Ryan Reynold's abdominal workout is sufficiently varied and complex. The world relies on LadyNerds to continue to run smoothly and also to ensure that the internet isn't entirely full of fapping fanboys debating the merits of The Next Generation vs Deep Space Nine. You're doing us all a service by becoming LadyNerds. Trust me.
Today, we're going to teach you how to host a Television Viewing Event. A Television Viewing Event is an excellent first step on your path to eventual LadyNerdism, because it combines the basic tenants of Being A Lady (hosting a party) with those of Being A Nerd (tv marathons). Also, it provides an excellent excuse for Thinking In Capital Letters. Thinking In Capital Letters will make your words sound loftier in your head. Try it!
Before we begin, a gentle word of encouragement: Don't worry if you are starting off on one end of the spectrum. Too much of a Lady? Too much of a Nerd? Don't worry. You'll meet in the middle eventually. It's a continual learning process, though. The other day at work I accidentally dropped an olive down my shirt, and stuck my whole hand into my bra to fish it out, in full view of anyone in my office who felt like passing by. This was a very Nerd thing to do. But! I didn't eat the olive afterward, which just goes to show that my Lady skills are growing stronger every day!
Step One: Find The Perfect Television Program To Showcase
The first step in this lesson may be the hardest for a Nerd, because it requires that you restrain yourself from choosing Battlestar Galactica. I know. I know. But just this once, branch out into something that doesn't make you think too much. But! You still want to maintain your Nerd cred, even while watching somethingthat doesn't promote arguments over what does and does not constitute retconning. In times like this, the easiest choice is to follow Queen Victoria's advice: lie back and think of England.
I chose to showcase the first half of Series Two of ITV's Downton Abbey:
I chose Downton Abbey for several reasons. First and foremost, I can think of few shows that so accurately capture the LadyNerd je ne sais quois as Downton Abbey. It has sweeping cinematography and gorgeous costumes and historical accuracy and Austen-style social commentary about the rich and the poor and, most importantly, Cousin Matthew. Second, I knew that even if I couldn't tempt my friends to my house with the promise of an entertaining evening spent watching my fat cat glare at them, I could probably entice them with the idea of (totally legally obtained; honest, guv) episodes of a show that has yet to air in America. A LadyNerd is always thinking!
Schrodinger is affronted that someone wouldn't want to come solely to visit him.
Step Two: Send Invitations To Your Guests
A Lady always invites her guests to events with hand-addressed invitations. It is classy and it shows your guests that you truly appreciate that they are all busy people and that you are grateful they can share some of their time with you. A Nerd never sends invitations to her guests, because oh my god, what is the point; that is what email and text messages are for. But a Nerd does appreciate that creating and sending invitations does require a visit to the local craft store. At the craft store, there are also models of F16s that you can buy and put together. So, you know.
Unfortunately, being more Nerd than Lady, I forgot to get a picture of the outside of my invitations. They had each person's name hand-stamped. This is not because I am crafty, but rather because I have terrible handwriting, soif I want something to look nice, I have to use a stamp.
Step Three: PlanThe Menu
A Lady will always ensure that her parties feature a delightful menu full of surprising and discerning treats. A Nerd listens to a lot of NPR.
From the inside of the invitations, natch. A LadyNerd always ensures that guests' dietary needs are dealt with.
Being a LadyNerd, I prepared for my friends a stuffed pumpkin, the recipe for which appeared on NPR sometime last year, in the era of time I refer to as BPG: Before Pumpkin Goodness. Before Pumpkin Goodness was a dark time in my life. My soul and tummy were saved after the Stuffed Pumpkin made its way into my kitchen, y'all. I have seen the light and the light is delicious.
(In the spirit of fostering your own LadyNerd lifestyle, and because this dish can only be made for a few months during the year so you guys need to get on it [and then invite me over], I'm going to break down the Stuffed Pumpkin dish for all of you at the end of this post.)
The makings for apple cheddar scones.
Perhaps the greatest secret of being a Lady is to make complicated dishes look easy and easy dishes look complicated. This menu is the perfect way to easy your way into the Lady portion of LadyNerdism, because while it looks like it takes a while, everything is super easy to make.
Menu for Downton Abbey TV Party:
• Mixed Greens with fresh blackberries, sugared walnuts and feta cheese, topped with homemade Blackberry Vinaigrette
• Stuffed Pumpkin
• Cranachan (a Scottish dessert which involves oats, raspberries, double cream and lots of whiskey, which makes it my favorite dessert in all of ever.)
Xranachan, with Irish whiskey, in waterford. It's an Ireland vs Scotland slugfest!
Step Four: Deal With Emergencies With Aplomb
A Lady never allows anyone to catch her looking frazzled. A Nerd approaches every problem with a mind geared towards a rational solution. What better way to combine the powers of Lady and Nerd together than through some type of emergency?
Luckily for me, I didn't even have to plan for my emergency; it presented itself. When guest Meredith placed a birthday present for guest Alexandra on my kitchen counter, the top-heavy gift bag immediately toppled over . . . straight onto a lit jar candle. While I did first betray both my Lady and Nerd upbringings by stuttering out, "Fire . . . F . . Fa-Fire!,"my LadyNerd skills soon sprung into action and fellow LadyNerds Jill and Meredith assisted me in extinguishing the flaming tissue paper quickly and competently. And then we rewrapped the present!
My friend "Actually it's Doctor" Ray was like, "oh, you already put out a fire? Well, then there's no reason to stick around."
All of this excitement turned out to be extremely beneficial, because it prepared us for the fifth and final step of Hosting A Television Viewing Party:
Step Five: Drink a Lot
As a Lady, you may find yourself worried about the happiness of your guests and companions. As a Nerd, you may find yourself trapped in a public situation from which you desperately wish to escape. A LadyNerd, however, always knows that the answer to any societal issue is to just get everyone drunk together and then it will all work out.
A giant batch of pimm's cups.
I hope you've all enjoyed your first lesson on how to be a LadyNerd! We've got many more planned in the upcoming months, so soon you'll know how to manage all of life's situations in true LadyNerd fashion. (Note: Currently not planned is the "How To Have A Baby Like A LadyNerd" lesson. We'll let one of you lovely readers take that one for the team, and let us know how it goes.)
A photo caught in between yelling out loud at Edith.
Have you any examples in your own life where being a LadyNerd made you the winner? Let us know in the comments!
And now . . .
It's the Great Stuffed Pumpkin Recipe, Charlie Brown:
1. Find a pumpkin (a harvest-type pumpkin is better than a jack-o'-lantern type pumpkin. Sugar pie pumpkins are really the best for this, but they're small, so you'll only get two servings). Cut off the top of the pumpkin (save this!) and scoop out the seeds and strings, just like if you were about to carve it. But, uh, don't carve it.
2. Make a stuffing. This can be pretty much anything your heart desires - I've heard of people going super fancy with this. I do not go super fancy, and in fact stick to what Dorie Greenspan originally suggested, because I truly believe the combination of the following ingredients is akin to what ambrosia tasted like on Mt Olympus:
• French bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
• half a shallot, minced
• 2-3 cloves of garlic, rough chopped (I like things to be garlicky; your mileage may vary)
• 2 Granny Smith apples, cored, sliced and chopped into small bites
• Bacon (cook BEFORE putting it in the pumpkin, then crumble into bits)
• Gruyere cheese, cut into small chunks
• Fresh Thyme
• Salt and Pepper
Dear deliciousness, please get in my tummeh.
Mix all of this up in a bowl and stuff it in your pumpkin. Really cram it in there! Take all of your LadyNerd frustrations about the cancellation of your favorite tv show out onto this stuffing. There have got to be a few Joss Whedon-related pockets of angst in there somewhere. Then grate some fresh nutmeg into about a cup of heavy cream and pour it over the top of the stuffing.
(For a good vegan version, try farro or wild-grain rice instead of the French bread, some toasted hazlenuts, apples, cranberries, herbs and then substitute vegetable broth [or white wine!] for the cream. I haven't made that combo yet but I'm going to make it for a party this week, and I bet it will be delicious.)
3. Stick the pumpkin top back on and place the pumpkin into a 350 degree oven. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, it could take 90 minutes to 2 hours to cook.
Baked, bubbly, and bitchin' delicious.
4. Eat the eff out of it. You can serve up the pumpkin in a variety of ways. I like to get a big serving spoon and just scoop out the stuffing, along with a generous helping of pumpkin flesh, and plop it on a plate. Some people cut the pumpkin itself into wedges and serve it with the stuffing - this would certainly be the prettiest option. It's pretty much going to be delicious any way you eat it, trust.
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