Monday, December 27, 2010

*Christmas Cooking*

In the spirit of Advent Conspiracy (see for a promo video on it), I decided to spend more time with my family doing something together, rather than just spending money on them for silly gifts. So, this year, my thought was to spend time in the kitchen with each of my present family members.

Basic Premise:
First, write down the names of different courses on paper for family members to draw out. (entree, appetizer, side dish, dessert, etc.). Make them choose out of a hat or bowl.
Then, once the parts of the meal have been assigned, each member is to look up a recipe that they have never tried before but one that sounds interesting/good to them. I made my family use because it has such great reviews, pictures, comments, etc.
Next, I went grocery shopping and picked up all the ingredients needed.
Last, each member chose the day and time we would make the item together.

IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! We enjoyed measuring and cooking, then critiquing and evaluating the final products. There were some recipes that we liked so much that we are going to add them to our regular list of foods.

Here's the breakdown of what we created together:

Mom: Salad: Mojito Salad.
Dad: Entree: Deer Poppers.
Elizabeth: Appetizer: Crab Dip.
Tim: Beverage: Turkish coffee.
Sarah: Dessert: Fruit Pizza.

PS. I had never seen my dad in the kitchen making anything before this night. I think cooking venison with him was one of the biggest highlights of my holiday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

*Miami Mayhem-- Part 2*

So after nearly killing the nearly dead, the universe rose up against me.

Day 2: Miami Beach. The water was so clear, and so beautiful. It was in the high 70s. Perfect. Sarah and I went walking through the water towards the pier. On our way back, I had just finished commenting on how transparent the aqua water was, when something closed its jaws (or claws) on my left foot. I screamed and pulled my foot up. In my 32 years of beach going, I have NEVER had anything attack me in the water. This time I had a nice puncture wound through the nail of my second toe.

We collapse back on our towels, and I start reading. Splatt! Nope. It wasn't seagull poop. At least I didn't think it was. It was clumps of sand. Wet clumps of sand. Apparently a bird flew overhead, launched its messy projectile near me, and the ricochet from the lump got all over my book and me. Delicious.

Day 3: Our first day to sleep in, when I get frantically woken up. Mom and Pops had already arrived at the dock, and we were about 35 minutes away. And in our pajamas. We rushed around, got there BEFORE they had even disembarked, and happily drove them home. As we approached the house, Mom noticed a bunch of vultures were flying around their street. We pull into the driveway, and the vultures are hovering around our house. They are swooping low and then circling. One came as low as the roof of the house before he wheeled back up. It was surreal and crazy and creepy. They soon went to the neighboring house, and then circled over the nearby school. We never found out why, but I assumed it was because of my Day 1 in Miami.

*Miami Mayhem-- Part 1*

I returned to the land of my nativity (as my dad calls it) to watch my youngest sister while my parents were away. (on a cruise, mind you). Well, let's just say I had a most eventful stay during those 3 days in Miami.

Day 1. Sarah and I went to my grandmother's Christmas dinner at her home, Palace Gardens. While there, we were seated with two other elderly women. It was time to get some drinks from a localized table, so my sister and I took the orders as these women were not very mobile themselves. I turned to Miss Grace Lucy:
Me: "What can I get you to drink?"
GL: "Soda"
Me: "Ok, sure, what kind?"
GL: "Soda... but not soda."
Me: "Ohhh, do you want punch?"
GL: (shakes head in the negative): "Soda... but... NOT soda."
Me: "Do you mean 'diet'? or a Sprite perhaps?"
GL: (getting frustrated at not being able to communicate what she really wants) Eyes start to fill up. She shakes her head, and starts twisting her hands.
I pat her hand and tell her I'll get her something. My plan is to bring one of each of the beverages to her, and have her choose from there.
This I do, but alas, no response. Then I realize, wait-- there was wine on that beverage table! I turn to Miss Grace.
Me: "Would you like some wine?"
I have never seen a man or woman light up with such joy and recognition and desire. She grabs my hands and vigorously nods her head up and down, up and down.
GL: "YES!!! Soda, but not soda!!"
Happy that I finally cracked the code, I go to get this lovely woman her glass of wine. When I place it before her, her eyes tear up again, but this time from the recognition of a familiar friend who has been absent for too long. She takes a sip, rolls her eyes in pleasure, and then turns to me.
GL: "Ttthhannk you; you... are...beautiful." she stammers this as she pats my hands for the second time.
I swell with inner pride for my good deed of the day. I was just thinking about all the good I could do for the poor, sad people in nursing homes, when this strange woman steps up to our table.
Woman (to GL): "You know I love you Miss Grace; but I have to take away your wine." (At this point, Miss Grace looks like her world has just caved in.)
Woman again: "You can't have alcohol with your medicine..."
OH. MY. WORD. It hits me then: basically, I just almost killed this sweet old woman. It had never dawned on me that they would be on drugs, and apparently, it's not usually a good idea to mix medicines and wine.
Later on we heard that they had pulled all the wine off the beverage tables. Apparently some residents (somehow) were getting into the bottles, so now no one was to have any.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

*Terminally Terminal*

What I love about Air Travel:
  • the excitement of knowing I'm about to head off into new adventures
  • racing to see how quickly I can get everything into those little gray bins before the guy who is ahead of me
  • looking at the different socks/or feet of people when they have to take their shoes off
  • guessing which person is going to be picked out for a special pat down
  • the general camaraderie of those who are flying to the same destination as you
  • seeing the varied dynamics of people's relationships with those they are traveling with
  • learning that the word "traveling" only has 1 "l" and not 2 (I saw this on a sign when I was walking to my gate)
  • the rush of takeoff
What I hate about Air Travel:
  • Having to always keep my carry-ons with me while waiting to board. Sometimes I just want to go into a bathroom stall without a suitcase, purse and bag.
  • the slight paranoia I feel that the bobby pins in my pocket or the earrings I'm wearing, or the spare change I forgot to take out may set off alarms that signify I could be a terrorist
  • food in airports is always double the price of the already inflated prices of restaurants. You seriously want me to spend $7.95 for only a 6 inch sandwich??
  • bringing a soda from home is the same as strapping a bomb to your shoe
  • knowing my gate will be the furthest one from the place I am currently standing
  • hearing the horn of those little golf carts speeding by you, knowing you'll never be important enough or old enough to catch a ride in one
  • after you have waited in the security line for 43 minutes, you're finally about to go through when a flock of pilots cuts ahead of you, followed by three women in wheelchairs and two mothers with babies in strollers. ugh
  • did you arrive at the airport 2 hours before you flight leaves? great. then you are guaranteed to be through check in and security within 10 minutes, so you will end up having an eternity to wait with nothing to do. did you arrive at the airport with just a full hour to spare? too bad!!! the check in line is having major issues, and all the gates are now being funneled through one security line. Hope you enjoy flying standby

Monday, December 6, 2010

*Bring It!*

I just finished altering the bridesmaid dress I'm wearing for my best friend's wedding. Oh, the manifold talents of the poor!

Too long, double layered dress: $150.
Alterations at David's Bridal: $20-50 more bucks.
Severing over 3 inches and sewing two separate hems without straight pins, tape measure or mannequin myself? $0.

What now, overpriced seamstresses?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

*A Fairly Typical Day*

So these are the things that usually happen every day while I am living the dream in Portland.

1. 1. A good morning wake -up call… or text. These usually come around 5 am, or sometimes, if I’m really lucky, at 3 am. Thank you East Coast friends. Don’t worry about the time difference, no really, it’s okay. You are a part of my dreams… you just happen to be the end part.

2. 2. A nice walk to the local bus…which inevitably turns into a brisk walk, followed by a run, and then a panicked sprint. This usually ends in one of two ways: A triumphant laugh as I board the bus now slowing down for me, or a head hung in shame as the passing passengers stare at my winded, defeated body.

3. 3. The opportunity to either endure, ignore, or repel the unwanted advances of men who think I rode the bus just to meet their acquaintance. Well, how did you ever figure me out? Of course I chose taking the longest route possible just so you can sit down next to me and batter me with your awkward banter. Don’t let the fact that I’m reading, or talking on the phone, or have my ears plugged up with my headphones deter you. Didn’t you know that I’m highly attracted to men who are missing teeth, at least my father’s age, and who boast about being unemployed? Oh yes, you did know that. That’s why you’re still talking to me.

4. 4. A little gift from above. Sometimes it’s the compliment I receive from my boss, or the surprise letter in the mail. It may be like that time the # 14 bus had a fender bender, which made it 28 minutes late on its route, allowing me to catch it so that I could actually make it to a concert I’d been looking forward to. Usually it’s the sun breaking through the clouds just when I was feeling the coldest, or it’s the friendly conversation that spontaneously sprung up at the bus stop. The best one, though, happens to be when that persistent, chatty guy next to me needs to get off at his stop, and I receive back my freedom.

5. 5. Computer time. This is the bulk of my day. I’m not sure what would happen without my laptop. The following list just skims the surface of things I do on it daily: work emails, Skyping friends and family, searching for that elusive airline deal, hunting down furniture through Craigslist, checking my Facebook, signing up for free items, scanning for Portland’s weekly events, researching the schools I have tutors in, typing up documents for the district, updating my blog, streaming my Netflix, deleting the spam that arrives in my inbox, catching up on missed television episodes…etc., etc.

6. Meals. I know, I know-- you're thinking that meals are a normal part of everyone's day, but my meals have taken on a special pattern lately.

Breakfast, which usually doesn't even occur until about 10:30 or 11 am, generally happens as an afterthought as I'm headed out the door to head into the city. Thus, sandwich bags of cereal, bagels wrapped in a paper towel, cinnamon buns being shoved in my mouth, or pop tarts that are getting crushed in their foil overcoat, become the staple of my morning.

Lunch is normally skipped, or else it consists of a bag of trail mix that I toss in my mouth as I'm heading to a new place. If I woke up smart that day, I may have remembered to pack an apple or scrounged up a dollar so I can grab a fast food item, but those days are few and far between.

As for dinner, that usually waits until I get home from work, sometime around 8 pm. At this point I'm tired, and malnourished, so although I try my best to make a real meal, what I'm really eyeing up is the frozen chicken nuggets that you just have to nuke. Jealous, aren't you?