June 30, 2008

Time to Break Out the Red, White and Blue

Every year for the 4th of July, I break out the red, white and blue.

While I no longer show my pride in my pedicure, one of my favorite ways to show the red, white and blue spirit is by making this patriotic frozen delight (pictured left). So, in the event you are looking for a fun drink to serve at your 4th of July party, I've decided to share the secret behind my USA spirit:

Ingredients:
1. Bottle of Rum

2. Bottle of Malibu Rum

3. Bottle of Blue Curacao

4. Two Bottles of Pina Colada Mix

5. Bottle of Strawberry Daiquiri Mix

6. Ice


Directions:

1. Prepare a blender full of Pina Coladas following the instructions on the Pina Colada bottle, but use Malibu Rum instead of regular rum.

2. Prepare a second blender full of Pina Coladas, and add about 3 shots of Blue Curacao, until desired shade of blue is achieved

3. Prepare a third blender full of Strawberry Daiquiris following the instructions on the Daiquiri bottle.

Serving:

You can either serve each drink in a separate pitcher and let your guests pick their favorite flavor or make their own blend, or you can pre-layer each glass as follows:

1. Pour the blue mix into a cup (fill a bit less than 1/3 of the glass with the blue mixture)

2. Pour the white mix into the cup (again less than 1/3 of the glass should be filled with the white mixture), to keep the white layer above the blue layer, pour the mixture over the back of a spoon.


3. Repeat step 2 for the red mix.

To ensure better layers (and not the messy one's pictured), you also may want to consider using more ice for the blue, and then lessening the ice in the mixture for the white and the red. (Sadly I don't have pictures from when I perfected the method).

June 28, 2008

A Whole New Challenge (and Entry)


Arranging flowers has been a passion of mine for a long time. I blame my mother, for always filling our house with beautiful fresh flowers (which, of course, caused my constant urge to be surrounded by flowers). However, since I don't have the cash flow to constantly make my husband order flowers for me from fancy flower shops (like Mark's Garden), I tried to figure out to arrange flowers on my own.

Eventually, my husband caught on to my new interest, and one day he came home with a couple of bunches of flowers, and he "challenged" me to prepare an arrangement with the flowers he picked. After the first challenge proved to be a real hit (this was pre-farmers market days, after all), he continued to surprise me with sporadic challenges. Note that some challenges proved to be harder than others (leave it to my husband to pick out purple irises, orange roses and baby's breath), but it was always incredibly enjoyable (and as a special bonus for my husband, he quickly realized it was a cheap and easy way to have a very happy wife; it also granted him video game time as I am not very social while arranging--but I am sure the happy wife part is why he started the challenge).


While my husband always humored me (telling me that each arrangement was the most beautiful arrangement he had ever seen--yes, even the crazy one with the baby's breath), I always felt like I had no idea what I was doing (although I always did manage to have a great time regardless of my clueless-ness). For the past couple of years I've been searching for a flower arranging class, but for some reason these classes were always held at unrealistic hours for a person who worked like I did or across the country.

I had almost given up on my dreams of learning how to arrange flowers in a proper way, until today, that is. Today, I wandered into a bookstore (which is my version of a candy store), and came across a section of flower arranging books. I was in heaven, and for the next couple of hours I searched through all the books to determine which ones wanted to come home with me.

Which brings me to the point of this blog entry (queen of tangents that I am), I have decided it is time for a new challenge: From now on, once a week (or if more realistic, once every other week), I will challenge myself to pick out flowers from the local farmer's market by my work, and I will try to use a new skill or two to make an arrangement. From time to time, I will post my successes and failures on my blog, and you can be the judge as to which are which (I also openly invite you to help me name my challenge).

In the meantime, I have a lot of reading to do!

June 27, 2008

Inspiration Calls


Today I had a little too much fun making a flower arrangement for my mother.


But, since I traded blogging time for flower time (and because I am ashamed of how little I've blogged during my time off . . . let's face it, I have too many hobbies these days and even without working there just isn't enough time in the day), I figure . . . why not kill two hobbies with one stone:



Materials:
1. 1 block of floral foam (make sure it's the kind for real flowers)
2. Rectangular container
3. 6 Green Hydrangeas
4. 2 Green Mums (instead of using the mums, you can use 8 hydrangea stems or you can use 8 mums and forgo the hydrangeas)



4. 1 dozen pink, orange or other bright hue of roses (I used pink roses with an orange hue, pictured below)

Directions:

1. Prep the Foam. Soak the floral foam block in water for about 30 minutes (until there are no longer bubbles in the water). If you don't have a floral bucket (or any kind of bucket for that matter), you can close the drain in a bathroom sink, and use the sink to soak the floral foam. Note that floral foam has a tendency to want to float on top of the water, so I usually place something heavy on top of it to keep it under the water (when I'm being lazy about it, I use the actual container that I will but the flowers in to hold the foam down). When the floral foam is properly soaked through, place it securely in the rectangle container

2. Prep the Flowers. Cut the hydrangeas and mums, leaving about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches of stem. Cut and prep the roses, leaving only 2 inches of stem (make sure to remove all the leaves from the rose stems).

3. Arrange the Frame. In starting with the outer layer, place the hydrangeas around the edges of the container, on a 30 degree angle (as pictured below, the stems should be inserted into the sides of the floral foam towards the bottom of the foam). peel off the leaves that will be on the "top" side of the hydrangeas (leaves should only be at the bottom of the arrangement)

The shorter side of the rectangle should each have one hydrangea, and the longer, is arranged in the following order: hydrangeas, mum, hydrangea (of course, if you choose to use the same type of flower around the edges, any order will do).


4. Add Rows of Roses. Once the frame is complete, start arranging the roses in three rows (each row should have 4 roses). Try to keep the smaller roses in the center and the larger ones on end. Since the roses will not likely all be the same size, you may want to do some adjusting and trading places until it looks right.

5. Present. Find the perfect place for your arrangement, and if you are like me, take tons of pictures of the arrangement when the flowers are fresh...this way the flowers last forever:)



June 26, 2008

When Did I Get Old?

I'm not sure when it happened, but I am officially an old person. That's right, I am now irritated by the little things that my mom used to complain about. I now ask my husband to turn down the TV volume, I generally think clubs are too loud, and (most recently) I don't appreciate it when people stand up during an entire concert in a section where everyone else is sitting down.

True, we could have just stood up behind them (although we no longer have the energy we once had), but given that everyone behind us was screaming "sit down" to the dancing couple in front of us, we thought it best to stay seated. While we could hear the music perfectly, unfortunately, for most of the concert (until the couple eventually also succumbed to peer pressure, after almost getting into a fight with those yelling at them), this was our view:

June 25, 2008

An All Time Low

It's official, I've sunk to an all time TV-watching low: Yesterday, I actually watched "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (and even worse, I liked it). True there are slim pickings these days for good TV (and let's not forget I am probably not alone in finding Japanese game shows to be strangely entertaining; after all, the Japanese Human Tetris Game Show did get a lot of Internet play), but that probably is no excuse. While I have a feeling it will get old soon, for now, it'll just have to be my guilty pleasure (that is, until Big Brother starts up again in July).

BTW, if you missed the human tetris video that floated around, check it out:

June 23, 2008

My Husband is 5

When I told my hubby about the little egg experiment my brother and I conducted, he didn't seem that excited. So, you can imagine my delight, when hours later, I found him trying to get an egg to stand on it's end. When it didn't work, I pointed out that it was already dark outside and the longest day of the year was now over.



Defeated by the fact that he would not get to witness first hand the way and egg and stand on its end, he decided that he would just have to succeed at another experiment. So, the poor egg that wouldn't stand on its end for my hubby was placed into a bowl filled with vinegar. The next day, my hubby proudly showed off the now rubbery egg. He tossed it like a ball, squished it and played with it for about 10 minutes, until, crack, egg and yolk pierced through the rubbery shell all over our white carpet.



Stained carpet aside, it is moments like these that I see the charm I fell for over five years ago.

June 21, 2008

A Little Eggie Told Me: Summer is Here

Just in case the 112 degree temperature didn't tip anyone off--I now have proof that summer is officially here:

That's right, it's officially the summer solstice! And today, my brother and I finally tested out the old myth that you can stand an egg on it's end during the summer solstice (something about special gravitational pulls).

I am happy to report that we were able to confirm, that, yes, the egg will stand on June 21st (and we took plenty of pictures to prove it; and, yes, I know, I am easily entertained).

Fear and Pride: The Consequence (and Benefits) of Aging (aka It Might as Well Have Square Wheels, but I'll Be Proud of It Anyway)


I first met P when, by some stroke of fate, we both ended up in an LSAT prep course in California. It was during a class break, when I slipped outside for some fresh
first hand smoke
air that P approached me and asked me if he could bum a cigarette some fresh air. We started talking, when he mentioned that no one really smokes enjoys fresh air in California, but that back where he goes to college everyone smokes enjoys fresh air. I empathised. I then asked him where he went to school, and, small world, it turned out we went to the same school (on the other side of the country).

We got to talking and realized that we had a lot in common: we studied at the same coffee shop, we knew all of the same people, we lived on the same hall freshman year, and yet, it wasn't until the summer before our senior year in college that we met on the other side of the country, sharing
a cigarette break
fresh air.

P and I have been friends now for almost 8 years, but it was only recently that P learned one of my deepest, darkest secrets: that I cannot ride a bike. However, unlike others who only poked fun and teased at my ineptitude, or questioned how it was possible to go through childhood without learning how to ride a bike, P decided to take action. His mind was set on the fact that it was finally time for me to learn.

After a couple of hours (and a couple of glasses of wine later), he convinced me to just feel out the pedals, and sit on the bike. You would think I was about to jump off a cliff. But, I did it, I sat on the bike and gripped the ground with my feet; however, when P tried to take me for a spin by holding the handlebars, I couldn't go through with it.

P is still determined to teach me how to ride a bike one day, but, sadly, I think I have reached an age where that is no longer possible. There is something about fear and aging, where the older you get, the more you become aware of the dangers that surround a given activity.

I originally learned this lesson when I was 15, and I decided it was time to learn how to ski. I watched 3 year olds whiz down the bunny slopes with no poles (and no fear), and figured "how hard could it be." When I got to the top of the hill ready to master a new skill, I learned that unlike the 3 year olds, I had fear on my side. It's true, I did eventually learn how to ski that weekend, but I was still relatively young, and regardless, I never learned to sky with the freedom of a 3 year old.

Perhaps, like skiing, I will one day be able to conquer my fear of riding a bike. However, the way I have chosen to judge my fear has changed since I was 15: while I still recognize that aging has brought on fear, I also realize that it has also brought on a sense of independence and pride (including a sense of pride in one's own quirkiness), so while I may not be on a bike without training wheels any time soon, at least I no longer harbor any shame for the fact that I can't ride a bike. That's right, "I can't ride a bike" and I can now shout it out with pride!



Photo pictured above is not my own brilliance, but was found on here on flickr and is by Vroogy, which I am required to tell you - if you want to borrow this picture like I did, see for the rules for sharing.

Global Warming (and Brianna's) Inspired Salad

If you believed Bush when he said that there was no such thing as global warming, and if you have yet to see Gore's now-famous movie, head to my neck of the woods for the proof (that's right, it's only June and the temperature has already soared to an unlivable 112 degrees). While the heat wave has forced me to be home bound for the most part (and to be grateful to the woman or man who invented air conditioning), it has inspired a new creation:


I have been a huge fan of the Brianna's Homestyle dressings since I discovered her Saucy Ginger Mandarin Dressing at our local Whole Foods Market (which has inspired a whole slew of salad recipes). Each bottle of dressing features a picture of an ingredient that Brianna recommends will pair well with the dressing, and hence, each time I try a new flavor, I start with 2 inspirations: 1) the dressing itself and 2) the pictured ingredient.

So on this way too hot day, I was motivated to create a new Brianna-inspired salad. Inspiration:

Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed Dressing (delicious on peaches). There were many contenders, but in the end, I settled for the following salad. Since my husband and I both agree "Global Warming Salad" doesn't quite have the right ring to it, unfortunately, the salad is still nameless (but I would gratefully appreciate any suggestions):

Ingredients
1. 1 bag baby spinach, rinsed
2. 1 whole peach
3. 1 mango
4. 1 avocado
5. 1/4 cup of pistachio nuts (de-shelled)
6. Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed Dressing (delicious on peaches)

Tools/Equipment
1. knife/cutting board
2. large serving bowl
3. Tossing utensils (if need be)
3. separate small serving dish for dressing (optional)

Instructions
1. Cut (or dice) peaches, mango and avocado into desired size pieces
2. Chop pistachios into course pieces
3. In a large bowl, place the baby spinach, then the peaches and mango, then the avocado, then the pistachios (if desired, toss with dressing right before serving, or serve with dressing on the side) (tip: if you prefer to toss the salad but want to maintain a beautiful presentation, simply toss each element separately in the dressing before layering the ingredients per above).
4. Enjoy!

By the way, I have now purchased my next inspiration from the Brianna line of dressings, and the wheels are already turning:



Hmm...ripe avocados...this one could go in a lot of directions.

Laker Leftovers

To support my husband, I made a Laker-inspired floral arrangement a couple of weeks ago. While the Lakers didn't survive the championship round, my flowers did. I can't bring myself to throw out flowers that are still alive, but every time my husband walks by the arrangement, he feels a deep sense of loss. What is a girl to do?

Fat Compliment

Just to set the record straight, "looks like you lost weight" is not a compliment. The person who uses this "compliment" is actually conveying one of 2 things: (1) You were fat before; or (2) even though you probably didn't loose weight, the person handing you this "compliment" thinks you might like to hear that it looks like you did loose some poundage, fatty.


While I can save my many thoughts of proper small talk and conversation, let's just agree that it is never a good idea to bring up someone's weight. If you feel the urge to acknowledge someones body makeover, try "you look fabulous" or something to that effect.

June 20, 2008

Stomping Desire

On a recent trip to a mini-wine country, I was very disappointed to find out that there wasn't a winery in town where you could stomp grapes. Stomping grapes is definitely on my list of things to do within my lifetime (even if the urge was inspired by an "I Love Lucy" episode).

But then I saw this...

And it might just be time for a career change...except my petite feet could never get the job :( Damn discrimination!

But I hear there are grapes to stomp in October, so I will be back! And if all else fails, I may just have to recreate the experience in my living room (don't worry honey, I will make sure to lay a plastic sheet down on the white carpets before the stomping fun begins).

June 19, 2008

One Creative Urge at a Time

So, I've been meaning to blog, but it turns out I can only handle one creative urge at a time.

It's been six years since I've had any free time. Three years of law school were followed by three years at an intense law firm. Since it's been a long time since I've tasted freedom, and since I only have two weeks of unemployment until it's back to the grind, my husband and I decided that we had to make these two weeks count.

For me, that meant sleeping as much as I could, finally getting around to blogging, and indulging some of my other creative urges.

For my husband, that meant planning many trips. We discussed Greece, Paris, New York, Disney World, Hawaii, etc., but in the end, we decided on our favorite place of all...the couch in our living room. While we did take a short road trip up north, I have to say, as enjoyable as our quick getaway was, I much prefer the cushions on my own couch.

It was there that I was able to sit and brainstorm about how I should spend my brief moments of freedom. Then a plan ensued: I decided I was going to blog, finish up a couple of old scrapbooks, try some new recipes, organize my flickr photos, make a couple tablecloths, organize our apartment and relax.

But then I saw this...
and I got sidetracked. After a quick trip to Whole Foods (and a large bill thereafter), I set my sights on recreating this recipe from epicurious.com.
I had never worked with beets before (and hence was not aware of their staining power), but despite the challenge of the price of pistachio oil and not being able to find m√Ęche or the right type of cookie cutter, my husband's compliments were well worth the struggle (and the consequence of the red cuticles I will proudly boast for the next week).
While I didn't perfectly recreate the masterpiece I found online, you'll have to trust me on this one, it tasted better than it looked (although, I will be working on the pretty factor)!
So without further ado . . .

June 2, 2008

Don't Believe the Hype!


I recently had to put my google investigative skills to good use when I received the following spam e-mail from my mother:

Subject: Companies filing Bankruptcy...

The following companies just filed for Bankruptcy: Hollywood Video, Levitz, Sharper Image, Performance Team Freight, Linens n Things, Circuit City and Bed, Bath and Beyond If you have gift cards from the above list use them ASAP, they will not be valid for much longer. PASS THE WORD.

No offense to the other stores exposed in the e-mail, but all I saw was "Bed, Bath and Beyond" (or as we affectionately call it, BB&B). BB&B going bankrupt? What is this world coming to? How could this be true? And more importantly, what would happen to all my unused 20% off coupons?

I refused to believe the news. It must be a joke, right? I mean how can a store with unlimited discounts and amazing return policies possibly be going out of business?

The security I often feel in being an American was threatened by this e-mail, and I decided I had to find out the truth. True ridiculous gas prices and all over increases to the cost of living have caused most Americans to cut back on luxuries...but BB&B is clearly a necessity!

Thus began my diligent search on the Internet for confirmation that this was nothing but a bitter lie. While the outlook for Linens N Things wasn't looking good (it's true that the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, sorry Linens N Things)
(click here for the full story), there was nothing to confirm the news about BB&B; however, there was a lot of Internet buzz that the rumors about BB&B were just that . . . rumors.

Just to make sure that I wasn't missing anything (and because some might say the Internet is not always a credible source), I decided to attack the situation the old fashioned way: I picked up the phone and called my local BB&B to get to the bottom of the story. The nice woman who answered the phone said that BB&B was not going out of business, and that I might be confusing them with Linens N Things. However, when I asked if she was sure that my gift cards were safe, she put me on hold to confirm. Although the silent pause made me nervous, a nice gentleman soon answered the phone and further assured me that it was not BB&B that was going south.

So it turns out the good news is that BB&B is here to stay (at least for the time being); the bad news, on the other hand, . . . yeah, it's our economy.


Photo pictured above is not my own brilliance, but was found on here on flickr and is by Billy Hunt, which I am required to tell you - if you want to borrow this picture like I did, see this link for the rules for sharing.