Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I carved our traditional barfing pumpkin for trick-or-treaters:

Interesting thing I learned: around here in SoCar, it's not uncommon for neighborhoods to "celebrate" Halloween on a Saturday if Oct. 31 falls on a Sunday or weekday. And then, it's not uncommon for some kids to adhere to the night of October 31 as well. So, I was advised to not be surprised to have kids ring the bell on two different nights for trick-or-treating. Good thing I stocked up on candy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The End Zone Grill and Boo at the Zoo

I got great mileage out of my Hit Girl costume yesterday--not too shabby for a cheap wig, dye, and a skirt recalled from my donation pile.

For a late lunch, I decided to hit this place a stone's throw from my place called The End Zone Grill:

Despite it's concrete and nearly windowless exterior, I had heard there was good food to be had there (folks raved about their burgers) so I thought this would be a great day to check it out. The menu actually offered a nice variety beyond typical bar food with Southern and Cajun specialties, including Gator bites, She Crab Soup, and Catfish Stew. I've never had Catfish Stew before and I was intrigued by the menu description: "TRY SOME OF THE BEST YOU'LL EVER EAT. You've got to try this one. Girls, the whiskers have been removed. Served with cornbread."

In the end, I went with a cup of the She Crab soup and one of the best cups of coffee I've had here:

The bartender was friendly and generously advised that this is one of the cheapest places to drink. The regulars who were there were pretty nice and game when I broke the ice with a "So! Any guesses who I am?" Answers varied from Katy Perry's crazy sister to [Green Hornet sidekick] Kato's crazy sister. Another lady came in and was so friendly and raved about my costume, I offered to pay for her drink. My tab including my lunch and her large drink was under $8.

Well I think I found my watering hole as well as a nice lunch spot. The She Crab soup was really delicious and I look forward to trying their other specialties on the menu. Plus you gotta love it when the staff are willing to get into the Halloween spirit with you!

In the evening, I took the girl and three of her friends to Boo at the Zoo. The girl was Hatshepsut:

We discovered the event was probably geared towards much younger kids but the kids enjoyed just hanging together in costumes.

The icing on the cake? I won the costume contest at work! It was a super day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Okay cats

Let's see what you can do now!

That's right I'm Hit Girl from Kick-A$$!

Except for the $15 wig, everything else is obviously home-pulled/made. Unfortunately, the purple ink didn't dye the original tan/black plaid skirt to the intense violet I was hoping for, though it's enough to get the Hit Girl idea across, right?

Bonus - I made some new friends at the local Starbucks when this cool guy shouted "Hit Girl!" I turned, excitedly and shouted, "Yes!"

One of the most satisfying feelings is when someone recognizes your costume and has the stones to shout it out in a Starbucks. Thank you Erik S!

The hardest part is trying to jam all my hair into a such a short wig:

But the little things make it worth it (though the young bank teller didn't recognize my character-Booooooo!):

At least the bank made up for the lame teller and rewarded me and wished me a Happy Halloween:

By letting me stuff my face!

So do I have a chance to win the Halloween costume contest at work, like last year? I'm eager to see my competition...wish me luck!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anyone else psyched for Halloween?

The girl and I are pretty much set with our costumes. She is going to a Halloween party and Halloween at Five Points and I am competing in my company's annual Halloween costume contest remotely. The reveals will be this weekend!

I had to get purple dye for my costume and some last minute details:

Shoot, I think I've revealed too much--it seems pretty obvious now. Shhhh--don't comment if you figured it out.

On the way to the store after the girl's viola lesson, I got hit with the worst hunger pang. I'm not sure how common this is, but I was getting dizzy, shaky, and sweaty and I could intuit that I needed to eat something fast (mental note: keep a bar in the car). So we ended up stopping at the Krispy Kreme. I told the girl I was getting one doughnut and she could get one for now and (WORST MOM Alert!) one for breakfast. We got seasonal specialties: pumpkin spice for me and Halloween for her:

Where's the pumpkin spice doughnut? Oh, I practically swallowed it whole before remembering to take a picture. And truth be told the Jack-o-Lantern pictured above is actually the fourth doughnut.

I was so ravenous, I was shaking when I ate the pumpkin spice doughnut in, I'm estimating, 4-5 bites. When I looked up the girl was still eating her Jack-o-Lantern doughnut, carefully nibbling around the face.

Is that good? I asked.


Is there any filling?




Can I have a bite?

The girl sighed and held out her doughnut, offering me the stem of the Jack-o-Lantern. I ate half the face.

I took that as a sign that I was still hungry. I got up, I'm going to get one of those.

The girl looked up from her demolished Jack-o-Lantern, are we going to share it?

Annoyed hunger kept me honest. Ooooooo, I think I'm going to pretty much eat all of it.

The shocked disappointment on the girl's face woke up the mom inside. Okay you can have a bite. If that seemed stingy or mean, believe me, I was operating on a variant of the old airplane oxygen mask premise--Mama needed to get her doughnut on or no one was getting saved.

I went up to the counter and told the guy I was just getting one doughnut, the Jack-o-Lantern. As he reached for a small box, I'd like to think it was the environmentalist (albeit a ravenous one) in me that snapped, Don't bother with a box! Just hand it to me!

He seemed somewhat bewildered as he extended the clutched doughnut in the waxed paper he used to pick it up from the tray behind the counter. Enlightened at the last second, he plucked a fresh piece of wax paper and laid it on top of the doughnut like an awkward stiff bridal veil for the Jack-o-Lantern.

Whether the cashier witnessed or sensed my impatient hunger, she shouted the price before I got to the register, That will be a dollar and six cents ma'am!

I paid with exact change and had the wherewithal to snap the quick picture above and I ate the doughnut--I even gave the girl two bites.

Now on to finishing my costume...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

School spirit and individuality

Today everyone was encouraged to wear school colors at the girl's school and the school T-shirts I bought at the Open House last month were delivered this week. She had initially come down in another t-shirt (albeit in school colors) and I was confused why she didn't want to wear the actual school shirt. After some prodding from me, she said that she overheard some girls who were going to wear the school shirts and she wasn't interested in being identified with being like those girls. I was impressed and grateful that she articulated this concern to me.

I told her that I respected her individuality and how she chose to wear school colors; and if she wanted to wear the other shirt, it was fine by me. But I also advised that with this method of avoiding being associated with certain folks, you could end up limiting yourself. The drastic example I pulled up was if those girls go to college, are you going to skip college because you don't want to seem like them? (I know, such an Asian mom example.) My point was that in an effort to prove how you're NOT like certain individuals, you lose time and energy that could be spent developing who you really are. (I know I've been guilty of this myself.) I had an example of a boy in our last neighborhood who turned out to have a natural ability and passion for opera despite no interest or skill by his physicist parents. Because of his confidence in his own individuality, he was able to discover and develop this fairly unique talent and went on to the high school of performing arts.

I could have gone on but I already noticed that the girl has an uncanny way of appearing to be listening to me yet obviously zoning out at the same time and she was there. So I went back to basics. Anyhoo, I told her, I'm glad you're wearing school colors and I'm fine with whichever way you want to wear them.

She chose the school shirt. I don't know if she did it thinking it would appease me or just shut me up, but I'll always take the opportunity to wear matching clothes with the girl:

Go Hornets!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Victory, thy name is New York Giants

Well, the Giants beat the cowboys (41-35), though to be fair, they faced a 1-4 Dallas team, who lost their QB with a broken clavicle in the first half. But this meant I finally won a week in my football pool. And due to an oversight, the overall leader in the pool fell asleep at the wheel and forgot to make his picks this week.

Correction, the previous overall leader. Because now the current overall leader is me. Heeeee!

Hubris aside, I hope I can keep the luck rolling because truth be told the previous leader is only in 2nd place after missing a week. Let's face it, that would be really embarrassing if he managed to win the overall with one less week of picks than the rest of us. Hmmm. Perhaps I should start reading NFL articles and get familiar with this league better. That Dez Bryant, he's a keeper.

On a tangential note, this is hopefully good news to my Words With Friends players--my good luck in the pool seems to coincide with my bad luck with tiles in my recent games. In the last 2 days, I lost 2 games in a row. Yes, Ras... and Lb..., that's why I lost. Fortunately, there isn't money on those games.

And on a completely different note, I took a quick People's Choice poll and currently, "Uptown Girl" is beating "Piano Man" as favorite Billy Joel song.

Losing Faith in Humanity Again, thy name is "Uptown Girl".

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Monday

Holy Cow. Michigan State is #5 in both the robot and human polls.

And depending on tonight's game, I may actually win this week in my football pool. I need Dallas to win by 3 points (or less) or lose.

And hey, I'm trying out some adjustments to my blog layout. By that I mean I added a Twitter widget and Search bar. The widget is for my friends who don't have Twitter and are too lazy to go to another site to read my 140-character pearls of wisdom/rants. Side note to my non-Twitter friends: "RT" means Re-Tweet of someone else's tweet (other Tweeters are indicated by "@" followed by their name) and if there are two slashes "//" my reply or comment is usually after it. The Search bar searches my blog when you're looking for some brilliant post of mine and can't quite remember when it was. Because I know my blog is just chock full of knowledge. I'm wondering if these adjustments makes the page too busy or annoying or in the case of re-tweeting, adds more "adult" language than usual. Any feedback is welcome.

Hoping for a very happy Monday.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The girl had a sleepover with a couple of her friends. I woke up to find this:

And this:


I have got to find a way to stay awake later than the girl on these nights.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some algebra for MSU

As the Michigan State-Northwestern game started, they announced the stat that MSU hasn't been 7-0 since 1966. I watched an agonizing first half of the Michigan State-Northwestern game (where Northwestern took a 17-0 lead), then took a break and unpacked some boxes (no, we're still not completely unpacked), including some books of my dad:

They're pretty much some of his math books when he was a grad student at MSU. I keep them to remember him by and some he had specifically given me to read, though I confess I have not finished one yet, including this page-turner:

But when I opened up the book I saw this:

MSU pulled a come-from-behind victory in the second half (which has been dubbed "pulling a Michigan State" by some sports commentators) with a final score of 35-28 and are now 8-0. Maybe it's a sign I should finally read this book so it gets to see a year more exciting than 1966.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome to my bachelor party, Thanksgiving

I know I've admitted my love for Easter candy, especially stocking up on Cadbury Mini-eggs. But please, give me some credit--I've been adding non-candy treats as well for the girl's sake. But let's face it, Easter comes at that optimal window of the year: a good 3-4 months after the chocolate-and-baked-treat-0rgy known as the Holidays and a comfortable 1-2 months before swimsuit season. At this point, our blood sugar levels finally re-center themselves, we're no longer having candy cane brownies for breakfast, the last lame pieces from the See's box have been eaten, and we actually start to crave sweets again. Plus, as I mentioned before, we're rewarded with a lot of limited-edition "Easter only" versions of candy.

So on the flipside, I bring you Halloween candy shopping. A generous month after the swimsuits have been put away, Halloween candy is kind of the bridal shower before the "big event" of the never-ending feed of the holidays. With the volume bags and sale prices, Halloween candy is the appetizer of the holiday gluttony to come.

Now perhaps I overdid it with over 500 pieces of candy. I blame the amazing sale prices. The girl ratted me out by walking into the living room with her arms overloaded with all these bags like an OctoMom promo pic. Hey Mom, what's all this? she asked gleefully. Paul immediately expressed disapproval (thanks for ratting me out, Velina)--exasperatedly ranting something about obesity and diabetes--though admittedly I was somewhat zoned out thinking about which bag I should open first.

So...what says, "Hey Thanksgiving--I started the holiday weight gain party without you" better--M&Ms or SweeTarts?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still not on FaceBook

As I've mentioned before, I still haven't had the gumption to join FaceBook.

Again, the main reason is I don't need a timesuck like FaceBook. To which a friend pulled up my blog and pointedly queried, "Unlike this?!" To which I clarified, I don't need another timesuck.

Plus I found this guide to various types of FaceBook Friends to be pretty damning. I'm already guilty of inhabiting, uh...most of these personalities on my blog posts and on Twitter. I don't need another venue.

Besides, with the latest privacy issue where FaceBook apps were found to be sending User ID info to advertisers, I'm further discouraged.

Maybe it'll be like waiting on a 3D TV--let time pass until the bugs are worked out and the price to pay (in this case, how personal data is handled) is affordable.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holy cow: week of 10/16

Some things I'm trying to get my mind around this week:

- Wisconsin beat Ohio State which moved Michigan State into the top 10 (#7 or #8) depending on which poll you prefer--robots or people. Hasn't it been over a dozen years since the Spartans have been in the top 10? And currently, they're #1 in the Big 10 standings? Hasn't OSU had that spot for like, a decade? Wow, thank you Wisconsin. What has occurred to me: I've been dutifully wearing my MSU shirt every Friday before their games--has that had an impact? If I don't wear it this Friday, will the Chaos theory go into effect and all heck will break loose? I guess I shouldn't risk it.

- On Paul's Husker Homies side--what happened in Nebraska? I had pretty much written off Texas given their last two losses, but man I did not expect to see that nightmare of a struggle Nebraska had in their 20-13 loss to the Longhorns: all those dropped passes and their only TD came via a thrilling 95 yard punt return. There is still hope--if Missouri beats Oklahoma and the Huskers beat Missouri the following week, balance will be restored in the Big 12.

- On a completely different subject: yes, I've seen the pix of the GQ - Glee shoot shot by Terry Richardson. It reminded me of an exhibit of his work I saw in California when I lived there. If you've seen his portfolio (a lot of which is sexually graphic and/or has a 70s basement-sexual predator-kind of vibe--think those American Apparel ads from 5 years ago), this is par for the course. At first I thought, why so much Try on Ms. Michele's part? I was like, okay, you're not uptight high schooler Rachel Berry, you're a sexy adult female who probably puts out. I get it.. But then I realized that perhaps much of the responsibility for these pix is of Mr. Richardson, who has garnered allegations for exploiting and sexually-abusing young female models. Bottom line, he seems able to get the pictures he wants from who he shoots. Anyhoo, he definitely shoots provacative and interesting photographs, but you'll definitely want to leave the kids behind if you decide to check out an exhibition of his work. And I'll skip sharing this Glee shoot with the other big Glee fan in the house--my tween daughter.

- And on a final tangent: Taylor Swift recently hinted that her new song "Dear John" was about her relationship and breakup with John Mayer. John Mayer?! How did that happen? Is it only me who feels there is somewhat of an ick factor here? He's in his 30s and already publicly shared d-bag comments about women he previously dated. She was 19 when they dated last year, but in my mind she's perpetually 16 as she's become the epitome of girlish adolescent innocence and naivete. Didn't she have a hit song last year called "Fifteen?" Ugh. See what I mean? It would only ick me out more if she flat out stated that this song was actually about Jon Gosselin.

Yeesh, anymore surprises that I should know about?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Old Market - Omaha, NE

Last night, we got a little hungry so we decided to check out the highly regarded M's Pub. We started out with a few beverages: a Shirley Temple for the girl, a mojito for me, and Paul enjoyed a special cocktail with ginger beer. His was the best:

We had the Smoked Salmon Mousseline, which I enjoyed greatly. I loved the assortment with this platter. I had never had caper berries before and they were a nice balance against the richness of the mousseline.

I had the whole artichoke, which was sufficient, though I will confess, I've had better. I don't know if the preparation was off or the artichoke itself was not quite ready. It was bit tough and I'm used to pulling off a lot more meat off the leaves that I was able to with this serving.

We also tried the highly-lauded black bean cakes. The cakes themselves were a bit mushy but the overall combination of the aioli and the crisp marinated salad were really fabulous:

Overall, M's Pub has got the food and ambiance for a nice date night. We definitely enjoyed our late night outing there.

For lunch today, we opted for our old favorite, Little King sandwiches:

"King me!" I said:

Afterward, we hit Ted & Wally's for ice cream:

They make fresh ice cream daily and it is absolutely delicious. They often have unique flavors like Guiness, sesame, or molasses and they also do typical flavors like strawberry, coffee, and cotton candy excellently. The girl always loves cotton candy ice cream and they do a version that even an adult could enjoy.

If you ever find yourself in Omaha and enjoy delicious ice cream--definitely enjoy some at Ted & Wally's.

With full bellies, we made the short drive to the airport and made our flights home. Safely and without any turbulence. Great way to end the day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Columbus, NE

The day after the wedding, we got a tour of Columbus (which will be Opa's new town), courtesy of the bride and groom:

Including this sweet bridge:

That even the girl liked:

Opa showed her a milkweed pod and they scattered them in the air--we'll be checking back in 25 years to see how our milkweed trees are doing:

We went to Pawnee Park, where a group of inspired high school students organized this memorial to Andrew Jackson Higgins:

He was the creator of the Eureka boat, base for the LCVPs (Land Craft Vehicle Personnel):

Which, per President Eisenhower, played a crucial role in World War II:

There is also a memorial to 9/11 using some material from the Towers:

After the park, we drove a bit around town and saw Nebraska's oldest tavern, the Glur tavern:

As well as the modern convenience store:

We decided to spend the night in Omaha to ensure not missing any flights. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in the Old Market--we got a great rate, thanks to a AAA discount. The girl enjoyed the fancy digs:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Planes, planes, planes-Off to Nebraska

We spent an extended weekend in Nebraska that ended up being full of ups and downs:

Up: On our way to Opa's wedding! Hooray!

Down: Missed 6am flight out of Charlotte. Mental note: don't try new "shorter" route to airport at 5 in the morning, on 3 hours of sleep. No available seats on other flights into Omaha because of the big Nebraska-Texas game.

Up: Sighed out loud to Delta check-in staff that it's especially a bummer as I'm the photographer for the wedding. Clerks tell me to wait and call me up to advise that they got a manager to override a restriction so that we can fly from LaGuardia to Omaha. Major props to the Delta staff at the Charlotte airport...restored faith in humanity starts pulse in the jaded raisin of a heart in my chest. Mental note: presents for all in Whoville!

Down: On our new 3 leg itinerary, the ride from Atlanta hits long, bumpy jag approaching LaGuardia and things get messy. Mental note: Make sure to feed girl Dramamine/Bonine before flying and/or that there are bags available.

Up: Great excuse to buy matching souvenir "I heart NY" PJ bottoms at LaGuardia airport to wear for final flight into Omaha:

Down: Instead of original arrival of 10:30am, we get in at 11:30pm.

Up: Holiday Inn Express in Columbus--the best free breakfast buffet I've ever had:

Such an awesome array of plentiful breakfast choices:

Including robot pancakes--I don't have to do a thing but push start!

Down: Gathering camera and gear, I realize since I missed the wedding rehearsal, need to get to church early to scope location for light for pictures. We're not exactly early.

Up: Wedding goes beautifully! I have lots of pix but am waiting to share until I confirm some permission. In the meantime, I had fun getting my picture snapped by the younger kids who enjoyed taking pictures with my iPhone:

Down: Despite this cutie wearing Husker red, Nebraska drops 4 TD passes and loses in a frustrating heartbreaker to Texas.

Up: Opa got hitched!

Friday, October 15, 2010

You know you wish you could peek and see

under that darn bandanna.

I haven't seen that many episodes of Bret Michaels' Rock of Love reality show where a bevy of vixens competed for his affection, but when I did catch any clips, I was totally fixated that the bandanna was always there. Sometimes there would be a cowboy hat as well, but the distracting constant was a head wrap of some sort. Which wouldn't be distracting in itself but there were scenes where it was odd that the hat or bandanna stayed on--dancing, cuddling on a bed, or even during a vigorous makeout session. Sober or drunk, what are the odds that none of the 20 women would want to grab his hair? Conspiracy, I say.

Is that a wig he wears? If he's bald, he should rock it. He's got a pretty good face that could pull it off. If he's got a receding hair line where he's grown out the rest of his hair, he should shave the rest of the hair off and go bald. See above.

C'mon, I know I'm not the only one who wants to see, right?